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Life in the internet-enabled slow lane

Sometimes, the little joys in life just sneak up on you!  And while reporting today’s little joy, I do want to affirm that the Internet enables our cultural connections in a very positive way.

Terri, my wife is a committed bargain shopper at DI (if you aren’t from around here, translation:  “thrift store”).  The other day she dragged home a pedestal for a clothes dryer, which she said would be perfect as a planter for some potatoes.  Five dollars.  Thank you DI. Attached to the pedestal was a 30 AMP dryer cord, which she deposited in my shop, and said, “I thought maybe you could use this!”   I could only smile at the gift.

This afternoon, I took two photos of the dryer cord and listed it for sale on (if you aren’t from around here, synonym:  Eight dollars, please!    An hour later, I got the phone call.

“Hi, do you still have the 4-prong dryer cord for sale?”

“Yes, I do!”

“Well, do you ever get down to Clearfield?”

“Uh … yeah … but I’m just a couple miles away here in Clinton.”

“Well, I have no way of getting there, but if you’d like to bring it by this week some time, I’d sure buy it.”

Being a kind hearted soul, with a small profit motive, and a natural curiosity about what would happen next, I said, “OK.  I can make that work.”

My caller responded, “Good. The address is my dad’s place.  He’ll pay eight dollars cash.”

As I thought about it then, I realized I wanted to go for a bike ride anyway, so joy!  I was going to get paid a dollar a mile to ride the bike.  The next smile I got was when I turned the corner to the address and saw the sign proclaiming “Appliance repair.  Used appliances”.   I guess I didn’t need to find the buyer, but it got me there.   The appliance shop was out back of the house, and the proprietor  was clearly 80 or better.  And indeed he found joy in giving me that eight dollars, which was clearly better than a wholesale price for the dryer cord.   He enjoyed my recumbent bike, inquiring, “Is that thing electric?”

“Uh no.  I do have some wiring on it for headlight and tail light.”

“That’s quite the contraption!  Did you buy it like that?”

I explained that it is indeed a commercial product and a great bicycle.  I think we both enjoyed the moment.

After pedalling home the four miles, I went out the the garden to find Terri.   I said “I have something for you”, and pulled the eight dollars out of  my wallet.

When I explained that I sold that dryer cord for eight dollars, she gave me her very best smile.  Joy!


Pullman Coach 645 – Seattle 1976

While remembering the days with Metro Transit in Seattle, I went looking for a photo of me! The photo below shows me getting ready for a summer morning run with Pullman Coach 645. The coach was most likely manufactured in 1940.

Trackless trolley #645 was a Pullman. The fleet had fewer Pullmans than Twins in the 70’s. There were perhaps 10 or 12 of them. They were a heavier, longer coach … a full 40′ I believe. An interesting aspect of the driver’s console was that the steering wheel was 11 inches closer to the center of the bus. That took some getting used to! The regenerative braking on the Pullmans was not as effective as that on the Twins. As a result, the Pullmans were not scheduled for the Queen Anne route with it’s extreme 17% grade. The paint job on this Pullman was very new at the time. It is sporting Metro colors, which match the driver uniform of the era.

Thank you Terri, for finding this photo! There are some obvious aspects of the driver’s appearance which require no comment by me! But I caught a couple of details here:

  • In my right hand is a stack of transfers. Clearly I was getting ready for a run.
  • On my left wrist is a wrist watch! An important piece of driver equipment, but novel, since I haven’t worn a wrist watch since I started carrying a pager in 1994 (and of course, subsequently a cell phone).

  • –Duane

    Trackless Trolley Coach 643

    I somehow got nostalgic this week for my days as a Metro Transit bus driver in Seattle.   Those days were a good experience, but it is also true that I enjoyed it more the first year than the following three.  There’s a good amount of tedium in the job!  But the one thing I appreciate most of all was the opportunity to operate the vintage trackless trolleys built in the 40’s.  This equipment was finally retired in 1979.  Metro then rebuilt and expanded the overhead and opened service with new equipment a year later.  A few coaches have been restored by an association of retired employees.  Hoo-rah!   While in my nostalgic mood, I found the following photo of Coach 643.  It was taken in 2009, while the coach was out for an annual trolley tour!

    Old Seattle City Buses

    Uncle Frank

    Frank McGuire, my uncle, passed away last weekend at the age of 92. It was too soon, because he could still tell a good story.

    Frank gave his children – my wonderful cousins – the gift of story, and the gift of can-do! As a very direct result, his memorial service resulted in many tears, and much laughter. Frank would be proud.

    These are my simple word sketches of Frank’s life and spirit:

    • The young man of the depression is working a poor farm in Minnesota, and treks to Washington to work in the woods in the winter and treks back to Minnesota in the summer. Treks? Right – with a thumb in the air and hopping freights. That’s can-do.
    • The young man gets a letter from his sweetheart in Minnesota. He says, “I don’t like the sound of what’s going on there”, packs his bag, sticks out his thumb and heads to Minnesota to make things right. That’s can-do.
    • The father of six finds that the money doesn’t stretch as far as it needs to, so he decides that two jobs are better than one. That’s can-do.
    • The older man finds that the social security check doesn’t go as far as he’d like. He says, I like trips to the woods … so now he’s a woodcutter. That’s can-do.
    • I congratulate the old man on his first hole-in-one. He says, ‘Not much to it. If you spend 40 years trying, eventually it’s going to go in the hole”. That’s can-do.
    • The old man talks to his older brother, who complains that he can’t find anyone who can do a new cedar shingle roof. The old man says, “No problem. I can do that. It will be a nice visit”. That’s can-do.

    Thank you Frank, for  your may stories, and your example of a life well-lived!

    100@60 week 1

    I declared I’ll ride 100 miles on my 60th birthday. I’ve got just 217 days to prepare!

    Yesterday I rode 30 miles – a bit much – on the Denver & Rio Grande Rail Trail. The ride was from Clinton to Farmington and back. I rode more than I should have, because I was curious whether the trail had finally been extend to connect with the Legacy Parkway Trail. Indeed it has! I’m very fortunate to have such a trail just a half mile from the house. That makes about 30 miles of connected trail (and 60 miles round trip). I should get to the sixty mile ride before the snow flies!

    Here’s yesterday’s 30 mile ride:

    Route on Google Maps

    Here’s today’s 17 mile ride:
    Route on Google Maps


    1) I’ve come to the certain knowledge that in just a few weeks I’ll reach the age of 59.5! No big deal except that it is an age canonized in IRS regs — somehow related to IRA and 401k distributions. I don’t need to get into that because my accounts amounted to little a few months ago and even less today!

    2) Perhaps more auspicious is the signal event of 60.0 in a few short months.

    3) A number of years ago, I read a health article which suggested that the decade of the 50’s was the last chance for people to “get in shape!” At least statistically, folks who are not in shape on their 60th birthday, are more prone to health declines in their 60’s and 70’s. I took that to heart. I took off 60 pounds. I rode the bike. Even rode 100 miles in the Salt Lake Century. That year, I rode the bike more than 3000 miles. But I haven’t been so kind to my body these past 3 years. 30 pounds are back and I’ve ridden less than 300 miles all year.

    I proclaim that on April 1, 2012 — the 60th anniversary of my birth — I will ride the bicycle 100 miles.

    Who wants to join me?

    I’d better get to training!

    The Stroke Sander

    I bought the stroke sander several months ago from an out-of-business cabinet shop. This weekend when my daughter Erin came to town, we worked on a first class coffee table for her. It is built of 6/4 hardwood panels that we glued up. The largest of the panels is 28″X22″. The stroke sander worked great for creating a smooth, flat surface. Also, I was pleased with the effectiveness of dust collection for this inherently messy machine! The videos shows Erin sanding one of the cherry panels.