Friday, 8 April 2016

10:17 – Barbara is off to the gym and supermarket, after which we’ll be building more science kits. We built a batch of the FK01A forensic science kits yesterday. Today, we’ll get another batch of BK01 biology kits built and at least get started on a new batch of CK01A chemistry kits.

Lori just showed up with the mail, including a box from Amazon. A couple of years ago, my workhorse Brother HL-5250DN laser printer started printing an empty line down the middle of each printout. The problem was the drum unit, but when I checked for a replacement, the only option was a Brother-branded unit for $180. I paid something like $225 for the printer originally, and there was no way I was going to pay that to replace the drum on a printer that had already had some heavy use. The 5250 even with the stripe was fine for most of what I printed as it was, so I decided to just use it until it dropped. Then the other day, I was on Amazon and decided to search for a drum unit. Sure enough, they had a third-party replacement drum unit with excellent reviews for $18. (They also had a different one with not-so-good reviews for $12.) I’ve had good experience with third-party toner cartridges bought on Amazon, so I decided to give the $18 unit a try.

Not much time available for prepping this week, and we’re being careful about unnecessary spending until we get the house on the market and sold, so the only prepping-related thing I did was buy a print copy of All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space 2nd Edition. The last time I had a garden of my own was about 50 years ago, and I want to try growing some herbs and vegetables on a small scale.

36 thoughts on “Friday, 8 April 2016”

  1. The only thing I have done this week that could be considered prepping is buying copies of The ARRL Radio Handbook, The ARRL Antenna Book and ARRL Operating Manual.

  2. @dave, now READ them! Or actually, only read as much as you need to just get on the air.

    At least get to listening.


  3. Well, I got my grape arbor up.

    Picked up another couple of FRS radios for $6. Got a box of microscopes- some for me, some to sell. Daughter is taking an interest in microscopes. I want to encourage that, so i’m giving her her own basic one, and she can use one of mine for specific things.

    Reminds me, RBT- do you have the slide sets for sale separately? I remember lots of discussion about trying to find good sets cheap…

    Had some choppers overhead, went to my scanners to see why, and found silence. Houston has moved (finally, this year) a bunch of frequencies and agencies. I gotta find the time to update…

    Stored some gas, used some stored gas…

    Found some more box meals the family won’t willingly eat. Eat from your preps folks, and don’t stock up until you know they will eat it. (Helps with rotation, but if you don’t care and think they’ll eat if they are hungry enough, go ahead and stock up. I have some shelf stable that definitely falls into this category.)

    Headed out for my weekly forage- who knows what I’ll find 🙂


  4. @nick,

    I have listened. The next step is to program my Pofung UV-82 to work with the local repeater. I have gotten as far as downloading the settings from the radio into Chirp. Now I need to set it up for the local repeaters. I have picked up a transmission from a repeater just over 20 miles from my house. The repeater is on a 540 foot high tower than it shares with a local TV station. Obviously that isn’t the repeater I am planning on using with a handheld.

  5. @dave,

    there are some good videos about setting up the repeater offsets and tones. That whole business can be confusing. And it’s different for every radio, and there are at least 2 and sometimes more names for the same things.

    You can easily get more range, esp in the car, by adding an inexpensive mag mount dual band antenna. Any of the major manuf antennas should be good enough. get the proper adapter for your radio (probably sma to whatever your antenna has) and Robert is your father’s brother. It makes a huge difference in the car, and can easily be used indoors mounted on a cookie sheet or a file cabinet. Don’t put it next to your head!

    It seems like the first antenna new hams build is a quarter wave ground plane. Very simple and lots of good guides online. After that it’s a roll up J pole from 300 ohm tv twinlead antenna wire. Both are single band though.

    don’t worry about getting the perfect file built with all your local repeaters and any public service freqs, just get the one you will be using most, and maybe one on another band, set up from the menus. Lots of people spend way too much time messing around with programs and files, and never get on the air.

    Don’t forget to add the weather, GMRS**, and FRS freqs,*.


    *listen only of course, since the radio isn’t fcc type approved for those freqs, and you don’t want to get involved in that mess. (WAY to much bile online about this issue. Do what makes sense to you.)

    **you prob want to get this license too, as it lets your whole family use these freqs legally, from a legal radio of course, and they have higher power limits than FRS.

  6. Actually did some prepping this week. Chopped down twenty years of brush including a cedar tree w/ a 3″ trunk to get to the tiller. Attached it to the tractor and /then/ I noticed I’m in a just leafing out patch of poison ivy. In shorts and flip-flops. Just one itchy spot. I found the tiller’s manual to find the zerks and greased it up. Tilled up a small plot. Right now I have the soaker hose running, checking for un-intended leaks, and will plant a couple of kinds of corn. The pots are ready for the six tomato plants and a couple of jalapeno plants. Basil seeds are planted. I have a shot glass of mystery seeds, I’ll plant some of that, too.

    The Arizona Ash is doing well… I didn’t know they had seeds. It almost died two winters ago. Hard freeze after it leafed out, then another after it re-leafed. (Just about killed the pear trees, too.) It didn’t leaf again until April that year. Last year, just one hard frost after it leafed. This year, heh, seeds. 🙂

    Looks like it will be a good year for acorns. And maybe, if I shoot enough tree rats, a few pears, too.

  7. Sat down with the wife last week and did a detailed inventory of our food storage. What a shock. We had far too many of items we don’t often use and too few of frequently used items. Half our stored rice (in sealed buckets) had bugs and 3/4 of our pasta was ruined. This was a wake up call. We decided to get serious and store stuff right. Bought a top-end vacuum packager and have spent some nice quiet evenings vacuum packing all our stuff we can. It’s a great distraction from the idiot box and we are actually storing food not wasting it. Now we have a computerized inventory and can manage our storage and rotate it. I do so wish we had a cool dry cellar / basement for storage. Here in Mississippi the garage gets HOT in the summer so we have to spread storage under beds and in the backs of closets.

  8. @nick,

    I was thinking about the GMRS license, but it seems a lot to pay for just a license. The local ham group that offers the FCC exams does so for free. So if I can persuade the wife and daughter to pass the technician exam, we could outfit everyone with Pofung UV-82s for less than the cost of a GMRS license. I just have to teach the daughter how to read the manual for the technician exam. Well that and persuade my wife to read the manual. I think teaching the daughter to read will happen sooner.

    I have learned that programming the Pofung UV-82 can be tricky. I tried it from a Raspberry Pi and gave up. I was about to give up on downloading a copy of radio’s configuration from Windows until I found a video that suggested resetting the radio to factory defaults, switching the language to English and try again.

  9. _Ashfall (Ashfall Trilogy)_ by Mike Mullin

    Book number one of a three book series. There is a kindle only novella prequel on Amazon and a fourth book on the way in 2017 according to the author’s website. This is a young adult series about the eruption of the active Super Volcano in Yellowstone.

    We do not know much about super Volcanoes. The last time Yellowstone blew, 640,000 years ago, it deposited ash as far away as Louisiana. This book is set in Iowa which quickly gets covered with several feet of volcanic ash when Yellowstone suddenly erupts. The book is the story about a 15 year old boy and 17 year old girl walking to Illinois to get away from the disaster.

    One should prepare in a very general nature for this and other types of events. History tells us that non-interesting times are limited in scope and tend to change quickly and violently. A very minimum set of things to do is:
    1. three months of water storage for each person in the house
    2. three months of food storage for each person in the house
    3. some sort of protection against crazy people, I prefer guns and ammo
    4. there are many other things that you can do to prepare for natural disasters, traumatic life events, national wars, civil wars, etc

    My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Amazon rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (355 reviews)

  10. Prepping this past week was hit and miss, between other scut and grunge chores that needed doing around the house; can’t do a lot out in the yard yet due to the ground alternating between rock-hard frozen and slimy mud, with ice and freezing rain blowing sideways into my face from the bay. Twenties tomorrow, the weather liars say, and bienvenue Vermont in the wunnerful SpringTime! Rolling golden meadows and flowers and rainbows and unicorns! Not. Saw a big-ass osprey just hanging out in a tree up the street yesterday; another tree full of big fat ravens; and a flock of wild turkeys just down the Route 7 road.

    Stored a few more canned goods, though; looked into wotta storage potential while also pricing dual-fuel gennies for the well pump and pressure tank; ordered the new ARRL desktop and pocket repeater directories; got some needed IT devices and parts for the attic workshop biz, which will be configured with the CentOS 7 machine running Nethserver and OwnCloud eventually, adjacent to a big HP Workstation laptop running OpenBSD and a new RaspberryPI running some radio stuff, along with an electronics bench where I can build QRP radio kits and do other nifty geek stuff. Also got upgraded trigger assemblies for the Ruger 10-22s, Appleseed-style iron sights and slings, finished the shotgun mods, and researched the few remaining tools I’ll need to roll my own AR’s.

    And I discovered a new and possibly better means of vehicle CCW, which looks like it will be an improvement as far as speed of access is concerned, over the usual holster mounts under the steering wheel, along or inside the center console, or on the inside of the roof above your head.

    Tuck your holstered handgun under your left thigh with the butt facing your right thigh, assuming you’re righthanded, otherwise reverse it. You can easily, depending on how tightly you’ve got your holster configured, draw the gun and have it out and be aiming it in whatever direction a LOT faster than trying to haul it from your waist or from under the steering wheel column. When you’re done driving, pull it out again and stuff into your usual waist holster. (thus, you need two holsters for this, unless you feel like unbuckling and buckling to use just one).

    Ima gon try it out for a while.

  11. For programming radios, download an application called chirp. Makes the job much easier and works with most radios. Most baofeng radios are versions of UV-R5, select that version and it usually will work. You do need a fairly inexpensive programming cable. I have heard some people have issues with the cables, But I didn’t.

    The Tech license for HAMs is fairly easy. There are a bunch of free study guide / apps. There is a pool of 350 multiple guess questions. Check the ARRL website for a list of testing session near you. Many HAM clubs offer testing on a fairly regular basis. There is often a small cost, usually about $15. I do suggest going to the FCC universal Licensing System (ULS) and applying for a FRN number. You can then use that number on your license application instead of your SSN.

    I think the current record for the youngest person with a HAM license is 7 years old.

  12. Hmmm…testing…testing…

    Just tried to post a link to a Sky and Telescope article and failed repeatedly. The Navy’s bringing back celestial navigation.

  13. My prepping this week consisted of getting a washer/dryer and TV installed in the condo. 🙁 Please, Lord, let Trump kick the can so far down the road I’ll never need to BO or live on stored chow/aqua in Vegas. I think I’ll have to take over the condo 8×8 storage room to prep out of. It’s actually better than our house garage since it is conditioned. The garage gets *hot* in the summer.

  14. @lynn

    That’s the one with the boy who’s a combination of a SEAL and The Terminator when it comes to a fight and Dudley Do-Right when it comes to girls, right? I gave up on it because it was ridiculous.

  15. Not one of us in Austin. Poor girl who was murdered in Austin. I’m surprised they mentioned he is Black. “Meechaiel Khalili Criner” embracing his ‘Frikan ‘Murkan heritage, I guess.

  16. That’s the one with the boy who’s a combination of a SEAL and The Terminator when it comes to a fight and Dudley Do-Right when it comes to girls, right? I gave up on it because it was ridiculous.

    In the first quarter of the book, yes.

    BTW, I forgot to mention another warning of the book. In case of disaster, stay out of FEMA camps. They are run by contractors who are paid by the body count. I’m not sure that the bodies need to be warm.

  17. ” In case of disaster, stay out of FEMA camps.”


    One more small prep; a box of 1,000 .22LR just arrived, had been on sale. Yay.

  18. @Dave,

    Re: GMRS license, some people are sticklers, some are not. Most GMRS repeater owners want to see your license before letting you on their repeater, but that’s the only advantage I can see.

    I’ve posted my strategy for getting new hams licensed here and elsewhere, but it boils down to “take the free online tests until you can pass every time for tech, then do the same for general. take the test for tech, then if you pass, take the general in the same sitting. Very doable. Then read the ARRL study guides on the john, or whereever to learn the material and how it works together. This will get you on the air quickly, and is really all you need if ham isn’t going to be a hobby. getting your general in the same sitting means you will immediately have HF privileges and you won’t have to worry if you find a good deal on a radio…..


  19. Picked up a couple of small things this afternoon, and left some for the next guy.

    Gallon of colman fuel, $2
    Radioshack shortwave radio, $3
    metal shop and welding reference books, $10
    nice 6 ft starrett rule, $10
    nice 6in starret rule, $1

    Left behind, like new colman stove, $15
    gas cans

    We’ve had beautiful weather so there should be lots of yard sales tomorrow, and I’ve got a couple more estate sales to hit. Hoping for some good stuff.


  20. “We’ve had beautiful weather…”

    Haw, haw, haw. Snowing again here. And when I drove up to O Kanada, a snow squall just ten miles up the road. April 8th, into the third week of so-called Spring, lol. Snow still frozen on the sides of streets in Moh-ree-arl where they park their cars. Life in the north country, folks, can’t beat it. And what there is of the underclass up here at least speaks English of a sort. No venomous reptiles except down at the state capitol building and in the college and university humanities and social “science” departments and the media.

  21. Is anyone in doubt yet that we live in a Mirror World circus freak show?

    The actual app was $249.00. The rest was environmental impact study, diversity training, sensitivity training, hazardous material training, minority hiring (token that does nothing but is just to get the contract) a few hundred forms, a detailed manual, two subcontractors, six layers of management, and kickbacks.

  22. I see. Even so, that much for an app that does as little as that? I have apps on my iPhone that do a chit-load more stuff and they were FREE. Or perhaps you’re just being CYNICAL and SARCASTIC, which is two micro-aggressions right there, pal.

    Only six layers of management is pretty good; I recall from my servitude at IBM that it was maybe seven layers there, but at GE, more like twenty or so, up to the brilliant and wunnerful Jeff Immelt.

    Tried watching a Netflix “Original,” called “Trailer Park Boys,” thinking it might give me some insight to the plethora of trailer parks in this county up here. But it’s apparently set within driving distance of Halifax, NS, and it’s small-time Canadian trailer park hoods. Jeez. Compared to “The Wire,” it’s “The Little Rascals Redux.” And done in some kind of pseudo-docudrama style; I gave it up after about ten minutes.

    Stopped snowing and everything’s white again; this time it’ll probably stick around as the temps for the weekend are more like January than April. Whatevuh. Keeps the hip-hop and salsa crowds away, leaving our usual, well, trailer park boyz. And grrls.

  23. Forget layers of management, on a federal .mil project I did, our company was subbed 8 layers deep. Every one of those 8 companies had layers and layers…..


  24. Every one of those 8 companies had layers and layers…..

    And added in their management fee.

    When I worked on a contract in Oak Ridge in the late 80’s and early ’90’s I was being paid about $25.00 an hour. My company was billing Martin Marietta (their name at the time) $50.00 an hour. Martin Marietta was billing the department of energy $100.00 an hour. DOE was in turn billing the USAF $150.00 an hour. The USAF was billing the Navy $200.00 (or whatever they call funny money transfer) an hour. The Navy was charging the department of defense $250.00 an hour.

    Not that any of the company’s/units above my company actually did any work other than to sign some paperwork. Martin Marietta even had five people on site that were billed to the entire contract. A contract manager (Leon Yount) who slept four hours out of an eight hour day, his secretary, Candice Fraker (who was having intercourse with my boss, Hunter Foreman, almost every day while at work), his assistant, Corky Something, who did nothing but crossword puzzles all day, another lady, Carol Tubbs, who was an absolutely terrible coder and was an asshole, and Frank who was working on his own personal projects all day. There was also that black handicapped female that I never saw as she was offsite and did nothing at all. She was simply there to satisfy diversity requirements. Was worth more than anybody to the contract even though she did zero work.

    Government contracting at it’s finest.

  25. Reminds me, RBT- do you have the slide sets for sale separately? I remember lots of discussion about trying to find good sets cheap…

    Yeah, we do, but at $52 for a set of 15 slides, and we don’t have much margin built into that. These are decent mid-range slides. The really cheap slides are of very poor quality, badly stained, and often even missing what’s supposed to be on them. Really good slides (US-made) typically start at about $8 per slide and go up quickly from there.

    For your daughter, I’d recommend a starter set of prepared slides from Home Science Tools. They have several sets available at reasonable prices. The quality isn’t the best, but it’s usable.

  26. Another option is to search Amazon for “prepared slides”. They offer numerous sets from companies like AmScope, Celestron, C&A Scientific, etc. They typically cost about $0.50/slide, so don’t expect top quality, but those I’ve seen have been usable for middle-school level stuff, or even high school.

    Although prepared slides have their place, it’s also important for your daughter to learn to make her own slides, so get her a slide-making kit and some stains. (You can get plastic slides and cover slips, which suck optically but are much safer for young children to use.)

  27. Thanks RBT, I knew you’d looked at a bunch…

    She’ll be using a single eye, haven’t decided which one, (as I have a couple with different sets of objectives). I was thinking not too high power for hers so she can more easily find the target, and have a brighter image. If she really wants up close, I can help her with one of mine. I’ve got a couple of binocular scopes with some high power objectives. I’ve also got a couple of stereo scopes I use for electronic repair, and the kids love those because you put real objects under them and keep zooming in.

    gotta go to dance class…


  28. Waht, you don’t feel the overwhelming desire to DANCE!!!!???

    Yep, 6yo. 4 yo is at Chucky Cheeze loving every minute of it.

    now home….


  29. For those who want to know where the repeaters are in your area, there is an Android app called RepeaterBook. I assume there is also an app for iPhone as well. It shows you the repeaters within 25 miles sorted by distance.

  30. “I assume there is also an app for iPhone as well.”

    And your assumption would be correct, sir. I have it on my iPhone, and also ordered their desktop and pocket repeater directories the other day. Our local repeater, run by the ham club, is up on a hill above the “city” and the interstate.

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