Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Cringley On The Facebook/Cambridge Analytics "Data Breach"

I don't always agree with Mr. Cringley, but he explains what's going on here.

In particular, his advice to never take any of those "quizzes" on Facebook, is spot-on.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Window Replacement Starts Today

The guys from "Renewal by Andersen" are here, and are "In Work" replacing the windows.

The windows were finished a few weeks ago, but the requested new installation date was the week my wife was back in SoCal, so we scheduled it for this week.

The new windows look great, are twice as thick as the "OEM" aluminum frame windows, and should help knock down our winter heating cost. The installers are telling us must people see a 20%~30% reduction in their heating cost depending on what their source of heat is.

Our first big electric bill was $550, a bit of a shocker, but we also didn't have a ~$150 gas bill, so all-in-all our energy cost for that month was about $100 more than in Long Beach, but we also had much colder weather, and a much bigger house to heat. The cost dropped about $100 the next month, achieved mostly by dialing back all the thermostats a notch, and slightly warmer weather.

Pix to follow later.....

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Easy Round Trip to DIA Monday Night

Drove back down to DIA ( or DEN, depending on who you talk to...) Monday night to pick up my wife, and man, what a difference.

Her flight arrived at 2210, so I left at 2030, filled up the car, grabbed a medium-sized Diet Coke, and hit the road.

Practically zero traffic headed South, and I was in the parking structure at 2145. I didn't check the maps of baggage claim vs parking spaces, so I wound up taking quite a hike from where I parked to where I needed to be. Since she always uses the same airline, I'll map out my parking spot ahead of time the next time.

139 miles round trip, averaged 18.6MPG, and took 3-1/2 hours round trip, including a brief wait while she deplaned and rode the little choo-choo from the gates to the baggage claim.

We were about 30 miles or so outside of Fort Collins when the overhead signs announced a "Crash 29 miles ahead expect delays"

Turns out the crash was just past our exit, so we were able to motor along without delay, and got home right about midnight.

On our way back she asked if Colorado had any other airports, meaning large commercial aviation airports, and I replied that Denver was the only "big" airport, which took her aback a bit. She then mentioned how close everything was in Long Beach, and the ready availability of air flights, and how small the Macy's is in Fort Collins, and........

Yup....another tinge of Culture Shock.....

But she had a great time hanging out with her friends and doing stuff, including a trip to The Getty, one of her favorite places, so I don't mind two round trips to DIA when she goes "home" to see her friends.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

GROAN.......Round Trip To DIA This Morning

And the I-25 South wasn't pretty due to a 7 or 8 car accident on the I-25 Northbound side just North of Johnson's Corner. At first I wanted to say that the lookie-loos on the Southbound side slowed everything down, but really, a seven car accident involving the center divider takes up a lot of room. They were using the frontage road for emergency vehicle access, something I haven't seen since I lived in Illinois, and we had frontage roads alongside the Interstates.

Anyway....got past that minor irritation and it was smooth sailing in and out of DIA at 0900 this morning. Everything was cleaned up, and the crews were repairing things in the center divider on my way home.

And the weather was gorgeous! Mid to low 30's, clear as a bell, and not much wind.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Antenna Pix, and Grandson's 1st Birthday Party

No party pix, but here's a few of the vertical in the backyard.

Yes, the installation is "Pebbles Approved".

Each one of the grey tote boxes has a 50lb bag of sand in it.  I have another tote that size with the SGC-230 autocoupler in it, and a smaller one with the line isolator in it that's also my junction box for power to the SGC-230. I still have to fabricate some radials from the YUUUGE spool of #10 THHN wire I bought years ago, and then install the coupler, radials, and cabling. Monday will be very interesting, as we're expecting sustained winds of 30~37MPH with gusts to 50MPH. I'm expecting it to do some scary gyrations, and I'm sure I'll be lengthening the legs.

As of 2022 local time, and I can hear the wind really blowing. Flipping on the yard lights, the whip is flexing about 30* in the gusts, and the base looks stable.

It's actually pretty "plumb". The apparent tilt to the whip part is caused by the whip being deflected by the wind.

And......up it goes! The "Tip 'O The Whip" is at 35' AGL.

This thing is FLEXIBLE! What looks like an "S" bend in the whip is the antenna reacting to the wind. I've seen photos of the antennas bend over at what looked like 90* in 100MPH winds.

And they survive......

And one last one from the far corner of the lot.

The "windmill" tower in the background is for my satellite antennas, seen here many times in the past. I haven't decided where I'll site that system for its permanent spot. The tree trunk will get carved a bit later this year. And peeking out from behind the tree trunk, is the 5' tripod with the Davis Instruments sensor suite on it for my "real" weather station.

The snow is 99% gone, except for some patches on the North sides of houses, and the yard has dried out enough to walk through it without getting 10 lbs of MUD on your shoes! It shouldn't be any where near this bad next year, as our landscaper/yard guy is going to start seeding and feeding at the proper time. He says he's seen yards here in worse shape than ours, and with some fertilizer, and the right type of grass seed, they bounce back in one summer. The snow here doesn't bother me, but the mud does!

And our grandson's first birthday party was a smashing success!

Besides the 16 family members, we had another 8~10 people drop by, including three of his neonatal nurses, and several work friends and their little ones.

The little guy made out like a bandit, and he now has "doubles" on some toys between here, his parent's place, and his other grandparents place! And he got real silver dollar from his Grandpa Jim to put away for a rainy day.

And the best part? After things wound down and it was only immediate family, everybody just pitched in, and we had the house clean and back in order in a very short time.

All in all, a VERY pleasant day spent with family and friends.


As of 1400 local time, the vertical is still standing, the base shows no signs of movement, but the Tip 'O The Whip is swinging back and forth through what looks like a 45* angle.

One minor casualty occurred during the night. One of the black lids wasn't fully snapped on to the tote box, and is now laying against the fence. I'll put it back on the tote, and put a couple of cable ties on it and it's mates to keep the lids on the boxes......

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Vertical Antenna Up

Pix tomorrow.

I think I'm going to have to lengthen the base legs. I'll get another 3 pieces of angle iron that size, overlap them, clamp them together, and then drill them. Right now they're only 6' long, and even with a 50lb bag of sand on each leg, it might not be enough to keep it from tipping over.

I still have to fabricate some ground radials, and then I can install the autocoupler and line isolator, along with the feedline and control cable for the autocoupler.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Dirt Bike Does Ski Jump

I'll bet he clanks when he walks.......

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Supra Arrival

In the beginning........

And then the driver from Reliable Carriers called indicating Ms Swan had been picked-up, and was on her way to Colorado!

The original plans for the car were to park it at my son's place, drive the Jeep towing a trailer to Colorado, rest a few days, and then fly back to LAX or LGB, have my son pick me up and take me to his place, check the car, and then head back to Colorado.

Well, between seeing the "Next Services 134 Miles" signs while I was pulling the trailer, and planning the trip back in the Supra, I realized I had some deferred maintenance on the engine that really needed to be done before heading out on an 1100 mile trip through some pretty desolate and uninhabited territory. There are "soft items" on this engine that need regular maintenance/replacement at specific intervals, like the timing belt and tensioner, and if you want that legendary Toyota Reliability, you follow the schedule. And since ALL the hoses and clamps appear to be original 33 year old items, they need to be replaced, too, along with new belts and a new water pump. It's pretty silly to tear down the front of the engine to replace the timing belt AND tensioner (another "$25" part), and not replace the $25 (gasket included!) water pump. I have all the parts sitting on the shelf now, but last September I found myself out of air speed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time, so the car got bypassed.

Then we got packed and moved out here, found and bought a house, and had some issues requiring our full attention, including a garage, basement and house full of boxes, and that  meant the car sat longer.....

And longer....

And longer....

So I made the decision to get it shipped here, and went with Reliable Carriers, based on their media exposure (TV and print), their 50 years of experience moving cars, and little else. Went online, requested a quote, and received a reply a short time later. I bit the bullet and accepted the $1407 cost for door-to-door enclosed transit. My credit card was charged at the speed of light, and I sat back and waited to hear from them.

And waited....

And waited....

And waited some more. After almost 4 weeks, I called them to see what was going on and was told it hadn't been assigned to a truck yet. The person I talked to was very helpful, and explained they had a big auction in Scottsdale, a major car show in L.A., and business was up 25~30% over last year. He made a note in my file that I was getting very concerned that a month had gone by, and NOBODY had contacted me. If I would have called to get the quote and spoken to somebody, I probably would have been given some kind of rough estimate of time-to-pick-up. But I didn't, doing the whole transaction over the web. What caught me totally by surprise was the complete LACK of communication. HEY! It's the year 2018, and modern Enterprise Software makes it pretty damn easy to autogenerate emails at the conclusion of an electronic transaction. I don't know how many times I've bought something online, and was bombarded with emails containing order status, shipping status, and delivery status. Yes, I know shipping a car is different than buying a new TV, but the software managing such transactions should do more than just accept your order and charge your credit card. Their website also has NO provision for a customer log-in or creation of a customer account. Pretty crude stuff for 2018.

Now being a "Sample of ONE", I'm not going to slam them, as it's always possible I'm the one that fell through the cracks. But as Rev Paul noted in a comment to a previous post, all those "reality" car shows on the Velocity Channel make it look like you call them, and POOF, a tractor-trailer appears the next day. *Maybe* for Wayne Carini, but sure aint gonna happen for me!

Last Tuesday I received a text from the ex saying Reliable had called her, and would be there to pick up the car in a couple of hours. The truck showed up, and other than a completely dead battery (son triggered alarm, couldn't turn it off, battery died under load and was never disconnected), the loading process went smoothly, and the driver called me that night from somewhere in Utah ( ! ) to give me an update and introduce himself. He called again on Wednesday and Thursday night, and on his last call he said he would be there Saturday late morning or early afternoon. Friday morning he called from Johnson's Corner in Loveland, about 20 miles away, and asked if I knew what the weather forecast was. I read him the NWS report for Fort Collins, and he decided that he'd rather get the delivery out of the way today than wait for Saturday and fight the snow.

So, about 90 minutes later he calls for final vectoring in, and I went down to the corner to flag him down. Since we live on a cul-de-sac, he parked on the road in to our section so he could unload. The hand cart on the side walk has the new battery I bought the day before.

First peek at her after FIVE MONTHS.

Ms Swan was escorted on her trip out here by this brand new AMG Mercedes "V8 biturbo" that the driver picked up at the Mercedes facility at The Port of Long Beach after he loaded Ms Swan on board.

It was quite an operation getting this ready to move to it's new spot on the trailer. The car was covered in thin plastic (like "Painter's Plastic Sheet") besides being strapped down with a ratchet strap over each tire, which was securely attached to the trailer ramps the car was parked on. After completing a checklist, he fired it up, backed it out on the loading platform, then raised the platform with the remote control you can see hanging by the coiled cord, and drove the car all the way forward into the truck.

At this point, I was allowed on the trailer so I could help him swap the battery out, and then after he instructed me on EXACTLY what to do, and what his hand signals meant, *I* fired Ms Swan up, and backed her out on the ramp. He lowered me to the ground, and I drove the car onto our street, headed for my open garage door, and promptly got stuck in front of my own house......!

It turns out that big, wide "Extreme Summer Performance" rated tires don't work very well at 38* on 2" of packed snow over ice. It took about 10 minutes of surprise, anger, frustration, and humor before my "Illinois Winter Driving" program got loaded from the archives, and I remembered how to properly rock the car with whatever little traction was available.

I finally got enough forward momentum going that I was able to get off the ice and on dry pavement, and then over the insane curb we have, and up on the driveway.

The end result?

And we finished just in time, as the snow started to come down pretty heavily as he was leaving.

So, the pack is all back together, and when Pebbles came out in the garage and saw Ms Swan the first time, her tail started to wag.

Sunday is the grandson's first birthday party, and we're having it here. It's the first family event of many more to follow in our new place, so we're in deep clean/declutter/spit shine mode here. Even though the weather is quite nice and things in the backyard are drying up, the vertical antenna project gets pushed to the right some more due to family obs.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Supra Delivered This Afternoon, Utility Survey, and a "Hallmark Cards" Kind of Day.

It started snowing last Sunday night, and by Monday morning we had several inches of white and fluffy. It's been getting down to "zeroish" at night, and 15~25* during the day. We had nothing planned, so my wife read, enjoyed the fire, and played with Pebbles The Wonder Dog, who really enjoys running around in the snow. She didn't care much at first for the paw washing/drying routine when she comes back in, but now she goes to the throw rug and waits for us to get the mud and snow off her paws before she leaves the sun room.

And we've been baby sitting the grandson quite a bit. GrandMomius Prime was done with the flu for a few days, so GM2 took over. He's also been spending Friday nights/Saturday afternoons with us to give GM1 a break. He's been teething, so sometimes he gets pretty cranky, but he's also at the babbling stage, and it's fun to listen to him "talk" to us. Sometimes he has the cadence right, and if he wasn't making baby sounds, you'd swear he was telling you something. He's also just started officially crawling. Full coordination of legs and arms to motivate himself around, rather than rolling. I'm noticing much more in the child development area than I did 30-some years ago with my own son. Different perspective caused by a different time in life, I guess.

Tuesday morning at 1000 my ex sent me a text that Reliable Carriers was coming to pick up the Supra "In a couple of hours". The truck showed up around 1300 and had some difficulty getting the car loaded because the battery was so dead that the engine wouldn't keep running once they took the Jiffy Jump off the battery. They left the Jiffy Jump connected while the engine ran, and after about 10 minutes, the car would idle, so they loaded it up, and off they went.

This immediately put me in overdrive (well.....*my* version of overdrive!) to finish the garage, get another new battery and another "Battery Tender Plus" for when the car is sitting here and can't be driven for whatever reason. I'd started the final push to get the garage ready last week, and it mostly involved getting the last of the Basement Workshop boxes separated from the Garage Workshop boxes and moved to the basement, and rearranging the stuff on the "pie rack" shelves in the garage. And it's a Good Thing I spent the time in the garage and basement the last week or so. ALL "Basement Workshop" tools, equipment, parts, manuals and other errata are now down in the basement, and quite a collection of "Garage Workshop" items made the trip back upstairs and were returned to their proper spot in the garage.

I'll do a post on just the Supra and her trip here as soon as I get the pix off the camera.