Tuesday, April 30, 2013

OUCH....Hard Drive Failure In My Weather System

Well.....Sunday afternoon I decided to clean all the dust bunnies out of the little PC that controls and logs the data from my Davis Vantage Pro2 weather station.

I shut it down, unplugged all the cables, took the cover off, and took it out on the back porch to blow the dust out like I've done many times before.

Yes, both the PC *and* the air gun were properly grounded. I've seen boards get blown out (pun intended) by blasting them with compressed air, which can generate quite a healthy static charge if the air gun isn't grounded.

Got it all cleaned, put it back together, and it wouldn't boot.

Going into the BIOS showed that it recognized a SATA drive was in there, but couldn't read it.

Thinking I'd maybe (crossed fingers!) knocked a cable loose, I pulled it out, took it apart again, and reseated all the cables.

No dice....

So, off to Newegg to order a new drive, as all the drives I have "in stock" were way too big to dedicate to this PC.

A new 120GB Samsung Solid-State Disk was installed, and I'm loading OpenSUSE 12.3 64-bit on it now.

Then I'll update it, download the wview software and all the special libraries it requires, and configure the whole shebang.

*IF* I'm lucky, I might be able to recover the archived data from the "failed" disk, and transfer it to the new SSD.

Otherwise, well......I "start the clock" all over again recording weather data, and sending it to the CWOP, and on to NOAA.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Really OLD Radio/Electrical Magazines

I was at a board meeting for my radio club this afternoon, and one of the board members had a sack of OLD magazines with him.

He saved them from the dumpster as he figured they have some historical value, and I agreed to scan them.

They're from 1911!

They're in remarkably good condition, but some have tape holding the covers on, and some of the pages are starting to deteriorate, so I'm going to be extra careful as I scan them.

After I get them all scanned, I'll make a DVD with the magazines in pdf format, and I'll also post them on the web if I can find a place that doesn't charge.

In the meantime, here's a scan of the cover of one of them.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

RCA "Indian Head" Test Card et al

Most people call these a "Test Pattern", but this particular one is more accurately referred to as a "Test Card" since in the early days of television, it was printed on heavy card stock, and held or positioned in front of the camera.

Wikipedia (where else these days?) has a very good article on this particular RCA Test Card, along with some external links to a guy who found one of the originals in a dumpster back in 1970.

When I worked for DirecTV, we used one of these, showing how far technology has advanced sine the early days of TV.

The history of optical targets, or "test patterns" is quite interesting if you're geeky, and covers everything from the TV test patterns to the strange markings painted on aircraft and missiles to track them during flight, and conversely, strange patterns painted on the ground or roof tops to serve as resolution checks for high-flying cameras.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Unusual Movie Prop Gun Cartridge

During the last few weeks when I was off work on Medical Leave, a movie production company that had contracted with us came in and set up all their gear.

They did a lot of filming up on the bridge, down in the engine room, the Launch Control Center, and what we call "Room 101", which is the Rocket Assembly Room where the payload gets mated to the rocket and tested before we transfer it over to the Launch Platform.

Almost all of the filming was done on 2nd and 3rd shifts, and since I was AWL (Absent With Leave!) when the schedules were made, I didn't get asked to assist the production company while they were on board.

It was mostly assistance to keep them from getting lost, making sure they didn't get into places they shouldn't go, and escorting them to the rest room.

Well, they finished filming over the weekend, and started breaking things down and moving them off the ship Monday morning.

The filming they did was a lot of "action" sequences, and according to my friends who were observing, involved  LOT of prop gun shooting.

So much so, in fact, that people were sliding around on the spent brass in between takes before they could get the floor swept up for the next take!

One of my friends said they were taking 5 gallon buckets of brass off the ship!

Even after "cleaning up", they were still finding brass rolling around, so one of my friends saved a spent case for me.

He had no idea what kind of gun they were firing, other than "It was some kind of machine gun!", and since it was a prop gun, might have been rechambered to fire these blanks.

It's obviously a blank from the crimped end, but the head stamp indicates it's a "9MM Win Mag", which I had never heard of.

A wikipedia search turned up that it's considered an obsolete cartridge, designed in the 1970's to duplicate the ballistics of a 357 Magnum in an auto pistol cartridge, sort of like a prehistoric 357SIG, I guess.

So, here's a couple of pictures of a cartridge you may have never seen before.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Bringing the Mighty Saturn F-1 Engine Back to Life

Interesting article over here.

Never thought I'd see the F-1 roar again.....


Salesman Joke

From a buddy of mine.....

A young guy from North Dakota moves to Florida and goes to a big "everything under one roof" department store looking for a job.

The Manager says, "Do you have any sales experience?" The kid says "Yeah. I was a vacuum salesman back in North Dakota."

Well, the boss was unsure, but he liked the kid and figured he'd give him a shot, so he gave him the job.

"You start tomorrow. I'll come down after we close and see how you did."

His first day on the job was rough, but he got through it. After the store was locked up, the boss came down to the sales floor.

"How many customers bought something from you today?" The kid frowns and looks at the floor and mutters, "One". The boss says "Just one??? Our sales people average sales to 20 to 30 customers a day.

That will have to change, and soon, if you'd like to continue your employment here. We have very strict standards for our sales force here in Florida. One sale a day might have been acceptable in North Dakota, but you're not on the farm anymore, son."

The kid took his beating, but continued to look at his shoes, so the boss felt kinda bad for chewing him out on his first day. He asked (semi-sarcastically), "So, how much was your one sale for?"

The kid looks up at his boss and says "$101,237.65".

The boss, astonished, says $101,237.65! What the hell did you sell?"

The kid says, "Well, first, I sold him some new fish hooks. Then I sold him a new fishing rod to go with his new hooks. Then I asked him where he was going fishing and he said down the coast, so I told him he was going to need a boat, so we went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine Chris Craft. Then he said he didn't think his Honda Civic would pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him that 4x4 Expedition."

The boss said "A guy came in here to buy a fish hook and you sold him a boat and a TRUCK?" 

The kid said "No, the guy came in here to buy tampons for his wife, and I said, 'Dude, your weekend's shot, you should go fishing'".


Thursday, April 18, 2013

WTF Is Going On With Blogger???


I've tried to reply to posts on other blogs, and it will NOT let me post with my super-secret "drjim" ID.

It keeps insisting I use an old ID that I only use for a few Yahoo! groups.

This is getting REALLY annoying!

Maybe I should just move to Wordpress, or just get another domain, and run everything from there....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

VERY Good News From The Hospital

My wife's grandson has been released, and he's back home.

They held him and extra week so they could wean him off the drugs they had him on. I don't know what they used to put him in the induced coma, but after they took him off that, they put him on Methadone so he wouldn't go into withdrawl.

They finally got him off that, and he went home on Tuesday morning.

Pretty amazing when you consider they had the Chaplain and the grief counselor team team there not that many days ago.

Again, THANK YOU for all the prayers and support. My wife was amazed at the number of people I "know" through this blog that poured out sympathy and prayers.

Thank you all, again......

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I'm digging into the HTML code. I figure if they won't give me what I want, I'll just dig out my O'Reilly HTML book, read the code (Use The SOURCE, Luke!), and MAKE it do what I want!

I'm trying to get this set up so it nicely fills a 1280 x 1084 screen.

If it spills over on yours, or wraps around, or does anything that make it unreadable, PLEASE let me know.

Like I said, my HTML-foo hasn't been used in (quite!) a while, so I fully expect to get this looking real purdy on my 1920 x 1080 monitor, only to have it look like sh1t on other people's monitors.

Once I get the scaling and width correct, I'll try and do something about these rather lurid colors.

Please Stand By.........

Friday, April 12, 2013

Blog Tinkering

Spent some time this morning trying different templates.

Since my HTML-foo is low these days, I'll just keep putzing around with what blogger supplies until I find one I like, and then tweak it a bit.

Bear with me.....the blog might look pretty weird from time to time!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Maryland Governor Puts Tax On......RAIN?

Just is just how far down the path of tyranny we've come.

I suppose next they'll tax us on the CO2 we exhale!

Go here and read the whole thing.

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Don't ask me what I want it for
If you don't want to pay some more
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me.


Monday, April 8, 2013

Back to Work on Friday

I should have bent my Doctor's arm to let me stay out until Monday, but.......

Anyway.....the extra antibiotics are doing their job, and the swelling and redness of my index finger are going away.

As a result, my Doctor doesn't think I'll need surgery to root out all the infection, but he's going to be watching it closely. If it flares up, or changes significantly, he'll get me in to the Hand Surgeon ASAP.

It's still a bit difficult to write, type, use a mouse and small tools, and solder, but I'm cleared to go back on Friday.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Radio Daze.......

Since I can't work on my Jeep, or work outside on any antenna stuff, or tinker around on my workbench (can't solder and use small tools with my finger all wrapped up), I've been spending most of the weekend listening to the radio.

There's a lot of Ham radio activity today on the 15 and 10 Meter bands, and the scanner is running in the background, too.

So far the scanner has provided most of the entertainment.

** A couple fighting in the parking lot of a local Double Tree hotel, cursing and throwing clothing and wine bottles at each other.

** A "medical emergency" aboard a Jet Blue flight that's due to land soon. A 34 year old woman complaining of dizziness, and also claiming she'd been "drugged by a nice looking man" at the airport bar of her departure city. A doctor on board took her vitals, and pronounced her "fit, normal, and a bit of a bubble-head".

** A traffic stop by the LAPD where the driver claimed not to know that his state-issued I.D. card wasn't the same as a state-issued driver's license.

** An ambulance call to a certain address where the driver said "Oh, NO....Not HER again!".

And the usual traffic stops where the driver has multiple FTA's and warrants.

One person had four warrants with the total exceeding $50,000.

And he was driving a brand-new Ferrari with cardboard plates.

Just gotta love L.A.!


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Good News and Bad News

The GOOD news is that little James was taken off the ventilator, started breathing with a bit of help, and has been holding his own.

The chest X-Rays still indicate he has pneumonia, but his lungs are slooooowly clearing up.

He apparently will NOT need a permanent tracheotomy, which would deprive him of his ability to make the sounds that he uses to interact with his family.

My wife just left to see him, and says they're planning on taking him off the "special" oxygen they're giving him through the little plastic "nose tubes" like you see on TV, and giving him "normal" oxygen.

From doing some Wikipedia reading, I think what they're going to do is reduce the flow rate, rather than change to source/concentration of the oxygen.

So for now, he remains is "Closely Guarded" condition, still in the ICU, but has surprised every one, including the doctors.

Now for the "bad" news........

While the MRSA wound on my tummy (around the belt line....OUCH!) is healing very nicely, and the one on my leg is just a fading red splotch, my finger aint doin so good.

At my follow up yesterday, my Doctor (great guy!) express concern that by not draining, the infection could conceivably get into my bloodstream, with disastrous results.

Namely, it can settle on your heart valves, and that would be a Very Bad Thing.

So, he got out this really neat little "pocket cauterizer", which looked somewhat like a large flashlight, and explained the operation to me.

Since your finger nails have no nerve endings, he was going to *carefully* burn through to the nail bed in an attempt to get the abscess to continue draining. The original incision made when I went to the walk-in clinic has healed/sealed back up, and it did that before the antibiotics had fully knocked out and stomped on the MRSA infection that started this whole thing.

Hmmmmm....didn't work.

So, he then proceeded to "block" the nerves in my finger with Lidocaine injections (NOT pleasant) so that he could make another incision to allow the abscess to properly drain.

He couldn't numb the finger out enough to where he was positive it wouldn't cause me considerable discomfort while he worked on it.

We had an "interesting" conversation about all the nerves and tendons in the hand and fingers while I was gritting my teeth and doing my best to flatten a tennis ball in my left hand while he made injections in my right index finger, and I learned quite a bit about the mechanics of the hand while waiting for the Lidocaine to take effect.

After 45 minutes, and with an unacceptable amount of sensation remaining in my finger, he decided that he wasn't going to be able to properly perform the procedure, as he didn't want to inject any more anesthetic than he already had.

SO....we went to "Plan B".

He extended the length of time I'll be taking the antibiotics, and we'll wait a few days to see if the infection gets stomped down enough so that the normal blood flow can flush out the dead cells. If things don't look any better on Monday afternoon when I have my next follow-up visit, he'll refer me to a hand surgeon who has much more experience with blocking the nerves, and tinkering with fingers.

And I'm still not cleared to return to work.........


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Update From Hospital

They took my wife's grandson off the ventilator today, and after using the rubber bag respirator to get him "jump started", he began breathing normally, which surprised everybody, especially the Doctors.

HOWEVER....his O2 uptake isn't what it should be (my wife didn't remember the number, but it "wasn't good"), and the hospital Chaplain and the grief counseling staff were there before the Doctors disconnected the ventilator. They spent about an hour or so with the family discussing what would/could happen, and making sure the family's decision was "fully informed, and freely made" before they gave the Doctor the OK to shut the ventilator off.

My wife doesn't think they poor little guy will be coming home, and she said when she saw the "DNR" placard hanging on the bed, and "DNR" stamped on his chart, she just broke down and cried.

The Minister that married us was there with my wife (I'm not allowed in the ICU because of the MRSA infection I have), and helped her maintain some composure, for which I thanked her.

It truly is in God's hands now.......

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Very Sad News from the Hospital

My wife just called from the hospital where her grandson is.

He can't breathe on his own.

The recent seizures and lack of Oxygen he's suffered from the breathing problems have most likely destroyed the part of his brain that controls breathing, or that controls the muscles used in breathing.

They made the decision this morning to terminate his life support, and do their best to keep him comfortable until he passes.

My poor wife is greatly distressed, and the only comfort I've been able to give her is to tell her that her dear little grandson is truly an innocent, and will be safely home with God very soon.

The loss of a child is truly a terrible thing, but soon little James will be able to run and play and do all the other little boy things he was denied during his short time here on Earth

Thank you all for your prayers and support.


Monday, April 1, 2013

CCI 22 production videos

Amazing videos.

Go watch them here.

Off Work for Another Week.....

Got back from the Doctor's visit this morning, and although I'm healing nicely, he insisted I stay off work until the 8th, following another follow-up visit this coming Friday.

As long as the two abscess' I have are still draining, I'm still "contagious", and he doesn't want to risk my spreading this MRSA bacteria around.

It would NOT be good to have our minimal workforce decimated by this stuff!

And my sweet, loving wife has been washing all my clothes separately, with a good dose of bleach tossed in.

I wouldn't normally mind being off work, but with my right index finger all wrapped up, I can't solder!

Oh, well......it still doesn't stop me from messing around with my radios to listen and chat with other Hams.

On a side note......little James (my wife's grandson) seems to be getting better. They keep doing something to drain his lungs (a ghastly procedure, from what I've read), and while his lungs are clearing, he's still not out of the woods.

Dear wife will spend Sunday watching him with her oldest son.

Meet Luna!

 Great name for our new pup, eh? She's camera shy, and "Red Eye Removal" doesn't work for dogs! She's two years old, p...