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From: Bill Machrone <>
Subject: Re: Spanish Inquisition
Date: 1999/02/05
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking

Jens wrote:

> or put up a real ugly gigantic wooden building from scrap lumber found
> in the town dump

This is strongly reminiscent of a "spite fence." My father built a
classic spite fence after our
clueless-city-bred-former-apartment-dweller neighbor put in central air,
with a heat exchanger that exhausted horizontally--right at our screened
back porch. In post-WW II suburbia, on 75 by 100 lots, you could feel
the heat.

The fence was a sight to behold: Wood of every color and kind. Peeling
plywood. Rec-room paneling. Two-bys. Four-bys. Rough tongue-and-groove
flooring. Wedges driven into the earth. A sheet of aluminum. Some
galvanized ducting opened and hammered flat. A piece of corrugated
fiberglass. Big nails, bent over. Rusty sheet metal screws.

This from a master craftsman who enjoyed working to "half a tenth" and
used to make me practice filing brass and driving nails.

The neighbor came over, wanted to know what all the fuss was about. Dad
refused to tell him--told him to figure it out for himself. Dad could
have put a lot less effort into making a 90 degree deflector out of
sheet metal for the thing, and it would have looked factory. But
retribution for the neighbor's inconsiderateness was more important, at
least to Dad.

The neighbor was an optometrist by trade, but had no interest in or
orientation to the physical/mechanical world beyond eyeglasses.
Optometry was a respectable profession for a nice Jewish boy from the
Bronx, and it began and ended there.

When I was a teenager, the same neighbor got spotlights for his driveway
and aimed them more at the side of our house than at the driveway. They
shone directly into my 3rd-story window. I asked him to re-aim them (not
quite as taciturn as Dad) a couple of times, then re-aimed them myself
one night when he failed to. They illuminated the driveway much better
after I was done.

To my everlasting surprise, he had the electrician come back to his
house the following weekend to install a new dual-spotlight
fixture--with tamper-resistant screws--aimed at the side of our house! I
guess he was trying for maximum ground coverage, but from lights that
were only about 7 feet off the ground, and somehow the photons didn't
know enough to stop at the property line.

I took a page from my old man's book and hung a bedsheet from my window,
upon which was painted, "Jesus Loves You."

My mother had a fit (when she could supress the laughter), but I
wouldn't take it down.

The electrician came back and re-aimed the lights.

- Bill

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