Archive for June, 2010

My Heath Robinson vac attachment

June 17, 2010

For some time I have wanted a portable vacuum cleaner, rather like the kind used for car interiors. I have a USB mixer for streaming my sound to the internet at my shows and this has lots of little knobs on it which provide numerous spaces that attract thick layers of dust over time. I also find that the keys on my pianos get very dusty. Yesterday, I went to a store that sold household electrical goods and found one of these machines at a ridiculously low price in a stock clearance sale. My hand went to my pocket and a twenty pound note was passed to the sales assistant. A minute later I was the proud owner of a dustbuster.

Vac lacking a bristle nozzle

Back home I subjected the machine to close examination and found that the mouth of the vacuum was a solid plastic slit. What I really wanted was something more flexible, such as the circular brush attachment that comes with most full size vacs. I rummaged in the cupboard under the stairs and, to my delight, found one that had belonged to one our our previous vacs. This left me with a problem to solve. Somehow, I needed to connect the brush head to the solid body of the portable vac. This needed to be done in a way that would be air tight, since otherwise the vacuum would be lost. At first I improvised with a highly flexible plastic A4 document folder and a few bits of sticky tape. The prototype passed with flying colours as it sucked a nice clean line through a very dusty shelf in my studio. I then addressed the problem of how to arrive at a more permanent solution, using a material that was similarly flexible but more robust than the plastic document file.

The old brush attachment is joined to the rubber glove

The answer came to me in a flash: I needed to adapt a rubber glove to the purpose. In the kitchen I found a new pair of yellow washing up gloves and decided to sacrifice one of them at the altar of Piano Key Cleanliness. I cut off the fingers just below the wrist and eased the glove over the brush attachment, securing it firmly with duct tape. Duct tape is sometimes called ‘gaffer’ tape and it is a strong waterproof cloth tape that is very sticky on one side. For many years I thought it was called ‘duck’ tape because of the fact that it was waterproof. Be that as it may, I am happy to report that this journey into the world of Heath Robinson invention has been entirely successful.

My finished Heath Robinson brush attachment

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Reading novels

June 12, 2010

I have neglected this blog lately. Although I have been busy with other things, I have been reading quite a few library books. This is part of my plan to find entertainments that cost zero money. I have been making my weekly trip to the library for several months now. I have not been reading serious literature. Rather, I have opted for fairly light page-turners. Here is what I have read over the past four weeks:

  • Freeman Wills Crofts: The affair at Little Wokenham
    Iris Murdoch: The nice and the good
    Reginald Hill: Arms and the women
    Iris Murdoch: The green knight
    John Sergeant: Give me ten seconds
    Fryman Wills Crofts: Mystery in the channel
    Anita Brookner: Brief lives
    Ian Rankin: Knots & crosses.

As you can see, that works out at about two books per week and I have been enjoying this. I much prefer reading to watching TV. Apart from that, I have continued to play around five one hour music shows per week in Second Life on the internet. That means I am at home playing music for about five evenings in the week. Once again, they are five evenings that cost me no money for my entertainment. All these things are pertinent to the challenge of managing on my pension and I am pleased to say that I do break even.

On my website in the poetry section I have published my Sonnet of Sonnets, entitled ‘Autobiographical shards’. I am currently exploring the possibility of using each one of the 14 sonnets as the basis for a prose chapter in what could become my autobiography. I have written a draft of the first chapter. I feel fairly ambivalent about the project but I don’t have to make my mind up until I have a first draft of the full manuscript. At present my inclination is to include two or three illustrations per chapter and these I plan to sketch or draw digitally (rather in the style of my bandcamp.com song illustrations). If I do complete this book, I will probably publish it with blurb.com. My friend Tom has made a photo book that way and was extremely pleased with the result. Of course, if I start to work seriously on the manuscript for the autobiography, then that might take writing time away from this blog. I shall have to monitor the situation. Still, good to talk to you once more, my dear blogophiles.