Tuesday, August 20, 2019

What do you call it?

What do you call it when there is simply nothing that moves you to write? I'm not talking about writer's block, where you have a subject but simply can't get the words out. This is more along the lines of...I don't know. It isn't burn out or a lack of motivation, exactly. There is simply no subject that is goading me into writing right now.

I suppose that's one of the differences between us hobbyists and the "professionals". Professionals gotta eat, so they learn to write something of acceptable quality about something on a schedule. I'm retired-what is this "schedule" of which you speak?

Maybe I can go over some of the stuff that's been going on around here. Nothing is earth-shattering, it's just the stuff that lives are made of. But some may find it interesting.

This morning, I've been on the evil Amazon again, managing my "Subscribe and Save" list. I understand that some people see Amazon as part of a growing Technology Axis of Evil, and I suppose it is. It's also what makes living in smaller towns easier and less expensive. I noticed they have the Keystone canned meats on offer now. I've signed up for a couple of cans every month. Yes, I'm sure it can be gotten cheaper by the case, but if I manipulate the system correctly, I get it for 15% off Amazon's price, I can bump all my other stuff from 5% to 15% off and it's shipped free. I also get to buy it in more budget friendly sized chunks. This will let me slowly expand the pantry again. After kids moving out, we've let the pantry contract, because 2 of us don't eat what 4 did. Pantry space is limited, so in addition to stocking staples, such as soups, pastas and the like, I'm starting on things that will store better. Happiness is a full pantry.

You might remember my tiny little step into solar power. One thing I noted was that the light wouldn't turn on when plugged into the panel. Well, a couple of weeks ago I had to finish mowing after dark. Putting the "tractor" up, I needed a little light, So I tried this thing out in full darkness for the first time. I found out two things. First, it really is a little light-you get just enough to see. It's about like the moonlight setting on a lot of flashlights. Second, it worked while plugged up. Apparently, if there is any power on the incoming feed, it won't work. Not sure what odd choices were made for it to work that way, but now I know the answer to one of life's mysteries.

I'm still slowly cleaning/reorganizing the garage and basement. Several loads have went to the Salvation Army and a couple to the dump. More await for both destinations. However, I'm finally getting some things organized where I can find them, tools especially. I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do with all of those extra sockets....

I'm starting to cycle around to ham radio again, and Mrs. Freeholder and I have had some conversations about the need for antennas. She objects to the idea that her house is going to look like this:

I've assured her that I'm not after that. No way I have that much money. :-)

Actually, I wouldn't want it either. It's simply too obvious what I'm up to. The 6m-2m-70cm beam is small and looks rather like a TV antenna. And while some nice beams for HF would be great, I don't care for everyone who drives by to know I'm "that radio guy".

At first the plan was for a couple of end-fed long wires, but with no reasonable anchor points, I was going to have to put up some sort of poles for them. I figured she'd hate the poles, but it's the actual wires she objects to. So after some discussion and the display of many photos, she decided that she would be OK with some sort of vertical, as long as it didn't require too many guy lines.

I looked into the subject, and while I can fund it now (sold the Subaru), I didn't really find anything I warmed up to. Too expensive and I was concerned about functionality. ARRL, you need to test more antennas.

During the looking, I enlisted YouTube. Did you know YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world? I've been using it a long time to learn about various things, so I figured why not antennas. During the search, I found the DX Commander. Rather than the usual vertical design, this is a fan dipole turned on its end. I like that it can be installed in a secure but non-permanent manner. It's a resonant antenna, which is good both from performance and price reasons (no remote tuner needed). Even more, I like the price, which is around 20%, perhaps a bit less, than what I was anticipating spending. Most of the parts that could wear or break are replaceable. Heck, from the descriptions on Callum's site, I bet you could rig one of these up yourself without too much trouble. It's on the way via slow boat (keeps the shipping costs down). When it arrives and the weather cools off, I'm going to dive back into things and get it and some other ham projects handled.

I'm still working on the pickup I mentioned buying. It has been even more sweltering than North Carolina summers usually are, and I've not done much outside on this or anything else because of the heat and my body's seeming inability to deal with it as well as it once did. I've got a few small things left to do, such as hooking up the halo lights (finally), replacing the jounce bumpers (think suspension stops) and checking the fuel pump pressure. But due to the departure of the unneeded and unloved Subaru, I can now finance some professional work, so the seats are going to get new foam and upholstery. Then I'm hoping to draft Son-In_Law for some assistance in installing the new stereo and my ham radio (and possibly a CB-die purists!). I may even get his paintless dent repair buddy to handle 2-3 of the most egregious cosmetic defects.

I've found someone very local who can supply me with firewood by the log. The price is good and I'm not paying for the bucking, splitting and stacking. We may not burn wood this winter, but we will be next winter and for another few years. This is something that really gives me some comfort. Happiness is also a full woodshed.

The Greensboro Gun Show is this weekend. I'll be looking for a couple of guns if I can find them at a price I like. I also want to see if there are any signs of panic in the gun market. That could signal a selling opportunity for some of my excess. Plus ammo is always a thing to look for.

There are near-endless other things going on, but you get the drift by now. It's just life for the time being. Yes, there are Big Things on the horizon that could cause trouble. But for now I'm sort of moving quietly along, doing the things I think need doing as best as possible. And I'm good with this.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The last run

(I've been trying to finish this for days, but the gun nonsense has kept me busy elsewhere. If we can get the Leftists to stop "ululating against gun violence" (a great turn of phrase) so my blood pressure will stop boiling, I'm going to get this done,)

It's a tenant of the prepper faith that a list minute run to the bank, grocery store or other place likely to be overwhelmed with desperate people in the event of Bad Things Happening is a Very Bad Idea. We've seen enough pictures of looted of stores after various natural disasters that, coupled with other stories about the behavior of the populace in general after such occurrences, we have put 2 + 2 together and reached the answer 4.


Let's consider that the situation is somehow different. Perhaps some supernatural agency gives you an hour advance notice. Maybe your Spidey-sense tips you off. Or you've heard about the Bad Thing Happening, but the panic hasn't yet occurred in your area. You decide that you're going to cautiously try that warned-against last run. Where are you going, how do you do it and what do you load into your shopping cart? For the purposes of this, also assume that you have to go alone.

I'm going to the grocery store. My reasoning is simple-you can never have enough food. I wouldn't care if I had 10 years worth, I'd still want more. I can make do without a lot of things, but I've never figured out how to make do without food.

I have a particular store in mind. It's in a small strip shopping center that has no other store that should draw a crowd for this sort of trip. It's a smaller store, and the clientele is such that, even if word gets out while I'm there, it hopefully won't get slammed quickly. This has to do with both the age and economic makeup of the customer base.

Distance wise, I'm pretty much equidistant from all grocery stores where I'd consider attempting this. This one does have the drawbacks of the above-mentioned neighborhood plus having to cross over an Interstate and pass a gas station and the county prison to make the trip. Nothing's perfect. Driving time is around 12 minutes each way.

Another good thing about this store is the ability to reconnoiter the place from a short but significant distance. So let's say I've arrived and things look pretty much normal-word has still not gotten out. In we go, parking away from the doors and in the open. Back in or pull through, but don't get stuck having to back out of a parking space.

Grab a buggy. While I'd happily fill as many buggies as I could, managing one, managing your mental list plus trying to keep an eye on things will pretty much take up all of your mental bandwidth.

So what are we buying? I'm after stuff that cooks easily, to save fuel. I'm filling up holes that I know I have and adding to what I already keep. I know the layout of the store pretty well, so I'm starting at the right and working my way left across the store. My task is simplified by avoiding anything that needs refrigerated or has to stay frozen.

First stop is the salad dressing/condiment aisle. I'm grabbing mustard, ketchup, Texas Pete, worcestershire  and Tabasco sauce. Your menu is going to be limited in variety, and these things help keep things interesting. I'll get 2-3 of each, probably in larger sizes.

Next up is the canned meats/canned chili/canned beef stew and so on. I'm going to load up a good bit here. We normally don't keep much of this because Mrs. Freeholder doesn't care for it, but this time I don't care. If it's still in the flats, I'm getting a flat of Spam, canned chunk chicken, chili, beef stew, corned beef hash, potted meat and vienna sausages. Otherwise I'll have to get individual cans and stack them in the cart.

Following this is the soup aisle. I'm grabbing chicken noodle, tomato, potato and crème of celery/mushroom. Again, a flat of each or the equivalent.

Next, vegetables and fruits. Flats of green beans, pinto beans, corn and vegetable medley. As many peaches as I can cram into the kid seat. Maybe some pears.

At this point, the buggy is getting heavy. I have three more aisles to hit.

The health and beauty aisle. Acetometiphen and ibuprophen, both in tablet/gel caps and kids' liquids. Allergy meds, especially diphenhydramine and fexofenadine. Gauze pads and rolled gauze plus antibiotic ointment. This stuff is small and will go in the cracks in the buggy.

Next is the baking aisle. All-purpose flour, sugar, vegetable oil, corn meal and dry milk get piled onto those flats. Salt, pepper and a few useful spices as well.

All the while the cart is getting heavy and you've trying to keep your head on a swivel. If your phone dings you look to see if it's breaking news telling you it's time to hit the checkout. Nothing yet, so on to the last aisle.

Cat food in bags. Canned if there is any room left. Maybe some cat litter, but we're usually well stocked on that, and it's big and heavy anyway.

Crap, I need bottled bleach. The kind with no smells added. The stuff only  keeps 6 months at best, and we don't use it with a septic system. And this buggy is getting seriously unwieldy,

Time to hit the checkout. Here is where buying things by flats comes in handy-it's easy to get it out and back in the buggy quickly. If you couldn't buy flats, then this may take long enough that Things Start To Happen. I'll bail if anything untoward gets started. Ignoring the looks of other shoppers and the hired help, I just want to get it and git.

Now, it's out to the parking lot. I'm armed, but I may not be as heavily armed as I might like. Chances are the supernatural notification came when I wasn't at home. Eyes open to be sure that the word hasn't leaked to the general populace.  Since I drive a pickup, drop the tailgate, slide it all in as quickly as possible and go.

Hopefully the 12 minute drive home is uneventful, but that's asking a lot. By this point, I'm bound to be out of that hour of advanced warning. I have to go through one not great neighborhood, past the county prison, cross the bridge over the Interstate and get past a gas station. No, I'm not stopping for gas, no matter what. Or anything else for that matter.

At home, it's going to be getting all that into the house without the neighbors seeing. I like my neighbors, but I can't feed them and I'd rather not wind up shooting them.

Sound relatively easy, doesn't it? In the real world, even with advance notice, it wouldn't be. This is why we have the prepping advice to avoid such places when things go pear-shaped. Still, it's a fun mental exercise.

If it were up to me, our house would probably look like a WWII submarine, loaded to the brim with food, fuel and weapons. You'd have to turn sideways to get down the hall to the bedrooms. But the real world isn't going to let 99.99999% of the people do such things. We have to make constant decisions about how much of this or that we can afford and store. Mrs. Freeholder is a tolerant sort, but she won't allow me to replace the sofa with a sofa-shaped stack of Mountain House with a nice quilt over it.

This is why we have had and will always have the temptation to make one last run to the grocery store. And it is and will be a bad idea.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Something to take the sting from today

(Via the Woodpile Report)

Old movies, seen as they were meant to be seen. Amazing stuff.

And while the GOP is giving away your rights for their political purposes

The Left wants you dead.

Time to wake up and get ready.

Time to put some steel in the GOP's spine


Bearing in mind that this an MSN article, it appears that the GOP is willing bow to the gun grabbers. As they ever have, when the heat is on, they soften and bend like pot metal.

It's time for us to step up and put some steel in their spines. We can't count on the NRA to help this time. They're too occupied with their own internal war (although I firmly expect begging letters in the next couple of days).

I'm hitting up my Representative and both Senators this morning. What are you doing-today-to protect your rights?

This is the message I'm sending:

Subject: Help stiffen the GOP's spine

I'm reading some very disturbing stories in the media that the GOP is going to roll over on our Constitutionally protected gun rights in the aftermath of recent spree murders.

Being someone who votes on a single issue-the Second Amendment-I'm asking you to help put some steel in the spines of GOP legislators in Washington. I don't care about "political realities" or any of the rest of the crap they feed us when this has happened before. I care about my rights.

If this passes, I will withhold my vote from every GOP candidate from the least local office to the office of President. Yes, I'll stay home and let the Democrats win. Why? Because either way my rights will be abridged. It's just a question if it happens quickly or slowly.

I can't count on the NRA to help in this fight. As I'm sure they're aware, they've got internal issues that is going to pretty much sideline them. I have to count on my elected representatives in the Congress to do what people like me elected them to do. You'll get a lot of pressure from the other side, because they smell blood. Don't give in.

It's gut-check time for the GOP. If they fail the test, it's going to be a dark day for our freedom.

(Edit, 8/7/2109, 1143)
This is what I get back from my Congressweasel. I've wasted my effort, but I felt like it had to be tried. Is the fix in already?

August 7, 2019

{My name and address}

Dear {me},

Thank you for the taking the time to write regarding the two shootings that occurred over the weekend in El Paso and Dayton. I appreciate you reaching out on this front.

As you may already know, the shooting in El Paso, which left 22 people dead, was declared an act of domestic terrorism by the US Attorney for the Western District act of Texas. In the coming weeks, law enforcement and the Department of Justice will work together to determine whether to bring forth federal hate crime and firearm charges, which carries a possible death penalty sentence. I think it's also worth mentioning that the El Paso shooter posted an anti-immigrant document online twenty minutes before the shooting on a platform called 8chan. It was the third shooting this year where a shooter posted on 8chan before an attack. This cannot happen again, and I plan on looking for ways to help law enforcement identify and prevent these types of threats in a swifter manner. Additionally this weekend, in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman fired dozens of shots leaving nine people dead.

In your letter, you ask me to take action to prevent shootings like these from happening again. In that vein, I plan on working with my colleagues in the House in advancing realistic solutions that will address the root issues behind the violence we saw this weekend. For example, I am a cosponsor of the Mass Violence Prevention Act which would reduce the flow of firearms into the black market, where violent criminals often buy weapons and circumvent background checks. This legislation would directly combat firearms-related violence by dedicating new resources that could be used to implement proven strategies. Additionally, the Mass Violence Prevention Act would create a fusion center at the FBI dedicated to preventing mass violence. This new FBI fusion center would improve coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, which is something that law enforcement officers have said needs to be addressed. While bills like these don't get a ton of coverage, I think it's critical we target the black market for firearms and this strikes me as a good bipartisan way to start looking for ways to address this violence.  

If you have further questions, please contact my Legislative Aide, Sam Shumate, in my Washington, D.C. office. He can be reached at 202-225-4531 and is happy to discuss this issue further if you'd like.

Thanks again for writing and take good care.

Ted Budd
Member of Congress

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Notes from around the blogosphere

Taking it somewhat easy today and doing a little blog reading. Here are some gems.
Enjoy your Sunday.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Other ideas on prepping for old age

(Via Gab)

Here are someone else's ideas on "Preparing For Old Age". Some good stuff in there; some I've already put into practice, such as paying off debt. I'm going to need to think about some of the others, such as "What if I can't drive?" That one is a tad uncomfortable to consider, but it pays to have considered these things before they become a thing.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Do we really need to say it again?

The headline in the Sacremento Bee blares:

4 dead, including shooter, during attack at Gilroy Garlic Festival. 6-year-old killed

Yes, another disturbed individual has decided to pursue his 15 minutes by killing people he didn't know and who were no threat to him. This was done in spite of California's:
  • "Firearm Safety Certificate" program
  • Firearm registration
  • Assault weapons ban
  • Standard High capacity magazine ban
  • Lack of "shall issue" concealed carry and laws against open carry in incorporated areas
  • Ban on NFA weapons without a state license
  • Waiting period for purchase
  • Background checks for purchase
  • "Red flag" law
  • And coming soon, an ammunition control law

This guy cut his way through a security fence (a crime) so he could shoot and kill people who are disarmed and kept disarmed by legislative fiat (more crimes). They only thing that saved the situation from going to hell in a handbasket was the presence of armed law enforcement (that some ultra-Leftists in that state want to disarm as well), who made him DRT.

So yeah, I think it does need to be said again. You can pass laws against guns, violence and violence with guns until your eyes bleed. Criminals don't respect laws.  

So, leftists, don't tell me I need to give up my guns because your fairy tale world never works. Not happening.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Perhaps not as well known...

But one of my favorite actors, Rutger Hauer, died today at age 75. Enjoy his incredible monologue from "Blade Runner".

"I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those...moments...will be lost in time...
Like tears in rain.
Time...to die."

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Time and timelines

Of late, we've been seeing a ramp up in rhetoric and violence from the Left. Reporters, politicians, academics, sports stars and their hangers on, Hollyweird types and just random leftists, often connected with Antifa groups, seem to be on the offensive. 

Folks on both sides of the street are discussing "Civil War II", with a steadily increasing number believing that it may have already started and we simply don't recognize it. My personal belief is that if it hasn't started, we're so close that it makes no practical difference. As with so many historical events, we won't really be able to pin down the start until after the end.

Science Fiction writer Sarah Hoyt has us at "the monkey dance" stage of things:

I'm not seeing this in my local area, but I wouldn't have to travel far. Last fall's toppling of the statue of "Silent Sam" on the UNC-CH campus was a well-planned monkey dance, with the dancers finally working themselves up to violence. Fortunately no actual people were injured, but it's only a matter of time. It's happened more than once, and I think this sort of thing may have started as early as 2011, when a Reidsville, NC Confederate was destroyed by a motorist (sorry, best link I can find). At the time, everyone appeared to believe the story that it was simply an accident, but in light of current events, I think we have to reconsider. It may have just been a leading edge indicator.

Besides wondering where we are in the timeline to another civil war, we should be wondering who is financing this. Things appear to be too well coordinated for this so simply be the actions of unrelated but sympathetic groups. Dark rumors of "George Soros" fly with regularity, but those may be decoys. I'd love to see some serious criminal investigations happen, although I'm not sure what agency we could trust to do so impartially.

Leaving all this aside, if you aren't actively on the left's "side", it's time to start taking some serious steps to protect you and yours. When the balloons go up, if you aren't seen as a Leftist, then you're going to be the enemy. If things get bad enough, a simple trip to the grocery store may have a level of risk it would be wise to avoid.

I expect the 2020 elections may be the trigger point for widespread problems no matter who wins. If Trump wins (and I expect him to at this point), hang onto your hats. The crazy you saw in 2016 will be but the faintest echo of the events I expect to see. If one of the many Democrats running wins, I expect to see an emboldened Left quickly go too far and trigger widespread violence through their own stupidity. Things could also go sideways in the leadup to the elections. Crazies are gonna crazy, and you can't predict just how hard they'll crazy or when.

I'm expecting this to be a sleepwalk into widespread violence, with the flashpoint actually being some small happening that would ordinarily be dismissed, much as the Reidsville statue event I've referenced above. The only way to recognize it will be in hindsight.

Eyes wide open, folks.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Sending you off to read something else--again

(Via the Woodpile Report)

Last time, it was something that most folks who visit here would call fun, or perhaps entertaining, even though, when you consider the subject, it should have be equally disturbing and depressing. The subject matter, after all, wasn't sunshine and puppies.

This time, after you have read this, I hope you find it disturbing, depressing and that it serves as something of a call to arms. Sorry, still no sunshine and puppies. Maybe next time.

Among my circle of family, friends and acquaintances, the subject of "Civil War II" is slowly becoming a more frequent topic of discussion. People are feeling out others on their stance on things political in not too subtle ways. It seems to me that there is a creeping realization that things are getting worse and they won't get better until the Tree of Liberty has been properly nourished. I don't have any perception that they are looking forward to this. They simply have seen enough that they're concerned.

Metallicman, who I've never read until now, has a 5 part essay on "What the Progressive Socialist Liberals have in store for Conservatives". It's not easy reading, because he makes no effort to pull punches. You're going to be disturbed, you're going to want to disagree and you need to read the entire thing.

I hope that he's wrong in his estimate. I hope we're paying enough attention that we won't get caught unaware on that final day. I know we all have the ability to lull ourselves into ignoring the possibility that he's right, because it may all be on the line soon.

There's no doubt in my mind that I'm on multiple lists. The question is, for each of us on a list, how we will deal with it if/when it starts.

Consider now, while you can.

Friday, July 12, 2019

OK, so it's Doomer Porn

(Via the Woodpile Report.)

But it's very good Doomer Porn. Eaton Rapids Joe has written a masterful work, somewhat in the vein of James Wesley, Rawles, but I think better in a number of ways. No spoilers here, go read it for yourself.

I will offer some advice, however. You'd better start reading early, or you'll be up half the night.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

My 2 cents on the NRA hoo-hah

I've stayed away from this subject, because others are doing a better job at reporting it and I have nothing useful to add. However, if you are an NRA member, you need to bookmark this site: https://helpsavethenra.com/.

I'm a Benefactor member, and I purchased Life memberships for each of my children. I have donated steadily, if not in large amounts, for years. Today I just tossed yet another "The sky is falling; give us money!" request into the bag to be recycled. Unopened. For now, the Second Amendment Foundation is getting my support.

I urge all NRA members to learn what can be learned at this point about the current situation, then do what you feel you need to.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Well, I'm shocked!

(Via the Drudge Report)

It seems to me that, in a country where firearms aren't required to be registered (yet), it would be predictable that many firearms owners would decide to go outlaw and refuse to turn them in when told to do so.

New Zealand seems to have missed that memo.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Interesting news on the next Chief of Naval Operations

It isn't going to be Adm. Moran. CDR Salamander has his thoughts on the subject.

I was never Navy, but I think I understand what is going on behind the scenes. Obama had 8 years to purge the upper ranks in all services of the sort of people we need running the place, replacing them with obsequious politicians in uniform. Politics always has a place at the table at the top of any organization, but not this type of politics. This is the politics of Political Correctness run amok in our nation's military.

Among all the things on his plate, Trump needs to perform his own purge of the upper ranks, for the good of the services and our country.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Playing with big boy toys

I've mentioned the Southeast Old Threshers Reunion, held yearly over the July 4th timeframe ay the Denton Farmpark in the major metropolitan area of Denton, NC. I haven't really said much about it in recent years, because how many tractor pictures do you want to see?

But this is a yearly thing for me, and I few years ago I participated in "Steam School", a weekend-long class meant to introduce the newcomer to the world of antique steam boilers and other machines. This year I finally made the jump from spectator to participant.

All I can say without babbling is "Wow!" It's more fun than I've had in a while, even with temps in the mid-90s and humidity hovering between 60-85%. That puts the "feels like" temperature at 105+, and you're working with a machine that has an exterior temp of over 325o-sometimes well over.

Can you say "hydrate"?

I spent 4 out of 5 days at the Farmpark, with the first day being "me time", just to wonder around looking and buying a few things (tools, mostly). The next 3 days were working on 3 different exhibits.

The Day One I was on a 7 HP Frick Eclipse portable engine. "Portable" means that when it's moved, it has to be towed. It powers a shingle mill, which makes wood shingles for roofs-a big improvement over doing it by hand with a froe and a mallet.

This day I was tutored on the operation by a 15-year-old. I learned a lot. If I ever get as good as this kid, I'll feel justified in breaking an arm patting myself on the back. The kid has a definite touch with engines. It was a good thing to see, because it gives you faith that everything isn't going to Hell.

The shingle mill
Signage at the exhibit

Day Two I was tossed into the deep end of the pool. I ran this beast, a 1945 75 HP vertical stationary boiler.

The 75 HP stationary boiler. At this point we've just started firing and steam hasn't risen yet.
Note the three white dots you see on the upper left of the boiler. Those are called "tri-cocks" or "try cocks". You use them both to prove to yourself that the water level sight glass (it's between the two dots (actually valves) on the upper right) is actually working, as well as a method to tell where the water level is should the sight glass break. Yeah, that does happen in rare instances.You use a shovel to deflect the live steam that will be spurting forth while you close the valves and replace the sight glass. I hear it's quite a festive occasion.

The reason I say I was tossed into the deep end is that I was responsible (with help and under supervision of more experienced men) for running this boiler. I was the operator for the day. Day Two and you're running the biggest boiler in the place-which, among other things, runs this:

That is the 350 HP Bates-Corliss engine. To give you some scale, the flywheel weighs 15 tons. It is a beast. This is it running at idle.

For those who ask "How does a 75 HP boiler run a 350 HP engine?", I have an answer for you. At idle and not for long. We fired this boiler as hard as we could the entire day, attempting to maintain 100 PSI. When the Corliss started it's hourly exhibition, we had to shut down everything that is steam-powered in the building (7 or 8 items) and even then the Corliss dropped our pressure 10 PSI as soon as its main steam valve was cracked. At that point, we could keep pressure above 60 PSI for about 5 minutes. Then it was "Shut 'er down!" and let the machines inside run while we worked to raise pressure for the next exhibition.

Day Three was sawmill time, working with the 40 HP Frick Eclipse and off-bearing during exhibitions. That's why there is no video of the mill sawing. I wanted to off-bear because my Dad did that in a lumber mill as a young man, before WWII.

Good grief that's some work. Do you know what an 8' 8"x 8" cedar bean weighs? A lot, even with 3 guys sliding it into place on the stack of freshly sawn lumber. The video is it running at idle, just to use the steam we're generating to be ready for the next exhibition.

More exhibit signage
The 40 HP Frick Eclipse with the sawmill under cover.

For me this was an intense learning experience, but it was worth the sweat, sore back and sorer feet. Like the Terminator, I'll be back-next year, for more.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Prepping as you age-an update

I never really understood the saying "Getting old ain't for sissies" until the last 3 years or so.

Older friends always told me that you just "fall apart" at 40. I didn't - for me it was 42, when I completed screwing up an already partially screwed up back, trying to take care of an invalid parent without the proper knowledge. I managed to take an existing condition that was kept in control by a rigorous exercise regimen and turn it into a chronic issue by pinching the crap out of the sciatic nerve on the left side of my back.

Years of chiropractic work has kept me out of the hands of a neurosurgeon. My Dad had 3 back surgeries during his life, and having seen how well that worked out for him I have no interest in experiencing it firsthand. Yes, I know that techniques improve with time, but until I absolutely have to, I'm not going there. 

Fortunately, while this curtailed some of my physical abilities, I've been able to work around it. It's amazing what you can do with power equipment when you can't do it any longer with muscle. You could say that was...

Lesson One: Buy tools that lessen your reliance on brute force, learn to use them and then USE THEM!

Four wheelers, trailers, come-alongs, log splitters, cant hooks and all the rest of are worth their weight in the gold as you age. They multiply your effort while reducing the risk over overworking your aging body parts. However, you have to be disciplined in their use, and actually use them every time you should. No shortcuts because "it's just a little word I need to split".

Tools to lessen your reliance on brute force are only the beginning. As you age further, you're going to need other tools because the problem becomes an inability to do what you could when you were younger. For me, it was when I couldn't focus on the front sight of a pistol. Never having been the greatest pistol shot in the world, I was lucky to hit the paper. So...

Lesson Two: Don't be afraid to fix your body.

I went to a local eye doc who has worked on a number of well-known local folks, artists and the like, and these folks endorse his work. After discussing it several times over a period of years, I finally cozied up to the concept of LASIK. After a bit of a rocky start (you don't heal as well as you age, and I had some initial eye irritation issues because of it), it has been a game changer. We opted for a monovision procedure because my particular issue, presbyopia, simply isn't curable. As the doc put it, "The man who develops a cure for that will die very rich." However, I am no longer reliant on glasses to function during the day. I can wear normal sunglasses, which has been a boon to the treatment of my migraines. Oakley Fuel Cells are my goto, and they're as dark as I can find without wearing a welding helmet.

I do need magnification for close work. I have cheap magnifier glasses with one lens removed, a magnifying head set, a Luxo magnifier and a microscope (actually they're cameras with some serious macro lenses) I can hook up to a PC so I can see tiny things very large. Those tools allow me to do work I used to do unaided. Without them, I simply couldn't do some very simple things, like threading a needle.

And yes, I realize that I'm in conflict with Lesson Two when it concerns my back. I refused to be hobgoblined by consistency. :-)

My experience with Lesson Two leads me to...

Lesson Three: Don't be afraid to use "adaptive technologies". 

The items I named in Lesson Two, along with tweaks to computer video settings, the use of closed captioning (there should be a special hell for those idiots who have stupidly wide dynamic ranges on TV shows), laser and red dot sights on firearms and all the other tools that fall under the umbrella of "adaptive technologies" will improve your daily quality of life and allow you to continue doing the things you need to do in order to be self-sufficient and prepared.

Yes, all of this costs money. However, you have to figure out how to make them happen or face limits that you won't like. At all.

However, there came a time when a bodily system fails and simply can't be fixed. For me it was my thyroid gland, which apparently started giving me issues in my 30s and 40s. Neither my doc at the time nor I caught onto the problem; we just saw the symptoms and I "need to lose weight and work on that cholesterol". Eventually 2 + 2 was determined to be 4, and I went on levothyroxine, otherwise known as synthetic thyroid hormone. We still have to manipulate the dose from time to time, but with it, I can function within a standard deviation or so of normal. Without it, it won't be long before I literally don't have enough energy to get through a day's work. That gives us...

Lesson Four: The time will come when there's a problem that puts hard limits on your survivability in a long-term survival scenario. Try to be graceful when dealing with it.

I wasn't graceful at first. Not even a little. My body had let me down and I was pissed. Like many, I never really considered getting old and all the things that would mean until it slapped me in the face. To say it was an uncomfortable wake up call is putting it lightly. However, I'm stuck needing something that requires a functioning, high tech civilization to produce.

The thyroid hasn't been the only thing. While I can't prove it, I believe the onset of migraine headaches has something to do with it. I can go back into my early 20s and identify the very first migraine I ever had - now that I know what I'm looking for - but they really went off the charts about the time my thyroid took the last train for the coast. After years of effort, the past year brought 3 drugs to market that are specifically aimed at controlling migraine. I'm on one of them, plus Botox and a couple of the older drugs that weren't specifically for migraine. So every 3 months I get a load of toxin injected into 33 sites around my head and shoulders, and once a month I dose myself with a batch of monoclonal antibodies. As long as I do that, I have about 4 episodes per month, as opposed to the 20-25 I had before we found the Magic Drug Regimen (MDR).

Trust me when I tell you that I've been far more graceful, as well as grateful, for the MDR.

Sidebar: Migraine sufferers, there is hope. Get a good neurologist who specializes in headache disorders and get help. I put this out there specifically because the sufferers of headache disorders are four times more likely to commit suicide that the normal population. And for those who suffer cluster headaches (which makes migraine look easy), help is around the corner. Testing is showing that those 3 drugs work on cluster headaches as well. Hang in there a little longer. Help's on the way.

I've made my peace with the knowledge that, in a long-term survival scenario, I will be one who dies off in the first year. So will Mrs. Freeholder, who has her own issues. It is what it is.

In some ways, this has made prepping easier. When you draw your line at surviving the "everyday disasters" such as job loss, tornadoes/hurricanes and the like, there are a lot of prepping activities you simply don't need to do and things you don't need as much of. Your time and money, things in increasing short supply as you age, become more available for other things.

I'm still concerned about the longer term things, such as civil war and economic collapse, but I now think of them in terms of my children's and presumed grandkids' survival. As a part of a general downsizing, I'm handing out some of the tools, equipment and stores that I've accumulated. I try to teach without being preachy (and occasionally succeed). But I realize that that's all I can do. I won't be the old guy in the doomer porn stories who is the font of wisdom to those less prepared. At least, I won't be for long. :-)

Aging is an inevitable part of life, if you're lucky. So far, I'm lucky. Since I expect I won't survive a TEOTWAWKI-type disaster, I can now free up some of the time and money I used to spend on the subject on other things that make my life more enjoyable and pleasant. I won't stop and I won't fade away, but I will change because I must.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The twisty story of "right to repair"

If you buy something, let's say a pickup truck, you would expect to be able to work on it yourself. However many control modules, CAN bus and so on aside, you'd expect to be able to change a flat tire or change your oil. You might even expect to be able to replace spark plugs, or buy a code reader in order to find out why the "Check Engine" light was on. Again.

Try that with a piece of John Deere equipment built since 2016. Or your iThing. Or a lot of other products out there. Companies are trying all sorts of less-than-righteous moves to lock you into their all-important services business. That's because service is where the real money is at. Ask software companies how much money they make from "software as a service" - it's a lot. Companies like Deere want in on that gravy train.

The Right to Repair movement is pushing back and has been for a while. (That link is just one of many you can find.) Ars Technica has an article that pretty much covers the current status of it.

This is important stuff. Imagine how things would be if you had to call an authorized repair dood every time something in your life acted up or broke. You'd soon be the one broke.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The mask is indeed off

An Illinois Democrat state senator, who I refuse to give publicity by naming, was needled into saying what she really thinks about gun ownership.

"Maybe we won’t have a fine at all, maybe it’ll just be a confiscation and we won’t have to worry about paying the fine."

I'm seeing more and more rhetoric from the Left that indicates they think a civil war is a fine idea, and they're going to keep pushing until whatever line that ends up provoking one is crossed. They have no conception of what they're asking for, because for most of them life is some sort of video game, and for the rest they believe their status will protect them.

History shows otherwise.

Senior prepping

I've touched on the concept of prepping as you age several times, and I need to do it again soon. However, over at SHTFplan.com they have a "prepping in your Golden Years" post you can read now. None of it's new to me, but if you're just starting to think about this, it's worthwhile.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Yeah, there are a bunch of tags on this one. I could toss in some more, but what they heck.

In case you haven't seen it, mostly because the main stream media has got a case of the "silent" on the subject, Ebola is a thing in Africa, again. It started in the former Belgian Congo and has spread, by way of a family who knew they were infected and ran anyway, to Uganda. It is about *this far* from spreading off that continent, with this far being defined as *How close is the closest international airport?"

While we're a long way from it at the moment, so far as we know we're a 14 hour international flight away from our first case in North America. Of course, the bearer of that glad news could be deplaning in NYC right now. Or they could be wading the Rio Grande. Or coming overland from Canada. Or Joey Jihadi who has deliberately been infected and sent to America to cough on as many people as he can.

I'm not going to do the daily duty of trying to keep you posted on this. However, I've finally read enough that I'm Officially Concerned (pity the WHO and CDC aren't), and I'm going to point you to Aesop, of the Raconteur Report, who is doing the thankless task with more knowledge and flair that I ever could. Save that link, since it searches by tag and will always have the newest stuff at the top.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


I'm catching up on my email, among which are copies of the Tactical Wire for Jun 11 and the Shooting Wire for June 12. While each are always interesting in total, the editorial content at the end of each is spectacular and thought-provoking.

The bankruptcy filing of SportCo earlier this week has had tongues wagging all about the Intertubz, since SportCo claims they went bankrupt because they made a bet on the Hildebeast winning the 2016 election, which she didn't. Leftists and gungrabbers all loved the concept and just the simple fact that a major retailer of firearms and a major distributor of firearms would be dead.

Well, like the man said, you ain't seen nothing yet. According to those Wire articles I linked above, lawsuits have been filed against SportCo in South Carolina, alleging the owners, various hangers on and John Does 1-100 effectively plundered the company. To make matters worse, this will wind up not as a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization) but a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation). You'll want to read them both, and I'd subscribe so you can see what Jim Shephard releases next.

You get the chairs and I'll start the popcorn popping. This may be the biggest scandal to rock the firearms industry and one of the biggest fraud scandals in a long time. As Jim points out, there is also going to be a lot of second-nth level fallout from this, so watch your favorite manufacturers. We may all need to do a little shopping with them to lend a hand with those bottom lines.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Again, we remember the "day of days"

This year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We often call it "Operation Overlord", but technically that was the name of the overall battle plan for the invasion of Normandy. The D-Day landings themselves are more correctly referred to as "Operation Neptune". I doubt the men who parachuted in the night of June 5/6 or the men who charged ashore from landing boats really cared much for the distinction. They had a job to do, and do it they did. By the end of the day the Allies were in France and were going nowhere but east, toward Nazi Germany.

Reading about the commemorative events taking place both in the UK and France (as wishing I could be there), I'm struck at the age of the men who were there on that day. All in their mid- to late 90s.  Old, stooped and needing assistance to move around, the same will that saw them through D-Day carries them still.

As I've said before, I was raised by a veteran of WWII. Dad wasn't there for D-Day, but he was there for the end of the Battle of the Bulge and for the crossing of the Rhine at Remagen. He was in Co. B, 27th Armored Infantry Regiment, 9th Armored Division. His company was the second across the bridge, A Company being the first.

Dad, like so many of the men who saved Europe from itself, is gone over 8 years now. So are all of his friends from the war as far as I know. Those we see in Normandy now are the rear guard, fighting their final battle against mortality.

Having been raised by a man and men who fought in the war, having known people who lost sons in that war, I find it extraordinarily difficult to accept a world without those men in it. However, in a decade, perhaps a bit more, that will be where I find myself.

We are less without these men walking among us. We should strive to be worthy of their sacrifices, made when they were young, with entire lives ahead of them. Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice, and remain young to this day.

We live in a time when war is an unknown to 99% of our population. That's probably a Bad Thing, since those who know war firsthand seem least likely to send men into that particular hell without a damn good reason. I suspect that soon, the lessons of the past will again be forgotten and we will find ourselves consigning our sons, and this time our daughters, into the maw of the beast. Conflict seems to be hardwired into us as a species, and we've never been one to learn from history.

For now, however, remember these brave men. Gaze upon these pictures at the Denver Post, and see what they saw. And pray that our children never have to see it outside pictures.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Everyone else is linking it

So I may as well jump on the bandwagon.

The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper

It's pretty amazing to see it in mathematical terms, but the ugly truth of humanity is that we're always at war with someone, somewhere. Conflict is seeming baked into our cake. And only fools ignore reality, while reality doesn't ignore them.

The Triffin dilemma

(Via James Howard Kunstler)

Why the US balance of accounts stubbornly stays out of balance.

There are constant rumblings that China et al want to dethrone the dollar as the global reserve currency. Maybe we should let them.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Celebrating Ralph Johnson

One of those men was Ralph Johnson, who died in Vietnam saving his fellow Marines.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Get 'em while you can

Because Your Old Time Bookstore is closing down on 5/31/19. If you want any of the old Lindsay's books, beat a path to their website now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Idiocracy was supposed to be a movie

Not a documentary.

"IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn't bode well for humanity"

No precise reason for this, but the timing is curious. When this started happening is, oddly enough, about the same time the nations named in the article started experiencing increased immigration from Third World countries.

Nah. Couldn't have anything to do with it.

Monday, May 20, 2019


Millennials have gotten a pretty harsh rap lately. Unfortunately, far too many of them are self-absorbed, spoiled by their parents, ill-tempered, entitled and by my standards, whiney little assholes.

However, they aren't all that way. I worked hard to be sure my two aren't. Son has a good job, makes good money, has his own living accommodations and generally, aside from the ink, seems to someone of my generation to be perfectly normal for his age.

Daughter has a good job (with a recent promotion), is married and she and her husband (along with the bank) own their own home. While she will millennial a bit from time to time, she also seems to someone of my generation to be perfectly normal for her age. This young lady apparently is much the same. I particularly love this part:

We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it. Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

She's right. We live in a time where a lot of things I read about in science fiction have become real. (I'm still waiting on my flying car, though.) We do live in a time and place of unprecedented prosperity, and far too many, in her generation and others, are too busy being envious, offended and outraged to realize it.

Edit, 5/21: Sorry about the bizarre formatting, which I've repaired. Google wins again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Old vs. New

(I believe I got the article that is subjecting you to this post via the Woodpile Report.)

Last October, I did something I've wanted to do for over 20 years--I bought a pickup truck. Before anyone reminds me that it wasn't so long ago I was lamenting how retirement constrains one's purchasing power, thank you, I got the memo from Mrs. Freeholder first.

However, I did not go into debt for this purchase. I spent some of what remains of my inheritance. Rather than gracing some dealer with $50k plus for one of their over-blown, over-gadgeted new trucks, I bought someone's Dad's truck--a 2001 GMC with "only" 149,000 miles on the odometer. So it's more like a "new-to-me" truck.

Mrs. Freeholder often jokes about one of my Dad's favorite sayings--"It's just more stuff to break." I believe I first heard this in 1973 when asking why our new car didn't have such niceties as power windows or power locks. In those days, he was much closer to right than wrong. I can remember an uncle's vehicle that spent more time at the dealer's than in his driveway because the power windows refused to work more than occasionally. After the warranty was out, he sold the car and bought something without all the power-this-and-that's. "Less stuff to break," was the way I believe he put it.

Times do change and the quality of things improves. I owned a 1998 Olds Intrigue that was one of the 3 best vehicles I ever owned. In 14 years and 250,000 miles, the grand total of things that had to be replaced (other than wear and maintenance items) was a starter and a power steering rack. The power windows and locks worked just fine the last time I coasted to a stop with a dead transaxle.

Compare that to its replacement, a 2011 Subaru Outback. What a turd. Blessed with a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) and a torque converter that could crap out never or in the next 15 minutes, I wish I'd never bought the thing. While my Olds was under one recall, this thing has been recalled for everything from its puddle lights to the infamous Takata exploding airbag initiators, which I was told that it didn't have until it did. While I have to give credit where its due and state that it has never stranded me and never broken down-plus the power windows and locks still work-I have little confidence that it will see 250,000 miles before something drastic happens to it. It's going to get sold sometime soon, which will more than pay for the pickup and the various things I've done to it so far.

Why did I buy an older truck? Partly because it cost roughly 1/10 of what a new truck would have cost, even if I payed cash for it. More important was the lack of complexity when compared to a new truck. No "Advanced Fuel Management".  Half (or less) of the "control modules". No CAN bus. An engine (the 5.3 l) and transmission (4L60E) that are about as thoroughly debugged as it's possible for something automotive to be. Steel (even if it is thin) rather than aluminum body panels. Excessively well supported by the aftermarket. Still relatively capable of being worked on under a shade tree. All the things Detroit's newest aren't.

Evidence seems to point to the concept that I'm not the only one who is effectively writing off new vehicles. Price used cars and especially used trucks. They're going for far more than you'd expect as long as they are known to be reliable.

Oddly enough, one of the most maligned (with good reason) car companies has figured out that people aren't totally enamored with the "latest and greatest". Dodge is still selling-and selling well-their "Classic Ram", a pickup that is mostly 2009-ish technology.

As noted in that article, a lot of the techno-wizardry in new vehicles is simply to keep the government and the greenies off their back while their engineers desperately try to violate the laws of physics and the marketplace so they can keep selling any vehicles at all.

Yeah, this isn't going to end well. Undetermined yet is for who.

I've done some upgrades to the truck. First I stripped out nearly every light in it and replaced them with LEDs. I still have to figure out how to deal with the high beams-it's a physical space issue. I had a Line-X bedliner shot in. I've changed half the fluids to synthetics and will get the rest as maintenance intervals roll around. I've done brake jobs, front and rear. I'll be replacing the stereo and adding in a ham band mobile. It needs some cosmetic love.

What I'm not doing is adding in things that cause more complexity than they worth--there is no Tire Pressure Monitoring System in my future, for example. I own several perfectly good tire pressure gauges and I'm not afraid to use them. It had three 12v sockets, two of which now have USB chargers. I'll add the optional backup camera to the stereo.

Plus I added a toolbox and customized it.

Not bad for a $100 toolbox, huh?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Obviously, you want to be a Rooftop Korean

(Via Kim Du Toit at Splendid Isolation)

Kurt Schlichter at Town Hall urges us all to be "Rooftop Koreans". I would imagine that 90% of the audience here is already prepared to take that advice.

While I enjoyed and agree with his point, some of the other stuff in his article was much more interesting. To wit:

The decent people of LA were terrified, and with good reason. See, the dirty little secret of civilization is that it’s designed to maintain order when 99.9% of folks are orderly. But, say, if just 2% of folks stop playing by the rules…uh oh. Say LA’s population was 15 million in 1992…that’s 300,000 bad guys. There were maybe 20,000 cops in all the area agencies then, plus 20,000 National Guard soldiers and airman, plus another 10,000 active soldiers and Marines the feds brought in. Law enforcement is based on the concept that most people will behave and that the crooks will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers of officers. But in the LA riots, law enforcement was massively outnumbered. Imposing order took time.

Yeah. Sleep well and pray for the health and safety of that 99.9%. And be prepared if that 2% decides to come visit.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

But how do you know if the meat's good?

(Via The Woodpile Report, which should to be a weekly read.)

So you've shot Bambi and it's time to part him out. What to watch for to ensure the meat is edible.

FYI, I pulled my copy of "Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game" by John J. Mettler, Jr. DVM and there is far less information on the subject in that book that there is in this article. A word to the wise....

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Let's stray off into a new area

It's the early 70s, and pornography is restricted to bad theaters patronized by "bad people".

Then some guy who just wants to make a film - any film - manages to get the monetary backing of friends to make a porn film. The film he makes winds up bringing to light some of the least appealing features of America, and not in the way you'd think.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

14 and a half minues of truth

Time to return to politics.

Watch it. This guy, at what appears to be a fairly young age, apparently has a better bead on the reality of current life in the US than 99% of his fellow citizens, no matter their age.

You think he's wrong? Then come up with concrete examples to prove your point.

The land of the free and the home of the brave is well on its way to becoming the land of the free lunch and the home of the slave. The shadowy "Powers That Be" are playing us, left, right and center, for their own ends. You know what the end game is? They run everything through their bully boys. Antifa, right wing militia, cops, military - all serve the same unseen masters. Most of them don't know it, that's because they have and cherish their illusion of freedom.

But if these people win, you can kiss even an illusion of freedom goodbye. You'll not be free and neither will your children, or your grandchildren, or probably their grandchildren.

If you think you're free, try to do something a really free person would do. No one likes taxes and we know the money is almost totally wasted, so stop paying them. Just be ready for that visit from the IRS. Try driving without a license, insurance or license plate and see how far you get. Don't pay your property taxes. Exercise your free speech rights in the wrong place. Go to a city council meeting and try to get your grievances addressed.

Don't buy health insurance and see how that goes.

I've long advocated that whatever a politician says is a lie. I don't care what party they claim to be from, because they're all the same. Sure the rhetoric is different between Party D and Party R, but pay careful attention to what happens after either gets themselves bellied up to the trough elected. They may go about it in slightly different ways, but they both wind up doing the same old shit - making government bigger, more expensive and more intrusive. Day by day, year by year, the freedoms that you are born with die the death of a thousand cuts. By design.

Many folks, me included, worked to put President Donald Trump in office. He's the ultimate outsider, having never been elected to any office before. He's too rich to be bought. He's too used to power to get seduced by it. We elected him to go to Washington, kick ass and take names. So what happens? One side loses it's fucking mind and is trying every trick they can think of to lessen his effectiveness and somehow, some way, run him out of office and into a prison cell. The other side, supposedly his own people, are only slightly less against him. They're willing to take a pass on the whole prison thing. Generous, aren't they?

While this is going on, we're all being seduced by media talking heads, who nothing more than sock puppets, babbling out whatever idiocy and lies their handlers want today. The same goes for the "entertainment industry", who know they can be blackballed with a phone call or a story on TMZ. They're more than happy to be good little useful idiots, because that's how they get the money, the big houses, the expensive cars and the constant ego stroking they need.

Then we have "the poor". Poor people who eat better and have more material goods than any poor people in history. Poor people who can be reliably counted on for their votes to certain candidates. While the real poor, those who could use a hand up, are ignored or worse yet, played as patsies for the media, because they live in the wrong place, have some pride left and reuse help, are the wrong color or religion or citizenship, are left out in the cold.

And if the poor can't vote them in, we'll give the vote to felons in prison and raise the dead. We'll count and recount and re-recount until we get the right answer.

Oh yes, I'm angry. But this isn't that hot-blooded anger that leads you into doing stupid things. (Although some would say that even saying this in public is being stupid. Be gray, man.) This is the slow, simmering anger that bides its time. I know that ChuckE and I aren't the only ones, because I run into them everywhere I go. There are so many of them that it's scary. There is a mass of people out there who are just waiting for that last straw.

When that camel's back breaks, all hell is going to break out with it.

Edit 4/23/2019: I swear, Google could screw up, well you know. I've put the link to the Patriot Nurse on the healthcare penalty back in. Let's see if it stays.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Antenna coupling

Figure 1, Figuring out where the damn antennas are going to go.
Radios require antennas, and unless you're blessed with a decent acreage, lots of money and an understanding spouse, there's limited room to put them up. As things currently stand, I have a 6m-2m-70cm beam already up. I want to put up one or more wire antennas for HF use. I also need a receive-only antenna for my scanner(s).

I also need to keep in mind that I also need for a spot to mount a WeatherFlow weather station.

Without a tower (expressly forbidden by Mrs. Freeholder) and given the wooded nature of our back yard, the house itself is the logical place to mount all of them save for the HF wire(s). This also serves to keep the cabling short.

For the scanners, I'm going with a wideband discone antenna. It's relatively small and this one is relatively visually unobtrusive. I like that with my antennas, given that there are a lot of them around here.

But where does that discone go?

I've considered just getting a 20' TV mast and mounting it on the back of the house, but I can't find those any more. The longest I've found so far are 9', but you can stack them. I've found 10' non-stackable masts. I've also found a lot of telescoping masts of various lengths, but those cost more than my budget wants to allow. I'd like to use things I have on hand. That means the front runners for this method are:
  • Use the two 9' lengths of 3/4 galvanized pipe I have laying around, connected with a coupling and mounting it on the back of the house. This would probably leave me a bit short of the needed height.
  • Get another gable-end mount and put it at the opposite end of the house from the existing beam. That gable is 2 stories in the air. I have a ladder that should reach it, but my days of hanging on a ladder that far up are probably over. I'll likely need to rent a lift. There goes the budget.
I've also considered mounting it on a 5' mast extension over the beam. It would be simple and I have the stuff to do it. Being a discone, it's omni-directional, so which way the beam points isn't an issue for it. But when looking into how far the two antennas needed to be separated, the subject of "antenna coupling" comes up.

Based on what I've found so far, this shit is dark magic it's a complicated subject. I'm still working on it, but so far here are the bullet points:
  • If you have more than one antenna, you need to consider the issue of antenna coupling. It becomes more important if you have multiple antennas connected to multiple transmitting radios at the same time, and even more important if the antennas are resonant on the same frequency or harmonics of the frequency in use. A lot of people don't take this issue into consideration, and some of them blow up equipment. It appears to be rare, but it happens.
  • Antenna coupling causes two main problems: Desensitization and receiver overload. Of the two, the protection of your receiver(s) is much more important. You can physically damage a receiver when a very large amount of signal comes in through an antenna.
  • Horizontal and vertical separation are important. Incredibly rough rule of thumb is that you need to be at least one wavelength away in all directions from the neighboring antennas but more is better. You may be able to get away with less than one wavelength as long as it isn't a harmonic of the wavelength. More separation is always better.
  • Higher frequencies cause more trouble than lower frequencies.
  • There are on-line calculators that will give you the necessary vertical and horizontal separation of your antennas. Unfortunately, these assume omnidirectional antennas.
  • Unless you are operating at very high power, VHF/UHF and HF antennas exhibit little coupling as long as you keep then reasonably separated.
  • There are no perfect solutions.
I'm working on the assumption (oh-oh) that the only two antennas I need to be concerned with are the 6m-2m-70cm beam and the discone. 2 meters is uncomfortably close to the VHF public service bands.

I've found the following useful in this research:
And believe it or not, I've found something on a ham forum that I think is useful.
I like this concept. Doing so may show that the difference between the Real World and Theory World are enough to solve my problem for me. Unless it gets worse once I do the modeling.

But after all that, what if there is still no clear answer to the question "Where do I mount the discone and the weather station?" Given that I've ruled out almost every possible location, I'm thinking it has to go on the side gable over the driveway, expense be hanged. That leaves the back gable as a place for the weather station, using a gable-mount mast mount and a TV antenna mast. Done correctly, this gives me the largest possible physical separation of the two antennas that are my main concern.

This solution will cause me some grief down the road if I ever want to mount another antenna, but I don't see any realistic options.

An idea I'm toying with is to keep every antenna that's not in use disconnected and grounded. Operate on one radio/frequency at a time. Scanner is disconnected when running 2m. That should pretty much cure the location problem since only a single antenna would be in active use at any given time, and it has the benefit of being budget friendly. It also addresses the issue of lighting, something that is always present. Even if it isn't a final solution, it gets me past this hump and gets the antennas up.

I should have gotten a simpler hobby. :-)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Our Lady is burning

Notre Dame is burning. 850 years of history and art are gone. Reports from the scene say that "It is all burning." Firefighters are trying to save any art they can. The Ile de la Cité is being evacuated. No word yet on the cause of the fire.

Current drop vs. voltage drop

In doing a bit of looking relating to B's correction to my earlier article, I ran into this video.

Interesting and yes, I'm buying a copy of his book.

"In the real world, of course, everything is an oversimplification."

I love that.

So, about those expiration dates on your meds

Dr. Joe Alton on using meds after their expiration dates.

Obviously there's more to it than what can be covered in 6+ minutes, so some other sources for you to take a look at:
Unfortunately, the actual website of the Shelf Life Extension Program requires a login. And their security cert is bolloxed up. :-)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

It's all about the voltage drop

Most people, if they have half a brain, will check what wire size is needed to carry a given ampacity before they start hooking up stuff. It's important if you're wiring a building and important if you're wiring electronic equipment. You don't want things you value to burn down or up.

Unfortunately, an ampacity table, while easy to find with a quick Intertubz search, doesn't tell the entire story. While researching why a small 2 meter amplifier I recently purchased called for 10 gauge wire "for a short run" or 8 gauge wire "for longer runs" for a maximum current draw of 345 watts, I kept finding various notes on solid vs. stranded wire and "current drop".

So I did my own research, and I feel pretty confident with what I'm going to present. Think of these as rules of thumb, and remember you should always check the numbers yourselves.

In 3 bullet points:
  • Resistance in ohms per 1000' of wire generally decreases as the wire gauge goes up and the wire goes from a single solid conductor to multiple strands. Not always, but generally.
  • When sizing wire for a given voltage draw, normal ampacity tables have simplified things down to the point where their accuracy needs to be in question. Compare this table with the one from the previous bullet point. This table uses a large amount of fudge factor, so based on something in the next bullet point, you may be buying a lot more expensive copper than you need. Or not. You have to do the math. Every time.
  • The correct way to size your wire is to look at the voltage loss for the particular type of wire and its application. The "acceptable range" for current drop is generally said to be 3-4%. So once you know the volts and amps that need to be delivered to a device, it's relatively simple to use this formula to determine if a given wire will work over a specified run. That formula is:

    ((Rw * 2l * .001) + 2k) * A = Vd

    Rw = the 1,000 foot resistive value
    l = Overall length of the cable assembly (include your connectors)
    k = resistive value for one fuse and its holder, conservatively 0.002 ohms
    A = Peak current draw in amps
    Vd = Cable assembly voltage drop

    (This formula, along with a master class on all varieties of wiring for amateur radio, can be found at the web site of K0BG. The entire site is a great resource, not just for the mobile operators it's aimed at, but all hams.)
Let's put this into practice using my situation as the example.

As noted before, the product manual says to use 8 or 10 gauge wire. The problem, as I originally saw it, was with the connector on the amplifier. It's known as a Clinch-Jones connector, but a picture is worth a thousand words.:
Click to embigginate
For reference, that wire is 10 gauge. The lugs measure 0.143"/3.64 mm, and there are 4 of them. You're seeing the two in the vertical orientation; there are two more that are horizontal. One set positive, one negative, and you need to connect your wiring to both lugs in a pair.

Can this be done? Sure, but I think you're running a sizeable risk of damaging the connector with the necessary heat. I considered using quick disconnects, but I can't find any that fit 10 gauge wire and lugs that small.

So I started looking at it from the standpoint of "Do I really need that much wire for 345 watts?" Look at the power cord for a 1500 watt electric heater - that wire is nowhere near 10 gauge - it's more like 16 or 18 gauge.

So let's put all down. I need to provide 13.8 volts DC @ 22 amps, per the amplifier manual. A 3% voltage drop is 0.414 volts; a 4% drop is 0.552 volts. Our acceptable range for Vd:  0.414 - 0.552. I want to use 200oC silicone insulated all-copper wire. 

An immediate problem popped up. The wire vendor I'm looking at doesn't provide resistance values. I'm using values from here, using the closest wire they have to the 14 gauge I'm considering using. (I'd use their wire if I could, if only because they provide full information, but they appear to be an industrial supplier.) The required length is 6' and I'm using 22 amps as called for in the manual.

For 14 gauge wire, it's

((2.99 * 2(6) * .001) + 2(.002) * 22 = Vd, or 0.88 - not nearly good enough.
For 12 gauge wire, it's

((1.6 * 2(6) * .001) + 2(.002) * 22 = Vd, or 0.51 - We have a winner!

Of course, I could give the 10 gauge a try, just to see

((1.1 * 2(6) * .001) + 2(.002) * 22 = Vd, or 0.38 - at the other end of the acceptable range.

So 12 gauge stranded copper it will be. Now for how I'm going to make the connections - back to research!

Edit, 4/15/2019: Once again, something generated a lot of messed up HTML and the math for the wire gauges I looked at was blanked out. Fixed it.

In the comments, B points out that this is actually voltage drop, and he's correct. I used the term "current drop" because that is what the majority of links I found called it and I wanted to stay with the common term, even if inaccurate. But he's right, and  after thinking about it I'm going to change it to the correct terminology in the title and the bullet points. Accuracy is more important than keeping Google's search results happy. I'm leaving it in the body where I refer to how this information was originally found.

Edit, 4/18/2019:You might also wish to read "Current drop vs. voltage drop".