Archive | reference

12 hours

feeder1That’s how long I lasted…which to be fair was pretty good for me cause by 6 am on the 1st day, I had fantasized about spending quite a bit of money.  At 3 am it was 1 degree outside…and I was awake of course…so I went down the basement with the Infared thermometer One of my favorite things. The basement is not insulated, and about 43 degrees overall. the actual cinder blocks were about 32.  So that’s not good, but it’s not as bad as I was expecting.

While in the basement I tossed the laundry into the drier and found that I SHOULD have bought more stain treatment spray but had forgotten to put it on the list. So, now it’s on the new shopping list ..along with Barkeepers Friend..for when I absolutely HAVE to go to a store.

Another snow storm is coming tomorrow, so I added a snow blower on my wish list…for next winter of course. I have SO many things on THAT list, it’s not funny to joke about. I thought i was keeping up with the snow fall, though the driveway is getting narrower and narrower, I can’t manage to chuck what I am shoveling UP and over what I already shoveled.

Also on the TO PURCHASE list for the last week are snowshoes, used ones from the Portland Gear Hub. I wouldn’t have bothered even putting them on the list, not recreationally…but my entire yard is hip deep in snow…and I haven’t dug out the back door at all.  It’s hard enough to keep up with the driveway. So basically if I need to get into the shed or even if i wanted to fill the squirrel feeder, i would need snowshoes. Luckily right now I devised a way to fill the feeder from the porch window but i had to cannibalize my broom handle cause all the SPARE broom handles are in the bloody shed.

glovesSki gloves have been on my TO Purchase list for a few weeks now, but I couldn’t find a reasonably priced pair that fits. In December I HAD bought a pair of used Obermeyer women’s SMALL gloves for about $15 – which is a reasonable price, I think they go for about $40 new. But they had turned out to be too small even for me, so I regifted them. I have been looking everyplace for CHEAP waterproof warm gloves, and finding nothing.  I dreaded being forced to go to EMS or something to try to find a pair I can wear, as I know the price for new would be prohibitive. So for weeks I have been conveniently forgetting to buy new gloves. After I heard about the oncoming snowstorm tomorrow I poked my nose into ebay again, and there again were one pair of Mediums for $15, so I pulled the trigger.  They won’t be here for tomorrow but at least this way I can stop going into stores needlessly.

Yes, I have penalized myself appropriately ONE DAY, and added $18 to my list of budgetary crimes.  I am not sure if this exercise will end up saving me money all around, since I have already purchased a number of things I would have ended up purchasing later in the month.  But hopefully  by eliminating what i was going to buy anyway from the playing field, it will let be SEE what filters through the cracks and identify the things I really shouldn’t have bought if I had thought about it.  Ski Gloves in Maine?  a no brainer.

building a better bedstead

tarva-bed-frameSince i have nothing better to do but wait around here, i am doing what i always do when i can’t think about what’s important…i think about things that are not important, i build things in my head.  This is habitual since i can’t afford to building things in the real world…perhaps one day.

I had finally settled on this Ikea Tarva bed for now…it’s inexpensive, it’s made of wood so i can adapt it and when the time comes i can have it delivered and i won’t have to lug it myself.  It is probably not the last bed, i have a fat ass so i may need to replace it eventually.   I am planning on building out at least one wall in my new bedroom with bookcases, and i can slide this bed into a predesigned SPOT along that wall.   This will give me more wood on which to screw things.  I’m not partial to a lot of bedroom furniture, it all gets covered by books anyway so why wait?

The other conundrum was what to do about light….i still have my ersatz grandmother’s Ottlight floor lamp but that usually accompanies my reading chair.  In the room i am in, that’s the only lamp and i just swing it where i need it.  It’s taken a beating but it still works.

For my bed and for any guest beds in the house I have this idea for reading lights on the headboard.  Traditionally you have a choice of clamp on or screw on reading lamps and i have had both fall on my head in the dark, and they are equally unpleasant.  Since I am purposefully buying wooden hackable furniture that freed me up to plan on attaching anything additional features…like a phone or tablet charger cables and power strips along the back boards out of sight.


While rooting around on the internet for just the right LED work lamp, i found that you can get gooseneck lamps designed to attach to sewing machine tables and other industrial situations, which have no clamp or clips to remove.  Instead it has a nice long threaded pipe so i can drill a hole into the shelf or bedstead.  After I attach a new end plug,  can put a nice 50watt equivelant LED in the lamp and a feed through cord switch to make it handy to control.   Granted the sum of the parts is way more expensive than nearly another other clip on LED reading light….but it suits all of my needs and doesn’t have the added danger of flying off when you adjust it and putting a dent in your head.

Once I attach it to the bed, I will run a power strip invisibly along the back of the bedframe, reachable really only when you are IN the bed, instead of the sort you can’t reach while IN the bed.   I hate it when the phone charger cable snakes its way down under the bed and i have to slide headfirst half way down the side of the bed and hope i can find it along the floor without falling all the way out of the bed.  I am sure it would make the cats laugh if they werent asleep and being useless.


calendar girl

In my head, I have been dredging up a lot of OLD Location based projects that failed. There’s a lot of stuff in there, so it takes a while. And I had to scroll back a few years to find Methuen Common… which i still think was a great and necessary idea. But no one in Methuen cared…they still don’t but now i don’t so it all worked out. Needless to say this morning I bought…hey i like the imagery. The other benefit of trying it once and failing is that NOW wordpress is better and I am much more skilled with it. Tonight I screwed around with a WordPress calendar plugin…it’s an excellent plugin thought it is not EXACTLY what i want. BUt it is very close. It lets you set up a bunch of calendar feeds and then display them singly or together and what not. But what i need to find is a way to link an actual blog post to a calendar event and vice versa…but hey..i got pretty much a YEAR to work on this. I hope not, but i am planning on being NOT hear by next summer. knock wood.
But it will be a lot of fun to try out this website theory in a new location….Greenfield has a decent regional newspaper website, but it’s not exactly what i am planning. News sites are what happened yesterday, MY idea for a site is what’s going on tomorrow. Sort of like the website version of the Boston Pheonix…..where to look when you are looking for something to do, all the bean suppers, yardsales, performances etc… IT was a good idea three years ago, it is still a good idea.

[google-calendar-events id=”1, 2″ type=”ajax” title=”Events on”]
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the due diligence of avoiding piracy

Ann Bonny and Mary Read
I’m always on the lookout for something i can slap between a couple of covers and push out the door while avoiding piracy,, in the hopes someone somewhere will buy a copy and send me a few shekels.. and trust me there is no money in creating NEW editions of old books. There seems to be money in REPRODUCING Old editions of old books, but only if you cut corners and hire guys in India to slap together PDFs and do a LOT of them. At least that’s what it looks like on the ground.

I stumbled upon this last title I produced by accident. it has nothing to do with the Merrimack Valley, and practically nothing to do with the colonies at all. A friend of mine was flogging a copy of Frank Shay’s My Pious Companions, a book of drinking songs..that happens to be out of print and from what i can tell in public domain…so while i was researching THAT, I found that he wrote a number of things that had their copyrights renewed by whom I can only guess is his heir…but not My Pious Companions and not More My Pious Companions… both published in the 20s…oddly his novel PIRATE WENCH 1934 about Mary Read the pirate was never renewed…. i managed to find a 1936 UK copy for a moderate amount.


When I find titles that haven’t had their copyrights renewed…my first instinct is …i must have researched that wrong, let me go back to the beginning and start over..i mean if it was in public domain, there would be a thousand print on demand titles right?… but nope after researching those three titles for a few weeks, I am confident enough to produce new editions. Who knows if anyone will BUY one, but i may as well do it, i want to have a nice fluffy backlist, it makes my front list look more legitimate. Backlist means old titles you don’t spend advertising money on, Frontlist, are new or best selling titles, you actually market and spend money on. Besides what else have I got to do with my time?

Nearly every book published IN the US before 1923 is in public domain… i haven’t found anything that isn’t but it’s a safe bet to say NEARLY. Material produced AFTER 1964 has its copyright renewed automatically on a schedule by law…this is the thing that the CONGRESS keeps pushing out the deadline on, so that nothing ever reaches public domain again. MATERIAL published BETWEEN those two dates goes by a set of rules, they HAD to have their copyrights renewed ON SCHEDULE after 28 years. So a book published in 1934 HAD to have its copyright renewed in 1962. According to the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database, it ain’t there. HOWEVER, I did see a low grade paperback published in 1950..i am not exactly sure how that counts towards copyright renewal, i am looking for clarification…but even if it did, the title would have to be renewed 28 years after that in 1978, but neither of those things happened as far as i can tell.

The period from 1923-1963 is of special interest for US copyrights, as works published after January 1, 1964 had their copyrights automatically renewed by statute, and works published before 1923 have generally fallen into the public domain. Between those dates, a renewal registration was required to prevent the expiration of copyright, however determining whether a work’s registration has been renewed is a challenge. Renewals received by the Copyright Office after 1977 are searchable in an online database, but renewals received between 1950 and 1977 were announced and distributed only in a semi-annual print publication. The Copyright Office does not have a machine-searchable source for this renewal information, and the only public access is through the card catalog in their DC offices. In order to make these renewal records more accessible, Stanford has created this searchable database.

Now if you want to research copyrights renewed AFTER 1977, the US GOV has made those available online.. United States Copyright Office. and if you REALLY want to lose your mind you can read the entire US Copyright Act – which i try to do from time to time, each time absorbing just a little more.. Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code Circular 92

Once you go through all that, there’s a good chance you are in the clear. Run of the mill titles should pop up where they are supposed to, either on the list or not on the list. I have done the research and figure i can go ahead. I think this may be WHY more of these mid range titles aren’t being reprinted…there is LABOR involved..its one thing to pay someone in the third world to clean up a PDF for a paperback reprint, its quite another to pay someone to do all the research needed for a title practically no one will buy. But Like I said I have nothing better to do.

That 1724 image of READ will be the cover art for my edition of PIRATE WENCH…which will be Mary Read: Pirate Wench as the UK edition was titled… I just think it’s HYSTERICAL to include that dowdy image with the word WENCH. The above engraving is the frontispiece of A general history of the pyrates, : from their first rise and settlement in the Island of Providence, to the present time. With the remarkable actions and adventures of the two female pyrates Mary Read and Anne Bonny … To which is added. A short abstract of the statute and civil law, in relation to pyracy… (1724) by Captain Charles Johnson Captain Charles Johnson is generally considered a pseudonym, the real identity of the author was thought by some scholars to be Daniel Defoe, although this has since been much disputed.

Using OLD art, also in public domain keeps me out of trouble as well. In the US artworks where the author has been dead for over 90 years is pretty safe…even if you see a copyright claimed by the museum that owns the original, indeed they own the photographic image, but not the image of the art. did that make sense? Because if every museum owned the images in its own collection, we’d never see the Mona Lisa on anything ever. By checking the death date on my artists I only looking at art by the long dead, I never have that moment where I even have the debate about using unsourced material.


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My old faithful coleman cooler

coleman cooler To divert myself from my own problems, i am working on someone else's. A friend of mine who rescues wildlife and wolf/dog hybrids has a chance to rescue one that is in east bumfuck US...Kansas...i KNOW! middle freaking america where i NEVER go..sorry america but if i get away from a coastline i get vertigo..regardless there is a good chance he can be transported at least half way which would be Columbus OHio which i COULD deal with since it's just far enough to run back to West Virginia or Pennsylvania if i get Dizzy. Needless to say I am going on this road trip if it kills me, i finally found temporary accommodations for the dogs and the kittens..the kid upstairs will take the kittens in their cage..yeah..i dont' expect them to spend much time in their cage either...and someone who wants me to do a serious favor for them offered to take at least ONE dog..i may be able to get them to take the little one two.. what's a chihuahua between friends right? The rest of the circus can wreck my house again, i don't care. Animal Control will come in and make sure no one has lit fire to the bed. But i only expect to be gone 48-72 hours unless there is BAIL we have seen even if someone DIES i am usually back in two days. Which brings me back to OLD faithful - a little red coleman cooler I bought in college... i never take a road trip without her. I probably should have started making the mileage on her..but it's about 30 years too late. As it is, some of the vinyl and paper stickers have given up the ghost only the old technology of water activated decals have remained intact. Having the level of OCD that i have, i immediately went online and ordered a few to replace them. I don't mind the rust acne, that's part of the patina..but two bottom corners are ruptured so THAT i have to fix. coleman cooler Times like this i DO LOVE the internet. Like nearly all major name brands there are fan clubs and collectors out took me all of 5 minutes (which is a fucking long time in Internet speak) to find the Coleman Collectors forum. I am still reading through the posts and there isn't too much how too about this sort of injury. Since her interior is in great shape, she can still do her job. I have a newer HUGE steel belted that i use on large scale emergencies, (usually it holds book deodorizer for sale) but I would prefer to keep on using this red one as long as i can, hinges, handles and latches are all replaceable...from what i read even if the lining is fakakta (yiddish for fucked up) you can gut it and use it to store lanterns..or so they say. The corner on the other hand is a problem. its a little rusty in there, so i banged on it and shook out the rust. I will run some oxalic acid bath through it and get as much rust out as possible before i try to seal it. and the sealing it is going to be an experiment it has no marks about what sort of plastic it is made with. some adhesives just don't adhere to plastic..but there is such a thing as PLASTIC WELDING..go figure.. I am now reading through INSTRUCTABLES about plastic welding techniques. I don't need to get it fixed before the roadtrip..i don't expect it to be flooded out..though with my trips you never know...but i will put it on my list of projects to work on in winter time. for the roadtrip, all she got was a magic eraser scrub down, inside and out, and in a few minutes i will armor-all her exterior. Which i advise for plastics and electronics..useful stuff, that silicon spray stuff. I will post more about the road trip..i am the official documentarian of the thing - i am bringing all my cameras, cables and a shit load of batteries. We need to turn this into a fundraising event for the Wolf Adventure I am not shitting you THAT's what the wildlife rescue is called.

the shoe box effect

Lately i have been looking at a lot of before and after pictures online of personal spaces decluttered. and comparing them to my own successes and failures….uncluttering that has worked and not worked, places where i had to REdeclutter.

Now I look at other peoples UNCLUTTERED spaces, thinking …nope that won’t last. especially bedrooms, kitchens or offices where a lot of little things take up more room on flat surfaces than they need. if you have a bunch of little things, they always get cluttered…or shoved over to make room for some larger object…they also BREED and attract more other small items.

But i have found through a little trial and error and from some of the AFTER images…is that if you group things smaller that a shoe box into a container of approximately the same volume. It LOOKS and STAYS cleaner longer. You DO have to unclutter inside the containers from time to drawers and storage boxes, but you don’t get that constant EBB and FLOW of clutter than takes a sideboard and turns it into a sea of items all needing a permanent place to live.

When i see a bedroom that is considered CLEANED all i see is that lotions notions and nailpolishes all lined up like tin men, waiting to be swept aside to make room for the newest pile of CDs or books, or other clutter.

I recently removed EVERYTHING from my kitchen counter. It took about a year, to find homes for everything..i put in a set of shallow cabinets along a wall to take the CANISTER set..which we really don’t need in the modern age… and the toaster and the mixer. All the small items…specifically the animal medicines went into a small toolbox and all the barkeeping tools went into a clear shoe box all kept in the cupboard and not ON the counter. When I cook, i bring out what i need and when i’m done it all goes away. The clutter has NOT reappeared.

I am working on the shelf in my bedroom where all those things from my pockets end up. I added a couple of plastic mesh boxes to unload things into..but they constantly need sorting..i am thinking of parsing the boxes into categories… one for electronic attachments, one for office supplies, one for personal care items… if i were to just unload these items onto the top of what i use for a dresser, it would need cleaning every day and i’d loathe doing it, but the mesh boxes LOOK neat and orderly.

In conclusion..i’m going to give myself a new rule…anything smaller than a shoe box, i will try to gather into a container with other similar items. Right now I have a clear plastic container with tape, pushpins, and similar items, so NONE of that category of item goes into JUNK drawers, they go in that shoe box. I have another with writing implements, when they come out of my bag or pocket, they go in there. etc.

i feel good about this new rule.

go fish

I have slowly become fascinated with all those folks who are preparing for disaster and zombie revolutions…i suppose none of us can be completely complacent anymore..we all watch the Katrina Fema fuckup live on was enough to make anyone put a little bug out bag in the corner. Interesting thing about the internet is that it shines a light on all the sects in the universe… so if you want to peek at an alternate universe you can. There are hundreds of ready made emergency kits, 72 hour disaster kits, family food caches…it all smacks of a cross between the Whole Earth Catalog and the Scientific American built fall out shelter. Apparently there is a cottage industry on the net and ebay of putting together disaster kits and selling them to other terrified people.

I wasn’t THAT paranoid..and i’m still not really..but i did notice that since i carry a bunch of ‘preparedness’ crap with me already..and it does get used from time to time..”do you have a knife?” “do you have an asprin”, “do you have a rope, bungee cord, trashbag, bandaid, tweezers”…it goes on. Am ‘I’ just one of those people one expects to have these things?
First i put together a little tool/first aid kit for the bike…then when is started going out in the boat, i needed a bigger more elaborate bunch of ‘just-in-case-crap’. Then i put together a couple of bucks for the back of the truck, with graffiti removal supplies..then another which is just trash removal stuff, bags and gloves and such…i really like putting kits must be a thing.

Last year, I decided I wanted a go bag that wasn’t my regular bag with extra stuff crammed in. I have studied all the lists for what SHOULD go in a bag..and i decided that everyone has their opinion and the ready mades aren’t worth the money. A custom made one is much better for anyone. I don’t live any sort of lifestyle that would put me in harms way or demand emergency preparedness at all instead of doing it all at once..which i couldn’t afford on my best day, i just buy about one thing a month for it. I started with a used red Jansport from ebay, and now it has a red nylon shaving kit bag for first aid stuff. At one ‘thing’ a month, I picked up a hand crank solar powered radio, a handcranked flashlight, some glow sticks, bandages, scissors, thermal blankets (why DO they call those blankets?) hand warmers etc..
Most of the crap i already had in house, i just had to rearrange it to be in the same place.

I also need a first aid kit to keep in the truck when we do rail trail events or CERT mobilizations, and whatnot..So I can just start dragging this backpack around instead of leaving it in a corner. My personal idea is to have graduated ‘kits’ combine the red backpack, with the small green duffle that has the crowbar, work gloves, rope etc.. combine those with the BIG blue duffle which has the tent, and folding chair etc.. if i ever get evicted i should be okay for 72 hours. I am not in a position to do the same for my roommates…without the regular paycheck it’s hard enough for me to keep 72 hours worth of food around the house, than have that much leftover to ‘store’. today I got a box of flexible band aids…hmm i may need a box of those for my everyday bag.

transcription prescription

So i was presented once again with a pdf of a spreadsheet printout WITH grid lines..this little gifty came from the city development office – it’s an inventory of historic houses in town done in 2007…the city has since not only lost the original spreadsheet version but they lost the pdf version..they did find the paper version and faxed it to me which turned it into a PDF. so far so good…now how do you get it BACK into a spreadsheet?
I have had this problem before…if you try running OCR against it, all the grid lines get interpreted as letters, lines underscores etc… basically it’s a train wreck. Transcription is actually faster..but there are 500+ plus lines in this document so i’m not that enthusiastic…
Strangely because i have been doing so much document manipulation for transcription the solution came to me in my sleep…PHOTOSHOP…(i recommend Photoshop’s cheap…hell it’s free if you buy the right scanner)

1. Open the multi-page document in Photoshop, it will let you choose which page.
2. Rotate the page, if needed.
3. enlarge until you see a grid line clearly.
4. Using the magic wand, SELECT the grid line. this will automatically select all the connected lines.
5. DELETE Yes you will also loose any letters that are touching …i lost small ‘g’ and some ‘p’s
6. You will probably have ungrabbable ghost lines, use Menu–>Enhance->Adjust Lighting–>Brightness/Contrast. and crank the Brightness until the lines disappear..and the contrast until the letters darken up. Relax you just want the letters to be read by the OCR.
7. If needed SAVE AS …a TIFF file…Microsoft’s Imaging program likes .Tiff files for OCR…i like FreeOCR..correction i LOVE the program FreeOCR but it will open nearly anything, including TIFs and JPGs…

Results vary according to your scanning area.
Ideally you want it back in spreadsheet ready FIELD delimited form…
but since i am missing letters and will have to do a lot of proofing
this format may suffice which lets me insert commas where i want the fields to end:
3 Annis 716-3-25 1910 Tri Ie Decker Arlin ton x 2
4 Annis 716-2-4 1900 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3
6 Annis 716-2-5 1895 Arlin ton x Double worker housing 2
7 Annis 716-3-24 1895 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3
9 Annis 716-3-23 1895 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3
10 Annis 716-2-61895 1895 Arlin ton x Double worker housin 2
11 Annis 716-3-22 1895 Queen Anne Vern Arlin ton x 3

you can of course SELECT columns to Scan..and end up with something you can paste into a spreadsheet in sections:

Here endeth the lesson

making book

i just spend a few straight days putting together another local history, they are addictive….the more i can get my hands on the more i want to reprint. i am even looking into a getting a free standing rack..i know the coffee shop at the corner will carry whatever i can produce…damn sight more interesting than postcards.

While i was putting this one together i made some decisions about the series as a whole.  once i do the most prominent titles, i want to double back and do what i did with the Vox Populi volume.  Find more smaller pieces to publish standalone or paired with like items.

And Indexing is key – most of these titles don’t have an index so if you are just using them for referencing you have to skim the whole thing to find what you are looking for.  You could of course just use Google books…but the appeal of doing local histories is that people are likely to buy them just to put them on the shelf.  which brings me to my other decision..This last volume had a lot of wasted pages in it.  those engraved portraits were on plates..with blank backs. so that’s two pages for one picture and a paragraph (we won’t even discuss how they were just sprinkled through the book in no particular order)  basically i extracted them all and dumped them alphabetically in the back two up on a page so i am getting 4 images into the same space they used for one.   including an index i think i can keep the page count under 250…and the cost UNDER $20…hopefully well under.  I’m not making all that much money on these but then i didn’t write them…i am just reformatting them and reprinting them.  Mostly i am doing this for my own amusement…that’s much more important to me than most things.

After I get enough of these under my belt, i think i need to put together a Methuen History since we don’t have a decent one.  and i have a few folks who want me to do some more NEW titles.  the reprints should balance out the NEW titles nicely.

broken things

Took 10 minutes to fix a notebook today, and i used the iphone to photograph it and loaded it on Instructables. Shockingly this FIX is not there already. That’s probably the most satisfying thing i will do today.

It’s a clear crisp day…not bad for an early mud season. Tomorrow i have a hike/trail clearing scheduled so i hope the weather holds.
The last week i have been packing and shipping orders like a crazy person so i got nothing done outside even though people tell me the weather has been nice. Checking my inbox for orders, i don’t have anything not shipped that hasn’t been paid for. Because i was out of so many products, that hasn’t happened since before the 1st of the year. The only orders that are coming in strangely are for books i loaded on Amazon…yes they take way too much in fees, but the goal is to get rid of the books – the more the better.

I started cleaning off of the porch moved the sand and shovels into the garage. I don’t know i the urge to put a tiki bar at the end of the porch will go away, but at least it’s a reason to clean off the porch. there’s too much crap out there. 90% of it is going somewhere else…but it HAS to GO to be gone right?

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