Thursday, February 27, 2014

"2CELLOSlive".....These Guys Are Amazing

Heard about them tonight on Sirius/XM as I was driving home.

Just amazing stuff.

And if you don't care for cello renditions of Nirvana, here's their own YouTube page.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I Feel A Great Disturbance In The Force

I just found out the Brigid's dog, Barkley, has left us.

Having been through this, please say a little prayer for dear Brigid, and Partner in Grime.

July 11, 2003 - February 24, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Didn't get a damn thing done today that I had planned except check my mail, and play with the dog.

The wife was running around all morning, so Pebbles and I played in the back yard off and on for a couple of hours, then it was lunch time, then nap time.

Only my planned 45 minute nap lasted two hours, which means I'm groggy when I wake up, and it takes me another two hours to get going, and then it's dinner time, and I tend to get sleepy after dinner, and know the rest.

Well, actually I did get a few things done. I measured the cabinets in the kitchen, and "inventoried" the number of doors, drawers, hinges, and knobs for future use as we're going to get them refinished soon, and it's nice to be able to tell the contractors what we have, and how much.

And I took the wiring harness apart that connected the "old" Sony headunit to the OEM wiring in the Supra. I bought a set of connectors with leads that fit the Toyota connectors so I can just make a plug-and-play harness, like the one that the Sony had on it.

Only I misplaced the connectors somewhere.......

I figured, what the heck, I already have a set of plugs that fit on the Sony harness, so I'll just make a drawing of what color Toyota wires connect to the Sony wires, and then compare the Sony color code to the color code for the new Alpine CDE-134HD I bought, and then cut the Toyota connectors off the Sony harness, and connect them to the Alpine plug/wire assembly.

The installers who did this job back about 1999~2000 used really cheap electrical tape to bundle everything together, and if you've ever done any wiring, you know what really cheap electrical tape turns into after six months, let alone 14~15 years.

Yep, an ooey-gooey mess!

Took me about half an hour to clean the glop off all the wires before I could even bring it into the house.

Oh well, drawing is made, Toyota plugs cut off, and the new harness is soldered together.

I won't install the new radio until after I finish ripping out the interior, clean it, install the new carpets I ordered, and put it back together partially so I can test everything.

The carpets by the vestigial back "seats" are in good condition, and the carpet in the rear cargo area looks OK, but the front carpet is just completely shot. The clutch master cylinder failed at some time in the past, dumping all the hydraulic fluid inside the car as these cars are prone to do, and the driver's side carpet is permanently stained. The front carpets are also faded badly to the point they're several shades lighter. My wife though we could just clean them up, and maybe redye them, but after I pulled the center console, she could see the difference in the color between where the sun never shone, and where it did, so she agreed that the carpets were shot, and should be replaced.

The new carpet should be here in about two weeks, right about the time we'll in full-blown pre-departure testing for the next launch, which is now scheduled for April 15th.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Going In Today For My Cardiac "Stress Test" On The Treadmill **UPDATED**

Wonder if it will be different than the last time I took one.

I'm 12 pounds down now from December when my Doctor told me I had to lose 30 by July. My weight will go up and down a couple of pounds during the week, but the trend has been DOWNWARD since December.

The procedure called for me to NOT take my Metoprolol this morning, but to take the Losartan, Plavix, aspirin, Furosemide, along with my Glipizide and Metformin as I normally do.

Yeah, my nightstand looks like a mini Pharmacy!

The last time I saw my Cardiologist she was quite pleased with my progress, and got quite a chuckle out of my "Toyota Physical Fitness Plan". They ran an EKG on me, and all looks good, with no signs of any complications.

The Stress Test I'm taking today will be the next-to-the-last hurdle in getting myself declared fit for Sea Duty. The last step will be conferring with my regular Doctor, and deciding if I'm fit for sea duty.

The HR lady called me in last week (she's 'outsourced' and is only on-site once a week) to see how I've been doing. She also informed me that regardless of what the Doctor says, the final decision will be mine, and mine alone, and the company cannot legally hold it against me if I decide not to go to sea.

The medical care onboard is geared more towards "industrial" type injuries, and if I were to have another "cardiac incident", it could be 72 hours before they could get me to a real hospital.

If something happens on the way to the launch site, the options are to turn around, or divert to Hawaii.

If something happens at the launch site, we have to haul a$$ to Kiritimati, where the US Coast Guard would airlift me to Hawaii on a C-130.

I've been on several launches where this has happened, so I "know the drill", and how long it takes.

In a way, I'm looking forward to this "Last Launch" for me, as it will be #20 that I've been on, but in another way, I'm not looking forward to going. The company has crippled our Internet availability, with all sites that are "Online Communities", "Auction Sites", "Photo Sharing Services", and dozens of more categories , being completely blocked to us.

This means 99% of the Ham Radio and Automotive sites I enjoy after hours are blocked, along with eBay, and ALL blogging sites.

I could easily say "I'm not going", and (allegedly) there would be no repercussions, but in a strange way I feel some sort of obligation to go, do the job properly, see another satellite soar into space, and then come home and hang up my toolbelt, Spectrum Analyzer, Signal Generator, and DMM.

I'll just have to see how the test goes today, and what the Doctor says......


Well, the test went fine, although it took much longer than I thought it would.

I was wired up with a 10-lead EKG setup, a blood pressure, pulse, and Oxygen uptake monitor, and an IV in my left hand.

The IV was one of those "Just In Case" things, and was also used to push some special contrast enhancer into my bloodstream so the ultrasound measurements would be easier to read.

The test went fine, and the Cardiologist said I'm in good condition, and encouraged me to keep at the weight loss program, and to continue with various types of aerobic exercise.

I'll have my regular quarterly check-up with my normal Doctor in early March, and that's when he'll sign off my medical certificate.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Geeez.....Did The Vet Give Me The Same Dog Back?

We just can't believe this is the same dog we had before.

Ever since the drugs wore off, she's like a different dog.

Very playful, tail always wagging, doesn't bark when people or other dogs go by on the sidewalk, and does NOT bark at the mailman!

And all her wounds are healing very nicely. Last Friday I took her to the vet, and he pulled out the drainage tubes, and gave her a once over, pronouncing her fit and well, and well on her way to a full recovery.

Quite a change from the "whipped puppy" she was after I got the other dog off of her.

I guess removing the "Bad Influence" from our house has brought out the dog that was hiding inside her!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Welcome Home, Soldier

I don't watch football. Just never cared for it. But, the Superbowl has a reputation for having some pretty good commercials, and this is one of the better ones.

USS Iowa "Birthday Bash" Coming Up On 2/22/2014

Join BIARA (Battleship Iowa Amateur Radio Association) as we activate
NI6BB to celebrate the 71st birthday of BB-61's original commissioning on Feb. 22, 1943, along with the Iowa Plankowner Tribute Wall Official Unveiling, and our "Charter Party" as the ARRL presents us with
our certificate of affiliation.

Operations will follow our usual "Rule of 61" working our way down from 28461 through 24961, 21361, 18161 and ending up at 14261 MHz.

Operations are expected to be between 1730 and 2330 UTC. QSL per instructions on

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

$680 at the Vet Today, and We're Now a "One Dog" Family happened again this afternoon, and I almost couldn't get them apart.

It was the usual "Mailman Thing", and this time the big dog went at the little one with full force.

I threw water on them, threw blankets on them, swatted him with a magazine, and finally resorted to belting him with a 1x6 from the Ikea chest unit I was working on.

He broke loose, and as she started to run away, he went right back at her, TWICE.

I absolutely hate hitting dogs, but I was getting desperate, so I really walloped him with the pine board I had. He stopped long enough that I was able to get the little dog away from him and outside.

I brought back in the fold-up kennel, set it up, and opened the door to it, and yelled at him to get in there, which he promptly did.

The house looked like a crime scene, with blood on the walls from where he body-slammed her into the walls, blood on the floor from her torn ear, and blood on the sideboard cabinet in our bedroom where he chased her in and cornered her on my side of our bed. I butt-stroked him with my Remington 870 to break him off, and that's when he chased her back out into the living room where I finally walloped him with the board hard enough to get his attention, and hustled her outside.

I had to sit down for about ten minutes to catch my breath before I could call my wife and tell her "Swisher is OUT of here", so she called the guy we got them from, and he's on his way over now to take Swisher back.

Pebbles has a left ear with about 20 stitches in it, two drainage tubes stitched in her back where he chomped her, and two in her right foreleg where he also chomped her.

And she's got several other wounds that the Vet said were surface wounds, and he cleaned them, and probed them to make sure they weren't deep, and put in a couple of more stitches.

Pebbles is sleeping on the small dog bed, drifting in and out of the anesthesia, and whimpering, and Swisher is in his kennel, awaiting transport off the premises.

Been a REALLY bad day here, and I'm taking Wednesday off from work to tend to the dog......

Sunday, February 2, 2014

IKEA JUNK.......Poor Design and My Fix

Yep, it's been a week between posts. I've been busy at work getting ready for the next (and my last) launch, and tinkering on the Supra, and playing around a bit on HF radio.

Today I put my "Eggbeater" satellite antenna back up. I'd had it kind of in the middle of the driveway on the non-penetrating roof mount, but when I bought Ms. Swan, I had to take it down because I needed the driveway space.

Well, today I moved the Rohn mount to a suitable place, and put the antenna back up using different mast. I'd used 1-1/2" rigid EMT (heavy wall "conduit" for the non-techies), and it weighed too much. It was very difficult to walk it up, and frankly, that size rigid EMT isn't very strong.

So, I found a company that sells surplus military aluminum mast, and bought some. It's bigger than I counted on, so I had to redrill a bunch of holes, and swap out all the U-bolts I used, but finally finished it after a few hours. Typical "45 minute" project of mine that winds up taking 3 hours! that the antenna, rigid EMT, Rohn NPRM, and Eggbeater antenna are back in the air where they belong, I have an additional 30~40 square feet of driveway space feed up, and a lot less clutter. Still have to get rid of a small Harbor Freight utility trailer that I bought a couple of years ago for a project that didn't pan out, and I'll have even more space.

So, what does this have to do with Ikea? Well, my sweet little wife went and bought a 5-drawer chest to put in the guest room (aka former "Kid's Room"), and she spent the last several days staining it, and getting some different drawer pulls for it. I started putting it together yesterday, and noticed that the quality of this product from Ikea seemed a bit lower than the last Ikea bit of furniture I built, which was also a chest of drawers.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed something funny about the drawer assembly.

Here's a drawer pretty well along in it's assembly. Please ignore the poor stain wife has never stained any knocked-down product before, and wasn't sure which parts were outside (to be stained), and which were inside (to be left in natural wood):

Looks "Pretty OK" to the casual eye, but look closer. The shelf bottom is held in place ONLY by fitting into the groove on the front of the drawer, and the groove in the back panel of the drawer. The last chest I built from Ikea had the side panels slotted so the fiberboard drawer bottom was held on all four sides.

If you put anything heavy into this chest, and some people will, there's NOTHING holding the sides of the drawer bottom, and it will droop:

And I hardly used any force at all to separate the drawer bottom from the side pieces.

OK, so no big deal. I'll just go out to the garage, grab some small nails, and secure the drawer bottom to the sides like it should have been out-of-the-box from Ikea.

This is an incredible CHEAPENING of the product. I can kind of understand them designing it without the grooves in the side plates to save a few cents, but to not even give you 25 cents worth (probably less considering how many millions of this size nail they buy) of little nails to use to properly secure the drawer bottom?

This was a ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR piece of furniture, and the bastards chiseled every fractional cent of profit out of it they could.



And no more of my cash, either.

It'll be cold day in you-know-where before we go back to Ikea to buy anything again!

Oh, and some of the holes barely lined up, too.

Sad, very sad.

Ikea used to be a place where you could get low-cost, knocked-down furniture that was of reasonable quality, but it looks like they've jumped on the "Make It As Cheap As Possible" wagon.

Buh-Bye, Ikea.

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