Thursday, December 31, 2015

HUGE Day on the Battleship Iowa

Since the Iowa Hawkeyes are in the Rose Bowl this year, an estimated 25,000 Iowans came to L.A. to support their team.

And it looked like about half of them came down to the Iowa today for the rally!

**UPDATE** The current estimate is that we had between 10,000 and 15,000 people during the day.

I've seen big crowds at the Iowa before, but I've NEVER seen the entire parking lot, and the cruise ship parking lot, so full that the police blocked the entrance, and people were parking blocks away.

 This is what I saw when I was finally able to get into the parking lot and find a space:



The area between the road and the ship is about 60~75 feet wide, and the area between the forward and aft ramps leading onto and off the ship is several hundred feet long.

It was wall-to-wall people, spilling over onto the road in front of the ship. and requiring the security staff to "make a hole" for vehicle traffic.

And every single person was happy and smiling, and there were NO "incidents" of any kind!


This was taken later in the day, after the crowds had (somewhat) diminished, but as you can see, we still had quite a large number of people:



We even kept the ship open an hour longer so that everybody (as far as I know) who had been in line to get aboard at least got to see some of the ship.

So, a big THANK YOU to the wonderful people from the state of Iowa who helped make it possible to get the ship down here, and we hope you all had a great time!

Thank you all for your support, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and GO HAWKEYES!

Monday, December 28, 2015

On The Workbench This Week

I scored a Yaesu FRG-8800 General Coverage receiver a couple of weeks ago on eBay for $150, Buy-It-Now, with FREE shipping.

Since these things generally go for between $250~$400 depending on condition and options, I jumped on it even though it was sold as "Parts or Repair Only". Even if I couldn't repair it, I could always part it out.

Front panel from actual listing photos:





One thing I didn't notice in the listing photos, but caught me eye immediately when I unpacked it, was that the antenna connector had taken a pretty good hit at some time during the receiver's life.

If you look at the connector in the photo, you can see that it's punched in and angled upwards a bit, and you can see where the rear panel is pushed in at the lip of the upper case half:



The four position terminal strip for long wire antennas was also missing a screw, but I have a good collection of genuine Yaesu hardware that I've collected from radios I've parted out over the years, so that was no biggie.

The small access panel at the lower left is for the 3 "AA" size batteries used to back up the real time clock and the 12 memory positions, while the panel to the right of it is where the FRV-8800 VHF Converter would mount if so equipped.

The radio was sold as completely dead, which it was, but troubleshooting that problem would have to wait until I fixed the antenna connector.

I pulled the case off, unsoldered the board with the terminal strip, and saw that the connector had been hit hard enough to make the retaining nut "jump" one thread from side-to-side. Thinking I could just use a screwdriver to "pop" the nut back so I could straighten it out, I carefully applied some force to it, only to have the connector shatter! Yaesu, in a cost-cutting move, opted to use a CAST connector instead of a machined one, and castings don't like shock and being bent back and forth!



Fortunately, I have a supply of single-hole, panel-mount Type-N females, so that's what I used to replace the busted connector, after I straightened the rear panel using some hardwood blocks and a big "C" clamp.

After that was done, I noticed that the little subassembly with the "Mode" switched was popped loose from its mounting clips on the front panel, explaining why the mode switches didn't work, and felt "dead". Snapping that back into position made the switches come forward enough that the buttons on the front panel now engaged them.

The DOA problem turned out to be an internal 2A fuse on the power supply regulator board. I replaced the fuse and measured the current into and out of the regulator assembly, and they were in spec, so the fuse probably went due to old age and repeated thermal cycling.

The last thing I found was that all 4 of the dial lamps were blown. I replaced those with blue 3mm diameter LED's, and now the dial lights up in a "Cool Blue" color.



A general check of the alignment (sensitivity and frequency accuracy) shows it to be spot on the published specs, so I'm considering it repaired.

Cosmetically it needs a good cleaning, and there's a nasty scuff on the dial "glass", but that should polish out with some Novus plastic polish.

So, for $150 and a few $$ in parts, I now have a nicely operating Yaesu FRG-8800 General Coverage receiver.

I don't think the audio sounds as "smooth" as it did on my previous FRG-7700 receiver, so I'll have to Google around a bit and see if there's any "audio enhancement" mods for it.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Song #2

Waaaay back when I first started working for Boeing on the Sea Launch program, I stumbled across this video during the trip back from the launch of the XM-3 satellite.

After the launch, we're all pretty burned out, and this launch, my first, was especially stressful, as we sat at the launch site for TWO WEEKS waiting for the sea currents to calm down so the Dynamic Positioning System could hold the Launch Platform in position.

Finally, after all the stress, we received launch clearance, and began the automated countdown. The launch vehicle was erected, the LP cleared of people, and the fueling began. We got down to T-8 minutes, and an abort was called due to some issue with the launch vehicle.

MAJOR bummer, as if an abort was called after fueling was started, it was a minimum two day turn around, The tanks had to be drained, then flushed and purged, and the issue with the launch vehicle resolved.

We wound up being there another week, and were really burned out by the time we launched, secured our gear, and headed home.

Hence, this video, as annoying as it is, seemed to fit our mood, and became a Sea Launch "Christmas Classic".

It's silly, stupid, and annoying, but then so were we after all the stress, missed sleep, 12~14 hour days, and being stuck on the ACS for over a month.......


I promise my next "Christmas Song" will be much more enjoyable!




Christmas Song #3

One of the two "Favorite Christmas Songs" I posted over on Miss Lisa's blog when she asked is "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses.

It's a cute little song with a happy ending, and always makes me smile.



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

WestJet Merry Christmas to Passengers on a Flight

This is amazing. Brings "Customer Serice" to a new level!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

58 Years Ago Today

The Boeing 707 first flew.



I've flown in them many times, and always got quite a thrill out of it.

The one pictured above is owned by John Travolta, and has been lovingly restored to its full glory.

The 707 was based on the famous "Dash 80" that Tex Johnson barrel rolled, and was the prototype for the KC-135 tanker that the US Air Force still flies, although they've all been rebuilt and re-engined so many times that I wonder how much of the original airplane is left!





Truly beautiful aircraft, and they made possible the rise of low-cost transatlantic and transpacific air travel.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Two For Saturday

The music video was found over on LL's blog, while the sign came from Common Sense Evaluation.


I just thought they kind of went togther.....









After doing some Googling for "The American's Creed", and finding several versions of what's been called "The American/s Creed", I found that this particular version was written by a man named Dean Alfange.

His brief bio here is from "Good Reads".


Dean Alfange was born in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) of Greek parents, December 2, 1897. His family migrated to the United States and settled in Utica, New York, when he was very young. He attended Hamilton College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1922. Later he attended Columbia University Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1925.

Alfange's interests led him to pursue a career in politics as well as law. He was also deeply involved with the Order of Ahepa, a Greek-American cultural organization, acting as its national president from 1927-1929. He ran for New York State Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1942 against Thomas E. Dewey and was a strong advocate of the New Deal and a great admirer of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

During World War II he was the Vice-Chairman of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe. He made speeches for aid to the Jews against the Nazis, and at a hearing before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives submitted a plan to save the Jews in Europe. After World War II he became chairman of the Committee to Arm the Jewish State, a group aimed at lifting the arms embargo on Palestine.

He was instrumental in the formation of the Liberal Party in 1944 when the American Labor Party split between pro-communist and anti-communist factions. Alfange held nominations or appointments
from Democrats and Republicans as well as the Liberal and American Labor Party. As early as 1954 he expressed opposition to the American policy of military aid to the French government in Indochina, his position being one based on anti-colonialism. This position continued throughout America's involvement in the Vietnam Conflict.

Other positions held by Alfange were: Deputy Attorney General of New York State, Trustee of the Fashion Institute of Technology and New York State Quarter-Horse Racing Commissioner. Among his awards are the Freedom Foundation Award (1952) for his composition “My Creed” (included in Box 5, folder 3) and the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Award for his book The Supreme Court and the National Will (1937).

He died in New York City on October 24, 1989 at age 91.


______________________________________________________

This man helped found the modern "liberal" movement, which bears little resemblance to the "liberal" parties of today.

He's probably spinning in his grave like a gyroscope over what the "liberals" have become...........

Friday, December 18, 2015

Housing Market Bubble Inflating Again

At least it is by my observations.

When the housing market blew up last time, the real estate listings I get were loaded with short sales and foreclosures. Over the last few years, these slowly went away, and 95+% of what I received were just regular sales.

Over the last two months or so, I'm seeing a rising number of short sales and foreclosures again, along with hearing things on the radio and in blogs about the "0% Down" loans, and even some sub-prome loans being offered again.

This morning's listing of 5 properties in the 60435 area code had two foreclosures, two short sales, and one regular sale.

Looks like it's starting again, and when this one pops, I suspect it will be worse than the last time....

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

112 Years Ago Today

This happened:



And the world changed forever.

An uncle on my Mom's side was about 10 years old when this happened, and I remember him crying when we landed on the Moon.

He simply couldn't believe that in his lifetime we had gone from a fragile little 12 Horsepower machine, to a giant, thundering rocket (still the most powerful machine ever built) that carried three men to the Moon.

I'll always remember his fascination with television, and the fact that it "had NO moving parts".

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Finally Got My Windows 7 PC Back Up and Running Stable

GROAN.....what a PITA.

After doing a restore to the last previously known "good" configuration, it seemed to be running OK, but with a ton of almost continuous  hard-disk activity, and requiring numerous "updates", and reboots.

It was so sluggish that I was about to rip out what's left of my hair, and start on my beard....

Finally, after letting it run for about 12 hours total, it's settled down, and is operating more-or-less normally.

At least all the installed software on it works without blowing up, and I can use my Flex Radio Systems 5000A again. I haven't tried any of the digital programs, like FLdigi, or the slow-scan/wefax/RTTY programs yet, so I might have to reconfigure the program that runs the virtual serial ports.

And this time, rather than going through and removing all the Windows Updates by hand, I went ahead and took several people's advice and installed the GWX Control Panel, which makes rooting out and killing the Windows 10 "upgrade" notifications and included spyware as easy as a few mouse clicks.

I even sent to guy $10 and thanked him!

The User Guide is located here, and I highly recommend getting this fine utility if you're running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1.

Back to checking if *all* my Amateur Radio software is working......

Monday, December 14, 2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015

One For Old_NFO.......

GO NAVY!


Courtesy of Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford during the Gemini VI mission

Friday, December 11, 2015

Happy Birthday, Frank!

Old Blue Eyes would have been 100 years old today.

Not much I can say about him that hasn't already been said. I remember watching him in movies when I was a kid, especially movies like Ocean's 11, and thinking the Rat Pack was the coolest bunch of guys (next to the Astronauts!) in the world.

Truly a different world back then, and for all it's faults, I think a better place.....

Happy Birthday, Frank!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Down With A Cold.....

Got the blechs again...

Started feeling something coming on late Sunday. My wife came home early last Thursday, and took Friday off, and now it looks like I have it.

Sore throat, runny nose, minor cough, and general blotto feeling.

Feeling somewhat better today, and spent most of the day sleeping. I'll hit the NyQil and Mucinex in a few, and then off to bed.

Oh, well.....

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Long Time Gone ~ Aliotta Haynes Jerimiah

These guys were fairly big in the Chicago area in the late 1960's/early 1970's.

Their most "mainstream" hit was called "Lake Shore Drive", about the road of the same name that runs along the West coast of Lake Michigan, but I always liked this one better.


Monday, December 7, 2015

"A Date Which Will Live In Infamy..."



 
Every day we lose many WWII Vets.

Soon there will be none.

I'm very blessed in that I get to meet many of them doing my various "jobs" on the Iowa.

Cherish them while we still have them. They truly were "The Greatest Generation".



These two "vets" of a slightly different type saw much action.

The USS Iowa, and the USS Midway. I'm fortunate to have been on both, and have friends on both.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

I "Fixed" My Windoze PC

WELL....thinking about this, I decided to pull the AC plug from the UPS for a few minutes to let the power supply completely discharge, which completely turns the PC off.

Most newer PC's actually don't turn "off", in much the same way that a newer TV never turns completely "off", since the TV needs some circuitry alive 24/7 to detect the commands from the remote.

PC's are similar in the the power switch doesn't disconnect the power like it did in the old "AT" days, but rather puts the PC into a very deep sleep, and brings it back up when the "power" button is pressed.

Sure enough, after being unplugged for a few minutes it got past the POST error, and began to boot into Windoze.

Since I'd attempted to restart it numerous times after the error first appeared, it had some corrupted files, so I let Windoze search for the problems, and selected "Continue" when it offered to restore the system to it's last known operating state.

Now I'll re-do all the updates that I installed before we went to Colorado for Thanksgiving, and *carefully* nuke all the "Get Windows 10!!" spyware that the mothership installs.

And this time, when it wants a reboot, I'll do a complete shutdown, unplug it for a few minutes, and then bring it back up!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Liberal vs. Actual reality

Shamelessly swiped from the fine people at WRSA.....


Nothing to see here.....Move along.....






Thursday, December 3, 2015

More "Workplace Violence".....

I was going to do a "Colorado Wrap Up" post, and then the ugliness in San Berdoo took place.

It's amazing how fast the media has dropped this hot potato, no doubt due to the identity of the perps, and the glaring fact that it doesn't fit the official agenda.

And of course, the POS currently residing in our White House immediately spun another BLATANT LIE about how "People we won't let fly can walk into any gun store and buy a gun".

Not hardly......

Saturday, November 28, 2015

FINALLY Home!

BLECH........The Explorer wouldn't start this morning. Another hotel guest gave us a third jumpstart.

Plane to Salt Lake City was 45 minutes late arriving in Denver.

Our connecting flight was scheduled to depart 50 minutes after our scheduled arrival, and was one set of gates away.

We barely made it. We were literally the last two people to board the aircraft.

Then because that aircraft had been sitting most of the day at Salt Lake, where there were minor snow squalls moving through the area, it had to be de-iced again.

We left Salt Lake 45 minutes late......

So our "2100" arrival time in Long Beach wound up being about 2225....

I'll unpack tomorrow....I'm trashed......

Friday, November 27, 2015

Headed Home Saturday

After I shut the laptop down tonight I'll pack it, along with all my other stuff except for what I'll wear Saturday.

We had a wonderful time here, as usual, and actually took a few hours today to drive by 6 of the homes I've got in my saved properties list.

We didn't get to look inside any of them, but just doing the drive-by confirmed that yes indeed, the people who take the pictures used in the listing are quite creative with camera angles!

One house looked really sweet "on paper", BUT the listing photos don't show the neighbor's yard with cars-on-blocks, the other neighbor's yard that looked  like a used Jeep/ATV dealership, or the house down the road a few hundred feet that just looked plain "weird".

One we looked at had NO garage at all, the garage having been converted into more living space. Don't know how I missed that in the listing, as a BIG garage is very high on my priority list.

Another had a HUGE yard, but the fence around the yard in the photos was gone! Since the photos were taken months ago, hopefully a new fence is in the works.

BUT....two of the ones I had saved were true gems. One has a very nice yard, with a "nature area" that the back yard abuts to, almost guaranteeing that the land will never be developed, and the other was a knock out. 30,000 sqft lot, a large garage/workshop as a separate building, and looked to be in excellent repair. It's been on the market for almost 6 months now, with the priced dropped $20k at the end of October.

My "local connections" are looking in to it to see if there might be code violations or other headache-inducing things wrong with it. They seemed to think it was still a bit overpriced considering the "comps" in the neighborhood, so they're going to discreetly nose around a bit on our behalf.

My wife has said she wants to seriously "run the numbers" on it when we get home. She's now thinking that we could go ahead and buy it, and let the kids rent it until we're ready to move. That's probably the only scenario I'd EVER consider being a landlord in!

And with family renting it, I could make repeated trips out here with a truck moving our extensive collection of "stuff", greatly easing the entire moving process.

AND...we had another "episode" of our Ford Exploder refusing to start. It's one of these keyless-start cars, loaded with electronics, and methinks there be some gremlins lurking within this particular one. The various modes of the electronic traction control quit working, and the auto-fold mirrors don't always report for duty.

I'd have to give this model of Explorer a strong "NOT Recommended", and we're going to tell Budget to send this one to the showers when we turn it in Saturday afternoon.

See you all on the flip side.........

A Few Pictures From Thanksgiving Day

These are from when we went to pick up the kids.

Their little house is actually in Bellvue, Colorado, very close to Laporte, which is where we're looking for houses.

My stepson greeting my wife:







A neighbors house:





Our rental car, which required a jump start here. No idea why the battery appeared dead. When I started it again up in Cheyenne, the Ford "Sync" screen appeared on the previously dead entertainment center, and announced "Performing required system maintenance".
The car's been OK since then.





Looking out to the East:









Neighbor's house on the North:


So far we've had a great time. It was good to see our future in-laws again, and catch up with thwm on what's been going on here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to All! ...UPDATED...

Posting this early as we're going to have to make an early start tomorrow.

The big gathering of my step-son's fiancee and all her family will be at her younger sister's place in Cheyenne, Wyoming, about 50 miles North of here.

And since we have some serious winter weather about to hit the Fort Collins area, we'll have to leave early, and drive carefully.

We're looking at rain turning to snow overnight, and snow all day on Thanksgiving, with an estimated high of 20*F in Fort Collins, and 18*F in Cheyenne.

Overnight lows for Thursday/Friday are expected to be 10*F and  4*F.

Makes me glad I brought the liner for my jacket, but wondering if I should have packed my N-3B instead!

Even though I grew up in Northern Illinois, and spent a whole lot of time driving in "real" winter conditions, I'm more than a little out-of-practice having lived in SoCal since 1982!

So, even with a 4WD vehicle, I'm going to take it easy both ways.

My wife wanted to see winter in this area, and I think she'll get her wish!



UPDATE..............

Went and had dinner with the kids, and when we left about 2000 it was misting, and freezing.

Their front porch steps were icy, and we really had to use the hand rails and watch our step.

Woke up this morning, and there looks to be 3~4" of white fluffy stuff all over, and it's snowing, and the flakes are getting bigger.






So, we'll be extra careful when we leave in a couple of hours to pick up the kids and head on up to Cheyenne.

Hope you all have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Arrived Alive in Fort Collins

Left Long Beach this morning at 0700, and changed planes in Salt Lake City. Got to Denver an hour or so later, picked up our rent-a-car, and were checked in at the hotel about 90 minutes later.

Nice hotel, and the wireless is 12 Meg up-and-down! Just stunning compared to the last couple of hotel wireless connections I had.

Took the kids out for dinner after spending an hour or so checking out their new house and getting seriously assaulted by the two dogs with licks, kisses, lap time, and multiple tummy rubs.

Yep, they sure remembered us, and went completely NUTSO when they heard/saw/smelled us.

I'd told my wife the reserve a 4 wheel drive vehicle for us, and while I claim she got my approval on an "Explorer/Grand Cherokee" sized vehicle, she had reserved an "Expedition/Suburban" sized vehicle!

DUH.......just a bit bigger than we needed!

Turns out that the larger vehicles cost less through her plan than the smaller ones, to the tune of about $50/day!

The agent gave us our pick of smaller vehicles at the lower cost, and we wound up with a 2015 Ford Explorer Limited with 4WD and just about every option you can get with the exception of a sunroof and a V8, and I'm not sure they even offer a V8 in that model.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with it, with a few exceptions, that I'll report on it after I drive it some more.

Over the 14,000 miles it has on it it's averaged 21.2MPG, which is pretty amazing fora vehicle of this size, weight, and capability.

2100 here, and I'm pretty well beat-up from getting up at 0430, and being on the move all day.

Later......

Sunday, November 22, 2015

RATS! I Hosed My Windoze PC......

WELL....I thought I knew what I was doing.

In getting ready for our trip to Colorado, I wanted to check and see if there were any updates for the Magellan RoadMate we use when traveling. Since the Magellan Account Manager software is on the Windoze PC I use for all my Ham Radio stuff, I fired it up and proceeded to do all the updates that come with leaving a Windoze PC turned off for more than a few days.

Update MalwareBytes? Check!

Update AVG Free Antivirus? Check!

Update Adobe Acrobat Reader? Check!

Windoze Update? Uh-oh...there's the little "Get Windows 10!" icon in the task bar. Hmm...thought I got rid of that?

So, I "Search Installed Updates" for KB3035583 update, find it (I must have forgotten to hide it before), and uninstall it.

It requires a reboot, and then the fun starts.....

The PC goes through POST, Windows starts, then immediately goes to the Windows Error Recovery screen, and fails with an 0xc00000e9 "An unexpected I/O error has occurred" error, indicating that Windoze can't "reliably communicate" with the hard disk......

Since we're leaving tomorrow morning at 0500, this will have to wait until our return.

I used the laptop I'm taking with me to check the RoadMate for any updates, and there were none, so this whole exercise was moot.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Plumbing Adventures......

Gawd, I HATE doing plumbing stuff.

Every single stinking time I go to "fix" something, I find 5 other things that need work.

This started a week ago when my wife insisted I replace the fill valve in the bathroom toilet. Since the handle with the lever on it to lift the flapper was all loose and sloppy, I went and bought a new one.

Now, to my way of thinking, "If It Aint Broke, Don't Fix It!", and as far as I'm concerned, the fill valve wasn't broke.

It didn't run continuously, and shut off properly when the tank was full.

The only thing it did was make a slight noise while the water was filling the tank.

SO, I set out to replace the fill valve and tank lever last week, and cleared out the area around the toilet.

I go to close the water valve feeding the toilet (A "stop" in plumber-speak), and it starts leaking. It doesn't leak or even drip when it's all the way open, but start closing it, and water starts spraying out where the shaft comes out of the body. Even fully closed, it leaks.

So, I go out to shut off the water coming into the house, and find I can't turn the wheel on the valve.

The last time we shut off the main water valve was sometime back when we had a full-house water filtration and softener system installed by RainSoft. The guys that did the work were excellent, but they were also a lot stronger than me these days (hey...they were late 20's and I'm 64!), and they really cranked it open.

Fortunately I was able to close the main water valve once I busted it loose with my 12" Channel-Locks, and I left the kitchen faucet open to bleed of any residual pressure, as the shut-off valve doesn't really turn the water completely off.

OK, so I've got the water finally turned off, and take the top off the toilet tank so I can remove the old tank lever.

It was made of pot metal, and the nut holding the mechanism to the tank was completely corroded, and I could NOT bust it loose. As a side note, the new tank lever has a LEFT HAND thread on it, and if they're all made this way, then I was actually trying to tighten it, which explains why the only wrench I could get in there just rounded off the corners, making the nut now impossible to remove with a wrench.

I got my 12" Channel-Locks out again, when I realized I was going to have a bit of a problem getting them in there:



There's barely enough room to lift the tank top and get it off, and when the top is off, you have maybe 4" of clearance!

I can't even get my hands all the way into the tank to reach the flapper valve, which I had to do to get the chain, which had fallen to the bottom of the tank after I disconnected it from the lever.

And yes, the tank is not square on the toilet bowl assembly, but I'm NOT mentioning it to my wife, or she'll want that "fixed", too!

The people that remodeled the bathroom, and installed the counter top, should be dragged out and flogged for doing it the way they did. There's NO clearance in there to work on things unless you have arms like a 10-year old kid.

SO.......Since I couldn't get any wrenches or BIG pliers in there to twist the nut off, I decided to cut it off with my cordless Dremel tool, and a small cut-off wheel. I get my Dremel out, and find that BOTH batteries are dead.......I charged both batteries yesterday, and then today when I went to find the tooling for the Dremel, I couldn't find the box I put all the tooling into after I DROPPED the entire box last year, and spent two hours finding all the little bits and pieces that had scattered themselves all over the garage floor, and under the workbenches.

Off to Home Depot to get replacements for the stuff I misplaced, and will probably find tomorrow afternoon.....

Finally got the old handle cut off, and the new one installed, and then spent about 20 minutes getting the chain adjusted so that it lets the flapper valve completely close, but is long enough, and has enough travel, that it fully opens the valve to let the tank drain.

And that was just to replace the handle. I still haven't (and told my wife I will NOT) replaced the fill valve.

Gawd, I HATE plumbing repairs....

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Feel A Great Disturbance In The Force......

"The Force" being those like-minded people who observe Truth, Justice and the American Way.

At the least "The American Way" as I remember it from growing up in the 1950's and 1960's.

I'll be nice to you if you'll be nice to me.

BUT, steal my car, insult my wife, break into my house, or kick my dog, and I'll be on you like stink on you-know-what!

Yes, I'm one of those "bitter clingers" who's damn tired of seeing my beloved country being destroyed by the current resident of the White House.

I'm one of those far-right wing nutjobs who asked embarrassing questions in 2008, and said things like "NOBODY knows who this guy is, so be careful".

After all, I grew up in the shadows of Chicago, and listened carefully to my Father when he spoke about Chicago-style politics and Hizzoner Mayor Daley.

Now besides all the job killing regulations, restrictions on free speech, and rampantly enforced Political Correctness, the current resident in the White House is going to allow thousands of unverified political "refugees" into our country, and this man-child says he won't take "NO!" for an answer.

And this person still has 12 months left in his tenure.

We're being stripped of our rights, the Constitution is being flagrantly ignored and bypassed, the economy is in the dumpster, and now we're being asked to allow tens of thousands of "widows and orphans", most of which are young military-aged men, into our country.

The inmates are truly running the asylum.......

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On The Border

From the album of the same name, released in 1974.

I find the lyrics to be strangely relevant.....




Cruisin' down the center of a two way street
Wond'rin' who is really in the driver's seat
Mindin' my bus'ness along comes big brother
Says, "Son, you better get on one side or the other."

I'm out on the border, I'm walkin' the line
Don't you tell me 'bout your law and order
I'm try'n' to change this water to wine.

After a hard day, I'm safe at home
Foolin' with my baby on the telephone
Out of nowhere somebody cuts in and
Says, "Hmm, you in some trouble boy, we know where you're been."

I'm out on the border
I thought this was a private line
Don't you tell me 'bout your law and order
I'm try'n' to change this water to wine

Never mind your name, just give us your number, mm
Never mind your face, just show us your card, mm
And we wanna know whose wing are you under
You better step to the right or we can make it hard

I'm stuck on the border
All I wanted was some peace of mind
Don't you tell me 'bout your law and order
I'm try'n' to change this water to wine

On the border
On the border
On the border
On the border
On the border
Leave me be , I'm just walkin' this line
On the border
On the border
All I wanted was some peace of mind, peace of mind
I'm out on the border
On the border
Can't you see I'm tryin to change this water to wine
Don't you tell me 'bout your law and order
Sick and tired of all your law and order
Sick and tired of it

Friday, November 13, 2015

Attacks in Paris

THIS is what you get when you have open, or extremely porous borders.

I fear another 9/11 here, but worse this time.

And the Islamonazis are telling the Kremlin "You're next".

Wonder how well that will play out........

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Veteran's Day

Thank you to all who have served, and are in the service now.

We had our annual Veteran's Day celebration aboard the Iowa on Saturday, and it was great.

Food, live music, displays of military vehicles, and Vets all over the place.

The Army even brought in one of their new helicopters, and set her down on the fantail about 1000.

Sorry for the crappy picture, but all I had with me was my phone, and between operating the radio and helping a few other crew members, I just didn't have time to get close to it.

It's a Eurocopter from Ft. Irwin, and the paint scheme is generic "bad guy".



Anyway....a splendid time was had by all, and we were honored with numerous veterans who had served during WWII, a couple who had served on the Iowa.

Truly the Greatest Generation......

Trump's SNL monologue

For those that didn't get to see, or who don't watch Saturday Night Live, here's The Donald's opening monologue.

Not much to it, though.....



Saturday, November 7, 2015

Me and Windows 10

The Silicon Graybeard has an excellent post on the Windows 10 almost-forced "upgrade" that's coming.

Go RTWT. I'm sure there's some good comments coming, as he has LOTS more readers than I do.....

He and I have exchanged a few emails about the state of Amateur Radio software for Linux, and I assured him it's a very healthy state, and MUCH Ham software for Linux is under active creation and development.

Here was my reply in the comments, edited here for linking and clarity:

I know exactly how you feel.

I have two applications that depend on Windows, and will NOT run under WINE (A Linux program) or the CodeWeavers "Crossover" stuff.

One is PowerSDR that runs my Flex Radio Systems 5000A, and the other is the drivers and software for my Maxtrox High Definition video capture card.

Those two machines will stay with Windows 7, and after Micro$oft stops supporting Win7, I'll just do my best to keep all the required anti-virus and anti-malware software updated, and pull the Ethernet cable out of the machine so it's off my LAN when I'm not updating them.

When the two vendors stop supporting the software on Win 7 is another matter, which I haven't thought much about.

Matrox still releases updates for the card, as does Adobe, who updates their Premiere Pro video editing suite that came bundled with the card. When they completely stop supporting the card, I'll probably try and sell it, possibly with the PC it's in, as the PC was built specifically for that card, and it's pretty well optimized as an audio/video editing system.

Flex Radio Systems has already said they'll be doing one final "rollup" update for PowerSDR, but as with all things Flex, it's anybody's guess when that will happen, so I'm not holding my breath. As long as the radio continues to function, I'll keep a PC to use it with cobbled together, and complete disk images, made weekly, in case I lose a drive.

The only thing I AM sure of is that Micro$oft is not getting one more dime from me......

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Illustrated Guide To Gun Control

From the fine folks over at Western Rifle Shooters Association...




Cool Tuesday

Had a cold front go through last night bringing a little rain and clearing up things a bit.

It's in the mid 60's today, so I'm enjoying the outside weather and doing some work.

Dumped some soggy dirt out of the wheelbarrow and moved the 'barrow off to the side of the garage to free up some driveway space. Have an old BBQ grill and some other things that are getting moved out to the street for the junkman that comes by daily, and that will free up more driveway space. Then I can move the Supra around easier so I can finish degreasing the underside after I get it up nice and high on the jackstands again.

Tomorrow is my "Iowa Day", and we have several things to get knocked out. First is getting a specific antenna reconnected to an antenna coupler down in the transmitter room with an adapter I made that adapts 3-1/2" Heliax to a female Type-N connector. Some of the other guys are finishing up mapping out the connections between some of the Red Phones and the SA-2112(V)4/STQ "Coke Machine" audio router. All the cards were removed from this big box, so we have to manually patch the receive audio, transmit audio, and push-to-talk signals between the pins in the sockets the cards used to plug into, a royal PITA!

Red Phone:




Coke Machine:



And there are LOTS of wires feeding it:



Every one of those big connectors has something like 40 pairs of wires, plus the shields, going into it.

We're only going to map out three or four Red Phones to it, but since we can't figure out the cable numbers, it's hand-to-hand combat with a continuity buzzer and the wires in the connectors.

And we still have the continuing saga of a "bad" URR-74 receiver (MIL version of a Watkins-Johnson 8718) where we've been spinning our wheels for six months. The one guy I'm working with wants to find out exactly which part has failed, and according to the single company that still services them, that's not the way to go. These receivers are loaded with Tantalum electrolytic capacitors with a known history of slowly degrading over time and becoming "leaky". The vendor has told me "Replace part X, and then part Y. If that doesn't fix it, replace ALL the tantalum caps in it." Some people don't like this "shotgun" approach to repair, BUT if you have 40 or 50 parts in the box, and each one has degraded slightly, the end result is that it looks like one or two have failed almost completely, when the real culprit is that they've all failed "just enough" to degrade the entire receiver. You can't say that "this" part or "that" part was the cause when each one of the 40 parts caused 2% or 3% of the "failure". You simply have to replace them ALL to see an improvement.

And I have two more association members that I have to get checked out and cleared on the procedures for operating our Amateur Radio equipment, and them issue them the key to the equipment locker. We're keeping control of the equipment much tighter, as we've had a couple of incidents where people have come in to operate, and found the settings on the radios to be randomly flipped around.

We now lock up some of the equipment, and Management has installed a video camera tied in to the security system so if it happens again we'll know who did it.

Oh, well....lunch is over. Time to get back outside, and back to work!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hapy Halloween!

Got the candy ready and some spooky music playing on the home theater receiver.

And the living room scanner is running on the local PD frequencies so I'll know if anything hinky is going on in the area.

We don't get a lot of visitors. Usually one big bag from Costco is more than enough.

And the neighbors across the street are having a party tonight, so I expect we'll have some extra visitors this years.

Have a safe one!

Friday, October 30, 2015

What In The HELL Happened To "WIRED" Magazine?

I've been reading WIRED (I refuse to link to them, that's how pissed I am) since about 1995, a couple of years after it first started up.

It used to be a cutting edge-of-technology magazine for telecommunications, computers, and the computer/hacker culture.

They broke stories, started trends, and influenced the hacker culture to some extent, and had excellent articles.

Over the years, I noted a left-leaning drift, and within the last 12~18 months they went all East Coast/Beltway/Metrosexual/Global Warming/bullshit/Democratic Party/Renewable Energy/Obama-is-god bat-shit crazy.

Long gone are articles and interviews with the movers and shakers of the PC and Technology Industries.

No more "Japanese Schoolgirl Watch" column, either.

The newest issue came the other day, and who's on the cover as a "guest editor"?

Serena Williams, the freaking tennis player!

I have no problem with Ms. Williams as an athlete, as she's proven her prowess repeatedly. But as a guest editor of a TECH magazine?

Fuhgeddaboutit.....

And then there's the headline, in red print, on the cover....

"Let's Change The Future.......Race, Gender, and Equality in the Digital Age"

What a crock of CRAP!

With this issue, WIRED has finally crossed the line from being an interesting tech magazine, to being just another East Coast, Big City "Lifestyle" rag, as if there aren't enough of those out there already.

I didn't look inside the "magazine", even for curiosity value. It went right in the dumpster, and so will all the others I get until my subscription expires.

I'm just glad it comes in a plastic wrapper so I don't have to soil my hands with it......

Friday Morning Mellow Music

From John Kay, former lead singer for Steppenwolf.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Monday, October 26, 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

TGIF....maybe....

Took care of getting a whole bunch of hams checked out on the ham gear on the Iowa Wednesday, and did a bunch of housework yesterday.

Today I'm (finally!) finishing up the wiring on the little Harbor Freight trailer I built a few years ago so I can sell it, and be rid of it.

I was going to mount my 8' mini-tower on it so it would be easier to move the mini-tower to Field Day and other events, but when I got the whole shebang finished (except for the wiring) I found out it wasn't quite stable enough for me to comfortably pull behind the Jeep.

And I've also got a pair of Dahlquist DQM-9 speakers in the garage that I'm going to pull out and sell. I got them from a friend of mine, BUT (there's always a but...) the wife say's they're "too big" for the living room, even though they're furniture quality cabinets, and look really nice. They also just had the foam surrounds replaced, so they should be good for many more years.

And The Great eBay Clearance is still going on, although I missed selling things for a couple of weeks due to the Supra event I went to. I pride myself on shipping as quickly as I can, and I lost the two weekends on each end of the event to list/sell/ship things.

And a good friend of mine recently became a gun owner (Glock 17 and Remington 870), so I'll be getting in some range time with him to help him learn about The Modern Technique of the Pistol.

And......well, that's about it. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Ballistic Gel Ammo Test by Lucky Gunner






Very interesting test by the folks at Lucky Gunner.



And they have a nice table at the end of the test giving the results.


Thanks to Anthony at Lucky Gunner for sending this to me!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Mechanical Universe

Just on a lark this evening, I punched in the name of one of my favorite science programs into my favorite search engine, and came up with a stupendous (for me, anyway...) find.

The entire series is available for free streaming directly from Annenberg Learner.

It's also available on YouTube, but my first search came up with the episodes all scrambled up.

ANYWHO........if you were ever curious about Physics, this is an excellent series to watch, and I highly recommend all 52, half-hour, episodes.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

JOTA on the Iowa

Totally forget to mention we had the Scouts aboard today for JOTA.

It went much smoother this year than in years passed, although the count was down.

Last year we had over 160 Scouts when we expected about 100, and this year we had about 65 when we were expecting 60.

Basically, we have three or four stations set up out on the fantail, and give the Scouts their "Air Check" portion of what they have to do to earn their Radio Merit Badge.

Some of the "kids" (from 10 to 17 today) are natural at it, and very comfortable talking on the radio, while others barely speak two or three words each time they transmit.

And this year, the second group had mostly done their "On Air" portion (they had an active Ham station at the campsite), so out of the second group of 30 or so, only 8 needed to use the radio.

And then it was over!

We'd run everybody through by 1430, when we had expected to go to 1500 or beyond, and the afternoon session was only the 8 Scouts, so we were done early, and packed up by 1500.

I think one of the reasons this went so fast was the Scouts were on a very strict schedule. The last couple of years they marched from the campsite to the Iowa, and this year they had a bus, with a strict cut-off time. Everybody HAD to be back on the bus by 1500 to get them back to the campsite, -OR- the cost of the charter bus went up significantly.

As usual, the Iowa staff (besides the radio guys) was magnificent in their support of the event, having pop-ups, tables, and chairs out on the deck for us to set up this morning, and it's always a pleasure working with them.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Supras in Vegas 2015" Pictures

Here's the better pix from the show.

I wasn't watching some of the settings on my camera, and wound up with some that are WAY overexposed.

I'll see if I can fix them with The GIMP, as they're nicely composed shots of the engine compartments of some of the heavy hitters.

And as usual, Photobucket transposed the order I uploaded them in, so the first is last, and vice versa.

Enjoy!


Monday, October 12, 2015

I'm Home and I'm Beat....

Was on the I-15 South at 0930 this morning, and arrived home about 1400.

Traffic was light most of the way home, but got jammed in a few areas once I was back in the L.A. basin.

And it feels hotter here than it was in Vegas, mostly due to the 40% humidity, compared to the 5~10% humidity in Las Vegas.

At least back there if you stood in the shade, and there was even a hint of a breeze, you cooled off pretty fast.

Guess I finally understand all the jokes about "Oh, but it's a DRY heat"...

Have a ton of pix to sort through, met some people I've been talking to online for a couple of years, and made a bunch of new friends,

Great bunch of people, some real knock-your-socks-off cars, and a whole lot of fun.

And next year, I'll have MY car there to join in the festivities.....

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bill Whittle on the Oregon School Shooting

Yep, we need more common sense "Steel Control".....



Friday, October 9, 2015

Rotten Hotel WiFi......

I gave up on the "free" hotel WiFi. Even though Windoze declared the signal level as "Very Good", the connection was always dropping, stalling, and sometimes I couldn't even get past the log-in screen.

I dug out my Virgin Mobile 3G/4G "Mobile HotSpot", called them up to reactivate it, and now I have 10MBPS speeds, with a SOLID 4G connection.

Dyno Day was really interesting. A guy set a "new record" for normally aspirated (NON turbo) cars of 299 rear wheel horsepower, and I watched several people easily crack the 800 horsepower level.

It took two or three people sitting on the rear of the car to get the required traction at that level!

I didn't hear who the Top Gun was for this session, but I'll find out about it at dinner tonight.

It was expected to exceed 1000 horsepower.......

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Supras in Vegas 2015!

Just got back from the first "Field Trip" scheduled for the event, where after we all registered, we went to Hoover Dam, and took over the entire top floor of the parking structure.

There's some SERIOUS horsepower on display here, with several of the cars capable of running low 11 second to low 10 second ET's in the quarter mile.

Some of these guys are running TWO intercooled turbochargers, each one big enough to scare a Caterpillar mechanic.......

And there's also people who have completely stock cars that are worthy of being in a museum.

And I've met several people in person that I've chatted with over the last couple of years on the celicasupra forum.

Don't think I'll upload any pix, as the WiFi at the hotel is pretty slow, but at least it's free.

Thursday is "Dyno Day", and it will be interesting to see if these guys really do make the "800 rear wheel horsepower" that they claim. From my experience, it's pretty hard to transfer that much power through the tires into the dynomometer rollers......

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

American Mercenary is Pulling The Plug

No reason given, just a short, cryptic message.

Stop over and wish him well.

I just finished packing the Jeep, and I'm on my way.....

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Already?

Time sure flies when you don't know what you're doin'!

Have to put my 2016 registration stickers on the Jeep, then head to the car wash, check my mail, and do a load of laundry in preparation for leaving Wednesday morning for Supras in Vegas!

I'm looking forward to meeting up with a bunch of my on-line friends from the celicasupra,com forum where I hang out.

Even though I didn't get Ms. Swan ready for the trip (I just have to learn how to organize my time better!), I've volunteered the Jeep to act as a support vehicle.

I'll get her there next year after I clean up the garage (again....) and get her inside to swap out all the worn-out parts for the huge stack of new stuff I have for her.

I'll be rebuilding the front and read suspensions with poly-graphite bushings, new KYB Gas-A-Just shocks and strut inserts, new springs that will drop the front a little over 1", and the rear about 3/4", and some new wheels and tires for her.

And I'll finally get the new carpet installed, the new stereo installed, and my short-throw shifter installed.

The stock Supra wheels for the Mark-II are 14x7, with a 225/60-14 tire, and you just can't get proper performance tires in that size anymore. The new rims are 16x8, and I'll be running something like a 265/40-16 tire. The rolling radius of the tires is the same as the OEM tires, so it won't change the overall gearing, or throw off the speedometer.

It sounds like a huge change, but with the correct offset rims, they fit right in there just fine, with plenty of clearance even considering the car will be lowered a bit.

So, go read the good folks in the sidebar, and I'm off running errands for the rest of the day!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Chris Mintz - HERO -

This gentleman stepped up to the plate, and put his life on the line to try and stop the madman in Oregon.

For this, he was shot SEVEN times.

Please kick in a few bucks if you can.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

School Shooting

Yes, I heard about it.

And again, the ONLY thing that will stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.

The school has a strict no guns policy; even the "security" people are only allowed to carry Mace.

Busy Day on the Iowa.....

Spent yesterday on the Iowa helping the Grey Radio Gang in getting some of the original receivers and a transmitter running for a crew tour of the radio spaces next week.

I won't be there as I'll be attending the 5th annual "Supras in Vegas" car show, so I wanted to make sure things were good-to-go.

Didn't work......

We started having receive antenna problems right away (the ships uses separate antennas for receive and transmit), so we never got around to getting the "Aft Twin Whip" transmit antenna connected using the adapter I made up.



The picture was taken before we connected the feed lines to the antennas from the box mounted between them. In the picture below you can see the feeds coiled up on the box:



The box contains a Jennings vacuum variable capacitor, and a length of copper strap used to "tune" the reactance of the antenna to a know value so the antenna couplers located in the transmitter room can work with it.

These antennas, made by a Canadian company, are rated for 10kW continuous duty, so they'll just be loafing along with 1200 Watts. The large feedline coming out of the right hand side of the box is 3-1/8" Andrew Heliax which runs down to the transmitter room. The cable terminates in a flange type connector (I forget the Andrew designation...), and I had to fabricate an adapter to a Type-N connector so we could use a jumper to the output of the coupler.

Back to the receivers....

At first we thought we had dead receivers, then we thought the couplers were bad, then it looked intermittent, then everything started working again. I was busy doing some mechanical "fine tuning" on the adapter (no hammers, just a file and a caliper!), so I wasn't helping with the receivers.

Anyway......the receivers appear to be operating normally, and the GRG will connect the transmitter to a dummy load, and talk to the Ham Radio station we already have aboard.

Not the best, but at least it will show the tour group that we can get audio from the Red Phones, through the Coke machine, down to transmitter room, and on the reverse path, audio from the receivers, back through the Coke Machine, and on to the same Red Phone for the demonstration.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Two Old Men.......

Bill gives homage to the two remaining Dolittle's Raiders.

These men, and their comrades, fit the definition of brave.

God Bless them and keep them........



Coming Soon To A Neighborhood Near You....The Muslim Invasion!

Say what you will about Pat Condell, he pulls no punches, and tells it like he sees it.

And on this topic, he has very clear vision.

Listen carefully, folks. This is already happening here, albeit at a slower rate.

For now.......


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Navajo Nation Pissed Off At 0bama

Along with about 60% of the rest of the US.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye again called on Obama and administration officials to declare the San Juan River a disaster zone.
In August, an EPA accident resulted in 3 million gallons of contaminated water flowing into the Animas River, which runs into the San Juan River. One-third of the Navajo Nation’s people rely on the Animus for water.
EPA officials have insisted the toxins have been diluted. But Begaye said he “doesn’t buy it.” He argues toxins are seeping into ranchers’ soil and threatening livestock and crops.
“There’s no way we can guarantee that the drinking water is safe,” he said.
“We are asking the Democratic Party to have President Obama declare the river a disaster area — and we haven’t gotten anything. Nothing,” he said. “The Democrats? I don’t know what happened. We basically are Democrats. We always vote Democrat. But it seems like they’ve just walked away. And we’re not hearing anything that’s of value to us from the Democrats.”

Complete story here. 

And make sure you continue past the story and read the comments.

Some true comedy gold, and some very sad truths, are there.

Hmmmm....could this be the first known instance of "Black man speaks with forked tongue"?

Tip of the hat to our friends at DaybyDay cartoons.

Duh.....Forgot What I Was Going To Post

Must be an after effect of stopping the Chantix......

Anyway....got a couple of posts I'm working on, including one on "Basic Soldering" that I'm doing for the Celica Supra guys.

Some of the WORST soldering I've ever seen has been on automotive stuff, so I'm rewriting a primer I've used in the past to help teach the guys over there what I know.

If I was a big-time prepper, I suppose I could call it "SHTF Soldering" or something clever......

Be back after I spray the weeds in the back yard........

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Another "eBay Sunday" in Progress

Still doing my "Shack Cleaning and Clearing" exercise in hopes of getting rid of some of the stuff I have that's never really going to see much, if any, use.

Last week only two of the four items I listed sold, and by the time you subtract the eBay seller's fees, and the PayPal fees for accepting the payments, AND the fact that shipping has gone up quite a bit (inflation? BigGov says "We don't gots no steeeenking inflation!"), I wound up LOSING about $12 on the two items.

Oh, well, I know they went to good homes, where they'll be used. I absolutely hate throwing out a perfectly serviceable item just because I have no use for it, so that takes some of the sting out of it, but I'm definitely going to have to adjust my flat-rate shipping to reflect the current reality.

Today I'll be listing a like-new-in-box ICom HT that I've never used, along with an older Heathkit electronic keyer, and some other obscure items of arcane electronic origins.

I'm charging/cycling the two battery packs I have for my Yaesu VX-6 that I bought some years ago, and rarely used. I'm going to dig through the garage this week to find the boxes and manuals for it. Having the original box can make a huge price difference when you list an item on eBay (I've seen 99% identical items go for a 30% price difference if the original boxes were included), and since I never throw away the original boxes, I should be in good shape.
 
Once I find them....

In that Black Hole that our garage has become....

AGAIN........

I'm going to keep my Kenwood TH-D72, but with the rise of $50 "throwaway" walkie-talkies, I'm not sure I can justify keeping a couple of $300 units just laying around.

The ICom I really want to sell, but if the little Yaesu unit doesn't go for at least $200, I'll just keep it. It's in a solid metal case, and is rated as "Submersible", and seeing as it's pretty small, would probably be a good back-up unit.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Trump Posts His Position on Gun Rights

Found this over at Mr. Codrea's place.

Here's the text, straight from Mr. Trump's campaign page.

He certainly isn't afraid of taking a stance against where the presstitutes, Intellectual Elites, Metrosexual "Males", and Effete Snobs stand.

Does he mean what he says? Will he actually follow through if he's elected?

I have no idea...............


PROTECTING OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS WILL MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Donald J. Trump on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.

The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans. The Constitution doesn’t create that right – it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.

It’s been said that the Second Amendment is America’s first freedom. That’s because the Right to Keep and Bear Arms protects all our other rights. We are the only country in the world that has a Second Amendment. Protecting that freedom is imperative. Here’s how we will do that:

Enforce The Laws On The Books

We need to get serious about prosecuting violent criminals. The Obama administration’s record on that is abysmal. Violent crime in cities like Baltimore, Chicago and many others is out of control. Drug dealers and gang members are given a slap on the wrist and turned loose on the street. This needs to stop.

Several years ago there was a tremendous program in Richmond, Virginia called Project Exile. It said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, you will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years – no parole or early release. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, called that a “cookie cutter” program. That’s ridiculous. I call that program a success. Murders committed with guns in Richmond decreased by over 60% when Project Exile was in place – in the first two years of the program alone, 350 armed felons were taken off the street.

Why does that matter to law-abiding gun owners? Because they’re the ones who anti-gun politicians and the media blame when criminals misuse guns. We need to bring back and expand programs like Project Exile and get gang members and drug dealers off the street. When we do, crime will go down and our cities and communities will be safer places to live.

Here’s another important way to fight crime – empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves. Law enforcement is great, they do a tremendous job, but they can’t be everywhere all of the time. Our personal protection is ultimately up to us. That’s why I’m a gun owner, that’s why I have a concealed carry permit, and that’s why tens of millions of Americans have concealed carry permits as well. It’s just common sense. To make America great again, we’re going to go after criminals and put the law back on the side of the law-abiding.

Fix Our Broken Mental Health System

Let’s be clear about this. Our mental health system is broken. It needs to be fixed. Too many politicians have ignored this problem for too long.

All of the tragic mass murders that occurred in the past several years have something in common – there were red flags that were ignored. We can’t allow that to continue. We need to expand treatment programs, because most people with mental health problems aren’t violent, they just need help. But for those who are violent, a danger to themselves or others, we need to get them off the street before they can terrorize our communities. This is just common sense.

And why does this matter to law-abiding gun owners? Once again, because they get blamed by anti-gun politicians, gun control groups and the media for the acts of deranged madmen. When one of these tragedies occurs, we can count on two things: one, that opponents of gun rights will immediately exploit it to push their political agenda; and two, that none of their so-called “solutions” would have prevented the tragedy in the first place. They’ve even admitted it.

We need real solutions to address real problems. Not grandstanding or political agendas.

Defend The Rights of Law-Abiding Gun Owners

GUN AND MAGAZINE BANS. Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like “assault weapons”, “military-style weapons” and “high capacity magazines” to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans. Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.

BACKGROUND CHECKS. There has been a national background check system in place since 1998. Every time a person buys a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer – which is the overwhelming majority of all gun purchases – they go through a federal background check. Study after study has shown that very few criminals are stupid enough to try and pass a background check – they get their guns from friends/family members or by stealing them. So the overwhelming majority of people who go through background checks are law-abiding gun owners. When the system was created, gun owners were promised that it would be instant, accurate and fair. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case today. Too many states are failing to put criminal and mental health records into the system – and it should go without saying that a system’s only going to be as effective as the records that are put into it. What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended. What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system.

NATIONAL RIGHT TO CARRY. The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states. A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.

MILITARY BASES AND RECRUITING CENTERS. Banning our military from carrying firearms on bases and at recruiting centers is ridiculous. We train our military how to safely and responsibly use firearms, but our current policies leave them defenseless. To make America great again, we need a strong military. To have a strong military, we need to allow them to defend themselves.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Help Identify This Old Hot Rod

This is from my friend The Wandering Minstrel's blog.

I know I've seen those lines before, but I can't place it.

Plymouth? FoMoCo?

And I'm no expert in prewar cars, either!



Oh....and I'm working up a post on the new season of "Wheeler Dealers".

I used to really love the show, and the interaction between Mike and Edd, but this season they're really pushing things, and I hope it doesn't backfire on them.

Just because you have a popular show in the EU, and the US, don't expect to move your shop and production company here to the US and expect things to stay the same.

The changes they've made might just drive away their core audience.....

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

RAIN! And not just some sprinkles....

We received .64" of rain last night, remnants of the hurricane down in the Baja region.

It was coming down so hard that it woke me up about 0230, and the rain gauge showed about .25" at that time, so it must have continued for quite some time.

The future daughter-in-law from Fort Collins was in town this week, so she came over yesterday and we all went out for dinner to a local Greek restaurant.

She said real estate is still "hot" out there, but I guess a "hot market" has different definitions between Fort Collins and L.A.

She looked at the properties I had in my "saved" folder on the real estate websites I use, and said they were all within a 15 minute drive from where they live, and suggested I open up my search parameters a bit to include some areas I thought were too far.

*I* don't mind driving, but my wife does. She absolutely hates driving on the freeways here, and will spend an extra 30~45 minutes using surface streets vs the freeway to go to certain places.

I'm not sure how she'll do in the Fort Collins area. The freeways/Interstates seemed wide-open to me, even when the locals were commenting that the traffic seemed heavy, and the secondary/"County" roads reminded me of driving on similar roads back in Illinois. My wife is not used to driving for 5 miles without a side street or street signs to guide her, and her nav skills are pretty poor.

Guess I'll just have to keep that 7" color screen Magellan Road Mate updated, and get a decent mount for it for her car!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NEVER Forget......










HAMCON 2015 Is THIS Weekennd!




I totally forgot about posting this earlier, but if you're a Ham, and live in SoCal, you probably already know about it.

Also known as the South West Division ARRL Convention, HAMCON  starts Friday September 11th, and runs through Sunday, September 13th.

Friday's schedule is 1300~1800, with the vendor hall open from 1600~2000Saturday's is 0730~1800, and Sunday's is 0800~1500.

Admission at the door is $27, and "extra" patches and pins are $5 each, while supplies last.

HAMCON is on a rotating schedule, and is held at a different venue each year, on a 4 year rotation.

From the HAMCON website:

The ARRL’s annual Southwestern Division Convention rotates yearly from the Los Angeles-Orange County area to a location in Arizona, then to a site in Santa Barbara or Ventura County, and finally to the San Diego area before repeating this four-year cycle

This year it's going to be held at the Torrance Marriott, near the Del Amo Fashion mall.

The first year I was involved it was held on the Queen Mary, and then it was held at the Long Beach World Trade Center, and finally settled in to the Torrance Marriott.

The Queen Mary was fun, but not very practical, as the vendors were in one area, and all the Tech Talks were scattered throughout the ship in various meeting rooms, making it rather inconvenient to attend the talks.

You might have 5 minutes between two talks you wanted to attend, and have to go three decks up or down, and half way fore or aft to get there!

The Trade Center was an extremely nice venue, and I don't remember why it was only there one year; probably cost of the venue, and cost of parking.

Hams are notoriously CHEAP (there, I said it in print!), and will willingly cough up $400 for a new walkie-talkie, $1500 for a new HF rig, or drop $10k on an antenna, tower, rotor, and feedline, and then whine and cry about $8 parking and $6 hot dogs at the venue.

Oh, well.....

I volunteered to help with the table for Pacific Battleship Center and BIARA, so if you're in the area, please drop by and say hi.

All the usual vendors will be there, along with some smaller local ones, and during my break from the BIARA table, I'll be stumbling along drooling over all the new equipment, and saying hello to some of the vendors I know.

Political Correctness

From a friend. Sorry about the crummy formatting. This was a "cut, paste, and correct" job from an email that's probably been forwarded a whole lotta times!


This is About Political Correctness
Do You Know What The Term Means?​


​T​his seems to fit right into ​items discussed on every news broadcast.

For the last six odd years, almost all of the things I wanted to write or say have been stymied by that modern term referred to as 'POLITICAL CORRECTNESS'..  Although I consider myself fluent in English, that term was not in my vocabulary.  Curiosity got the  better of me so I decided to do a little research. After two weeks of chasing fruitless leads, I found what I'd been looking for at the Truman Library and Museum in Independence Missouri .

An  unnamed source there sent me copies of four telegrams between then-President Harry Truman and Gen Douglas MacArthur on the day before the actual signing of the WW2 Surrender Agreement in September 1945. 

The contents of those four telegrams below are exactly as received at the end of the war - not a word has been added or deleted!

​​

 (​#​1)​
 Tokyo ,Japan
 0800-September  1,1945
 To:   President Harry S Truman
 From: General D A MacArthur
             Tomorrow we meet with those yellow-bellied bastards and sign the Surrender Documents, any last minute instructions?
 
(​#​2) ​
 Washington, D C
 1300-September 1, 1945
 To:   D A MacArthur
 From: H S Truman
             Congratulations, job well done, but you must tone down your obvious dislike of the Japanese when discussing the terms of the surrender with the press, because some of your remarks are fundamentally not politically correct!
 
 (​#3) ​
 Tokyo , Japan
 1630-September 1, 1945
 To:  H S Truman
 From: D A MacArthur and C H Nimitz
      Wilco Sir, but both Chester and I are somewhat confused, exactly what does the term politically correct mean?
 
 (​#​4) Washington, D C
 2120-September 1, 1945
 To:  D A MacArthur /C H Nimitz
 From: H S Truman
      Political Correctness is a doctrine, recently fostered by a delusional , illogical minority and promoted by a sick mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end!
 
 Now, with special thanks to ​t​he Truman Museum and Harry himself, you and I finally have a full understanding of what 'POLITICAL CORRECTNESS' really means.....