Saturday, September 27, 2008

And they're waving the checkered pillowcase...

They race beds in South Whitley. In fact, they're the bed racing capital of the world — you can pick up a green wedge in Trivial Pursuit for knowing that. Rules? Minimal: One bed. One passenger, four runners, no interference. Safety? Sign a waiver — no brakes or steering mechanisms allowed! The atmosphere? Good fun.

We arrived late in the afternoon, and walked over to main street just as the zero-turn mower square dance was finishing up, and staked out a spot in front of the fire station while I went off to get a few photos.

Hey, sweet mama, wanna go... bed racing?

A real racing bed. I think this is one of the ones available to teams who haven't constructed a bed of their own. Apparently steering mechanisms weren't always disallowed — I wonder what prompted that particular rule change?

Teams this year included Manchester United ...Methodist Church, Night of the Living Bed (my favorites), Team Dynamite (I think these were the sixth-graders), Big Blue (the high school track team, if I'm not mistaken), MSC (Manufactured Structures Corporation), and the TK Bed Sled Team, resplendent in Hawaiian shirts and bike shorts.

Night of the Living Bed, with their entry, the new and improved Grateful Bed II.

The TK Bed Sled Team, like most, picked the smallest member as passenger. Only the winning team actually had them lie down in the bed — presumably for better aerodynamics. When was the last time you heard "beds" and "aerodynamics" in the same sentence?

I dig the welded rebar "spiderwebs" on the Grateful Bed II. Night of the Living Bed would go on to win the "best theme" prize.

The heats were short, fast, and furious, and the cheering was genuine. Manchester United, Team Dynamite, and MSC fell in the opening rounds. The remaining three teams battled it out. Night of the Living Bed was dominating until they veered off course and had to stop to avoid a collision. TK Bed Sled Team moved on to the next round, the final showdown against Big Blue.

It was a close race, too close for me to tell from where I was standing. In the end, Big Blue got it, and were declared the 2008 Bed racing Champions.

The victors return. There's something poignant about this photo; I'm not sure I can place my finger on it, though.

For the non-bandwidth-challenged, you can see my videos on YouTube here, here, and here.

And... that's it for this year! Anyone want to put together a team with me for next?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Fiona brought home this paper the other night. I'm... confused. Someone expain this to me?

What are they teaching kids in Sunday School these days?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Orange Flags, Red Tape

The surveyors are out surveying. Given that they were going along, finding the edge of each property line, it looks like we'll have a back yard, rather than apartments, in back of our house.

Back when I was in high school, and thinking of becoming an architect, I took a drafting class. Good thing: I discovered that it was, while a valuable skill, not really to my liking. A further class field trip, where we surveyed the school grounds, drove that point home. Start at a known point, lay out the measuring chains, measure the temperature, calculate the expansion or contraction of the chain... entirely too picky and mathematical for my taste. It made me appreciate what these guys were doing, and all the more, the shortcuts: previous surveyors had sunk steel spikes into the ground at the edges of the property lines, and finding your fixed reference point was a job that could be done in 30 seconds with a metal detector and shovel. I knew there had to be an easier way to do it than how Mr. Watson was showing us!

According to Brent, the purchase agreements are off in the hands of the lawyers, and then there's a two-week examination period (presumably to allow for public protest... Jan, you hush now!) and then, finally, the closing and excavation, although I'm not certain about the order of the last two. Will it be a month? Several? Will it still happen this year? No idea. In the meantime, I keep scraping together what money I can.

The Optimist, Part 2

There was a detail about the last post that I left out, because I wasn't sure — but now, James confirmed my memory. Take another look at the price board on that wagon:

See the part where the first digit has been painted out? I thought maybe I had been imagining it, and that it used to be an 8... but no, my memory was right... it was a three! Yes, folks, they raised the price. Get it now, before it goes up again!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Optimist

I consider myself an optimist. But I've got nothing on this guy. For several years now, I've been passing these wagons for sale alongside Route 5, not too far out of South Whitley.

That larger wagon, if memory serves, started out around $1100, and has gradually come down in price as the seasons have come and gone. The sledge, for $400, seems like a more recent addition. By contrast, I've been trying to sell a fully-functional car for $300, and I haven't had any takers in the last six months.

So, anyone in the market for an old wagon or sledge?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

South Whitley

The first week of fall. It's still hot — hotter than it's been all summer, actually — but the colder days won't stay away for long, and there are some things you just can't do in winter. So, Deborah and I rode down to one of our favorite getaway diners while we still could, this time to Carol's Corner down in South Whitley. We had to get this one in now, since next week it closes until Spring.

Carol's Corner is at the stoplight in South Whitley. This isn't an ambiguous direction — here's only one stoplight there. And once you get there, it's pretty obvious where you'd go to get a burger or a shake.

The fare is largely either fried or frozen, and reasonably good, but the attraction for us is that it's fun — fun to get there (Rt. 5 has nice twisty bits); fun to look at the license plates and other memorabilia tacked up...

It wasn't until I looked at this picture later that I realized that all the people inside the shack were looking out at me. I guess only the girls get to go outside!

Bed racing? Our waitress says it's an annual event. I must investigate... to check out the fake foot on the Burger Bug; it's fun to figure out how fried pickles, mozzarella sticks, and breaded mac & cheese belong in the "veggie basket." It's a date. What can I say?

South Whitley itself was decked out in the clothes of archetypal small town America, with classic cars parked along the street, and flags every few yard, flapping in the golden hour light of late evening.

Farewell until Spring, then, South Whitley.

Or, at least, until whenever that bed race is...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Oh, that's better... MUCH better!

Editor's Note: We're a few weeks behind these days. Current events and older events are getting posted at about the same time. So if you're trying to reconstruct an accurate chronology of my life... um... sorry...?

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know I've been trying to get an old air compressor running in my shed. (More on that here and here.) The latest wrinkle in what was supposed to be a straightforward project was that the shed wiring and breaker box really couldn't handle the pull of the new motor. To be perfectly honest, the shed wiring wasn't really good for much of anything...

The wire running from the house to the shed. Eek.

The seriously outdated and under-rated fuse box in the shed. Double eek.

A closeup of the wiring. Eek, eek, eek.

So, while they were visiting, my father-in law helped me fix all those things and more. (Some of them even needed fixing!) The whole thing took about a day and a half and a few hundred bucks (good wire isn't cheap...) but finally, we had...

Grounded 10-gauge wire, protected by weather-resistant piping...

...that looked a lot better than the previous wire, to boot...

...a proper breaker box with properly-rated breakers...

...and after all this time, a quiet, powerful, all-weather air compressor! Yeah!

So all in all, I lost a fire hazard and gained a good tool. Not a bad deal!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Fiona's Hair Salon

Fiona's Hair Salon is now accepting new customers! Hurry in now, for outrageous, over the top hairstyles that will surely get you featured on a family blog! Join now and get a free haircut!