Daily Archives: December 30, 2011

Talking Our Way Into Oblivion – Hydrogen and Hot Air

A few years ago my friend Rich asked me if I’d be interested in talking with an older guy in his late 70s who was experimenting with hydrogen generators for retrofitting onto his vehicle.   I wasn’t looking into hydrogen generating, but I’m a curious sort of fellow.  I didn’t require any persuading.  I just told Rich to give Bryce my phone number.  About a week later he called me.

Turned out Bryce had spent his career as chief mechanic for the Ford and General Motors Speed Teams, or Racing Teams, some such thing.  He was part of the group that put together the hydrogen powered vehicle that established a record for the highest speed ever recorded for an internal combustion engine driven automobile.

Using what he learned from all that, Bryce had created a series of hydrogen generators for his own vehicle, trying to maximize efficiency and deal with other shortcomings with the system.  He did it all from salvaged materials.  Heck of an interesting guy the first few times we talked.  I wish I’d taken notes and drawn sketches of what he told me.

At first during our acquaintance Bryce and I had conversations.  Two people brainstorming things he was doing, and I was doing.  But gradually the hydrogen generating conversational possibilities ran down.  Bryce was calling me every day or so, telling me all manner of things I didn’t want to hear, such as what the waitress in the cafe where he took coffee and meals said to him, what he said back, what she said back.  Or what other customers said to him and what he said back.  Or his brother.

Bryce would call, ask how I was, not wait for an answer, and talk non-stop for an hour, two hours.  I could put the phone down, go feed the chickens or make a cup of coffee and come back to the phone without him noticing.  Sometimes I’d tie a bandanna around my head attaching the phone to my ear and read a book waiting for him to wind down.

This went on for months.  I didn’t know what to do about it, except straight-on explaining to him that this wasn’t conversation and wasn’t a source of joy to me.  I mentioned it to Rich, and it turned out Bryce was doing the same thing to him.

Finally, as gently as I could manage, I interrupted one of his monologues and explained the problem, as I viewed it.  I told him I liked him, that I’d enjoy conversations with him, but that I didn’t want to hear the same stories over and over about people at the restaurant, his brother, etc.  That if we were going to continue having communications there’d need to be exchanges and some level of concern as to the amount of interest the other person had in hearing it.

Despite my attempt to soften the words, Bryce got his feelers hurt badly by this.  He never called again, which I preferred to the alternative of things continuing as they were.

Sometime a few months later Rich finally got his fill of it and tried the same tactic on Bryce, with the same result.  He was more reluctant to do it than I’d been, because he felt sorrier for Bryce than I was willing to allow myself to indulge.

Bryce came up in conversation between us a couple of days ago.  Turns out it’s been almost exactly a year since Rich has heard from him, and a few months more than that for me.  We wondered aloud how he was doing.

But neither of us is willing to bite the bullet and call him to find out, on pain of maybe starting the whole mess again.

I began this post figuring on saying some things about hydrogen generators but drifted off into Bryce and his problems.  Maybe some other time, the hydrogen generators.

Old Jules

Possible Mistaken Identity

Morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a visit.

Now that my freezer compartment’s thawed out I was due to make a town run for necessaries.  Yesterday I took Little Red in and took the back road past Habitat for Humanity thinking they’d be open, but they weren’t. 

But there’s a pallet out front where they always put things that didn’t sell for anyone who wants them, free.  Whether they’re open, or closed, there’s often a lot of stuff there a person with the right turn of mind might find a use for.  Around the other side of the building there’s a similar area marked, DONATIONS, clearly separated from this one.

The ‘Free’ sign wasn’t out, but the pallet did have a lot of junk on it, so I pulled in and looked it over.  I figured the store was just closed for the day for some reason.  I picked off three ceiling fan motors and a few other possibly useful items.  I’ve got a number of other ceiling fan motors I picked off that pallet here I haven’t decided what to do with yet, but copper’s got a high pricetag on it, at the very least.

But when I got back and swung by Gale’s to brag about it he shook his head.  “Man, they’ve been closed since before Christmas.  I’m amazed someone hadn’t picked them up.”

“Closed?  Since before Christmas?”  Wrinkled brow, puzzling.  “Sheeze!  I’ll bet somebody dropped those off as donations.  Just left them in the wrong place.”

So maybe I made a haul of some discarded fan motors and maybe I temporarily stole some intended to be donations to Habitat for Humanity.  I’m going to have to contact Linda, the manager, to find out whether I need to haul them back to town.  And if they’re closed until after New Year I reckons I’ll have the use of them until the status is nailed down as to whether they’re stolen property or pre-emptively rescued from some other less deserving scavenger.

Seems life’s never simple.

Old Jules