Tuesday, August 20, 2013


In other unrelated bank business, the other day I went to set up an appointment to deal with my (now dead) father's accounts, which someone needs to be able to get to to pay off things like the remaining nursing home bill. As I was describing the situation (pretty simple and not anything that will need to go through probate, knock on wood) the manager guy I was talking to asked if my father had life insurance.

I said no, I didn't think so.

He made a face.

I asked Why? since I thought maybe that would complicate things (though I don't see how it should, given it's nothing to do with the bank-related part of his assets). No, he said, but it pained him to see someone die without life insurance, then explained that he used to work in insurance.

I was puzzled by this.

Walking out I realized it never even occurred to me that my father would have taken out a life insurance policy. After all, what is life insurance? It's something you pay money for that will only benefit your family. You know, people that aren't you. Or in my father's case, not him. Why on Earth would he ever spend money on something like that?

A Quickie

So while I was in the tub today (because we all know that is how phones work) Tara calls. My mother, bless her heart, actually got the message correct, so when I could I called her back; she wanted to do an iron run today, having poked around in the garage and dug out some stuff, mostly more starters. Well, I had to run to the bank to straighten something out, and then I had to take the cat to the vet (the cat being Rory, who has an infected ear but nothing major), so I didn't think there was going to be time.

But the bank turned out not taking that long, and so when she came by we decided to try after all.

There were a couple old Volkswagen transmissions in this load, as well as a pile of starters and an old aluminum wheel which fetched a bit more than I would have thought; and off we hied, again, and I mean again again again, to the scrapyard. Here's the trailer with the transmissions:

And the starters/alternators in the Bus:

It was a bit of a squeeze, time-wise, but we made it. Tara even went around back to drop off the #1 iron whilst I dealt with the starters at the precious metal building/warehouse/shed. So I regret to say I don't know if today was a smelly day back there in that part of the scrap yard. I really hope it wasn't.

Looking around the garage now I can see that Tara pulled some things out, but it doesn't really look like much has gone. Though the garage had been gotten up to cleaner than it had been, i.e. its former hoarded state, still there's a lot of stuff tucked under and on top of things, stuff that we didn't know what to do with at the time, probably. But now we know, or know a bit better.

So, the totals: the iron part came to 540 pounds; there was a good 224 pounds of automobile starters and another 60 of alternators, with another thirty or so of aluminum and irony aluminum, including that wheel. So that brings our total to 42,480 pounds of iron removed that we've got records for, or 21.24 tons. And it was our fifty-second trip to that place. And like I said, I couldn't really tell that much had been taken out of the garage. So we'll be going back, won't we.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Playlist!

So I was screwing around a bit tonight and ended up adding a playlist to this blog, since Tara and I have been joking about it for a while. All the songs are related to the task at hand, namely cleaning up this hoarded property; they in fact do tend to get stuck in my head as we are tending to said task. Now one may, if one is very astute, be able to figure out who my favorite band is at present, though to be fair they do often seem to have quite uncannily appropriate lyrics.

Anyway it's set so that you have to turn it on, since auto-play playlists are the Devil's work; for right now it's a bar at the bottom of the page. I was hoping to find one that would just go on the sidebar, but this one was the most straightforward. I will probably futz with it some more and hopefully find one that goes where I want that I can figure out.

Suggestions are welcome, though if the song's past about 1998 or so I probably won't have heard of it. Just so's you know.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Yet Another Iron Run

So off we hied yesterday on yet another iron run; we'd meant to do it Friday, but it poured, and Monday we clean forgot (I guess that was a hell of a weekend, well, at least for Tara). So Tuesday we gathered up the usual various bits, and drove off to the junk man's.

We had some 'precious' metals with us this time, including about ten old Volkswagen starters, which are ridiculously heavy for things that small; I know we sorted some out once upon a time, but Tara seems to keep finding more of them here and there. There was also included in this haul Larry the Volvo station waggon's old radiator, the one my mother managed to smash in that accident she was in a while back (she's fine, but Larry needed a bit of work). So Tara loaded up the trailer with the big bits (as usual) and put the little things like the starters inside (also as usual):

This time when we got there, we not only separated out the precious stuff but did the iron itself twice, as the junkyard powers that be give different prices for light iron vs. heavy iron, not that I frankly understand what the difference is as it's all iron and all gets melted down in the end. And funny enough when it's been a mix in the past they always seem to pick the light iron price for all of it, which is of course the lower one. Funny that. Now I'm not saying they're cheats at that junkyard (though I was not very impressed with their reaction when they broke Tara's trailer, which was basically to shrug and tell us we were shit outta luck), but I will say the older guy there has the look of one of the goblin bankers at Gringott's: beady eyes full of a miserly suspicion, spectacles worn low on the nose, and a permanent scowl.

Driving around back the whole place has of course changed drastically; this time there was a giant pile of cubes that had once been cars I think, stacked up like bricks. It took a bit to figure out which pile was which, but we managed.

Over by the light iron pile the Mark Twain guy in The Claw (he has since cut his mullet, but kept the mustache) was loading what looked like old air conditioners into a smaller bucket loader. As he placed them there I noticed a cloud of something misty coming out of them, something I'm guessing was freon. So much for that ozone layer.

Tara also spied this:

Yes, that looks like it met a very not-safe end.

Anyway, after various trips to and fro in various parts of the scrapyard, we got it all unloaded, though the smell over by the heavy iron (which was right by that Borg-looking scary pile of once-transmissions) was really very nasty; I don't know what it was but I swear it's as if iron, oil, and that sort of greasy dirt you find in garages could actually rot, like they were organic. I know that's not possible, but there is a stench to it that can only be described as somehow both putrid meat and metallic. I found myself really hoping that kind of stink isn't the kind that sticks to your clothing. As far as I can tell, it didn't, but I don't know what would happen if you were say that Mark Twain guy out working in it all day. If I were him I'd be spending a fortune on Febreeze.

All told the iron came to 540 pounds, with a whole bunch of 'precious' stuff as well; that brings us up to 41,940 pounds of iron removed from the property since we've been keeping track (with of course a whole bunch more before that), or 20.97 tons. And it was our fifty-first trip to the scrapyard, which just makes me sigh in a rather tired way. Because even though we're closing in on getting the yard clean, there's still more junk stashed away in the various outbuildings. I know there must be more starters out there in the shop. So yeah, there is still more.

Which we will find, and get rid of.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Okay, so: goal time.

The yard is actually pretty close to being completely clean now. That isn't to say that the outbuildings aren't still pretty heavily hoarded, so we'll be working on those for a while longer yet, but the yard itself is I think within reach of being totally cleaned up by the time winter sets in.

So what's left?

As far as cars go, there is a whole Bug over by the shop, next to a half Bug that Tara has already started demolishing. There is also a Bug in the garage which Tara intends to take to her place but has sort of dropped the ball on. There is a silver Saab that Tara wants to fix up that could maybe be switched out for the Bug in the garage, though really that ought to just go to her place too. Then there are a couple of half-pieces of cars, as well as that white Citroën that is half-in and half-out of the downstairs garage. The rest of the cars still on the property are indoors, either in the shop or in the downstairs garage, like a Karmann-Ghia that lives in the shop that could be sold (once we can get to it) and a couple of MGs (I think) in the downstairs garage, one of which a certain mommy-cat had her kittens in.

And no, this is not about how much we can stuff indoors and hide away; the goal is still to get those spaces clean, too, so that's not going to happen.

As far as pure junk goes, there are a couple of piles still of miscellaneous things outside. Mostly they are brittle pointy plastic things that can't be recycled and are too bulky to throw in regular trash bags and so present a bit of a problem. Tara mentioned maybe renting a dumpster, so that might work, and maybe they'll even take the concrete blocks, which would be really nice, because those are a real pain in the ass to get rid of around here as nobody wants them.

Then there are the miscellaneous bits of wood, like more fence posts and some broken-down bits of hideous picket fence that can go (or get burned); there are a couple of downed trees, too, but that's more general non-hoard tidying that ought to happen, you know, the type of 'mess' normal people have to deal with.

And finally then we'd finish some things off, like putting some garage doors on the downstairs garage and finishing off the back of the shop which just needs a trimboard or two and a coat of the new paint color. The shed, too, can get painted, though I'm not going to worry about doors on that right now; let's just get the stuff inside and tidy for now.

I think this is all quite doable. I was surprised, in fact, walking around today, by just how close we already are to having the yard entirely clean. A few years ago I would never have imagined it. And again, that's not what's inside the buildings; that will still need to be sorted and tossed. But having the yard clean would be a real accomplishment.

Ironically This Post Is Not Directly About Iron

So there was a small pile of my father's stuff we took back from the nursing home; and there, right on the top, was this (I've blurred out both his name and the name of our town):

That's right, the man who turned his acre and a half yard into a junkyard full of rusting cars, rotting lumber, leaking engines, fifty-five gallon drums of parts cleaner, buckets of broken glass, containers of waste oil and dirty gasoline and miscellaneous toxic substances (such as that ancient bottle of muriatic acid Tara and I had to deal with) was on the local Conservation Commission for more than twenty years. And when he retired from that, the town gave him a fucking plaque.

I have two questions. One, what were the town officials thinking when they gave this to him? They had to note the mind-blowing irony of the situation, right? And two, if they genuinely didn't, what the fuck were they smoking? I mean I know this is a small town, but reality is still reality, isn't it? They were otherwise after him to clean up the yard, so it's not like they didn't know. I mean, not like anyone driving past the house wouldn't know.

For my father's part I'm sure he saw no irony in it at all. I'm also quite sure that the reason he was on the Conservation Commission in the first place was not actually out of concern for the environment, but because he was a busybody who wanted to know what other people in town were doing on their property, as the Conservation Commission oversees things like permits and the regulations around wetlands and the like.

He was also on the Soil Board, for that matter, which is very much concerned with the quality of the soil, you know, like whether it might be contaminated with dirty oil, or brake fluid, or gasoline, or transmission fluid, or parts cleaner...