Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lost City pumps life-essential chemicals at rates unseen at typical black smokers

-- I had to read that headline, like, five or six times before I could figure out what the heck it was trying to say. With no context, it looks like three or four headlines cut up and scrambled together.

Oh, THOSE black smokers.

The most important thing I’ve done in weeks

…and no, it has nothing to do with metal detecting.

My parents bought a tall corner cabinet at a yard sale, painted so that it looked cute, and gave it to us to put in Jill’s room. It’s a nice, and quite useful, bit of furniture, and we finally placed it in her room the week after Christmas.

However, it was not bolted to the wall. That was a constant worry for me. Really, it was quite negligent of me to have allowed it to stand unbolted for so long, since it toppled quite easily (Erin or Jill could have done that without straining themselves) and no doubt was quite capable of killing a small child outright on its way down.

So last night, while home alone for a little while, I cut a couple of lengths from a 1x3 piece of pine to use as brackets, got out the drill and a couple of tool boxes, and screwed it to the wall.

It’s nice to have an hour or so where I’m actually doing something useful.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

in the rain and mud

Lunchtime today:

1 dime, 8 or 10 pennies, and an Avon watch that I just threw in the bag without inspecting, but which looks a little dinged up.

The detector only found three of the pennies. The rest I found just looking at the ground nearby. I only had to dig for one of the pennies.

The dime and one of the cents I spotted sitting next to the sidewalk as I walked back to the car.

The watch was sitting on the grass near the playground as I walked by.

In most places, the ground was still frozen, except for the top inch or two.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I went with Brian yesterday to one site I was enthusiastic about hunting, but for the most part the ground was so frozen that it was like digging in brick. I found nothing to speak of, but after it warms up a little I’ll go back. I had a nice walk around that area, though.

Then we went over to a nearby park. The ground was frozen there, too, but there were sandy spots around the bleachers of the ball fields, and those spots were easy to dig in. I found 79 cents (some of that was not found with a metal detector; it was just sitting around when I walked past.) I also found two toy cars.

Then we plunged into the underbrush to look for an old home site. We found it, but it was getting dark, so we weren’t there long. I’d like to go back and take some pictures, because it was kind of interesting.

Today at lunch I went back to the same park and found 61 cents. There was at least one spot where I’m pretty sure a coin was buried, but I couldn’t chip my way through the rock-hard soil to find it.

One of the coins I found yesterday was a penny, sitting on top of the sand as I walked up. Next to it was another dirty-looking disk of the same size. I picked up the penny, then picked up the other disk. It appeared too corroded to be a coin, and I thought that maybe it was a rusted iron slug of some sort. I tried to bend it, and it snapped in half, revealing a white center; that’s when I knew I’d found a dirty, flattened, frozen Junior Mint.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

a cold walk, part 2

Holy cow. It’s cold. My lunch break walk was rather short. Once I turned into the wind, I felt like I had an ice cream headache confined to my eyebrows and eyeballs. My pants throbbed and my fingers recoiled.

I did note that an old farmhouse near my work, which Brooke and David mentioned to me over the weekend, appears to be slated for a zoning change. I might have to watch that.

a cold walk

Going out to look at potential detecting sites at lunch in a few minutes. I had just about decided not to because it’s freakin’ 20 degrees and windy. But then I though, phooey on it, I really want to. Maybe if I cause myself some physical pain via a bitter wind, I’ll diminish my obsession somewhat and be able to focus on other things.

So I will attempt to go walk in a frigid field. I need the exercise. I will try to take some photos.

Another book report: Gentlemen of the Road

A couple of weeks ago I read Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon. Quite a nice little book. Also a quick read, despite Chabon’s juicy verbosity. He rolled out word after word that caused me to want to reach for the dictionary, but I didn’t because I’m lazy and because the story reads just fine anyway.

In the spirit of classic adventure yarns, the novel concerns two dissimilar traveling companions near the Caspian Sea, circa A.D. 950. Despite psychological and physical differences, they’ve formed a connection that has kept them together for years as they eke out a living, surviving with their wits and their weapons.

One, Amran, is a huge African bearing a Viking battleaxe. He is well-traveled and has seen years of service in the armies of the Byzantine emperor. The other is Zelikman, a slim Frankish physician prone to brooding. Both are Jewish, and become embroiled in a plot to return a young man to the throne of the Jewish empire of Khazaria after his family was overthrown in a coup.

Chabon grounds his novel in real-world grimness and violence, yet rarely strays far from a low-key wry humor. Amran and Zelikman have had hard lives and deep sadness, driving out any overt expressions of sympathy or philanthropy they might otherwise have shown; they are jaded “gentlemen.” Yet their own rootlessness and lack of attachment to anyone but one another (and even that is somewhat shaky) allows them to take risks to help others in need. They’d probably be right at home among Robin Hood’s merry men.

Fun book.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I learned a new bit of metal detecting slang: “Canslaw.” Canslaw is the little bits of aluminum can that are spit out by the big mowers that are used in parks. I have only a little experience with it, but in that short time I became quite annoyed by it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Where the sidewalk ends

This is where Lagrange Road and New Lagrange Road come together—almost, since they don’t really meet but instead run parallel on opposite sides of the railroad tracks.

New Lagrange Road follows the old path of the Intraurban Railway that ran to Lagrange, and which stopped running in 1939. A road was put in its place at some point. What we now think of as New Lagrange Road once ended at Lyndon Lane.

1. An old white-painted concrete post with a “9” on it. I suppose it’s mile marker 9. It is old.

2. A turnoff that peters out before it gets to the tracks.

3. Long sidewalk that seems to end at the turnoff.

4. The start of another turnoff, but it’s even more abbreviated (or covered over) than point #2.

5. An asphalt path that seems to follow the same direction as points # 2 and 4.

I looked at #5, and the asphalt path is old, but not really old. It might be on top of something older, but I noted that the rises and dips in #5 correspond to the drives of the parking lot it passes across, telling me that it was laid at the same time. So it might be a coincidence that it lines up with #2 and 4.

Why is this sidewalk here? It can’t get a whole lot of foot traffic. And where did this little drive, #2, go? The sidewalk and turnoff are old, but I don’t know how old. I can’t tell if they are 30 years old, or 80.

Might there once have been a driveway or private road that stretched from Lagrange Road, over both the RR and the Intraurban RR, and onto someone’s property? Or might there once have been a little Intraurban boarding station there?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dash my curry

Last night I dreamed that I went to a little roadside house-turned-eating establishment that, at night, hosted bands and large gatherings attended by college students and the adventurous in search of loud music and alchohol. It was my lunch break, and I had not been able to pack my lunch, so I went there to buy some absolutely delicious giant cloves of roasted garlic that you could eat, still warm, right out of their papery garlic wrapping. I also picked up some potatoes, chicken, and rice, in aluminum foil bunches on an outside grill.

I went inside to see M.I.A, who owned and operated the place. She was cleaning the floor in front. I suddenly realized I had forgotten my wallet. I told her my situation and asked her if my credit was good with her. I was a regular there, and she sort of knew me. She said it was no problem, and I told her I would pay her back the next day. I accidentally spilled something from my food on the floor, and spent a moment cleaning it up with a damp paper towel, hoping that the extra cleaning I was doing (the floor was pretty dirty, as one would expect in such a party spot) would meet with M.I.A.’s approval.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Site research update

Well, I’ve been in contact with the director at the second site I mentioned. The response was better than I expected, but not as good as I hoped—but there might be potential for some detecting fun. He said detecting on the property was permissible, but that I must stay away from the buildings, since some of them (often or always? I don’t know) have children that I shouldn’t be near. He said that just to be safe I should stay away from the buildings.

Areas near buildings are the best places, since they had the most foot traffic, so that is a bit of a bummer. However, there still might be something worth looking at there: There is a sports field around which I could probably detect, and some detective work might reveal sites of structures long since vanished. I think it certainly can bear more investigation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Book review

I finished reading Tolkien’s Children of Húrin last week, and I liked it quite a bit. The first 70-80 pages dragged a bit, as the main character is a child and events all feel like a set up for the main part of the story. But once the central character, Túrin, gets a bit older and starts hitting people with swords, the story really takes off. It’s much shorter that LOTR, and much darker than The Hobbit. Anyone with no familiarity with Middle Earth might find it too inaccessible, but it’s much easier to get into than The Silmarillian, which I have never finished and have no desire to pick up again.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Site research

At lunch today, I visited two potential sites for metal detecting. The first site has a building on it dating to the 1830s, and in 1896 became a military academy with numerous buildings. It also functioned as a day camp, middle school, and college prep school, lasting until the just a few decades ago. I spoke with a gentleman in the engineering department of the organization that runs the site now, and he said he would check with someone “in administration.” I think I have a reasonable chance of being allowed to detect there. I sure hope so, because that should be a really great place for it. There are loads of old buildings and foundations, sports fields, and hang-out spots.

The second site is near the first. It’s part of the same old estate, and later became an orphanage in the early 1900s. There are numerous old buildings, but I don’t know how old—I’d guess they were built between 1920 and 1940, with some other very new ones. Not as much potential as the first site, but still very good. It is no longer an orphanage, but is run by the state for other programs. I met the regional director at his office there. He seemed very nice, asked me a few questions about my intent, and said that he would inquire with someone else in state government. If it were simply up to him, I think he’d have said, “Go ahead!” but since we’re dealing with a bureaucracy I don’t know what answer I’ll get.

Both places would be pretty cool, I think. I hope I get the answers I’m looking for. Brian—if I get an affirmative response, I’ll ask if I can bring my brother.

I keep thinking of more and more places I want to go, but I sure don’t have much time to capitalize on it.

If any of you lovely readers have any missing rings that you want me to hunt for you, let me know.

backward and forward

I just found a dollar bill that was numbered F 64440446 H. That is the closest I’ve ever come to finding a radar (palindromic) note.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Erin's "craft"

Erin likes to work on craft projects, which when initiated by her involves cutting and pasting whatever items strike her fancy and that she has permission to work with (she’s very good about asking permission to use things, thank goodness.) I’m quite impressed with her mixed-media tendencies. On Christmas, she decided that some of the foam packaging from some of the gifts would form a good basis for a craft. She started cutting it, and then she glued parts back together, and then cut up construction paper and glued it in place. She recruited me to help cut some of the paper in the artwork pictured here, but most of the work (and all of the placement) is hers.

The couple of foam/construction paper collages she worked on around Christmas mark a departure for this young artist from previous efforts in that she has started mixing together multiple colors; her work was more Louise Nevelson-ish before, and has recently turned late-career Matisse.

Perhaps my tongue is somewhat in my cheek. But I insist that I am both proud of, and intrigued by, her artwork.
The three leftmost items were discovered in my back yard today. An hour or so of searching revealed these, as well as the badly rusted and corroded remains of tin cans and some aluminum foil from some disco-era cookout. Or Reagan-era.

The three items were some kind of a metal bracket or brace, a pink car, and a cent.

The other stuff was found at a local elementary playground. I poked around for an hour until it got dark. Half of the coins were found in the first ten minutes, in one little spot.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Looking at the picture in the post below makes me wince. The Pixies and The Fall tapes that Mike French gave me were excellent. Will I ever again get to hear the Hula Hoop album “My Sweet Amputee”? There were two or three songs on that which I loved. The Lou Reed tapes given to me by Al. The misc. rockin’ collection from George. Even the puffy but thoroughly enjoyable Big Dipper tapes. It was all so sweet. How could I have dumped it in the trash?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


For Jillian's birhtday, Kim and I worked on fixing up her bedroom while she spent the night at her grandparents' house. My first task was to empty out the cardboard file drawers full of my junk that I'd been keeping in her room. To make room for all the shuffling, I had to clear space in a closet. I decided to throw these out, although it hurt to do so.

Some of these tapes I've had for twenty years, maybe longer. There is some fantastic music here. But I just don't listen to tapes much any more.

So sad.