Random Thursday: The Weekend Edition

Look what I found in my Office Drawer of Miscellaneous Stuff:

Photo - Mattel Electronics handheld football game from 1977
State-of-the-art gaming equipment circa 1977

More than four decades ago, this electronic football game was a huge win for Mattel, at one point selling more than 500,000 units per week. The little red blips on the screen represent the ball carrier (the brightest light) and the defenders (there were five; one of them has apparently gone to the locker room, possibly with an injury, in this photo). According to the Mattel section of the Handheld Museum (you knew there would be one, right?), the blips or dashes of light are actually the top section of the number 8 on a calculator; the game ran on a modified Rockwell calculator chip.

I put a 9-volt battery into this unit and it fired right up and worked flawlessly, which isn't saying much, but the game is still oddly addictive...a comfortable throwback to a simpler time.

Incidentally, you can re-create the experience for only $139.86 via a rebooted/updated "replica" sold by Amazon.

On a related note, Debbie and I still have one of the original Pong consoles -- and the original box -- sold by Sears beginning in 1975. I'm sure it works, but it would be a challenge to find an adapter to make it compatible with a modern TV.

The whitetail deer bucks around here start shedding their antlers annually after the first of the year...and that's when Debbie starts her search for those discards. It's a race against time, to be honest, because there are a bunch of local critters who dine on antlers. Squirrels and porcupines gnaw on them to wear down their continuously growing teeth, and, along with possums and raccoons, obtain nutrients (including iron, potassium, zinc, and calcium) in the bone that comprises the antler. We've seen entire antlers disappear from our back yard in a few months thanks to the voracious varmints.

She's rarely successful in her searches because we don't actually get out and beat the bushes. But serendipity occasional rears its pretty little head, and it did so a few months ago. She found a beautiful four-point antler and we've been guarding it carefully until we could decide what to do with it.

A week or so ago, I had a brainstorm for an antler centric DIY project. Here's the quite impressive result:

Photo - Deer antler hat rack that I built all by myself

 Everyone needs a hatrack in their garage, right? But I gotta tell you, working with bone is not an easy task, as I learned the hard way.

My plan was to (1) grind a flat spot on the burr (which is where the antler more or less attaches to the deer's skull), then (2) drill a hole and sink a threaded insert into which (3) a bolt would be affixed through a hole in the side of a cabinet, thereby firmly and seamlessly fastening the antler to the exterior of the cabinet. Sounds pretty simple.

The problem is that bones are like rocks in the body* and they're just as hard to cut or drill as rocks (if you've ever watched Forged In Fire, you probably know that the bone chop is one of the most feared tests of durability of a knife). I quickly learned that I could not cut threads into the hole that I drilled (and it took four bits of increasingly large diameter to get the right sized hole). There may be a tap in existence that will thread a rock (or a bone), but I certainly don't have it in my tool kit. I ended up just pounding the threaded insert into the hole and hoping the fit would be strong enough to support the weight of a few caps. So far, it has, so that's a win in my book.

If any of you DIYers who are more skilled than me -- that would be you, whoever you are -- care to advise me on how this project might go more smoothly next time, feel free to enlighten me via a comment.

I'm going to close today with some thoughts about snakes, and more specifically, about snakes and their effects on some folks. And perhaps there's a larger lesson to be learned. [Disclosure: There are no photos associated with this bit of rambling.]

There is a woman who I consider to be a friend, even though I've never met her. Our virtual relationship goes back to the golden days of blogging. She's a wife, mom, PhD educator, and author of multiple novels, as well as a sister in Christ. I have a great deal of respect for her. She also has a significant aversion to snakes.

For a long time, whenever I'd post something about a serpentine encounter, she'd chide me...especially if I included a photo or two. I always assumed her comments were [at least] half-joking and didn't take them too seriously, although I did start to post a warning on social media if I included pictures of snakes and I knew she might read those posts. This practice, again, was something of a wink-and-a-nod bit of levity on my part...a tongue-in-cheek trigger warning, if you will.

However, a few weeks ago, I saw her post something that made me realize that I had been much too cavalier toward her feelings. She essentially shared that she had a deep-seated fear of and aversion to snakes, and that the simple sight of a photo could trigger something akin to PTSD. I then realized that this was not a joke, and that I had been oblivious to a real issue.

There might have been a time in my life where my reaction would be "well, that's her problem, not mine." (I hope I've never been that insensitive, but I'm sure I've been that clueless.) Thank God, I've gained a bit of maturity over the years [quit laughing; I'm sure that's the case. Well, sort of sure.] and I now know that just because I can't quite understand or relate to someone else's feelings or perceptions, those things are no less real than my own. (For the record, I share a similar -- albeit a somewhat less intense -- reaction to spiders.)

So, if in the future you see me post a warning about the inclusion of photos of snakes in one of my articles, think of it as a sort of public service announcement, and know that I am more concerned about the feelings of my friend than I am about adding a few more words. 

I think we each have our own issues that seem trivial or silly to others but which are very real and impactful to our own well-being. I'm pretty sure our world would be a better place to live if we sought to understand and sympathize with one another in that respect. 

I'm not suggesting that we do that if it undermines or conflicts with our genuine moral or ethical underpinnings, but to borrow a quote that's been attributed to multiple people through the ages, we should strive for "unity in the essential, charity in the non-essential, and in all things, love."


Interesting information on how other critters gnaw on deer antlers! I love how God did not let anything go to waste in His Creation!

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on May 8, 2021 8:00 PM.

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