Thursday, December 31, 2020

Happy New Year, and Carving Almost Complete we are, which is most likely not where we'd thought we'd be. A staged pandemic, an election with absolutely breathtaking amounts of fraud, and economy in shambles, and all the other stuff I can't be bothered mentioning, but we endured.

Yes, "endured".

No, it's not The Great Depression or a World War. Those may be Coming Soon To A Former Republic Near YOU!, but it's still not 100% decided. I don't know what's coming up this year, but I don't think it's going to be "pretty", for given definitions of "pretty".

So take care, keep your head on a swivel and your powder dry, and we'll see what comes.

On to more mundane matters....

Trevor The Tree Carver has been busy since the last update. He's just about finished, and has only some final detailing, sealing, and clean-up to do. It should look quite nice this summer.

Awwwww....RATS! Booger uploaded my pix in the reverse order I selected them in.

And I'm too lazy tonight to correct it.

A fitting end for 2020! Think I'll be down in The Bunker with a portable radio until 2020 is out of here.....

Monday, December 28, 2020

A Bit More Tree Carving....

 Took this today after Trevor left due to blowing snow!

He's been working on the trunk, turning it into a stack of boulders with roots growing down through them. The baby owl on the small limb was supposed to be a squirrel, but as he carved away the wood, a crack in the limb started to open up, and he was afraid it would break apart in a few months, so he cut the limb back, and carved the owl.

Should be pretty impressive when he's finished carving it, burning in more detail, and sealing it.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Tree Carving Resumes....

 At least for today and tomorrow.

Trevor is almost finished, and the next few days will be devoted to finishing it up, burning in some details, and then slathering the whole tree in boiled linseed oil to seal and preserve the wood.

The new figure is another owl. He started roughing in a squirrel, was a pretty far along on it, and the trunk split along a line he was worried about. So, we another owl instead of a squirrel.

Christmas Eve aftermath.....

Yes, the wrapping paper has been stuffed in a bag, or we'd be waist-deep in it!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas!

To you all. Christmas has always been special for me, like most people. The family gatherings, the food, the presents, and all the other things that go with the season.

But let us never forget the most important reason we celebrate this day.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Cold and Windy....

 Going down to the low teens tonight, and it's been pretty windy since about noon. Winds have been pretty steady at 25~28MPH with some gusts to 40+.

All the snow has melted, so no White Christmas, but the backyard is now dry enough I can gather up the one trunk of the crab apple tree the arborist removed and cut up for me. I'll drag it in to the garage to let it dry out and season until next winter. The sections I saved from the big branches that broke off last winter are really great firewood. Burns very cleanly, and throws off a lot of heat and light for the size pieces I wound up with.

TLG will be here Wednesday, and we're going to bake some bread for when he comes back with his Mommie and Daddy for Christmas Eve dinner.

Wishing you all the best for a Blessed Christmas and Joyous New Year, just in case I don't get off my duff and put something up for Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Snow, Finally!

 Been very lightly snowing for a bit over an hour, and there's maybe 1/2" on my snow gauge.

NWS is forecasting 1~2" accumulation tonight, and possibly 1" on Friday. This is good, as we desperately need the soil moisture. Saturday is forecast at a 40% chance, and I'll watch that closely, as I have to go down to the airport to pick up SLW Saturday afternoon. I'll use the next two days to "test" the difference my 4WD system has between "4-HI Auto", which electronically controls when the front axle engages, and just "4-HI", which has the front under power all the time. The rear differential is an electronically-controlled locker, and it's been a while since I drove a vehicle with a locker-style rear end. 

Back In The Day, lockers could/would engage at inopportune times, causing the handling to change, sometimes radically. The people on the Chevrolet Colorado forum say you can tell when these lock-up, but the electronic controls make a world of difference compared to a mechanical locker. And they've said pretty much the same about 4-HI Auto and 4-HI, in that you can tell when the front axle engages, but it doesn't jerk the steering wheel or make the handling change dramatically.

My Jeep was true All Wheel Drive, and was very sure-footed in bad weather. If I flat-footed it on a slippery surface I could force all four tires to spin, but I don't drive like that. It'll be interesting to play with the Chevy in the snow to see how it feels. In dry weather it handles better than it has any right to, and the brakes are very good with outstanding pedal feel. GM's chassis group really has a handle on things in this department, and I'll see how it does in snow the next couple of days.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Unflipping Believable! WELL DONE SpaceX!!

 I watched the entire launch and "landing" of the SpaceX SN8 flight test today, and I'm pretty near speechless.

This is so close to the Big Silver Rockets of Bradbury and Heinlein that I grew up dreaming about that it's.......huh....not sure what to say other than some adjective I can't think of. It's one of those "American Exceptionalism" things that aren't supposed to exist, are hugely Politically Incorrect, make liberal heads go nova, and prompt questions like "How Many More Teflon Fry Pans Will We Get Out Of This?" (I actually heard that at a NASA presser) from the "press", and make me smile and feel a sense of pride.

I won't analyze the landing, other than when I saw the plume go bright green, I knew something was wrong, and remembered the line "All Hand Brace For Impact!" from the movie Destination Moon.

Here's the broadcast, courtesy of a link the Silicon Graybeard provided. The launch starts about an hour and 47 minutes from the beginning, so you can skip forward quite a bit.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Chuck Yeager Has Passed.....

 God Speed, General Yeager.

L.A. City and County Force Closure of Battleship Iowa.

 Gruesome Newsome and his Evil Minions strike again.

A partial quote from the management aboard the Iowa:

While we have operated safely outdoors since the end of May without a single Covid-19 case, we have been ordered to close. This resulting closure will undoubtedly set us back and without an immediate increase in donations, we will have to cut expenses and wages during the holiday season. Without your support, the decision on how much we cut and where we cut has to be made no later than December 13th.  


If you can afford to during these times, please consider donating to The Pacific Battleship Center.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

More Tree Carving

 "Trevor the Tree Carver" came by this morning and got started on one of the big limbs coming up out of the trunk.

It's going to be a pine tree!

He's thinking of turning the third limb into a squirrel sitting on a stump.

Not like we need more squirrels here, but it should look cool.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Arecibo Drone and Camera Video of Collapse

 Just saw this on a random YouTube ramble.

These are separate videos; click to play.

Easy Round Trip To DIA

 Got SLW to the airport in plenty of time. It was very nice to see the mountains again, as last time we drove to DIA there was so much smoke from the fires that it was like Armageddon. 

BTW, all the fires I've been following have been declared 100% contained. "Trevor the Tree Carver" told me he took a drive up through there now that the roads are open, and some of the areas got singed, while other parts are just gone. He said in the hottest places the trees burned right down to the grass, and then the grass burned away. Nothing but dirt and rocks now. He also told me he's been trying to get some of the "Beetle Kill" wood from areas where the bugs got the trees, but it's quite difficult unless you know somebody. Some is on private land, and some is Forest Service land, and he's still trying to figure it all out. He said the wood is quite beautiful, with many different colors running through it.

And I finished up a work space in one of the unused basement rooms so the DIL could "work at home" from here. Her employer has had to severely cut back the number of people on-site due to Emperor Polis' latest Unlawful Edicts. So, most of the office staff is now telecommuting, and since she does some kind of customer service/liaison function, she can easily work from "home". It had previously been the desk with the weather station and mini-server, along with having all the gear I use to program radio gear with, so I had to pack up the PC I normally have sitting there, and rearrange the weather station and server, roll over a good chair from the workshop side of the basement. She brought over her laptop and docking station yesterday, and we set everything up and tested it. Worked fine, except that all these new fangled laptops ONLY have an HDMI video output, and one of the monitors I'm loaning here ONLY had regular video, and a DVI video port. She was supposed to bring another monitor and cable by tonight, but she hasn't shown up. Oh, well.....

So it's me and the dog for the next 10 days, and the "DIL-in-the-Basement" starting on Monday. She'll bring over TLG on Wednesday, so I've got to get cracking here to come up with some "Grandpa" stuff he and I can do.

And no, Beans, I still haven't bought a snowblower. We've got ZERO precip in the forecast for the next 10 days, and as soon as the model I wanted came in, it was gone. I may just have to order one on-line so I'm in the que for the next delivery.

And speaking of the weather, I just read where KFTG, the NWS Weather Radar in Denver, will be down hard for three weeks. The "Bull Gear" (like a giant-size ring gear) used to rotate the antenna in azimuth has failed. The parts are on-hand, and the specialists from the NWS Radar Operations Center in Norman, OK are either here, so since this is a well-known procedure, they should have it back up per the schedule.

I was about ready to spew some venom about this like geez, don't you guys inspect them at regular intervals, and then I read the story about how they did this to the weather radar in Binghamton, NY. The gear is buried inside the antenna pedestal, and doesn't appear to have any inspection ports you can use to look inside.

Le OUCH.....

Good thing the normal service life of this gear is 15~20 years, which is about how old most of the NEXRAD (rabbit hole alert!) sites are. The NWS is researching Phased Array Radars for the replacements, but I don't know the status of that program.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Areicbo Is Gone.......

 One of the three main support towers broke in half last night, sending the entire Receiving Platform down into the reflector.

You can see the failed tower to the lower left of the photo.

This is the Receiving Platform before it fell.

The remains of the dome can be seen resting on the reflector in the top photo, just left of bottom center.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

And Now He Has A Friend.....

 The eagle, that is.

Here's some shots using my "real" flash unit, and not the wimpy little pop-up flash built in the camera.

Say hello to my little friend!

The owl is carved into a "bowl" shaped area. It's more of a "Relief" than just a carving.

And the "Toll House Morsels" I saw on the counter, hoping for chocolate chip cookies?

Nope, didn't happen.

We got FUDGE, instead!

Notice how carefully Spiderman is watching the uncanning of the evaporated, condensed milk. He's anxiously awaiting his next move to slip away with the fudge!

Hope you all had a blessed Sunday.....

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Eagle Has Landed.....

Well, it's a start! The young guy in all the PPE is Trevor, who lives down the street and has all kinds of hand-carved yard art made from sections of trees for sale. We stopped and talked to him about carving what's left of the cottonwood tree some time back while we were out walking Pebbles. He said he'd never done a whole tree before, and was looking for one to do, so he'd be willing to come by, look at it, and give us a quote.

He was supposed to go to carving contest using a felled tree early this year, but then The Virus hit, and they cancelled the competition. So he's using this to get his feet wet in the "Whole Tree" category, and we'll be getting a LOT more work done, at a rock-bottom price, as this will be one of his portfolio pieces. He's done some amazing work, and I'll have to go take some pictures at his place after he's done with this one.

He's also going to make a nice, flat, vertical section to bolt the antenna support back to the trunk, and since it will be mounted solidly into the trunk, I'll be adding another 5' section of mast to get the center up to slightly over 30' AGL. I'll also raise the end points another 5', which will be about as good as it's going to get for the wire antenna.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, we have.....


And TLG is quite proud of his decorating abilities.

Well done, young man!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving To All

 We were going to head up North in rural Larimer County for Thanksgiving, but SLW has a bit of a cold, some of the relatives attending are in their mid 80's and she doesn't want to expose them, and as she's headed to Kaliforniastan next week for a visit, she wants to lay low, rest up, and steel herself for the trip.

So we'll have a quiet dinner and take the dog for a walk, giving thanks for all we've been blessed with.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2020

A Very Sad Day For Radio Astronomy

 The Arecibo Radio telescope is being shut down.

Not just shut down, but decommissioned and dismantled.

The installation had suffered damage from the hurricanes and tropical storms, causing one of the feeds (the 70cm "Line Feed") to break loose, fall, and damaging about 30 out of the 38,000 aluminum panels used for the reflecting surface.

Then in August, one of the suspension cables broke, causing a 100' long gash to the reflector. Then in early November, a second cable snapped, causing much more extensive damage.

So rather than spend the money to repair and upgrade the facility, they're going to tear it down.

This is just as sad as when the 300' Green Bank Telescope collapsed.

I suppose you could say these "Old Dinosaurs" of Science are obsolete, but Very Large Aperture Antennas are extremely useful devices at radio frequencies. Unless you're a Radio Geek, or you grew up watching the transition from analog to digital electronics, you might not "get it". Yes, with today's Digital Signal Processing techniques applied to Very Long Baseline Interferometry, you can use hundreds (or thousands) of smaller dish antennas, and combine them into one extremely large Synthetic Aperture. Yes, the numbers are astounding, but I can't help but wondering what we've given up to get these extraordinary sensitivities and resolutions. Car and Driver recently comparison tested the new Corvette with a new Porsche Cayman. The Corvette generated staggering numbers on the track and in testing, but the drivers said it felt cold and antiseptic doing it, like it had sold it's soul for performance, while the Porsche seemed alive and worked with you so you both did your best. It's what I call "An Analog Thing", and I get it entirely. Maybe even grok it. That Porsche manged it pull it off in a car packed with more electronics than the Apollo Command Module is a very admirable thing.'s too bad that it's being dismantled. It was a very useful instrument, and it will be missed.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Unusual Weather Event

 Not sure what caused the unusual "hump" in the weather recordings today, but a few things stand out.


The barometer took a "dip", while the wind speed and direction shifted dramatically. The temperature went up twenty degrees for about 2-1/2 hours, and the humidity took a corresponding drop.

I'd put this down to a "Downslope Wind Event", or Chinook, but the wind was from the Southwest this time, so not much "Downslope" from that direction.

Since I wasn't awake at the time, I don't know what the radar was showing.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Not Much Going On......

 Except it's been pretty windy here. We've had sustained winds of 25~30MPH with a few gusts hitting 40+ since last night. Our tree guy/arborist was supposed to come by today and trim the trees, but when he saw the winds today, he called and said he didn't think it was a good idea.

One thing he mentioned when he came out to give us a quote was that the 18' tall "stump" from cottonwood tree we had cut down needs some attention. Since we didn't get it carved, it's basically a big, DEAD tree in the backyard, and Mother Nature has started "reclaiming" it. He said there's now a colony of Carpenter Bees in it, and they need to be exterminated. or they'll bore out the tree enough to seriously weaken it. He says they can also attract termites, which will spread into the house. So, we have some chemical warfare to wage here, and then the stump has to be "sealed" to prevent further degradation. No estimate on the cost yet. If we have to get rid of the entire thing, though, it's going to cost some $$, and I'll lose my center antenna support.

On Veteran's Day we went down to the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse to see "The Denver Dolls", a female trio who perform 40's/50's/60's music. They put on a good show, with Veterans and active-duty people being admitted free. There was a 97 year old WWII vet in the audience, and he got quite a round of applause when he was asked to stand up.

A nice evening, and relaxing break from all the political turmoil going on.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veteran's Day

 Ramirez says it far better than I can.

Thank you all for your service and sacrifice.



Monday, November 9, 2020

Light Snow Today

 NWS is forecasting up to an inch. Nothing sticking on the streets, but the yard is starting to get patches of white.

No, Beans (and Rev Paul), I haven't got a new snowblower yet. SLW was asking if we actually need to buy another one.  Well, if we could get somebody here to shovel what comes down, and do it RIGHT NOW, it would depend on how much they charged. The snowblower will cost about $1200 out-the-door. It should last at least ten years with the maintenance level I use on power equipment.

Can we find somebody to do the snow removal for $120 per year? Possibly, but she wants the snow removed RIGHT NOW, as she's paranoid about getting a ticket from the city for failing to clear the sidewalks within 24 hours.

Besides, I kinda like big noisy machines.....

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Ball of Confusion

Smoke and mirrors, and "Industrial Scale" voter fraud.

And I'm aghast at the breathtaking stupidity and apathy of the "American" people.

This is treason, and people need to hang for it.....


Hat Tip to Rev Paul who calmed me down enough to figure out how to embed the video.....

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day, 2020

 In anticipation of "festivities" happening regardless of who wins, I went out today to run some errands. Got a two-month supply of my meds, some cash, "extra" coffee and cigarettes, and filled up both cars and all my gas cans.

"Other" preparations of a defensive nature were finished a few weeks ago, and we're fine on that front.

While I was pumping gas, I noticed the guy across the pump island had on a "USAF Veteran" hat, and as I had on my USS Iowa BB-61 hat, we naturally struck up a conversation. He's a local guy, and had served his career working at Cheyenne Mountain doing ELINT stuff. Betwixt and between inside jokes about that sort of thing, he asked me if I was "stocking up" on gas before the coming storm. I told him I was "Channeling My Inner Boy Scout", and he cracked up. We agreed we should be OK up here, but that the Denver/Aurora area would go up in flames of Peaceful Protest if Trump won, or flames of "Joyous Celebration" if the commies won.

I said I'd only seen a few gatherings with signs, all of them in support of "Conservative" issues and candidates. Given the number of Slow Joe and Da Ho signs I see up, I was quite surprised to see them out. 

He said there were some "BLM-Type" people at the courthouse engaging in "Voter Intimidation", and that he almost got into it with them. They (Three very large, very dark-complected men) were standing in front of the ballot drop box, and demanded to know who he voted for before they'd allow him to put his ballots in the box. He said he told them loudly, and in no uncertain terms, that it was none of their business, and to please move. He said they started to come towards him, at which time two security guys and two Sheriff's Deputies came out and defused it, telling the "Peaceful Protesters" to disperse to some distance from the drop box.

I was kinda flabbergasted when he told me that. This isn't L.A. or Chicago, or some other Big City. We're a city of about 170,000 people, and a good sixty-plus miles from the nearest one. We're part of the "Front Range Urban Corridor" , with ~5,000,000 people in it, but to see Big City Shit like that (pardon my French...) here really snapped me back to reality. The Bad Dudes really are everywhere these days, not just in their rat-hole cities anymore.

Time to get moving on our CCW permits.....


And from my son, who's a manager at a Major Chain Grocery in Lost Angeleez, we have.....Empty Shelves!

They have ZERO paper towels, and the toilet paper you see is all they have left. He said some other items were short, forget which ones, and they have they store windows boarded up solid, with armed guards in the store after closing.

Be vigilant!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Three Years Ago Today.....

 We started moving in here!

We closed on the 31st, and started moving in boxes of stuff on the first while waiting for the "Pods" our furniture, housewares, clothes, and other stuff were packed into were delivered.

It's been a great three years, watching our grandson grow from a 10 week early preemie to the healthy young kid he is today, and watching the seasons go by.

Learned a LOT about the weather, too, and how to dress for it.

And got the house all into shape from what it was when we bought it. New roof, new windows, a very large tree removal, and a new Southern fence, along with $500 worth of light bulbs, new washer and drier, towels, bedding, and a host of other items needed to fill up this big place.

I learned how to make and tend a decent fire in the fireplace, decent meaning it won't burn down the house or go out in 20 minutes, and got a crash-course education in the maintenance and operation of snowblowing equipment.

We've made some friends in the neighborhood, watched it change significantly, and found some nice places to go for live entertainment.

No, I don't have a Battleship to go play on, but we're no longer in Lost Angeleez, and that means a lot.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Hey, Kids! Collect 'Em ALL!

 Not really. These units should pretty much complete my Heathkit acquisitions. These guys will need some work, but as the expen$ive electrolytic capacitors are on hand, any additional outlay should be quite small. I inventoried my on-hand tubes, and have to cross it against the tube compliment of each radio. The only tubes I know I need are the last-gasp-of-vacuum-tubes "Compactrons". They were made in very large quantities for color TV sets, and are still readily available.

So, I rearranged the operating desk a bit, added an old Ikea riser shelf that I rattle canned a dark brown to kinda-sorta match the desk, and propped the "visiting" rigs in place.

I've wanted to do this since last summer, but finally got a circular tuit. These guys will go down to the workshop in the next few days to begin their journey back to operational status, but I wanted to see how they looked up there.

Future "Guest Rigs" will include my Hallicrafters SX-117/HT-44 pair:

And my Drake R-4B and T-4XB:

I also have a Kenwood TS-950SDX, but it's safely tucked away, so here's a "file photo" courtesy of rigpix:

Sunday, October 25, 2020


 It started last night around 2300, just little, tiny flakes coming down, and by 0100 when I went lights-out, we had a couple of inches. Not snowing extremely heavy, but just a constant snowfall.

The "snow gauge" shows about 8", with another 4"~8" during the day, and a forecast of an additional 3"~7" overnight. Gonna be a real mess on Monday morning!

And it's piled up and around my "Cease Fire" smoker's ashtray/bucket.....

And the streets are covered.....

One of the neighbor kids came offering to shovel the snow for $5, and he did such a bang-up job I gave him $10. The temps are going back up on Tuesday, so after this melts, I *WILL* be going to get a snowblower.

There was significantly more snow at the higher elevations, over 10" last I heard, and that should help dampen the fires.

It's 1700 now, and 11*, on it's way down to TWO degrees tonight. Gonna be a good night to crank up the fireplace.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Cloudy Day, But No Smoke

 We had a light dusting of snow last night. It was the kind that doesn't come down in flakes, but rather itty-bitty snowballs. The reports from the fire areas indicate they received a couple of inches, which will definitely help.

There's a front coming through tomorrow night, and it's packing some moisture. Last night we had a forecast 50%~80% chance of rain and snow, with possibly an inch of accumulation.

This afternoon the NWS upped the ante quite a bit, calling for an 80%~90% chance of precipitation, but now predicting three to seven inches of accumulation on Sunday.....

Oh, boy.....and I don't have my new snowblower yet! Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda strikes again.

But the USPS delivered all the new electrolytic capacitors for the Heathkit receiver and transmitter, so I'll be able to hang out in the basement and get started on the recommissioning of those two radios.

The set on the left are for the transmitter, and the ones on the right are for the receiver, which I'll do first. When I rebuilt my SB-310 "Shortwave" version of this receiver I think I had about ten hours in it, including replacing the rectifiers in the power supply (3 diodes) and doing a complete alignment on it. This one might take a bit longer as I have some cleaning to do on it, and you never know what you might find when you pull it out of the case and look at the bottom of the chassis.

The four big "Can Capacitors" are new manufacture, made here in the USA in Cedar Rapids, IA, and have higher rated voltages and slightly increased capacitance due to their construction from more modern materials. The smaller capacitors in the bags are also new manufacture, and readily available. The only reason I bought the complete "kits" from the people who make and sell the big cans was just to make it a one-stop transaction.

I'll do a tube inventory of my tube stock and the transmitter, and see what other tubes I need to order besides the 0A2 Voltage Regulator Tube, which I'm 99% sure I don't have. Some of the tubes are common to the receiver, and are used in my Drake and Hallicrafters radios, so I should be well-stocked on those. The 6BZ6 was even used in the radios I worked on while on the Iowa.

I'll rearrange the station desk here in the sunroom so I can use the riser I have to hold another set of radios. It'll be my "Operational Boat Anchor" station, and I'll be able to rotate between the Heathkit, Drake, and Hallicrafters rigs I have.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

And Another Smokey "Armageddon" Day

 I agree with Well Seasoned Fool on's really getting tiresome.

We have two relatively new fires; The CalWood fire South of us by Longmont. and the East Troublesome fire, directly West of there.

The ash fall from this current dump was about the worst it's been. The ash was in bigger pieces, chunky instead of flaky, and a good 1/4" deep on the windshield down by the wipers.

The Cameron Peak fire is the Northernmost one, with the blue line indicating how much is contained. It's around 207,000 acres after the massive 70,000 acre run it did last week. Estimates for lost structures is around 190, and expected to go higher.

The "small" fire South of us is the CalWood fire at about 7,000 acres. This is the one that was blowing smoke across I-25 yesterday.

And the big fire West of that is the East Troublesome fire, currently at well over 125,000 170,000 acres, becoming the second largest fire in Colorado history.

This is pretty much what the CalWood fire looked like coming back from DIA yesterday. Image courtesy of

Sweet Little Wife was almost crying when she saw it as we drove past.

We're praying for our firefighters, and praying for rain.......

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...