GI Teddy Saves Couple $1800.

“What, they want $1800 for the new door?”, Wendy and I exclaimed to one another when we got the estimate.  Our sliding glass door had done good service over the last 40 years and now would no longer slide smoothly; the little adjustment screw would adjust no more and the door was gouging the bottom track whenever the door was opened.  Clearly, something had to be done.  We called some handymen and they soon responded with similar estimates.  It would be $700 or $800 for a bottom of the line door, maybe a $1000 for a nicer door and up to $800 for the labor.

teddyface400Wendy and I first met Teddy in a local thrift store where he was stocking shelves.  He seemed out of place but, he was chatty and soon told us his story.  He had completed his military deployments and his natural good looks soon had him accompanying Welcome Home gift baskets to many homecomings as the GIs finished their own deployments.  Alas, the hundreds of returning GIs soon dwindled to a few a month and GI Teddy was down to one or two gigs a month.  He couldn’t adapt to civilian life in the slow lane and only the kindness of the thrift store owners kept him from joining the ranks of the homeless.  We shared our sliding door problem with Teddy although it was hardly as compelling as his story.  Teddy thought for a moment and replied “An in-line skate board would probably work in this case.”  and added “Let me send you a sketch, you know not all solutions have to follow the same path.”

Teddy suggested we consider adding an inline-skateboard to the sliding door on the inside that would run down the existing track.  The design satisfied my requirements:  It had to be simple enough that it could be built with hand tools and it had to be easily adjustable as even the moderate use the sliding door received probably would require minor adjustments in the future. giteddy_at_work600  Finally, the big day arrived and Teddy showed up to demo his inline-skateboard technique.   If you look closely,  you can see Teddy uses the slow release bindings favored by so many in-line skateboarders.  Wendy and I were impressed by Teddy’s different path design and saving us some $1800.


For those interested in details,  all materials were purchased locally at the Home Depot and consisted of:     1 ea 1 x 3 x 8  sanded pine board, 2 ea fixed casters,  12″threaded rod, aluminum bar for the brackets, small screws to attach the casters, and nuts and washers fix the board to the brackets.  right_hand_adjustment_and_casterThe door upright is made of the thinnest possible material, so the screws in the bracket are there to hold the bracket in place until the epoxy sets

To the left is a detail of the bracket and height adjustment arrangement.




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Design Patterns

Ancient Pixel Art      From Make Magazine December 2016

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We’ve Got It Wrong Somewhere

Recent Post:

mass-produce autonomous vehicles without steering wheels by 2021

We’ve got it backwards,  eliminating jobs that many fall back on in hard times is not a useful social development.  While a certain number of good paying jobs to build and service the self-driving network,  it can’t be as many as many that are lost.
Back long ago, say 50 years ago,  it was a service economy,  service in the sense there were no self-serve anything.  No automatic elevators as each building with elevators had a number of attendants who ran the elevator, acted as a security filter for strange people, helped lost people with real directions.  The gas stations soaked up teenagers in entry- level jobs until they moved on.  But they did clean the windshield, tell when you needed to schedule an oil change.  In case you didn’t notice the grocery stores used lots of people.  If you didn’t work there perhaps you worked in the local factory where there was lots of machinery but no computers; it was all done with semi-skilled labor.  The office may have had some IBM card driven equipment to do the billing but many smaller companies had lots of clerks shuffling paper.  No PCs here, the internet seems to be missing as well.
If there is any helpful in this story, except perhaps every time someone acts to make a process a little more efficient, improve the bottom line and retire with lots of money,  there is a social cost as well and we haven’t adjusted. I’m not saying we should unautomate, I’m saying there doesn’t seem to be a magic way to create new ones as fast as we are losing them.
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Miz Lou’s Obituary Key West Citizen

MizLou's Key West Citizen Obituary

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Miz Lou’s Obituary

Louise Maloney Perpall Birchmire, born 11/18/1911 Key West Fl. Died 12/31/2015 Largo, Fl at the age of 104.
Born as the seventh generation of a Florida pioneer family,  she was the last of her generation having outlived her husband Thomas H (1980),  grand daughter Maria Louise (1976),  her brother Morris (1925),  five sisters along with their spouses,  four nephews and many friends.
In 1930 she met Thomas H. Birchmire who was in the U.S. Navy and in 1931 they were married. As a young navy wife, she traveled between the East and West coasts moving the family home to whichever port her husband’s ship might be stationed. Eventually, after sharing 25 years of navy life, the two retired to Hialeah Springs, Fla to live on the lake. But alas, their happiness was not to continue, Tom suffered a severe stroke which left him a partial invalid for the remainder of his life. Throughout it all Louise remained the devoted wife caring for him until his death. She still enjoyed life, her church and many friends and her family but it wasn’t the same without him.
While visiting Largo, Fla in 1999, she suffered a stroke and then moved to Largo to be near her son Richard and his wife Mary Ann.
Miz Lou, as she was known in later years, continued to develop her talent for writing. Genealogy and family research provided the background for her novel “High Mangress – One Family’s Journey Into Florida History.” Miz Lou’s novel was written over a period of 30 years and published in 2013 when she was 102. Sometimes when she was asked about life, Miz Lou might respond, “You know a person can live too long, too far from their time.” Other times she would reflect, “We all were so happy then before the war, We were all young, and poor trying to live on navy pay. It was nice to have enough money to be able to give your neighbor a jelly glass full of Maxwell House coffee though.”
On December 31, 2015,  some 85 years later, Miz Lou passed on to be reunited with her husband Tom. She is survived by her two sons, Thomas H.and his wife Wendy, Richard A. Sr.and his wife Mary Ann, four grandchildren, Thomas H. III, Richard A., Geneva, and Richard A. Jr. and two great grandchildren. She will be buried in Miami with her husband.
In Lieu of flowers, please donate in memory of Louise Birchmire to your local hospice.

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Thoughts on how to participate in a revolution.

Hi J,

I know you asked me how to engage in revolutionary change and I had no good
answers but I thought a bit about the subject of revolution and changing

Some additional thoughts on some recent revolutions or at least the attempt to
make big changes.

Gay Marriage – at least two decades of advocates pushing to change attitudes
and succeeding after successful court cases. The various states gradually
folded almost overnight.

Legal Marijuana – Decades of advocacy with the almost universal realization
the national drug policy was not working. The gradual decriminalization for
marijuana sale, possession, etc, proceeded and eventually the realization that
there is big money to be made from being legal is taking hold.

Gun Control – A lot of discussion over decades but gun owners who do vote
have been persuaded not to allow much regulation and up to now have prevented
additional regulation.

Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas – A one hundred and fifty years of
scientific observations have persuaded almost everyone the climate is warming
and changing probably not for the better. The discussion is about how to
respond and there world has not reached consensus

Arab Spring – After the successful beginning on December 17, 2010, with
Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia, the country is gradually
succeeding. In almost all other countries, it’s a complete failure.

French Revolution – Successful or not? Too soon to say.

One comment might be the environment has to allow for peaceful discussion and
persuasion even over decades.

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The other day I was thinking about some projects that been in the back of my mind for a while and I thought about an off and on project to update a rap piece I had heard 30 or 40 years ago before rap became Rap.  It’s a jazz poem by Gil Scott-Heron entitled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”  At the time, it was performed in smokey jazz clubs, coffee houses and anywhere Scott-Heron could find people willing to listen.  Wiki says it in detail here.  The poem says a lot about society then and I think it can be made relevant  for today.  You can view my efforts at “The Revolution Will Not be Televised”  and the annotated verse pages.

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Miz Lou Goes Electronic

The book itself was done in Microsoft Word using a template for a 6″X9″ sized book. Chapters in a print book by convention start on odd pages so each new chapter was proceeded with a page break to the next odd page. After the proofing and some minor corrections the book was released as a paperback.

The first attempt consisted of uploading the .doc file.  After viewing the less than perfect results, I looked for some advice and found it at Kindle as “FROM WORD TO KINDLE’ for $0.01.  The author also has a web page at The electronic process began with saving the book in HTML format from Microsoft Word, This procedure resulted in a folder with various formatting files that I left as is and an .HTM file. There is a certain amount of stuff in a print book that is not desired in an electronic book. Some of the front matter was removed and some of the HTML was corrected. This was easy for me as I normally work with HTML code and the book had a few problems that were corrected. Not everything was corrected as they were there were some extra spaces between sentences. Electronic Books are not print books so a new ISBN was created.  ISBN-13:978-0-9860721-0-9


Actually, my brother Richard wanted to read the book on his Kindle so I hurried the process up a little and set the price at $0.99 as well.  I may go back a make a few more corrections. After the editing, the folder with formatting stuff and the updated .HTM file were archived into a .zip file that was uploaded to Kindle and they did the rest. Click on the image and view the Amazon listing,  Free free to purchase.

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Miz Lou’s Christmas 2013

As I mentioned previously, son Richard (known as Ricky By The Sea) had taken the double typed manuscript and had scanned it into a series of .pdf files – one for each chapter.

I worked on “High Mangress” formatting the chapters during early December 2013.  The process was to open a .pdf chapter into OmniPage18.  It worked wonderfully well at translating the .pdf image files into text.  Occasionally, it would ask me what the pencil mark or strange smudge really meant but for the most part, it translated perfectly.  The text was then copied and pasted into the book’s large HighMangress.doc file.

Editing was facilitated by using a Word template formatted to 6″X9″ with recommended margins.  Life was made much easier by following the excellent page break and formatting advice at . Editing consisted of reading to see if the text flow made sense as the spelling had been checked in the text conversion process.  There were one or two instances where a word had to be added or a phrase slightly rearranged. The text followed the literary convention of having the whites speak proper English for those days and non-whites speak in vernacular surrounded by single quotes as if the reader didn’t know vernacular from English. Accordingly, the single quotes were replaced by double quotes in order to improve the flow.

CreateSpace provides several steps to follow.  Most of them are self-explanatory with only a few needing some consideration.  You can upload your manuscript for proofing or you can download a .pdf so you can view the book layout locally or you can view on-line.  Actually, I uploaded and viewed various ways several times during the process. Other steps included setting a price and designing a cover.  You can upload your own cover design or you can do as I did and use their Cover Designer. It should be noted that if you make a change in the beginning of the chapter, Word rearranges the text.  Sometimes, the spacing here and there had to be changed to remove extra white space.  After every change, it is highly recommended you refresh the document. This phase came to an end and it was time to really self-publish.

Christmas was approaching and the proof had not been OKed nor printed nor nothing.  As in many cases, it’s nothing money won’t fix and CreateSpace was sent funds to cover super, cosmic expedited delivery to send brother Richard two proof copies.  One to give Miz Lou for Christmas and the other to be returned to me for the actual proofing.

Christmas arrived and brother Richard delivered Miz Lou’s Christmas present on Christmas day.

It had only taken some thirty years from her interest in family genealogy, to her researching in the Florida Archives, interviewing family members and friends, doing the actual writing, and finally after some time, getting the book to the publisher.



View the Amazon listing for Miz Lou’s “High Mangress.” It also lists the Kindle book.


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Publishing Miz Lou

Here’s a progress report for Miz Lou’s Novel “High Mangress.” As some of you
know Wendy and I went to Largo for Thanksgiving. One of the events was
visiting mom at the Barrington and while we were there she pointed out that
her novel needed to be published. No problema, I thought, but I better get busy as Miz Lou turned 102 just before Thanksgiving. The result was that son Richard (Ricky by the sea) copied each chapter into a .pdf and emailed me the batch.

The next step was translating the .pdf chapter into readable text. I eventually bought some software from Dragon Naturally Speaking called OmniPage18 which is an OCR translator for .pdf image files. You can open a .pdf into the program and it will translate the .pdf image into a text file which can be copied and pasted into Microsoft Word.

After consulting my writing buddies, a self-publishing service called
CreateSpace from Amazon was selected to be the publisher/printer. There is
all sorts of good advice on the web about using this service. Eventually, I
had to buy a copy of Microsoft Word 2013, as my copy of Word didn’t quite do
what I wanted to do and it was much easier to work with a new copy that
various writers were using in demos rather than attempt to setup the old copy
I had.

It took several days for me to set the new copy of Word so it would produce a
document that CreateSpace might be able to digest. Now a chapter is read into
OmniPage18, converted into a text file, and then is pasted into Word for
CreateSpace formatting. Generally, each chapter is printed twice so the
printed page can be used for proofing-editing.

One of the other things I was advised to do was own the ISBNs rather than let
Amazon publishing have any publishing rights beyond charging for book copies.
Accordingly, I bought a block of 10 from Bowker Identfier Service. One of
them is 978-0-9860721-0-9.
The other tidbit is the book will be 6″X9″ with a nice color cover and black
and white pages or maybe cream colored pages. All of this is being saved in
the cloud on Dropbox.

As you can see, it’s slightly more involved than “no problema” but things are
progressing nicely.

Useful Links:  Bowker registers ISBNs in the United States and in some cases world wide. If you don’t want to register your own ISBM, most of the self-publishers will do it for you with a few strings attached.   A self publishing service run by Amazon.  There are many more but this the one I choose to use.  Lisa Shea is the Moderator for the Boston Mensa Writing group and hosts a webpage featuring a variety of subjects ranging from Origami Cranes – Flowers to Dune and Bene Gesserit .  Gregory L. Mahan shares some of his insights about self-publishing.

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