Monday, August 31, 2015

One Week with NO Smoking.....

Well, the Chantix is definitely working as far as the nicotine addiction/craving goes.

If I don't think about lighting up, then it never crosses my mind.

Wait, did that make any sense?

Oh, well.......

When I finished the pack I had last weekend, I decided to not buy anymore. Even though I'd cut down to one or two a day, juts having that pack made me feel more comfortable.

Well.....I don't need to feel comfortable, dammit, I need to stop smoking!

And no, I'm not searching in my car for one I might have dropped, or looking through the old, empty packs still littering the floor of the Jeep for one I might have "missed", or a partially smoked one.

The Chantix works by blocking the nicotine receptors in your nervous system, so you no longer crave the nicotine.

And since it cuts down the craving, you'll cut down on smoking. When you cut down far enough, and you do light one up, you don't get a rush or a buzz or any calming feeling like you used to.

And then you start to realize that since you don't get anything out of it, why bother?

And you'll also cough up a lot of crud that's been in your lungs, as long as you haven't damaged them too badly. I coughed more the first couple weeks I was taking it than I did when I was smoking! I'd cut back from 10 or so a day to 4 or 5, and even that reduction was enough that I was finally coughing up more crap than I was taking in.

As far as side effects go, the only one I've noticed is nausea.

No weird dreams, no bad feeling, just my stomach flipping around a bit.

DO NOT take Chantix on an empty stomach! You WILL get nauseated!

And even taking them with some food is enough to make my stomach feel a bit "off".

But so far, it's working while the patches, gum, and lozenges didn't.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

eBay Sunday......

Well, I spent most of the last week cleaning and testing a bunch of stuff I'll be dumping selling on eBay later today.

Even though I list all of my items as "Sold AS-IS with NO warranty!", I still take some time to clean them and make sure they work.

Heavy items get double boxed, and I've gone to flat-rate shipping, as eBay's "Shipping Calculator" has consistently cost me money by low-balling the shipping cost, even when I add 2" to every dimension, and enter an extra 10% to the weight.

I've just collected entirely too much stuff to ever use (really, four each Heathkit GC-1A Mohican receivers and GR-78's?), and many items in excess of my "Two Is One, One Is None" philosophy of spares.

One of my Mohicans has been completely restored, one is electrically restored but needs "Paint and Polish", one is a basket case, and the fourth is a parts radio that was slowly reduced to a hulk during the restoration of the other two.


GC-1A:



Same thing with my GR-78's. One looks like it just came out of the Heathkit box, one works 100% but is missing the case, and the other two are in various states of being stripped for parts.

GR-78:



While both of these are pretty good radios considering their age, a newer, smaller, even more portable radio like a Grundig G3 or a TecSun PL-660 would be far more suitable for a "SHTF Radio", and the newer ones are more stable, get far better battery life with more easily obtained batteries, and cost around the same amount that these old guys are going for these days.


Grundig G3:




Tecsun PL-660:




Yes, I know there are newer version of the "new" radios, it's just that I happen to own these two. The TecSun is a little more cost effective than the Grundig, but they're both very good little portables.



Some items were deliberately bought in May at my radio club's "White Elephant Sale" so that I could resell them, and the time has come for that.

Including items from the 2014, 2013, and 2012 sales......!

I know a lot of you out here detest eBay because of their firearms policy, but when it comes to maximizing the sale price for certain items, like radio gear, eBay is pretty hard to beat, even considering that I will not ship items out of the USA.

I'll maybe ship to Canada, but unless the buyer has a US address I can ship to, it's no deal.



And I have some other items like a Ten Tec KR-20 keyer:



An AMECO PLF-2 receiver preamp:



And various other bits and pieces.

I almost always list my items so they auction ends on Sundays, as I've had the best results with that. People tend to get swept up in "bidding Wars" if the item ends on Sunday late afternoon or evening, versus having it end on a Wednesday morning.

And I'll be doing the same thing this week so I can list a bunch more stuff next Sunday, and sloooowly make my way through the pile of stuff I've accumulated over the years.

If I'm not going to use it, I might as well convert what it's worth to lead, brass, silver and other tangible items that might be of use in the future......

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Two Entire Days Without a Cigarette!

Well, the Chantix I've been taking is really starting to work well.

I've been taking it for about a couple of months now, and at first, I didn't notice anything.

After a couple of weeks, it dawned on me that I wasn't smoking my first cigarette until almost noon, rather than as soon as I was up and around.

I've never smoked more than 3/4 pack a day, and after my cardiac "incident", I actually stopped cold turkey for almost a week, mostly because I was still shaking off all the meds they gave me in the hospital, and getting used to all the new ones.

I never got back up to what I used to smoke, keeping to about 5~6 a day, but the scientific part of me (along with all my family and friends!) kept telling me to knock it off, you idiot!

I've tried several times to quit before, but NOTHING helped with the nicotine addiction/craving.

Patches did NOTHING

Gum did NOTHING

The lozenges helped some, and could help me from jonseing if I had a meeting or something to do that absolutely precluded me from smoking, but as soon as I was free, WHAM! Fire that sucker up!

So, we'll just have to see how I do on Monday. If I keep myself busy, the Chantix blocks the craving, and I do just fine.

It's the "ritualistic" part of smoking that I think I miss now. The lighting up with a cup of coffee; the lighting up when I'm driving somewhere; the act of having something in my hands, etc.

Zora Arkus-Duntov, our beloved "Father of the Corvette" allegedly had some porcelain cigarettes made up when he had to quit. It gave him something to gesture with, and something to keep his hands busy.

I could do far worse than to emulate Zora......

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Mini-Tour" of USS Halsey DDG-97

This is a couple of weeks ago, from "Navy Days", and I hope I haven't forgotten too much of it!

You had to get an online ticket to see any of the ships that were in port, and which one you got to see was pretty much a random thing, although I heard you could get out of line and wait for a different group if you wanted to visit a specific ship.

It didn't matter to me, so I wound up getting to see some of the USS Halsey.

The Halsey is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and is as far removed from the "Tin Cans" of WWI as a 747 is from the Wright Flyer.




This is the forward ramp leading to the ship, as seen from the line I was in:




The first thing I saw once I was on the main deck was a display of the Commanding Officers of the ship:




And, of course, the ship's placard:




Going through an exterior (it was open to the weather on both ends) pssageway, I snapped a picture of one of the frame numbering signs. It's identical to the ones painted on the Iowa, that were done back in the 1980's, and they probably date back much earlier. I'm sure some of my regular visitors will fill me in on the details!

I can read these well enough to know where I am on the ship, which is real handy yo know if you have to leave the compartment in a hurry!




And at the forward end of this portal was a very interesting sign:




This is what the sign is referring to, the forward section of the Vertical Launching System, consisting of 32 tubes:



According to the crew, each tube can be can be loaded with several different types of missiles, from the Surface-to-Air SM-2 "Standard" missile to Tomahawk cruise missiles, and antisubmarine ASROC missiles.



Just forward of the VLS is the ship's gun, a 5",  62 caliber, Mark 45 mod 4 rapid firing gun:



It's capable of lobbing a shell over 20 miles, and has a variety of ammunition it can use.

Here's the "business end":


Sorry for the crummy picture. My "fill in" flash just wasn't big enough. Next time I'll bring my BIG strobe to fill in the shadows.


We then started down the port side of the ship, stopping at a pintle-mounted SAW:



This was one of the longer stops on our little tour, as everybody wanted their picture taken "shooting" the gun. Out of the 10 or so people who posed with the gun, the only one who did it right was another old guy like me. He said it "fit better" than the M60 he used in Nam!

The sailor in the picture was our guide for the tour. Quite a jovial fellow who's been in the Navy some years, and was planning on making it his career.

God Bless You, sir!


And of course, the ships' bell:




Next was this little device, which I'm sure some of you know well:



In Ye Dayes of Olde, this was how they'd transfer a person between ships.

Yes, you could get quite wet, especially if the guys handling the lines didn't like you.

They don't really use it anymore, as it takes about 20~30 minutes to set up the ships in position, shoot the lines over, and then get everything else ready.

He told us they could have one of the RIBs manned and in the watter in under 7 minutes, so guess which method they use.....





Back on the starboard side, and heading aft.....




First stop was a CIWS gun:





This is the latest-and-greatest model, with a "surface target" engagement mode. The ones on the Iowa were strictly for engaging airborne or sea-skimming targets, but this one can go after small craft.

Note the optical/TV sight with the wiper blade on it, just above the gun barrels:





And yes, it was loaded with live rounds:



The ship also carries torpedos, but not the big ones like a Destroyer would have had during WWII.

These are Mk 46 "lightweight" torpedos, used against smaller surface targets, and submarines.

Although considering the range they have (12,000 yards), by the time a hostile sub gets that close, you're probably already taking on water and going down!





Here our guide and the lady sailor are explaining about the different types of missiles loaded in the aft VLS, consisting of 64 launchers:



IIRC, that's the USS Bunker Hill off the stern of the Halsey.


And another warning sign:



Some of the missiles have semi-active radar on them, which means the target is illuminated by the ship's radar until the missile gets within a certain range, and then the missile's internal radar takes over.

These are the target illuminator antennas:



They might look like they're pointed at the sky, but because they use an offset feed, they're actually pointed down much lower, towards the horizon:



And the helo deck:




And a warning sign I'm very familiar with:



One thing I kept noticing were what I thought were "fire fighting" nozzles all over the place:





I think these might serve a dual purpose; besides possibly being for fire suppression, I'll bet they're also used for NBC washdown.




The plaque between the nozzles is interesting, but I'm not sure what it means:



And the Mk 36 SRBOC dispensers, just like on the Iowa:




On our way back to the pier, I got some better pictures of this 25mm gun:



I asked if it was similar to the Bushmaster that the Bradley carries, but the crewman I asked didn't know, as he was from some different department. All he knew was that it was fully automatic.

Turns out it's a "Navalized" version of the Bushmaster.


Back on dry land, our guide  showed us some firefighting equipment, and explained how it was similar to, but different from, the equipment used on land.

For instance, your local Fire Department has a separate coat and pants for their turn-out gear. The Navy uses a one-piece garment to keep the heat from getting under the coat as they descend ladders, something their land-based brothers don't generally do.




I didn't get his name, but he was a great tour guide, very friendly and knowledgeable and an asset to our Country, and I'm sure his ship.

Bravo Zulu!



I could have gone back the next day and gotten a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bunker Hill that had been arranged for the Iowa crew, but we had something planned for that day, so I couldn't make it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

USS Halsey DDG-97 Post is "In The Works"

Just didn't feel like finishing it tonight.

 I'm organizing a huge stack of "stuff" that will go on eBay, and that means photographing it, and writing the listings, and that's taking me longer to do than I expected.

And I've also got a few pictures from a crew-only, 2nd Deck tour I was on Sunday. I've seen and posted 75% of it before, but this time we went as far forward as is allowed, and saw the anchor windlass mechanisms.

BIG stuff, and probably things you'll never see.....


Friday, August 14, 2015

70 Years Ago Today......

The Empire of Japan announced their surrender.

Due to the time differences, it was heard in the U.S. on August 14th, which was yesterday.

In commemoration, we had a memorial on the Iowa Friday at 1400 local time.

An old Army vet played the most perfect rendition of "Taps" I've ever heard live, and there wasn't a dry eye to be found.

Let us all remember that day so long ago, and the courage and sacrifice that led us to it.

The USS Iowa Veteran's Association has been aboard all week, and meeting these guys was quite an honor.

I met some who served on her during WWII, and some of the guys who were the very last on her; literally the guys that sailed her into the mothball fleet.

We greeted them all with "Welcome home", and they loved it.

We also learned a tremendous amount from them about how the ship has changed over the years, and the younger guys were an absolute wealth of information about the ship's current configuration.

And we thanked them all for their service.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Just Told the RNC WHY I Won't Give Them Any Money......

I rarely do any "Political Commentary" here as I'm not very eloquent at it, but today is different.

Just had an interesting phone call.

It was the RNC calling, and rather than just hit the "disconnect" button, I thought I'd talk to the guy, and see if I could get my viewpoint across.....

The call started out by asking me who I thought was "the best" candidate in the current crop of people vying for the official RNC head nod.

I told him that, at this point in time, I favored Scott Walker, but also liked Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorina.

I'll get to Governor Walker, and my brief "chat" with the caller, in a bit....

I've got some gripes about Carly's time at HP, but for now, that's neither here nor there. She's extremely intelligent, very personable (I saw her speak at a Tech Convention once, years ago), and I generally agree with her political positions on things.

I like Senator Cruz because I also agree with his political positions, and especially like his stance in strong support of our 2nd Amendment rights. I think he's a bit of a dark horse candidate, and his "Pull No Punches" approach to things turns some people off, but I think you can say with confidence that he knows where he stands on issues, and he's got the gumption to tell you.

I like Governor Walker because again, I like his stand on the issues, and the fact that he has a proven history of getting a budget under control, and ending up with a surplus.

The fact that he survived a very nasty recall election shows to me that he can "get out the vote", at least in his home state.

Now, about that phone call.......

After chatting with the guy for a while (he claimed to be from Wisconsin, and claimed he was calling from Oshkosh), I was wondering when he'd get around to holding the cup out.

Sure enough, after niceties were over he asked for a pledge of "$100, $50, or even just $25", and I flat out told him "No".

I told him that unless and until the RNC ran a candidate that was a true fiscal and Constitutional Conservative, I wouldn't give them 10 cents.

I told him their record of running such candidates in the past had absolutely SUCKED, and that the party was well and truly on it's way to being irrelevant to their "core" or "base" or whatever they call it these days.

I told him that I would much rather give my money directly to a candidate than the RNC, as the RNC had quite a history of promising one thing, and then either "forgetting" it, or turning around and doing something almost 180* from what they said they'd do.

Once I told him no, he seemed to want to cut me loose, but I was able to hang on to him for a while, and he let me finish. I asked him to try and get my positions bumped up the line to somebody who would listen, and he said he'd flag the recording for review.

Considering the past history of RNC "promises", I doubt anybody else will listen to the recording, if indeed it was being recorded at all.......

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Battleship USS Iowa Fly Over Flight

Something to amuse my readers while I ponder what to post next....

OH, I know....my "Mini Tour" of the USS Halsey, DDG-97!

I'll try and get that up later.

In the meantime, enjoy!

These guys are from the Chino, CA "Planes of Fame" air museum, a place I've visited many times.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

We Might Be Leaving Kalifornaistan Earlier Than I Thought......

Sorry I didn't get going on this earlier. Much to my surprise (and delight!) my lovely wife has all of a sudden become rather "antsy" about moving to Colorado, and relegating the wonderful People's Democratik Republik of Kaliforniastan to the dustbin of history.

I guess it started a few days ago when I was looking at real estate prices in the Fort Collins/Bellvue/Laporte/Wellington area, and saw some rather nice properties for about $75~100k less than what we'd walk away with if we sold this place.

She ran the numbers again, and confirmed my SWAG about the valuation vs what we owe, and realized she could retire early.

ANYWAY.....we could get a nice 3br 2ba on at least one acre of land, and if we moved a bit further out, we could get the same thing on 2~3 acres, and be well within our comfort zone regarding PITI, and other matters that she understands very well.


Here's one on 2.6 acres for $290,000:




Here's one on a 13,000 sqft lot for $250,000:



I noticed there's a trend towards Manufactured Housing in some areas, like the 2.6 acre property shown above.

I have no real opinion on Manufactured Housing (different link than above), other than I know it's improved tremendously over the last 25 years. My step son's future Father-In-Law (great guy) owns a construction company and builds "custom" homes, and has an excellent reputation in the area, so I'll talk to him about manufactured housing as used in that area before I make any final decision on it.

As an Engineer, I believe that if it was properly designed, properly assembled with quality components, and properly transported and installed, it should be OK.

As a potential buyer, I have a lot to learn!


And of course you can get real "fixer-uppers" in the $150,000~$200k range, but I'm just too damn old to take on another "fixer-upper" house!



Some more Good Things:

Colorado sales tax is 4.5~6.5%, compared to 9+% here.

Gasoline is 75 cents to a buck a gallon cheaper.

Food is cheaper.

Colorado state income tax is a flat-rate 4.63%, compared to 13.3% here.

Colorado property tax is generally under 1% (varies GREATLY by county), but on a less expensive home, it would be less than we're paying now, and it could very well be half of what we're paying now.

And I found several references to a "Senior Exemption" on the property tax, but as of this time, I have no idea what that means.

Our current house payment is in the $1800 range right now, and after she ran the numbers (again), she realized our payment would be in the $800~$1000 range.

The last thing she wants me to research are utility rates, and I want to look into "High Speed" Internet access.

We might possibly be out of here in two years, or less, compared to the 3~5 years she was looking at before.

I just hope things hold together that long........

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Navy Days Was Great!

Got to tour the USS Halsey, and I'll post pix on Sunday.

Maybe about 25 contacts from NI6BB, and band conditions were poor.

I usually operate during the week, and I was surprised how quiet things are on the weekends, with few operations taking place across the channel on Terminal Island.

All the electrical equipment on the big cranes and the other gear over there tends to make quite a racket, but today the local noise level was only S2~3!

Too bad propagation stunk.......


In the meantime.....enjoy the video of the USS Cape St. George arriving, and our simulated "salute firing" of 5" gun, Mount 56!



Friday, August 7, 2015

Almost Forgot.....Navy Days L.A. 2015!

I'll be on the Iowa all day Saturday, and I have a ticket for a brief tour a1300~1330 of one of the three ships here for Navy Days.

The ships arrived Tuesday morning around 0900, and were graced with:



The USS Halsey, DDG-97




The USS Bunker Hill, CG-52



and

The USS Cape St. George, CG-71



Here's some video courtesy of WABC, Channel 7:



   

And here's the story on the ABC website.


Between tinkering away on the Supra, fixing my wife's granddaughter's laptop (it "self upgraded" to Windows 10 on her!), AND doing research on proximity fuzes for a planned exhibit on the Iowa (hey, they're "radio related"!), I totally forgot this was coming up this weekend!

The Iowa was closed on Tuesday for filming, and when I woke up Wednesday morning, I was rather ill, so I didn't go in for my usual Radio Room shift.

Had a 48-hour stomach bug that knocked me for a loop, but I'm back to normal now.

SO......I'm taking my camera with me, but I think they have a "No Camera" policy on the ships; I'll have to read what the ticket says.

At least I should get some good shots from the pier and from the Iowa.

Backyard Visitor

And Pebbles went completely NUTZ!

She heard some other dogs barking, ran to the back door, and started whining, something she rarely does.

Then I heard my wife say "Oh my GOD!!" in a rather frantic voice, so I grabbed my 1911 and headed for the back.

We had a visitor on the backyard block wall!




By this time Pebbles had bolted out the door when my wife cracked it open, and by the time I got out there she was doing her best to dislodge the intruder from the wall:


This was when she was on her way UP!

Her front paws got to within a few inches of the top of the wall, so I decided I'd better end the fracas, as I didn't want a 1930 emergency call to the Vet.

I went over there, and barked out our "safe" word, and she stopped and sat down, so all those HOURS of practicing that command paid off.

I got her back inside and praised her for being "safe" (DO NOT use the word when doing this!), and gave her one of her favorite treats.

Part of the grapevine is on the ground, and not the trellis, as she tried to climb the trellis a few nights ago in response to "something" being up on the wall.

It's usually a cat, but they take off after she makes one pass at them, and the other night she repeatedly kept trying to get up the wall in that area, so now I think I know what got her so riled up!

The possum was starting to get a bit defensive by the time I got to the fence, but I don't think it's their nature to attack, so the only thing I was worried about was if it fell off the wall.

Hopefully the little critter won't be back tonight........


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pressure Washing -Part 1-

Well, yesterdays attempt at pressure washing the bottom front of the Supra was a mixed success. My son brought over his "Task Force" pressure washer (the old house brand at Lowe's), and we proceeded to blast the underside of the car.

There were several problems from the get go.

One, his washer soap tanks have never worked, and two, we wound up having the seals blow out of the pump, putting us out of action.

The other "problem" was that the ZEP Industrial Strength (whatever that means these days) Purple cleaner I bought was not meant to be sprayed on and washed off (regardless of what the container says....), and it just runs off without having a chance to do much. Some of the people I talked to said it works quite well if you put it in the detergent tanks of the washer, but with our washer being non-functional in that area, that was a NOGO for us..

Then I ran out of good old Gunk Engine Brite, which does work extremely well if you spray it on, let it sit, and blast it off.

We got the loose stuff off fairly well:





But the majority of the crud is still on the frame and suspension components, as you'll see in the following pix.



Found a small dent in the oil pan:



And a bent area of the front cross member, probably caused by somebody hitting one of those concrete parking lot bumpers:



The oil pan dent is nothing to worry about, and likewise the ding in the cross member. The metal isn't split or folder back on itself, so I can just use a little "persuasion", and bend it back.



Also gently cleaned the topside:



Which resulted in large chunks of the black wrinkle finish paint blowing off the cam covers:


That's no big deal, as I have another set of cam covers that I'm going to get degreased, and finish them in the same colors. I'm not sure if I'm going to do it myself, or get them powder coated.


And I found out my power steering pump is blue, probably indicating a replacement at some time in the past:





The only rust I found on the car is under the battery tray, which I knew was there from the topside:



When I put the new battery in, I cleaned the tray with Naval Jelly, primed it and painted it, but blew off the upper area for "later".

After I finish degreasing the car and get it in the garage, I'll pull the battery, clean and rust encapsulate this area, and paint it.

 This is the area at the very bottom of the car, under the battery tray, where the battery had been dripping for who knows how long:



It's going to take some serious wire brushing and sanding to get the surface clean down there so I can encapsulate the rust and paint it.



And as usual, Pebbles was out there "Straw Bossing" us:




I'm not going for "show car" quality, and probably never will. This car has a nice "patina" to it (all the rage these days!), and since it's truly a "survivor" car, I figured it's earned every little nick, chip, and scrape.

Surface rust gets fixed. Nicks/chips through the paint get fixed. The bleached out cracked paint on the mirrors and rear sunshade are getting fixed, and the same with the front bumper. I have new carpets for the interior, and the seats will get properly cleaned when they're out for the carpet replacement.

 I bought this car to drive, and I'm more concerned about getting the front and rear suspensions rebuilt, the brakes rebuilt, all the hoses and belts (including the timing belt, tensioner, and idler) replaced, the new wheels and tires on it, and a proper 4-wheel alignment.

The only thing I can't do "in house" is replacing the windshield, which has seen better days, so that will get vended out. It's not cracked, and hasn't delaminated that I can see, but the blue tinted area at the top has that "Old Jap Car" brown tint to it now, and it has a lot of little nicks and chips in it, any one of which could turn into a crack.

Plus, it just looks bad!


The pressure washer that I bought should be here Tuesday afternoon, and I bought some gel-type Gunk that hopefully will stick to the vertical surfaces and soften up the crud enough that the washer can blow it off.

And all the bending, stretching, and lugging stuff around is good for me, and gets me off my behind and moving more than the day or two per week I spend on the Iowa. I joked with my previous Doctor that I had joined the "Toyota Physical Fitness Plan", and after I explained it to him, he said that was good way to look at it.

I just hope Part 2 goes better, and I can get all the grease, crud, and other gunk off the bottom of the car!