Sometimes you just need a quiet day to run out of things

I had one of those days.  It seems to parallel what is going on in society to a basic level or maybe I am just putting too much into it.

On the other hand, as my Sister commented, I have always had boxes of parts for projects around and partially projects have a tendency to pile up until you get just that right part.

It was quiet here.  I was alone except the parrot and Rack the SuperDog (TM).

Being an early riser, I began to work through projects.

A while ago, years actually, someone was trying to park.  From the outside, it looked more like someone was trying to teach himself how to park.  That would be how I ended up with a couple light strips.

Our someone backed over a parking curb, some strips peeled off the bottom of his car, and he zipped out of The Shoppes looking confused.

Being creative, of course I grabbed them.  Taking them home to test, they ended up being serviceable strips of White LEDs.

Since then I have used them in a bunch of short term projects.   12 Volt LEDs are amazingly useful if you have “Low Voltage Lighting” around the property.

If you have parts laying around you can do an amazing amount of good.  The problem is that in Pandemic America, and indeed the world, you will find that parts are getting a bit difficult to come by.  The shipping channels are confused.

Noticing that my light by the shed was fading, and it would be easier for me to replace them, I pulled apart a rather interesting light fixture I had and repurposed the fixture to accept these LEDs.  They mated well to the fixture, and since it was proudly emblazoned with the Made In China motto, I expected mediocrity and indeed got it.

However my little shed in the back corner of the yard now has a rather nice light that is on the low voltage system, even if the Mediocre Chinese Light took my literal and figurative blood to complete the construction.

That repurposing took me two hours while the Barbecue Pork Loin cooked, 350F for about 1:15 or until internal temp was 150F plus 5 minutes rest.

While all this nonsense was going on, I was puttering around the house repairing things that I would not have attempted if I didn’t have eyes following me around.

We all have help.  We all have “help”.  It’s up to you whether that is effective.

Going through all of that, and calling for appointments, and looking for other parts, I noticed I needed a few odd things to repair my skates.  Oh sure I could go out and buy new, but it’s kind of a personal thing.  I enjoy keeping my skates rolling, up to a minute at a time for a test, but the parts are getting harder to find.

So I went online.  I needed Parts.

My one account has a list of “Things Bill Needs”.  On there were three different pair of skates.  Since I have not been sponsored in skating since the early 2000s, a Patreon account is not yet in order,  and I went searching with the intent to price out gear, not to buy.

What is happening in the Inline Skating sport is that the weekend warriors are coming out of hiding, and Dad and Son have graduated to doing more.  Mom and Daughter are joining them too.  It’s progressed from being “That Weird Thing They Did In The Nineties” to something so current that it is like the yeast shortage that we went through, or worse, toilet paper.

Maple Leaves are better than Poison Ivy for all purposes.  Just a hint.

One after another of those three pairs went off the Amazon list when they sold out.  Internationally, Inline Skates have become the Latest Hen’s Teeth of 2020.

This is to say that unless you dig, you won’t find any decent gear.  You see, most sporting goods require constant upkeep.  Gears need to be cleaned, wheels replaced, and plastic and padding degrades.

That last thing means that the plastic on the pair of skates you bought new in 2002 has shattered when you put your size 11 foot into them and you have resigned to tossing them out.

I had to rescue a couple of skaters as well as someone on a bicycle over the COVID Epidemic Summer.  I always carry a spare Allen Key or three, and just give them out since you will find them all over the place in parking lots.  It’s also the same size that Ikea uses to build the Poang Chairs and others, but that’s an aside.

One guy had a pair of skates throw a wheel, I rolled up, offered help, and gave him and his wife a key.  After they found all they needed to limp home, I got thinking.

If I am running through my gear, can I find more?

Actually, no.  Inline Skates are in white hot demand these days.  Not everyone knows which pieces of which items to save for future, ahem, cannibalization skills, so not everyone has jars of old skate bearings just waiting to be sent in for reuse, coach.

I do.

So if you find yourself in a quiet house, hot gluing things together, consider that the old wartime Britain motto of Make Do And Mend is a good thing to follow, because just like then, you may not be able to find replacement parts.

Just like my workouts, “It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint”.  So be patient and cruise through the thrift stores once in a while.  You may find what you need.

Which reminds me… I wonder if they have some size 11 boots?

Why Does The World Smell Like Onions?

I will be celebrating my 22,000th mile on inline skates next week, it’s safe to say that this is my sport.

It was a workout day.

I gathered my things together and tossed them into the Jeep.

Skates.  Three bottles of water.  Skate pads.  Sun Block.

I am in South Florida after all.

All the rest.

These days, it includes extra water because it is high summer.  90 Degrees F, 32 C in sun that is literally less than three degrees from vertical at its highest can be punishing.

I have racing stripes on my wrists, elbows, and knees from the pads blocking the sun.

Getting to the park, I put my skates on, and step down allowing the grass to stop my free rolling down hill.

Not much of a hill here, Florida “Below I-4” is flatter than anywhere else I have been.  Flatter than Kansas.

I distractedly put on the mask that has to go on after headphones and helmet, and step onto the pavement.

Heart rate monitor is on. I check to see that I am below my personal speed limit of 165 BPM.  I can easily get myself going faster than that simply by pushing a little harder, getting a little more air into my lungs, getting a little more exercise, but I don’t.

I don’t want to “overdrive” the trails and leave a large smear after a bounce.

The Emergency Rooms down here are filling up again with COVID-19 cases, and having me come in on a gurney because I landed badly and sprained or broke something would end worse.

Lets not.  Slower heart rate means slower skater.  I’ll get enough of a burn anyway.

I get going, and push.

I noticed it.  Someone is cooking Onions, early.

Fair enough, I’m right by the restaurant, Galuppi’s, at the golf course.  The wind usually comes off the ocean though and I am just to its east side.

Mentally shrugging, I enjoy burning off another sweaty 1600 calories on a short workout.

Getting back to the Jeep, I get on my way back home.

The Jeep doesn’t smell as strongly of onions.  I’m not going to crave a cheesesteak with fried onions here.  But it is just about lunch time and I have a very empty stomach to fill once I pull into the house.

Strangely, now, I put things together as I enter the house.

You see, these confounded Masks that we all wear?  I pull mine up and down when I am approaching someone on the trails.  My mask protects you.  It is a statement that I respect your humanity, or something less self aggrandizing.

If I had “it” and I cough inside of that mask, your chance of getting “it” drops significantly.  In this case, “it” is frighteningly transmissible.

Unlocking the door, I step in.

The house smells like onions.

I look at my right hand.  Keys and Mask.

I realize what it was.  Sloppy Joes.  We cook from scratch here.   The house is sealed tight here to keep the air conditioning inside.  All that onion that we needed to get into that Sloppy Joe let out a lot of scent into the air.  The synthetic fabrics…


Ok, time to toss that mask into the hamper.  I was breathing Onion from the Mask, not the atmosphere.

Still and all, Galuppi’s is a pretty good restaurant even if the Sous Chefs weren’t grilling onions at 9 in the morning.

But while you should wear your mask, wash the thing.

Even if it is your Workout Mask.  They get kind of stinky and sweaty too!

Sloppy Joe anyone?  Ok, I’ll make beefy mac with the leftovers!  CYA!

Making a Surgical Mask For COVID-19 Might Be Easier With Sewing Hem Tape

I am going to make a surgical mask to “survive” a doctor’s trip tomorrow (as of this writing).

This is definitely NOT one of those “N95” masks that you hear about.  This is a stopgap measure designed to slow down things, and while it is designed after what hospitals are asking as donations, anything like this is used at your own risk.  “Better than nothing” is all we seem to be getting these days anyway since hording seems to be out of control.

Oh, and wash this after one outing.  That’s true with any mask.  I’ll be throwing mine into the washer on Hot when I get back.  You may want to soak yours in Alcohol instead.

It is all up to you.

If this sounds vague, I am not a doctor and I am not giving medical advice other than Be Careful Out There.

This will not be fancy, and it will be easily made because I will be using Hem Tape instead of sewing things together.  If you don’t have a sewing machine, this will work.

Mine did work for me.  If you get nothing more from this article – use Hem Tape if you can’t or won’t use needle and thread.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s a 1/2 inch wide (or so) strip of synthetic fabric that has a “low” melting point.  You place this within a seam, use a hot iron to press the fabric.  The Hem Tape melts and bonds with the fabric.  It is not permanent, but I have had tape hold in a seam for more than a decade.

After looking at a number of videos and reading plans, I realized that you can simply heat the iron and press in some hem tape.

The result will look like something out of the TV Show MASH with ties instead of elastic.

Since this is done for ease, it may be a bit crooked.  It’s ok, Crooked can save your life too.
The basics are a 9×6 inch rectangle that is an envelope open at top..

The open area at top is so you can slide in a filter material if you have access to any.

It is made with a tightly woven fabric and is two ply – a top and a bottom layer.
Mine will be made from an old bandana I got at a street fair given to me for my dog.
The two ends have ties or strings on them to tie behind the head.
There is one pleat on it to help shape it to the face, but typically there are three of them.
I only put one in mine because it seemed enough.

Any raw edges that have been cut will have to be hemmed or taped closed so you don’t have it unraveling in use.
This assumes Hem Tape is 1/2 inch Wide.

  • Cut your fabric to 10 inch by 12.
  • Iron your fabric flat.
  • Fold fabric in half, pattern outside.
  • It will be 10 inches by 6 when done.
  • Iron the fold to ensure it lays flat then turn it inside-out again to work on the seams.
  • Pin or lay some hem tape on the very top of the cut long side(s) opposite of the fold and hem that side closed. 
  • Do this so that the fold faces you.
  • Flip and repeat for the other top side.
  • Hem the shorter sides together.
  • This will create an envelope that is inside out, and open at the top.

Turn the mask inside out.  Now you are looking at what will be the “outside” of the mask.


  • Pleats seem to be optional but to add them, pinch the edges together along the short sides.
  • This can be repeated up to three times but I only did one.
  • Use a 1/2-1 inch long piece of Hem Tape to close your Pleat.
  • Cut the piece of hem tape to fit.
  • Slide it inside of the mask against the side and add your pleat.
  • Heat the pleat until it sets.
  • Repeat the pleats on each side of the mask.

Ties to hold the mask in place can be made from rubber bands or by sewing laces to each corner to be tied behind the head.
I will make my own ties with the extra fabric from construction.

In testing the mask, the ties held well fastened behind my head, the mask seemed that it will work for the short work that will be required of it.

COVID-19 Killed My Outdoor Workout And It Killed Yours Too

Hey!  You!  Listen to The Coach, stay the hell home!  You don’t want COVID-19.

Great, now that we have gotten that out of the way, if I’m a little grumpy I’m trying to remove 500 calories a day out of my daily diet because I am home and can’t workout.  I will be dusting off the Bowflex home gym today.

It’s all because I got a lesson in Social Distancing.

I workout at Pompano Beach Airpark.  It is a 4.5 mile outdoor loop around an airport and a golf course here in South Florida.  It has benches and three water stops.  Flat as a pancake even if they did put speed bumps on the trail itself for the blind.

Whoever made that decision, needs to have a talking to.  The speed bumps at the .6 mile marker (1 KM West of the southern start of the loop) are enough to make an elite inline skater fall down.

Can you file them down a bit, they’re excessive!

Never the less, I have a complicated set of maneuvers that give me a 14 mile workout without ever hitting a street or that particular speed bump.  There are people Skating, as well as Bikers, Runners, Walkers, and people out strolling to enjoy the setting.

I have been going there for a year and a half and it shows.  I’m in markedly better physical condition than the average person in the US at my age group.  A workout is 1700 to 2200 calories, generally twice a week.

The last time I went there, I went specifically to ask the question “Is it safe to continue skating“.

The answer is a resounding NO.  Emphatically.

First, about half of the people normally working out are staying away.  I have a few people I know well and all of them were gone.  The Canadians are heading back North, and the locals are skipping it too.

Second, that Golf Course?  Easily half of the old duffers were missing.  The line for a Golf Cart was gone, there was nobody sitting on the bench that I use at mid workout.  Even the Pro Shop was idle.

Finally, the parking lot was down by about 2/3.

While we all make decisions that effect ourselves, the decision to employ Social Distancing effects others as well.  If you have COVID-19, it does not pass it to someone if you aren’t there to do that deed.   Also you can’t pick it up if you aren’t drinking from a contaminated water fountain or sitting on a contaminated park bench.

I’m done for the duration.  The skates will all be “refurbished” for the next workout, hopefully sooner than later.


But, Stay Home.


Walk your dogs longer.  Go out before dawn and get some exercise when nobody else is awake.   There were a few people still out but this morning’s one mile walk was completely alone and I live in the middle of a populated area.

Your health will thank you.

If you are an outdoor workout person, I did think that you can do it safely if you do a few things.

  • Bring what you need to keep yourself safe.  Sanitizer and a mask are helpful if you have enough.
  • Obviously – Social Distancing – Stay away from others.  If someone coughs and you run through it, you’re exposed.
  • Don’t touch anything or anyone.
  • Don’t use the facilities.
  • Don’t drink the water, bring your own and bring extra.
  • Don’t use the benches unless they are in full sun and consider wiping them down with full strength rubbing alcohol or other sanitizers.


Don’t fall.  That’s just good for any other normal day.  Falling hurts.

Maybe this autumn I will see you all again but for now, I’m looking for my skate box.  I have bearings to tear down and re-lube.