Sunday, August 8, 2010

HMS Victory

Welcome to Old Sailing Ships week here at OPOD. We start with this photochrom photograph of the warship HMS Victory. The Victory was Lord Nelson's flagship, and is most remembered for its role in the 1805 battle of Trafalgar, where the British Royal Navy took on the combined navies of France and Spain. This picture was taken around 1900. The ship is still part of the British Navy, and is sort of a floating museum.

Domestic Update:

At our last domestic update, I had informed you that I was pretty much stuck on getting any more of the Plexiglas covering on the greenhouse. This was because I got to the point that I could not reach the areas necessary to fasten the Plexiglas to the greenhouse. I had indicated that I would rent a sky-track this weekend, to let me get the rest of the pieces on. Well, on Friday I went to the rental place to rent the sky-track. As I am filling out the paperwork, the guy casually asked me what I was going to do with it. I told him that we would be tying a piece of plywood to the forks, and then have a guy lay on the plywood as we elevated him above a construction site so he could lean over the edge and connect Plexiglas to a greenhouse. Then the guy said he could not rent me the sky-track, as it was not intended to be used to position people.

(Note to Self: When renting construction equipment, never tell them what you are really going to use if for)

After some arguing, the guy said he would rent me a Z-boom, as it is intended for positioning people, but No Sky-Track For Me. Well, I did not have any other options, so I told him I would take the Z-boom.

Well, Friday afternoon comes around and they deliver this Bad Boy to my house.

If you have never had the chance to experience a z-boom, I would describe it this way. It is just like a roller coaster, only it has a steering wheel. Well, Larry, the rental delivery guy gets it unloaded at my house. I was sort of expecting they would make me sit through a 30 minute training video, followed by a 45 minute safety video, followed by a recap of the rules and do's and don'ts, but no, Larry just unloads it and has me sign a receipt for delivery. I was expecting him to give me all these rules, like "No Bungee Jumping form the Z-boom", or "No Racing the Z-Boom" or "No Popping Wheelies in the Z-Boom", but no, all he wanted was for me to sign for receipt of delivery. I signed the paperwork, and he did give me a 30 second overview of the 67 control levers, joysticks, switches, and toggles on the control panel. There was one knob on the control panel. On one side was a little picture of a turtle, and on the other side was a picture of a rabbit. He suggested that I leave the knob on the turtle setting.

So Larry drives off, and I can hardly wait to fire that baby up. So, I turn that little knob over to the "rabbit" setting, and start the engine. About this time my daughter comes out, and starts telling me to wait till someone who knows what they are doing comes and shows me how to run it. I told her the guy that delivered it had already trained me, and I start lifting myself up by extending the booms. In about 30 seconds I am 50 feet in the air, and I have not even fully unfolded the lower arms. I will admit that at this point I was getting a little nervous about things, because the controls were very complicated.

You can see in this picture my daughter pleading with me to come down, apparently concerned about the prospect of an early inheritance. Well, I decide to impress her with my Z-boom skill, so do a 360 degree maneuver through the sky. I took pictures all the way around.

In about 10 seconds I had myself over Chickie Town, and took this aerial photo of the area.

I continue on around and then got this picture of the front yard.

After impressing my daughter with my aerobatic skill, I then decide I should drive the Z-boom on over to the construction site. No need to bring myself down, the Z-boom lets you drive it while you are way up there in the air. So, I start driving on over to the greenhouse.

Well, things were going pretty smoothly, but then I hit a little bit of a snag. Note in the picture above the trench between me and the greenhouse. This is the trench that brings the electric line to the greenhouse. The plumbers had not covered this trench up yet. I was pretty sure that I could make it over the trench, especially if I got a good running start at it. Well, at this point my daughter is livid, and is yelling at me to come down. I tell her I can make it over the trench. Then in a move reminiscent of the famous Tiananmen Square incident where the guy stood in front of the Chinese Tank, my daughter goes out and lays down in front of the Z-boom, between me and the trench. Well, from 50 foot up there, I start trying to get her to get out of my way so I can jump the trench. This goes on for about 5 minutes, and she is not willing to budge. Seeing she sort of left me with no options, I agree to come down, and not move to the construction site until the plumbers fill the ditch in. So, I put my attention back on the control panel. I select one of the 17 down levers, and press it to bring myself down. Only problem is that when I pressed the lever, nothing happened. No problem I thought, as perhaps you need to bring the boom down in a specific order, so I choose another switch and try it.  Nothing. I proceed to try every lever, knob, and joystick on the control panel, and none of them respond. So, I am sort of stuck there 50 feet in the air. I then retry all the them without luck. I then press the big red button, and the thing turns off. I am getting a little nervous at this point, as I am not sure it will keep you suspended with the motor off, and sort of had a flash back to that time I was on the see-saw and the other kid hopped off and I cam crashing to the ground. Well, it appeared to be holding me steady up there, but I decide I better turn the motor back on. I start switching switches and turning knobs, but in the excitement, I had sort of forgotten some of my training, and could not get the thing started again. My daughter is still down there, and she is really mad. I yell down at her, "Go in and google 'how to start a z-boom'". She hears me and goes in the house. About 15 minutes later she comes back with a piece of paper, and yells up to me, "Before starting, make sure propeller is fully submersed in salt water". Well, I guess she had not heard me correctly, and had come back with instructions on how to start a Sea-Boom. 

So, I take a few minutes, and try to compose myself. I pull the big red button back up, I wait for the gloplug light to go off, and then I press the operator switch with my toe, and then I hit the start button. Sure enough, the thing fires right up. I then press one of the down levers, and the thing starts bringing me down. I get back on the ground, and decide I better go in and pour myself a tall glass of ice tea.

OK, I finally figured out how I got stuck up there. Before any of the controls will work, you have to put your foot in this little compartment and press a switch. However, if you leave your foot on the button for more than 30 seconds without operating a control, it assumes you have left your foot on the button by accident, or you have forgotten your foot is on it, so it deactivates the controls. To reactivate, you have to take your foot off it, and then put it back on, and then the controls will work. Information was not included in my 30 second training session.

I guess I have sort of gotten off track here, as the purpose of this domestic update was to fill you in on the greenhouse, so lets get back on topic here. So, Friday evening the plumbers come back and cover the ditch up and I am able to get the Z-boom over to the greenhouse. Then, I had made arrangements to get some help to finish the greenhouse plexiglas on Saturday. The Z-boom is pretty expensive, so I wanted to make sure I had help so I could get the job done over the weekend, and avoid another day's rental charge. I contacted the guy that built my house, but he said he was swamped for the next4 months. I told him that if he did not come help me, and I fell off a ladder, my blood would be on his hands. He has seen me on a ladder, and so he agreed he would come and help me for one day.

So when Frank and Steve get out there on Saturday, things actually go very smoothly. The plexiglas went on easily. Part of it was just having the extra sets of hands made it much easier. Also, I learned a lot on putting the earlier pieces on, and had sort of figured out what works and what does not work. Then, of course, the Z-boom made a big difference. I apologize that my underwear is is showing just a little in the picture above. To be honest with you, I have seen a lot worse on the construction site, particularly on days the plumbers are there.

Now, remember how they would not rent me the sky-track because we were going to put a person on it? Look at this picture at how we had to get the top on.

Notice with the Z-boom, Steve had to crawl out of the cage to reach the plexiglas. He would then curl his legs around the lower rail, and sort of hang upside down, like you used to do on monkey bars, in order to reach the plexiglas. Now I ask you, would it have not been simpler and safer if they would have just rented us the skytrack?

Anyway, to make a long story short, the bottom line is that we got all the plexiglas on yesterday, and it all turned out well. Steve and Frank then helped me with various other tasks. The greenhouse structure is pretty much finished, and now I need to get the finishing work done on the electrical and plumbing. Hopefully I will get things wrapped up this week.

I feel this stunning success has moved me ever closer to my goal of becoming a Gentleman Farmer.


  1. It's a good thing OSHA didn't show up. Notice the angle of the worker cage. If that had been a piece of plywood on a skytrack fork it would have slid off and it and your helper would fall through the plexiglas to your concrete floor. Also, they make safety harnesses for working above ground level.


  2. Having just last night watched The Sea Hawk, one of Errol Flynn's swashbuckling adventures, this is a timely choice for the week.

    Oh, and I hope the Z-Boom adventure hasn't provided any anti-tractor arguments for the missus.

  3. Who said a person can get to old for great new adventures.
    Now if you would have rented the sky-track, then you would not have had the new adventure to recall of how many really stupid things you wanted to do (Do an Evel Knievle over the trench)
    Thank goodness your daughter had more sense than you.
    It look like you could have tipped that unit over pretty easily.
    But as well that ends well.

  4. Just think if you had had your tractor with a loader on it, you could have filled in that trench where you needed to drive over it.
    Keep pushing for that tractor with a loader on it.
    I see in your photo of you modest little home that you have 2 AC units.
    Is one a spare or do you actually need 2 of them. There you have 2 AC units and the chickies have none.

    Yeah, I know your thinking, if they want a AC they can go out and earn the money to buy their own AC unit

    Thanks for that photo of chickie town. for some reason I was under the impression that the Peacock Palace and the chicken coop were connected together

  5. All right! Great photo and a funny story to boot. And this on the heels of a good Mystery Person contest - Viewer boycott threat level – Green – No imminent threat of reader boycott.

    Now, I’ve been reading this blog for some time now, and I recently came across the following handy check-list. I thought you might find it interesting:

    1) Do you have a background in science, inventing, or semiconductor research?
    2) Do you live in a remote corner of the planet?
    3) Does your home resemble a fortress, lair, or compound?
    4) Have you ever considered living a self-sufficient life away from humanity?
    5) Are neighbors suspicious about construction on your property?
    6) Have you ever lurked outside neighbors windows, with laptops or other technology, particularly so during storms or other scary weather?
    7) Have you ever considered harnessing natural forces (e.g., wind, etc.) for your own purposes?
    8) Do you keep exotic animals and build homes for them?
    9) If you do keep animals, have you ever installed wartime production charts in their habitats?
    10) Do you have tombstones in your front yard?
    11) Have you ever found that your construction plans have been foiled by revealing “too much information?”
    12) Have your children ever used unusual phrases like, “"Before starting, make sure propeller is fully submersed in salt water.”
    13) Do you have a nemesis?
    14) Are you known by initials (or acronym) instead of your given name?
    15) Have you ever hunted for lost treasure?
    16) Do you find you have a fondness for “lost causes?”
    17) Do you find that any of your regular schemes are “foiled again?”
    18) Have you ever built a greenhouse or bio-lab or experimental research?
    19) Do you find yourself rationalizing your answers to any of these questions?

    If the answer to any or all of the above is yes, you might be a Super Villain.

    …it all makes me wonder if you really want a tractor – or a tractor beam!

    Well, the “Evil” Nate Maas” is off to Sunday School now. Have a swell day!

  6. Loved the picture of the HMS Victory - and how appropriate to today's domestic update! Please feature more fascinating sailing ships!

    I'm very glad your daughter prevented you from jumping the trench with the Z-Boom, and you 50 feet up in the air on it. The whole thing smacked of potential disaster but at least now your readers know when you threaten a picture embargo that you are willing to go through with it.

    "Evil" Nate Maas has a valid argument that you might be a super-villan, PJM. I'd even add a SCIENCE super-villan with all the interests and activities he's listed on that check-list.

  7. Roger,
    As far as the two airconditioning units . . . one is for upstairs, and one downstairs. The good news is, that with the solar panels I can run them and keep the house nice and cool with no electric bill.

    As far as no air conditioners for the chickies . . . the two air conditioning compressors have tubes that come out, and ice cold condensed water drips out of them. The chickies use this area as a spa. When I go out, I sometimes find all ten of them sitting in the cool pool of water than forms. Sometimes when it is smaller, they take turns sitting in it. So, the units keep me and the chickies cool on hot days.

  8. Nate Maas you are a RIOT.
    I loved you list. 6 and 11 were the best ones.

  9. Ah, my Arch-Nemesis the Evil Nate Maas (who DID NOT win this weeks mystery person contest) crawls out of his hole to call me a Super Villain.

    Notice he takes random points out of context to make me look like some insecure paranoid man.

    I think he is threatened because I am getting ever closer to becoming tractor-worthy, and becoming a gentleman farmer, and having a hat like Captain Walsh ( ).

    He sees his time is short, and soon I will be the one wearing the coveted Captain Walsh hat. He is desperately grasping at straws to prevent this from happening, as he wants to be the one wearing that hat.

    Oh, and all the Sunday School and Boy scout talk. We all know that there is a dark and troubled person hiding behind this facade.

    I will not let his attack deter me. I will not let him foil my plans. I will be victorious over this evil man, Oh yes, I will be victorious.

  10. Sounds like quite an adventurous day at the PJM house--even without "jumping" the trench!

    I really enjoyed all of the photos.

    And today's old picture was great! What a beautiful picture of such a beautiful ship.

    I want to forward it to my fiance in Australia, who idolizes Admiral Nelson, and is an avid student of the Peninsular Wars

  11. Very cool to get pictures from 50 feet up. You have a beautiful home. Thank heavens your daughter came out and saved the day, sea boom and all.

    I think between you and Nate I experienced it all, fear, laughter, holding my breath, relief, frustration, what an adventure..... and a beautiful ship to boot.

    Thanks PJM,


  12. Holy crap. I'm glad you went of track with this post. What a crack up. And the comments add to the fun. Thanks for the laughs.

  13. Oh, and Nate, I do not have "Tombstones" (plural) in my front yard, I have "Tombstone" singular in my front yard. Hence, since you presented it in the plural, your item 10 is not correct, hence your entire thesis breaks down.

  14. LOL. My apologies, I didn't know if the utilitarian burial trench by the bio-lab (the one you were planning on jumping while riding aloft your mechanical contraption) was marked or not.

    I should probably add two more:

    20) Causing damsels to lay themselves down in front of heavy life-threatening equipment.


    21) Threatening to embargo the world when you aren't the subject of everyone's attention.

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  16. Nate,
    If you want to be a good Evil Genius, your lists need to end in round numbers. Your first list had 19 items, and then now it has 21 items. A list of 20 would have been better. Once you went over 20, you needed to go to 25.

    The granite piece in my front yard was my grandfather's tombstone. He died in 1930, and they put up a very attractive, tall granite fountain looking piece. The area where he was buried has ground the creeps or moves, so the marker would lean and turn over every few years, which was a common problem in that area. In the 60's they removed the marker, as it kept turning over. They put it behind the barn where I used to live. I always thought it was a beautiful piece of granite, and did not look like a marker. So, when we built our house, I had it moved here. One day I want to make a fountain out of it, but have not gotten around to it yet.


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