Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'm So Tired

My mind is on the blink and I forgot to upload this yesterday, when we did a second tire run; I think we got rid of another fifteen. There are still a few left, here and there, though I'm not sure when they are scheduled to go. Here's the usual Larry-loaded-up picture:

We're getting there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Almost All Tired Out

Did a tire run today, which, unlike the iron runs, alas, is something that costs money rather than makes money. Still, Tara found a place that charges significantly less than the dump (recycling center), so we brought seventeen tires over today. Some of them were on good or unusual rims that Tara then kept; and while I do question the need to keep them, she also took them away to store in her own garage, so hey, whatever, do as you will.

Here's Larry, all loaded up:

You will notice his back bumper is back. Tara came over one day last week and bolted the thing back on; I saw she was out in the driveway, then by the time I put some shoes on she had gone, making it look like the bumper fairy had come. Poof!

When we got back tonight we went out and looked in the yard, and there actually don't look to be too many tires left. There are probably enough for another smallish run tomorrow but after that I think that's about it. I mean, I'm sure we'll come across the odd one here and there in the future, but we just may have gotten through the quantities of them outside, finally.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What A Load Of Scrap

And today's iron run pics. We got enough out of the cellar for a smallish batch of iron and a pretty good precious metals load. Here's Larry:

So the iron today was another 760 pounds; and the other metals made up another 80+ pounds (as usual, heavy on the brass and aluminum). So the total for iron removed from the property so far (since we've been counting) is now 23,220 pounds, or 11.61 tons, taken in 26 trips.

(Say it with me):

There's still more.

More From the Cellar

Tara and I spent a few hours yesterday going through drawers in the cellar, gathering stuff for yes, another iron and precious metals run, which we did today. I didn't get any befores and afters, since the fact that we were going through stuff that was out of sight anyway meant it doesn't really look any different in there, though we did get rid of the white cabinet-thing that had been by the furnace.

I don't even know how many toolboxes there are in there now. Something like six or seven? It's another example of how my father had so much stuff he then had to acquire whole other kinds of stuff to then put the first stuff in.

We are beginning to get to a point where we will be able to start sorting tools, and making up useful sets of them, then tossing the rest. Because, really, who the Hel needs that many screwdrivers or wrenches? And make no mistake, it's not like the ones in the cellar are all the tools on the property, oh ho no.

Why who's this? Where did he come from? What? Oh, you want to count the drawers full of wrenches. Well, um, okay, take it away little mister lavender vampire thing with a silly accent:

Vone, vone vonderful drawer of wrenches!

Two, two vonderful drawers of wrenches!

Three, three vonderful drawers! Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah!!

Four, four vonderful drawers of vonderful wrenches!!

And POOF!! He's turned into a twitchy little bat-on-a-string and is gone out the window, to the flash of lightning.

What a strange little man.


As usual we found plenty of oddities my father had saved. This one, though, made me squeal a bit, I have to admit. Holy cow, it's actually the owner's manual for Mr. Sunshine the hippie-trippy shop vac:

It's hard to believe. Well, okay, it's not hard to believe my father saved it; what's hard to believe is that we actually found it. And by the bye, not one word of explanation in the manual for the design. Pity. Then there were these:

Ah, yes, the Expo '67, which Wikipedia tells me was in Montréal. One of my dad's favorite oft-repeated recollections was about the various World's Fairs he got to. I assume that is where he picked up these things, since, luckily, he couldn't bring home whole pavilions.

I gotta admit, Soviet Union sounds so exciting. From the 100 Peoples Invite You to the Soviet Union brochure:

Do you want to see the famous Baikal, the world's deepest freshwater lake? Or to hunt bears in the thickets of the Siberian taiga?

Would I!?! Well, actually, that'd be a nyet.

We also found this hunk of iron:

A whole mall for Witches? Awesome. Except you just know Llewelyn will have it's own (crappy) bookstore in there. Still, if I can get all my bibbity bits 'n' bobs in a one-stop shopping trip, count me in!

I'll bet this thing had a story. I can just imagine the movie scene:

Captain Horatio Commonsense: No, Lewis! No one's ever gone that deep and survived!

First Lieutenant John "Hero" Lewis: Pressure be damned! I can't let Jackson die down there!


Now for this, Tara had her suspicions; and, sure enough, with the addition of just a single drop of water:

Holy cow. Is that why this iron stuff is never ending? That explains a lot.

Really, you would think we'd gotten close to the bottom of the iron supply in the cellar by now. But I suspect we've still got one, maybe two more batches, especially when we start consolidating the tools, and get to the shelves/cabinets over the bench. Plus there's a whole tool box in the other part of the cellar we haven't thoroughly gone through yet. I'm sure there's stuff in there, too. And oh yeah, then there's the stuff hanging from the ceiling.

Who am I kidding? It's probably at least double that.

Ah well.

What is THAT?

It's time for another installment of What is THAT, the series where we post a picture that neither Tara nor I, with our decent levels of expertise can for the life of us identify, and open it up to guesses (serious or spurious) in the comments section. Here's today's contestant:

Hailing from a drawerful of junk in the cellar, our contestant is part of a very large family, all identical, all of whom also lived in that drawer. Our contestant is entirely made out of metal of some sort. Measurements: four or five inches in height, pretty much flat, and about three-sixteenths of an inch thick.

Any ideas? Keep in mind it may very well be upside-down.

I'm afraid we have no prizes, not even a case of Turtle Wax (Dad never bothered about the appearance of any car, so, that's one thing he actually didn't hoard). Sorry.

Friday, November 5, 2010


We got so much stuff done Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday that I am frankly still playing catch-up with reporting on it here at Tetanus Burger. So, in addition to getting the south end of the cellar cleaned up on Monday, on Tuesday after the iron and metal run we went back in and starting going after the bench along the west wall too. We got a good start to sorting all the stuff there, and actually got down in large part to the bare counter top, which, holy moly, I was then actually able to wash. Like with soap. Though looking at the pictures I can see that we've still got more to do, especially in those shelves/cabinets which are missing the doors.

The before and after:

It's odd, though. When I look in the pictures I can see how much more there is still to do; but when I'm down in the cellar, down in the reality of it, it looks so much better than it was. I'd think it would be the other way around for some reason.

At any rate, even if there is still more to do (and there is, boy howdy, there is), getting that bench cleared is important for another reason: it actually makes the place functional. We now have a clear, well-lit space to sort things, like, say, tools, which are being put aside for later sorting. For example, we're throwing away the obviously broken or hopelessly rusty and useless tools of course. But there are still useful ones, too. So for now we are setting them aside (well except for all those damned hand saws; those were just an abomination unto the eyes of the Gods) so that later we can look at the forty or fifty screwdrivers and pick out a set or two, because I can see having, say, a decent set in the house, and another in the garage/woodshop.

So: functionality is also a very worthy goal.

On Wednesday we did another iron run, but we were kind of tired of it all and so were planning on taking a break from it; but stuff came up. Namely, the furnace decided to not work Monday night, as in, when I turned the thermostat up—nothing. Now I figured it probably wasn't anything major, since the fool thing is only four years old; but the next day my mother actually took the initiative and called the furnace guy, who walked her through resetting it, after which it has been working just fine. I don't know if kicking up all that dust in the cellar had anything to do with it, like, say, clogging something up, or if it's all just a coincidence. Anyhow, the furnace guy is supposed to come over to 'service' the thing to make sure it's okay.

But he also wanted to get to the tank.

The tank is in the downstairs breezeway. Remember this?

There is an oil tank in that space, believe it or not, though it is completely hidden in the picture by the stuff in front of it. So all that had to move, even though we, really, were kind of done with the cleaning stuff thing for that day.

But there wasn't anything for it. The thing, though, was that what appears to be a table over there on the right is actually an old Bolens tractor, which actually still works and may prove useful for pushing dirt around, since one of the other things my father hoarded was piles of rocks and even, get this, piles of sand the town had cleaned off the roads. So there is a bit of landscaping and smoothing that it might come in handy for, though we are not, at present, at that stage of things. Anyway, the thing that looks like a table is the old Bolens with stuff piled on top of it, and with a hunk of plywood thrown over it so that more junk could be put on that. Here's a better look at it:

Can you see the top edge of the oil tank lurking there behind all the junk? Not really? Don't worry if you can't.

But of course first the Bolens had to have a place to go. So, while there was as always quite a bit of the usual sorting of various grades of trash, there was also some additional shuffling that had to be done. For example, to move the Bolens the old Honda motorcycle had to find a new home, since it was in the way; but to do that meant Tara had to first clean out a corner full of junk, which she did quite nicely, and which involved some of the ever-cathartic smashy-smashing of crappy old cabinets. Here's the corner before and after, with the motorcycle moved into it:

And the corner the Bolens was going into had to be rearranged a bit, too (though I didn't get a picture of that).

So we sorted and rearranged (and in the process filled up some more bins with iron for another iron run), and eventually got down to the Bolens itself.

Now the problem with that was that one of the tires was blown out. Not just flat, but wouldn't hold air. And the thing was damned heavy, let me tell you. But we got it moved (again, when Tara decides something is going to happen or an immovable object will move, seriously, the Universe hups-to, yes ma'am) and finally got it over where it needed to go. Here's the before again, with the after following:

Oy. That was a lot of work. So, when we were kind of toying with the idea of doing another iron run today (Friday), we both just kind of looked at each other and said, Nah.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


So we continued today and yesterday in our quest for the philosopher's stone, by once again turning base metal into gold, or rather, iron, brass, aluminum and copper into money, into cash. So in the last two days we did three more runs to the scrapyard, two for iron (in Larry) and one of another load of the precious stuff, bundled up into Tara's (new) Beetle. Lookie:

Ask Tara about how heavy that freakin' chain was.

So, to add to our totals over there on the left: for iron, in the two loads we took another 1920 pounds of iron, making it now 22,460 pounds, or 11.23 tons. For the precious metals, which I am not counting towards the total of iron, but which certainly count for the total amount of junk leaving the property, we took away 610 pounds or so (guessing for the catalytic converter, as it was marked down as one unit and not by weight), and another 265 pounds yesterday, though yesterday's precious metal run netted almost as much cash as the earlier one, since there was so much brass in it (87 pounds). So that's another 870 pounds of stuff gone.

There's still more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

There Is No Why

Buoyed by the success of last week's 'precious' metals run, Tara and I went after the south end of the cellar yesterday with gusto, since she rightly suspected that there was more than a little plumbing-related junk in there (which in this old house translates to the ever-lucrative brass and copper).

We'll jump straight in with a panorama of the before:

As you can see, that's a lot of crap. The giant greenish piece of machinery over there on the left, which looks suspiciously like it dates from the industrial revolution (wonder how many seven year old worker-children lost a limb in those non-OSHA-compliant exposed belts) is a metal lathe which actually works, though it tends to trip the circuit breaker. It will go away someday. Well, when we can figure out how to move it, that is.

So we went through it all as usual, separating the junk that is worth something from the junk that is worth nothing; and, as usual, one never can predict quite what my father saved. I know, 'everything' does come to mind as a fair prediction; but, well, that includes rather a lot.

My father was definitely a quantity over quality kind of guy. He used to rant in all seriousness about Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Now, he loved ice cream, a lot, and would in fact (repeatedly) tell us about the time when he was a kid and a couple five-gallon buckets of ice cream fell off the delivery truck, to be found by some friends of his; but the incredulous punchline of that story was that the kids gave it back. He would always shake his head at that one, for he simply could not understand someone returning free ice cream. Anyway, he would rant about it, because Ben and Jerry's was (in those days) just over two dollars for a pint, and why would you pay that when a whole half-gallon of the store brand was only a buck fifty?

Not too long ago the nursing home called, asking (as they do every now and then) if we wanted to change the orders for resuscitating my father should something go wrong. I understand this question just fine, and I understand as well that he is eighty-seven and very brain-damaged. But I also know that he would want to hang on until the very bitter end. So all this time it has been, yes, resuscitate him; it's what he would want. But the nurse (or social worker) tried to convince me otherwise. I agree, it makes sense, I told her, and it's what I would want for myself; but it's not what he would want. Then she said, Well it comes down to a quality verses quantity thing.

And I laughed and laughed, albeit a little bitterly. Poor thing just had no clue.

So here's (a rather lesser example of) that quantity thing in action. I mean, why have just one good handsaw when you can have thirteen of them rusting away in the damp cellar?

Then there is of course his obsession with storage thingies. After all, stuff is best when put inside other stuff (it's like stuff squared). So, in the cellar alone there are five of these little I-don't-know-what-you-call-them sets of drawers for little screws and washers and rivets.

There are, by the way, many more of these drawer-thingie-sets out in the shop. Including one that is legendary for falling over frontwards and spilling its contents on top of all the open boxes and drawers and trays of junk on one of the desks in the shop (which were then not cleaned up. Since there was no point). I believe it is remembered as the Great Screw-and-Washer Disaster of Aught-Three, though Tara would know better.

The things my father saved are frequently baffling. Many a time Tara pulled something out and gave it this look; and I could see her very creative and ingenious brain (she is an artist also) trying to come up with some kind of, any kind of reason or use for whatever it was. Then she'd turn to me and plaintively ask, 'But why?' I could only shake my head and say, Yoda-like, There is no why.

Like the bag of jar caps Tara found in one of the cabinets. They weren't vintage when my father put them away for safekeeping, but they sure are now:

Or like this absolutely priceless (well, actually more like a hundred and ten dollars a ton) table saw blade, which my father marked as below, and then saved.

Or this jar of something that is very much not Marshmallow Fluff. Marshmallow Filth, perhaps:

(I believe it is actually engine grease.)

Then there is the thingamabob which Tara is convinced looks like an earless Jarjar Binks (speaking of Yoda—which, incidentally, the spell-checker recognizes as a valid English word!):

Can't really argue with that, can you.

We also came across no less than three small hand-sickles and it was my turn to be baffled. Was my father planning on harvesting his own wheat? What on Earth else do you use them for? I mean, besides the inevitable commie pinko stuff:

And there's this vintage rusty bandage can now stuffed full of broken bits of rusty rust. It's from back when the official default 'flesh' color was Caucasian pinkish-tan, since as we all know everyone in those days was white, right? Or everyone who mattered, anyway.

And then there was this, a little pendant cameo of a handsome lad from the mid-70s, going by the luxuriousness of his mustache and the width of that tie. Neither I nor Tara nor our mother recognized him; and the thing with my dad is, it could equally be a treasured picture of a relative or friend, or something completely random he saved because he saved things.

We decided the unknown 70s man is in fact a friend of Rusty Jones's. A good friend, if you know what I mean (nudge nudge, wink wink). We named him Randy (of course). We've decided he can be our back-up mascot, should we need one.

So after a bit of sorting and tossing (and a far amount of WTF?ing) we were ready to get rid of some of the cabinets. The cellar floods a bit here and there, and so the wooden cabinets were rotten on the bottoms while the metals cabinets were rusted on the bottoms; and anyway if you get rid of the stuff you need to store, you no longer need the things to store the stuff in, now do you. So we got rid of the thing with all the cubbies (you can see it in the top panorama, in the right center), as well as this thing you probably can't quite see in the panorama, as it's hidden behind the grey bandsaw. It was pretty messed-up as it was, but Tara gave it her patented smashy-smashy treatment (using, incidentally, the Commie Hammer of the Proletariat, which is entirely made out of metal and so very very excellent for smashy-smashing):

(The set of flat drawers on the right is a separate thing; it was spared. For now.)

And we hauled out the smashed wood, and then swept, and then vacuumed with Mr. Sunshine; and eventually we got it all cleaned up. And I mean really quite remarkably cleaned up. As in, this morning when I woke I thought, wait, was that a dream?

Let's run that before panorama again, so you can properly compare:

And the miraculous glorious after:

Ah, let's let that soak in.

Even the cat was impressed (and we all know how difficult it is to impress a cat). This is Sir Isaac Mewton rolling around in the freshly exposed corner, off his rocker drunk with the heady reality of a clean cellar:

Or at least that end of it. That's probably about a third of it altogether. Still, that's some serious progress!