Wednesday, October 31, 2018


Well, the candy is out in the big Halloween dish, and the sound-activated flickery lights that emit snapping, buzzing, and other "electrical" noises are all set up.

I didn't do the speakers and light projectors as the front yard is really soggy, and even with a GFI on the circuit, the wifely unit was uncomfortable with me running power across the yard.

And The Kids are bringing over the Little Guy so he can Trick-or-Treat in the neighborhood for the first time.

As fast as he is now, I wonder what a couple of candy bars will do to him....

They had an All Hands meeting yesterday informing them that the yogurt factory they both work at has been sold, and things will continue as normal for the foreseeable future. Their health insurance premiums will be going up (duh....) under the new owners, but the coverage will supposedly be better.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2018

Oddz 'N Endz

After the "monumental" (for us) amount of work we did cleaning out the back yard, the rest of the leaves fell, covering the yard again.

Even little Pebbles was wondering where the h3ll all this stuff came from. "But Dad....didn't you and Mom have this all cleaned up?"..... wife used her new BFF APP,, and found a couple who are cleaning the back yard, AND the front yard, for us.

They raked and blew the leaves into piles, bagged them, hauled the bags out, and even mowed for us.

Front AND back yards, very nicely cleaned, mowed, and raked, and about twenty five bags hauled away.

All for $100.

Probably would have been more, but his mower mulches as it mows, so the volume of stuff collected is less than I expected.

Considering the trash service we use charges $3.50 per bag, we would have paid $87.50 for just the 25 bags, so $100 for the whole enchilada is money quite well-spent.

"Big Eyes"

I've had these large binoculars for about 8 years, and finally got around to setting them up and using them.

They're "100 x 22", which means they have 100mm (~4") objective lenses, and they have a magnification of 22 times.

I bought these from Big Binoculars, which is now Oberwerk, the name brand of these. This particular model is no longer listed, being replaced with a 100 x 25 model.

They're made in China (duh....), supposedly in the same factory that makes the military optics for the ChiCom military.

They're of "good" optical quality, but not particularly user-friendly.  I set them up to look at the Moon, and even with my tripod legs fully extended, and the center post of the tripod fully raised, I still had to bend down to look into the eye pieces, which made getting them adjusted properly a chore. 

With this tripod, they'd be great for terrestrial use, but I'd need to shorten the tripod and use a chair for astronomical use.

So, they went back in their box for future use.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Snow Blower Adventures, Part III and "-30-"

"Jeremy" (the "J" in "JW Logistics"?) called me again this morning about 1045 and said they had my item, it was on a truck, out for delivery, and I should have it "in a couple of hours".


At 1811 tonight a large truck pulled up, and two big, burly guys unloaded it, carted it up the driveway, and plunked it down in the garage for me. They took a picture of it on their cellphone, and typed in a bunch of info. I asked one of them if they knew where it came from, and got "ummmm...Home Depot. The warehouse". So either HD sent another one out, this one made it's way back to the HD warehouse and was sent, or I guess it doesn't really matter. Kind of a First World problem, and nothing to blow a fuse over.

No missing hardware or parts, no tools flung through the air, and I had it together in about 30 minutes.

I charged the batteries when I was assembling it, and after about 4 hours they were charged, so I took it for a test drive around the garage.

There's not too much difference between speed #1 and #2, but I think #3 would be too fast to plow with. The controls work smoothly, and when you engage the drive, it has a "soft start", so it doesn't just jump to the speed it's set at.

It seems to be balanced nicely, too, as it's fairly easy to lift the auger portion of it up to glide over a bump, or move it some distance without the little outrigger skis dragging.

The only thing I'll have to get used to is that this thing is direct-drive, with a solid axle; no differential. That means both wheels are driven at the same speed, which makes turning a tight corner difficult.

So, we'll see how it goes the first time we get enough snow to need it. The operating manual claims 40 minutes of run time, and that should be enough for slow-poke me to clear the small amount we have.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Snow Blower Adventures, Part II

WELL......"Jeremy" from the shipping company called this morning about 1045 to set up a pick-up time for the other person's tabletops. He knew not much else, like where's my snow blower, or if the other customer had called to complain. He said he had a truck "close by" (down in Longmont, about 25 miles South of here), and that the driver would "be there in a couple of hours".

So since it was another very pleasant Fall day, I decided to polish out the headlights on my Jeep while I waited.

They needed more than just polishing.

They laughed at Novus #3 polish, about the most aggressive thing I'll use with power tools. Buffing plastic to restore a smooth, flat, scratch-free, optically clear surface is as much art as science. And if you use power tools and aggressive abrasives on plastic, you can easily overheat it, and either "smear" the surface, or melt the surface, both of which might destroy the item you're polishing.

I wound up having to wet sand the living snot out of them, first with 600 grit paper, and then finishing up with 1500 grit paper. It was like deep cleaning the Supra paint all over again. Copious amounts of yellow sludge were produced as I kept the area soaked as I sanded. It's WET sanding, and on something like this you keep it flooded to wash away the grit and crud you're cutting off the surface. Otherwise the stuff you just removed could scratch the surface you're trying to clean.

After about 45 minutes per headlight, I felt they were smooth enough that I could resume machine polishing, starting with the #3 Novus, and then moving to the #2.

Another 45 minutes per lamp, and they were looking remarkably better than the hazy, yellowish lamps that were there before.

Then I replaced both the Low and the High beam bulbs with new ones. The ones in the car are the ones it was made with back in 2006, and 12 years for a set of OEM bulbs is pretty good. I put in some Sylvania "Silver Star" replacements. Not the crazy expensive ones, but the ones two steps up from what was in it. Took about 30 minutes to do the four bulbs, and I put on gloves and wiped the new bulbs down with denatured Alcohol. A dab of silicone grease on the terminals, and I was done.

Firing up the engine and turning on the new headlights was dazzling. What I saw on the garage door before were big, yellowish splotches of light. Now I see the clearly defined pattern of the low beams, and turning on the high beams really makes a light show.

The low beams are 55 Watts, and the highs are 65 Watts, so I shouldn't have to worry about overheating the plastic lamp assembly.

Then I added three quarts of coolant (how'd that happen?), a half-gallon of windshield washer fluid, checked the power steering and brake fluid levels, and checked the oil.'s now 1630 and no truck? Wonder when they guy will get here?

Anyway....peeled off all the heavy masking tape I had on the edges of the metal so I wouldn't burn the paint, cleaned all the sludge and crud off the front of the car, scrubbed the fog lamp lenses clean of years of road crud and bug splats, and did a final hand polish and sealant application on my "90% clean/100% better" headlamps. Cleaned up the tools and garage, and low and behold, at 1810 here comes a truck. It's not from "JW Logistics", but from some other place. No, the guy doesn't know anything other than he's to pick up two pieces, and haul them somewhere. Nice enough guy, but a drone to the electronic tablet he was carrying around, and constantly checking and inputting to.

Oh, well. I guess I wait for either the snow blower to show up, or to hear from the shipping company again.

These guys are making Home Depot look really bad........but I've got nice clean headlights!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Snow Blower Adventures, Part I

I'd post a picture of it, but even though it shows as "Delivered", it ain't.

No, instead what the IDIOT trucking company JW Logistics, a Home Depot sub) dropped off were two 36" x  72" , 75 lb each, solid wood tabletops.

And the address on the shipping label, clearly printed, easy to read, not covered up, and in front of God and Everybody, clearly shows an address on Weld County Road 7 in Berthoud.

Berthoud is about 20 MILES South of here, as the crow flies.

I would have held the truck if I'd seen them get delivered, but it happened when I was blowing leaves in the back yard, and I had my PPE ( 27dB noise reduction!) on.

So I wrote down all the info on the label, and called the 1-800 number printed on the label.

After about 15 minutes of Phone Menu Phunnies, I finally got a live person. They took some of the information, and put me on hold, came back, asked for more info, and put me on hold again.

Lather, rinse, and repeat for 45 minutes.......

Young guy finally comes back and tells me the shipping company is closed today (at 2pm on a Wednesday?). and that the shipping company will get a hold of me, either by email or telephone, and have a nice day.

Holy Freaking DUH!

That's it, guys? You're washing your hands of this?

This is the second time I feel BURNED by Home Depot and their "Ship To Home" option. The first time was an oversight on my part (ship to store was free; ship to home, not), but since they didn't state the shipping charges, I assumed they were reasonable, and clicked "OK".

OOOPS! They clipped me about $70 in shipping........ouch. Well, they just pass the charges from their subcontractor along, tacking a bit on, I'm sure, so OK, my error.

This time HD didn't really burn me, but their choice of an incompetent delivery service did.

Don't the drivers even LOOK at the label on what they're delivering? I can understand screwing up a local delivery; there's two other streets with names very similar to ours, and it's like that all over. Court, Circle, Ave, and Street can all be different places with the same first name, like "Adams".

But geez......the wrong CITY?


I'm flabbergasted. Even back in the Stone Age paper map days that would have been quite a blunder.

I'm just glad it wasn't a drone making a "drop shipment". It probably would have taken out the front porch..........

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Fall Cleanup, Part II

Tally from this mission:

Eighteen "35 gallon" and "50 gallon" bags of leaves and sticks from the backyard and side yard.

The little $35 Ryobi leaf blower works a treat! On high-speed it will blow the egg-sized rocks out of our border areas, and the gyroscopic action of the spinning fan blade makes it hard to turn certain directions. Low-speed works great for sweeping the leaves out of where you don't want them, while keeping the dust down to a manageable level.

We're holding off on the front yard because the maple tree still has over half it's leaves.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Fall Cleanup

Groan.........TWELVE big bags of leaves raked up today, and we're maybe half finished with the back yard.

It would have been much worse, but we nuked the cottonwood tree the week we moved in.

And we haven't even started on the front........

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Pleasant Fall Weekend

Well, the house passed muster when I got the wife home from the airport, and she was happily surprised at the stack of "TODO" items I knocked out while she was gone.

I've finally got my act together regarding picking people up from DIA. I park on the roof of the West terminal parking lot, about row "J" or so, and go into the terminal where I proceed to the statue of Elrey Jeppesen, which all the arrivals  have to pass as they go to the baggage claim areas. This is about as fast a way in-and-out of DIA as I've found yet. I'm sure Well Seasoned Fool knows some other shortcuts, but this one seems to work OK for me.

70* and sunny outside all day, so I set the cam covers out in the sun like I did the other day, and within 20 minutes my IR thermometer indicated they were at 135*. I left them bake for a couple of hours while I did some other yard work.

And of course, the grandson had to explore the garage for a while, pull his wagon out, and go for a ride through the neighborhood.

After that, he "helped" us pick up the bounty of sticks in the backyard (the wife wants to use them for "kindling"...), stack them in "his" wagon, and help us trundle them back around to the front of the house where they can be stored in the garage to "cure". About a year before we moved here I bought a big box of fatwood, and the stuff is amazing for getting the fireplace going. Most of the sticks we picked up are cottonwood, with a few from the ash and maple. I was advised not to burn cottonwood if I wanted to keep my neighbors friendly (it stinks when you burn it), but I suppose a few sticks won't hurt.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Winterizing, Part II

Been pretty quiet here as the wife went to Kalifornia for a week to visit with her three best friends, all of who had birthdays over the weekend.

So, it's just me and the dog until she gets back Thursday night. I spent today cleaning the bathrooms, and then sweeping and mopping all the ceramic tile in the entry way, kitchen, and sunroom. As hard as I tried, the dog got away from me once when I let her back in, and she almost got out of the tiled area with muddy paws, so that's why all the tile need cleaning. I'll do the heavy duty vacuuming Thursday, and the place should pass muster for her when she gets back home.

Outside the house, we have a backyard full of leaves.....

And a side yard full of leaves.....

All from this one tree, in slightly less than 24 hours.

Just amazing how some freezing rain, and below freezing temperatures, can shock the trees into dumping their leaves. We weren't in this house yet at this time last year, so we missed the first snow and freeze, and the attendant leave drop. There were two snows and freezes last year between when we got here, and when we moved in, so the trees were already pretty bare when we looked at the house, and while we were moving in.

The maple in the front is still holding on, but not for much longer.

When the sun hits the multicolored leaf litter from the maple, it looks quite pretty, much prettier than what I can capture with the puny little built-in flash on my camera. All quint and rustic and stuff. Guess that's your reward for having to clean it up!

And while I was out in the back, I noticed all these little dead dudes on the patio table.

The dark pole going up through the table is the umbrella mast. I thought I'd seen some wasps ( ! ) crawling up in there a few weeks ago during the last warm spell. Guess the freeze nailed 'em, so I'll have to open up the umbrella and clean out any critters that sought a winter home there, as we're planning on moving the umbrella to the basement before the next snow. Would have been really bad news to have those suckers wake up inside the house!

So, all the hoses are coiled up and stored inside with the sprinklers, the little styrofoam "hats" are over the outdoor spigots, and I picked up the foam board insulation from Home Depot. I'm thinking of going back to get one more sheet so I can make a "blank off panel" for the outside of the basement egress window just like I'm going to make for the inside. I can't see doing both sides of the windows in the front of the basement. The two of them combined are less than 25% of the surface area of the big window, and the window wells for them are much shallower and smaller. Plus that side of the house is in the house's 'wind shadow', so those two windows never get hit with strong winds, like the huge window in the back does.

I suppose there'll be a post or two coming about the windows.....

Friday, October 12, 2018


For the CSU Rams!

No, I'm not turning into a football fan, but hey, hometown stuff and all.

The only reason I mention it is I heard some racket coming from outside, and stepped to hear quite a fireworks display. It was coming from the North-Northwest, and while I could see the flashes and hear them, it was all low-level stuff.

The only thing up that way is CSU, so I wondered if maybe it was homecoming weekend for them. A quick check of the schedule shows that yep, this is Homecoming Weekend, with all the traditions that go with it in the Midwest.

Homecoming was a Big Deal when I was in high-school, but not so much at the community college I went to for two years after high-school. The Junior College football team was pretty mediocre, and with most students staying a maximum of two years, it was hard to build any kind of momentum.

I'm just glad I wasn't planning on heading up that way tonight, as I'll bet the students are having quite a celebration of it.

Good to see young people upholding traditions here in Free America.....

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Soyuz to ISS Booster Failure, Crew Safe

Latest from SpaceNews.

Fixed the link. Appears to be a 1st-2nd stage separation problem around 120 seconds into the flight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

First Snowfall

And I didn't take any pix because it didn't stick around very long.

Got about 2" of big, fluffy flakes that melted almost as soon as they hit, only piling up on the grass and trees.

Going down to 27* tonight, and predicted 20* on Sunday night. Then it goes back into the 60's so I can finish up all the winterizing here.

Ordered one of these from Home Depot:

Which was pretty much my last Big Item to buy for here. It's a 24", dual-stage, self-propelled model, that comes with two 40V, 5.0AHr batteries and charger.

Yup, it's electric, and it's battery powered. The "Self Propelled" feature was a must-have for the wife to use it. She's never muscled one of these around, so I want it to be at least "usable" for her. No, I'm not going to stand inside with a hot cuppa and watch my poor little wife do the driveway and sidewalks! But knowing her, there's times she's gonna get all wound up tighter than an 8-day clock if I haven't cleared the sidewalk and driveway in a "timely manner". Hey...the city gives you 24 hours to shovel! I know, I a good neighbor and all, and do it reasonably fast, but I think noon is "reasonably fast" most days.

And I do very good work.....

Anyway.....the thing got good ratings, and I don't want to take on another Infernal Combustion Device that I'M the one who has to maintain and make run. Small engines can be a major pain to get running at 10*, BTDT, don't need it any longer.

I don't know how much snow throwing and self-propelling time 200 WattHours is good for, but we're gonna find out.....

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Groan......What Hit Me?

Really under the weather today. Not sure if it's something I ate or a nasty bug.

Didn't even crawl out of bed until 2030 tonight.

Back later.......

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Set Material Condition YOKE!

Well, we're finally at the stage where we have to start kid-proofing the house. He's not only curious, but he's gotten fast! He's way past just walking around, and when he decides he wants to get from Point A to Point B, he takes off at max thrust and can really cover ground fast for somebody with such short legs.

We bought the white gate about two months ago when he learned he could crawl up the steps, hang a left down the hallway, and skidaddle to his room where lots of his toys are kept.

The brown gate went up tonight when the Little Guy and his Daddy came over for dinner, and between cooking dinner and trying to keep an eye on him, it got a bit much.

See, without the brown gate, he can (attempt to) go down the stairs into the den!

And while it's only five carpeted steps, he's at the stage where he's trying to walk down the stairs, rather than turn around and slide down them on his tummy, which he's very good at.

So between these two gates, and another wood one to block the kitchen/dining room door, we can keep him corralled in the living room/dining room area.

I'll be shopping/installing kid latches on all the kitchen and den cabinets this week, something I last did in 1987. He has very good Garage Discipline, as he doesn't touch or grab things like a lot of little kids do, and we've spent hours looking at tools, parts, and equipment, and learning their names. He did NINE laps of my wife's car Friday night, patting it fondly and saying "G'Ma", which is as close as he's come so far to saying "Grandma". And he's starting to say things that make sense. It's amazing to watch his speech develop. When he's playing with his toys he has 'conversations' with them. Occasionally you'll hear a distinguishable word or two, but mostly it's gibberish. The wondrous thing is that he has the cadence, inflection, and apparently the syntax down pat, and I swear I'm starting to understand him. Must be all those years of pulling signals out of the noise!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

I Love The Smell of Wrinkle Finish Paint In the Morning

It smells like Ham Radio!

Wrinkle finish paint has quite a history in high-end radio gear and test equipment going back to the 1930's, and probably earlier. Wrinkle finish is different than "Hammertone" which is more of a "splotchy" looking metallic paint. Wrinkle finish takes longer to dry and cure to full hardness than enamel or lacquer normally used, but it can be accelerated with heat.

And once it's fully cured, it's durable! That stuff is like shark skin, and just laughs off bumps and scuffs that would mar other finishes. I used it on the valves covers for my Firebird, and after a few heat cycles that stuff was vicious if you slipped and scuffed your knuckles against it. It felt like about 60 grit, and acted the same.



So anyway, it's durable, and all the "real" radio gear I saw as a kid was wrinkle finished. If you've ever seen any WWII radio gear from an aircraft, you know what wrinkle finish is. And it has a very distinctive odor to it, unlike any other paint or solvent I'm familiar with. Even years after it's been painted, if you have "The Nose", you can still smell it. Not unpleasant, but distinctive. Part of the allure of old vacuum tube radios is the way they smell. The hot tubes with dust and other dirt on them, the big power transformers, the paint and plastics used to make the radio; all give the radio a unique aroma, like that "new car smell", and the heat they emanate make them seem alive. All the Ham Radio projects I home brewed back-in-the-day were wrinkle finish black. It just looked so cool! So professional.....

I'm not sure when car manufactures started using wrinkle finish paint, probably soon after it was invented. The famous "Red Heads" on the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa were wrinkle finish red, giving the car it's moniker.

A REAL Testa Rossa:

Usually the fins and lettering are brushed after the paint is sanded off to make them stand out.

So with my fascination with wrinkle finish paint, and cam covers that woefully needed refinishing, I set off to refurb the set of covers I had collected. In previous episodes here I talked about using paint stripper to get the crud off the insides, and then I block sanded the fins and lettering to get all the corrosion removed. I solvent cleaned them, and took advantage of today's 80* weather to paint them.

Intake side cam cover:

Exhaust side cam cover:

After the paint cures, probably a week or more in this weather, I'll store them in the basement until Spring, at which time I'll bring them out, and sand the fins and lettering back to nice and clean, paint the lettering, and then shoot a coat of hi-temp clear engine enamel on them to keep them nice and shiny.

Should improve the view here considerably.

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...