Entries tagged with “Regular Ol’ Stories”.

Last week I took the radiator off my Model A Ford because the fan broke and cut a hole in the back of it. Yeah, I was pretty happy about that. I had known for a while that I needed a new ratchet nut for the crankshaft pulley on the front of the engine, so I ordered a new one a while back. I was just waiting until the next time I had the radiator off to install it. Now I had my chance.

There is a special tool that you can buy to remove the ratchet nut, but I figured that I could get it without the tool once the radiator was off. It turns out that I was wrong. The ratchet nut is nestled into the concave center of the pulley, and you can’t reach it with a normal crescent wrench. Besides that, the old nut on my car is actually a different size, so the special tool wouldn’t have worked anyway. My two options as I saw them were to go out and buy an expensive tool that I would probably never use again, or go over to the garage across the street and see if one of their guys might come over and pop the nut off for me.

I went over, talked to Ernie, and told him I was having trouble trying to get a part off of my old car. Initially he wasn’t all that friendly, he told me that they don’t do any mobile service, and it seemed that I might be out of luck. The ratchet nut is a really odd-looking little item, it’s kind of like a regular bolt, but it has four shark-fin shaped teeth in a circle sticking out of the top. I had brought it along on purpose just in case I needed it to help me out in my task. I pulled it out of my pocket and showed Ernie when he asked me what I was trying to take off the car. He looked at it, very puzzled, and said, “What the hell are you working on?”

“A 1930 Model A Ford.”

There was a long pause. “Well… let’s see what I’ve got in here.”


San Francisco Voyage

My brother Kent got married last week in Cambria California, which is in wine country in between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I flew into San Francisco, and then caught a ride with my cousin and family down to the wedding. It ended up being a fantastic weekend all in all, but the first day of my trip alone was pretty incredible.

First of all, as I was headed to the Airport I got a call from the Orbitz automated Traveler Update telling me that my flight into O’Hare was delayed due to bad weather, but when I got to the airport and checked in, I had already been re-routed through Dallas/Fort Worth. Amazing! It’s never that easy when you fly! I especially appreciated the re-routing since throughout the afternoon I kept getting calls from the Orbitz automated Traveler Update telling me how much more my original flight was now delayed.

The flight was packed. They had oversold it by something crazy like 18 people. It was a small plane that had just two seats on either side of the aisle. I sat down and tried to get organized and situated quickly since I knew that the seat next to me would fill up any second. Amazingly enough, when we took off there was only one empty seat on the whole plane, and it was next to me! Time to stretch out and relax. I put the armrest up, and thoroughly enjoyed the extra room.

Perhaps the one thing that didn’t go my way on this trip was food… although it kept almost going my way. When I got to my gate in Dallas I had a few minutes before boarding, I was a little hungry, and I knew there would be no food on the plane unless you bought it. Just so that I would have a goal I decided to think of what I really wanted to eat before I went out in search of it. “A sandwich. That would be the perfect thing.” I thought. I looked up and to my right, and there was a sign that read, “Sandwiches”. So I went up the stairs to the sandwich shop only to find it closed. “Ok, what’s the next best thing? A bagel.” I walked around the corner and found myself face to face with a giant sign for Einstein’s Bagels… and it was also closed. “Ok, the next best thing… ice cream!” Six more steps around the next corner and I found a Ben and Jerry’s stand. The cheapest thing on the menu was $5. The cheapskate part of me was not into paying $5 for two scoops of ice cream when I could get a whole pint of the same stuff at home for $2.50. At this point I decided to just get the snack pack they had been pushing on us on my last flight. For $3 you got a nice grab bag with chips and M&Ms and crackers and all kinds of stuff. (more…)

I love hanging out with spin-top people. It’s always a ton of fun, and at MadFest this year we had a ridiculously good time.

Eric Wolff with his 11″ diameter top. The largest he’s ever made… so far.

For the average person, the phrase “spin-top people” is not one that is heard very often. Of all the very small social groups I belong to, the top-spinners are one of the smallest; I think only “paddleballers” are fewer in number. At the MadFest Juggling Convention this year we had a really good showing of spin-top people… and that means that there were 7 of us. Eric and Noah Wolff, Alan and Robert Gray, Chris Mulhall, Steve Brown and me.

The normal progression of events when top-spinners get together is:

  1. Show off new tops. This rarely takes very long since there are virtually no mass-produced tops, so it’s really a question of who had the time to make some themselves.
  2. Show off new tricks. This also rarely takes long since there are very few new tricks developed each year.
  3. Play Battle Top.
  4. Continue playing Battle Top until it degenerates into a different game that is way more fun.


This weekend I went to Chicago even though I didn’t have any gigs. I just went up to hang out with my pals. It was the first time I’ve done that in YEARS, and it was really fun.

As luck would have it, the Threadless Christmas party was Friday night and my friend Harper invited me to come. Since I am often in Chicago in the middle of the day with some time to kill before or after gigs, I have spent a fair amount of time hanging out at Threadless. Mostly I hang out with Harper, but I know a few of the other folks there a little, so going to the Christmas party wasn’t the awkward I-don’t-know-anybody experience that usually happens when you go to someone else’s work party. The other thing that made it good was that Threadless really knows how to let it all hang out. Where most work places have one or two wild and crazy characters, at Threadless it’s the opposite, almost everyone is wild and crazy. There is never any shortage of wacky stuff going on with those cats.

Harper and Crystal