Tuesday, 25 April 2017

By on April 25th, 2017 in personal

09:59 – It was 45F (7C) when I took Colin out at 0740 this morning, gray and blowing drizzle. We’ve had about 7.3 inches (18.5 cm) of rain since Saturday morning. Things are a bit soggy at our place, although there are no standing pools of water in the yard. Elsewhere around here there have been roads closed due to flooding and some bridges under water. Rifle Range Road, where the Alleghany Rifle Association shooting range is located, is under water, as is the bridge adjacent to the range.

While we were watching TV Saturday evening we heard a loud crash that seemed to come from the garage. I ran out there to check, assuming one of our shelving units had collapsed. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. Barbara checked the front porch and back deck. Nothing. I went downstairs and checked every room and closet. Nothing. So we decided there must have been a car accident out on US21 or something and thought no more about it.

Sunday, Barbara pushed the button to open her garage door. The garage door jammed after rising about an inch. First thing yesterday morning, I called Shaw Brothers, which has become our go-to place for any kind of repairs we need. If they don’t do it, they have someone to call who does do it. They called their garage door guy down in Elkin and he showed up about 1330. It turns out the big door spring had broken, jamming the door in position. He did a temporary fix to the spring, but said it wouldn’t last long. He’s going to pick up a replacement spring and come back in the next couple days to install it.

We commented to him that the house was only about 10 years old and that the original owners/builders had generally done a top-notch job. They didn’t chince out on materials or finish until they ran out of money towards the end of the project. They ended up installing low-end Frigidaire appliances (hawk, spit) and we wondered if they’d also cheaped out on the garage doors and openers. He said no, that they’d installed top quality stuff, but that garage door mechanisms and openers were rated for X number of cycles and that under moderate to heavy use ten years was about average for them before they needed major maintenance. My garage door is the one further from the entrance to the house, so it’s probably gotten much less use than the one where Barbara parks. He checked it over as well, WD-40’d all the springs, cables, and rollers, and said we should be good to go as soon as he replaces the spring on Barbara’s door.

After dinner yesterday, Barbara and I went to the first class for the General Class ham radio license. Besides us, there were three people at the class. Sam, who’s the instructor, is an Amateur Extra licensee who’s been active since 1978. He mentioned he’d been born during WWII, so he’s probably in his early 70’s. The two other guys, Todd and Charles, are in their 40’s or 50’s. Both of them hold Technician Class licenses, which they’re looking to upgrade to general.

We’ll meet three more times over the next two or three months to cover the rest of the material for the General exam. The test is administered by Volunteer Examiners. For a General Class test, there have to be three examiners who hold Amateur Extra licenses. Sam is a VE and there’s one other Amateur Extra guy locally who’s also a VE, so they’ll have to bring in a third Amateur Extra VE to have enough VE’s to administer the exam.

I told Sam that I’d have to take the Technician Class exam before I could take the General Class exam because the FCC has no record of my original license back in the 60’s. That’s no problem. A candidate can take one, two, or all three exams at one session, so I’ll do both at one time. In fact, I may just go ahead and take all three. If I pass the Amateur Extra exam in addition to the first two, that’d give us three Amateur Extra licensees locally. I could easily then qualify as a VE, so we’d have enough locals to administer exams without bringing in someone from outside.

* * * * *

53 Comments and discussion on "Tuesday, 25 April 2017"

  1. Dave Hardy says:

    47 and very bright overcast with a chance of showers later.

    “…They didn’t chince out…”

    That jumped out at me and I hadda check: you want “chintzy” and can probably use it as a verb but “chince” is some kinda food. So, “They didn’t chintz out…” I guess it’s OK, hey, it’s English! Sorry, recovering English major drone, mostly harmless.

    Good deal on the radio licenses there; we have a local ham club here in town and there’s another one down in Burlap and both seem to be fairly active. I’m plodding through the Technician material right now and also hope to take both Tech and Gen on the same day.

  2. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Might be Pittsbughese. I’ve always seen it spelled chincy or chincey, although I admit that chintzy makes more sense.

  3. Dave Hardy says:

    Regional dialects are a barrel of laffs.

    For a rhyming word with chincy or chintzy, we have the Maffachuffets city of Quincy, which locals pronounce as “Quin-zee.” Home of arch-Federalist John Adams and the rest of the Adams family.

    Hmmm…guys in yellow utility truck working on a pole directly across and next street over…probably eavesdropping on me. And I heard a helicopter overhead the other night and I know it wasn’t MrAtoz. Things come in threes….

  4. RickH says:

    Had a garage door spring break at my place. Original spring, house is 7 years old. Two-car-wide, so two springs, only one broke.

    Garage door guy came out, replaced both springs (recommended), lubed the new ones, plus the door tracks (they are roll-up type doors). Inspected the opener, declared it in good shape.

    Total cost including labor: $125. Took about an hour.

    Replacing door springs is not something you want to do yourself. (They can take you out.) Told me a story about a guy that decided to replace his own, on a high door (built for motor home). Was up on the ladder, and the spring broke and caught his shirt. He was hanging from the door (the ladder got kicked away). Had to call his wife on the cell phone to rescue him.

  5. MrAtoz says:

    We’ve been at our Vegas house over 10 years, in the heat, constant use of GD, and the spring is still holding. Now, watch it explode right out the front of the garage.

  6. nick flandrey says:

    I’ve got the horizontal bar with the spiral springs. had the door get jammed on one side coming in, wracked, and unweighted the cable on one side. Twang! Cable jumped off the drum.

    I was able to recoil the cable onto the drum using pipe and big screwdrivers and pry bars. Very nerve wracking. Lots of stored energy…..


  7. Greg Norton says:

    Keep an eye on any appliances left from the original owners. Our rental in Vantucky had Frigidare appliances (hawk spit), installed by the landlords in 2006-07, and, during our first two years living in the house, 2010-11, every single kitchen appliance required either a logic board swap out or complete replacement.

    Mostly, it was just inconvenient when the appliance went, but the oven broke at the tail end of prepping Thanksgiving dinner our first year.

    I figure Frigidare was another customer for those bad Chinese power capacitors that crept into the market in the mid-2000s. The manufacturer counterfeited a well known Japanese brand, and during the real estate bubble, lots of corners were cut all up and down the home construction/appliance supply chain (cough … Chinese drywall in Florida … cough).

  8. RickH says:

    Replacing garage door springs, or even fixing one, could be decapitating (at worst); major injury potential. Not recommended for the do-it-yourselfer, even if they have ‘advanced-level’ skills.

    The cost of replacing springs around here is $125 (two springs, parts and labor). Just one of those things that you don’t want to mess with, IMHO. This one is for the professionals only.

  9. Jim Cook says:

    I’d recommend going ahead and taking the element 4 test for amateur extra if you pass elements 2 and 3 for technician and general. While it is a little unusual to have someone take all three tests I have know a few people who have done it.

    There are many websites, books, and apps for exam prep. I use a set of three free iPhone apps to study the questions. I pass the first exam for technician with a perfect score. A couple of months later I took the last exams to get my extra license.

    In theory you can become a VE with a general license, but you can only administer element 2 for technician class. Most VEs wait until that have their extra license so they can administer all three tests.

    To become a VE with ARRL you have to read the VE manual, which is a free download, and take an open book test then e-mail the answers to the ARRL. There are other Volunteer Examiners besides the ARRL, but they are the largest. A couple of weeks afterwards you will be credentials in mail. Make sure you bring them with you when administering exams.

    Many HAM radio clubs hold regular exams. I am a member of a club in Spartanburg SC and we do exams every other month. You can check the ARRL website to find a schedule of exams for any where in the country.

  10. Greg Norton says:

    Lynn — no luck w.r.t. Chef Boyardee 10 packs at Sam’s Club in North Austin.

    I’ll try the Target across the street the next time I’m out.

    Another SKU missing today from our local Sam’s was 2-liter Coke products.

  11. ech says:

    Concur on not doing garage spring repair yourself. I keep mine lubed with a spray I got at Lowe’s for that purpose. Make the door much quieter.

    Have they dropped code from the ham requirements? That was the sticking point for me, as I have low manual dexterity.

  12. Ray Thompson says:

    I know some of you visit arstechnica. Thought you might be interested in this story on the site.


    That is about 4 miles from my location and I know the guy who had his drone shot down. Lot of idiots posting on that site.

  13. Dave Hardy says:

    “Have they dropped code from the ham requirements?”

    Code is long gone.

    WRT drones; be careful where you send yours, is my advice. Very careful.

    Back from depositing a small check at the bank; here’s the rule: if there are eight tellers, no one comes. If there is only one working the front, there will be a line out the door. Further corollary: several of the peeps in front of you will be holding those vinyl deposit envelopes, a bad sign. That was OFD’s bank visit today.

    Rain drizzle has started, but I’m gonna get a couple of things done outside anyway. Planning Commission meeting in four hours. We’ll discuss “land use.” Whatever that means.

  14. MrAtoz says:

    The drone was a DJI Inspire 2. Their latest and very pricey. If he had the X5 series camera, add a couple of grand on the price tag taking you up to $6K depending on accessories.

    Lower in the article is the important point, the FAA considers drones “aircraft” now that you have to register them over 8+/- ounces. That makes it a Federal crime to shoot at one. No prosecutions yet, but just wait. Also, the dumb fukstiks who want to peep in windows, etc. If your neighbor has a big farm, how about asking permission to fly around.


  15. Greg Norton says:

    I know some of you visit arstechnica. Thought you might be interested in this story on the site.

    Based on research from my failed thesis, I have a theory about an electronic “gun” that could be used to bring down a delivery drone without firing a shot.

    Not that I would actually build such a device. 🙂

    R U a Herbert?

    Someone watches old school “Star Trek” on MeTV Super Sci Fi Saturday.

    This week, they started running ads for original “Battlestar Galactica” … “Coming Soon”.

    I’d love to see the 70s “Buck Rogers” back on the air too even though Gil Gerard is an old hot tubbing buddy of Larry’s from Arkansas (probably how he got the gig on the show) and the reruns would put residuals in his pocket.

  16. lynn says:

    “John Deere just told the copyright office that only corporations can own property, humans can only license it”

    This may affect the entire software industry.


  17. Clayton W. says:

    I took all three, but hadn’t studied for Extra. Missed it by 8 (?) questions. Too many tube and CRT questions for me. I have the study guide but it doesn’t gain you that much over general. I’ll go for it at some point.

  18. Miles_Teg says:

    I haven’t given much thought to the springs in garage door openers. My 4×4 may not fit under the door when, ah, erected – I’ve never tried, so it stays in the driveway. The single two vehicle wide door only gets opened once a week, on average.

    My place was built in 1989, and I suspect that the previous owners got plenty of use out of the door. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

  19. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    “Have they dropped code from the ham requirements? That was the sticking point for me, as I have low manual dexterity.”

    Yeah, they dropped all code requirements in, IIRC, 2006. It actually made the MSM back then because so many hams were really upset about it.

    The code requirement was why I stopped at General Class back in the 60’s. General required 13 WPM. The next step up, IIRC, was 22 WPM, and I just couldn’t do that to save my life.

    Sam was telling us last night about meeting a guy who did 40 WPM (!) And he could send 40 WPM while simultaneously copying 40 WPM. Talk about QRQ.

  20. nick flandrey says:

    @ Jim cook, does your call start with KM4?

    I know there are many folks on here who do not need or want anonymity, or even plausible deniability, but the internet is forever…

    Ham radio is one of the things in prepper forums that can blow your ‘grey man’ since so much of it is public domain.

    There is clearly no way to be online and not be visible to state actors, but there isn’t any reason to give it away to the non-state actors too….


    silver chevy or gmc truck, silver sedan?

  21. Greg Norton says:

    “John Deere just told the copyright office that only corporations can own property, humans can only license it”

    I’m starting to think we’ve reached peak stupidity and something bad (depending on your point of view) is about to happen.

    It isn’t without precedent. I’m on a watch list with Playboy’s lawyers because of a costume I once bought my wife that duplicated the bunny waitress designs too accurately. The corporation considers all costumes with similar designs to be their IP since Hef registered the concept with the Patent office in the 60s and managed to get the registration renewed about a decade ago. For now, under a settlement with the vendor, we are permitted to own the costume, but I’m unclear about the legality of selling if we ever wanted to do that.

    To be honest, I think the company is more concerned that *I* would wear the costume in public than they are about the (minor) monetary loss due to the vendor’s action in selling it to me.

  22. nick flandrey says:

    Ok off for more errands.

    If there is a Radio Shack near you, swing by. They are at the ‘selling the fixtures’ point, but STILL have prices too high on some items. Even at 60% off their arduino zwave shield is $6 which is 2-3x what one direct from chine costs.

    There are some good bargains though on components and adapters. I got a bag o stuff for radio for less than $1/ea. The components (anything in drawers) are 90% off. Stock up on mag light bulbs at that price……..

    The most expensive thing I bought was 2 bottles of pc board etchant and it was 60% or more off.


  23. lynn says:

    I bought some of these new Philips “32W Equivalent Cool White T8 4 ft. LED Bulb (10-Pack)” that you do not have to remove the ballasts out of the old T8 fixture to use in the office where we have 4 foot fixtures.

    These are totally easy to install, just remove the old bulb and put the LED bulb in. They start instantly. And since they are 4000K (cool white), they are bright. The fixtures were for 4 bulbs each, I only used two bulbs each. Did I mention the brightness ? I cannot imagine the 5000K model, it would be like walking on Mercury.

  24. Bill F says:

    Garage door springs: My house was built back in the mid 70s. We have been here for 17 years. One of the 2 springs on the double wide door failed about 5 years ago. They looked original. I purchased both but only swapped the failed one because it was middle of winter and cold working conditions. I never have gotten around to swapping the other one – it is now “fix on fail”. Point is that they seem to have a pretty wide range of cycles to failure.

    It is an easy job (if it is not way below zero °F). The broken spring is already disarmed. You wind up the new spring using a couple of steel rods that fit in holes every 90 deg – just ratchet it up until the door weight is low when it is down. Much less dangerous than other springs – the suspension on your car for example.

  25. Dave Hardy says:

    No garage here, ergo, no garage door springs. Maybe we’ll do a carport thing connected to the garden shed we’ll build when about a thousand other things get done first.

    Just back from Planning Commission meeting; basically going over a chapter of the Town Plan and making provisions for future shit here. After we’re dead. I don’t chip in yet because I’m still learning the stuff and actually finding out quite a lot. Excellent meatspace and intel acquisition opportunity.

  26. MrAtoz says:

    Speaking of garages: 3,000 of MrsAtoz’s books arrive tomorrow. That will be two wooden pallets . I just rearranged the garage so we can roll them in (there’s already a pallet of the book in Spanish in there). The carrier gets paid to roll them into the garage. I always help because a pallet weighs about 1,500# with the books. The driveway is inclined and he could never get them up to the garage by himself. One time the driver said “Ahs ain’t doing that cause Ahs wusn’t paid to “, I pointed out on the BoL where it specifically stated such. One time the driver’s drop gate broke and he hand carried 46 boxes (a box weighs 44#) into the garage. I told him to go back to the warehouse and move them into a good truck. Nope. He got paid by the hour and took his sweet time. He didn’t have a dolly and mine was being used by a friend.

  27. H. Combs says:

    Too many tube and CRT questions for me.
    I took electronics class in highschool in 1970. We studied tube circuits and antenna theory. Only covered transistors in the last semester. I still remember tube theory pretty well. The British call them valves because that perfectly describes their simplest operation. I went on to educate myself building Heath and Radio Shack kits. Then I built a Processor Technology SOL microcomputer in 76. Soldering all those hundreds of pins ruined my eyes.

  28. H. Combs says:

    Never went for my amature license because of the code req. As a teen I was Big into CB. Had a real radio shack with my Cobra base station “upgraded” to run 40w on demand. I was member of the local CB club and did fox and hound events with the mobile in my F150. I put up a quarter wave ground plane antenna on a 30 ft tower and spent many evenings chasing skip and covering the walls of my”shack” with QSL cards. Wish I still had those. I can’t remember my call sign but do recall KLK1313 was the sign of an Air Force guy I spoke with regularly. Those were great times.

  29. Dave Hardy says:

    If S hits the fan bad enuff, the CB radios and walkie-talkies will probably be the local AO commo tools for the most part. Smoke signals and sneakerNET otherwise.

  30. H. Combs says:

    Just did a Google search and found that you can get a KLK1313 QSL card on eBay. Can’t recall his name but he was stationed at Tinker AFB in OKLAHOMA in the 60s and he was part of the team that flew into Hurricanes.

  31. Dave Hardy says:

    Speaking of shit hitting the fan, when will it, exactly, here in FUSA?


    From the usual suspect fembats?


    Per usual.

  32. Dave Hardy says:

    And the national nightmare continues…


  33. MrAtoz says:

    When I first read Dr. Madame Mengele, I thoughtnthe same thing. Where’s Cankles, stretch, Pocahontas? Nothing. The religion of pieces. Aloha Snackbar!

  34. Dave Hardy says:

    It goes to show, however, that they are willing to remain silent on women being treated worse than animals in musloid countries under sharia; women being sexually abused and raped by scum like Slick Larry; and apparently women, girls, really, being carved up right here in this country without sharia. The continued silence must be in the service of some greater good defined by them.

    Anyone got a guess?

  35. MrAtoz says:

    Men are scum?

  36. Dave Hardy says:

    Well yeah, that goes without saying, but what possible greater good could they all have in mind to be able to countenance and even apologize for all that stuff? The socialist revolution of the proletariat with them in charge? I confess I’m at a loss here.

    Somebody help me…


  37. lynn says:

    The wife came back home today from visiting her father in Lewisville, TX, 300 miles north of Sugar Land on the Brazos. We all rejoiced but no dancing, we are Church of Christ and do not believe in that. “snicker”

    She took along a book called “Give Me Fifty Marines Not Afraid to Die: Iwo Jima” and read it to her father. Her father does not see well enough to read anymore even though he was an avid reader most of his life. A college friend sent it to her after recently finding out that our son was in the Marine Corps. His father was the writer of the book and a 1st Lieutenant in the Marine Corps when he was assigned to lead his platoon up the beach at Iwo Jima on day three. They had spent a year planning the beach invasion of Iwo Jima at San Diego. The plan said it would take four days, it would take a month.

  38. Miles_Teg says:

    “We all rejoiced but no dancing, we are Church of Christ and do not believe in that.”

    Why are CofC against pre-marital sex? They’re afraid it might lead to dancing.

  39. nick flandrey says:

    Reasons to keep my wife happy with her job. Again, it’s not that we love the trips, it’s that she does work for a company that rewards their top performers with trips to places like this.

    View from balcony:

    View from patio:


    Northside, from zipline platform:


    (this is the environment for Ringo’s zombie books, 2, 3)

  40. Dave says:

    It goes to show, however, that they are willing to remain silent on women being treated worse than animals in musloid countries under sharia; women being sexually abused and raped by scum like Slick Larry; and apparently women, girls, really, being carved up right here in this country without sharia. The continued silence must be in the service of some greater good defined by them.

    Anyone got a guess?

    Life on Earth is unfair. They’re unhappy that a lot of people in the West in general, and the United States in particular, have more than they “deserve.” The only solution to this problem in their eyes is to build Hell on Earth. They want everyone to get what they deserve.

    Or if you found that to preachy, they want to turn the world into Venezuela. They want to be Nicholas Maduro or part of his entourage. Given the choice, I’d rather be a homeless person in the US than be Nicholas Maduro.

  41. Jim Cook says:


    “Jim cook, does your call start with KM4?”

    Yes it does.

    I am fairly certain the government already has a rather large file on me so I doubt there is not much they don’t know about me.

    Probably my best method of obfuscation on the internet is having a common name that I share with well known historical figure so if you google my name I won’t appear for many pages.

  42. nick flandrey says:

    yep, I don’t doubt that .gov has big files that go way back. I experienced it at canadian customs myself. Nothing like some 20yo partially accurate data entered by a lowest cost contractor to come back to F you…

    It’s the non-gov that I’m trying to minimize. Lots of cases in the press of people getting butthurt over something or other and then getting an unhealthy focus on someone. Now, I’m no supermodel so I’m less likely to get attention than some others….

    The other aspect is non-gov (future employers in particular) building dossiers. Again, not an issue for some…

    Still, at some point in the future, given current trends, the sins of the father WILL be visited upon the son. No need for my kids to be tarred with my brush….


    added- “having a common name ” this goes to the wayside as soon as the ham stuff comes out, which is what I meant to be cautioning about. Not so much an issue here, but there are other forums where more obfuscation is prudent.

  43. ech says:

    Given that I had a secret clearance with extended background investigation for one job, and a secret clearance so I could go into Mission Control at JSC, the government has a file on me. And at least four 10 cards of fingerprints. (One for first security clearance, one for access to JSC, one for the secret for Mission Control, one for a later mandatory background check on all NASA contractors.)

    Oh, and the Chinese hackers have a copy of the paperwork for the background check.

  44. Clayton W. says:

    “Oh, and the Chinese hackers have a copy of the paperwork for the background check.”

    OPM finally got around to telling me my data was stolen. Probably the fingerprints, too.

  45. nick flandrey says:

    In my mind, the problem is not that they are building giant files, it’s what they use them for AFTER you’ve come to their attention in some other way.

    We’ve seen numerous examples of people losing jobs, denied opportunities, or harassed by both state and non-state actors based on stuff they put online, and in many cases very trivial tossed off comments from a decade ago.

    Also, the internet is forever. I’m worried that my kids will potentially suffer from association, and if I can make that harder, I will.

    And I’ve got a lot of investment in this persona.


  46. MrAtoz says:

    Fingerprints, DNA, TS(SBC), etc while in the military. You can ask for destruction of your DNA. Ha ha! Right!

  47. OFD says:

    Ditto here, thanks to mil-spec service, cop jobs, and multiple recent and extensive background checks for….nothing, so far. But by Jeezum, the Chicoms have my data, and probably in better order and now safely secured on their servers. Good deal, if someday they give me a job mowing their lawns over here.

  48. lynn says:

    Reasons to keep my wife happy with her job. Again, it’s not that we love the trips, it’s that she does work for a company that rewards their top performers with trips to places like this.

    Nice pictures. I like the “locals”, do they bite ? Our cat is a known torturer of geckos, I wonder what he would do with these dragons.

  49. OFD says:

    The view from the balcony shows a dock/quay/pier/wharf down below that looks like it could also easily serve as a helipad.

    “Our cat is a known torturer of geckos…”

    Cats are funny critters. I saw a pic yesterday of one in Texas calmly reposing and watching a huge friggin’ rattler that was starting to coil and maybe strike. Within three feet or so. A subsequent pic showed animal control guys about to put it in a bag and that bugger had to be at least six feet and as big around for part of it as my thigh.

  50. lynn says:

    Oh, and the Chinese hackers have a copy of the paperwork for the background check.

    That was the premise behind the latest Jack Ryan book. The “ghost” writer was very good as usual and the performer was excellent for the audio book that I listened to in my truck. “Tom Clancy True Faith and Allegiance (A Jack Ryan Novel)”

  51. MrAtoz says:

    …like it could also easily serve as a helipad.


  52. nick flandrey says:

    Yup, the funny thing about that pic, one of our acquaintances saw my wife’s version of that on FB and immediately identified the beach. Small world.


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