Monday, November 27, 2017

Daily Life Continues......

Had a wonderful Thanksgiving with all the in-laws and babies up at 7200'.

The homestead is "only" 9 miles away, but it takes about 40~45 minutes to get there, and if you don't know where "there" is, you probably won't get "there".

Very cool place, all hand-built, and a spectacular view at night.

Met my new Doctor today, and she seems pretty cool. I'm down to 225 Lbs, and all my "punch edema" is gone. BP was 124/65, pulse was sixty-something, and O2 uptake was 94%.

Be real interesting to see what my lab results are after 4 months of pretty constant physical activity.

Yes, I get tired easily, and probably will continue to do so for another 4 months, give or take a month.

Then I wrestled with replacing the garbage disposal by myself, always a fun thing. I took my time, and made sure all the plumbing was aligned before things got the final torque down. I wound up using my bottle jack and a piece of 4x4 from the fence project to jack the new disposer unit in place. The old one came out easily, and was pretty light duty, while this new one is a 10 year newer model in the same series, and the next size motor up. Just a wee bit too much for me to hold 12" off the ground while I try and align all the bits-and-pieces and get the locking ring started. So, I cheated and used the little bottle jack I have, and slowly raised the disposer into place while guiding in all the alignment stuff on the drain and rubber collar and the locking ring so they went together smoothly.

Took me three hours, but it was a quiet day, I was in no hurry, and did other things in between doing all the steps to install the thing.

And it works, as expected. The other one was locked solid and had a tripped breaker, so it was toast. The home inspector guy who was sooooo picky on some things never even flipped the switch to try the disposer, or he would have spotted it. Oh, well......

Then I unloaded the one rack I've been filling up with stuff so I could move it 3' to the left in preparation of the delivery of another rack. Since I will no longer have equipment "stored" in the garage, I need to maximize the storage space in the Radio Room so I can have all that "stored" equipment either on display, in use, or both. The new rack is only 36" wide, but it's 24" deep. My existing rack is 48" wide, but only 18" deep, so some of my test equipment hung over the front edge by 2"~4", very unsightly and unprofessional! I like racking my equipment in these "pie rack" or "cake rack" wire racks.

I get some cheep 3/16" plywood and trim it to fit on top of the rack, giving me a smooth surface to slide gear into and out of, making it easier to repair, replace, or upgrade.

I'll post some more pix when the new rack gets here and I install it. These will be used in addition to the work bench on that side, and the operating desk on the opposite wall. My carpenter buddy who did the fence has quoted me a fair price on a killer work bench for the garage, and we've been discussing options for the Radio Room. He'll build it once we figure out what I want and what the dimensions are. Not looking for anything fancy, but it has to be serviceable for what I want, and that part of it is still gelling.

In the meantime I now have a serious excuse to hammer away on the garage and get it cleaned up and organized enough to get the wife's little car in on "her side", and the Supra on "my side", and the new workbench up at the front!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving To All

We'll be off going "over the river and through the woods" on Thanksgiving Day to be with our extended family, so I'll post this Wednesday night.

This is a "special" Thanksgiving for us, as it marks our first one in the new house, the first one with our grandson and his two cousins, and numerous other "firsts".

And we're thankful for all of them, even the painful steps it took to get here. They didn't kill us, so I guess we're stronger now.

Don't eat too much, and watch out for the crazies on the road!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Super Busy Weekend, Son's Surprise Visit....

My son texted me Thursday night that he was thinking of coming out here, and sure enough, I'm headed down to Denver to pick him up at the airport. Since this was the first time I picked up an arrival at DIA, I checked the "flyden" website and had maps of the terminals and parking structure with me.

The drive was not a good one, as I hit all the traffic leaving Fort Collins and headed South for the weekend, there was a huge accident on the I-25 Northbound causing a lot of slowing Southbound by the lookie-loos, and it started raining about 20 miles from the airport, and continued to rain the rest of the time until I met him at the baggage claim.

I picked "Level 1" parking not knowing the baggage claim area and the arriving passenger pick-up zone and all the ground transportation was on "Level 5". Not a big deal, but I prefer parking on the same level as where I'll be meeting the person, if possible.

I'm sure I'll be going into and out of DIA a lot in the next few years, so it's nice to know how to navigate the airport. I can (or could) get in and out of LAX, LGB, ORD, and possibly John Wayne Airport, but DIA is new to me.


Just got back from dropping him off at the airport. There was a massive accident of some sort on I-25 North at Harmony Road, my "new" exit, and I had to get off the Interstate several miles South of there on CO-392 and head West until I hit a street I could take to get me home.

So, I spent the weekend doing "family" stuff instead of "house" stuff, and we had The Kids and the baby over for dinner Saturday night. It was our first time entertaining here, and my wife made a big batch of her most excellent lasagna, and we had fresh bread, salad, veggies, and pie for desert.

The wife has gotten used to cooking on the electric stove, and this latest generation of electric stoves is absolutely NOTHING like the electric stoves we both remembered from our youth, where your chances of under and/or over cooking the food was a given if you were used to gas.

This thing uses some kind of high-tech heating element, possibly inverter-driven, and you get max heat in just a few seconds, and it cools off almost as fast! No more chasing the correct heat all over the dial because of the large thermal inertia of the old type "Big Flat Coil". Nope, crank the knob, and you get heat.....NOW. Need to throttle it back a bit? No problem. The heating element responds almost as fast, and the heat decreases right with it.

Pretty nifty!

The dog goes to see her new Vet tomorrow, and will get a "mountain" shot, which covers several diseases that you don't find in SoCal.

This weeks major project for me, will be to get the Jeep smogged, get the VIN verified, and go to the office that handles this stuff to get a Colorado Title for it, and get it registered here. I'll probably get a paper plate as the callsign plate I want to get is a vanity plate and has to be made. Kommiefonia gave you a Ham Radio callsign plate for free, but in Colorado it's a $20 vanity plate.

Then I can get my Colorado driver's license and be a local.

My son and I crawled around the backyard with a 100' tape measure making drawings, and the yard is actually wider than my crude measurements on Google maps indicated. After scratching my head, I found a spot in the yard that can legally support a 38' tower/antenna, and clear all the trees, and stay entirely on our property if it falls. This will let me plant a 30' tower with the HF antenna at around 33', and a 2 Meter Yagi up at the top. 33' is a "good" height for a tower because it's a half-wavelength on 20 Meters, the most important "DX" band, and most Amateur Radio "Yagi" antennas work very well when mounted a half-wavelength (or more) above ground. 

Now I have to guesstimate the feedline length, and decide what type of feedline I'm going to buy. I'll almost certainly use hardline for the 2 Meter run, and for a portion of the HF run since I have about 150' of  1" Heliax and the connectors for it.

Pebbles enjoying the new fence:

And the custom hand-built, triple-hinged, double-wide gate that drove up the fence cost significantly:

 As he was working on ours, the neighbor who owns the house in the above picture, came over and asked him how much to do the two panels that went between her house, and our "new pretty fence", so she paid for two panels and installation, and now all the fence on that side of our house has been replaced.
Needs a bit of grading, but that will be up to the "landscape guy" who we haven't met yet. I'm bracing myself for a $1500 cost for "Phase 1" (clean up and weed removal) of the yard work to get the front and backyards all nice and spiffy.

We'll handle "Phase 2", the grading and reconstruction, in the spring after the tower gets planted. The "reconstruction" part might include a gravel "road" inside the yard so that any future trucks have a sacrificial path they can use to get to the trees and tower.

I'm figuring probably $5k for that job......

So, I'm pretty trashed from two trips to Denver and back, but in a way it was a nice break from all the nuttiness going on in the process of turning a house into a home, and I could ignore the huge pile of STUFF in the garage that desperately needs attention, along with a huge pile of STUFF and the dead heater in the Radio Room that needs attention just as desperately.........and my wife makes me help her hang pictures. Different priorities, but at least I got to pick out half the artwork..........

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fence Almost Finished, Roof Replacement Underway, Film At 11.....

Well, not film, but a bunch of pix.

We have an "Energy Audit" crew coming at 1300 to survey the house and give us recommendations. I think it's a waste of $65, but the wife heard the word "REBATES!!!!" and her ears went up.

The baseboard heater in the future Radio Room doesn't work, so it looks like I'll be learning more about baseboard heaters, and how to troubleshoot and repair them. Could be anything from a loose/broken wire on the thermostat to a failed piece of the system. I reset the breakers on GP, but very little heat from that particular unit. We've had all the "basement" heaters off since we moved in because I wanted to see how cold/how fast the downstairs would get. With the moderate temps we've been having, and with all the air leaks from around the sliding windows in the two rooms that have them, the basement got down to 55* before I called off the "experiment". It's NOT good to have unused rooms get too cold because it can cause condensation/moisture problems, so I turned the heaters on and set them to 64* on the dial. The two rooms where the heaters are functional are holding 65*, and Radio is warming up a bit, but I have to get that heater fixed.

The upstairs rooms where the heaters were"off" didn't get any where near that cold, but then heat rises, those windows seal very well, and they're all on the South side of the house, so the get some solar input.

The dog doesn't know what to make of all the banging and noise going on, so she's wandering around the house and looking up a lot!

More to come.....

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quiet Day....

Unloaded the Jeep from a run to the little place we were staying at, and then went back for another load.

I was up there Sunday afternoon helping the in-law guys move a bunch of stuff around in the shop. We pulled out the big-block Chevy (454, sixty over, I asked) jet boat that the tree guy owns, and I loaded up the Jeep to the max. Our contractor in-law and I loaded up his F150 with the lift-gate, and we brought those two loads here and unloaded them, along with "Uncle Bob", who hadn't seen the house yet.

After today's run, I now have all but one of the shelves empty from the two shelf units I had filled up when we emptied out the U-Haul I towed out here behind the Jeep.

The in-laws keep telling us we got a "screaming deal" on the place for $375k, and that when were done with the current punch-list of about $20k worth of stuff, the house would be "worth" the $420k it was originally listed at, and could probably fetch $450k at the peak of next year's buying frenzy.

We sure aren't selling and moving again, but it's a nice thought that we wound up with some "move-in equity" even though we've never used a house for an ATM machine, and have no intention of ever doing that.

Then I took the dog for a walk, broke down some more boxes to drag to the recycling center, and rearranged/found stuff out in the garage. Time to wash up and head out for dinner. Tonight we're going to the little Mongolian BBQ place in Old Town Fort Collins. We haven't been there in maybe a year, but it was "5 stars" for that kind of food here, maybe "3.6 stars" compared to the Golden Camel back in Torrance, but plenty "good enough".

I'm working on some posts about being a newcomer to the area, and my observations on being back in Free America again after spending 35 years "behind-the-lines" in Kalifornia.

As some of you have noticed and commented on, the move has definitely agreed with me, and I truly feel at home here.

My wife, having lived in Long Beach since she was six years old, is definitely suffering from some major-league "Culture Shock", and I'll relate a few instances of those.

So I guess my focus for the blog (as if I ever had any) will be changing  a bit from what it was "in the before" when we were still in Kalifornia.

Welcome to Colorado. We made it........

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fence Progress and First Radio Operation From New Place

Beautiful day today, high 50's/low 60's, and blue sky with some clouds.

I got up, got dressed, and headed out the door to go up to the Kid's Place.

Got there, packed up my tools AND the power supply with the adapter cable on it, and spent some time talking to our "general contractor" about various and sundry things in progress, things on the schedule, things on the calendar and things "next year".

All the fence posts were set today, and our carpenter buddy (the "fence guy") and I finalized the gate design. The total usable width of the opening will be 14' 1-1/2", and he built it that way because that's the width of one lane of "highway" according to him, and he knows the tree guys can get their truck through that sized opening with ZERO trouble.

Nicely set posts:

Getting most of them out was pretty easy, as a lot of them were "half-bag posts":

While others were a "full bag post":

And this particular post refused to surrender!

This is the one that the chain snapped on. After getting a bigger chain, it died rather than surrender!

SO...we finally have all the new fence posts properly set and aligned. The pole closest to the truck in this shot will be one side of the gate:

SO after getting back from the Kid's Place, and yakking with the carpenter for some time, I finished the radio setup I started last night. Rather than make up a new adapter cable for the power supply, I just plunked down the complete supply and cable I brought back. I can make a few up on one of those afternoons the wife goes "shopping", and I have a couple of hours to myself.

The power supply I brought back is under the laptop, and the chair is my radio room/office chair we got on our furniture shopping spree last week. For now, and with the approval of SWMBO, this will be the Radio Room.

Today I setup the BuddiStick antenna. I adjusted the length to 17' 4" with a tape measure, strung out well over that amount of wire for a "counterpoise", and ran the coax back to the autocoupler for the K2.

Yes, I guyed it. I have some 3/8" dacron line that I use, and ran three lengths from the top of the tripod (about 5' off the ground)to some of those super duper military "tent stakes" I have.

I started out with one guy, but then the wind shifted 180*, and it fell over...DUH! So that's when I went to the garage, got three stakes and my BFH (nice having my tools readily at hand), and redid the guying on the little guy. They're pretty rugged, but still, your portable antenna shouldn't blow over!

Got on-the-air about 1300 local and tuned around 20 Meters where the ship always operates, and one email later found NI6BB at 14.290MHz, and had a nice chat with two of my friends there.

And even the wife commented that it was nice to hear "radio chatter" again.

Once things settle down here, I'll get the big vertical set up, but I need to get a nice weatherproof enclosure for it. It was in a Tupperware tub, upside down under the porch for seven years, and that plastic tub now has all the structural integrity of a fresh potato chip. I know the size I need, and nice fiberglass weather-resistant enclosures for Industrial use are pretty common. I'll have to ask our "general contractor" who his heavy duty electrician is, and/or can he suggest a good industrial supply house to be. We went by a Grainger the other day, so I'll look online and see what they have.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Rolling Along As Planned, Happy Veteran's Day, and a $30k OUCH!

Well, the fence guy got most of the new posts set, and we talked about double gate designs for a while. Haven't gone too deep into it, and all we agreed on was that it allow a 12~14' wide truck back there, and be made sturdy and well supported, with probably 3 hinges per side, "Heavy Duty American Iron" construction, and a really good, beefy latch. He said "Oh, like in a horse stable?", and then we went off on another tangent....

Unpacked more stuff. Busted down more boxes. Separated usable bubble-wrap from all the packing material my wife was just stuffing into boxes. Put a new entryway table together. Cut all the tags off the new furniture. Went to Home Depot for another $185 worth of stuff.

And then the kitchen remodel guy showed up. Really cool guy. He's worked as a finish carpenter, a framer, a furniture builder, and on, and on, and on.....kinda like SiliconGraybeard and me! He showed us work his place has done, and showed us what's available.

I've never done a kitchen before, other than to replace an appliance to croaked, or plug in a new one. The most complicated kitchen project I initiated was the tile kitchen floor in the Long Beach house. So getting in a guy who does first-class work, and who has a very good sense of "design for usability AND beauty", and talking to him with my wife there, was more than a little interesting. He's done a few houses in our neighborhood in the last year, and remembers when the subdivision was being built in the late 1970's. We talked about cabinet design, space, height and width, space, how many drawers, how much SPACE......pardon me for being male chauvinist pig, but today I realized a woman's kitchen is like a guy's garage in a lot of ways. We both run out of SPACE to keep our "tools" and "equipment" in. She wonders why I have TWO rolling cabs of tools, and another set of specialty "electronics" tools. I wonder why the kitchen, which has more cabinets than any kitchen I've ever had access to, is so short of SPACE to her.

Oh, well....another mystery of life.

Then we talked price, and he asked her what the maximum price she was willing to pay was, and she said "oh....$15k?", whereupon he smiled and said he didn't think he could do it for that. He told her that to get good quality cabinets, and incorporating the other  work that she wanted done, he could do it for $30k.

The wife went all glassy-eyed, and I smiled. I knew it would be over $15k, but had thought it could be "contained" at $20k.

She recovered gracefully, though and told him she'd have to save up a bit more, and this would be a "next year" project. Might be $35k by then, but she doesn't want to spend the $$ right now, and I agree 100%. We DO NOT need the added stress of a full-bore kitchen remodel this soon after the move.

And it looks like I'll have to go with "Plan B" for the tower/antenna project "next year". Now that the cottonwood is out of there, I see that the perfectly healthy, happy ash tree is in the way. No way could I swing a decent sized beam on a 40' tower right up against the house.

And no way am I going to cut down a good tree! We're getting it injected to protect it from some kind of ash-specific tree blight that got started in Boulder and is due here "next year".

So, the tree stays, and the antenna project gets scaled down a notch. I'm recalculating for a free-standing 30' tower with a very low windload antenna a few feet above that, probably a Hex Beam. Bye-bye 40-footer and KT34....oh, well......

Tomorrow being Veteran's Day, a lot of the museum ships and military museums will have an Amateur Radio special event, or just be on-the-air. I told my wife last week I wanted to try and contact the Iowa. She agreed, so I dug my trusty Elecraft K2/100Watt radio out, sorted all the cables, and started setting up my portable station on a folding table in the sun room. My BuddiPole/BuddiStick antenna system is sitting next to the radio, and I can't find the doggone cable to connect the power supply to the RigRunner power distribution panel! DUH! Then I remembered a couple of years ago when the portable HF radio tub was in the Jeep, and I was at the Iowa. One of the power supplies in the Ham station had croaked, and they were trying to find something to use.

Yep.......I gave them the Astron SS-30 supply I had in the tub, and it had a jumper with PowerPoles on it to feed a RigRunner, because that's what everybody uses. I eventually bought another supply and a jumper, and only put the supply in the tub, forgetting about the cable.

Now somewhere in the bowels of the basement is a cardboard box that has one of those cables in it. Probably take me ALL DAY to find that box. I could drive down to the HRO store in Denver and buy one, and then drive back. That might take, oh....ALL DAY.

Then I saw my Big Box Of Wire in the garage and dug out some 10ga "paired" red/black cable. I have ring lugs the correct size, and I have an assortment of PowerPole connectors.

Where's my crimp set?     RATS!     It's up the road a piece in the shop where our little apartment was. Oh, well..."Fantomworks" is on tonight so maybe I'll watch that. Just glad I didn't NEED that little radio system for a real emergency. Real red face over getting caught flat-footed like that.

So, Saturday morning, I'm gonna cruise on up there, getting a cup of coffee at the one little store I bought coffee at every day for 6 weeks when we first moved here, and continue on up the road to the kid's place, and get my tools. Stop in and see the little guy if he's up, or at least get to see the mutts.

And as long as I'm up there getting my tools and connectors, I'm also going to bring back my big Astron VS-35M linear power supply, which has an already made 10ga power cable with PowerPoles already on it because it was the main supply for the station in Long Beach.

And I'll probably make up a few of those jumpers and stick them in all my radio "go boxes". "Two-is-one" and all that.....

My next door neighbor, a retired electronics engineer named Jim, is also a Ham, and was asking the other day if he could come over when I operated on Veteran's Day. He got his license in 1962, a year before I got mine. We started talking about tube gear and I mentioned I had a Drake 4-line that was in the process of  being reactivated, and he really lit up. And he's interested in satellites, so I think I might have new friend.

And the wife was talking to another neighbor who told her out here kitchen remodels START at $30k and can easily go over $50k if you include all new appliances and any "custom" stuff, so that made her feel less Sticker Shocked.

Happy Veteran's Day, and I'll be on-the-air looking for special event stations.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Rotted Post Removal Complete!

 The panels get delivered tomorrow, and the carpenter and I will go over the gate design, which I'm told "will probably require a bit of grading". I pretty much expected this due to the shape of the backyard (kinda "bowl shaped"), and the requirement for the gate sections to have a flat bottom.

After the gates are up, we can call the landscape guy and find out what the heck some of these "plants" are growing on the property. I think a lot of them are weeds that got out of hand, and our general contractor pretty much agreed.

Some of the posts came right out, some were completely rotted away at the base and fell over, and some were a real PITA to pull. One of the original gate posts snapped the chain they were using to pull it out with. Put a bigger chain on it, and BAM! the post snapped off about 3" above the concrete, and launched itself about 8' up, rotated twice, and came down about six feet away from them.

Quite surprising to me, but then I've seen chains snap before, and I was 10' away when the chain broke.

I've never seen anybody snap a 4x4 piece of wood with a nearly straight, vertical pull. It was just like they put the post in a tensile-strength test rig, and pullllllled it apart.

Made quite a crack, too.......

The furniture we got from American Furniture Warehouse in Fort Collins is even nicer looking sitting where it's supposed to be here. She also got some nice end tables for the den, and a matching coffee table, with real slate inserts. If the love seat we brought with us was reupholstered in brown leather, the whole den would have a nice "western" look to it, which I think is cooler than you-know-what. She's also looking for some "Navajo Type" rugs for various areas.

We've reduced the number of empty, broken down cardboard boxes to the point where if it's still in a box, it's probably my "weird stuff", my books, or (JACKPOT!) a few boxes of networking stuff, home theater stuff, and other "techy" stuff I installed that my wife got used to, and is now asking for. All that "stealth" IT work I did to the house in Long Beach  slowly added up until we had a Gigabit Network all through the house. Our 150MB FiOS service was available at any Ethernet jack in the house, full-speed, all the time, and she never "drove" a fast network before. Transfers between the computers and the Network Attached Storage drive array I had were at Gigabit speeds, and file transfers, photo viewing, document retrieval, all just blazed across the network. So getting her a speedy network again is going to take some doing, most likely involving a length of CAT6 cable from the den where the router is, up to her "office". The easiest way to get it there is.......hmmmm....haven't quite figured that out. of my "Magic Boxes" of what she calls "useless junk" has some highly-modified LinkSys wireless routers running "Tomato" firmware, and packing state-of-the-art (at the time) high gain antennas. If I can't get a good, solid 802.11n connections between three rooms in a frame-and-drywall house, I'll hang up my RF spurs for good. So, I might not have to run an Ethernet cable upstairs if I can get the spec'd speeds for the "n" version of the standard.

And the kitchen cabinet guy is coming by tomorrow at 1400 for a chat. My wife 80% knows what she wants in her new kitchen (believe me, by the time we're done it'll be all new...) but still wants to listen to a guy who's been doing this stuff for 30 years! She's finally getting an appreciation of skilled local tradesmen/craftsmen/specialists that might cost a tad more than 3 Amigos from Home Depot, but they'll do better work because they've been doing good quality work in this area for a long time, and they want to keep doing it for a good long time. It's a "small town" mentality to some people, but I grew up in a small town and watched these things take place all the time. Do bad work, or overcharge excessively, and word gets around. It's new to her, because she grew up in Southern California where it's one big city, and bad workers can just disappear. She's getting used to the different culture here (and it's VERY different than Long Beach, CA!), and she's enjoying it.

I feel like I'm in the "Quantum Leap" episode where Sam leaps back into a cornfield, and realizes he's home.

Well, not quite....

So things are proceeding as planned, or "Track, Profile, and Plan are close". After this initial nuttiness settles down I can get back to doing radio stuff, checking out the local ranges and gun shops, and doing some monument and ghost town explorations going. There's a lot of history to see up here, and I want to learn it!

More Updates.....

The furniture was delivered, assembled, and set up this  morning, and the fence guy is here. He's already got all the old fence panels removed, and we're waiting for the Bobcat to get here so they can start pulling the posts.

At least three of the posts have completely rotted away at the soil line, so they're going to hammer-drill and mount some RedHeads in the concrete to pull the "stump" out. The other posts should come out by strapping them solidly to the bucket on the Bobcat, and just yanking them out. The soil is pretty moist right now, and these guys have done this hundreds of times, so I'm hoping it goes OK.

Not sure if they'll set the new posts today, and I don't know the cure time on the amount of concrete used to set a post (they're using QuickCrete, so 4~6 hours?), so I'm guessing the posts and panels should be done by Friday. Then Dave-O our carpenter/fence guy/installer can build us the double gate and get it hung, and Pebbles can have the whole back yard to explore.

And I'm off to do some banking. I need to transfer some money around at my Credit Union in Kalifornia, and it's no longer a short drive to do it!

They sent me the forms, which I can fill out except for the signature. That means I fill it out, print it, sign it, and either scan it and email it back to them, or fax it back to them. My wife has an All-In-One printer that can scan and fax, and I have a Canon printer with a scanner in it.

And guess where they are......?

PACKED AWAY somewhere!

Might be easier and faster to just find the local Kinko's and take it there to send.......

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Busy Couple of Days.......

Yep, Sunday was a "day of rest".

And cutting up cardboard boxes........oh, well.......

Monday Comcast came by to install their "Xfinity" service. After spending FOUR HOURS on the phone with Customer "Service", she finally got the order unscrewed to what we wanted. We wanted one DVR, and three "regular" boxes. Naturally, when the installer shows up he brings four "regular" boxes, and NO DVR. Of course, my wife freaks out after spending all that time on the phone a week or so ago with Customer "Service".

I'd listened in on the phone calls, and I have to say, Comcast has the WORST Customer "Service" I've ever dealt with. No wonder people refer to them as "ComCRAP".

The wife freaked because both phone reps told her that the install Techs did NOT carry "extra" boxes, or "spare" boxes to use in case a customer changed their mind.


EVERY service truck that does installs carries a supply of boxes for just this purpose. It costs so much "just to roll a truck" in these services that to have a call-back, or have to "roll a truck again" to correct an order, replace a brand-new box that croaked, that to save money, they always carry an inventory of boxes.

The Tech was great at listening to my wife, and called an inside number and got the order exactly how we wanted it in about 20 minutes. Kudos to the sharp service Tech!

Then she wanted all four cable outlets moved, which I had warned her might be an extra charge, and they did it!

They pulled all-new cable from the service drop to the house, and installed 4 new outlets, with a female F connector and nice wall plate.

Except for the fact that we now have 4 new cables runs on the exterior of the house, very neatly done, but an external run, still, we now have four professional-looking wall plates with a cable jack on them, exactly where my wife wanted them.

Like I said, great job, guys!

And of course I had fun talking tech with them, asking them questions that they'd never heard a customer talking about, and using the correct terms, and getting intelligent answers from the service Techs!

So even though it took all freaking day, we now have (allegedly) 150MB Internet, so-so HDTV service, and VOIP phones.

The Internet speed is supposed to be 200MB (provisioned), but it's only chugging along at about 35MB speeds. It's most likely that the work order to provision this new service address hasn't been issued, or hasn't been acted on. If I don't see any improvement by Monday I'm going to squawk it.

Today we went out and dropped a bundle on new furniture. Got a killer-looking 7 piece dining room set:

And I didn't get my Herman Miller Eames chair, I did score one of these:

And we got a sideboard cabinet to go with the dining set, some end tables, an "office" chair for my wife, a good chair for the radio room, and few other knick-knacks.

Wednesday the new washer and dryer get delivered and installed, and I have to run back to "The Country House" and pick up some of my stuff and make sure the little apartment we were using is empty.

3" of snow last night, and the streets and sidewalks were clear before noon! Had to knock a ton of snow off the Jeep to drive it, but the wife just loves seeing all the snow.

Wonder how she'll feel about the middle of March.......

The tree guys came by Monday and picked up the last of the logs left from the cottonwood. They had some sections that were just too big to move by hand, even if it was just to move them enough to saw them up.

They brought the Bobcat!

Which is still sitting alongside the house.........hmmmmmmm

As soon as DIL's brother gets back from hunting, he'll come over and use the Bobcat to help yank the old fence posts and set the new ones with the fence guy.

So it's been busy, but we're rolling right along with what needs to get finished.

Saturday I'll be playing radio as much as I can, and I'll be trying to contact my buddies back on the Iowa who will be running a special event for Verteran's Day.

More to come, I'm sure

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tree Cutdown, Pods Unpacked, Pebbles Has A New Home......

Quick/short post with a few pix because I'M BEAT!

The tree guys came today and did a bang-up job! I can't say enough good things about Rist Canyon Forestry and Tree Service. I've seen trees felled before, and helped a couple of times, but I've never seen how real professionals come in and do a job like this.

WARNING! The link takes you to their FaceBook page. They're all young guys, and social media is how they advertise. wife got here about 0800, and they were here at 0815, earlier than expected. There was a "high winds" advisory today, and they wanted to get the high-up work finished before the winds picked up.

Here's when I got to the house this morning, about 0900:

These are full-sized forestry trucks. The crew had just finished clearing a 100 yard wide, six mile long path for a power line install to a new repeater site. They were clearing stuff that was 24"~36" in diameter, and 75"~80' tall.

And they had a wood chipper that was powered by a 4-cylinder, turbocharged Diesel engine:

Steve Buscemi could not be reached for comment.....

And when they were finished, what was once a 65' tree, was now a 10' trunk, just waiting for Chainsaw Mama to turn it into some Colorado-themed yard art.

We're not sure what we'll go with, as she likes to look over the trunk and make recommendations. My wife was thinking maybe bear cubs or deer. I'm thinking maybe take that one small one sticking up to the right and have her carve a Saturn V or a Shuttle?

You'll have to compare this shot with the first one to get an idea of what it looks like with the tree gone:

The little red Blazer with the trailer belongs to Pro Pack Movers, the guys who unloaded the pods, moved the stuff into the house, put it back together, and installed the curtain rods my wife wanted so she could have window coverings today.

I simply can't do that kind of intense physical work in a timely manner any more, so we hired these young guys who did more in six hours than I would have done in a week.

A small sample of what they unloaded, and positioned exactly where we wanted it:

I'd post more, but I'm trashed........

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fence Opened Up, Tree Disappears On Saturday


We got to the house early, and by 1000 the fence guy was there. I helped him remove the gate, and then he set upon the two posts for the gate. We had expected  (hoped, really...) to have the Bobcat available today, BUT....everybody is either on a high paying end-of-season job, or they're hunting.

I about fell out of my chair laughing when our "general contractor" sent my wife an email about getting all this stuff scheduled, and he ended it by writing "Oh, by the way. Hunting season starts this weekend".

I took me a good half hour trying to explain it to her, but she doesn't really "get it". She's a city gal, and never grew up around this stuff like my friends and I did back in Illinois. So "hunting season" to her is more like "baseball season" or "football season" than it is "Hunting Season".

I'm sure LL knows what I'm talking about.......

SO, right around noon, U-Haul delivered our "U-Boxes", the cheaply made pod-like containers that our stuff was packed into on September 20th. The pain of that whole pull-up-your-roots-and-move operation has mostly passed, to be replaced by a strange mix of happiness, and dread over getting all that S%$$RF unpacked and stowed away.

It felt like seeing old friends again as I opened the pods and saw the labeled boxes in there. And my wife is ecstatic that the stuff is there, and appears to have arrived none the worse for the trip. The pods themselves are about one step above throw-away construction. They have a heavy-duty pallet-like floor, and the rest of it is made from (maybe) 1/2" plywood braced and cornered with what appears to be a 3/4 scale 2x4. The hasps for the locks can be shifted 1/2" or more by the container walls shifting around. The containers have a molded plastic top, and the other 4 sides are wrapped with a heavy, vinylized canvas for weatherproofing. Just very cheaply made, and not very confidence inspiring when I first saw them.

We did 2-1/2 pods today, and that was all the lightweight, easy to reach stuff we could get. The movers are coming tomorrow to unload the rest, take it in the house, and put together the stuff that needs it.

Comcast is coming Monday to fire up their "Xfinity" service and test the cable jacks in the rooms that have them. My wife wants a couple of them moved, and she has no conception of what moving an outlet box requires. She thinks it's included in the install, but that's not usually so. I told her they probably won't do that kind of work on a basic install, and I got a blank look. She also thinks it'll be a snap to run Ethernet cables like I did in the old house. I've got 4 or 5 of the Linksys WiFi routers, all running "Tomato" firmware, that I'm pretty sure I can configure as clients to the Motorola cable modem/WiFi router. The Linksys boxes just connect to the desktop PC with an Ethernet jumper, and should be able to connect to the Motherola modem/router.

And we still have furniture to buy and have delivered. I wanted an Eames lounge chair and Ottoman from Herman Miller, but when she saw the price she about fell over while saying "NOOOOOOOooooooooo......".

Oh, can't know of you don't ask.

I'm really going to miss living here well outside of town. I'm going to miss being out walking the dog in the morning and seeing all the cows grazing across the road. And how quiet it is here, and how dark the sky is when it's clear.

No word yet on when Pebbles will write "My Month In The Country".

So, Saturday morning the tree guy will arrive, and make the sixty-foot tall cottonwood tree disappear, along with trimming a large ash tree that needs it, and cutting back all the dead limbs hanging over on our yard from our neighbors dead/dying cottonwood tree. One of his "auxiliary crews" came by today between jobs to check the fence removal progress, and mentioned that they've removed TEN cottonwood trees this year from our subdivision. They're fast growing trees, give decent shade cover, grow about anywhere, and die after about 50 years, maybe 75 if you're lucky. This one was most likely planted in 1977 when the house was built, and is nearing it's life expectancy. It's loaded with dry, dead branches, has been shedding them in the winds we've had over the last couple of weeks, and is shedding bark everywhere. Fort Collins passed an ordinance a couple of years ago that bans cottonwood trees in new construction areas. Nobody here likes cottonwoods, except maybe the guys that make a good living removing them!

They'll be leaving somewhere between 6' and 10' of trunk so that "Chainsaw Mama" can come in and carve it up for us. Not sure what we'll have her do, as she likes to look at her "canvas", and make recommendations as to how and what she'll carve in to it. Yeah, I know, that's $1500~$2k that could probably be better spent elsewhere, but it's the one indulgence we're allowing ourselves to celebrate our escape from Kaliforniastan. Our property taxes are one-third what they were in SoCal, our house payment is slightly less than half, gasoline is 75 cents per gallon less expensive, my Jeep is getting over two MPG more than it did, and my wife's Elantra is getting THREE MPG more, and we're driving less. Food costs are less, car insurance is less, but homeowner's insurance is higher. State income tax and sales taxes are also much less then Los Angeles County.

All-in-all, it's significantly less expensive (for us) to live here, so we're splurging on the tree trunk.

The roofers will be delivering the materials for the new roof on the 10th, and weather permitting, will start the roof replacement the next day. They say they can do it in a day, but I'm skeptical. I've seen about 10 roofs being replaced in the month I've been here, and I'd say two days. We'll see......

Sorry, but I forgot the camera this morning, so no pix. The camera is now sitting by the door, so I'll be taking lots of pix of how they remove a 60' tree from a backyard, and pix of other progress.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Home Depot is Starting to Know Me by Name.....

Been pretty busy at the new place the last couple of days. HALF the light bulbs in the house were either dead or missing, and the other half had the wrong (too low) wattage installed, making them more of an "electric DARK" than a useful source of illumination.

SO, approx $400 later, every single bulb in the house, exterior lights included, is now an LED type of the appropriate wattage. A couple of the old ones were compact fluorescent (CFL) types, and they generated enough radio noise to pick up on the FM band of my wife's clock radio.

I shudder to think how much noise they put out on the HF (3~30MHz) radio band.

Add another ~$300 for all new, keyed alike locksets/doorknobs/dead bolts, and another couple of hundred for "misc items", like cleaning supplies, faucet washers, cabinet hinges, braided hoses for the new washer, and other items, and it adds up pretty quickly!

But we have all new light sources, some of which were sorely needed, new doorknobs/locks, and non-leaking faucets!

And I have to troubleshoot the in-sink-erator as it's dead as a door nail, even though the Home Inspection guy checked it, and said it was "functional". So I either haven't found the right switch, the breaker on the bottom tripped, or it gave up the ghost. I *did* get the trash compactor running again, simply by turning it "ON" with the switch inside of it. I don't know if you can even buy the special bags for it anymore, so it might wind up just being a relic of the late 1970's.

U-Haul is dropping off the "pods" containing the bulk of our stuff tomorrow (YAY! I'll have my TOOLS!), and the fence guy is coming to get started on the fence. Haven't heard back from the tree guy yet, The tree guy is coming Saturday, so the fence guy and I will guarantee he has a 12' wide opening to get his truck in there, and the roofing people are dropping off the materials on the 10th.

The tree guy can't get his truck in through the existing gate, so our fence guy is going to rebuild the single gate (it's rotted out and falling apart, so it needs replacing anyway) into a double gate big enough to get a 12' wide truck through. Seeing as the only thing *I'd* ever use the gate for would "Big Stuff" like tree trimming and tower/antenna work, the consequences (to me, anyway....) of a big, heavy, double gate are minor.

Posting may be light, as we'll be pretty busy through the weekend!

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