Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Welcome to "Ma Kita"!

 She's not Ma Duece, but will hopefully meet my needs.

Some assembly was required, namely charging the batteries, and installing the chain and bar. The batteries went from one blinking bar on the indicator, to fully-charged in about 40 minutes. Depending on the run time I get, this would be a nice break from cutting to recharge myself and the batteries.

Had to back off the tensioner two full turns to get the bar and chain on, and when I turned it back those two turns, the chain tension seemed to be just right.

Filled it with oil, snapped the batteries in it, and ran the chain at low speed until I could see some oil on it.

Off to Home Depot tomorrow to get some chaps. SLW agrees 100%, and wants me to be safe and comfortable while I'm doing this work. I have hard hats, goggles, face shields, hearing protectors, and several pairs of work gloves, from lightweight to Rhino Hide, so I should be good-to-go after I get the chaps.

Stay tuned. I've never used one of these before, but the manual is full of information on how to safely do limbing, and cutting large things. This has a 16" bar, and I don't think I'll be cutting anything bigger than 8~10", so I hope it's big enough. SLW was worried I was going to get some 5HP monster with a 30" bar, but she's quite pleased with this one.

I don't think she'll ever use it, but then I never thought I'd see her driving a pick-up truck, either!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Bought A Chainsaw.....

 But first, a bit of 'back story'....

My step-son came over today, went up on the roof with a hand axe, and dropped the big limb(s) that had broken off the ash tree in the last storm.

And drop it he did!

Right on the gate....


The Tree Guy was supposed to come next week, safely get it down, and cut it up for me into manageable sections, whereupon I'd strip the branches, and reduce it to fireplace-sized wood for our use next winter. 

WELL.....Sweet Little Wife has "A Thing" about stuff like this. She wants it fixed ASAP, and that's generally a good idea if I can do the work. Stuff like removing large pieces of tree laying on the roof and house is outside my experience and comfort level. Seeing as I don't climb anymore above about 10' or so, that means I'm NOT going on the roof except under extreme duress, and this ain't it.

So the tree limb(s) came down, whacked the fence gate pretty good, and came *this close* to taking out my antenna, which I was going to get untangled from the tree, and coiled up out of the way for the Tree Guy.

So she "saved" $700 by canceling the tree guy, which necessitated buying a $500  chainsaw so I can cut up this YUGE pile of future firewood. When it comes to tools, I generally "Buy Big or Go Home", so since I'd been stealthily shopping since the storm did the damage, I had an idea what I wanted. Should be here (FREE Shipping!) on Wednesday.

Somehow I think the gate is going to be well over $200 to get properly repaired/replaced, but to her, it's moot....

So what, pray tell, instrument of Massive Wood Destruction did I buy?

A Makita cordless with a 16" bar:

Would I buy this if I were LL, out in the wilderness, or LSP in the wilds of Texas? No, but for a "homeowner in Colorado" it should be sufficient. It has 600 reviews on Home Depot, and they're almost all 4 and 5 stars. I have a cordless Makita 1/2" Impact Wrench, and I can't run it down. Even after removing and installing two sets of tires on two vehicles, and day-long sessions on the Supra, it had plenty of juice left, so I'm hoping my light-duty use of the chainsaw is similar.

But about that gate......

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saturday Night at the Movies!

 SLW and I will be watching "The Maltese Falcon" tonight while enjoying some pizza from a local place. She doesn't recall ever seeing it before, so I'm hoping she'll enjoy it. I've been filling in the blanks in my movie collection the last few months, and this movie is a recent acquisition, along with "The Bridges at Toko Ri", "Giant", and "Casablanca".

In the meantime, enjoy some humor.....

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Storm Damage

 Now that the snow has mostly melted, I did some further examination of the damage we had from the storm.

Lost some branches from the crab apple tree, which will get stripped, cut up, and put on the drying rack.

 And the far end support for my wire antenna got ripped off the fence post it was screwed to when the limbs from the ash tree snapped.


It tore the lag screws right out by the roots. I was lucky I had it mounted the way I did, as the short lags I used acted like a "mechanical fuse", and saved the wire from breaking.


As to what brought down the antenna, well, we're gonna need a bucket truck and/or man lift to get up there and remove the limbs.


Looks like one limb peeled away, and what was left couldn't support the limb above it.

Gutter zero, tree one!

 When the arborist was here the last time, he recommended we get these two cut back some so they could handle wet snow better. We also need to get this tree inoculated against the Emerald Ash Borer, which is slowly working it's way up here.

Oh, well, at least we'll get some "free" firewood out of this.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

MAJOR Closure of I-25



I left at 1330 to pick up my wife at DIA, where she was returning on a 1500 flight. Normally it takes me just about an hour from when I leave until I'm in the terminal.

 It took over two hours today, and SLW was frantic when I finally met her. Of all the times I've "forgotten" to take my cellphone with me, this one was just about the worst-case scenario. Fortunately she'd called our DIL who promptly informed her that the highway was CLOSED, and the detours could be "iffy" if you don't know the area well, and not to panic until I was over an hour late, which I was. As soon as SLW saw me walking in she burst into tears, and it took a good 15 minutes to calm her down.

Turns out a tanker truck with 12,000 gallons of diesel aboard had rolled over about 0100 this morning on the stretch of I-25 between US 34 and Larimer County Road 402. Traffic was blocked, going both directions, along this 2 mile stretch of I-25.

And the tanks broke open, spilling ALL of the diesel fuel out onto the highway, and into a drainage ditch adjacent to the Big Thompson River.

It's a first-class, Grade "A" mess, and will be until 1300 tomorrow when they're planning on opening I-25 back up after all the clean-up, decontamination, and emergency road repairs.

Coming home also took over two hours, but that was mostly due to very heavy traffic on the roads being used for the detours.

Between learning to really read and understand the map symbols for roads on the truck's GPS, and the 45 minutes I just spent using Google Maps, I now have a much better ideas of the state and county roads around here, and how to use them vs just hopping on the Interstate.

And I just put a couple of paper maps and an atlas in the truck.....

Friday, March 19, 2021

Fun With WEFAX

 Or WEather FACSimile transmissions by NOAA. There are of great use to mariners, as they provide weather charts and weather forecasts to mariners at sea, and away from VHF radio range. They transmit this data on several frequencies around 4MHz, 8MHz, and 10~12MHz. Back In The Day, it took specialized equipment, but these days all you need is an HF radio that tunes 3~30MHz, and a PC running some free software.

This NOAA satellite image came in tonight from the Pt. Reyes station on 8.682MHz:

The image is slanted because I haven't done this in a while, and forgot where the "Slant Adjust" software slider was.

Other images after I corrected the slant, which is caused by timing errors between the sending station and my soundcard.

This one is a chart of the barometric pressure through the area. The curvy white lines are called "Isobars" . They represent points of equal barometric pressure.

And they also broadcast wind vector charts. This picture is several strung together, as I forgot where the control was to keep each image separate.

While these charts aren't very much use to me in my landlocked location, they are nice for getting a "Long Range" view of the global weather.

After the weather warms up, I'm going to build an antenna for the 137MHz Automatic Picture Transmission satellites, which will give me near real-time satellite imagery of this area.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Pretty Much Dug Out

 And my little truck thanks me!

Quite a difference from yesterday:

I shoveled two paths to it, knocked the snow off, and then shoveled the paths again and put down a bunch of ice melt and sand. My new snow boots got a good workout, and my feet stayed toasty warm. Took me three times in 4-HI to punch my way out into the street. I probably could have done it in two, but the first attempt wound up with spinning tires, so I went back up the driveway, and then bashed into the snow again. The third time I hit the snow it powered right through to the cleared lane, and off I went. Took a drive around the neighborhood to survey the damage, and yowie, we've got everything from small branches, to 6" diameter limbs, to whole trees broken in half and laying on the sidewalks, streets and roofs. I think the tree service people are going to be pretty busy the next few weeks.

The city ran a road grader down the cul-de-sac this morning about 0330, and luckily the blade was angled away from our side of the street. The people directly across the street had spent several hours yesterday clearing their drive way, and clearing a path to the lanes the Snowblower Guy cleared. This morning they had a three foot berm of snow blocking their driveway. This only the second time the city has sent anything down our cul-de-sac, and since Snowblower Guy had cleared a very serviceable path, he really didn't have to come down our street at all.

Have to take SLW down to the airport Wednesday afternoon, so I'm hoping the roads will be clear, and the trip uneventful.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Digging Out

 Bright, sunny day with temps in the high 30's, so we did some additional digging out.

I'll do more tomorrow, like shovel a path to get to the truck, clean the snow off, and shovel some more.

The guy who owns the house past the truck with the open garage door is our neighbor who plowed a lane down the cul-de-sac, and did all the sidewalks. We're getting him a gift card as an attaboy.

Quite a bit different than 48 hours ago.


The snow on the ground has decreased by about 30% from what it was when it stopped snowing, but we still have quite a bit on the road into and out of this section of our area.

Again, kudos to our neighbor for clearing a lane down the street. I'll be helping him next year!


The insurance guy came by to look at the roof and discuss filing a claim or not, and explained some of the legalese of our policy in normal English. His very rough guesstimate is around $1800, close to what I was thinking. The major expense will be to get a bucket truck out here to remove the tree limbs from the roof, strip the small branches off them, and cut the limbs down to manageable sections for me. If stripping and cutting them makes the bill go crazy, I'll go buy a chain saw and learn how to do it. Since this is ash, a hardwood, it should be good firewood after it's seasoned. I'm not planning on making any baseball bats or axe handles, so I might as well put it to some other use along with another small limb from the crab apple tree. I'll add it to the woodpile once I strip the sticks off it.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Snow Day....

 Well, I kinda blew it last night when I said it looked like most of the storm would miss us. SLW and I had a nice fire going, and watched the original version of "Ocean's 11" last night, and I stayed up a bit longer doing the "Storm Watch" thing. I went to bed about 0100, and it was snowing, but not very heavy. I got up once around 0400, looked out the window, and it was really coming down.

Our maple, crab apple, and ash tree have all lost limbs, and the ash tree dropped a YUGE one, bashing a gutter on it's way down. It landed on the support rope for the wire antenna, and tore the end support mast out of the fence post on the South end. I'd only used 1" "Lath Screws" and some conduit hangers to mount the mast to the post, and they acted like a "mechanical fuse" when the limb hit the rope. Hopefully we don't have any roof damage. The limb is well clear of the chimney, so we can still use the fireplace.

Looking out front window. "Big Red" is somewhat buried:


 Backyard from dining room window:


 View from sun room. You can see the wire antenna running diagonally through the picture, and the two limbs that broke off the ash tree:


From the laundry room:


And the view from the side door on the garage. Notice the neighbor's snowblower for reference. It's a full-size, 24" width model:

 And the NWS is predicting another 8"~10" of snowfall before this passes through, and they've declared a "Blizzard Warning" for this area. Some of the agencies I monitor on the scanner are declaring white-out conditions across wide areas.

The Kids up in Laporte are without power, but fortunately the house has gas for heating and cooking. The local radio station, KRFC, is off-the-air, along with KMAX, 94.3, but they're both still streaming online.

The in-laws up at the homestead have something like 48" of snow, and it's still coming down hard. They're not planning on going anywhere for a few days. The other in-laws in Cheyenne are getting hammered, but he reports his new snowblower is working just fine. And the other in-laws on "The Ranch" have heavy equipment, and know how to use it, so they'll be fine, too. No, Beans, I still haven't bought a replacement yet. I'll start seriously looking on and craigslist in April. I would have bought the lightly-used Honda last year, but it would have been a PITA to get it home in my Jeep.

Now I have a truck, and will sally forth in search of a good, used snowblower in the near future.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

13 March 2300 Storm Update

 It's been snowing off-and-on since about 1130 today, sometimes mixed with rain. The amount of snow on my "Snow Gauge" is about half what was predicted. The prediction was 8"~10" by evening, and we didn't make it. 

Here's the snow as of 2245:

Looks more like 5"~6" to me. The bare spots under the chairs is because there's been zip for wind today. The snow came straight down, almost like rain, even though it's been pretty fluffy all day long. Any wind at all would have blown it around, and that didn't happen here.

I've been following the storm track on local and national weather for the last 24 hours, and it sure looks like this one dumped a lot more moisture well East of Fort Morgan, and that's 65 miles East of here.

One thing I've been watching is the snow/ice load on my 94' wire antenna. Normally it's more "taught" than this, but the spring on the far end of the antenna is doing it's job, allow the antenna to sag under load without breaking.

I hope....

Friday, March 12, 2021

All Battened Down

 Made a run to the store to pick up some extra stuff, and some essential stuff, like COFFEE, and rawhide chews for Pebbles The Wonder Dog. She gets quite insistent if she doesn't get her morning rawhide, but the evening rawhide is not a daily treat.

As of 2330, it's overcast, but dry. Got hit by a few raindrops when we were out earlier, but minimal.

The current forecast calls for it to start raining around 0100, followed by freezing rain, and then snow.

 As of 1517 this afternoon, the NWS was calling for 18"~24" of snow here. They'll issue and updated forecast Saturday morning.

So for now, it's The Calm Before The Storm......

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Winter Storm Warning

 The weather's been pretty quiet these last few weeks. Had some snow flurries and a spot of rain, but otherwise not much going on.

That's about to change. The NWS issued a Winter Storm Warning a day or so ago, and it starts at 0500 om the 13th and goes to 0600 on the 15th. Starting tomorrow, there's a 70% chance of rain/snow, turning to 100% for Saturday and Sunday. Up until an hour or so ago all they were saying is the snow would be "heavy", but now they've added the expected amounts. They're calling for 24"~30", up from 6"~10", and winds over 30MPH.

That's NOT going to be pleasant to be out in, as this time of year with the temps in the high20's/low 30's, it's going to be heavy, wet snow, and stuff may get broken.

I have to drop SLW off at the big Medical Center here to have a test performed, and we'll stop on the way back (if she's not too groggy) to pick up a few things like some COFFEE, rawhide chews for the dog, and some diet soda for me.

Be safe out there!

Thursday, March 4, 2021

OOOPS! It's Been Almost Two Weeks....!

 Just been busy, and haven't felt like posting. So much for my "try and post at least every three days" commitment. Oh, well....

The last two days have been fabulous; bright, sunny skies, moderate winds, and temps in the low 60's. I even got the garage swept out in preparation for Spring Cleaning! Hopefully this is a sign that Spring is rapidly approaching. I expect two more snows before the season is over. Usually one of them is heavy, wet snow that breaks branches and things, and the other one is a "Nuisance Level" storm.

This morning opened up overcast and drizzly, but it quit raining around 1600. Radar shows there's still a lot of rain out there, and some of it looks intense, due East of Denver, out towards the state line, but I don't think we'll get anymore tonight.

Work continues on the Heathkit transmitter, and I've taken pix of the work. Which has led me back down the Camera Rabbit Hole in search of a Nikon Macro lens. I have some excellent Nikon "General Purpose" lenses, and a couple of killer telephoto lenses, but nothing for close-up work, which is what Macro lenses excel at. I'll probably be getting one of these, a Nikon "AF-S FX Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8G ED" lens, which seems to best fit using the selection guides on several websites, and my intended use. This one has some "ED" glass elements in it, which is to correct for chromatic (color) aberration, the blue and yellow fringing some lens designs produce out towards their edges. And it's an f/2.8, which means it has a very narrow Depth of Field wide open. This means it's very good at keeping the main subject is perfect focus, while softly blurring the background/foreground. It really makes the subject pop out of the picture. I can't get close enough sometimes with the lenses I have to get the subject to fill the frame, and this will allow that. They also work very well for portrait photography, so I'll get some Really Good Pix of The Little Guy this year.


And speaking of which, he celebrated birthday #4 last Saturday! We had a small gathering, and there was pizza, ice cream, and CAKE! A splendid time was had by all.

He's now gone through his "Paw Patrol" phase and moved on to Super Heroes. Sooooo, all the Paw Patrol toys have been packed away in a YUGE Rubbermaid Roughneck bin, and the former "Paw Patrol Room" is now the "Avengers Room". Yes, redecorating is involved. And seeing as the bedrooms are on the second floor here, and the basement storage area is in the basement (duh), I get 5 flights of cardio exercise with each round trip! Sweet Little Wife is now in the middle stages of planning for when grandchild #5 arrives. TLG's current bedroom is the smallest in the house, and with a little brother/sister coming, she's thinking of making the current Avengers Room into their bedroom, and reverting the smaller, middle bedroom to her use. So we're prowling and craigslist for some kid's furnishings.

 And he's discovered the Lego kits of various Super Hero vehicles and "accessories". These seem to be based on the hugely popular Lego Movies that people of a certain age group are fascinated by. These kits aren't your Father's Lego kits! They're much more akin to the "Snap Together" model cars of my youth. They use Lego-style pins and recesses to snap together, but there are many, many custom molded pieces for each kit, although most of the kits have common parts, usually molded in a different color.

I built this one last night, a Lego "Ironman Mech Suit", your basic Armored Fighting Suit.

And the assembled product. This is where a Macro lens shines. This was a close as I could focus, with my 18~70mm zoom lens all the way out to 70mm.

 It came in three bags of parts, and took about 30 minutes per bag to assemble. The front "breastplate" hinges down so you can put Tony at the controls, as shown above, but I'm sure Jarvis could run it remotely if requested.

I've also built the Lego Spiderman car, but I'm not sure where it is right now, maybe upstairs.

Yes, the probability of my stepping on a Lego piece in the dark, while barefoot, has gone up exponentially the last two weeks! TLG is very good about putting his stuff away. "Grandma's House = Grandma's Rules" works very well with him, and he has specific play areas where this stuff is allowed. But I'm sure there's a piece out there with my name on it. It might not be here yet, but it's out there.....

Hope y'all have a great upcoming weekend!

Meet Luna!

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