Fri. Oct. 16, 2020 -busy day

Hot and humid?  Or the cold front gets here and it’s cool and humid.  Either way, humid.


edit–  cold.  61F and misty drizzle at 7am.

Thursday was mostly nice, with some nasty moments of humidity.   I got all of my antennas back up, which meant I was up on the roof.   Even in the shade, with dead calm the humidity had me dripping sweat off my nose.

I cleared some shelves and moved several bins of auction stuff out of the house and onto the shelves.  I can’t have it just sit there while waiting to go to auction.  I’ll take the cleaning supplies and paper goods back to my secondary location.    It helped.   There are 4 bins that aren’t sitting in the foyer…

I did some small things in the garage.  Had to make some adjustments to the roll up door.  Somehow the cables got off their guide grooves on one side and the door wasn’t closing parallel to the ground.  It only took a half hour, but it’s always nerve wracking working around that spring.  Slow and steady, carefully considered- that’s the way to do it.

One advantage of working on stuff is getting a much clearer idea how it really works.  The first time working on the door had a bunch of discovery.  This time, I saw what was wrong very quickly and just fixed it.

I had to do a bit of repair on my discone scanner antenna.  Somehow during handling it I broke off two of the ‘cone’ elements.  They are hollow tubes with a threaded stud inserted into one end.  The stud pulled out of the tube.  I couldn’t re-crimp the tube, so I silver soldered them back together.  Worked well, and that’s another thing I bought far in advance of need.  I have no idea where or when I got the silver solder and flux, but I knew it was exactly what would be needed to fix something.  The antenna probably would still be 90% without the two elements, but it didn’t take long to fix them, and I had the stuff ready.  I’ll screw them back into the antenna today or tomorrow.  I’m listening to the scanner now, so some degradation didn’t make too much difference.

I finally got the feed line attached for my UHF antenna that I intend to use to D/L weather maps from the satellites.  (That’s the plan anyway.)  All the talk of using the SDR dongle for other things motivated me (since I was up on the roof anyway) to complete that antenna install.  Now I just have to get a PC set up with the software and get the dongle running again.

I got my Instacart grocery deliveries today too.  I found some cuts of beef on sale, although not the killer deal of the last couple of times.  More food in the freezer makes me feel better.  I added frozen fruit and vegetable mix as well as more bread.   My wife is making smoothies for breakfast and likes the frozen fruit for that.  Now that I have the additional freezer space, I can accommodate her.  (frozen fruit is a definite  luxury in prepping terms, if push comes to shove, I’ll reclaim the freezer space for meat or other protein.)

Today I’ll be doing some auction pickups.  I got a bunch of household stuff, and what I believe to be an RV sized battery charger/inverter.  It was $3 so worth the gamble.  I also got a small Dometic camping toilet, suitable for in vehicle use and at least part of a Dakota Alert driveway monitor.  There was a lot of camping stuff in the auctions this week, but I’m full up.  I’m actually looking to sell several coleman lanterns and maybe a stove or two.  I’m a whole lot less interested in keeping them in my “here you go, here’s a disaster kitchen” boxes than I was.  My teats are running dry of the milk of human kindness at the moment.

I’ll leave you with that unfortunate image burning in your brain, and suggest that you take what time and resources you have, and keep improving your position.  The easiest way is to keep stacking!



Sun. Oct.11, 2020 – 2020 11 10 10 11 2020 11 10 10 11 2020

Maybe a bit cooler?  It would be nice.

Despite the overcast, yesterday stayed hot and stuffy all day.

I got a laundry list of small things done, and I’m going to take the ‘baby steps’ are still steps award.

Other than taking down my 40m dipole wire antenna, very little involved preps.  Oh, I had a can of mango explode, and another bulging.  I cleaned up that mess, and washed out the bin, and the cans.  Used another can to make cobbler for dessert.  I like mango cobbler better than peach so I stock mango.

While cleaning up that mess, I found some mouse droppings and a 2/3’s empty peanut butter jar.  Another jar was gnawed and open.  F me.   Set some glue traps in the shelves.  Cleaned up the mess.  Putting the cans (everything really) in shallow lidded bins payed off.  The mold from the exploding can only affected the one bin.   All the other food was untouched by mice except the aging peanut butter that wasn’t in a bin.  Given enough time, the peanut oil seems to migrate through the plastic jar, and I’m sure that was an attractant. The cans that failed were the ‘pop top’ style and the top did indeed POP.  It couldn’t be rats because my colony of rats learned that peanut butter = death, and they wouldn’t touch the stuff.  Time to refresh the poison bait boxes too.

I did manage to go through a couple of boxes in the garage that I haven’t opened in a while.  Moved some of the contents to the trash, some to the ebay pile, some to the local auction pile, and some to the ‘hamfest’ pile.  I really hope we can have our hamfest in March.  My non-prepping hobby club is planning a meeting next Saturday in a much larger space than we used to use.  I intend to attend.    I’ve got no problem masking and staying masked, most of the guys are older than me.  Funny, my ham radio meetings are that way too.  My part of the hamfest is the swapmeet and that is all outside anyway.

My plan for today is the same as always.  We’ll see how the plan does against reality.   Keep stacking.




Fri. Sept. 25, 2020 – month and week are almost gone by

Cool and overcast.

Thursday was both cooler and overcast.  I did some cleanup in the driveway, which mostly involved dumping out water from any place it accumulated.  I’m pretty confident that we got slightly more than 12 inches over the last few days.  Three different containers had that much water in them.

I managed to get a bunch of little things done.  Mostly cleaning and organizing, but also ordering some stuff.  I ordered the weird N size batteries for one of my night vision devices, and moved that case out of the house into the garage for storage.  I ordered the switch for the drain cleaner machine I bought.  I have to clear our main kitchen drain line twice a year.  The machine will pay for itself in one year or less.  I’m hoping the current snake is a good size to work with my pipes.  I’ll see when I use it I guess.  One less thing to call a specialist for, or make the trip to the rental yard.

I received the power switch for my new mower, just in time to cut the grass this weekend.  Hope that goes in without difficulty.

The national security situation continues to fluctuate locally.  The rioters in STL went right to shooting and firebombs this time.    That’s an escalation.  Riots in other uninvolved cities too.

I never did hear what our local disturbance was about.  The coppers did chase the guy around my neighborhood, and the FB group says “low speed chase”.     The disturbance at the neighbor’s house a couple of nights ago seems to have been a domestic.  His girlfriend was the one in the squad car, and she hasn’t been back around since.

I did a bit more research on the possible lake house, and surrounding area, looked at some historical topo maps and current maps.  There is a 2 acre lot for $24k with lake ‘view’ that also caught my eye.  There are smaller lots for $9-14K 1/4 and 1/2 acre, unimproved, in the same area.  If there are lots still around this lake, there are probably lots around others not too far away.  You might be surprised if you go looking.  Better to have somewhere definite to go, if you have to go…

Speaking of my lake house stay, I had a couple of lessons learned to share.

–the matches I’ve been carrying in a tube in my Dopp kit for the last few years didn’t light.  They weren’t damp exactly, but they weren’t dry either.  I didn’t have a lighter due to air travel restrictions.  I DID have a bunch of fire starting stuff in my wife’s car in the ‘bail out kit’.   The commercial fire lighter sticks that look like square slim jim sausages work very well, even if they are years old.  I will be adding some of the big brick of lighters to all sorts of places, including my carry on bag.

–I have been carrying one of those cheap hotel corkscrews for years.  Used it for the first time last weekend.  It was pretty flimsy, but got the job done.  Happy wife, happy life…

–I like to carry my little shortwave radio on trips to the country.  I forgot it.   I was a tiny bit disappointing.

–one of the neighbors was a ham with a big antenna setup.  They aren’t subtle, if it ever turns out to be a liability.  If I needed help, I would consider a fellow ham before random strangers.  Conversely, I’d be willing to help if approached by another ham.

–I know NOTHING useful about fishing in Texas.  I need someone to help me go through all the fishing gear I’ve accumulated and help set me up for salt and fresh water fishing.  Some lessons would be useful too.  The kids have expressed interest in fishing, and I’d like to be able to encourage that.

–Modern kayaks are inexpensive and fun.  I looked at a map once and discovered that I could get from my folk’s house south of Chicago, all the way to Peoria IL and beyond by water… probably all the way to New Orleans although I didn’t map that.

–there are pipelines everywhere.  If you know what to look for while driving you will see the markers, and the cuts through the forest.  Pipeline rights of way might be an easier and less traveled path if you ever had to walk out, or ride a dirt bike, or atv.  Look for them if you think things might get that bad.

–I had no cell service at all in the rental house, except one room upstairs.  My wife has a wifi calling app so she barely noticed.  I don’t.  It was radio silence for me.  I don’t think I’ll be ebaying the cell booster I have sitting here at the house.

–I’ve been stacking stuff for a second home for a long time.  It would be nice to actually use it.  This lockdown has proven the wisdom of having stuff, and backups to the stuff, to me and to my wife (not that I needed convincing, but she’s always been skeptical past a certain point.)

Well, that’s it for now, I’ve got auction pickups and gardening and repairs to do.  Maybe I’ll get some of it done…

Meanwhile, keep improving your position, and keep stacking.



Tues. Aug. 25, 2020 – more school, more to do, wind coming

Hot and humid, slightly less so.

Monday was a tiny big cooler and dryer than the last few days.   It still got pretty hot especially once the sun came out.  It was ‘roast your scalp’ hot then.

So when it got hot I did my errands.   Picked up my client’s dead projector.  Still dead.  Picked up my auction items.  Went by my secondary storage.  I really need to get stuff to auction.  I’ve got piles here and I need to get them under cover or out of here before the big wind.  Both of my local auctions are not returning my calls, which means they are super busy with their own stuff.  Bummer for me.

I’ll be trying to get a bunch more stuff into the garage and out of the driveway today.   I’ve got a bunch of stuff sitting on the patio that I don’t really want torn up by the wind either.

On the other hand, the pool is sparkling clean now.  Keeping the pecan debris, and the squirrel waste out helped a lot.  Of course it will be messed up by rain and hurricane wind.

I’m debating what to do with my antennas.  I might try to get the big one down.  The little ones should be ok even if the wind gets high.  I will see what kind of time I have after doing the other ground based stuff first.

Lots to do in little time.  Time to get the lead out.  I was really hoping to do this in an organized way but I think it’s going to come down to chucking stuff in a pile.  Oh well, best laid plans and all that.

Second day of school too.  We’ll see how that goes this time around.

I did get some stuff taken over to my secondary.  I’ll work on building that back up and it will help me to get some of the stuff out of here too.

Always something that needs stacking…  gotta keep it up.


Thur. July 30, 2020 – lots to do today

Hot and humid, chance of rain.

And I’m gonna be out driving around most of the afternoon.

Yesterday I didn’t leave the house.  It rained pretty good all morning, which kept me from making any drop offs.  I did get some stuff done in the garage, mainly shelves and getting my work areas back together.  I put my 2 ft cube light box ($5 auction special) out there, and moved electrical strips, fans, worklights, and small wall mount shelves around.  Still a long way to go, but it feels like progress.

I also spent about a half hour or more listening to my ham lunch buddies on their weekly net.  They’re all doing a net on 2m rather than getting together for lunch.  I can’t talk with them because I can’t hit the repeater from my house with my current antenna/radio combo.  I’ve got antennas for my ‘big’ radio, but haven’t put them up mainly because I have the quad band mobile for 2m and 70cm.  If I get the big radio hooked to an appropriate antenna, I can pump 100 watts at the problem.  That should work…  my other choice is a directional antenna for 2m on my mobile.  Either way, not happening this week.  (I’m in the radio shadow of a new office tower that is taller than the repeater antenna, and right between me and the repeater.)

Speaking of rain, more should be headed our way as the next tropical storm is headed up Florida.  Busy season so far.   Being prepped up for wuflu has gotten me a big jump on hurricane preps, so I’ll give it that.

And I’ll keep working on replacing what little we’ve used from our long term stacks…because it isn’t going to get better for a long time.




Sun. Mar. 8, 2020 – when they steal an hour from our lives…

Cooler, and hopefully rain free…

Yesterday never got as warm as predicted, and at least at the Ft Bend Fairgrounds, a gorgeous morning with a fantastic sunrise ended up a gloomy blustery overcast day.

I hope today is dry so that I can work on getting the driveway cleaned up and the hamfest stuff put away for another year. I need to clear space to bring home several tubs from my secondary location. They are far enough away that a local quarantine would put them out of reach.

I still am planning as if we weren’t going to WDW next week. Wife is still planning to go, as of Friday. Our school district sends an email every day that they are cleaning and following official state and city guidance. We’re so fukced. I didn’t prepare for the last 6 years to get this stupid bug now. If this were a book, no one would believe the prepper main character going to a swapmeet ahead of a trip to Disneyworld AT SPRING BREAK during a pandemic outbreak of a deadly disease. One of the most refreshing things about John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising is that when the family gets word, they ACT. Of course they then spend another month F’ing around in NYFC waiting for things to get untenable… unlike them, we don’t have a vaccine.

Please add hand lotion to your ‘last run’ if you don’t already have a good stock. My hands are RAW. All the wiping, hand washing, and bleach are brutal on hands.

Speaking of bleach, I literally washed my cash from the swapmeet in bleach solution. I’m waiting for it to dry to count it. It left the wash water tinged beige. Just saying. Wife is doing a cookie booth later today. FFS. And I’d like to wash that money too.

Aesop points out that it’s not just the number of sick people overwhelming the medical system, it’s the lost work time as 10s or 100s of thousands are unable to work for 3-5 weeks or more. That’s a BIG hit to the economy, as china will find out.

the common AB drug that is unavailable might be doxy… it fits the description. A little birdy told me they are working on getting production up in the US but it will be ‘a while’.

For some reason, the 5 extra deodorants I thought I had in the cabinet are AWOL. It’s always something you thought was covered.

Hospitals are already conserving PPEs, and NYFC is conserving firefighters by keeping them off possible Covid calls. EMS is F’d. I guess they hope to keep fighting fires, when they come, but have written off the EMS as a lost cause.

Consider hospital staffing levels when they lose a whole ER shift to quarantine every time some joker walks in with WuFlu unannounced. Rinse and repeat for a few weeks. Now break your arm in a fall…..

Did I mention I think we’re F’d? And we have more interlocking dependencies than China, so we have more breakable systems.

Keep stacking, and turn your clock forward for the time stealers.*


*the spring forward part is for real, the time stealing government flunkies part, not so much.

Sat. Mar. 7, 2020 – Hamfest today, also regional convention…

Cool, sunny, and probably windy.

Yesterday was gorgeous. Cool, breezy and sunny. I’ve got a bit of sunburn or wind burn from being out all afternoon. I’ll probably have worse by the end of today.

Spent the morning getting ready, taking calls, and having the roof looked at. Spent the afternoon hitting two storage units and my secondary location to get a bunch of stuff together for the hamfest. I’ll spend today standing in a parking lot selling a bunch (hopefully) and trying not to get sick.

Speaking of getting sick… get prepped. It doesn’t matter whether you think this is nothing or the end of the world. YOUR NEIGHBOR can get sick, and then you are confined to your home with no warning. Get some food etc in and be ready. Make your last run to the store and then step back from the edge.

Lots of people are getting sick. Telling me that it’s just every adult in my life and the kids’ grandparents who are the only ones seriously at risk ISN’T comforting BTW. It smacks of the arrogance of youth. Just saying.

And with that, I’m headed out. Wife and second daughter are at away camp. First daughter is with friends. I’m gonna go hang with one of my tribes.



added- Divemedic has a disturbing anecdote — Ask yourself how many others like that are in FL. Where they have a HUGE incentive to keep the numbers down.

Also this- St Cecilia’s Church is about 3.5 miles away. We have one friend that attends there but not on Ash Wednesday.

“Important Message from St. Cecilia Regarding Coronavirus:

Today, late in the afternoon, Harris County Public Health made us aware that an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus, attended the 5:30 pm Ash Wednesday Mass on February 26th here at St. Cecilia. Harris County Public Health also told us this individual received ashes and had communion in the hand; the person did not receive communion from the cup. We were informed that the individual sat in the last pew on the left side of the Church at this service. If you sat in the last 3 rows on the left side of the Church at the 5:30 p.m. Ash Wednesday Mass, you are asked to contact Harris County Public Health at 713-439-6000. We also urge anyone experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus to seek medical attention immediately.

St. Cecilia has taken the following to help protect its parishioners:
• We drained and sanitized the baptismal fonts; it will not be filled for the remainder of the Lenten season
• We sanitized pews, door handles, and bathrooms
• We are providing hand sanitizers at all the church entrances

If you are unwell or uncomfortable coming to mass or in crowded places, please stay home and join us in prayer. In addition, please keep those who have been affected by the coronavirus in your prayers.”

Fri. Jan. 26th, 2018 Finally Friday

It has been a long week. Busy weekend of work and family ahead too, but at least the weather should be a bit better.

53F and mostly clear in Houston today. I took a look at my citrus trees and they don’t look good. Between the cold and being covered, all the leaves are pretty much shrunken and dried. I guess I’ll see if they recover in a few more weeks. I certainly hope so. The grapefruit I got this year is delicious.

It feels like we’re wrapping up winter, and getting ready for spring. I got the last of the Christmas stuff down and put away (didn’t want to do it wet). It’s unlikely we’ll have more sub-freezing temperatures. The yard and garden are brown and a mess, but we’ll soon see what we can get started on. I might just throw down some native wildflowers in the front yard flower beds.

This definitely feels like a time of transition… both in the natural world, in society, and personally. Transitional times are tricky. They are a time when the smallest influences can lead to big changes. I think they call for conservatism, balance, a ‘centeredness’, and being prepared to move in any direction either defensively or to take advantage of opportunity.

This is a good time to take a step back from daily strife, and re-evaluate where you are, where you want to be, and your plan for getting there. If there ever was a time to position yourself to move freely in any direction, this is certainly it.


Saturday, 14 October 2017

09:06 – It was 54.5F (12.5C) when I took Colin out at 0625, mostly cloudy. Cooler weather is starting to move in. Our low temperature on Monday is forecast to be just above freezing.

I’m trying to get my application for ARRL Volunteer Examiner (VE) status completed and submitted. A VE functions basically as an exam proctor, keeping an eye out to avoid cheating, scoring the tests completed by license candidates, and submitting the results to the FCC. SPARC, the Sparta Amateur Radio Club, is currently running a training class for people who want to get their Technician Class license. There are a dozen students, which surprised me.

Administering the exam requires at least three VE’s be present. At this point, I believe SPARC has four VE’s. Unfortunately, two of them are related to some of the people who are taking the exam, which means they can’t be VE’s for that exam session. So I offered to become a VE.

At first, I thought it’d be easy. One of the current VE’s sent me the application form to become a VE with the Western Carolina VEC. I filled that out. All it required was my license and contact information and the names of three references. With their permission, I used the three VE’s who’d been examiners at my own exam. I submitted the form by email, and heard nothing. A week or so ago, one of the current VE’s sent me the VE application form to become a VE with the ARRL VEC (rather than the Western Carolina VEC).

That one requires a lot more work, including studying a 96-page VE manual and then completing a test. They say it’s not actually a test, but it sure looks like one. Then I have to submit all the paperwork and wait to be approved. I’ll try to get that complete and submitted in the next couple of days.

Of course, since I have only a General Class license, I’ll be qualified as a VE only for Tech Class exams. At some point, I’ll get my Extra Class license, which will qualify me as a VE for all three license classes.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

09:56 – It was 59.1F (15C) when I took Colin out around 0630 this morning, overcast and breezy. Barbara is cleaning house this morning. This afternoon, more science kit stuff.

We spent yesterday afternoon and evening at the local amateur radio club’s Field Day event. First time in more than 40 years I’d pressed the transmit button on a ham radio. It worked.

We had a hard time finding the park where the event was held. That’s not the first time that’s happened to me. For a small town of about 1,800 population, it can be hard to find things around here. When we first moved up here, I went off in search of the local LDS Church. I knew its street address. I found it on a town map. We drove around in circles looking for it. We could actually see it. I know it sounds stupid, but we couldn’t find any way to actually get to it. We even drove through the parking lot and loading dock area of a nearby factory. We spotted a driveway that was a secondary entrance but it had a steel gate lowered to block it. I still haven’t been to visit the place.

Yesterday, we knew that the park we were looking for was at the end of Trojan Drive, which is where the high school is. We drove around for 10 minutes or so looking for a park. No luck. Finally, we were sitting at the entrance to the high school driveway. We’d agreed that no way could it be up there, but with no other choice we drove up the driveway. Sure enough, there was an small access road leading off to the left, up past the athletic fields, tennis courts, and so on. So we headed up that road and eventually spotted a small drive branching off to the right. We took that, and found ourselves in a gravel parking lot, but with no obvious park facilities. So we retraced our route and continued up the access road. Finally, we spotted a shelter with a couple cars parked near it. If this wasn’t the place, I was thinking we should just give up and head home. But it ended up being the right place.

There were only three or four people there, but over the next hour or so more people showed up, until we had 20 or so adults total. Of those, probably a dozen or so were hams, with the rest being non-ham spouses. The average age was probably about Barbara’s and my age, although there was one 18-year-old guy and his 15-yo girlfriend.

There were six or eight rigs set up on the picnic tables. Everything from a home-made QRP rig that dated back to the 70’s to recent Icom and Yaesu base stations. Over the course of the day, different people were operating on 10-, 20-, and 40-meters, talking to other hams all over the US. One guy even ran CW for a while. And, of course, lots of us were active on the local 2-meter repeater.

The email said kids were welcome, so we took Colin along. He had the time of his life. Lots of new friends to pet him and share scraps with him. We kept him on a roller leash all day, just on general principles, but he was so well-behaved that we didn’t really need to.

I was pleased with the performance of the BaoFeng UV-82. It’s a PITA to program, but once I got it set to hit the repeater (with a lot of help from another ham), signal strength was excellent, even using just the stock rubber-duck antenna. The battery also did well. I’d charged it fully before we left the house. It ran for about six hours, at maybe 90/8/2 standby/receive/transmit, and at the end of the evening it was still showing a full charge.