News

Wednesday, the 20th of September

New job

I received an official e-mail message with my starting date instructions. I've reserved a hotel room and am leaving on Friday.

Honeybees

The bees have been taking all the sugar water that I give them. Tomorrow, I need to ready them for the winter, which means removing the feeder. There should be enough time for them to collect the remaining winter stores from the field. There are still plenty of flowers out there!

Site updates

I added three movies to the GRS database, including a new favorite. Enjoy!

Wednesday, the 13th of September

Florida?

So I was approved to wait till the 25th, which is a relief for me. I wasn't ready to deal with riots and desperate people. (People just trying to resume life shouldn't have to be bothered by outsiders at a time like this.)

This additional week is excellent. The honeybees have almost emptied the Boardman feeder already. Now, I have time to give them more sugar water. It all works out in the end.

Meanwhile, life goes on

I did figure on not starting for another week. So I have been hiking. You know, there are some excellent trails within only a few minutes drive, if one would only give them a chance.

I've been hiking a local, kayaking favorite. Though, I have no watercraft myself, I enjoy the views and trails around a local "pond". I will miss such adventures. But, I will be back, with more experience under my belt!

Stone fire!

As a bit of celebration, for being hired, I maintained a strong fire underneath the past-reported stone. Yes, my choice of celebration is mostly frowned upon by most. But, for me, it's a good one. I'm accomplishing something, and I am outdoors! Perhaps I am easy to please?

Regardless, the stone seems to be breaking up, albeit slowly. Below is a shot of the fire. I love how the flames lick the stone in this view:


I feed deadwood to these fires. Some lengths are a bit long, so I feed them in. It reminds me when Mike and I burned a railroad log in southern California. While I don't go into detail, please enjoy the trip page here.

Sponges!

Yes, there be sponges here! No, I'm not channeling a swampy, southern Florida guru. Though, sometimes I wish I was!

There are sponges on my lot. They're fragile, and wouldn't make a good bathtime scrub. But they're here! Take a look:


Don't believe it? I can understand. I'll admit it's all I can do to not step on these fragile creations. I don't know what to believe!

Monday, the 11th of September

Florida?

I'm still waiting to get a confirmed starting date for the place in central Florida. While the area wasn't directly "hit", I'm sure there was plenty of damage to the power system and infrastructure. Hopefully, no more people have died. (I am tentatively scheduled to start on Monday, the 18th.)

I'm not really in a big hurry to leave. The weather is becoming warm and dry here. In fact, I plan to tell them that I don't feel comfortable starting on Monday. No electricity means rioting in the South! No job is worth a life.

Stone splitting

John and I have been working on splitting a large stone. This beast weighs about a ton and is right in the way of where we plan to put in a parking area. I need the parking area to get the pick-up truck and my new acquisition, a full-sized Mercury SUV, off the driveway.

(The Merc will make an excellent plow vehicle, once I fit a snowplow. The ATV did a good job, but lacks weight when it comes to pushing heavy, wet snow. The Mercury won't have that problem.)

For moving the stone, I could hire an excavator; but, John and his four-wheel-drive tractor are cheap. I just pay with beer and the repair of his cars. It's much better to barter, too, because it builds relationships. This choice requires reducing the stone into smaller sections.

I drilled some holes in the stone. My decent-quality hammer drill could only drill about six inches into the granite chunk. John borrowed a commercial hammer drill and a two-foot bit that bored deep holes. During the freezing season, these holes will be filled with water. You can imagine what will happen.

I've been burning hardwood underneath the stone in the meantime. It's an old farmer's trick to use fire to split up stones in a field. The trick has worked well because it has helped me chip off sheets of the underside.

I've also been smacking the stone with a sledgehammer. It's hard work, but pays off when one strikes the fissures created by the fire. Below is what the stone looked like today. A pair of sunglasses are in the shot for scale.

Honeybees

I removed the honey super the other day. The 'bees hadn't put any honey in it. They have only the minimum amount of winter stores. I now have a Boardman feeder filled with sugar-water to help them along.

This is another reason why I would appreciate sticking around another week or two. Though, they quickly found the feeder and are taking sugar. I also still see a lot of foragers coming and going. With the coming warm weather, they should be out in the field longer.

Site updates

I added three movies & a TV movie to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Thursday, the 7th of September

A new opportunity!

I've accepted an offer of temporary employment in Florida. That is, if the facility isn't flooded by the coming hurricane!

My writing will be on hold. I have fully documented what I can afford right now. I really need more money to finish the other tasks that I want to report in my work.

A good thing about living in Florida is that I won't have to brave the Northern winter in a camper this year. That is a big relief!

In my spare time, I plan to take day trips around Florida and the Southeast. I'll bring the best parts to your computer with Bill's Universe. Watch for trip pages!

Site updates

I added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Tuesday, the 29th of August

Site update

Most visitors won't care about this update. But I wanted to explain it nonetheless! The symbol below has shown up in the upper left section of many pages. Clicking it will send your browser to the mobile version of the page.

The idea is that those visiting on mobile devices, like "smart" phones will see the button and be able to tap it, which will take them to a simpler and smaller page that should view better on their smaller screen.


Saturday, the 26th of August

Stove

Up here in the backwoods, the temperature has been dipping into the mid-40s overnight. In a permanent structure, this would bring a refreshing cooling-off. The camper's insulation isn't as efficient as a house, so mornings have been chilly.

But I have a wood-burning stove now! It does a wonderful job of quickly warming the small volume of air inside the camper. I do mean fast. It can heat the air up by five degrees in 15 minutes. Mind you, that includes lighting a fire in a dead-cold stove!

The draw is more than adequate because the smoke detector still has yet to chirp when I light the stove. Typically, of course, the initial warming is when smoke may roll out the front door. You know, the cold-stack effect acting on the chimney. (It takes a bit of time to sufficiently raise the temperature of the column of air in the flue before it easily flows out the exhaust gases.)

Using the stove is cozy! Perhaps a primeval sense of satisfaction is activated by fire? I don't know. I just like it. Yellow tongues licking wood provides heat, and light. Who can't enjoy a wood fire?

The stove is also cheap to run. I had previously gathered dry deadwood of various thicknesses. The only expense was my time for collecting the wood that would have, otherwise, rotted away. This fuel resides in boxes under my awning, which are within arm's reach of the door. Hey, life is tough enough. Why not make it easier whenever possible?

I found a new water leak in the flue feedthrough. But it's no problem, and I am slowly correcting it. The weather looks to be holding off the rain until I can get enough layers of "goop" down to build a dam to divert water around my feedthrough. I am almost there. Thank you for your patience, Rain God!

Honey bees

My colony continues to be busy. Hot damn! If it's warm enough and the sun is up, the foragers are always coming and going. Sometimes I just squat and watch them. A bee will arrive or leave every second or two. Who needs television?

Their organization and purpose is obvious in their activities. It's also cool to see the returning foragers with their rear leg pollen sacks full of loot. It looks like they have yellow "parachute pants" on. (Youngsters may have to look up this short fashion trend.)

The "camping out" swarm has died off. Sad. They left behind a bit of comb at the back of the bottom hive. It looks like a wasp comb that we knock out of outside lamps or from underneath immobile automobiles. I have left it in place for now.

Oldies

Scott Shannon keeps rocking the "True Oldies". They even play progressive rock bands. Yes, they do!

Site updates

I added seven movies to the GRS database. Enjoy a couple of Gene Tierney films. She's a beauty, and can act!

Friday, the 18th of August

Bees & Oldies

No, I'm not making some clever allusion to the Bee Gees!

Today, I found "Scott Shannon's True Oldies Channel". I heard, and am hearing, songs that I haven't heard in years. It's a great station, if you like Oldies.

I love how the simple, classic tunes remind me of diners, girls in dresses, American cars with chrome bumpers, and other endangered entities. This station also plays The Beatles and their contemporaries from the late '60s and early '70s, so it's not what I knew as "Oldies" when I was growing up.

This syndicated radio station is broadcast around the nation. Maybe it's available in your area? The Wikipedia page provides information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_True_Oldies_Channel

The bees continue to do well. They haven't touched the honey super. I'm going to remove it in a couple of weeks. I'll probably also feed them just to be sure they have enough reserves for the winter.

I did alternate the "drawn" frames with those that hadn't been touched. By doing this, that is inserting undrawn frames into the middle of the hive sphere, the bees should draw out the untouched frames. Hopefully, it will also extend their domain to include all ten frames in each hive body.

A small cluster of foreign bees has shown up. They congregate near an outside, back corner of the hive bodies. They don't seem to be attacking my colony or causing any problems. They may be the half that swarmed a few weeks ago.

If so, then their queen must be a "laying worker". She's obviously not fertilized because their numbers are diminishing. Furthermore, they also couldn't find another place to live, which I find unlikely in the forest that I live in. Maybe they wanted to return to the mother colony? Either way, it's sad. I'll have to be more careful to avoid this event in the future.

Stove

I solved the occasional water drip from the stove flue feedthrough. Also, the stove did a great job warming up the camper one of the recent, cool mornings. Who would expect an overnight temperature of 48 degrees in August?!

The stove performs well. It doesn't belch smoke out the door, even when the stack (or flue) is cold. It burns wood cleanly, which is a good sign. Creosote can build up in stovepipes and later cause fires.

Site updates

I added five movies to the GRS database. This batch includes a new favorite. Enjoy!

Tuesday, the 15th of August

Trip page!

I took a couple of day trips, which I have consolidated into a new trip page. Take a look here.

Wednesday, the 9th of August

Washing machine

Welcome to August! It doesn't feel like it in my neck of the woods!

I've written about doing all my laundry in the driveway. Since I was doing a few loads today, I took some photos.

The portable washing machine is energized by the Westinghouse generator. The power inverter in the camper could probably run it; however, the panels are usually charging the battery, so I spend a buck or two to run the Westinghouse instead. I'm only using a quarter of the total panels, so I need to pick and choose.

Water is delivered via the outside, auxiliary, shower. Yup, I took off the shower head-- "don't need a bath, sweat's regular" --fitted an adaptor, and connected the washing machine. I just need to ensure that the camper's onboard fresh water tank doesn't run out. I fill it from my well using, yes, you guessed it: the big generator. So, no disrupting the Westinghouse genny.

I tie-wrapped the "strained" PVC pipe from my well-drilling adventure to the side of the camper. The dirty water is directed into this pipe. I make my own laundry detergent with biodegradable ingredients so I don't mind dumping the used water onto the driveway.

In practice, it works well. I can monitor the progress of the washing machine by listening to the Westinghouse engine speed. The camper's fresh tank, when full, is sufficient to run a single load on the "high" setting. Yeah, they wrote that in the brochure back in 1998!

Below are a couple of photos. Click for a larger view.
I employ the sun and wind to dry my laundry on nylon lines.

Stove!

Finally, finally! The stove's installed and working! The most difficult part of the retrofit was drilling a larger hole in the roof of the camper. Recall, that I already had a hole for the too-small flue. So I used a cool trick from folks on Youtube: use expanding foam to "glue" in a piece of wood into the hole. Then, one may drill almost as if there had never been a hole. Clever.

Drilling the new hole went well until I hit a piece of metal stripping. It deflected the hole saw. I ended up having to clip, hammer, poke, and file to get the metal to give in. But I won. Take a look:
Since the hole was only supported on the right side, I fitted several pieces of sheet metal under the rubberized, outside layer of the camper roof on the left side. They distribute the weight of the aluminum feedthrough.

I used a couple of very large hose clamps that I had kicking around from a past supercharger project. One is visible in the photo below. The other is hidden within the roof of the camper. Hopefully, this will prevent the feedthrough from falling through
From inside the camper, the feedthrough looks good. Very good. Almost professional! Unfortunately, I couldn't make it perfectly square. But, because the camper roof isn't perfectly horizontal and the stove flue will go wherever it wants, it really doesn't matter. Here's a shot of feedthrough from the inside:
It took several days of spraying and curing to seal the feedthrough to the camper roof. That did give me plenty of time to figure out how to waterproof the flue. Looking back, I laugh at my wasted time and sketches.

Eventually, the spray goop (technical term) sealed the aluminum feedthrough to the EPDM-rubber roof. Meanwhile, it gave me a chance to prove that my freeze-plug idea would seal out the weather when the stove was not installed. Remember that the camper is on wheels, so the stove must be removed for transport.
(A freeze plug is essentially two steel plates that sandwich a flexible rubber section. A bolt down the middle draws the metal plates together, which squeezes the rubber out along the radius, in an equal manner. The rubber makes a seal inside the aluminum feedthrough.)

This particular unit has a large wing nut for convenience. Oh, and it seals well.

I had to cut the pitched, plywood roof. That was fun. Standing high up on a ladder with a circular saw, what could go wrong? I ended up doing the last cutting with a wood saw that my departing neighbor gave me this morning. Coincidence? I don't think so. Thanks, Kevin!!

After I painted the sawn edges, I folded a couple of layers of aluminum foil over them. People may laugh, but this method of dissipating heat works well. The layers act like small fins. Also, aluminum has the additional advantage of having a high specific heat. In other words, it takes a lot of heat for it to warm up when compared to other materials. Keep reading and you can see my space-age wrapping job!

Next came the fun part. I could install the stove into camper! It looks good from the outside. Doesn't it?
After I installed graphite-loaded fiberglass rope between the flue pipe and the feedthrough (sorry, no photo), I enclosed the feedthrough and flue pipe junction in aluminum foil. Reynolds must love me!

I poured water on the assembly without seeing any water inside the camper. I learned that there is a small, occasional drip during a courteous, Florida-like, pop-up shower. More foil is needed! I can fix that tomorrow. Take a look at the job:
And now, what you have all been waiting for. Below are a couple of photos of the stove in operation inside the camper! Notice my modifications that made it work so much better. That is, the grill and the slot beneath the door.
Despite the relatively warm temperatures, I had to light a fire. It lit and burned without setting off the smoke detector! Of course, one may say that I almost certainly have all the windows open. Oh yes, I did, and the door, too. However with all these wide-open, I can still trigger the smoke detector when I put the kettle on the factory-installed stove.

But the wood stove didn't upset it one bit. Not even a chirp, as it is known to do. I could burn with the door open without a problem. Though, I must say the fire burns better with the door closed. Just like it should.

I'm amazed and astonished that this project came to such a brilliant conclusion. Prometheus would be proud of me! Take that Zeus!

Bees

The honeybees are doing well. The electric fence hasn't skipped a beat since I connected it to the camper main battery. Its draw is noticeable, but not a problem.

Today, I witnessed a dramatic number of orientation flights. The queen is still in the colony. Furthermore, since it takes about three weeks to raise new worker bees, the queen resumed laying right after I installed the honey super.

I'm going to check that they haven't filled the super in a day or two. If they have filled it, because goldenrod is currently in bloom, then I'll add another super. Monkey learns! OO-oo-HA-ha!

Solar 12-volt charger

The solar charger that came with the electric fence, but is now charging my 12-volt batteries, is doing the job. It takes a while to fully charge a battery, but it costs me nothing but time.

The 20-Watt module has already peaked one battery. The next one is in place now. It's smaller so it should take less time. I monitor not only the charger indicator light, but also the battery voltage. It's a quick measurement and ensures that I don't waste time letting the charger "float" a battery.

Site updates

I added four movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

The DVD service of Netflix can't keep up with me. I just hope they won't discontinue it. Their collection is unmatched, as far as I can tell.

And, I won't bother with the streaming service again. I watch so many movies that I exhausted the "Instantly View" selection quickly. OK, that was a few years ago now.

But, I doubt that they have expanded the available titles in a manner that will appease my eclectic taste. Hopefully, Netflix will realize the profit base of their DVD-by-mail service. I'd even pay more for my current service.

Sunday, the 30th of July

Stove

I have reached the point where I'm happy with the paint on the stove. It's not perfect. But I don't care! Anyways lipstick on a pig rarely looks good. But this is my hog!

I have fitted a grating on the top of the flue to protect the rain cap from sparks. It has the additional benefit of keeping the cap from descending the pipe too much, and burning up. Yeah, I designed it that way!

I would have made more progress but the up-and-down weather hindered my progress during the week. This weekend was full, too. But, I'm heading into the home stretch. Then, I can post photos.

Swarm

OK, so I've got good and bad news with the bees. Let's get the bad news out of the way first. The colony swarmed. This means that the colony felt it was large enough to divide.

Here's what happened. A lot of the bees took off one day. The exodus was epic to watch. They took up residence in a high branch about thirty feet away from the hive. Here's what the swarm looks like using my 12X optical zoom


The beekeeper dislikes swarming. It is, however, the natural reproduction of a healthy, strong colony. Honeybees operate as a colony, and not as individuals. The organism is the colony, which explains why workers will sacrifice themselves in a moment to protect the colony.

So I've got a second organism hanging out. If it was closer to the ground, I'd get it and set up another colony. But my arms are only so long. More than fifty feet off the ground is too high. Hopefully, they can find a new home. I record everything that happens with the bees so this episode is an experience from which I will learn.

Electric fence

The good news is that I installed an electric fence! John has mentioned on several occasions that I need a fence to keep bears out. (He used to work on a dairy farm in Vermont, so I take his advice seriously.)

My online research confirmed his suggestion. Electric fences are the only feasible method of keeping bears away from bee hives. Not knowing the "ins and outs" of electric fences, I ordered a kit from McGregor Fence company.

I'll never do that again. The quality in proportion to the price was terrible. Evidently, the owner needs a new boat. I'd recommend assembling a custom fence using vendors like McGregor.

Not only was the quality poor, but I didn't use items that were included. I just couldn't fathom their function! And, other components were non-existent. It's fortunate that I have plenty of hardware leftover from other projects.

Oh, and the instructions. I haven't seen instructions that vague in a long, long time. They're far worse than the ambiguous directions supplied with "soft" garages.

But, it's what I have. Hopefully, it will stop a bear. Though, it didn't faze a Labrador bitch. Yes, a Lab. mutt slipped under the energized fence without a bother! I checked the fence with a high voltage meter. I even got a good zap from it; so, I think the hive will be OK.

I ordered a solar charger to maintain the 12-volt battery. Here's what the fence, solar controller, and battery look like:
I reused a pipe from my well-drilling endeavor. It does a good job providing a stand for the solar module and controller.

The solar panel is controlled by the small box with a green and a yellow light in the right photo. The green light means that the solar panel is generating electricity. The yellow light indicates the state of the battery charge.

The battery resides in the box at the base of the pipe, under the plywood board and stone. (I really need to buy a banjo!)

The larger black box, below the solar controller, is the fence energizer. It's named Powerfields. This particular unit will deliver a Joule of energy during an encounter with the fence.

The kit included three warning signs. I installed them. Though I had to use my own zip-ties because the kit came with an unfathomable collection of solid rings. I can see some Mass-hole laughing at me. Poor loser. Get a life, really.

Unfortunately, there's not enough sun back in the apiary to keep up with the fence. So I wired the fence energizer into the camper battery. I used a long, outdoor extension cord that has sat unused for years.

It felt good to be a practical engineer again. I calculated the voltage drop from the measured wire resistance--this drop is the killer in direct current (DC) systems--and found it to be about 1-2% for the extension cord. Ha! Better than my current, albeit temporary, solar-charging set-up.

So I ran the extension cord, cut off the ends and did a good job heat shrinking the relevant connectors in place. Coupled with a fuse and switch at the camper's battery, I shouldn't awaken to flames licking my bed.

The situation is a lot simpler. Take a look:

New 12-volt charger

The electric-fence solar panel and controller did not go to waste. I am now using the small solar panel and controller to charge the various 12-volt batteries that keep my camp running. Of course, I moved the panel to the front of my property. They sit near one of my arrays, where the panel has the best opportunity to capture the sun's rays.

This arrangement will allow me to save my gasoline generator. (I used to use it to charge the batteries.) Sure, it'll take longer, but why not use the energy that would otherwise be absorbed by the driveway?

The decision also elicits comments from other people. It's good to keep it interesting for them! You know small town folks and their gossip. I think they miss the drama of the presumed football goal-posts on my property.

Site updates

I added four movies and one TV program to the GRS database. Thanks, Randy, for the recommendations! Please, keep them coming!

Friday, the 21st of July

Stove

The stove is coming along. It takes time painting and curing the paint with a long, hot fire. But, the modifications I made have worked. The stove burns cleanly without belching smoke out the door! In fact, it burns better with the door shut. I'll post photos once I get it installed in the camper.

Summer is great. I can leave the windows open all the time and not freeze! The panels have been charging the battery well. Right now, in fact, I'm running on solar power. There's enough to top up the battery and run this computer. Not bad considering I only have a quarter of the panels hooked up!

Bees

I witnessed a war between my honeybees and a nearby, probably, wild colony. My bees won without too much trouble. I wouldn't mind finding the other colony to avoid such conflict in the future, but I guess that's life.

Stay tuned because I have more bee news coming soon!

Site updates

I added seven movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Thursday, the 13th of July

Update

I've returned from an enjoyable and comfortable break with relatives. Thanks!

I finished clearing all the trees and the resulting brush. I'm trying to get more sun on the solar panels. There are still several massive oaks that block most of the afternoon light. But I cannot fell them without taking out the power lines and the neighbors' barn.

After the brush piles are burned this winter, I'll hire a tree company with a crane to cut them down. If they don't offer me a fair price for the trunks, I'll have a lot of hardwood.

The woodstove burns cleanly with the larger flue. I still need to install it in the camper. I have to figure out a way to make the feedthrough. The plywood roof complicates matters. Do I go through both the camper roof and plywood with a single metal piece? If so, I need a way to seal out the weather when the stove is not in use, or the trailer is towed.

Fifteen years!

The website will be fifteen years old tomorrow! Here's a screenshot of the second version of the home page. It's hard to believe that the site has been around so long!

I added four movies to the GRS database.

BAND-MAID

The girls released a new video. It seems that they are returning to their original hit, Thrill. What do you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZIJ2vFxu9Y

Friday, the final day of June

Bees

I witnessed the orientation flights of newly-hatched honey bees yesterday! At first, I thought they were swarming. Swarming 'bees buzz loudly and congregate at the hive entrance.

But this activity was marked by bees climbing up the front of the hive and jumping off, only to fly in figure-eight patterns in front of the hive. The buzzing was created by their wings beating madly, as they learn to fly. Here's a link to a video that someone took:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFyWJ_MzUgE

Site updates

The weather's not been conducive for working outside. So I'm updating the web site again!

I added three movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Monday, the 26th of June

Bees

The bees are doing well. They're definitely protective of their hive and brood! They have filled about a third of the twenty frames. At this rate, I'll need to add a honey super at the end of next month. I may be able to harvest honey this year!

Site updates

I added seven movies and one TV movie to the GRS database. These additions bring the total to more than 2,500 entries!

Tuesday, the 20th of June

Camper roof & life

I installed a thin plywood roof on the wooden frame of the camper. I figure the wood will be more durable than a tarp. Also, I won't have to worry about immediately removing snow after every storm. I flashed the apex with actual flashing. Imagine that: I was able to use a building component just as it was intended!

I was going to screw down the plywood; but, then I got lazy and used short nails. The thought of drilling all those pilot holes turned me off. Nails are quick and I have million of them. I just used more than I probably needed to.

Laying on the roof with my feet only barely finding the ladder was a bit annoying. That was the only way to reach the flashing. It's a good thing that I'm no longer frightened of heights! (Maybe these jobs are the reason?) Oh, and I never fell off, which is a good thing, because I don't bounce as well as I used to!

I am posting some photos of the roof. It's tough to get a good shot from the ground. That does mean that you can see what the camp looks like now that spring is hopping away. Boy, the camp is a bit of a mess. I feel a bit ashamed. But, as the part-time mail lady says: it is organized. You decide:
I have since painted the water-heater access cover. It looks brand new with its new coats of Rustoleum glossy white! Speaking of the devil, it has performed without a hitch since I replaced the old solenoid coils.

Summer and bees

Ah, summer: when one can leave the windows open day and night. Humidity can become a bit high; but, so far, it hasn't been annoying inside. Of course, I spend much of my time outside. And inside has the benefit of not having to swat mosquitoes. Though, the dragonflies are out and are culling the 'sceeter population. Love you, dragonflies!

While on the topic of amiable insects, the honeybees seem happy and are always out and about. I'll check the brood nest this weekend to ensure that the next generation of bees are maturing well. After that, I won't have to disturb them for a good while.

In the long term, I plan to leave them alone. I'm just ensuring that all is well, since they're establishing a new colony.

They are funny creatures. When I am near to--say--remove the feeder, one or two will land on my light-colored T-shirt and stay there. I won't notice until I am already away from the hive. They don't sting and aren't aggressive. I don't wear a veil or any protective clothing for such simple operations.

Perhaps it helps that I speak to them whenever I approach? I tell them what I'm going to do and apologize for the disruption. It sounds corny. But, I do it for two reasons. One, they may understand that I am not a threat and tolerate me. We don't know how perceptive insects really are. And reason two, it provides me with some peace knowing exactly what I need to do.

So far, so good. I haven't been stung. (Of course, how would I tell with all the mosquito bites?) Off! is only so good, I guess. It's a good thing malaria rarely occurs up here.

Camper stove

I started modifying the wood-burning stove. Recall that the flue is too small. It stifled the fire, especially when the door was closed. A fire starved of oxygen tends to smoke a lot.

Today, I ground out the flue opening for the larger stack. I fashioned a grating from some leftover metal. It will keep the fire off the bottom of the barrel. This coupled with new holes under the door, and beneath the grating, should keep the fire burning brightly.

This work may be like putting lipstick on a pig. It really only has to help heat the camper for another cold season. So it doesn't have to be perfect. If it doesn't pour smoke out the door, I'll be happy. I'll post photos when the project is completed.

Thursday, the 15th of June

Truck!

I finished the installation of the HEI distributor on the truck. That did it! After I set the ignition timing and carburetor, I went for a quick drive up and down the hill on my street. The engine performed beautifully.

It also idles so smoothly now. I never knew it could. I guess that's the beauty of a perfectly balanced engine. I will miss that straight-six. My other vehicles have one or four cylinders, which are inherently imbalanced. Now, on to my other projects!

Wednesday, the 14th of June

Moving the MG

Jack and I moved the MG on Saturday. The tiny car made the 6'x12' trailer look small. Though, admittedly, most cars won't fit on this size trailer! It's intended for lawnmowers and furniture.

Getting the car onto the trailer was a bit painful. The gate was only three inches wider than the car, so we had to line up the car well. We used the come-along to pull the sports car onto the trailer.

That must have been too easy because the tailpipe hung up on the metal-"grated" ramp. I ended up lifting the side of the car while Jack worked the cable pulley.

The hard work did pay off because the car fit well. Almost too well: Did the designer intend to move diminutive sports cars around without using an "auto transporter"?

Taking the car off was not too bad. Pushing it around on the gravel driveway was tough. Traction on a loose surface is not easy to find! But, we did it. The car is happily resting in the car capsule, which has been working well.


Here's a shot of me in a dusty MG. People did stare at me while Jack towed us to the new home. Kidding because we'd have been pulled over almost immediately, if I rode in the car!

Bees

The honey bees are active and seem happy. They've been coming and going all day, now that it's warm. I put a feeder on their hive to ensure they have enough sugar. I probably didn't need to do that; but, it's cheap insurance. I'll leave it until they have emptied it. That may be Friday at this rate.

Truck

I'm one step closer to getting the truck driving. I received a HEI (High Energy Ignition) distributor from Summit Racing today. It's amazing how quickly their shipments arrive!

I think I've narrowed the truck's lack-of-power problem to a faulty distributor. I had replaced it with a rebuilt unit, but the vacuum advance failed. Who knows what else is totally crap on that dizzy?

I cleaned the carburetor and found no rust or debris. At least, I know it's, probably, not faulty. Hopefully, the new HEI dizzy will sort out the truck. I'm anxious to sell it, so I can free up more of my driveway!

Site updates

I added three movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Tuesday, the 6th of June

Band-Maid

Since I can't work outside today, I'm catching up on watching YouTube videos. The all-girl, Japanese hard rock band, Band-Maid has released another video. It's yet another style, which they perform in their own way. It's worth listening to. And, they're still pretty, too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCaeUkrItyY

Sunday, the 4th of June

Bees

Today, we had a few hours of decent weather. The bees were going about their business. With a bunch of them in field, scavenging, I figured it was the best time to open up the hive. Remember that I needed to verify that the queen was laying eggs?

Great news! I found the queen. She was walking around on a partially "drawn" frame. Worker bees draw out the plastic hexagonal foundation on the ten frames in each hive body. Once these cells are drawn, the queen can deposit a baby bee in them.

The bees were so gentle and quiet that I was able to watch the queen for a minute or so. I saw her lay a couple of eggs. I also found brood, i.e. very young bees. This quells my fear that the queen was injured or missing.

The workers were also busy storing pollen, sugar syrup, water, and other essentials for honey production. It was definitely one of the coolest things that I've seen in a while!

My neighbors gave me a high-quality aluminum tripod. I used it to take some video of the hive entrance. The best one is available here.

3rd of June

Bees & garage

The bees appear to be content. I frequently take a break to watch them come and go. It's impressive. I need to verify that the queen is laying soon. Last I checked, there was no brood yet.

If she's not laying, then I need to find a replacement queen ASAP. The lifespan of a worker honey bee is only about three or four weeks and it takes about half that time to raise new workers.

The storage unit is almost empty. John helped me move the remaining furniture last weekend. I have a trailer reserved for next Saturday to move the MG. Jack has kindly volunteered to move it with his truck. (Since mine is still out of commission.)

I also installed the car capsule in my new garage. I had purchased it years ago. It'll provide the MG with a secondary layer of protection.

The car capsule is designed to be used indoors only. You know, for the rich to show off their cars in the ridiculously immense houses they love to inhabit. It should last well inside my turtle-shell garage.

I wired the car capsule to the camper's battery. Naturally, I included a fuse and a toggle switch. I want to be able to shut it off because it fills up the open space in the garage completely. It's really comical how stuffed the garage is!

Westinghouse generator & water heater

I had some trouble with the generator. Occasionally, it would start to run roughly and would eventually stall. It sounded like it ran out of fuel. After checking the tank and air filter, I found that the gas cap was at fault.

These suitcase generators have caps that can switch between vented and closed. The idea is that they can be stored inside without venting fumes. The Honda's works well. This one does not.

The Westinghouse version doesn't open enough and the carburetor couldn't overcome the resulting suction in the tank. This problem is especially pronounced on cold mornings. Solution: leave the cap loose when running. Now, it runs so much better. It should also use less fuel.

Speaking about gas, well another type of gas... The gas manifold of the water heater needed some cleaning. But the real culprit turned out to be low resistance values on the solenoid valves. Recalling one's high school physics: Voltage equals Current times Resistance (V = I * R)

As the resistance drops, for a more-or-less constant current, the voltage also drops. That explains why it took more and more voltage to keep the solenoid valves open.

Fortunately, I found replacement solenoid coils for cheap money. Their resistance is twice the worn out units. Everything is OK with the water heater now. Hopefully, it will never pose a problem again. Hell, what else can go wrong, because I've had everything apart on it!

Site updates

I added three movies and one TV program to the GRS database. Enjoy!

25th of May

Bees!

My package of honey bees & queen arrived this morning. I was beginning to be concerned because they were in transit for longer than three days.

The queen is alive and the dead worker bees was minimal. The feeder can was still half full of syrup, so they didn't go hungry. That would explain why they were so docile.

I have placed the queen cage and package in the hive. Tomorrow, if it's warm enough--yeah, I'm asking if it'll be warm enough in late May!--I'll see if the queen has been released and remove the package from the hive.

I have filled a Boardman feeder with sugar syrup. Forager bees had already found it. They appear calm, too. No desire to sting and they were gently buzzing. When I removed the queen cage, I could feel the warmth from the cluster.

Here's a photo of the package. The cluster was calm and gently buzzing, so they are happy, well-fed bees. The mass of bees in the middle huddled around the queen and the feeder can.


I really didn't need to wear any protection because they were so calm and didn't want to move too much. I guess the 50-degree morning worked to my advantage.

Garage & Moving

I have finished installing the "turtle shell" on the soft garage frame. It's plenty strong enough to resist snow loads. The canvas went over that.

I've been moving everything I can out of the storage unit with the Mazda. It's a lot of work. Surprisingly, I was able to fit almost everything into the hatchback.

Two guys were amazed when I pulled my free-standing drill press into the back. They offered to help. I declined citing that if I can get it in myself, then I can get it out myself.

I've moved all that I can. John has kindly offered to move the rest with his pick-up. I'm almost completely moved!

This will be my final move. I've counted that I've moved ten times in my life and have helped others several times. No more moving for me!

Below are some photos of the garage being assembled. I did most of the work by myself. The only help was when John leveled and spread the gravel with his tractor.



Remember that a normal soft garage has no slats and no fiberboard, shown in the two middle photos. Instead, the canvas is drawn across the bare steel poles. Now it probably makes sense why I designed and built the "turtle shell".

Site updates

I added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

14th of May

One year ago

Let's look back a year. Last year this time, I was planning to drill my own water well. I was dead set on the idea. I was setting up all the equipment on the property. Little did I know that I'd hit bedrock almost immediately.

Also, the solar panels were still languishing in boxes in the storage garage, having not seen the light of day in years. The driveway was still dirt. The camper trailer, which I have called my home since last autumn, was not known to me. I wasn't even looking for another place to live! The wood that I had cut from felled trees existed in stacks haphazardly scattered around the property.

Last year at this time, only the truck was sitting on the lot. Today, I'm nearly ready to move my remaining stuff into my soft garage. Having already moved a camper onto the lot, set up an apiary, and erected two solar arrays. In addition to the less significant details.

Still learning: water heater

The water heater gradually stopped working earlier this week. The slow failure was associated with the voltage of the camper battery. Specifically, the water heater would only fire up at 13 volts, then 13.2 volts, then 13.5, and so on. Oh, and it was a periodic failure, too. That is, sometimes it would fire up at 12.7 volts without a problem. Hmm.

I grudgingly decided to spend a particularly cold, overcast morning fussing with it. I discovered that the gas valve was clogged with gunk. This crap would, periodically, keep the solenoids from actuating.

The force that solenoids--electrically-operated sliding valves--is directly proportional to the supply voltage. The lower the voltage, the less force. Less force means that the valve cannot overcome the friction from the gunk. A closed gas valve means no flame and no hot water.

Since the gunk would sometimes pass through without fouling the valve, the solenoid would sometimes operate at a lower voltage.

The source of the gunk is the 20-pound LPG tanks. When filled, oil and a "special" mixture of crap is added. Yes, it's my fault for using "gas grill" tanks on the camper.

(It does make one wonder what is being carried by the "propane" gas flame to meat, when grilling outside. You thought it was Oscar Meyer's hot dogs making you fat. Maybe it's the "special" stuff from the tank?)

The water heater isn't perfectly cleaned out yet. I was lacking the tools to fully disassemble the valve, so I'll clean it better in the future. At least, I figured out this bizarre problem.

Other tasks

The Mazda has new front brakes. What an easy job that was. I'm really impressed by those design engineers!

I got the truck running. It even moves under its own power. The bad news is that the lack-of-power problem is the same as last year. I checked the usual suspects in the ignition system and found that the vacuum advance on the rebuilt distributor is blown.

Whatever. I plugged the carburetor port and will tell the next owner. Vacuum advance is only really useful for improving fuel economy when cruising under small throttle openings. It does little else.

So I narrowed the problem to the carburetor. That's what I felt was the source, but it's good to back up instinct with fact.

I received a gasket for the carburetor so I can completely disassemble and ultrasonically clean it. There must be a fleck of rust that acts like a ball valve somewhere in the power circuit. The rust sneaked past the inline fuel filter. Bastard!

Once it's running, I can fit the new muffler and put it up for sale. I won't miss it. I already have a classic vehicle to keep me occupied. I don't need two!

The soft garage is proceeding well. John and I picked up some snow-proofing lumber yesterday. I assembled the wooden structure to the metal frame. I'll post photos of the entire assembly process when it's all done. "Don't touch that dial."

Site updates

I added five movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

5th of May

Spring tasks

John and rain evened out the garage pad. I have also erected the garage frame. It was a bit tricky by myself, but I did it. When I pull the canvas over it, I'll post photos.

I've serviced the Mazda and the ATV. I just need to replace the front brakes on the Mazda. I doubt that I'll repair the MG before I want to move it out of the garage. So I asked a friend if he wants to test out his new truck by towing the MG, on a trailer of course. It'll be easier to mend it here anyways.

I've decided that since I have so many projects going on and my time is fixed, I need to reduce my workload. Thus, I'm going to get the truck running again and sell it.

I need to address the carburetor problem, which I think I have done. Then, I need to replace the muffler that was blown up. It's on order now. I washed and waxed it yesterday and took some photos. It does look pretty good, and I've done so much work to it, that it should sell quickly.

Off-grid living

Living off-the-grid continues to present "challenges." The new Westinghouse generator always ran with a misfire. Since the carburetor has no adjustment, and I figured the fuel system and compression were OK: the spark plug heat range must be the fault. The plug never heats to the "self cleaning" stage.

I spent a day decoding and researching the recommendations in the factory manual. No fewer than three different heat-range plugs were recommended. Sigh.

I ended up settling on a NGK plug with my target heat range. Would you know that the very plug I chose turned out to be included on the sticker on the generator itself? (Yes, the manual and sticker don't agree.)

After fitting the new plug, the misfire was much better. It's not completely gone, but it's a lot better. I think it's the best that it can be.

Life is tough for these tiny, suitcase generators. Their single pistons aren't much larger than your thumbnail. This small size means that tight machining tolerances are even more important.

It runs so I'll service it frequently and look forward to the day when my battery bank is large enough to power me through the clouds.

Otherwise, life off-the-grid is wonderful. No electric bill must infuriate the power utility. Or maybe not? I have spent quite enough money to generate my own electricity.

The panels have been awesome. They will fully charge the camper battery even after a cool night (with the furnace blower running) without much trouble.

And to think that I am only using a quarter of the power that I am collecting. I doubt that my cabin will use four times the electricity that I currently use.

Camper news

I had a minor altercation with a mouse. I felt badly when, after a few nights, I finally cornered him. The poor critter died in the small volume that he fled into. I would have been happy to catch and release him in my woods.

Although with him gone, and his entrance sealed up, things smell better in the camper. I also seem to have a feline friend. A few days later, I found a dead mouse at the foot of the driveway to my future garage.

Also, with the threat of heavy, thick snow gone, I have removed the tarps from the roof. It's great having light in my skylights again! A thunderstorm showed where I had a couple of leaks. I fixed them, and the camper seems to be leak-free again.

The 'storm also brought a bit of entertainment. A bolt of lightning traveled down the copper DSL line from the utility pole at the street to the DSL modem. I know because a loud pop and flash woke me up!

It's funny because I always unplug the modem from the power outlet, figuring this would be where death would spring. Recall that a surge over the power system finished off another modem?

Oh well, another modem is toast. Fortunately, the telecom guys know me as that off-grid guy and were happy to bring several replacements. I now unplug the DSL line, too.

I set up my compact washing machine. I plumbed it into the camper outdoor shower and powered it with the Westinghouse generator. I can now do my laundry without leaving home. Eventually, when the cabin is up, I won't have to move the washing machine in and out. But it's easier than going to the laundromat.

Site updates

I added five movies & one TV program to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Yeah sure, California's wonderful--if you're a grapefruit.
Barney from Repeat Performance

27th of April

Spring tasks

The gravel of the garage site has packed well. A spot needs a bit more, but it's going to work well. I don't think I'll need any hard pack. The colors don't match between the garage base and the driveway. I don't care. I'm not a racist!

I've finished collecting the bulk of the brush piles. I cleaned up after the previous jobs of driveway building and clearing space for the solar panels. That was a long and tiring job. Now, I just need to cover them before the snow flies.

The panels fully charged the battery today, despite only intermittent sun. I've deployed the camper awning, so I now have a dry place to sit outside. It's good for relaxing outside after a long day's work.

I've still got a number of tasks to complete before I can get back to writing. I need to get them done first. Photos of the garage will be posted when I get it up.

Site updates

I added seven movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

21st of April

Spring tasks

Since the weather has been good the past couple of weeks, I've been accomplishing outside tasks. (Writing is on hold until I catch up.) I cleared the site for the soft garage. John leveled it with extra dirt. I have received a dump truck load of gravel to fill in the voids.

The garage will be slightly higher than the driveway and the surrounding land so it shouldn't ever flood. We've also cleared an area so I can deploy the camper awning.

After the gravel evens out the garage area, I'll see if I want to put down hard pack. The color of the two materials is different. I don't care about that. I'm more concerned about the surface being sturdy enough for vehicles and tool chests.

I've also cleared an area for the bee hive. The apiary doesn't have the maximum amount of light, but I don't want to take down any more trees. I think it'll be good enough. I need to paint a couple of the hive components, then it'll be ready.

The rest of my time has been consumed with assembling more brush piles and consolidating wood into a "mega pile," which should be easier to cover. I also serviced the power equipment and tilted the solar arrays to the "summer" angle.

I found that the arrays weren't pointing to solar south. I must have misread the compass. I fixed them, and there seems to be more light gathered.

It's good to have a day off! I'm sore and worn out.

Site updates

I added six movies & one TV movie to the GRS database. Enjoy!

9th of April

Writing

My writing is coming along. I've doubled the original length. Recall, that, originally, I stopped writing and said that I was done and started to investigate publishing. Then, I learned that I was a bit light for words. So, today, I'm 65% there!

Yes, I know I shouldn't be counting words, and should instead focus on content. The snag is that for an unknown author, one must tick all the boxes--like length--just to warrant a look.

And it seems that the "look" will probably have to be from an agent first. Going directly to a publisher usually is a waste of time. That's the next challenge. Now, I'll elaborate my manuscript to bring it up to the desirable length.

I've been adding better than a thousand words every day. Boy, and it is work. I enjoy it a lot; however, the idea that it's easy is entirely incorrect. Writing is really a trip of self discovery and then self examination. Words carry a lot of the writer with them.

Warmth!

The warm temperatures are allowing me to clean up. I've been doing those jobs that I wanted to do. For instance, I buried the rest of the solar transmission lines. In a couple of weeks, I'll adjust the solar arrays to the "summer" angle. Yes, summer!!

I also started arranging brush into burn piles. Next winter, they will be a source of heat, light, and fun. I have so much brush from clearing the driveway, panels, etc., that this will be an ongoing task, which is great.

It's wonderful being outside without a jacket! I spent so much time outdoors today that I got a tan. Yes, a tan and not a sunburn. That's unusual for me!

New generator

The spring heralds a new battery-charging generator for the homestead. The Honda continued to serve, but I received a slightly-larger Westinghouse replacement. (The Honda had begun to burn quite a bit of oil. And its appetite for gasoline also increased.)

The Westinghouse generator is blue. It's slightly larger and a bit louder. Though, the noise is a baritone beat to the Honda's tenor slap. And it burns no oil.

I like the unit very much. The spark plug is unnecessarily difficult to remove; however, that is a small annoyance. This Westinghouse product has an excellent way to pour the correct amount of oil into the crankcase: a graduated bottle with a plastic spout. Genius!

It's also 10% more powerful than the Honda. The cost is about half of the Honda. So, I'm thinking that I wasted money buying the Honda. Still, "we can rebuilt him." Yes, I'll film a '70s TV program when I retrofit a new gasoline engine to the fully-functioning inverter of the Honda.

My thought is that I can find a new engine that will fit into the suitcase and have a new generator ready to go. (The Westinghouse won't last forever, after all.) Honda does make a better quality series of small engines, which I am tempted to consider.

This task may seem idiotic, but it will save me money in the long run. I also won't have to dispose of a gasoline-powered generator. Do you know how difficult that is? Neither do I, and I don't care to know!

Life At Sea in Heavy Weather

Below is a link to a cool video of life aboard a container ship in Atlantic Ocean. Good music. Great filming. Take a look because it's worth it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZA6gNeZ5G4

Site updates

I added five movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

April Fools'

Heavy snow

I was dreading a heavy, wet snowfall. It occurred at the worst time, too: overnight. Fortunately, I was able to clear most of the driveway. Another "challenge" was that the hard pack wasn't frozen, so I had to learn not to spin all four wheels.

I can't complain because a foot or more of wet snow was moved by a lightweight vehicle. I only had to shovel a bit at the bottom of the driveway.

Site updates

I have been updating the older entries in the movie database. I want to, eventually, have a description for every movie in the comments section.

If you find any errors, please let me know. The mailbox icon at the bottom of the page will provide you with a form that should be very quick to complete.

I've added four movies and a TV movie to the GRS database. Enjoy!

25th of March

Spring?

Spring, hah! I just finished burning some brush and now it's snowing! I feel like an idiot for exchanging my winter tires for my "all season" set. My decision was influenced by a previous, long stretch of warm weather. Oh well!

Writing

I thought I had a marketable manuscript. I was wrong. My online research proves that the length of my manuscript was too long for a magazine article and too short for a novel.

Word count seems to be very important. So, I am elaborating my manuscript. I'm halfway to a short novel. I'm making progress and still have plenty of money, so life is good.

Site updates

Welcome four movies and two TV movies to the GRS database. And enjoy them!

the day after the Ides of March

Site updates

Since I've been forced inside again, I've been watching films. I've added six movies and a TV movie to the GRS database.

Below is a link to a cool video that uses Shift photography. The catchy tune, which was released nearly twenty-five years ago, sounds very modern. Why not watch and listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d41NrXz0yMA

I could tell right away that the setting is Bondi Beach, the topless section. Yeah, I'm just good like that! Seriously, recall that I was there in March, 2007? Here's a link to the photo that I took.

the day before the Ides of March

More adventure

This morning, the furnace blower ground to a halt. It makes a good alarm clock. I fired up my backup heater, the oven. And would you know that "Warm" on the thermostat will keep the camper at room temperature?


The sudden halt of the furnace blower, which tripped the motor breaker, also damaged one of the "hamster wheels". It was secured to the motor shaft with a plastic hub. It's no wonder that one of the two poorly-balanced "wheels" hadn't wrecked its fragile connection point sooner!

Fortunately, the local hardware store has shaft collars and the new motor has flats on the shafts. I don't have the angle grinder here, so the existing flats saved my bacon!

The motor didn't fare well either. One of the shaft bearings is completely shot. I'll have to replace it with the sun shining down on my bare arms. I can't wait for the return of the warm weather!

I really lucked out because the shaft collar did the trick for the "wheel", and there was no other damage to the furnace, aside from the motor. Recall that I had procured a replacement motor last month?

The furnace is now running as smoothly as it can. Those "hamster wheels" really are not well balanced! The replacement unit boasts balanced wheels "for quieter operation". Ha! Try, for a longer motor life!

I wasn't panicked this time around, so I managed to snap some photos. A photo of the blower motor opens from this link. The large wheel (the one that broke) may be viewed here.

Oh, and there's some snow falling. I've been plowing every three or four inches, and it's going well!

10th of March

Site updates

It's a good day to stay in. So I added some movies to GRS database. Enjoy!

7th of March

Beethoven!

Who says Beethoven doesn't demand power? Today, I was watching the camper battery voltage whilst I listened to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. Yes, the volume was high. Is there another way to take-in Beethoven? You do know that he wanted all of us to be deaf like he was in his later years?

The battery voltage would jump all around. On a fully-charged battery, like in this case, for instance, the voltage will drop a couple of tenths of a volt when I switch on a vent fan. That makes sense because a fan spinning rapidly draws a lot of current, even from a high-capacity battery.

Evidently, the radio when playing at nearly full volume presents a much, much larger draw. All would be alright during the calm points of the Symphony and then the volume would suddenly rise, taking down the battery voltage.

And I'm not saying a drop of a couple of tenths of a volt. At full volume, as Beethoven was expected to be enjoyed, the voltage would bottom out an entire volt below normal!

That's more than five times the power draw that a fan whose only purpose is to push air around! Mind you, this is all happening with a 900-Watt, gasoline generator actively charging the battery. (And the fan voltage drop was also recorded with this active generator.)

I could see the generator struggling to keep up--I definitely couldn't hear it--as the voltage reading would rapidly change. Despite my ailing, Honda generator struggling to keep up until Beethoven let up, I still rely on it. Maybe the great composer has given it new life?

(The generator does have half of its life left. One wouldn't know it with the smoky morning starts! Maybe that is its coffee?)

Beethoven caused a voltage drop to a gas-powered generator! This music requires a lot of power. So if you are feeling down on energy, listen to Beethoven!

Rock gods turn up their amplifiers to "eleven". Bah! Stay home and enjoy Beethoven the correct way. There's more energy expended per volume of air enjoying this master than in any rock concert.

Yes, I do have an ear for Greenpeace. It's my Beethoven ear. They know I listen to them without missing a syllable. So, they always welcome my insightful comments. OK, no, they don't. They ask me to go away. I guess Beethoven isn't for everybody. Too bad. Imagine if they had his following!

4th March

Winter, writing, sun, updates

Winter's back for a few days. No problems to report. Writing is going well. I'm now getting some proofreading from family. The fourth solar panel seems to only be helping, so I'm going to leave it connected. Soon, I need to re-tilt the solar arrays. The cold temperatures do force me to stay inside and watch movies.

I have added seven movies & a TV movie to the GRS database. Enjoy!

25th Feb

Preparing for spring

The recent thaw has set temperature records and heralds the early beginning of mud season. Oh, what a mess!

I have shoveled snow away from the driveway but since the drive is lower than the surrounding, undisturbed ground, water tends to drain into it. If the temperatures were more seasonable, then the melting wouldn't be so dramatic! On a positive note, the area behind the solar arrays is clear of snow.

The Honda generator continues to hang on. It blows smoke occasionally and covers the spark plug with soot; but, it works! Funny thing is that I got a warranty extension form from the vendor. Ha, yeah right: I'll get right on that!

Today, I felled five trees. There were in the way of the garage. I don't like removing trees but John needs to be able to get his tractor in so we can fill and level the area for the garage.

One dead tree was threateningly close to the active solar array. Fortunately, it fell exactly where I wanted it. It could have been very nasty. I haven't lost my touch!

Writing

I'm nearing the end of my non-fiction manuscript. I need to proofread it again and add a couple of additional photographs, which I'll take next weekend.

Site updates

I have added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

22nd Feb

Day off

Today was too nice to stay indoors and work. And I've made great progress writing, so I deserved a day off. I shoveled so I could get the ATV behind the solar panels. I need to change the tilt angle in a couple of weeks. It's great that it's been so warm because the shoveled area will melt.

Yesterday, I received the new power inverter/charger for the camper. It does a much better job charging the battery. In fact, it did such a good job last night that I haven't had to run the generator yet! (It's still working!) I've been running the computer off the battery and then the panels. It's so quiet.

I was able to open a window and the vents for the first time this year. Oh, spring will be awesome. The luxury of having all the windows open most of the time. And I won't have to have plastic covering them to keep the heat in. I'm looking forward to it!

18th Feb

Honda's end?

Living off the power grid isn't easy. Yesterday morning the Honda generator refused to fire up. It resides inside the camper when not in use so I was a bit surprised.

I added oil, of which it has been using an unexpected amount recently. No change. I installed a new spark plug, looked at the air filter (clean), cleaned the spark arrestor and emptied the muffler of carbon pellets.

The plug and muffler told me that the tiny engine was running too rich. But the air filter is clear. I'm at a loss. There's no fuel filter that I can see and the manual doesn't reference one. Maybe I'm nearing the end of the engine life?

I looked for an engine rebuild kit. You know me; rebuild before replacement. The rebuild kit is available; however, I also learned that the tiny engine in my Honda suitcase generator isn't the best.

It's known as a disposable engine to Honda. Shucks, so much for buying a Honda means buying the best. After reading the well-written individual's posts, I tend to agree. The sound of piston slap is something I just ignored, thinking, it's a Honda.

I'll continue to feed oil and gas to it. I'll even test the compression, which should be a conservative 8/1. I feel this may be the last leg of this little engine, for replacement parts are hard to come by because no one rebuilds these engines.

Do not worry because when the small Honda generator finally refuses to start, I'll go out looking for a better solution. And until I can do that, I have my LPG generator to keep everything going. (Maybe it'll be summer and I'll have more sunshine and won't need a generator?) All in all, more than a 1,000 hours isn't bad. And it's not dead yet!

Furnace

In other news, the furnace continues to perform well. I purchased a replacement blower motor yesterday and it looked the same as the motor currently installed. I checked the stamped numbers and the replacement will pull a few tenths more of an amp than the original.

That shouldn't be a problem. I do find myself wondering: OK, you've improved this motor that looks the same and is the same size and, presumable, has the similar motor inside. Why did the current rating change?

The furnace does still rumble a bit at start-up. I'll see about securing the shrouding a bit better today. The sun's out!

Solar experiment

Recall that I figured I could get away with a third solar panel? Well, I was looking at the array yesterday afternoon and saw that most of the time at least panel (that is in use) is shaded by trees.

So I hooked up a fourth panel. In the morning, like now, all four panels are collecting sun. The voltage loss caused by the extra current traveling the circuit doesn't seem to have hurt the charging performance. In fact, the battery reached the final top-up stage quicker.

I'll see how this works. I can always turn off one of the panels if I find it doesn't work. I calculate the voltage drop is around 3.4% worst-case and 2.8% at best. The goal is less than 2%; but, 3% is acceptable.

Why are there two values? As the battery is charged, the controller raises the voltage. When it is finishing up, which I call "PWMing", the voltage is around 15. Recalling your high school physics, you'll remember that as the voltage increases, for the same amount of power, the amperage drops. That's why high-tension lines are efficient: very, very high voltage.

My new arrangement will waste power while bulk charging--this is usually done by the genny anyway--and be OK when PWMing. Also, it should gather more electricity during the shady afternoons. I'll see about taking the trees down in the spring. It won't be cheap! Wish I could do it myself.

Site updates

I have added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

16 Feb

Furnace

Yup, I bragged too much. Last night the blower in the furnace screeched to a halt, literally. Damn you, Roddy Piper!

To avoid freezing, I fired up the oven and kept the door open. Yes, that sounds like the recipe for a horror movie. Next, I'll tell you that undead deer stalked me!

Don't laugh because yesterday I saw deer tracks less than 50 yards from the camper. A couple also bedded down on my land. Neat! Unless they are zombies, then uh-oh!

So I had a trying time last night. I would wake up every few hours to turn the oven on. I would then shiver in bed waiting for it to warm the place up. It did give me a lot time to think about what was wrong with the furnace.

The next morning I awoke early to get right on the repair job. The furnace is only accessible from outside so I had to shovel a bit of snow to fully remove the access panel. This reminds me of last winter...

Long story short, the blower motor appears to be OK. The bearings are pretty tight and the brushes look great. I cleaned out the inside and sprayed WD-40 on the bearings. I did manage to find a replacement motor, which was no small feat. Surprisingly, the closest RV business will have it tomorrow afternoon. Thanks, Allen!

But what do I do till then? It is my belief that the motor is fine. I think the sheet metal enclosing it was binding. That's what caused the screeching halt. In fact, this morning I found that the overload breaker had been tripped.

Right now, I have reassembled the furnace and it works! I also got to service it while I had it completely disassembled. I now know what it looks like and what to do. Thank you, kind man on Youtube!

The furnace is an impressive piece of equipment. It's just let down by sheet metal screws that eventually strip and don't keep the metal away from the "hamster wheels".

The furnace has two cylindrical wheels with slats to draw air in. One wheel feeds outside air to the flame in the combustion chamber and the other draws inside (camper) air across the hot flue and pushes it back into the camper.

That way LPG (AKA propane) is kept separate from the camper air. The design is similar to the water heater, of which you know I have grown quite fond.

In the spring, I will need to put in larger screws to hold the sheet metal rigidly away from the hamster wheels. I will also, hopefully, have a spare motor tomorrow.

I spoke with one parts guy and he said that RV parts are obsolete after ten years. This camper is getting on, at nearly 20 years old.

There's always a solution, though. I can install a newer version of the existing appliances and continue on. The same manufacturers exist and are thriving. With any luck, I won't have to depend on the camper for winter living but for maybe one more year.

Now that I have figured out the furnace, the only other complicated appliance that can fail--that I haven't already repaired--is the fridge. (I don't count the oven and stove as complicated. Will this come back to bite me in the butt?)

As for the fridge/freezer, I sincerely doubt anything can kill it because of the "ammonia cycle" source for refrigeration. It's fascinating; however, I won't go into it here. Wikipedia does a better job: Absorption refrigerator

How can that break? And if it does, I put all my frozen foods outside. Potential problem solved. Tonight will be an early night. My store of adrenaline is running low!

Valentine's Day

Camp life

We finally had a real snowstorm. Despite a neighbor claiming we received eight inches, it looks like a foot to me. Unfortunately, I was too slow to get out to plow. The ATV couldn't shift the partially-melted snow at the end of the driveway. Break out the shovel and my arm power. I eat a lot of spinach!

I have taken today and yesterday to clear snow, service the water heater, and fulfill other chores. Sometimes the chores build up and I can't do anything else until they are satisfied.

Next time you complain about a shower being slow to warm up, think of me. I have to pump all the water in and let all the used water out. That can mean defrosting the dump valve. That's not something most people usually have to do!

Of course, this is the life I chose and I wouldn't have it any other way because I am off-the-grid and truly free. It's just that, like everything, this life comes with a price.

Also, I wouldn't mind all the shoveling if I could get a full night's sleep. You see in anticipation of cold nights, I stay up till midnight--sometimes later--to keep the generator maintaining the camper battery as long as possible.

Battery woes

That way, the furnace will draw on the battery for only five or six hours before I can restart my trusted Honda generator. The problem is not a lack of battery size. It's the charge controller in the camper. It's designed to avoid overcharging a battery that's permanently attached to shore power, like in a trailer park.

To avoid overcharging, the camper's charger doesn't fully fill the battery. Instead, it settles at around 13.2 volts and thinks it's great, and basks in the lukewarm-13.2-volt water.

That voltage doesn't do much more than keep the battery around 75% charged. Yes, trailer parks have tried to ruin my life! (Realizing this fact has almost allowed me to enjoy the fact that tornadoes hit them first, well almost: I'm not that cruel.)

Yes, the solar array has a top-notch charge controller that tops up the battery. The trouble is the sunlight is so short this time of year. So, I'm left with the that's-good-enough charge controller in the camper.

Another fact of physics--that unsympathetic bitch!--is cold temperatures reduce total battery capacity. I figure that my 200 amp-hour battery is actually behaving like a 120 A-hr battery. Yes, that's about 40% of the capacity gone because it's cold! (Use that excuse on your boss and see what comes of it!)

Fortunately, others have run into my problems and there are several choices of much better charge controllers that can be fitted in place of my original unit!

Being short of sleep, I splurged and spend the $200 to have such a unit mailed here. Five or six hours of sleep simply isn't enough for the amount of hard work that I am undertaking!

Writing

I'm eager to return to my writing. I want to finish up the non-fiction manuscript so I can explore a potentially awesome, action-adventure 'script that could become a New York bestseller! The idea is excellent and will grab the reader, or so I think

An author has to realize that being his own best fan is the only way to avoid the usual afflictions of writing. You know: depression, over-drinking, and then the bullet or pills solution.

I'm very lucky that depression doesn't hit me too hard. I also live in an area that usually enjoys the sun at least every three days. The sun, which is the true source of all life, really lifts the mood!

Coming soon?

The furnace blower has been screeching very occasionally. Despite pleading with it to behave, it could be a potential fly in the ointment. I've bumped up the thermostat setting and feed the furnace the highest voltage whenever I can.

Let us hope it can hang on until April when I can do without it, and sort out the problem. Ah, the life of boondocking. I love it! The challenges and the learning. Yes, I am a bit of a masochist with an engineering tendency!

In other news...

It is wonderful being free to live a peaceful life on my own land, if it is only for a limited time! My general health has improved a lot. I have more than the physical endurance of the high-school senior across the way... at least for shoveling snow!

Ha, how many middle-aged men can say that! Of course, now that I have boasted myself, the furnace blower will quit. Maybe it's time to bust out the statue to pray to the god of bearings?

You know the edifice: it's a bunch of balls enclosed by a ring. Roddy Piper is there. He was very cool. Maybe he'll speak for me? Tell them I'm OK and to let me live? I do know They Live!

11th February

Life

It was very gusty one night. It caused a problem in the camper. A gust found its way down the intake tube of the furnace and blew out the flame! It goes to show that there's always something new that can be thrown my way!

On a calmer night, I spent a few minutes admiring my little home. It sounds strange but rectangular, yellow blocks shining at me seemed almost like a cartoon when emitting from an equally rectangular block. The funny thing is that I found this scene warm and welcoming. It must foreshadow my future cabin in the woods.

Writing

I'm probably about halfway through the manuscript. I spoke with a neighbor. She seemed to be a writer and suggested trying to find a publisher. The obvious reason is the lack of exposure.

Furthermore, she was interested in the solar system. Speaking with her about her electricity needs, it sounds like she would be a good candidate for roof-mounted panels. We're going to speak more about it in spring.

Site updates

I have added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

4th February

Site updates

I have added seven movies to the GRS database. This is a good aspect of winter!

Writing

Writing is going well. I have no trouble sticking to my schedule. I manage about six hours of continuous work Monday through Friday, excepting snow days.

Camper

All is going well with the camper. In fact, it has now paid for itself! I have also found a way to reduce my use of LPG, and it's making a difference. It would be excellent if I can get through to spring without any problems.

Thanks for reading!

28th of January

Site updates

I have added eight movies to the GRS database. Thank you, Youtube!

Writing

My work continues to progress well. I have forgotten just how much I have accomplished here at the homestead. The manual is going to be lengthy. It will also include a computer spreadsheet, which will make it interactive.

Perhaps this interactivity will be a good selling point? I shouldn't get ahead of myself because I still need to complete the manuscript. It looks like that will coincide with the return of spring.

Projects

Speaking of warm weather, my projects will be on hold until then. That is unless I have an emergency that requires invention.

I plan to set-up the bee hive in late March. The vendor has already charged me for the queen & package bees. I just need to order a bit more equipment and bee medicines.

22nd of January

Writing

My first week of writing has passed well. I had no trouble sticking to the schedule. Actually, I look forward to working. On sunny mornings, I am able to run the computer off the panels. Neat!

I've also taken up practicing my musical instrument every day. It's impressive how quickly the skill returns. Muscle memory, maybe?

Bees

I have collected my bee-keeping equipment. (I had purchased everything I should need for one hive years ago.) I, also, placed an order for a queen and package bees. The package should have a sufficient number of workers to get the hive going.

They will arrive in the spring. I'll have the hive set up before then. That'll be a fun spring project! I'll be sure to describe my progress with photos.

Site updates

I have added four movies, a miniseries, and a TV series to the GRS database. Enjoy!

15th January 2017

Stove

John and I got a good fire going in the stove. The flue is just too small for the size of the firebox and opening. I'm going to figure out what it needs to be and modify it in the summer. What a shame that the design is wrong!

Writing

I'm going to start my schedule of writing this week. It will be good to be back working towards a potential source of income. Please wish me luck!

12th January 2017

Stove

Good news: the stove relocation and installation went very quickly. I guess I'm getting good at this sort of thing? It's also a lot easier working when it's above freezing and sunny!

I thought I was clever by using sheet metal loosely located around the stovepipe where it pass through the tarps. I then "flashed" it with layers of aluminum foil. Take a look:


The sheet metal is brown and loosely held in place with Gorilla tape (black) to the surrounding supports.

This isn't a permanent job. I figured it could get me through the rest of the winter. Then, I could do a proper job when I repair the roof and A-frame. (Remember "Oakie"?)

The final product looks pretty good:


Here's what the stove looks like with the new flue:


I sealed the joints with high-temperature RTV silicone. There is a draft inside the stove.

The bad news: smoke continues to pour out the door when the fire bogs down. Also, the fire doesn't stay lit without the door open. Plainly, there's insufficient feed air flowing in.

John--remember he helped me a lot this past summer?--is going to stop by on Saturday and take a look. Check back then to see what happens next!

Weather

We're enjoying a second day of warm weather. Today, it's nudging 50 degrees! It's convenient because I can open a window and turn on a vent fan to purge the smoke smell.

Site updates

I have added five movies to the GRS database.

If you check the latest additions block, it'll look like I added six movies. That's because there was an error. The Viking film was uploaded last time, and is only appearing now.

The same holds true for the mobile page.

10th January 2017

Stove

I extended the flue by four feet. No joy. I'll have to relocate the stove so the flue goes straight up. That means cutting a hole in the roof. At least, it's going to warm up so I can do a good job with the caulking.

BAND-MAID

The all-girl, Japanese, hard rock band has released another video. Take a look:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGXzhxXVimY

9th January 2017

Stove

The stove is installed and looks pretty good! Take a look:


The stove came with a length of piping for the flue. But I didn't want to cut a hole in the roof of the camper, so I went out a window!

You can see the exhaust pipe that I used to extend the flue. Neat! It goes out and then straight up past the roof line. I sealed the joints with high-temperature RTV silicone. It works, too!


The top is capped, and I put in a spark-arresting screen. It would be a bad thing to set something outside on fire! Click this link to see the cap up close.

Feeding through the window was a bit tricky. I ended up fabricating an aluminum sheet-metal/cardboard/Gorilla-tape partition. I guess that makes it a composite

I thought about using wood but don't have a router to get the necessary curves. Below is the feedthru with the wall thimble and insulating cord.


I had to remove and invert the window to get the sliding section in the correct position. Man, I wish I had done this job in the autumn! It's done, though, and sealed up again.

Now, what you've been waiting for! The stove does work. See:


The not-so-good news is that the flue isn't working well. When I open the door, smoke pours out. Also, the fire won't stay lit. This makes sense because the smoke isn't being pulled out so fresh air can't come in. Nothing is ever easy. Damn it!

7th January 2017

Stove update

I'm nearly finished. The stove installation is completed. Just in time judging by the cold temperatures. I just have to fabricate the heat shields to protect the surrounding wall and electrical units. Now, I wish I had a sheet metal brake. Oh well, I'll find a way.

Site updates

I have added three movies & three TV movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

4th January 2017

Stove update

This week I'm installing a camp stove in the camper. I'm about halfway completed with the job. It's been challenging; however, I solved the most trying aspects. I found a clever way to run the flue out the camper without cutting any new holes. I'll post photos soon!

Today, I also found the rest of the pipes I need for the flue. It wasn't my idea to use car exhaust pipes. The friendly guy at the Home Depot recommended it, and I said: "why didn't I think of that?!"

I loosely assembled the top of the flue. I also installed a spark arrestor in the top. And would you know it: it looks professional. The arrestor is a code requirement in Canada, and probably in the States also.

The height of the flue was dictated by Canadian code. Obviously, the top of any chimney has to have plenty of horizontal air flow over it to ensure the smoke is drawn out. (Thank you, Mr. Venturi, for explaining this effect!)

Got wood?

I've split all the wood felled during the "Oakie" incident. Both the standing oak and the small, "green" evergreen, split beautifully. I'm getting quite accurate with the ax. What a fun exercise!

Whilst splitting wood, I came across a large nail. It looks like a ten-penny (??) and had a substantial effect inside the tree. Here are a few photos. If you click the thumbnails, you'll see some blue lines that'll help you locate the nail:


I was surprised at the effect. It's something to think about when nailing into a tree.

Got sun?

I had a thought last night. I checked my math and the cut-off cable. I found that I had shortened the solar-array-to-camper cables enough to use a third solar panel!

Yes, 300 Watts is pushing it, but the actual cable length--as opposed to the design length--keeps the voltage loss just under the magical 3%!

This morning, I connected a third panel. When the sun was shining, briefly; it seemed to make a difference. I'll know for sure later.

New Year's Day

Happy New Year's!

I'd like to start by thanking you, the reader, for your attention this past year. Hopefully, I can maintain it in 2017!

I'm finally feeling almost fully back to normal. That silly workplace really has a sapping effect on individuals. As a friend said, who was laid off before I; it takes two weeks to get back to normal.

That said, I'm going to take another week off. I plan to fit my new stove to the camper. I'll post my progress as it occurs!

Site updates

I have added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

30th December 2016

Winter wonderland?

We got a few inches--six?--yesterday. The 'fall was wet and sticky, which worried some people because of the potential for downed power lines. Not me!

The day before I had felled a couple of large birches that could threaten the solar arrays. Aren't birch trees always in a state of falling down?

Below are a couple of photos that I awoke to this morning:


I think it's a "winter wonderland". But then, I'm hopelessly in love with winter. The peace of fallen snow is without equal. Furthermore, one must go out and clear it from a driveway and walkways. I enjoy physical exertion, so it's no hardship: only a welcome reason to be outdoors.

The day turned out to be a glorious one, too. The sun shone down and made the snow-covered trees glitter with wintry beauty. This occurrence is why I live in this particular region of the north. Other regions don't usually enjoy brilliant sunshine after snowstorms. (I'm sorry for you because it makes winter so much more beautiful!)

Here are a few shots of the camp. I'm getting better at plowing with my Honda ATV, which you can see still uncovered.


Future plans

My camp stove arrived today. The FedEx driver, with whom I have developed a conversation, said that he was recovering from the 100-plus-stops days during the Christmas season.

I asked him how he could make so many deliveries in eight hours. He said, he couldn't so he worked 14-15 hour days. Think of your delivery guy or gal next time you place an order near Christmas. Maybe it can wait?

The stove is perfectly sized for my camper! I was concerned that it would be too big. Even though I measured twice, I still maintained some apprehension. No problem. It'll fit well.

Before the storm, I cleared an alcove off the driveway. This area will be the future site of my soft garage. I don't like cutting down trees, but I also need to get out of my rental garage. After my LPG (i.e. propane) expense, the garage rental is my largest expense.

The trees are all down and none fell on my camper. I'm smart when felling trees because I used other doomed trunks to "catch" target trees. Yeah, I'm not as dumb as I look!

It took a lot of fortitude to drag all the trunks to an area underneath a hemlock tree for later bucking and splitting.

Hemlocks are wonderful because they're not only upright and handsome, but their many branches catch a lot of snow, which shields the ground below.

I'm looking forward to using my new wood stove because my LPG usage is approaching my maximum-budgeted-expense scenario. Remember, I quit my job so I had to budget all expenses. It would be a windfall if I could dramatically reduce this bill. (Damn, I sound like a pensioner! Don't worry I won't recommend "Golden Girls" as a choice, TV sitcom.)

Status

The well continues to deliver water whenever I want it. And after I have filled my fresh water tank, it's still pumping water. I wonder if the recharge rate has grown above nil?

The furnace continues to perform without fault. Yes, I do awaken at night waiting to hear the blower switch off, indicating that all is well. I probably shouldn't be concerned, but I still am.

The water heater and I have developed a symbiotic relationship. I need hot water and it needs battery voltage. Working together, we have established a ritual where we both are satisfied.

The cable heater hasn't let me down. We have some colder nights coming so maybe the true test is ahead? The dump valve hasn't frozen again because, after I re-fit its insulation, I bury the area with snow. Of course, snow's a wonderful insulator.

The fridge-freezer continues to hold me in awe. It uses very little LPG; however, it keeps my beer cool and pizzas frozen. I hear it at night when it's most quiet and I am most alert. The absorption refrigerator still intrigues me.

The solar array delivers power like a monk. It's consistent, reliable, and quiet. The Honda "suitcase" generator doesn't miss a beat. I'll probably need to perform another service soon. Though, I expect a long life because it spends much of the time inside. Seven hundred hours really is nothing for a Honda.

Christmas Monday

Life is good

Today, I canceled my health insurance. It's pleasant to boycott an industry based on illness and drugs. Instead I will continue to walk every day, or do an equivalent exercise, and eat well. Keeping a positive attitude helps a lot, too! These are key to good health, not being "practiced" upon by prescription drug pushers.

Repairs

I repaired the fancy, dancy pure-sine-wave power inverter. Maybe you recall my dismay when this expensive inverter stopped working after only 20 or 30 hours of operation?

If not, I'll quickly relate the episode. I purchased an expensive power inverter capable of delivering a relatively smooth A/C power signal similar to what the grid provides. I waited a week for the delivery from Best Buy.

Then, it quit working and confused my desktop computer's BIOS, which added to my turbulent transition. Yes, moving from an apartment into a camper was going too smoothly, so this inverter decided to threaten the only device I really needed.

Of course, I found a solution after finishing my move. A shaggy-haired kid sold me a replacement inverter in the Radio Shack brand. (Remember when such devices would be Tandy?) I purchased a one-year warranty just to insure myself against catastrophic failures. Fortunately, this Radio Shack unit continues to perform well!

Now that life has settled down, I decided to open up the failed power inverter. One thing is for certain they design those units to be repaired!

I quickly found the burned-out component. I've seen this trick before during my working career. It always looks like a joke or a quick-fix. Regardless, a lone resistor on the backside of a circuit board had obviously burnt out.

I replaced it with a higher-power unit from my friendly Radio Shack. And, would you know it, the unit fired up and powered my computer. Yes, I was stunned! I am no champion with a soldering iron.

Camp life

Many people think I am living an eternal summer camp when I mention where I live. They automatically assume that I am living somewhere else now that winter has settled in. Well, I am not: I love the seasons--all of them--in my little part of the world!

Yes, life is not without its adventures. The other day, I was welcomed home by a musty smell. Instinctively, I questioned myself: did I empty the grey-water tank enough? Is there something else wrong?

Then, it hit me: I have a couple of should-really-be-outdoor tools inside. That's the reason. It's tough to find a place to protect sensitive tools when the temperatures dip.

Speaking of low temperatures, a few nights ago it was cool. The heater cable kept the regulator working. The tank valves didn't freeze either. We'll see what happens when it is very cold again. Today, it was nearly 50!

Christmas Eve

Site updates

I have added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Jobs & stove

My final day was Thursday. True to the "spirit" of that place, I had a long day of walking around getting signatures. Fortunately, no one did anything like a party with the social cripples. That would have been awkward. The only aspect, which I will miss, is conversations with my cubicle-mate.

I'm going to take a week off and then get into a schedule of writing, practicing my trumpet, and splitting wood. Speaking of wood, I ordered a camp woodstove. I'll put it inside the camper and reduce my propane usage. I need to use some of the wood I have on site, too. Photos will be forthcoming!

Freezing solution

I received a 12-Volt resistive wire from McMaster-Carr. I wrapped and taped it to the LPG (i.e. propane) regulator. It works, too! It'll be tested tomorrow night because the temperature is supposed to drop to the single digits.

I also purchased a 120-Volt cable heater to thaw the dump valve. I haven't had to use it. And maybe I won't have to!

Merry Christmas!

20th December 2016

Last night and this morning

Last night, I returned home--it was hovering around 0°F--to find either the LPG regulator or tank valves froze. It must have just happened because inside it was in the high 40s. Just opening and closing the tank valves was enough to get the gas flowing again.

However when it froze overnight, I was a bit upset. At 4 AM and -4°, it's not an adventure. So I responded by taking today off from work. Any excuse will do!


I thought about what I could do about the freezing. I have disposable hand/body warmers. They are exothermic and I bought them as insurance against this problem. I figure if I tape one to the regulator and replace the plastic tank cover, it should keep the tank valves warm, too. Hot air rises.

Improvements

My long term solution is more permanent. I ordered two heater cables from McMaster-Carr. (They're a great vendor, and privately held. I very much dislike shareholder corporations!) One tape will keep the regulator cozy, while the other will warm the grey water dump valve when I need to empty the tank.

It and the adjacent pipe were frozen solid this morning so I had to break out the heat gun. The tank hasn't frozen. I don't think it will freeze because of its location hugging the floor and out of the draft from the "door" to access the dump valve. I did, however, order a stick-on heater strip for the tank. That's a spring job.

I can spare the electricity. I am really thankful for my 4D battery and Honda generator. Speaking of it, I changed the oil over the weekend. It has more than six hundred hours on it! It still runs well and sounds good.

The door continues to freeze a bit. I thawed it with the gun. I also drilled holes to allow water to weep out instead of collecting in the door jamb. There's little better than drilling holes in something to make one feel a sense of accomplishment!

18th December 2016

After the Freeze

The camper functioned well during the -5 Fahrenheit nights. The grey water tank did not freeze. The dump gate valve did freeze, but that's minor. I can always use the heat gun to warm it up.

The door did build up with ice. This made keeping the door closed more difficult. But that's all gone now. I'm preparing for the next freeze overnight.

15th December 2016

The Freeze

I am taking today and tomorrow off from work to ensure nothing freezes here at home. So far so good. I have a mostly full grey water tank and I tuned the water heater this morning.

Its mixture was out a bit. It must be the cold temperatures. I'll keep an eye on it. The grey water tank is my real concern. Though, underneath the camper, temperatures are safe.

It's forecasted to drop to zero tonight with wind. The gusts don't bother me too much because of the trees. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the teens for a high. Hopefully, it'll be sunny.

The solar array, working with the Honda generator, got the battery to floating voltage. That's a good thing because it means that it acquired a full charge. I'll need the reserve charge to ensure the furnace and water heater run throughout the night.

I'm not concerned about the battery because I'll probably run the generator until 11 or midnight. And if the grey water tank freezes and bursts, it'll just drain all the time underneath. I doubt that will happen.

The drains from the sinks & shower are more likely to freeze. I just checked the shower drain because it's located in the coldest spot of the camper. It's in the mid 50s with outside temperatures in the mid teens. We'll see! It's an adventure

I have sprayed the door latch with WD-40. It works better than ever now. Hopefully, it won't freeze. I'll be sure to open the second tank before retiring for the night.

MIT

I am not alone thinking MIT graduates are ill-prepared for the real world and lack many basic, every day skills. Toadboy01 posted the below comment to a boston.com article about MIT admissions:

"Those 2175 that got denied [admission to MIT] are the lucky ones. Work with a bunch of MIT grads. Intellectual, maybe, but no common sense, personality or manners. Half don't know what a shower is and most look worse than a homeless person. As a manager I'll take a student from WPI or RPI over an MIT grad any day, especially a WPI grad (much better prepared overall). MIT shouldn't be the bar when many crash and burn upon graduation because they haven't learned what TEAM means.

So there you have it: MIT shouldn't be the metric by which all engineering universities are measured. That is, unless you enjoy smelly and rude zombies with no real problem-solving ability!

Lojack people?

I read an article that says that a new bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives, will allow the implantation of trackable microchips in certain individuals. The article claims that these certain individuals are those with disabilities.

This is the link to the article:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-13/house-passes-bill-microchip-citizens-mental-disabilities-whos-next

I did skim through the bill myself and found it to be ambiguous. No, a government law that is unclear: you must be going mad, Bill?

Here's the text of the bill that the House passed and has sent to the Senate:

https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/4919/text

The reporting agencies may be off the mark; however, I am very concerned when the following amendment is proposed:

by striking "Alzheimer's disease patient" and inserting "Americans"

This law would apply to everyone. Let's read on.

"shall award grants to health care agencies, State and local law enforcement agencies, or public safety agencies to assist such agencies in designing, establishing, and operating locative tracking technology programs for individuals with forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer's Disease, or children with developmental disabilities, such as autism, who have wandered from safe environments"

OK, I'm creeped out. Our tax dollars will be used for "locative tracking technology". Can you say, George Orwell's 1984? Yes, the clause goes on to say it will be used for individuals with disabilites. It doesn't state that the rest of us won't be labeled as disabled.

In fact, they replaced "Alzheimer's disease patient" with "Americans". That qualifies all of us, instead of just a small proportion of the American population. Who'll decide if we need a "locative tracking technology" device? Or, perhaps, the better question is who will decide who will track us?

the Attorney General shall--

(A) determine--

(i) the criteria used to determine which individuals would benefit from the use of a tracking device;

(ii) the criteria used to determine who should have direct access to the tracking system


Our new master could be the U.S. Attorney General. Do you know who this is? Do you care? You probably should! Are you ready to kneel, begging for your freedom of movement?

If not, then it would be prudent to write your local Senator and demand that he or she vote against this flagrantly abusive House bill. If we pay attention, we can still stop the passage of such travesties.

Site updates

I have added eight movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

12/12/16

Snow!

Just a quick update. We finally got some real snow last night into this morning. I took the day off, of course. The ATV snow plow worked quite well. OK, it lacks the weight of a truck; however, it works if one is careful and persistent.

I cleared my driveway without too much trouble. The main problem is my inexperience. I'll improve with time. Meanwhile, the snow tires on the Mazda allow me easy access. That's what I was concerned about. I have snowshoes, but 'shoeing to the camper would get old!

I also did the laundry. Boy, do I dislike daytime TV! It's all "totally, like, you know, well he said this, and I said, like, you're totally wrong", etc. And the hysteria of the female-hosted talk shows is obnoxious. It's no wonder people are so chaotic!

11th of December 2016

Trapped!

Last night was the coldest so far. I saw 4 degrees Fahrenheit! Of course, I forgot to turn on the secondary LPG tank and I ran out of gas at 2 AM.

I groggily pulled the lever door handle. It wouldn't move. I thought, I'm trapped! Of course, I could always pop out the rear window. It'll always work--right?--because it's the emergency exit.

After a couple of minutes I got the door open. Then, the same lever that was frozen closed, stuck open. So I used the door lock to keep the door shut. It's thawed out now and back to normal.

Cold weather performance

I've been monitoring the temperature underneath the camper. I'm concerned about the grey water tank freezing. It's tucked close to the floor, which is warm.

Yesterday morning the overnight temperature was in the low teens and the temperature underneath was in the mid thirties. This morning, with the 4 degree minimum, the temperature was 29 degrees.

I don't think the tank froze because I've been keeping it mostly full. I also added some baking soda and other stuff to lower the freezing point. I'll definitely need to watch it. I think last night is about the coldest it should get.

I'm really glad that I did a good job on the skirt! I'll install a 12 Volt tank heater in the spring. It's supposed to warm up and snow so there's an end in sight!

But wait, there's more good news! I can still pump water from the well. The fitting on top freezes a bit, but warms up when handled. I blow off the top of the well head after pumping. That gets rid of any standing water, which will freeze. The little hut for the well head has been helping, too.

Speaking of the air compressor, I have wired up a battery connection. This way a battery can start the compressor. It was tough to start by hand in the cool autumn. I wouldn't be able to start it by hand now.

Here are some photos:


My only complaint is that there's no convenient grounding point to use. That's a small criticism because the starter motor works well! I employ the old camper battery to start the compressor.

The camper battery, currently in use, continues to perform well. It's never run out of charge. I'm glad that I purchased such a large one.

The solar array does a decent job of keeping the battery charged during the day. This should be the worst time of year because the sun is low and the furnace--the main consumer of electricity--runs frequently.

Notice

I notified my bosses of my termination of the contract. They seemed surprised. My cubicle mate and former surpervisor--the one I like--are jealous. Do I regret the choice: no!

It is a bit unnerving quiting a job without a replacement lined up. However, I have high hopes that my DIY manual will yield a profit. I definitely won't miss the commute or the place.

The latest brilliant idea they have undertaken is the closure of the main cafeteria. Time to re-model. I joked that the replacement would be food trucks. And I was correct. People now have to stand outside and get some garbage from a roach coach. Craziness!

Can they make the working environment any worse? Yes, they could re-model all the restrooms and supply porta-potties in the parking lot. It makes sense because they can take up more parking spaces and inconvenience people at the same time!

Make It Tricky, Make It Terrible, MIT

Video

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for the past presidential election, has a good sense of humor:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pzoJVnPblI

2nd December 2016

Site update

I have added six movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

Water

Please recall that I was going to invoke Plan "C" to keep my water source thawed during the inevitable deep freeze. Well, I had "a bit of a think" about it.

I could put a heat lamp in the enclosure to keep it warm. Instead, I let Mother Nature keep my water source secure. I pulled up the pump and drilled an eight-inch weep hole at a depth of about ten feet. This hole will allow water to drain back to a frost-free level. Wanna see? Take a look by clicking here!

I tested it. The pump has no trouble pushing up fresh water. There's just a small hiccup in the flow as the air pocket is pushed back to the surface. Lovely. No costly heat lamp for me. Hopefully, Plan "Caveman" won't be needed now.

Goodbye, "Oakie"

Today, I broke out the gasoline-powered chainsaw, and managed to get it running. I set my sights on chopping up my previous adversary, Oakie.

I enjoy the electric 'saw because it's so quiet; however, there's just no way that it can replace good ole dinosaur power! After two tanks, I had chopped up the monster and an unfortunate evergreen victim.

It felt good. What felt great was raising the axe against sections of this tree. I enjoy splitting wood. It may seem juvenile. It may be just "too masculine". It's great! There's nothing quite like splitting a piece of wood. It's quiet, requires strength and some skill, and usually produces fuel for the future.

Off-grid life

Life off the grid continues to be important. It's different to find warmth from a steel bottle. It's something else to know that most of your electricity comes from a small Honda generator. (The solar panels cannot charge the battery fully now. It is winter.)

It could be worse. I could be suckling off the corporate teat. It's not that their orchestrated life is so bad. You don't have to continuously fill up a generator. You don't have to pump water from a well into a tank.

I don't regret a bit of it. I am controlling my own life. I live or die by my own hand. That is what makes living off-the-grid so appealing. It's a matter of choice.

If the electric grid goes down, for whatever reason, the public is stuck. It's candles and wood-burning for heat. I hate to write it; however, the brown-outs and other outages will become more common as time advances.

Have you looked at the idiots who are taking over the reins? Do you really think this massive generation of video-games-we-can-reset-problems really cares enough to keep the lights on?

Enough

I've had enough of walking half-a-mile to a cubicle in a place that I hate. My workplace has decided to install solar panels. Good move?

No, in a time when they have managed to hire the largest number of people; they decided to block off a couple of hundred of parking spaces.

Now, anyone arriving "too late" must park half a mile away and hoof it. I feel like I'm back in college. Except this time there are no cute college girls. Instead I encounter self-centered, idiotic morons who "know" they are the best thing ever.

The above reasons, and a multitude of others, have compelled me to resign my position. On Monday, I will terminate my contract, effective later this month. (They had their chance to fire me for not being there!)

You know, I won't miss the place at all. I have nothing to show of the two years and six months, other than the wage. That is very, very sad.

There is a positive side. That place did allow me to pay off my Mazda and save enough to live life for about a year without another job.

Renewed life

I won't regret counting down the days until I won't be in that crippling environment. I'm not alone because a good friend rejoiced that soon I'll be out of the prison. (He managed to be laid off.)

I can't explain the devasting effect that place will have on any normal individual. It's shocking. Imagine knowing who you are and then having that identity dissected and dismissed by losers.

Naturally, your question is what will happen after you use up your year's worth of savings. I hope that I will have written a selling do-it-yourself manual that chronicles what I have already done.

Yes, it's a gamble. But when is such a thing not a chance? At least, I will be out of the rat race. I can be a starving writer for a time. I have no family to support.

That's why I feel this decision will renew my life. I'm not growing younger, so why shouldn't I try for what I desire whilst I have the energy? At worst, I will have another experience! Life is a bunch of experiences.

26th November 2016

Speakers

So I have these quality speakers in place in the camper. Right? And would you know that one speaker continued to cut in and out. Not coincidentally, it is the first speaker that I replaced.

When I pulled the spotty speaker, I found that the wire had been stripped far, far too long and then poorly crimped in a basic "blue" plastic slide-on connector.

Is this a problem from the "dreaded previous owner"--who I know as a "proactive man"--or is it evidence of a lazy company man? If it's the latter, how long do I have till a suspect electrical connection fails and incinerates me while I sleep? I know the smoke detector works, so that's something!

But, back to the speakers, and happier thoughts! I solved the first-replaced speaker wiring problem. What got me was that the problem continued even after I made a sound connection.

I did what most guys would do: I smacked the nearby panel. And, this indicated a deeper problem because the speaker didn't change. That is, it didn't start working or stop working when I jabbed its ceiling panel.

Then, I remembered that this camper didn't come with a CD radio head unit. Could there be a loose connection at the radio itself? I opened up one of cubby holes that houses my electronics and tools, and allows access to the radio's backside. I sighed and closed the door.

Who uses wire nuts on the leads to loudspeakers? Of course, a maintenance man. This same man is also a good carpenter. It was he who made the pitched, lumber structure that probably prevented my camper from being holed by "Oakie."

The question is now solved. Thank you for the snow frame, Stuart! Next time we meet, allow me to convince you that wire nuts are not the best choice for low-current, low-noise speaker wire connections! I'll buy you a beer and explain.

Side projects

Now that I have succeeded with all of my major projects, I am slowing down. But, as momentum prevails, I have many small jobs to undertake.

I replaced the wire nuts on the radio. I also installed a new door seal on the oven. The original seal disintegrated. The manufacturer wanted $50 for a replacement! I spent $20 at McMaster-Carr instead. I hope the RTV silicone rubber will take the heat once it is fully cured.

I also installed a 30-amp breaker and switch for the power inverter. This, coupled with a short three-prong extension cord, will allow me to remotely control the inverter. No more squeezing underneath the table. That's luxury!

I wanted to buck "Oakie" today. I mixed fresh gas and oil and filled up the chainsaw. I tried for about ten minutes to start it. No luck. I haven't used it for a year so I think something may be plugged. I'll have to inspect it later.

New photos of the camp!

I have changed the camp a bit. I'm ready for winter! I have covered the truck bed and put a tarp over the recycling bins. Of course, you know about the other changes: the "skirt" and sealing the camper windows. Below are some photos.


I don't understand why there are smoke marks from the water heater exhaust. It is running well enough and definitely not rich. The flame is yellow. Whatever. I give up. Heat water and smoke however much you want! I can clean the flue in the spring.

Thanksgiving 2016

Water, speakers, etc.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I installed the previously-mentioned point-of-use water filter. It does indeed remove arsenic. The level is now nil.

I replaced the speakers in the camper. They would cut in and out. That was very annoying. The new speakers weren't very expensive, but they sound quite good.

I'm slowing down, which is a relief. I checked the tightness of all the screws in the electrical system of the PV circuits. I sealed the skirt a bit more to stop a couple of drafts, which made the floor cold in spots.

Ambience video

An individual, named Seven7Lives, uploads videos to YouTube. Evidently, he puts video to existing songs. The one below is one of his more exciting videos that explores the lives of individuals in both the Old World and New World.

Even if you don't care for the ambience music, the video is worth watching. There are some clever shots. Below is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FezYVLDpaeQ

Saturday, the 19th

Solar system completed!

I finished the inside wiring later on Monday. It went quick once inside the camper. Here are a few shots:


What you see is the charge controller, the black and white box. It detects available voltage and charges the battery. I set the operating voltage and type of battery. Also, there is a connection to measure actual battery voltage & a thermistor to measure the battery temperature. They optimize the charging.

Currently, it's showing both the red and yellow LEDs. This means that the state-of-charge is under 35%. As the battery voltage increases, the LEDs cycle to yellow and green, then green, then flashing green.

And it's nearly silent! If you listen closely you can hear a faint tik-tik-tik-tik that's quicker than a wristwatch.

Of course, I had to install breakers between the solar array and charge controller & between the controller and the battery. They're in a box with another surge suppressor.

The suppressor also indicates when the panels are active because the blue LEDs only turn on when the array is energized. That was intentional, of course

Living with solar

I've been letting the array charge the battery since Monday. it does a reasonable job keeping the battery filled up. In fact, the battery doesn't drop below 12 Volts so the water heater will always run!

The power isn't as much as I expected. It is nearly winter and the two monster trees are still standing. So things will get better! For now the Honda generator doesn't have to work as hard.

Plan C

I added more insulation to the well head box. It may be enough to keep the pipe from freezing. Wouldn't that be convenient. Here are a couple of photos:

Water test

I've been using my own water, and it has been a good experience. I have yet to run out despite the prolonged drought.

I ran one more test. It's an arsenic test because water filtering through granite is likely to absorb some of the metal.

The test shows a safe level of the poison in the water. I had planned on it in the past so I had purchased a point-of-use water filter. It's specifically designed to remove arsenic and fluoride as well as another nasty element. I retrieved it from the garage today. I just need to plumb it in. Until then, I'm living dangerously!

Site updates

I have added five movies & one TV program to the GRS database. Enjoy!

See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

Monday, the 14th

Off

The weather was just too damned fine to be working today! I saw 62 degrees today. I also made great progress!

Solar Saturday

On Saturday, I finished the wiring and test charged the old RV battery. It charged well with no problems. I figured if I blew up a battery, it should be the one that I don't need for my furnace!

The successful test encouraged me to bury the power lines. Below are a few shots of the trench across the driveway:


Below's an extra shot of the cable as it emerges from the trench and sneaks along the edge of the drive. I did bury the cables where they cross the "grey", again near the solar array, but for this section they reside above ground. I also think the photo is cool:


The insulation is heavy like a professional, outdoor extension cord so there's no worry about vehicles running it over, and the elements and critters should be unable to penetrate it.

Here are two shots of the fully-wired combiner box and post:


First, the coil of wire just under the panels is not the permanent solution. I had ordered 30-foot solar cables because I didn't know how long I needed. Once I have the correct lengths, I'll do a neater job.

The two heavily-insulated cables, which I previously described as being buried, and the ground cable run down the post comprise the power connection to the camper.

The tie wraps aren't overly pretty. If they survive the winter, then they can stay. Otherwise, I will install large "hose" clamps.

The clear globe mounted on the outside of the box is the Midnite Solar Surge Suppressor. I have previously described its function. It's powered up and one blue LED is burning in this photo.

No professional

I am not a professional electrician so, please, don't write that I didn't maintain a blah-blah at bling-bling. If you would be kind enough to warn me of a potential fire hazard, then please follow this link: Bill screwed up and I want to save his life!.

I did my best to produce a safe and durable wiring solution. I also sealed the box with quality silicone caulking. Yes, I splurged and bought the most expensive brand that was reputable.

I had to hook the surge suppressor into the positive side of the circuit. This required splicing into a wire because there's no positive bus bar. To avoid double lugging, which is not up to code, I used a copper "doghouse" connector. It's visible just below breaker no. 1 in the rightmost photo above.

Double luggin'

Double lugging is something I didn't know about so I'll quickly relate it. Typically, screw-down lugs are meant to accomodate only one cable. In fact, the National Electrical Code (i.e. NEC) states that only one cable shall be connected to a lug, unless there is a method to attach a second.

Stuffing another wire into a single screw-down lug is a violation. It's obvious that only one cable should be attached when there's just one screw. In a two-cable attachment, like in many circuit breakers (on the service side), there is a steel plate with two bevels for two cables.

OK, you can do a good job by joining two wires "by the strand". However, doing this and attaching them to a single-lug connection is, as far as I can tell, still against the NEC.

I value my life and my camper so I am doing my very best to wire up the solar to the NEC standard. Fire is the real fear when one is running a homemade electrical solution. Fire is also a very bad way to die.

Bright!

On a brighter note, the bottom two panels are the ones that will recharge my camper's battery. It's only 200 Watts but when you think about it, that is a lot of power when delivered over three or four hours. Pictured below is the array: (the bottom two half-monocrystalline panels will be in service!)

Solar Sunday

On Sunday, I pounded another grounding stake into the ground. I hit immobile stone at the same depth. Hmm. Maybe that is the beginning of the bedrock? Whatever. I cut this stake, too. It's good enough, especially if the stake is touching bedrock!

I fitted the false front to the combiner box. Later, I will re-torque the screws behind it, but till then it looks cool. It also reminds me of my accomplishment, and gives closure of this task. Take a look:

Friday supplemental

Got sun?

I made stunning progress on the solar array this morning! I finished grounding the combiner box and the panels. Driving the eight-foot copper-plated stake into the ground was a pain. It took me four times before I missed a large, buried stone.

The fifth time I used water to ease the driving. It was hard work. It was going well enough until I was down five feet. Then, I hit a stone. I couldn't get it to move so I just cut off the post. Remember I am not on the grid. I can make decisions like this one without fear.
(Gee, I feel important.)

After that, things materialized in a flurry. I finished wiring the combiner box. I laid the large cables to the camper. I plugged in the two panels in parallel. I checked one at a time at the camper end of the cables.

I wondered about the voltage. It seems that the voltage of a solar panel without any load is 15-16 Volts for an instant before becoming "open". This matches the voltage printed on the back of the panels.

With two panels wired into their separate breakers, voltage at the camper is 15-16 Volts, not twice that. Good. I got the wiring correct. Kirchhoff would be proud.

I also wired in a Midnite Solar Surge Suppressor to protect the panels & the combiner box from electrical surges (i.e. lightning strikes). Essentially, it employs some clever electrical trickery to instantly detect and step-down high voltage. It directs the excessive power into the ground via the grounding circuit.

Oh, I checked that too. The resistance between the stake and the equipment grounding bus is 0 Ohms. That's a good thing. I don't need anything standing in the way!

The surge suppressor is probably unnecessary, but I figure better safe than sorry. The lightning surge could also find its way into the camper. Can you say fire?

Driveway, then and now

Today, four years ago, I took a video of my proposed driveway. I pushed through small trees to make the video, which I shared with a few relatives. No doubt, these few individuals thought I was a bit odd for presenting the video!

Now that the driveway is completed, I figured it a good time to upload both videos. The landmarks have been changed a bit but are still recognizable. It's kind of neat. Take a look:

(Neither video has an audio track.)

Year 2012 (19.5 MB)
Year 2016 (6.9 MB)

Friday, Armistice Day

Veteran's Day

OK, now it's called Veteran's Day to expand the scope. Originally, the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour marked the armistice of World War I. This cease-fire was so very welcomed by most peoples that it was remembered for decades afterwards.

That war is something to think about. The first world war resulted in the largest loss of life in combat ever. And for what reason? A royal was killed in a rough city, which resulted in activation of military alliances, and the death of millions.

President-elect

This brings me to the current protests and disruptions caused by the recent presidential election results. No one has died, no one will die in the near future, and this nation's status of war hasn't changed.

When emotion is avoided and a calm, objective outlook is utilized, what power does the President of the United States of America really have? This individual is there to implement the laws created and passed by Congress.

Yes, this individual also is the leader during a war. So if the protesters were really fearful of Mr. Trump wielding the American military against other nations, why didn't they protest the warful status that has existed since late 2001?

It's time to stop acting like spoiled children and accept the outcome of the election. Disrupting others' lives just because your choice didn't win the election is not how adults act. I urge you to protest but do not get in the way of other's lives. That is beyond your First Amendment right.

My thoughts

My personal view of the election results is one of relief. You see, I have long felt that federal elections were rigged. In this case, one cannot avoid noticing that the mass media, a majority of the world's billionaires, and many foreign peoples supported Ms. Clinton. Despite all this power behind a rather unpopular candidate, the more popular Mr. Trump was elected.

Thus, I feel that there is evidence that the governed actually have some choice in this fine nation. I did not vote for Mr. Trump, and am rather surprised by many of his comments; however, I abide by the popular decision, which is reflected by the electoral college.

On a positive note, maybe it's time that a businessman with no political experience be the chief executive of this nation. This country is completely built on money. Why not have a leader of some successful business ventures oversee this nation? Maybe he can reduce the public debt, or at least, balance the federal budget?

Mr. Trump, you have accomplished the unexpected. Now put away your ego and do what is right for the American majority who put you into office. Prove that the current disruptions are without foundation!

Health expenditures

I found an interested article written by an international organization based in Paris. The entire article is available here, for your reference.

It's interesting because it includes a bar graph (below, click for a larger view) of the percentages of national GDP spent on health care. Of course, Americans spend the most (16.4%). Those hip replacements and nose jobs add up!



The information that struck me was the percentage of GDP contributed by the public sector (i.e. the taxpayers administered by the government). Our government contributes about 7.5%.

Now, I expected the European taxpayers to contribute much more because their health-care systems are State-run. I learned something.

The Netherlands taxpayer contribution is almost 10% of their GDP. And that's the highest one! In fact, only the following nations match or better the US taxpayer's GDP contribution to health care:

  • The Netherlands
  • Sweden
  • Germany
  • France
  • Denmark
  • Japan
  • Belgium

  • Where are the rest of the European nations? The taxpayers of Italy, Spain, Portgual, the UK, Ireland, Norway, Greece, etc. all spend less than we do!

    Even the taxpayers in most of the nations employing the Nordic model pay less than we do! And many experts claim that their health-care systems are the best in the world.

    This begs a question: where does all of our tax money go?

    Oakie, the would-be murderer & convicted camper cutter

    Recall that a large branch of a standing, dead oak tree almost killed me in the summer? And recently this same dead tree dropped a branch on my camper, punching a sizeable hole in the outer skin.

    Well, I'm pleased to report that this dead tree has been felled. On Saturday, John downed it. We did have to fell a healthy tree to ensure that the dead oak wouldn't kick back, holing the camper or removing one of our heads. Sorry, healthy tree.

    What a relief having the mighty, dead tree down. When I have a chance, I'll buck it for firewood. Then, I can split logs. I enjoy that task!

    Homesteading

    I've been drinking my well water. It passed the bacteria test a few Sundays ago, as I expected. Pumping the water is working well. There's always been more than enough water available.

    One snag is that neither of the two pumps, which I purchased with the intention of lowering the water level in the pump output pipe, didn't do the job. They lack the power to pull enough water. Pushing water is always easier, of course.

    The result is that water persists at the quick-disconnect fitting at the water seal that's immediately on top of the water seal. I have made an insulating box, but I don't think this will stop the fitting from freezing in January. Hmm.

    I've fallen back to Plan C. C is for caveman. I have a propane space heater. (Thanks, Mike!) It should be enough to thaw the fitting. The question is will the freezing rupture the brass fitting or the plastic pipe underneath it. Time will tell!

    I re-plumbed the second LPG tank with a tee. Now, I can open up the second tank during particularly cold nights to reduce the chance of having to switch tanks early in the morning. Hey, it's a step in the right direction!

    The water heater and I have come to an agreement. I found that it won't fire up unless it has a supply of 12 Volts or higher. This is acceptable when shore power is connected (i.e. the Honda generator is running). However, I don't run the genny all the time.

    I've found the solution is to run the heater whenever I have shore power and switch it off all other times. The six gallon water-heater tank is well insulated so I've had some warm water in the morning for a shower. As the outside temperatures drop, this may become a challenge.

    I completed sealing up the camper. The skirt is quite tight. In fact, when I empty the grey water tank on cool mornings, warm air greets me from underneath the trailer.

    I also sealed all the windows with sticky, clear plastic. This is the thin film that workmen put down on floors to protect them while they work. So far, so good!

    I replaced a few weak seals on the door and re-adjusted the striker plate. These cheap fixes make a big difference. My gas usage has remained a bit high. It's what it is. There's no need to whine about it!

    Last Saturday, I wired the ground line for the first solar array. A single run of stranded, 6 gauge is connected to the equipment ground bus bar, run through the conduit, picks up all eight panel grounding lugs, and returns to the bar via the conduit.

    It sounds like a five minute job. While not too bad, it definitely takes a couple of hours. Next, I need to run a line to a copper grounding stake. Then, I can run the power lines to the camper.

    The next steps are mostly "inside" jobs. I need to fit a breaker box to fuse the charge controller and battery. This will be a fun job. After that, I'll be done, finally! Photos will be posted later.

    Site updates

    I have added seven movies & one TV program to the GRS database. Enjoy!

    late Friday, the 28th

    Water OK

    Today, I was too worn out to drive the hours to the job. Instead, I tested my well water. It passed all tests. I checked for lead, pesticides, nitrates, copper, and several others.

    The chlorine level is 1 ppm instead of zero. No doubt, that was caused by me introducing the bleach crystals. The organic test is ongoing, but currently is negative for harmful bacteria. I'll know for sure on Sunday.

    With these results, I filled my fresh water tank. No more filling water jugs at Donna's and pouring them in. Now, I just run the big generator and fill the tank on site. Ah, what luxury!

    Internet

    I brought the Internet inside the camper. That just means I put a hole in the camper and wired up everything. I then placed a few orders, caught up with my Netflix queue, and uploaded a couple of blog entries.

    Catching up

    I'm finally catching up! The ivy plant is doing well, too. I flushed the water heater tank to extend its life. The inside is coated to act as one large anode that sacrifices itself as ions build up in the water.

    I think I forgot to post an image of the solar arrays in their winter configuration. I was so busy explaining my tool that I didn't upload a photo! Well, below it is. Sorry about that!

    Regret the move?

    I drive by the old apartment every day on the way to work, when I do work that is! I do not miss the loud neighbors. In fact, I'm a lot calmer without them living next door slamming everything.

    I sort of miss the laundry facilities on site. But, this gives me incentive to work on building my cabin. And it's not that bad because the laundromat is just at the end of the street.

    Camper

    I've been keeping the camper at 70-72 degrees inside. Yes, this is a bit balmy for me. I'm concerned that the water tanks may freeze so I'd rather pay a bit more money for gas until I am more familiar.

    The skirt makes a noticeable difference because the furnace doesn't cycle on and off as often as it did "pre-skirt". I still need to seal up two tricky spots so the efficiency will only increase.

    I've been forgetting to write how much I enjoy my chlorine-free water. The chlorine odor used to me smack me in the face in the apartment whenever I opened a tap. Even a bit drunk, it would shock me!

    The new battery is still performing well. It was worth the money. I moved the original battery inside and stored it next to the truck battery. They're the same size! It's no wonder I ran out of charge too quickly!

    One drawback of living off-the-grid is waking up in the wee hours shivering. Yes, the "active" LPG tank has been emptied on two occasions, so far, in the middle of the night. Of course, there's nothing to do but reach down into one's reserves, go outside, and hook up the other tank.

    It could be worse because this exercise is just a simple transfer of the "whip" to the adjacent tank. I ensure that I have a full tank ready alongside the "active" tank. Once back inside everything comes back to life. That feels good!

    Greek rock!

    This song is catchy and from Greece. Neat!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ysBMZSzpp8&winst=1477746505400&of=0

    Site updates

    I have added ten movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

    Thursday, the 27th

    Guess what?

    I'm off again. At this rate, they're sure to lay me off

    I wish I could write that I'm playing hooky, alas that isn't the case. Last night I came home and the water heater refused to fire up. (I had switched it off so I could be here while it runs.)

    Needless to say, I didn't get a good night's sleep! Why are problems so much larger when it's dark and early in the morning? After a hearty breakfast, I dressed in double clothes and a jacket and set out to repair the water heater.

    Since we had a freeze last night, I reckoned that there's water in the gas lines, which froze. This obvious obstruction would cause an intermittent gas delivery problem. When I crawled underneath--after removing sections of the skirt--I found it quite warm.

    I disconnected one section of the gas supply line and sprayed brake cleaner down it. The other end emitted a mostly clear liquid. Hmm. While thinking about it, I decided to clean the "whips" that connect the individual LPG tanks to the regulator.

    Because I have two tanks, there's a Tee to plumb the "whips" to the regulator input. It's a new regulator (see previous entry). Would you know it, the Tee was plugged on one side. The cleaner wouldn't clear it and neither I nor the air compressor could blow it out. There's a problem!

    I checked the "whips" and they were both plugged up!! It's a wonder, or a bit of good karma, that the oven/stove & furnace ran. Thank you!

    The local hardware store had sold-out of replacement "whips", so I assembled my own. Inside the big plastic knob that connects to the tank is a check valve. It's there to prevent pressure (or flame) from the trailer or grill entering the tank. That would result in a "big baaadaboom!"

    As a precaution, I sprayed out the other under-trailer supply lines. They were clean, too. As I was buttoning up the gas system, it began to rain. Now, as you would expect, the water heater fired right up.

    The other appliances still worked. More importantly, with a burner on and the furnace running, the sound at the tank is a reassuring sssssshhhhh. Previously, there was, of course, no audible sound.

    I think this discovery and repair will dramatically reduce my gas usage. Think about it, two plugged lines means that only a certain pressure from the tank could get through to run, say the fridge/freezer. After that, the tank could be a quarter full but I would think it empty.

    Otherwise...

    ...all the appliances are working well in the camper. The fridge/freezer keeps my beer cool and my pizza frozen. I'll admit that I have been consuming a lot of both lately. Once things settle down, I'll cut back on both. I miss my veggies.

    The composting toilet is going well. It just takes a bit longer than pressing a lever. I find that I like it because it's quieter and doesn't waste any water. If the bucket starts to smell, because I didn't add enough of something; then I just dump it into the outside barrel and start over.

    The outside barrel is doing well. I researched the ammonia smell. This smell is a good sign for a composting toilet. It's just a symptom of the liquid in urine being used to break down the Snickers bars. (Remember the pool scene from Caddyshack ?)

    The small space of the camper isn't easy; however, I don't have trouble with it. I just have to be careful to stow things or else I will have to step over them! This is not always easy because I have two major projects still going: wire the solar arrays and getting the well working.

    Water, water, everywhere!

    The trailer hasn't sprung a leak! I just retrieved my 3000 Watt generator and used it to run the well pump. (Yes, it fit quite well in the backseat of my Mazda 2! Didn't you know that is part of their marketing campaign for this admirable super-mini?)

    The big genny ran cleanly on LPG (AKA "propane") for about an hour. Yes, I ran the pump continuously for one hour. The water flow rate was at least 3 GPM, too, for most of that duration! I will never have to worry about running out of water.

    Allow me to put this into perspective: 3 GPM (gallons per minute) is a typical residential shower on full blast. Imagine running your shower fully open for an hour. That's what I did. It's a good thing that I have plenty of well-drained woods to soak up the water!

    That's a lot of water! I'm not surprised because the well pump will push water to the surface until it runs out of oomph. That is supposed to occur around 260 feet down.

    In a six-inch bore, that amounts to 350 gallons! It's disgusting that my no-flow well can deliver so much water. The water will probably be replaced by the weekend.

    Near the end of pumping, I snapped a photo of the pump output. Note the water is still coming out with plenty of force:


    I employed a small tree because I was tired of "hosing down" my woods. The white hose is a special one that is supposed to be OK to deliver potable water. If I croak, you'll know the white hose isn't good!


    Above is what the well head now looks like. I removed the top of my well cap--blue ring is the bottom--and fitted a well seal--black disc with four bolts and a nylon square-headed plug. The seal allows me to access the water output line and electrical plug. This is just temporary, for use with my camper. For the cabin, I'll bury the water line below the frost line.

    The generator is loud but it does a good job. And since it can run on either LPG or gasoline--I'll almost always use LPG--I probably won't have to change the oil. Gas is so much cleaner than a liquid. (Yes, I sound like the current Irving radio commercial!)

    My good friend Cal remarked that he saw an ancient engine running off natural gas coming straight out of the ground. When he asked--as any normal guy would--how often do you change the oil, the response was "never so far. But we figure it's due to be changed in fifty years!"

    Gas systems are just that clean. Think about it: you boil tap water to steam a food. Is the lid ever really dirty? I defy you to say yes, regardless of where you live.

    Vaporizing a hydrocarbon is no different. The crap is left behind, which results in a clean-burning, fossil fuel. That is real, clean, affordable energy for the future!

    Back to my well pump, you probably noticed the white Styrofoam box around the well head. I built this box as a way to buy some time. I have a similar Styrofoam lid to cover it. Of course, this is not a permanent solution because the ground will freeze solid to a depth of four feet here. The output water line would freeze.

    Future improvement

    Since there is no way (short of heating the well "house") to keep the top four-feet of water line from freezing, I will just pump out the water in that section of line.

    How will I do that? The keen reader will understand that I can't just run the submerged pump. The check valve at 200 feet will easily maintain the water level into the frost zone.

    I have purchased a small, cheap handheld pump that is spun by a power drill. It's used by plumbers to quickly empty stopped-up sinks. I figure it can empty a 1-inch tube to a depth of five feet.

    I couldn't test this idea because I need a male-to-male garden hose union to hook up the drill pump. (OK, that sentence sounds a bit too "progressive" to me!) I'll purchase the required brass fitting--that's not much better.

    Up next

    Before the ground freezes, I need to run the two 2-gauge outdoor wires from the solar array. Once I am happy with the lengths, I can bury them in the driveway. At the same time, I will "dig in" the DSL/phone line.

    I must put the solar charge controller inside the camper. This controller has microelectronics in it to optimize the charging of, in this, my camper battery. The controller also opens the circuit after the sun sets. Yes, the battery will try to charge the darkened panels.

    Back to the water well: I feel that I have pumped out the well enough to make the water safe for washing and bathing. I will test the water for "bad stuff". (I have a kit.) Just to be sure, I will continue to buy spring water for some time.

    While I was underneath the camper this morning, I learned where I need to better seal the skirt. See, everything has a reason. I'm planning to use expanding foam in plastic bags to form an irregular seal around troublesome areas like the grey-water gate valve and the door steps. Wish me luck!

    I also need to seal the camper's windows. This action is not unlike replacing the storm windows on a house after the summer. Lately, I have been feeling a "reminder" breeze from the windows.

    Continuous improvement

    Life continues to improve in my small home. Remembering this fact is important to maintain my morale. I find that I must focus on this reality and ignore the current hardships. Hey, it worked to solve my week without hot water!

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Tuesday, the 25th of October

    Off!

    I'm off again today to supervise the installation of the DSL/phone line. The technician did a good job and is a friendly guy. I have the connection for both the Internet and telephone. I just need to drill the hole into the camper to complete the installation.

    Speaking of holes in the camper, I purchased another power inverter. This time from Radio Shack. This one is of higher quality. I learned that my "high quality", expensive unit had probably been refurbished. There was duct tape on the connectors instead of heat shrink. What a piece of sh!t!

    I also purchased the one-year "free" replacement for the "Radio Hack" inverter. The kid did a good job, despite being new on the job. Why is it that I like to get to know people, even strangers? Could it be my writing streak?

    I ran the new inverter all Monday night. It ran without a hitch and didn't sound like a cat being de-clawed! I have high hopes for its long service. If not, I'll be back to Radio Shack!

    Water heater

    While the DSL technician worked, I continued to test the water heater. I fitted a new copper gas-supply line. I used the flaring tool & spinning pipe cutters that Bob left behind. Hey, the price is right!

    I then hooked up my state-of-the-art manometer. Before explaining the device--I haven't made one since college--I'll explain the basic theory. Please bear with me.

    A manometer employs physics to measure a differential gas pressure. Differential pressure is just the difference between the amount of gas molecules in one volume when compared to a different number of particles in the same, though different, volume.

    In reality, we employ differential pressure to deliver "propane" to our barbeque grill burners, or in this case, to a certain obscurant water heater.

    My manometer

    A manometer is just a clear U-tube filled with a liquid. The pressure line is connected to one end of the U and the other end opens to the atmosphere. If there's pressure in the "pressure line", it pushes the liquid up the U-tube against the atmospheric pressure. If there's a vacuum, then the atmosphere pushes the liquid down the U.

    Thus, the difference in pressure between the atmosphere (~14.7 psi) and the pressure line is measured in inches or millimeters. Usually, there are only two liquids utilized in these simple instruments, i.e. water & mercury.

    Mercury is used in barometers, which are manometers with a closed atmospheric end that, instead, have a calibrated pressure there. That's why you may hear the weather forecaster saying "the barometric pressure has dropped to 28 inches and we should all prepare for a storm", or a low-pressure system!

    My water heater needs 11-inches-of-water LPG pressure to operate. I connected my manometer, which, of course, references the atmospheric pressure.

    Below is my manometer connected to the water-heater gas supply line, albeit with the gas tanks closed. It shows equal levels of water in each leg, as we would expect--the water levels are about 11-and-a-half lines from the bottom. (This is not a pressure measurement. I am just indicating where the water column ends.)


    When I turned the main gas tank on and lit up a burner and the furnace kicked on, as specified by the repair manual, I captured the following photo of the manometer:


    The difference in the water column is a bit difficult to see. Usually, coloring is used to make the water stand out. So let's compare the photos side by side:


    The eagle-eyed will see the difference in the columns. For the rest of us, I marked the water levels with horizontal lines. Blue is level. That means no pressure. The yellow lines show the differential pressure with the gas tank open, and the burner and furnace operating.

    Reading a manometer is as simple as counting marks. Unfortunately, in this case, the top of the right column marked in yellow is underneath the tape. Trust me on its position.

    Now we just need to count the number of lines from the top yellow mark to the other one. Did you count nine and a half?

    You see, these horizontals marks are spaced every inch. You have just determined that the pressure at the water heater is 9-and-a-half inches of water!

    That's less than the 11 inches that the heater needs to run. I looked underneath the camper and doubted that the beefy main lines were obstructed, especially since the fridge/freezer and furnace work well.

    I continued upstream to the two-stage regulator. Didn't I suggest this unit could be faulty? I disconnected it and examined the output line. The regulator had to be the problem when I saw the output hose was OK. So I purchased a replacement.

    Let's learn

    That solved it, right? Nope! I had still more to learn!

    I'll admit that I was upset when the new regulator delivered the necessary 11-inches-of-water to my water heater, but it wouldn't fire up. I even re-checked previous work like gapping the electrode.

    Finally, I decided to listen to the gas output with the poor-man's stethescope--a rubber tube. (My stethescope is in the storage garage.) The circuit board would click the solenoids open and there would be a momentary burst of gas hiss, then nothing.

    How can a flame burn like that? So I connected a 12-Volt battery directly to the solenoids, and the flow didn't "burst", it ran continuous. I even bypassed the two thermostats, hoping they were blown.

    It turned out that the new circuit board didn't work as it should. It would momentarily open the solenoids and then shut them. I replaced the original board and had a working water heater. That expensive "replacement" reminded me, yet again, that new parts don't always work.

    Well

    I also fitted a well seal instead of the well cap to the well head. This unit will cinch the output pipe and wires. That prevents them from descending the well and hanging on the safety line.

    That installed, I trimmed the output pipe and started a well "house" of insulation to shelter the pipe from the soon-to-drop temperatures. Remember that I used check valves to maintain the static water level even when the pump is off?

    This may ease the life of the pump, but it exposes the output pipe to freezing. I may have to blow it out somehow.

    The "house" is completed save the roof. I need to design a good top panel. I have ideas and will post a photo of the entire "house" later.

    Hot water!!

    After being without hot water for almost a week, that first camp shower was pure luxury! It's similar to camping with Mike in the great Utah wilderness and then returning home for a shower. Except, I had no hot water!

    Now it seems that I'm all set. Though, I wish the gas pressure was higher than the minimium to run the water heater. There I go: we can do better than the minimum.

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Sunday, the 23rd of October

    Damage

    OK, so the camper didn't shrug off the dead branch quite like I thought. The wooden frame broke much of the fall, which snapped three crossmembers!

    Despite their sacrifice, I found that the end had punched a small hole through the outer skin. The hole isn't too large, about three inches across, but it's still a hole. I covered it with duct tape, really, Gorilla tape. This should allow air circulation but keep out most of the dampness.

    I'll have to remove the A frame to properly repair the puncture, so this will be a job for next spring. Instead, I focussed on keeping water away. The tarp was quite "holed" by the branch. I installed a couple of ten-foot sections of 1" PVC piping left over from my drilling rig to make up for the lost crossmembers.

    I, then, installed another, smaller, tarp over the damaged section. I think this will last me through until spring. It's not the greatest solution but time is not on my side and it's better to reduce further damage than to attempt a repair and be left completely exposed.

    Water!

    I ran the well pump for a good time today. In fact, I only stopped pumping water when the genny and the output flow indicated that the pump had run low on water.

    I stopped running the pump. Meanwhile, it had dropped quite a bit. This exercise was new to me so I didn't pull it back up. I, instead, ensured that the pump wouldn't race down the remaining 50 feet by exmaining the lifting rope.

    Later on, I pulled the pump back up to the original depth. All the while, the well re-filled. I stopped pumping at noon and by 3 PM the water had stopped trickling in.

    From my ice-cube "soundings" (i.e drop a cube and count the seconds until I hear a splash), the pump-out depth was about 160 feet down. This is fair because the pump is supposed to be good for about 250 feet. But I cannot accurately account for the frictional losses through the output pipe.

    The fact that it refilled to about 55 feet in three hours is very good! That's about 150 gallons in three hours. This recharge rate is more than enough for me right now. I probably will only use 30 gallons a week. OK, double that value, if I become especially decadent. (I know the Thought Police have to be on their way now!)

    And as I use the well, it should get better. The hydraulic cycling will enlarge cracks in the bedrock. I didn't have time to pump out the well again today. I will do so on Tuesday, if I can.

    Water heater

    I'm still without hot water. Cold head showers and sponge baths are still the routine. If only I had a cute nurse to adminster these uncomfortable washings!

    I have determined that the gas manifold is OK. Also, the copper line from the main rail on the trailer undercarriage was OK. It seemed plugged to me so I cut it. My fault. Oh well, I will replace it, bend it up, and flare the ends.

    My current thought is that the main gas regulator is not delivering the necessary 11-inches-of-water of pressure. It seemed pretty weak to me when I put my finger over the pipe. Yes, I calibrated the finger the other day when a Mass-hole cut me off.

    Ain't it good that I was trained as an engineer, a real engineer, at a real school? You know, one where the students must run experiments and figure things out. How else would I be able to know how to make a manometer to check the gas pressure? I doubt that the undergraduates from MIT can assemble this simple bit of kit.

    The hardware-shop guy was quite interested when I explained why I needed the clear, flexible tubing. (That is, to make a manometer.) Then again, the local hardware store is filled with personable people who know how to find just about anything.

    Proud

    It felt good to say that I lived up on such-a-street behind the solar panels. John and I worked hard enough to put them up. I can be a bit proud!

    Yesterday, John said that he was proud of all that we have accomplished. I don't blame him. We have done what many said was not possible. Fueled by a very dry summer and our determination, we transformed my "unimproved" lot into a habitation.

    Yes, my muscles may be a bit sore. I also sported a great tan, or really a sunburn because I'm obviously a redneck. But, I am also a bit stronger--not just in the odor zone! My hands are becoming rough, which should help me sluff off the office-worker image.

    Why shouldn't I be proud of our accomplishments? Homesteading is what I am doing, if with a modern twist, and it's not easy. It is rewarding!

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Saturday, the 22nd of October

    BOOM!

    Last night, during the heavy rainstorm, a large dead branch crashed down onto the camper! It came from the oak tree that nearly killed me when I dropped a branch dangling over the driveway.

    The damage to the camper was minimal, fortunately. The top front was a bit dented. But, the wooden frame distributed the load. I may have lost a wooden strap. (I have to look when it's dry.) The tarp has been torn so I'll have to duct tape it. The rain shield for the stove vent was nicked. One of the two supports for the doorstep was bent.

    I was relieved that the car was undamaged. The branch landed between it and the trailer hitch. I'm very, very lucky!

    Here are some photos with the car moved back:


    Got water?

    Today, John and Bill, a mutual friend, helped me install my soft-start "pencil" pump in the well bore. I'm pleased to report that it works and delivers plenty of water, when energized by the Honda genny!

    I took a photo of the pump before we placed it down the bore. So long, begin your 400-foot descent!


    Obviously, the spool of blue, plastic pipe will be the output conduit for the water. We attached a nylon lift rope so we could use it to move the pump, instead of the pipe.

    The black rubber device is a torque arrestor. Its function is to push against the side of the bore with its rubber bellows, if the pump tries to twist the blue pipe. We used five of these rubber devices. Together, they will arrest any torque.

    Shown below is the lift rope's attachment to the pump and the first check valve. I put a valve just above the pump and one halfway (200 feet). When I plumb the well to the cabin, I'll fit the third valve at the end of the output pipe.


    Every twenty feet we put on nylon cable clips. We did run out and there are a few duct-tape "clips" holding the three-wire cable to the output pipe.

    Initially, it was just John and I. Un-spooling the pipe was a chore for John and my hands were full unreeling the wire & lifting rope. Bill's arrival made our jobs much easier because he would un-spool all three. Thanks, Bill!

    My pump is spec'ed to deliver one gallon-per-minute of water from a maximum of 250 feet down. With that restriction, it works out to be about 350 gallons of available water capacity! I doubt that I will ever run out of water. Recall that the "recharge" is about 50 gallons a day. And that's from a well that is listed with the State as having zero flow!

    Future tasks

    I have added bleach crystals to the well and flushed them down with some fresh water. I'll allow that to sit until tomorrow, and then I'll pump out the well as much as I can.

    The chlorine should kill anything "bad" living in the well and help get rid of the drilling oils. Then, I'll let it refill and pump it out again.

    I should be able, then, to test the water for quality. I'll probably use the water just for bathing & dishes for a while to be on the safe side, too.

    John suggested building a house to insulate the well head for the winter. I have extra polystyrene pieces left over from the camper skirt so I'll do that.

    Next, I need to wire the solar panels to the camper battery via the charge controller. This isn't as simple as it sounds because I need to ground each panel to a grounding post that I'll hammer into the ground.

    Once the well is working and the arrays are connected, I'll be ready for the winter! I can also take a break and relax!

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Friday, the 21st of October

    Off: Water heater woes

    A few days ago the water heater quit firing. I set aside today to sort it out. I followed the technician checklist, which is available online. The circuit board was indicated to be faulty.

    I drove to a nearby town. What a fun drive! The speed limits are spot on in one of the intermediate towns because I was surprised by a couple of tight turns in my very capable Mazda, despite driving only 5 MPH over the posted limit.

    With part in hand, I figured I could break for lunch. As it turns out, the fault is not just with the circuit board. Now, the gas solenoids are clunking and opening the valve. But the gas supply is still too meager.

    I applied camper voltage directly to the solenoids and lit a match. PFFOOF! I didn't see a flame but a few hand hairs were singed. I think the solenoids are OK. (And the camper voltage is sufficient because I had previously wired up a spare battery.)

    Next, I need to climb underneath the camper and examine the gas line. The technician checklist says one must check the lines. I just don't want to do it while it's raining. So be I'll without hot water for a day or two more. (It's raining on and off here.)

    Dump pass & politics

    This morning I acquired a dump permit. Yes, this may sound like a small feat. But, it is a large accomplishment for me to see the dump sticker on my brave hatchback!

    The man running the transfer station is an interesting individual. I showed him a pay stub as proof of residence. I commented that I had a tax bill, also.

    This sparked a political conversation because he said his property taxes were already high enough and he wouldn't pay mine, too!

    We calmly debated the introduction of a sales tax. We both don't want to give the State any more of our money; however, the sales tax, if properly phased in, could reduce our property tax and reduce visitors' hotel & restaurant tax. We agreed this change could be a boon to both residents and visitors. Who says all talk at the dump is refuse?

    It's excellent having a way to complete the cycle of my beer bottles and pizza boxes. It may sound screwy. I guess I really mean that it's pleasing to recycle.

    My actual addition to the landfills is quite small. (I left only two bags for three weeks.) The town recycles a surprising amount of material. Remember, this represents the total waste that I generate because I compost and recycle everything else.

    UPS

    Today, I met the UPS delivery man. He had been doing a fantastic job of delivering my parcels. This skinny guy would walk up packages and place them on, or very near, my camper's doorstep, regardless of weight. Perhaps "wirey" is a better description of this man?

    Considering that he has to walk the 100 feet up my new drive that isn't perfectly smooth yet, this is a real service. Also, he has left packages with my kind neighbors who are directly across the road.

    Today, the UPS guy and I, we agreed to leave any parcels at my doorstep in a plastic bag if rain is forecasted. I'm very impressed. That's not an easy job but he still found the resilience to conform to my requests.

    Friends

    Yes, I do manage to keep some! Wednesday evening I met with some of my favorite co-workers from a previous job. (There, I helped design a handheld dental scanner. Now I regret leaving.)

    The contrast with the morons at my current place is startling. My previous co-workers are interesting and actually ask questions about what I am doing.

    I feel bad now that I lost contact with the main organizer. Tatyana is a very kind Russian woman who, accompanied by her interesting and intelligent engineer husband, Yuriy, gave me a long ride home after my Sentra broke down the first time.

    This journey was very much out of their way and, as Tatyana put it, I lived "much, much too far away from anything". Still, they cheerfully drove me home at a late hour with no care for the prospect of the return trip. These kind people helped me when my stepfather couldn't help.

    Don't believe the splatter of the presidential candidates that all Russians are evil. Like us, they're individuals just looking to live life. They mean us no harm. At least, no more than we mean them any harm!

    Meeting my old co-workers again reminded me how the working environment should be. I'll admit that the next day I was in a bit of mood. Traffic really hit a nerve because I knew I was driving myself into a miserable working situation.

    Mr. Grumpy, my cubicle mate, saw it and decided not to fuel the flames when he saw just how angry I was. Fortunately, he's a sensitive individual and knew that the anger wasn't directed against him. He did later get me to laugh. I may have to refer to him as the "former Mister Grumpy Gatekeeper".

    More will become of this job. Stay tuned.

    As I have previously written, my African Violet began to falter when moved into my camper of limited light. Fortunately, my kind mother willing lined up a plant that is tolerant of shade for me as an exchange.

    She kindly traded me a vibrant ivy plant in a beautiful, painted porcelain pot for my ailing Violet in a Lowe's plastic container. What can I write? I love you, Mom!! Oh, and the ivy seems to be adapting well! (No doubt due to Mom's positive karma!)

    Power inverter

    You may recall that I wrote about the seemingly excessive energy usage of the true-sine-wave power inverter? Well, one morning last week, the inverter packed up.

    Yes, after a stunning career of, maybe, 20 hours, it is all over. They say the flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long. For modern consumer electronics, this cliché should be updated to:

    The electronics that burn twice as bright, really don't.
    We're just told that they do.

    I spent extra money to buy a "proven" product, only to be let down by the same inferior product made in China. You don't always get what you pay for!

    I'll send a letter--yes, a real letter in an envelope with a stamp--to the CEO of Wagan complaining about the poor quality control of his or her products.

    Shareholder corporations

    You see, I understand the politics of shareholder companies. They just want "to make their numbers." It doesn't matter that many of their products are defective. It only matters that they show a profit to their shareholders.

    How do I know? I used to work for a "defense" shareholder corporation, and it didn't matter how long the units worked, as long as they worked when they went out the door!

    "Defense", companies should realize that men and women depend on their equipment. But, they're only in business to raise their share price. It doesn't matter if individuals die. Only profit matters.

    So, I'm sorry to report that the same thing is happening in real industry. Twenty hours for a modern electronic device is shameful. But, it passed some sort of quality test, so ship it!

    No inverter

    Without a power inverter to harness the capacity of my battery, I now have to rely on my stalwart generating buddy. You know, it's really too bad because the new battery is performing with excellence. The capacity is incredible!

    I guess the inverter's failure is just part of my challenge. Life could be worse. I will track down the crappy component and replace it. Why should I have to do that after spending about two hundred dollars on an obviously shiny turd?

    Computer confusion

    Now, I am reluctant to let any inverter power my desktop computer. My reluctance is not founded in greed to preserve a thing of value. I built my computer in 2005 and have run and maintained it almost every day since then. (The machine obviously has very little monetary value.)

    As you can understand, I was very angry when the piece-of-shit power inverter stumbled, or whatever, to confuse the motherboard--and probably the power supply--of my computer.

    The power inverter had confused the power supply. Maybe bewildered is a better term because it took several tries (and two days) of "clean" power to get the computer to power up?

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Monday, the 17th of October

    Well & Internet?

    I took today off to take delivery of the well pump supplies. The bulk of the order was 400 feet of plastic piping. This will become the water output line for the pump.

    I need to get correct plumbing fittings, but everything else looks correct. I always try to head-off-at-the-pass any problems before John (or Jack) and I attempt to install the equipment.

    The fiber-optic Internet guy was here when I returned from shopping in town. I really hate it when I come home to someone poking around on my property. Why can't they call and arrange an appointment?

    He cannot hook up a fiber-optic connection. It needs to be powered. Fortunately, I can probably fall back on DSL. This, of course, runs off the phone lines, which they electrify.

    This guy had obviously been doing the job for many years. He explained everything well and was well-spoken. After we dealt with what was going to happen on my property, we spoke about my solar panels.

    He gave me some insight into how phone companies work. It's fascinating. He was clearly impressed by what I am doing. He said he would do the same if he were 20 to 30 years younger. He didn't look too old, maybe early 50s.

    Skirt

    Before you say I'm a pig who gropes women, I purchased some insulation from Donna. Thanks! This two-inch thick polystyrene is perfect for enclosing the underside of my trailer.

    If I can create a pocket of dead air underneath, I'll reduce my heating costs and keep the grey water tank from freezing. Well, it worked out very well! It sounds like a trivial job; however, it took me half a day. I used duct tape to seal joints and spread gravel at the base.

    The tricky part was the grey water dump valve. Obviously, I need regular, easy access here; but, it must be insulated, too. I settled on a combination of 50-pound sand bags and insulation held in place by a stone. I have a few rocks to choose from!

    Once I make removable insulation for the hatches, it'll be a done deal. All that's left to transform to winter mode is to seal the windows with clear heat shrink. I'll wait on this for a bit because we're enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures. Beautiful!

    Week four & Observations

    I'm now starting my fourth week in my new, unusual lifestyle. That sounds like I had a gender-bender operation! No, I'm pleased to report that nothing has fallen off despite living in an unconventional manner.

    Fetching water from my kind neighbor Donna should be coming to a close soon. But I don't mind it at all. I find that I use about 25 gallons of water per week. (Remember that I buy drinking water?)

    Emptying the grey water tank is no trouble. I dug a small, deep hole and filled it with loose gravel. So I slowly open the valve and let the effluent drain, via a gravel ditch, into the hole. This may be a bit more tricky now that I have installed the insulation.

    Composting "poop" goes well. No matter how good of a job that I do, it seems that there will always be an ammonia smell. That's not a pleasant odor but is better than the expected smell.

    The outside barrel also smells the same, though a bit stronger. It's not a strong smell--not unlike a paper towel soaked with glass cleaner--and the decomposition is going very well. We excrete a multitude of healthy bacteria! Take it from me, I'm living "the proof". The Martian is plausible.

    The real fun part of living off-the-grid is observing the battery and firing up the generator as needed. It really comes down to figuring how often the power-hungry furnace has run, and, of course, how much I have used the computer.

    Effectively, I'm counting amps. I guess I'm doing the same as the three astronauts in Apollo 13. Only I'm not dependent on this battery for everything I need to survive. I can always nip out to the gas station for more gasoline.

    Speaking of gasoline, my real usage is no more than five gallons per week. My liquidfied-petroleum-gas consumption is about 30 pounds a week. That amounts to about $200 of energy per month. OK, it's not going to win any awards for efficiency. Still, it's not too bad. Maybe today's efforts will improve this cost?

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Sunday, the 16th of October

    Sealing the tarp

    Today, I evened out the tarp on top the camper. (You know, make sure at least each pair of sides has the same overhang.) I re-secured the four lines and then taped the tarp to the trailer in several spots on each side. This should help stop wind rushing through, which should help to insulate the top of my home. It sounds good, doesn't it!

    How to adjust the angle

    The other day, I discovered that I should have set the solar collectors to the "winter" angle. Fortunately, whilst at work, I developed and "fabricated" a cardboard tool that uses a torpedo level. (I told my cube mate that I was making paper dolls.) The tool is really nothing special, but it did take some thought.


    How it works is probably not obvious, but it will be once I explain it. There are three angles cut into three of the corners of the rectangle. As I have previously written, these three angles provide the optimal solar gathering for each season. (Naturally, spring and autumn share an angle, hence the count of three.)

    When setting the angle, I duct tape the tool to the side of the array. I just have to ensure that the tape can keep the relevant, labeled "angled corner" firmly parallel with the edge of the array. That's not really too difficult with good duct tape!

    After, say, the "winter" angle of 62° is taped to the edge of the array, I can adjust the angle of the array. When the torpedo level shows a level bubble, the angle is set. This simple technique relies on a reasonably accurate tool that is well designed, making field use nearly trivial.

    That's proper engineering, MIT! I should quote their true motto:

    Make It Tricky. Make It Twice. Make It Terrible. M.I.T.

    Winch!

    I forgot to write that I use the winch, which lifts the snow plow on the front of my ATV, to adjust the angles of the arrays. There's no other way that I can safely make the adjustments by myself. The arrays are somewhat heavy when united. But when mounted on their long-lever-arm frame, they can swing with a lot of force! It's probably enough to decapitate an idiot, and ignorant individuals of normal intelligence too.

    "This is not a test"

    Remember that these arrays are not a science experiment: they should be able to generate enough electricity to continuously power my log cabin.

    The more I realize my dreams, the more I understand the power with which I'm working. This is serious stuff because one wrong move, and I'm crushed by my "green" electrical supply. Or, when I wire up the arrays, I could be brought to life like Frankenstein's monster!

    Safety

    This is the reason why I am slowing my progress. What good would anything be, if I'm dead, or, worse; if I killed a generous assistant like my good friend John?

    OK, I don't have to wear a high-visibility vest. I just have to use my noggin. It's funny that I rarely use my brain at work. That's probably good because I really need it here!

    Now that I have frightened you a bit--welcome to the club!--I'm pleased to write that everything that I am doing has been well documented by others. And, thanks to Al Gore's kind invention of the Internet, I can utilize their experience

    Tuesday, the 11th of October

    Off, again

    I made today my day off for this week. I may have mentioned that I would be taking one day off from work every week until the snow flies. After that, I'll probably take more off!

    This morning I discovered that the water heater wasn't providing hot water. Thinking the worst, I tried to remember where the nearest RV supply shop is located.

    After a hearty breakfast, I opened up the heater. It's a really simple device. I cleaned the flue, set the sparking electrode gap, and adjusted the mixture. It had been set very rich.

    The electrode gap was also wide, which initially elicited my attention; however, it was in very good condition. In the past, I heard it clicking away without hearing the refreshing HHOOOOORRRRR of steady burning. It's fixed now.

    I don't know why it was set very rich. Maybe the clever sliding sheath with holes was knocked into a rich configuration by being towed? Regardless, now it purrs. The flame is perfect: blue with steady flashes of yellow. As a confirmation, the exhaust smells perfect. Yeah, I know that I'm weird sniffing heater vents!

    I, then, went to the Laundromat at the corner. This was my first time using such a business. (I've been very lucky!) It passed well.

    Buoyed by successfully "popping my Laundromat cherry", I looked at adjusting the furnace. I figured if the water heater was running rich, maybe the furnace was also set rich? It smells a bit.

    Upon opening the furnace cover, I found a compact and complicated mass of machinery. Clearly, this is something that would take more than a casual adjustment. I decided to wait till the spring to perform the "annual maintenance". It works well and I can always use a space heater in the event of an emergency.

    Got trees?

    Yesterday, I took down a few more trees to maximize the sun on my solar arrays. Unfortunately, there are two large trees that are too close to the street and power lines for me to fell.

    I'll call a local tree guy tomorrow. He may be able to take one of them without damaging anything. The other tree, with two stems, will need a bucket truck. It overhangs the wires. I told the local electric company last year about this tree's branches, and they blew it off.

    They probably figure it's not about to drop and black-out the town, so why care? They're really "undertaking preventative measures to avoid black-outs." Only one of the several branches of this tree wouldn't even notice when it collapses on the power lines, lands on the neighbor's school bus, and caves in his barn's roof.

    These trees have to be removed--or mostly removed--because they're severely hampering the power generation of my solar panels. We're talking about losing two or three hours of solar irradiation! **Queue the cartoon of dollar signs spinning in the eyes of the tree guys**

    Speaking of them, they're the same trees that denied me a satellite Internet connection. The kid--well, he is younger than me--went everywhere in flipflops looking for a good line-of-sight to the southwest.

    Why Hughesnet says that a property must have southern exposure, and not southwestern exposure, is beyond me. I have a decent southern view but southwestern is out of the question.

    It's good that he couldn't install a dish because both John's wife, Michelle, and Donna have dumped satellite in favor of the newly-run fiber optic, terrestrial connection.

    I'll call the company tomorrow. I may have to fit a box on a post. No problem. I can run the cable through the woods and bury it where it encounters foot traffic.

    Inverter

    Recall that I said I would have to purchase a power inverter to run my computer off the camper's battery? Well, I dragged my feet installing the unit because of the lack of battery capacity.

    Yesterday, I fitted it. I had to drill a hole in my camper. That took some fortitude. I hate drilling into something that is waterproof. But it had to be done, and I have sealed the small hole with RTV silicone rubber on both sides.

    Drilling to connect a good ground to the steel trailer was exciting because I learned just how dull my drill bits have become. Screech, stop, file the leading edges, oil, screech, stop, question my filing angle, oil, screech, then the "death wobble". Embarassing as it was, I retired the medium-sized bit and consulted my new index, hoping for a fresh start. That bit went straight through without a problem.

    The inverter works well. Its cooling fan makes some odd sounds. Also, the inverter draws on the battery quite a bit. Inefficient? True sine-wave output must come at a price.

    Where the inefficency lies doesn't matter. It does allow me to run my computer without firing up my loyal Honda pal. I figure I can enjoy a night of using the computer on just the battery. I'm still exploring the capacity of my new 4D battery. I'd rather under-utilize it, than wreck it by overly discharging it.

    Miss the Internet?

    No.

    I do miss being able to quickly communicate with loved ones. But that's where the telephone still succeeds. Plus, I have cheated by giving my work e-mail address to frequent e-mail senders.

    What I do miss is being able to upload blog entries to this web site. For me, this is an exciting time and I would really like to share my experiences. You've read this far so you, too, must have missed my posts. Thank you!

    As for the rest of the Internet, I can read the news at work. I don't bother with the mainstream news networks, which are paid by the major corporations, so I can enjoy "news" even when it's old. (I really don't care to know what the current Pop Tart had for breakfast.)

    It could be living among trees that have existed longer than most people now living. Or maybe I'm just becoming a country person? Either way, I feel my "disconnection" is a step in the right direction. My life is calm and quiet.

    Colors!

    I love this time of year! Go out and see the changing leaves! The trees are putting on their annual, unintentional performance. It's spectacular! Drop everything and enjoy their flagrant parting beauty. You won't regret it.

    Misc.

    As promised, below is a night shot of the driveway lights marking the PV arrays:

    You have to admit the lights form a gentle grin. That must have been intentional! Right?

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Sunday, the 9th of October

    Got sun?

    This isn't the best title considering the current, wet weather!

    Yesterday, I turned the solar arrays 15 degrees west of magnetic south. This represents actual south. Since my panel arrays are stationary,--as opposed to tracking the sun--they should be pointed to real south to maximize the time that they can catch the sun's rays.

    I, then, angled them to the sun, relative to the ground. Considering that we're now in the autumn, the angle from horizontal is 40° at this latitude. I don't think I have it exactly correct. I'm going to make a stencil on Wednesday at work. (I'll correct the angle if required.)

    Winter requires the largest angle because, as you know, the sun is lowest in the sky. Likewise, summer utilizes the shallowest angle (id est 15°). Autumn and spring share the same tilt angle.

    In the photos below you can see the "protective" perimeter demarcated by the driveway lights. They glow red at night in addition to having reflectors. (They're charged by small solar panels.)

    They should signal night motorists, using my driveway to turn around, of the hazard. I also marked all the high bends along the driveway with simple reflectors. It really looks pretty good.


    No letter of complaint from the town yet for being self-reliant by putting up solar panels. Maybe I've beat the effective date of the bullshit law, which caters to the electric company by banning off-grid power systems?

    Live free or die. Is this a motto that has lost its meaning? This sort of law will increase in frequency as the municipalities become more stressed by debt. Be warned and plan accordingly.

    Energy usage

    Speaking of electricity, I have a clearer view of my energy usage. My electricity usage equates to about two gallons of gasoline per week. The little, red Honda generator is not only quiet, but sips fuel.

    My thirst for LPG is higher. I seem to be going through 30 pounds a week. That's not too bad because I use the gas to cook, heat water, and keep the camper warm. I still need to "skirt" the camper to insulate the undercarriage.

    The larger battery is working very well. Its capacity seems more than adequate to run the furnace and fridge/freezer all day, even during a cold day, without being charged.

    Solar charging

    Yesterday, I ordered the parts for wiring the solar arrays. (Thanks, Mom!) Not only must I wire the panels for power delivery, but I need to ground them to the earth. This will take the bulk of time.

    I will also be installing lightning arrestors at each combiner box and the charge controller. Check back to learn where these components fit into my system!

    Well

    I also ordered all the components to install my water pump in my drilled well. I'm planning to run the pump with my before-mentioned Honda generator. I ordered fittings to connect a garden hose. Such a hose will fit well into my fresh-water-tank filling spout. And, I do have a few garden hoses on hand after trying to drill the well myself

    Dry-camp life

    You may be wondering what life looks like in my dry camp. Well, here are a few outside shots that I took this morning while charging the camper battery and running the computer. (I still haven't hooked up the power inverter for my computer to the battery. Tomorrow, if it's dry, I will do the job) Here are the photos:


    Yesterday, I picked up the tank on the trailer. It's a water tank with a crack in the top, hence the tarp. I'm not going to store any water yet. It'll be a good thing to have for future experiments.

    New friend

    Humidity inside the camper is comfortably high, and this makes me think what it'll be like when the temperature outside truly drops. For now, I enjoy it and so does my new new camp buddy, an African violet with purple blossoms.

    I hope that running the kitchen lights when I'm home is enough to compliment the very filtered light that finds its way through the thick forest foliage.

    To keep it comfortable for me and my purple friend, I'll be ordering an Energy Star dehumidifer soon. Of course, I have to order the unit that I want because it's compact with a capacity of just 30 liters. Small isn't cool in America. But necessity requires it for me. (And I'm not alone.) That's life in a real "tiny house".

    The small life

    Another aspect that takes a bit to get used to is stowing just about everything that is not in current use. When my brother and his wife moved out of my apartment, I began storing things in their unused bedroom.

    It's really impressive just how much an apartment can hold. But it does it in a different way than a camper. An apartment has large rooms and volumnious closets that encourage collecting.

    A trailer or camper provides cubby holes and storage that, as a previous house/apartment resident, seem foreign. Now that I've been living this life for a couple of weeks, it is starting to make sense. Stow everything except what you're using it.

    I like this type of life. It's compact, mostly organized, and personal. Or maybe my life is enjoyable because I live amongst trees? John remarked that 20 years from now my driveway will have been retaken by the acrons. (If that is all that I have to be concerned with two decades from now, then I'll be very happy.)

    Live a quality, small life

    This sums up living in the camper. Live small and be creative. For instance, the less water I use, the fewer times I need to fill up the blue containers with my generous neighbor's well water. And, also, the less I have to empty the grey water tank.

    I just finished making hot sauce. This is a frequent activity so I was wondering how it would be in the camper. I'm happy to report that it passed well. Cleaning the large pan was a bit tricky due to the small size of the kitchen sinks. But, I figured it out.

    The composting toilet is working. I think the outside bucket is a bit wet, hence its ammonia smell. Since the plastic bucket has no holes one foot from the ground, I don't have to worry about ground contamination. So it'll just take a bit of dry weather to dry out the heap.

    It's really fascinating what nature will decompose, if one can overcome the ridiculous ideas instilled by our Western society. Before the Romans pushed indoor plumbing, people composted their waste. Doing so was natural.

    You probably see where I'm going. Living a natural life was OK for most of the span of our species' duration. It is now, too, just ignore the comments of small, closed minds.

    Peak!

    If you're in the area, this is the peak. Go out and enjoy the colors. Every morning, I pick the spectacularly-colored trees out from the fog. Wow!

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Monday, the 3rd of October

    Off!

    Since I worked through Sunday, I had no time to do chores. I took today off to accomplish them. I also fitted the remaining slats to the camper "roof" & spread a tarp over them. Take a look:


    Also, I installed the driveway lights and around the panels. This should direct drivers, entering the driveway, away from the tilted panels. This was John's excellent suggestion.

    I put the remaining reflectors at high spots that large vehicles could hit with their overhangs. I'll try to remember to post a photo or two.

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Sunday, the 2nd of October

    Progress

    Welcome to October!

    John and I assembled the PV mounts. It was more of a job than I expected. That doesn't mean we approached it with any light-heartedness. Any job is a job to see to.

    The PV panels are up and ready for me to angle them to the sun. This last bit of the configuration may take a bit of preparation.

    Since the panels are heavy things on generous levers, I will drill a hole or two in the "top" rails through which I will thread a nylon rope. I like my head.

    Here's what they look like!


    It took both Saturday and Sunday to get them up. There are lots of bolts and screws to tighten! The kits are well designed. The instructions aren't terribly clear and one kits was missing hardware.

    See the previous entry, below, which was also uploaded.

    Friday, the 30th of September

    Apartment gone

    Oh, and what a fresh start it is! Before I go into life in my camper, I want to just write how good it was to hand in the apartment key this morning.

    It was not unlike being rid of an especially annoying car. I told Denise, the property manager, how loudly door slammer and stomper close the doors. She didn't seem impressed so I demonstrated. This must have hit home. (She looked a bit hung-over, claiming the doctors switched her drugs.)

    I doubt that the inconsiderate brats will be challenged, even though she noted that they are loud in the paperwork to the management company. I do hope they act on the suggestion because I wouldn't want the next tenants to deal with them.

    When Denise said "say goodbye to this place", I simply had no desire to say anything. It's not that I would feel embarrassed with her around. I simply do not miss the place, and am glad to see it in my past.

    A new life!

    I have been living in my camper or travel trailer since Monday night. I will admit that the first night was "character building". I worked a half day on Monday and then moved out the essentials from the apartment in the darkness.

    I moved these essentials into the camper, which was already stuffed with boxes. The high point of that day was climbing into a full-size bed with a mattress. (I have slept on the floor for many years.)

    The next morning was an adventure. I couldn't figure out how to get hot water so I took a cold "camp" shower. You know: soap up, shiver, and turn on the water and rinse. Then, shiver a lot more!

    My cube mate follows my progress. I think he is a bit shocked by my move. So he was interested when I told him about the cold shower. Being a considerate guy, he asked the next day if I had warm shower. I did have hot water. Oh, and it was so very good!

    After that, life only got better in the camper. I was able to sleep better without the irrational fear of running out of LPG gas and freezing to death. (It has become suddenly cooler.)

    Water

    My generous neighbor allows me to take as much water as I want anytime I want it. (Thanks, Donna!) I have been a bit of a miser with water. I figure that I will use about 30-40 gallons a week when I settle in to dry-camping life. Even my well, which produces "zero flow", can deliver that much water!

    I have now filled the fresh water tank twice. I fill six-gallon containers from Donna's outside tap and pour them into my camper's tank. I should note that I have been buying bottled water for drinking. This reduces my total consumption.

    I am really enjoying my "boondock" life. (That is the negative slang word for dry-camping.)

    Grey water

    Speaking of water, I have emptied my grey water tank in the driveway. Yes, scream and shout and stamp your feet: I released water, soap, and the occasional bit of something onto the surface of our beloved planet.

    Normal people will probably ask: did you use the corrugated pipe to direct the flow. And I would say--while ignoring the environmentalist jumping up and down, on my property--no.

    I will use it in the future to reduce erosion. I had to "boot in" a bit of hard pack to cover a small hole created by the effluence.

    and the other "water"

    Now we come to the awkward topic of the "number twos". My cube mate said I should just "fertilize" a neighbor's lawn. That is what the Indians probably did when the colonists started moving into this region.

    I'll admit that I subscribe the Western idea of dignity. Thus, I have decided to start composting waste. It's not as smelly as it sounds. I figured I should get used to this form of refuse disposal now. (Recall, that I will be using a SunMar composting toilet in my permanent home.)

    It's not a tough mantra to adopt. If it smells, then add more peat moss and/or wood shavings. The good thing is that I know that the waste is properly disposed, instead of making it someone else's problem.

    Yes, it takes some diligence, which is something we never learned in school. A true "environmentalist" would want to do what I am doing now.

    Electricity

    So what about electricity? We don't live in the past. I don't either. The new deep-cycle battery that came with the camper is adequate for those who are occasionally "off-grid".

    I struggled with the Group 24 battery for the entire week. I would run my generator every night to charge the battery. Since I have such a long commute, the charging time was limited to only a few hours.

    I came home to a flat battery and a warming fridge one night. That's when I knew I had to boost my storage capacity. I had left only the fridge/freezer running. What would happen when I have to run the furnace to keep the water tanks from freezing?

    Well, obviously, the battery would run flat and the furnace wouldn't run, and my tanks would freeze and then burst when they thawed out. No thanks!

    Yesterday, I ordered a Group 4D battery from a car-parts shop along the way home. It was not cheap, but it is a lot better than doing terrible damage to my camper, my home!

    I hooked up the battery, which is a hefty guy at 130 pounds, and found it charged. Yes, most people think that all batteries are sold charged. It's those of us who have worked in auto parts that know this is not always the case, despite best efforts.

    I'll test the battery for capacity before winter sets in; however, I have high hopes. Surely, a battery that weighs almost as much as me can keep my diminutive camper relatively warm, and my beer cool, for a day without my attention?

    General life

    I'm a newbie to campers. I can only extol their benefits over tent camping. A fiberglass box that is lifted above the ground is a relative fortress! Having hot and cold water at the turn of a knob is almost decadent.

    I'm settling well into this new life. It's surprisingly luxurious. I can keep this small volume at 68-70 degrees without breaking the bank. In fact, even during the coldest times, I think I'll struggle to match the gas usage when I "froze" in the apartment.

    Another aspect that I truly appreciate about dry-camping is no monthly utility bills. Yes, these companies need to maintain a network of whatever, so I can understand the costs. It's just so much simpler being out of it.

    During my long commute, I figured out my monthly energy bills. I need about $40 of gasoline to charge my battery every month. (Soon, this will be reduced by partial use of my solar array.) It seems that my LPG usage, during the coldest situation, will be about $120-$150 a month.

    Worst case will probably be $160 per month. The apartment was 50-75% more than that, only with the added benefit of having to re-hang paintings occasionally.

    I'll gladly "go native" and become trailer trash. Or camper crap. As such, life is more directly controlled by me. That makes life more personal and more enjoyable.

    Future income

    Now that I have moved, I don't need much as money. This is why I can take off so much time at my current contract. In reality, I minimize the time there because I feel my lifeforce ebbing away.

    This is understandable because the average worker has the social prowess of a gerbil. I don't exaggerate. (I should write about the bird-man who escaped the lower levels.)

    I had a minor altercation with a gerbil on Thursday. I have seen this before, but on Thursday my patience was thin. A dweeb continued walking on the leftside of a hallway even though I was walking right into him.

    Rather recklessly, I said "In this country, we walk on the right." He retorted with "my office is on the left." I would have let it go but he decided to challenge a clause of my statement "in this country". He was old and white.

    I still wait, and hope, to be called into my boss' office and given that most desirable note of all: a pink slip!

    Even if that doesn't happen, Jack and I are planning to start our company in 2017.

    Jack is a good friend, and a good man. He's the man that we all want to be. So I figure if we work together in our business, I can learn to be like him.

    Life is good. Peace. Don't do anything unnatural. Don't rush life. Live life in short moments!

    Saturday, 24 September

    Moving soon

    Moving out, especially to a smaller space, is not fun. But, Mom helped me yesterday and today. Her help made such a big difference by fortifying my waning strength.

    With her help, just about everything is out. Now I just need to stow everything I need in the camper and finish a bit of cleaning in the apartment. Thanks, Mom!!

    Subsequent updates to this site may be slow to show up online. I do not have an Internet connection on my property yet.

    I have to get one soon. It'll be my only utility bill, and I need a bill to provide proof of residency for such things as a dump pass, registering to vote, etc.

    I purchased a true-sine-wave power inverter to run my computer. This unit is supposed to output a smoother waveform of AC electricity. This, in turn, allows the switching power supply powering the computer to run cooler and more efficiently. Less heat is always a good thing in an enclosed fiberglass box!

    Upcoming

    Next weekend John and I will install the solar panel frames and panels on the "solar" posts. Then, I can wire the camper for solar recharging.

    I've decided just to hook up a single 100-Watt panel. More would be better, however, the voltage drop would be too much for 2 gauge wire.

    Why not go to aught or double-aught (0 or 00) gauge? I really don't need that much power for the camper to justify the increased expense. The camper is 100 feet from the panels. That adds up with copper wire!

    The cabin battery system will be 48 Volts, so loss is roughly a quarter for the same situation. I'll explain that later when I install the system.

    The camper battery had gone flat again. But the fridge was still cool, indicating that it had recently run out.

    I charged the battery to about 2/3 or 1/2 charge and switched everything off. If it's still charged tomorrow, then the battery should be OK. I'm thankful for the Honda generator!

    Once I have solar generation, I'll drop--err lower--the water pump into the well. I think the Honda generator will easy pump out the well. I need to add some bleach to neutralize the drilling oils before pumping out the well a couple times.

    I'll then test the water for contaminants with my ACME well driller's testing kit

    After that, I need to put a tarp on the camper and stop up the air volume under the floor. Still air is a wonderful insulator. These two tasks should make heating cheaper and easier.

    Then, I'll be ready for winter and have water and electricity on site. And I can settle down for the cold season. I'll admit that my endurance is beginning to flag. As I'm sure you can understand!

    Sunday, the 18th of September

    Success!

    I have received my first letter at the new address!! I'll admit that I was becoming a bit concerned when a test letter was returned to the apartment. Fortunately, the second letter was delivered. A third should show up later this week.

    Now comes the chore of notifying companies & friends/family. Hey, moving is a good way to weed out some of the junk mail! At least for a few weeks...

    Driveway

    It's tough to get the entire driveway in one shot. So instead, I'm posting three photos that capture much of it.



    Those with keen eyes may notice a "texture change" line in the second photo. You'd be right because that is where John first ran out of gravel to spread. (Recall, that it took two dump-truck loads to cover the drive.)

    The first section has packed down hard, hence its local designation. The second should pack just as well once we are blessed with some rain!

    I spoke with my local farmer today. He's concerned about the drought. He says it will cause major problems, if we don't have a wet autumn or snowy winter!

    Final week

    My final week in the apartment is commencing. I continue to move boxes to the storage garage and the camper.

    I spent some time inside the camper today. It's really quite well appointed! Yes, it is small but it's of high quality. And there are lots of cabinets. Storing my necessities was a concern. Not any more!

    I found the deep-cycle battery fully drained when I showed up. This, alone, isn't a problem for it; however, I need to figure out what drew it down in only two weeks. I switched off the 110-Volt panel. (The fridge/freezer runs on 12 Volts.)

    Back in the apartment: now that my fridge and freezer are in storage, I'm living out of my large Coleman cooler. It's cool--bad pun?--because it's like camping only with A/C, a shower, and a full kitchen.

    This doesn't mean that I have been curtailing my meals. Today for lunch, I had roasted potatoes. Yummy! The new recipe is so easy and a good way to use up the tubers in a stylish way.

    For supper, I am going to have pizza. And it's homemade crust. One cannot truly "make" pizza if the crust was bought in a store. That's cheating!

    The adventure continues. Please make a return visit!

    Postscript

    Presented without commentary or bias:

    Donald Trump's political sign that lists his running mate says the following, if one letter is changed:

    Trump
    Peace

    Friday, 16 September

    Progress

    John finished spreading the gravel on Thursday. He also helped me move the large furniture, which won't fit in my car, today. It all fit in the storage garage. Thanks, John!

    The freshly empty living room is a bit "echo-y". Watching movies in it will be interesting! I packed more and moved boxes to storage. I'm already getting near the end of it.

    The property manager did a pre-inspection on Friday. This was just so she could order any replacement fixtures. She commented that the carpets look new. They weren't new when I moved in. I just cleaning them.

    She said that she wanted to replace an inside door. She couldn't because it had no holes in it. Yes, you read that right: holes! What do people do to these places?

    We arranged the move-out inspection on the 30th. There's no way I'm going to relinquish the keys until then, even though I plan to be out next Sunday.

    I hope the mailbox is "working" on my lot. I'll know tomorrow for sure. I did get a test letter back. It was postmarked before I filled in the Postal Service form, so that makes sense.

    Youtube videos

    Here are some interesting Youtube videos:

  • No dipstick!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGE6roEThig
  • Model battleships!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSIH4hl650E
  • Movie soundtrack?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3848zG65E2o
  • Site updates

    I have added seven movies to the GRS database. Enjoy!

    Sunday, the 11th of September

    Truck

    Ever wonder what a muffler looks like on the inside? Well wonder no longer, instead, click this link.

    So the truck's out of commission until next year. Bummer! At least, I will have the gas tank cleaned and sealed over the winter, and this won't happen again!

    New home (soon)!

    John very kindly met me early Saturday morning to move the camper trailer into my driveway. He had a previous engagement so he graciously started earlier than normal just to help me! The newly widened drive allowed him to place it exactly where I wanted it. Thanks, John!

    Here's what it looks like:


    Approaching from the wooded side of the driveway provides a pretty cool shot. If only I was a better photographer... Take a look:


    As a reminder, the wooden structure on top was built by the previous owner to--when coupled with a tarp--shed snow. I plan to use it for the same purpose. Thank you, Stuart!

    I leveled the camper, opened up the LPG tanks, and switched on the fridge/freezer unit. It fired up and started cooling. My plan is to empty the existing 30-pound tanks and then switch to the 20-pound ("grill") tanks.

    I've several of these small tanks so I can rotate them. Furthermore, I can move these small tanks with the Hiroshima hatchback hero, with ease! Using these tanks also affords me some privacy. Except during the winter, when I will be "barbeque"-ing a lot.

    Since the mains electricity isn't hooked up anymore, the air conditioning and microwave don't work. I don't mind. If I need A/C, then I'll run my large, propane generator. I rarely use a microwave oven.

    "I don't like them newfangled thangs."-as I spit tobacco juice--BBBDINGGG!-"They scare the tarrrnation out o' me."

    Ahem, I also think the wall outlets in the camper are not working without the AC power supply. If so, I will have to bring up an inverter to run this computer. Will the surge suppressor be good enough to stifle the ripples coming from a cheap, Harbor "Fright" 12V-110V inverter? We'll know soon!

    I'm getting excited. Moving the camper is a big step forwards! I plan to gradually clear out this apartment and ease my transition to "trailer trash". Don't worry: the banjo is on order.

    Moving

    Speaking of moving: yesterday, I moved most of my small furniture to the storage garage. I had to stick the leg & wheel of one piece out the front (passenger) window.

    The odd appearance kept tailgaters away. Maybe I'll drive around like that all the time? Then again, I won't because the gearshift was easier worked by my left hand. Sort of like being back in New Zealand!

    Things continue to fall into place. Yesterday was a day of on-and-off rain. It's good that the truck broke down because using a closed car reduced my furniture's exposure to the elements. Everything happens for a reason.

    New address

    I still didn't have mail service last week so I visited the town's Post Office. A woman in front of me was giving the poor guy a hard time about trivial things. I gleaned from her loud statements that she was the owner of a small science fiction bookshop.

    I know that not all small bookshop owners are obnoxious. Though, it does seem to be a trend. Remember Bernard Black of Black Books?

    Eventually, this woman who babbled that we--she was accompanied by a young man, who distanced himself from her--were "in to" science fiction before Star Trek and The Matrix , left.

    I then approached the man behind the counter. I kindly greeted him before explaining my situation. He didn't miss a beat and quickly explained that I needed to complete a form. Wow! That was easy. This man turned out to be the Postmaster. Thank you, Peter!

    I filled the form and left it in my mailbox with the flag up. And, wouldn't you know, the mail lady picked it up and lowered the flag. I should have mail delivery this week!

    Looking forward

    Today was a light day for me. I try to "rest" at least one day every week. Of course, observers would say that I don't rest but rather just accomplish less.

    (No doubt they're correct. I find it difficult to be idle. This is a reason why I drink. It forces me to slow down, or I crash into things and make more work for myself!)

    Today, I washed and waxed the "Hiroshima hatchback hero". Ignoring the dings and scratches, it's really a lovely little car. Zaino Brothers' products brought back the black, having rescued it from the dirty grey, which seems to be all the rage among my boring contemporaries.

    After using the "all-in-one" polish, I took the time to use the "glossy spray stuff". That product is amazing because it made the paint much smoother than the glass. I'm not kidding. Absolutely stunning!

    I ran out of Zaino's excellent tire gloss, which really does last for weeks. Instead, I used Armor-All's version. It's not as good. It was a Christmas gift from a friendly neighbor a couple years ago. Regardless, it looks good for now.

    So the "triple H" is ready for winter. Yes, it's very early for this task; however, I figured it would be better to take care of this necessity now. The apartment is a convenient place for washing a vehicle.

    Netflix

    Once again my local distribution center has changed! It is in a different state, again, and the service is significantly slower.

    It took me a couple of months to confirm this theory. That is why I have been presenting fewer ratings/reviews of movies. Ha! You thought it was due to my busy schedule. Well, I admit this is partially the reason. But watching movies are always a high priority, so I make time.

    Hopefully, this reduction in service is not the finale of the DVD arm of Netflix. If it is, I may have to start collecting DVDs again like a certain long-time reader! (Thank you, Randy!) That can be a bit difficult for the resident of a camper! I may need a camper just for movies. But, is that really a bad thing?

    Labor Day

    Truck

    I guess this is what I get for laboring on Labor Day! I removed the float bowl & metering block from the truck Holley carburetor. Some flecks of rust did come out in the ultrasonic cleaner bath. After shaking them until nothing fell out, I put it back together, and the engine ran a bit better.

    But then it got really bad. I figured out that the problem is caused by the main jets because when cruising down the road, there's no power. Idle and power circuits seem OK.

    I re-installed the original, richer, main jets stamped "61". I adjusted the idle mixtures where they used to be. At least I thought so. More rough idling then kaboom!

    The muffler is history. I've never seen one so destroyed. The backfire ripped the sheet metal away like a toddler tears open his presents on Christmas morning. I'll have to take a photo. It is impressive.

    I won't be able to fix all of this before having to move house. Fortunately, John has already volunteered to help. And I won't need his help to move too much. Most of my stuff is small or can be smushed into the car.

    It's just a bummer. When I need the truck, it's not there. But, neither is the sports car!

    Trailer

    I don't think I've written about the trailer's fridge not working when connected to the mains. I had previously diagnosed that there was an AC voltage ripple of more than 6 Volts, which is just out of tolerance.

    I connected the Honda generator because it was nearby. The same over-6-Volt "ripple". I think there's something else amiss. It runs off LPG (i.e. propane) so that's good enough for me. If that breaks down, it's "cooler, two days" for me.


    On a brighter note, I discovered that the thermistor, which acts as a thermostat for the fridge/freezer, is not broken. The resistance is right where it should.

    I stopped before I broke the trailer, too! No wildlife fun today. I think the truck kept all the critters away! Time to start doing what normal people do on holidays: drink!

    Saturday, the 3rd

    Site updates

    I have added eight movies to the GRS database. Please, enjoy my comments!

    Apartment

    I sent--what I thought--was a kind letter of my planned termination of residence to the apartment management with a final rent check. I got a form letter, which is all business, in return. OK, whatever.

    I have been giving door slammer and stomper an earful. It's impressive the amount of sound that a home-theater-in-a-box system can deliver. What is management going to do: kick me out? Ha!

    I'm now committed to being out of this place by the end of the month. And, while it may feel a bit different; it's a good feeling. I've been packing and moving non-essentials to the storage garage for months, so the final move will be easier. It's amazing how much stuff even an apartment can hold!

    Driveway & Moving

    John came back last Sunday and spread the rest of the gravel. It covered about half of the driveway. It's really looking good! I'll post a photo when it's all done. Thanks, John!!

    I'm planning to have another dump-truck load delivered this week and request that John spread it on Saturday. That way, we can also move the trailer into the driveway.

    I'd like to have the trailer in place so I can start to move in. Down-sizing isn't easy. I recall the move when the three-of-us moved with our mother into a smaller house.

    We managed to jam everything into the new rental house. Then, with a roof over everything because it was January, we unpacked a single room at a time before moving on to the next room. It was an adventure for sure! Though, only one brother saw it as such, also. The other was very angry about the move.

    I should be OK with my down-sizing. There are always questions that arise when going from a 300-400 square foot apartment to a 19-foot-long trailer. I'm really glad that I have my very large storage garage!

    "Solar" posts & "Lola"

    Don't think that I'm getting cold feet about the move. No way! Today, Jack helped me paint the "solar" posts. He, again, commented how peaceful my property is. I agree because when I sleep there, I find myself truly refreshed. There's nothing like being in a forest. Being surrounded by all that life is invigorating!

    Speaking of life, when I uncovered the posts to begin de-scaling them before the primer and top coat, I met a new friend. Take a look:


    What, you don't see him?! OK, don't strain your eyes. Here he (or she) is:


    Underneath the tarp was wet and warm. Ideal for frogs. In fact, I saw a frog hop out of one of the holes a couple of weeks ago. Maybe this is the same critter, only grown up?

    As work progressed, he made sure I was doing it right. I even suggested that he, or she, clear out before the spray paint flew.

    When I removed the other tarp, a very small frog hopped out. That one must have been only an inch at its longest. So maybe he is a she? May I call you Lola?

    I managed to clean-up and start applying the primer to one post before Jack arrived. He showed up just as I ran out of primer. We drove to the local hardware store and purchased some more primer and paint.

    Back on site, we made excellent progress. Jack is a painter by nature. Though, he usually paints nudes or landscapes. I felt a bit bad employing him in such a lowly task, but he was his usual upbeat self: happy to paint anything.

    All the while Lola supervised our progress. Not until we completed the first post, did Lola start to exit stage--err--left. Hopefully, he or she will be OK in the forest. Sorry for ruining your new home, Lola. Do you want a Coca Cola?

    The footings are a rather unattractive splash of grey white on the ground. The birch-tree supports left a few channels in them. I hope these don't catch water, that freezes, and then encourages cracks. I intend to cover these footings with gravel, so that may help. If not, then I'll deal with it!


    Together, Jack and I, scoured, primed, and painted the posts. They turned out to be quite lovely, far better than I expected! Jack said they looked like fresh canvases, which compelled me to remind him of his suggestion of painting flames on them. Wouldn't that be absolutely cool?

    I'm no artist, so I can't attempt the job. Jack is an artist so he could do it. Unfortunately, he hasn't the time right now. I didn't dare press him and just hope that the allure of being in my "Mayberry" town is enough to bring him back with paintbrush in hand.

    I have yet to find an angry person in my small town. Sure, there are a few ambivalent individuals, but they're never mean.

    Here are the painted posts:


    Please excuse the pile of gravel between the two posts. It's merely a reminder to spread gravel around the posts. This should reduce the erosion that is filling up my expensive driveway "apron" with sand!

    So what are townsfolk saying now? Is the white paint important? Is white the best color for docking spacecraft? Or is it--please, no--a football goal-post? Place your bets?

    Another task

    After Jack left, I decided that I could remove some of the trees that prevent the light from falling on my future solar panels.

    I did have to rip out a number of weeds that sprang up around the stump of the large oak that I had to have downed. This is another reason why I am not "clear-cutting" my lot: I hate weeds! There are no weeds in the forest.

    It didn't take too long to get the weeds under control. I then cut down a few small trees to bring the sun to the panels.

    As I cut down another weed-tree, my nose registered a shitty smell. (There is a horse ranch just down the road so I am not unaccustomed to the smell. The horses are frequently walked up and down the road.) The smell did make me look up. And what I saw poised about ten feet away was my worst nightmare.

    I had never seen one so close before. Even with the adrenaline of cutting down trees coursing through my veins wasn't enough to summon up enough courage to confront this potential foe.

    I slowly backed away from this black and white danger. OK, this small mammal isn't particularly dangerous if you have no sense of smell, or never deal with others. But I have both desires.

    Time to clear trees on the other side of the driveway! I did go back fifteen minutes later. The skunk was gone. He probably thought, "Good, that smelly ape is gone."

    The rest of the tree-clearing task passed without event. It does seem that as I spend more time on the land, I see more. Excellent. I'm just a tenant, so let's live together!

    Saturday, the 27th

    Well

    I intentionally failed to post a photo of the well head because it looked pretty dreadful after Mike left. All the drilled granite had to go somewhere, and that somewhere was my unfinished driveway. It was ugly! Like a scene from a dinosaur/swamp documentary, only without the dinosaurs.

    But this ugly material is also one of the best for packing. After it dried out John came over with his tractor and cleaned it up. The results were fantastic, and I told him so. Thanks, John!

    He also did a superb job grading that far end of the drive. Here are a couple of photos of the well head at the end of the driveway:


    I've been thinking. Yeah, I know; that's scary! If the well recharges at about 50 gallons a day, that's probably enough for my cabin. I won't have a swimming pool. I won't have a flush toilet, instead a composting toilet is waiting in my storage garage.

    How much water do I really use in a day? I'll know soon because I'll be living in a trailer in a bit over a month. All the water will be either purchased or given me by a generous neighbor or parents. I can keep track of my use.

    What if a significant other moves in--which would be significant since I'm a confirmed bachelor! That's a subject to ponder.

    Solar posts

    We mixed and poured the footing for the second post. It went so quickly because, not only did we have enough cement, but we also know how the other works and can compliment his weaknesses. (Except John has no weaknesses, or so he keeps telling me!)

    I haven't any photos of the footing yet. While I was putting in the mailbox, John was industrious and pulled the tarp back over the post. Trust me, the footing is excellent, perfect in all aspects

    I did snap a new photo. Don't the tarps look like "multi-cultural" ghosts?


    I'll have better shots next week because I'll be painting the posts. Then, I can leave them uncovered. Imagine what the townsfolk are saying now?

    Do I hear the local bookie giving odds what they're for? Gallows, UFO re-fueling port, expensive clothesline? Won't they be surprised? Is it too late to play a long shot?

    Mailbox!

    Putting in the mailbox was easy. I expected to hit large stones immediately and have to dig them out. I did hit a much-too-large stone with the post-hole digger at 20 inches down.

    That's deep enough so I cut off eight inches from the post. Oh, and what a wonderful smell! There's just nothing like freshly-cut cedar. I cut the post twice. (Can't cut it longer!) Now, John and I each have a cedar block to snort. Yeah, it's my crack!

    It's obviously good stuff, too, because the mailbox turned out well. Take a look:

    Driveway

    John spread about half of the hard pack that I had delivered. He promised to spread the rest tomorrow. One more dump-truck load (18 yards) ought to finish the driveway. I'll order this final load next week during work, when I have plenty of spare time!

    Truck

    I re-fitted the carburetor with the new jets. I also found a good way to fill the float bowl without running down the battery charge. The idle is greatly improved. When revved up, without any load, there's no sign of the rolling misfire that I had previously endured. Improvement!

    But, there's still a problem. It's got to be in the power circuit. The engine will idle and rev up no problem. Put a load, any load, on the engine and it stumbles and bogs down. Clearly, some rust made its way into the power circuit or whatever Holley calls it.

    Sigh. At least the weather has been good and the forecast is also good. I may just order a new power valve. I think that's what they call it. Though, I did remove and blow it out. That's something else to research at work. (Online jigsaw puzzles do get boring! And watching "superiors" stumble around like drunks is tiresome!) There always seems to be an opportunity to learn something new!

    In other news, I splurged and bought an infrared thermometer. What a fun toy! I was zapping a lot of things today. I just wished it made a whirring sound before displaying a result. You know, like a 1950s gadget from the future! Then, it would be the perfect toy, at least in my mind.

    Sunday, the 21st

    Site updates

    I have added six movies to the GRS database.

    Well

    On Monday, Mike the driller got the rig over the future well head site. The driveway is now wider, too! I dropped by Monday evening and the well bit was down to 150 feet without any noticeable water.

    I took the next day off, Tuesday, and I helped him drill--err, that is watch the rig drill. It's quite a machine. It can do in a minute what took John and I an hour or more! Mike's also got a good sense of humor so I enjoyed learning about well drilling. By that afternoon the well was drilled to 400 feet. No water. But sometimes, the next morning, these wells are full of water.

    I took a video (2 min 11 sec) of adding another 25-foot section of pipe to the drill head. It's available in two formats ( MOV -178 MB & MP4 - 86 MB)

    You can also see the speed that the drill progresses. It's much, much faster than my DIY drill! The video's available (14 sec) in two formats ( MOV -19 MB & MP4 - 11 MB)

    Unfortunately, I couldn't take off Wednesday, also. (I have to pay for this service!) I decided early the next morning that 455 feet was the deepest that I wanted to go. (With well drilling, one must choose the depth to drill with the first rig. Lining up another rig is asking for serious trouble, so the drillers charge a ridiculous amount of money--three grand for set-up alone!--to avoid doing it!)

    The previously deepest (recorded) well around my parts was 420. I figured if we didn't hit water at 455, then something else needs to be done. There's no good drilling to China, not to mention I only have so much money.

    Wednesday evening I paid Mike and thanked him for doing a great job. We spoke with his hydraulic-fracturing colleague about my particular well. I wrote down some useful information. I also learned about "fracking". It's an interesting technique and not as dangerous as oil fracking. The colleague said my well was an ideal candidate. We'll see!

    The well has since filled to about 50 feet from the surface. I figure it fills at around 50 gallons per day. The normal static water level is about 20 feet, so it's low for sure.

    John said that I could install a large underground water tank. The well pump could slowly fill that overnight and another pump could deliver water to the cabin bladder tank as required.

    I like this idea because it's something we may be able to do ourselves. It will, no doubt, be cheaper. But, that's a project for another time! For now, it'll sit there. Who knows, maybe the pressure from the standing water column will break open more fractures and solve my recharge rate problem?

    Solar posts & driveway

    Mike pulled in a second rig to provide more 25-foot drill sections. The two trucks combined with the powdered granite made quite a mess of my driveway. It did dry and the powder will pack very well. John volunteered to fix the damage.

    Also, this week, the quarry delivered 18 yards--cubic yards really--of "3/4 minus" gravel or, as it's locally named "hard pack", to my driveway. Jeff is the driver who previously delivered my stone for the driveway "apron". He remembered me and asked how I was coming along on the lot. Small world. Good people.

    Jeff dropped one yard between the holes for the solar posts. Recall that Jack and I raised these steel pipes last Saturday? The task for this Saturday was to mix and pour the concrete footings. I figured that I'd use some of the driveway gravel. It's not ideal but should work.

    I learned a new skill: mixing concrete! The electric mixer, which long term readers may recall I assembled during a snowstorm a few years ago, worked well. The little Honda generator powered it without a hitch. Amazing machine!

    I miscalculated the amount of Portland cement that we needed. Concrete is a mixture of Portland cement--which is named for a town in England where it was re-discovered--, sand, and gravel. Water is used to give it a soupy consistancy.

    We ended up only finishing one footing because we couldn't buy enough cement locally. The guy at the hardware asked about my well drilling. See, tongues do wag about my efforts!

    Next Saturday we pour the other footing! This week my hatchback pick-up will move a half ton of cement to the site. It'll take two trips. It sounds like a lot weight for a supermini car, but distributed inside the car makes it little different than having five people on board. Stay tuned!

    Saturday, the 13th

    Progress!

    On Tuesday, I phoned the town offices to ask if the State had recognized their street-number application, which was submitted on my behalf. The lady on the other end said, rather rudely, "Oh, that was done weeks ago." I just smiled, thanked her, and hung up. So I'm go for launch. Yes!

    Friday turned out to be a day of progress. Mike, the recommended well driller, is a decent 65-year-old Bernie Sanders supporter, but who also questioned who would pay for "all that free education". Surely, a gentleman?

    When I told him what John and I attempted he was visibly impressed. He recognized my homemade well point and casing immediately. I got a good vibe from the guy and decided that he was the one who should do the job.

    Now, he can't just drill the well and allow me to case it. He needs to put in a steel casing to the bedrock (or "ledge" as they call it 'round here). Without the casing, which will probably be about 20-25 feet deep, his rig won't drill straight into the bedrock.

    I told him that I have a "soft start" 110 voltage well pump that I hoped to use since I'll be on battery power. He understood and said we could address the pump later, though suggested we speak with his Gould pump distributor about the power consumption. I recorded some key numbers. The sales man said that an alternative pump was in stock, just in case mine doesn't have enough power.

    That's a bridge to cross next year. Back to now, Mike said he would be back with his rig in a few hours. Fast-forward a few hours and he returns with a companion, Jamie, and the drilling rig.

    Another thing I really like about Mike is that he said he could do the job with only taking down one branch. Most guys with big trucks--long-term readers may recall a certain tree company's quote--want to knock down a bunch of "pesky" trees so they can set up their massive machines. (Maybe it's a macho thing?)

    Despite the best intentions, Mike and Jamie weren't able to get the rig in place above the well site:

    They're definitely adventurous! Mike said he'd be back with a small earthmover to open up the bend where they're stuck. It shouldn't take more than an hour. It's a bit more money but one can only applaud the tenacity. Plus, I'll have the bend professionally widened for, what I feel, is a fair price.

    Mike left the rig on my property for the weekend. It does attract a bit of attention. Here's a view from near the street. This probably maintains my notoriety in the small town gossip. "Guess what that guy did? He ordered a well drilled and got the rig stuck!" Hey, I can be a celebrity in my own mind, right. But, seriously, who knows with small towns

    Though, I wasn't exaggerating about the rig drawing attention:

    Solar posts

    This is a good time to introduce my friend and ex-co-worker (twice). Jack volunteered to help me raise the solar "posts" today. He's been having trouble with his daughter and ex-wife, but still took the time to spend a day with me hammering railroad spikes and dragging trees around. This is a real man. Oh, and he's pictured above, posing with the stuck well-drilling rig.

    Today was raise-the-posts day. I know these posts are heavy and didn't look forward to manhandling them into a ready-to-launch orientation. (Can you tell that I've been watching old space movies lately?)

    The back story

    You know, with Jack's help, this task was fun and successful. Now I must suspend the narrative to provide some background. Please, bear with me because it'll make sense.

    Yesterday, after Mike and Jamie left their drilling rig stuck in my driveway--he did remark that I could sell it for scrap!--, I set out with my truck to fetch a half dozen of eight-foot lengths of two-by-fours.

    The old girl started to buck and run very poorly. Darn it, I thought, as I turned around and willed her back home. I had previously decided to remove the gas tank this winter and pay Steve, the radiator/gas-tank guy, to clean and seal the tank.

    But not now. I really needed you, old girl, because my Japanese "pick-up truck" cannot move eight foot lengths. I was a bit dejected, though happy to arrive under her own power, as I pulled into another kind neighbor's parking area.

    Not only did I have to disassemble the carburetor and remove the offending rust--and it's damned offensive now!--but I now had no way to fetch some lengthy two-by-fours.

    As I tried not to succomb to "heat exhaustion", I looked around and realized that I had lots of mostly straight small tree trunks on the ground just begging to have a final moment of glory before rotting away.

    Maybe it's the humidity that sparked those neurons? Or maybe I was working off a mild hangover? Either way, I now had a solution to a vexxing and present problem. Eureka!

    Birch, drill bits, and success

    Yesterday, I managed to cut a few fallen birch trees into sections. It wouldn't have been too bad, if it wasn't so humid and I didn't have to cut by hand. I think older men would remark that this task would put hair on the chest. But look where they are: dead and feeding the worms!

    Back in the present: Today, I brought my wonderful little Honda generator to power my electric chainsaw. I have to break the sequence to complement this portable "camp" generator.

    It provides "only" 900 Watts, but has done everything reasonable that I have asked. It powered an electric chainsaw to cut down many small trees, drilled holes in steel, ran a circular saw, and scoffed when an angle grinder was plugged in. I even think it will be my "go to" generator to top up my travel trailer's battery when the sun isn't enough. This little trooper is worth every penny.

    With the help of the Honda generator, we sectioned out a number of birch trunks. (Birch trees seem to always be falling down or ready to fall down.) These handsome trunks would probably work just as well as the pressure-treated lumber that I planned.

    And, indeed, they worked perfectly. Jack drilled the hole through the solar posts. Of course, being steel this task was a three drill-bit process. It was working pretty well until Jack asked to swap out the first bit--typically the hardest working of the lot.

    A nearby size just wasn't cutting. I asked if the drill was spinning the correct direction because I caught a glimpse of oddity. The bit never performed so we switched back to the original. On closer examination, I found that the helix of the bit was cut backwards. No wonder!

    Raising the posts passed without event. Though as we raised the second, there were ominous rumbles of thunder. And I mean real thunder. I pondered this as I stabilized a large steel post. Will my epitaph read: "killed while holding a steel rod in a lightning storm"?

    (That would be terrible because I'm no golfer! Recall the minister in Caddyshack. Actually, I really hate golfers. If I could, I would hunt them down like the vermin that they are!)

    So, with no further prelude, below are some shots of the posts in their "legless midget graves" with the rebar installed. The birch trunks performed beautifully because they have just that bit of desired spring. Lovely!

    After a bit of tweaking of the rebar, all is ready for pouring the concrete next week. I'm not such an idiot now for my seemingly shoddy "rebarring", am I? I had a plan!

    Success! Below, Jack proudly stands amongst our work. And rightly so, because without him it would not have happened.

    The observant individual will notice that the posts aren't the same height. Yup, you're right. Here's a virtual gold star. (Now go away, if you're that trite!) The discrepancy arises from the different depths of the holes. One is a foot shallower than the other. As persistent readers know, I hit a very large stone in one hole and couldn't dig any deeper. That explains the difference.

    I'm not one for uniformity, so I'm sure this difference will prove to be advantageous. Nature meant it this way. How can I argue? I would never win.

    Jack kindly stayed to "button up" the project. This means covering the site with my extra-large tarp from Andy and Mom--thank you!--and staking it with stones. This seems to keep most of the rainwater and runoff out.

    And would you know it, the threat of rain became reality. Literally, as soon as we had pulled the tarp over the site, it began to rain. If I were on TV, then I'd say this must be staged.

    Below is a shot shortly before it began to, properly, rain. I don't see any ponds for frogs happening this time!

    So we're on schedule and ready for next weekend. Please return when we cement my energy prospects next week.

    Sunday, the 7th

    Site updates

    Welcome to August! I have made some updates to the site. Five movies have been added to the GRS database. I also added the quote below:

    Seeing your face reminds me that I forgot to wipe my ass!
    Rich Johnson's subtitles when a co-worker briefly stops
    in an office before rushing out

    Soft side of the projects

    Tentatively, the lot has an address! I'll call the town on Tuesday to verify that it's on record with the State. This was the final, true barrier to my living on the property.

    My kind neighbor, who is hosting my travel trailer, has been keeping tabs on my progress. After our failure to drill the well, she dug out the contact information--love the pun--for the man who drilled her well. He's not only reputable, but will drill by the foot. (Many drillers around these parts want to drill to three hundred feet before stopping to check for water.) I have an appointment to meet Michael, the driller, on Friday. Thank you, Donna!

    I submitted the driveway permit. The building inspector, who also has to sign his approval, said that there's no fee. Wow, a government that doesn't want money in exchange for a service. Of course, I know my property taxes--or rent to the town--pays for these actions. I was still surprised.

    Hard (fun) side of the projects

    Now, for the actual work on the land. I stacked the wood that John cut for me a couple of weeks ago. The pile only fell over once, which isn't bad for me. See, monkey can learn! It's very stable. Take a look:

    This weekend was set aside for "rebarring". No, it's not a new S&M club in Soho! Per the solar-mount manufacturer's suggestions, I planned to assemble the rebar in the holes that would be filled with concrete.

    But first, I needed to get rid of the water! You see, I covered the site with a large tarp--thank you, Mom & Andy!--to discourage water from filling my "graves for legless midgets", which is what I call the holes for the "solar" posts, with runoff. But, if you're local, you're thinking, "what rain: we're in a severe drought."

    Ah ha, yes we are and I'm damned glad of it because I've been able to accomplish much. But, the bit of rain that we do get seems to end up on the tarp and makes perfect watering holes for frogs and bugs. I bailed out the holes on Friday. Still, yesterday's rain brought back the ponds:

    Fortunately, there's always a silver lining. Whilst bailling out the water, I was able to see my driveway "apron" at work. Sure enough it directs the water into the stony ditch parallel with the road. Even torrential downpours, which don't occur here, will never overwhelm the drainage and flood the street.

    After removing the water, which is a good aerobic exercise, I set about assembling the rebar in my "graves". I had been secretly dreading this task. It was probably founded in the all-too-common fear of the unknown. As it turned out, I didn't have to cut any of the two rebar lengths that I purchased from Lowe's.

    Yes, the plastic "chairs" that I purchased to stand the rebar off the ground didn't work. (The rebar should be entirely encapsulated in concrete to avoid it applying a tensile load to the concrete during freezing conditions. That's why I need to stand off the rebar from the ground.) So instead, I made stone "chairs". Or are they called "thrones" when they're made of granite?

    Anyhow, the stones worked well. The rebar structure needs to tie in to the post, so, please, don't send an e-mail message saying: you imbecile, that structure is lopsided! Working in a shallow "grave" with the rebar was cool. I could only equip one hole with rebar because I ran out of materials. It's such a clean and quick job that it'll be nothing to do the other footing on Friday, after I meet the well driller.

    I plan to run one or two 'bars diagonally through the vertical posts (not shown) and tie them into the structure. The mess only has to stay in place long enough for John and I to pour the concrete, and then no one will be able to see how unprofessionally I assembled my rebar. That said, I did enjoy the task even if I broke all the rules!

    Below is a shot of the site. I put the rebar in the left "grave". That dead branch is there intentionally. I thought it would be nice to have a pole standing somewhat vertically in each hole, which could create "tents" around the holes to shed water.

    It may work. If not, it does provide a better warning to ramblers wandering in my driveway looking for their runaway cat or dog. That's why I put the traffic cones out. I'd really hate for someone, even a trepasser, to fall into a five-foot hole that's covered by a tarpaulin.

    Also in the shot are the two steel posts. Heavy bastards. They're rusting so I'll clean, prime, and paint them once they're vertical and the concrete is cured. Also pictured is the entire requirement of Portland cement for the concrete footings. Yes, roughly 200 pounds is all that is needed. The sand is another story.

    One bag of the two-thousand-pounds of sand is visible in that photo. The other bags are scattered around. My hatchback "pick-up truck" brought the majority of this material to the lot. If distributed properly, the car thinks: I just have a full complement of "big boned" Americans on board. That's OK. (They're people, too!)

    I won't even attempt to transport the gravel with the purple beast. I need a bit more than a "yard", which equates to nearly two tons of the irregular stone. Not even the "Hiroshima hatchback hero" can move all that material in a reasonable time

    Truck

    Speaking of the purple she-beast. (Yes, the truck is feminine. I don't know why. It's just a feeling.) I got a pair of new jets for the carburetor. I've noticed that the tailpipe, which I replaced a hundred miles ago, is sooty.

    There's no reason why a stock stovebolt-six should be blackening a new exhaust system, except if the engine is running too rich. I contacted Holley, who built the carburetor, and they said it was difficult to know which jets I would need and the guy recommended dropping two sizes in the first attempt.

    So I ordered two-sizes-smaller and four-sizes-smaller pairs of jets. When I have a spare moment, I'll put in the first pair. Due to the poor quality of fuel available, I will have to judge the change by ear and feel. I've been told that the alcohol in the gasoline can cause plugs to "lie" about the fuel mixture.

    (Thank you, Archer Daniels Midland lobbyists. I also love your high-frustose corn-syrup products! I can then meet your compassionately-funded "doctors" to try and stop my cancer. "I am Jack's colon. I get sick, and I kill Jack." Thank you, ADM. You, greedy fucking bastards!)

    Of course, my fear is the same as most classic vehicle owners. Running a bit rich is alright; however, running too lean is bad, potentially catastrophically bad. I wish my Gunson's Colortune would fit the engine. It's such a wonderful "bit of kit". I tuned the new MG engine perfectly with it.

    (While on that idea, the MG won't be driving this year. I still need to attend to the brakes and replace the axle seals. It's sad because I miss driving my piece of English motoring history. The old boy will ride again!)

    I could break out the Gunson's carbon-monoxide sniffer; though, it's not quite as effective as the Colortune. It's also definitely much more tedious to calibrate. I think I'll just be gentle and trust the old girl to speak to me.

    Science may say motor vehicles cannot have a soul. I do beg to differ. There have been many times that my little MG--and other cars--has "told" me that something is wrong. It could be just an elevated perception on my part; but, I am also only a monkey. Oh look, a banana! Ho-ho-he-he-oo-ooh! Grin.

    Sunday, the 31st

    Well

    The diesel compressor did make the drill spin faster. See a shot here. Pressure remained at 105 psi, which is more than the required 90 psi. The flow was plenty with the larger hoses.

    The bad news is that the drill is just too slow. We descended about an inch every hour. That's too slow to drill 60 feet! The up side is that we tried it and now know that it won't work. The soil was sandy with stones mixed in.

    I'll find a driller with a small rig to cut the hole. We can then lower in my PVC casing and well point. This should cut the cost because I won't need a steel casing or pump.

    Driveway / solar posts

    The highway agent has approved the driveway "apron". Tomorrow, I'll submit the permit request and pay the fee. Then, I can spread gravel.

    Before that, we'll pour the footings for the solar posts. Then, I can spread hard pack around them. The next step is to assemble the rebar and get the rest of the concrete materials. Then, we can raise the posts and lock them in place with two-by-fours. In three weeks, John will help me mix & pour the concrete.

    Site updates

    Until then, enjoy the six additions to the database.

    Sunday, the 24th

    Driveway

    I gave up on the paving company and found another one. This guy, Joe, agreed to come out on Friday. He and his three guys graded the stone, spread the asphalt, and rolled the blacktop inside of two hours. I was impressed.

    I now have the driveway "apron" to satisfy the town's requirement. Friday, I left a message with the highway agent asking him to check it. Once I have his approval, I pay the fee and then can spread hard pack. That's the locally preferred type of gravel. It freezes solid and becomes like concrete in the winter.

    Below are some photos of the "apron":

    Solar panel posts

    Also on Friday, I waited for the steel pipes to arrive. I nearly missed the truck driver. The neighbors tried to help and pointed out my lot. I was waiting next door. But I got them. A photo is included further below.

    Address

    Regarding the address for my lot. On Monday evening, I went to the town hall. I stumbled over a chair on the way in, which made everyone look up. "Well, I'm here," I exclaimed in response. Everybody laughed. The petite blonde, who was previously last in line, said that usually she does that.

    Have you noticed that many women aged between 20 and 40 years seem to have a persistent dry cough? This girl had it, too. Very strange. Is it caused by polluted air, bad food, insufficient sleep, or is it something more ominous?

    When I got to the front of the line, the town clerk said that she couldn't give me an address. She thought that I needed a house first. So how do you live on site and build? Fortunately, she left a photocopy of my property tax bill on the building inspector's desk.

    The next day I spoke with the inspector. He said that he's never issued an address without a building on a lot. He rang the state to ask if I could indeed have a 911 address issued. They said yes, and he said he'd work on it. I'll call him tomorrow.

    Once I have the address, I can legally move to the lot. Then, I can pay my final month's rent. Ah, the thought of leaving behind door slammer & stomper--that's what I call the apartment neighbors--is uplifting.

    Drilling / "Solar holes"

    OK, now I'm just getting creative with the titles

    The extra air tank didn't improve the well drill. Rats! It made it worse. Instead, I reserved a diesel-powered monster from a place. The guy behind the counter said that 3/8" hose size is too small for the flow rate. I reserved 100 feet of 3/4" hose along with the compressor trailer. I'll adapt down at the drill head.

    Since I had John's time, we cleaned up the bottoms of the solar post footings. A large stone is at the bottom of one. It's so large that it'll only help make the footing solid and heave-free. (No, I don't mean that it won't vomit out the post!) I also trimmed the roots. Take a look:


    We also cleared some trees to allow more light on the solar site earlier in the day. These trees were crowded around the utility pole shown in the photo below. Also, here's the promised image of the steel posts.


    I had thought that I would paint the posts before pouring the footings. However, after moving them around by myself, I thought again. They weight about 150 pounds each!

    Voting

    A neighbor said that voting for anyone other than the Democrat or Republican candidate is a wasted vote. Since these are both statist parties or "two heads of a single-party system", why discriminate between them?

    I was surprised because I thought him an intellectual. I guess when it comes to politics or religion, most people are not logical.

    I told him that the federal elections are probably rigged so I'll send a message and vote for the Libertarian candidate. His platform matches my political beliefs 98% of the time. How do I know this fact? During the ample idle time at work I took a bunch of political quizzes. That number was the result of one of the tests.

    More project updates coming soon!

    Sunday, the 17th

    Site updates

    I added five movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Projects

    I purchased a 10 gallon air tank. I'm going to plumb it inline with the air compressor. Who knows: maybe the extra volume will give us the power we need? If not, then I'll arrange the diesel compressor. We'll test the new set up this Saturday.

    On Monday, I cleared an area adjacent to the driveway for the solar panel posts. I--well, the mini excavator!--dug two holes for the concrete footings for them. (OK, it did have some help from me. There aren't any self-driving excavators yet!)

    Here's a look at the site and a hole:

    I know I bring thrilling news. Guess what? I dug two holes! The holes are slightly smaller than the manufacturer's suggestion. I couldn't dig any deeper. They're two feet by five feet by three feet deep. It'll do.

    I'm slowly buying the concrete ingredients. I have all the rebar and "chairs". The posts are on their way to my kind neighbor's house. These posts are six-inch, schedule 60 steel pipes stretching to ten feet.

    They won't be light so I've already had a volunteer to help me raise them. Then, I'll use two-by-fours to hold them vertical while pouring the concrete. I still need to purchase the rest of the sand and wood. This is too much weight for my "pick-up" car. (It does surprisingly well, though!)

    Good news! I towed the camper to my neighbor's house. It's parked. The drive was hair-raising. You see, the truck's gas tank has some residual rust in it. I have fitted an inline filter. The trouble arises when I don't change the filter enough. Often enough is probably every few drives!

    So a fleck of rust snuck by and lodged in the jet. I managed to mostly fix it on the side of the road. (Hey, at least the weather was agreeable!) But I need to do a proper job before I can get the half ton of sand. I will now change the filter every couple months.

    Towing with an unpredictable hiccup in the power delivery wasn't fun. Not that I enjoy towing anyways. I wish my brother had been available. He loves towing! I prefer small vehicles. However, it's done.

    This Friday, I will camp on site and work on the rebar for the footings and open up the camper. I should have more interesting photos. Stay tuned!

    Saturday, the 9th

    Site updates

    I added four movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Projects

    A flurry of activity has beset me. The well project is on hold. I did order an additional air tank. If I put it in series with the compressor's tank, we may be in business. It's worth a try!

    I learned from a woman who's on the planning committee that new town regulations will be coming down for off-grid systems. (Governments are always in the way!) So I'm going to put in the solar panels earlier than I wanted. I have drawn the footings for the solar panels. I have a mini-excavator arriving on Monday to dig the holes. Then, I'll cut and fit the rebar. The posts (6" steel pipes) are on order.

    The fun part will be mixing all the concrete. I need two-and-a-half cubic yards, so it's not a trivial amount. I should have enough stone leftover from the driveway apron that I'll just need sand delivered and purchase the Portland cement.

    I'm one step closer to being out of the apartment! Thursday, I purchased a 19-foot travel trailer. It's clean and well-maintained. What sold me on it was the fact that the previous owner always took off his shoes when he went inside to show me around. He also updated the lighting to be more efficient. Plus, he's a trustworthy and friendly guy. He grew up on Lake Champlain, maybe that's why?

    Things are falling into place. Recall my neighbor who allowed me to hook up to her water system? Well, she offered the use of her trailer service tie-ins. She and her late husband had lived in a trailer while they built their house. I took her up on it because it would really help me out. Since I'll be moving futher away from work, I'll be on the road more than three hours when I commute. It'll be refreshing to come home to electricity and a toilet that is connected to a septic system.

    "I love it when a plan comes together."

    Sunday, the 26th

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Well

    So, I have good news and bad news! The good news first. The drilling rig works. It's a messy and physical job, but it works. The bad news is that the air compressor that is advertised as able to the job, won't. That's right: it cannot maintain the necessary pressure for the required flow rate. Are we surprised? "Truth in advertising", uh, yeah right.

    Also, we proved that it'll drill through stone, if it has enough compressed air. We managed to get three feet down, which, all in all, isn't too shabby. I'll just rent a diesel-powered trailer air compressor. Overkill is a good thing!

    There is another good thing. The 200 yards of united garden hoses--which took me a lot of time to drag through the woods--supplied more than enough water. Impressive. Below is a crappy photo of the hose that I took in partial light. (I won't quit my day job, yet...)



    What you want to really see is the culprit:



    who disabled this beast:



    Essentially, this is a large steel masonry bit spun by a custom motor (inside the taped volume), which is powered by the compressed air. The radial holes just to the left of the motor allow the tailings (drilled earth), which are thrown along the outside of the pipe by the bit, to enter the PVC pipe. Air pressure takes these tailings up the pipe and out the well hole. Remember, that this entire process takes place underwater.

    Once the drilling/pumping is going smoothly, the PVC pipe is connected to the rest of the pipe. Below is 100 feet of 1" PVC piping.



    It's very long to allow the pipe to be arched around (as shown) into the previously-mentioned trash barrel, which is out of frame. The barrel slows down the water mixture and directs it into the settling pond, where, via a pipe, the water is returned to the well. See below:



    Here's another shot of the entire drill stem with the first 10-foot section of PVC pipe disconnected. The inventor found that pumping through the entire drill stem is tough for a shallow hole. Or an underpowered drill! So we started drilling/pumping with only one 10-foot section of pipe connected to the drill assembly.



    But what does it look like when you're actually drilling? Below is John, my steadfast friend & neighbor, and I acting out what it looks like to drill. The only difference is water and tailings aren't being shot out the top, staining everything with long forgotten earth!



    What does it feel like to drill? It's sure to improve one's grip! I can only compare it to the moment when a pistol drill grabs and tries to break your wrist. Now imagine that amount of torque all the time. It's incredibly tiring and then there's the mud.

    Until I got sick of us being showered with muck, and fitted the horizontal pipe, it was like being in a hailstorm of granite. It's not painful but is very messy! Writing about it brings back the sensation of muddy pebbles oozing down my back!

    John's ingenuity produced the wrist-saving idea of using a rubber, band-style oil-filter wrench to grip the pipe, thus providing a lever to resist the motor's torque. This engineering eureka! moment saved our wrists and forearms from premature failure. You can see him holding the tool in the above photo.

    Stay tuned, loyal reader, for news about this project and another which has just become "hot"!

    Wednesday, the 22nd

    Well

    This past weekend was spent setting up the air system and finishing the well casing. Below you can see one of the casing pipes on saw horses. (Click for a larger image.)

    I cut slits in it, and half of the next one. These will allow water to seep into the volume where the pump will be. Here's a close-up of the slits:


    I used an air-powered hand slitting saw to make the cuts.


    It worked well and allowed me to test the air system. Here's a shot of the regulator/oiler.



    This weekend, we drill!

    Sunday, the 12th

    Well

    I've finished preparing the site for drilling. I only got down about a foot with the post hole digger. But, that's one less foot to drill! I also remembered to bring the camera!

    Below is what the well and drainback system look like (click for a larger view):

    Let's get this out of the way: yes, my purple pick-up truck is right there. It's not curious. Rather, I have enlisted it to support a tarp with which I cover the site when I'm not there. Rainwater is powerful and I don't need it meddling in my plans!

    Starting at the top is the trash barrel. Its function is to catch the water as it's shot out of the end of the drill stem. It comes out with a lot of force. The water then flows out and into the settling pond. (It's a 2 foot by 1 foot by 2 foot deep hole, which took me a couple of hours to dig. Love you, stones!) In the pond, the trimmings settle out and the clearer water exits the drain pipe. (The end of this pipe is covered with a black straining sock, AKA plastic screen from McMaster-Carr.)

    The pipe is slanted downwards so gravity will assist the water as it returns to the well head. This recycling of water is useful, as I should explain in my next report. I used stones to hold down the return pipe because I have so many of them! And I'm lazy: it's a lot easier moving a bit of dirt and a few stones than digging up a pipe.

    The white vertical pipe is a guide for the drill. It sticks out of the ground about 8 inches and extends the previously-mentioned foot below ground. See both below:


    Here's a close-up of the "catch barrel" and settling pond:

    The stones to the left of the pond are not part of the system. They are simply there to help divert rainwater around the settling pond. I don't want sediment in it before I start to drill!

    Once the well is drilled, a casing must be installed to avoid it from collapsing. I found these 20-foot schedule-40 four-inch PVC pipes that will do the job. I carried the beasts through the woods without stumbling and killing myself. Go me! And for my next daring trick...

    Here's a shot of the three pipes, which will unite--like Voltron--to make the well casing. Yes, they're bell-ended because, as the inventor says, bells have less tendency to snag on the way down the hole. If you put them down the hole the right way up! Clever man.

    The observant visitor will notice that one of them doesn't look like the others. (Thank you, Sesame Street!) And he, or she, or it--except in North Carolina--would be correct. I glued the well point to one of the pipes.

    Here's a rather unflattering shot of the custom well point that I purchased from the clever man.

    Yes, I felt a bit shitty when I realized that it was a toilet bowl float glued to a bit of pipe that has a hole in it! So, what's the hole for? Well, it's actually a bushing that goes clear across the pipe and will accept a nylon rope. I'll pass a rope through that bushing and out the other side. Keeping both ends out of the well means that I can always lift out the casing, if I run into problems. I told you he was clever!

    The next task is to "slit" half of the casing. The water has to get in somehow! Then, I will lay out the drill stem piping and explain how the drill works. "Do not adjust your television." There will be photos of this task coming soon!

    Saturday, the 11th

    Site updates

    I added five movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Well

    I'm almost finished with the site preparations. I'll upload a photo or two to show the arrangement. It is a clever design.

    Work

    Well, the guy, with whom I had the run-in, is now very respectful of me. I was hoping to be laid off. Darn it! It would have been damned convenient to be out of work right now because I could finish my projects more quickly. I'll keep trying

    Driveway

    The driveway apron, which will protect the paved road against erosion, should be in soon. Then, I can get approval from the road agent, pay the town fee, and spread gravel. I've determined that it's best if I lay the stone myself because my neighbor has a very busy schedule, also. That means that I'll have to rent a small earth mover. Excellent!

    Saab Sonett

    Last Sunday, I helped a friend replace the front coil springs on his '70s Saab Sonett. The quirky car has bump stops integrated in the already-very-long top spring mount. It's a clever idea, but a bitch when one has to replace the springs!

    Even using spring compressor clamps, we cut the only intact--the driver's side was broken--spring to aid removal. Don't be lazy and not install the u-bolts that secure the clamps to the spring. We had one let go and the u-bolt kept it from taking off one of our heads. This had happened to my pal previously, too. No, he didn't have two heads and now has only one!

    Porter

    One of my favorite home brews is a dark English porter. I modified the recipe provided by a brewing supply house. This is the batch that I bottled a few weeks ago. It turned out very well: full-bodied with smoky undertones. Judging by its color, it is closer to a stout or a bock. However, the taste is definitely a porter.

    I read somewhere that this style of beer was preferred by train porters, hence its name. The idea was that this inexpensive brew would provide the inner "warmth" required to man a door on the trains of Victorian England. I don't know if the story's correct, but it is a fun story!

    Saturday, the 4th

    Site updates

    I added six movies and one TV program to the database.

    Projects

    I received the PVC piping for drill and casing my well. I'm preparing the site by digging a ditch and settling pond. Lots of work!

    Saturday, the 28th

    Site updates

    I added seven movies and two TV programs to the database.

    I also added the following quote:

    Don't worry I was raised in Yellowstone National Park, in Canada.
    "fighter" hunter from Versus

    Enjoy!

    Truck

    The truck is inspected and now legal to run on the public roads. The inspector pointed out that the trailing arms have been replaced by u channel. It's stronger than the original. It's interesting that the frame has been well repaired and the body's full of bondo.

    I dragged the ATV and trailer up to the property. I also threw in the 400 pounds of sand in the bed. (The sand is for the well.) This weight made starting from a standstill on a hill difficult. I may have to re-think towing a sizeable travel trailer with my truck.

    Well

    The PVC piping for the well drilling should arrive later this coming week. I watched the video again and took copious notes. Tomorrow, I plan to do the digging for the water recycling. This is a fancy term for a large garbage can, settling pond and pipe running to a posthole-dug start of the well. We'll see how deep I can get with the posthole digger. I may hit stone and skip it. Fortunately, the air drill will cut through anything, including granite.

    Sunday, the 15th

    Mickey Mouse

    Mickey would be proud of me. Today, I added another length of exhaust piping. This time I needed to push the muffler further back. That's not the best thing to realize that you have to do; however, I did get a new hacksaw handle out it. (My previous one needed to be retired.)

    The exhaust is, finally, completed. I did the best I could fitting it, and saw that it may knock on a trailing arm. So I topped up the antifreeze, checked the engine & rear end oil, and went for a test drive. The engine ran and pulled smoothly. The exhaust wasn't loud and, as far as I can tell, didn't knock.

    At the gas station, the only one in town now, I added fuel. A young child, who with his mother was being served as I waited in line, thought I was his father. Poor kid, so your dad's an unshaven guy with dirty clothes who smells a bit of dirt and grease!

    Having re-fueled the beast, I took the truck up to 55 mph. The wander is still there, which was exacerbated by the gusty wind. The good news is that all the gauges read what they did last autumn. The great news is that there doesn't seem to be any oil leaks from the front main seal, timing cover gasket, or oil pan gasket! How's that for working in the snow in a forest. I feel like the Joads in the Grapes of Wrath when they replaced a main bearing on the side of Route 66!

    Quite satisfied with myself, Murphy reminded me not to be smug. As I rolled along my road, I pressed the horn button. Nothing. In the driveway, I found that the relay was clicking and voltage was getting to the horn. Recall that I took the horn off when I ripped off the truck's face. Thus, I knew it had to be a bad ground. Sure enough, after cleaning up the surfaces, the horn worked.

    Well, it kind of worked. It sounded just like Oliver in Top Gear. I've replaced just about everything else in that vicinity, so why not the horn? I can't open it up because they assembled it with rosette-head rivets. It is probably original because it's all metal, and says "Made in U.S.A."

    All things considered, this was a good day. I think I deserve a beer. Speaking of which, I have a batch ready to be bottled. It'll be the last one I brew in this apartment.

    Saturday, the 14th

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Truck

    Last week I started the truck. Once going, it ran very well. The exhaust didn't bang around, though I have yet to drive it. The back-up light switch isn't working. The two sheet metal screws can't get enough purchase on the steering column. I'm going to install a band-style hose clamp instead. That should allow me to rotate the switch relative to the column to account for wear.

    Well

    I've decided to wait until June to drill the well. The weekends are forecast to be wet this month. I'll order the pipes in a few weeks. I hate to have them sitting for too long.

    Saturday, the 30th

    Truck

    I got the "custom-fit" exhaust system on the truck. All I needed was about another six inches. They didn't get the bends right either, so it's not perfect. Hopefully it won't bang too often.

    Well

    I received all the garden hoses that I'll need to feed water from my neighbor's spigot to my drilling site. (The hardware store probably thinks I'm starting a landscaping business!)

    I connected them all together and hooked up to the apartment's water. It took about a minute to fill all the hoses. But when they were full, the water came out with more pressure than I expected! It's more than enough to wash a car. I didn't bother to drain them. Maybe I should have because they weighed a ton!

    Friday, the 29th

    Site updates

    I added seven movies and three TV programs to the database. Enjoy!

    Truck

    I forgot that I needed to replace the muffler. Recall that I blew it up with the backfires? So last week I went to install the manifold-back exhaust system. The old one came off pretty easily. Maybe this job will go smoothly, I thought. The new one didn't fit! It is six or seven inches too short. Figures! Easy fix, just very annoying.

    Off

    I took today off after having a minor argument with a supervisor. The guy's of Italian descent and takes his job far too seriously, and decided to take it out on me. I told my supervisor that I was on the brink of resigning. (It's always good to scare them!)

    The good part is that I could take the day off, and look for a new job There are some around, but they feel they can get people to work for half price. Nope, I'll stick with the job I have and make waves!

    Band-Maid

    A few entries ago, I linked to a Youtube video of Band-Maid. Well, I was so impressed that I ordered a CD from a music company in Tokyo. Excellent album, well worth the money! The packaging is also particular of the Japanese. It's complete and efficient.

    Sunday, the 17th

    Truck

    Yesterday was a long day of putting the truck back together. But, I can say, it's now a vehicle again! Tomorrow, which is the anniversary of The Shot Heard Around The World, is also a holiday for me. So I can refill the engine and start it up.

    By the way, the pulley "pusher" worked almost beautifully. First, my tapping of the crankshaft wasn't perfectly along the axis of the crank. The result is that the threaded rod weaved as it "pushed" in pulley. It worked and the wobble really isn't bad for hand drilling/tapping. The other annoyance was that the knurled nut that is used to keep the main threaded rod from turning relative to the adaptor threaded rod--a company of which allow many different threads to be used--got stuck in the bearing inner race. No problem, just an annoyance!

    So the truck is reassembled. This brings me to the latest addition to the GRS database. The BBC has broadcast a TV program where James May reassembles machines. And it's excellent!

    Well

    Yesterday I also spoke with my kind neighbor who has volunteered to provide water for my well drilling task. I measured the distance to be a hundred feet more than I guessed. (Hey, I'm getting better at estimating distances!) Next step is to purchase and assemble the water hose. Then, I can test it here to ensure that normal water pressure is sufficient to deliver water to the other end. Otherwise, I'll have to purchase an inline booster pump.

    Neighbors

    While working on the truck, my neighbors directly across the road came over. I explained that I was determined, come hell or high water, that I would be moving onto the property this summer. One of them responded with a comment that took me aback. He said that I would do it because I can obviously do anything, since I ripped apart and repaired a truck in a forest during the winter. That meant a lot.

    Friday, the 15th

    Site updates

    I added six movies and one TV program to the database. Enjoy!

    Blake is dead

    The title character of one of my favorite TV programs, Blake's 7, has died. Yes, Gareth Thomas died yesterday, aged 71.

    Heavy metal

    On a brighter note, my cubicle mate recommended a Japanese all-girl hard rock band. BAND-MAID really is talented and puts a positive spin on hard rock, unlike some of the negatively-toned hard rock/heavy metal offered by contemporary American "artists". Oh, and the girls in BAND-MAID are really pretty, too. Take a look here.

    If they're not to your liking, try the more American-looking, and equally upbeat, DOLL $ BOXX.

    Saturday, the 2nd

    Site updates

    I added three movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Projects

    Good news! The Dacia San--Oh wait, that's not right!

    I'm now reassembling the truck. Remember that I removed its face to drill & tap the front of the crankshaft, so that I could use a pulley installer to properly seat the crank pulley on the front seal? (Why GM didn't do this still escapes me. Maybe they had stock in sledge hammers, and harmonic balancers!)

    Well, the radiator/headlight bulkhead is back in place. The decorative grille panel is also in place. Both need to be fully tightened down. The passenger side fender is in place but I think it liked being off and sitting in the bed. Now, few of the bolt holes line up.

    Weather

    Time to break and enjoy the excellent weather! I took this past week off because I just couldn't do the commute and job any more. And what spectacular weather I enjoyed! I even got a bit of a tan, or a light sunburn, in my case

    It was a perfect week off. I hiked many miles in my favorite town forest. I got to read an excellent novel ("books, we've got books"). I didn't practice the trumpet quite as much as I wanted to. It just didn't feel right.

    Projects coming soon

    OK, I jumped the gun a bit. I think they call it spring fever? I sent an e-mail message to the paver reminding him that my site has good southern exposure and could be blacktopped soon.

    Of course, the response that I got wasn't as enthusiastic. (Yankee fortitude is, at least, consistent.) But, in keeping with New Englanders, they will do the job.

    I still haven't measured for the water hoses that I'll need to cool the air-powered drill that I'll use to drill my water well. Perhaps, I'm becoming a Yankee? In my case, I'm probably just becoming a carpet bagger!

    Saturday, the 26th

    Site updates

    I added nine movies to the database.

    I, also, added three quotes:

    Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
    Patrick Henry

    Better to die on your feet than live on your knees
    Aeschylus

    Well, the boss isn't always right, but he's always the boss.
    from Bridge of Spies

    Projects

    So, I missed the weather window a few weekends ago to work on the truck. I blame the time change. But work will continue on the truck tomorrow. I'm almost done.

    I had the trumpet cleaned by a local music shop. They did a good job. I'm getting better slowly. It's difficult not being able to practice every day.

    With the temperatures rising, it's time to think about the MG.

    I already sent a message to the paving guy. Once that's done, I can get town approval, pay the permit fee, and spread stone.

    Sunday, the 6th

    Site updates

    I added six movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Projects

    Last weekend, I removed most of the ice surrounding the truck. It should be all gone by now. The clay should dry out this week so I can jack up the engine and remove the oil pan next weekend.

    I'm preparing for the well drilling. I've written a letter to a neighbor asking if I can hook up a (very long) garden hose, so I have water available. The drill needs water to cut properly.

    Soon, I'll e-mail the paving guy. All the snow is gone from that site, so he could do the job as soon as it's warm enough.

    Wednesday, the 24th

    Site updates

    I added six movies & three TV programs to the database. This puts the database over 2,200 entries!

    Off

    I didn't feel like spending an hour and a half in sleet this morning, so I used one of my paid-time-off days. I use these as I accrue them because I don't know how much longer I'll be there. I wouldn't mind being let go because they cannot keep me fully employed anyways, and I get bored!

    Truck

    I'm as far as I can go because the ground under the truck is soft. The next step is to jack up the engine to remove the oil pan. Fortunately, this is the last step before re-assembly.

    Sunday, the 14th

    Projects

    I was all set to work on the truck tomorrow. However, it looks like it's not going to be the best day for working outside. So, instead, I'll bring you up-to-date with my progress.

    Skip to the end: I have tapped the crankshaft, and it came out beautifully! Now, how I got there was not a trivial process. I began with the usual procedure to access the front main seal: remove the radiator and drive belt.

    This is quite easy in the cavernous engine bay, especially since the job was fresh in my mind. The "fun" began when I realized that I'd have to move the radiator/headlight bulkhead because it was in the way of the drill. I undid all the bolts.

    And what did I find? We had another heater core situation. Like before, when I had the heater core rebuilt and had to remove a hood hinge to gain access, the radiator bulkhead would not come out without removing a fender.

    After many alcoholic beverages, the next weekend I succeeded in removing the fender. (I also had to remove the wipers and cowl covering.) And would you know it, I only snapped off one bolt in the process! This Chevy is in better condition than my first--and only other--Chevrolet. (For that vehicle, I maintained a supply of tie wraps to take the place of sheared-off bolts.)

    With the bulkhead out of the way, I was able to start drilling the end of the crankshaft for a tap. Remember that these threads are necessary so that I could pull the harmonic balancer onto the front main seal. (See previous entries below for details.)

    The new cobalt-coated drill bits cut through any nitriding or case-hardening with little difficulty. The tap did a good job, too; however, it did start to push a burr. Rather than risk snapping a tap off in the front of the crankshaft, I stopped cutting threads after a reasonable five or six complete revolutions.

    Afterwards, my truck looked like it was ready for the junkyard. Take a look here. It is a stark contrast to the normal look. As you can see here. (Got wood? And yes, I cut, split, and stacked all that wood.)

    I bottled a dark English porter today. Nice. In three weeks, it should be fully carbonated.

    The trumpet practicing is going well. I've decided to only play what I like to play. No shitty études that have no meaning to me except a faded memory of past misery. Instead I am practicing TV and movie themes!

    My range is gradually improving. It's not a swift recovery because I can only practice on the weekends. But I am making progress, and that's what matters!

    13th of February

    Site updates

    I added seven movies to the database. Enjoy!

    30th of January

    Site updates

    I added six movies and one TV show to the database. I also added two quotes:

    How are you feeling?
    Better.
    Good. Keep drinking, it always helps.
    from The Innkeepers

    I'm betting he's gonna swerve first.
    (referring to a train while driving on the tracks)
    from Groundhog Day

    Enjoy!

    Projects

    The truck project is progressing. I'm taking Monday off to work on it more fervently.

    I'm back to brewing beer. Beer, yummy!

    Also, I've been practicing trumpet again. I had refreshed this skill while unemployed a couple of years ago. It's interesting how the technique never goes away. Only the stamina has been lost. I wish I had the time to practice every day.

    16 January '16

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database. Enjoy!

    2016: Happy New Year!

    Site updates

    I added two movies & three TV programs to the database. Enjoy!

    Netflix

    My new Netflix distribution center appears able to keep up nearly as well as the much closer, and probably closed, center. However, I have found alternative means to view current TV programs. That's why, for probably the first time, TV programs outnumber movies in the GRS updates.

    Snow

    Finally, we have snow! Not only is it very necessary for the groundwater supply; but, well, it doesn't feel like winter without shoveling snow. I may be the only adult who's glad to see the white stuff. There is hope (for the majority) because the long-term forecast suggests an unusually light winter.

    A winter project

    I need to tap--cut threads into--the front of the truck crankshaft. My stovebolt six has no crankshaft bolt. Yeah, odd, huh? When I changed the front main seal I was unable to completely get the pulley/harmonic-balancer onto the crank.

    As you probably figured, I have a rather large oil leak out the front of the engine. Or, as my experience in English sports cars, has taught me to refer to as active rust-proofing.

    The truck job is not trivial because I need to change the timing cover and oil pan gaskets as well. The latter requires lifting the engine so the pan may be removed. The good news is that everything is fresh in my memory and on the engine because I had just done this job!
    This time I'll get it right.

    Final day of autumn

    Site updates

    I added four movies & two TV programs to the database. Enjoy!

    Netflix

    It seems that the seemingly endless DVD collection that I have tapped for over a decade may be ending. The other day I tried to increase my subscription and found that the company has eliminated all larger DVD plans! Also, my main distribution center appears to have closed because I am now receiving discs from out of state.

    I'll continue using the service as long as I can, but I feel it's only a matter of time. Netflix doesn't even advertise the DVD plans anymore! One must dig on the web site to find a link to dvd.netflix.com . However, Netflix's (Internet) streaming service is going strong. I dislike that part of the business because the selection pales in comparison to the DVD library.

    Pearl Harbor Day

    Please remember the victims of the first "September 11th".

    Site updates

    I added four movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Canceled trip

    Since I last wrote, I had to cancel a trip. Yes, the actions of Da'ish--or ISIL/ISIS, as it seems to be known in America and American-sympathetic "allied" nations--caused a change of plans for me. This is the first time that I have ever had to cancel a trip, and I am not happy.

    I would have been in Morocco this past week. I didn't cancel because of the recent events in Mali and Algeria (neighboring countries) but because I questioned the motivations of the ground crews at Charles de Gaulle aéroport near Paris. CDG is located in the northern reaches of L'Île de France (AKA Paris). And, there, in north Paris many self-righteous Muslims are only taking up space.

    It seems that the shittiest Muslims have taken up residence in western European capitals. They're angry and want to destroy something. Maybe it's time to open up a suicide "practice" park in western Europe? It would probably stop them from planting a device on a jet airliner! (Oh, am I politically incorrect? Good.)

    It wasn't that long ago that I felt more secure in western Europe than in the U.S. Hmm. Maybe it's time to ask how long before we, in our police-state nation, are really threatened?

    I'm not saying that we should start bombing to forestall any problem. Oh wait, that has already been done. And how did that work out? Talking is too difficult, eh? Maybe one would have to justify beating a drum?

    And why are the French bombing the Middle East? Is this some sort of faulty show-of-force? Oh, but wait, the British are now bombing, too. Great. What will be the backlash from this entrance?

    So if I shot a father, wouldn't his wife and/or children come after me to fulfill a vendetta? Maybe this is a simplistic viewpoint, but who said mankind was sophisticated? I certainly don't see any evidence of sophistication!

    MG

    Whilst not exploring a new country (sigh), I continued with my projects. Today, I nearly finished all the tasks on the MG. As you may recall, I had removed the engine and gearbox to remove the modern "leak-proof" components and re-fit the original units?

    The MG drivetrain is now back in place and ready to rumble. I then attended to the blown wheel seal. This seal must have fallen victim to my exuberant driving style because it didn't look that bad. Anyhow, that's the seal that left trails of gear oil on the driver's side rear wheel. The good news is that everything came apart without a problem and the shoes look OK. Finding the correct shoes is not easy, for some reason.

    Now, I just need to order the new seals, which are not OEM, of course.

    Truck & property

    I moved the truck to my land. The neighbors questioned its security. It's probably safer there than it is in my driveway. For certain, it's a lot easier to shovel around! Remember that I don't drive the truck in the salty season.

    I've been planning to drill my water well in the spring. This task will be successful. I have all the equipment and only need a neighbor to provide some water. If that doesn't work, then I can truck in my own water (see the connection?) with a slight delay.

    But I have high hopes that my neighbor, a recent and gentle widow, will be happy to help me out, if with some help from "George Washington, and his friend... George Washington". I did also know her husband fairly well. He was a friendly and good man.

    22nd of November

    Site updates

    I added seven movies to the database. Enjoy!

    15th of November

    Site updates

    The new trip page is up! Please let me know if you find any typos.

    2nd of November

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database. Enjoy!

    I'm also just back from a camping trip in Utah. A trip page will be forthcoming!

    11th of October

    Site updates

    I added six movies to the database. Enjoy!

    My future

    As autumn falls in place, I find myself slowing down. I aim to work on the MG tomorrow. I won't be driving it anytime soon because I have put supplies around it. Sure, the MG can come out of the garage but I can't fit the Mazda in its place. (It's a bit tough to drive two cars at one time!)

    I've been collecting the supplies for drilling and finishing my water well. Today, I bought six hundred pounds of sand and Sakrete. The truck rides so much better with weight in the bed! And it runs cool with the fan belt tight!

    I think I won't start drilling until the spring. I need the help of other people so I have to plan around their comfort.

    3 October

    Site updates

    I added six movies to the database.

    18 September 15

    Site updates

    I added three movies & two TV programs to the database.

    Vehicles

    The MG reassembly is going. It took me quite a bit of time to get the slave cylinder in place. I guess I'm spoiled by all the space under the hood of the pick-up!

    The new, larger air-powered impact wrench didn't loosen the pinion nut on the truck differential. That's a job for next year along with the engine oil leak.

    Speaking of which, I purchased a tool to push the crankshaft pulley/harmonic balancer onto the crankshaft. Yes, it's a light press fit. No crank nut. I believe this is the main source of the engine oil leak.

    The tool won't work because my crank has no threads on the front end. But at least I have the tool now, and it's always cool getting new tools! I'll tap the crank next year.

    Good news: the steel fan shroud works well on the road! It maintained 220 degrees at 65 mph on a 90 degree day.

    The not-so-good news is that I'm what the British call a clot. The alternator tensioning nut loosened up--or I forgot to tighten it?! And I wondered why the battery voltage was low, as if the alternator was disconnected. The big rub was that the engine temperature hit 280 because the water pump was not being driven!

    Instead of stopping, like a normal person, I formulated ideas that the steel shrouds didn't allowing proper airflow when coupled with the full load in the bed. Nope, I'm just a clot! Fortunately, careful driving and running the heater blower avoided any overheating. I won't do that again!

    Land

    As I wait for the blacktop guy, I'm moving on to the next project. Water. Since there's no town water supply, I have to drill a well. In keeping with my mentality, this is no hardship. (I've already got a water filtration set-up.)

    Since I try to do everything myself, I purchased a kit to drill my own well. Hey, why not drop a few hundred dollars and see if it works? The main requirement for this DIY drilling rig is a large air compressor. I ordered a gasoline-powered, nine-horsepower wheelbarrow-style compressor. I have the money, and what with the low interest rate; why not put it into something tangible?

    Today, I was sorely disappointed because I didn't have to drive the fifty miles into work. Instead, I had to be present to receive the air compressor. What a beauty it is, too! Even a dopehead-looking fellow asked if it was for working on the truck.

    The pick-up has confirmed my status as a local celebrity. First, I had a "Porschh" (i.e. an MR2 Spyder). Then, I turned up in a tiny, surprisingly-loud convertible from the "eighteen hundreds". But my celebrity rocketed when my purple Chevy showed up. I don't quite get it. It's just an old truck. Also, I got the thumbs-up from a construction worker today. I'm definitely not "in the know". Maybe it's like football and golf?

    The air compressor is now in storage until I finish preparing everything for drilling. When told of my plans, a second person asked what happens if I strike oil. I said that I would quit my job. He just smiled.

    6 September 15

    Site updates

    I added three movies & a TV program to the database. Enjoy! (This is a repeat. Normal programming should resume soon.)

    Vehicles

    I received the rebuilt starter for the MG. I guess mine is pretty damn loose! It's no wonder it missed the flywheel every once in a while! Otherwise, I have been lazy and not done anything on the sports car.

    I have to correct myself. My air impact wrench (not ratchet) has a 1/2-inch drive. I tried to loosen the pinion nut and it just laughed at me. I will need to get a larger wrench. Obviously, NASCAR isn't good enough. I need to go up to Formula 1!

    I fabricated the fan shroud with galvanized steel. This two-piece arrangement does a good job. It's even better than the cardboard. I can feel a dramatic amount of air flow through the radiator. (Yeah, it quotes Shakespeare after passing the radiator. Wouldn't you?)

    I have yet to road test the arrangement. Yeah, I wanted to be high on my achievement for a while before the wears of the road destroy it. Though, I did rev up the engine to about four grand--a fairly high number for a straight six--without any calamity. Driving is, of course, different.

    Looking back on all the work that I did to the truck. I think that I am only surpassed by Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters. I paid quite a bit less:

    See the clip here.

    Driveway

    We dug up the dirt, and I had the stone delivered. Of course, the dump truck couldn't dump it where I needed it. (Thank you useless electric lines!) Instead, I put driveway markers in the pile and put out a large traffic cone. Why? The pile blocked an entire lane. It couldn't have been any worse, because it started raining.

    I had already planned to move the pile the next day, which would be clear. And would you know it; some vehicle pushed the pile into my property. Was it the town? (I'm still waiting for the crazy bill.) Was it the quarry? Was it a kind neighbor? There are plenty of those individuals. Good town.

    Now, I need to get the area paved. "We can't have the town road undermined." Yeah, yeah. The first quote was $1,500. Maybe I should buy a machine and change professions?! When this is finally done, it'll be great: you'll see! (To paraphrase Richard Hammond)

    22 August 15

    Site updates

    I added three movies & a TV program to the database. Enjoy!

    Vehicles

    I took a break from working on the sports car this weekend. Also, I decided to hell with trying to pry open the crimped & soldered brushes connections. I ordered a rebuilt starter.

    So the truck seems to be OK. Aside from the significant engine oil leak, of course. I've found that the pinion seal is leaking. Replacing it shouldn't be a big deal because I have an air-powered 3/4"-drive ratchet to remove the nut. It even has "pit power"! Yee-haw!

    I fabricated a cardboard fan shroud for the truck. It works pretty damn good. The temperature now doesn't go above 220 in the head, even on hot & humid days running at 60 mph. I'll have to make a metal replacement one of these weekends.

    Driveway

    A nearby friend will try to dig up the required dirt tomorrow. I don't think his tractor will have any trouble digging it up with its front bucket. It sure would save me renting a machine, again. Keep your fingers crossed!

    15 August 15

    Site updates

    I added three movies to the database. Enjoy!

    Vehicles

    Work continues on the MG. I can only work so long hunched over that low hood in the humid metal box, which passes as my storage unit; so it's slow going. But I'll get there. I have to also resolder & crimp the new brushes for the starter motor. I have been dragging my feet on this task because I know it's going to suck big time!

    So now that I have a full complement of gauges in the truck, I can see just what's right and what's wrong.

    First, the good:
  • The oil pressure is steady and reasonable at all engine speeds. (Yay!)
  • The fuel gauge slaps back and forth as the gas sloshes around in the vertical tank. (It's also great knowing it's right behind the seat. Who needs absinthe? Drive on a rough road and breathe deeply! Here comes the black fairy.)

  • Now, the not-so-good:
  • 1. The battery voltage behaved strangely. At idle it would be about 11-12 Volts. Step on the gas and the voltage crested to 17-18 V and stayed there!
  • 2. The temperature in the cylinder head rose to 250 degrees and, also, stayed there. (I put in a polar-expedition 235-degree thermostat, right?)

  • Maybe I shouldn't have bought those new gauges. Am I a masochist? Maybe I love problems? Well, yes, I do. I am a trained engineer... "Thank you, sir. Can I have another?"

  • Solution for problem no. 2:
  • I found a nifty procedure on an online forum to flush the cooling system with citric acid. The acid solution was supposed to turn red or black when it dissolved the rust and other debris. It didn't do that for me. Maybe my system is pretty clean? (It would have been very cool to see dissolved rust flooding out! Yeah, I'm Jack the Ripper for cooling systems. Respect me, or else!)

    The flushing doesn't seem to have been in vain because the running temperature seems to have dropped to 220 degrees. That's more reasonable for a 212-degree thermostat. The real problem is that the mechanical fan has no shroud around it. I learned the immense value of fan shrouds with the MG. But the only shrouds available are for the V8 engines, with their larger radiators and fans. Sigh, if only I wasn't such an oddball.

    I can go with a dual electric fan set-up. My wiring harness is ready for it. We'll see. I can always run the heater and burn off my toes to avoid overheating. That little piggy won't be going to the market...

  • Solution for problem no. 1:
  • The over-charging problem worked out to be fairly simple. All the connections and wiring were OK. The grounds were good. Previously, I had had the alternator tested. It's OK. The battery's new. All signs pointed to a dud voltage regulator.

    I popped off the cover--it's an external unit, remember?--and started the engine. Nothing happened in the regulator when I revved up the engine. No sparks, no closing of breakers, no smoke, no appearance of the Prince of Darkness. What a disappointment. Fortunately, Advance Auto had a new unit on the shelf--although it's made in mainland China. I dropped it in, and the system voltage now behaves properly. I like easy fixes like that!

    Driveway

    So, I did it again. I thought I was He-Man, but I'm more like My Little Pony. I proudly wielded my pickaxe in front of the dirt that I had to move. It wasn't scared. Instead it did what clay-- just to be precise--does, it sat there, ready to collect and admire water.

    After half an hour of work, I found that I had made a three foot by one foot by one foot trench. That's when I knew I was no Master of the Universe. Fortunately, a good friend who lives nearby thinks that his tractor's front bucket will shift the required clay without a problem. I hope so because otherwise I'll be crawling back to the rental company. "I [don't] have the power!"

    8-8-15

    Site updates

    I added seven movies & one TV series to the database. Enjoy!

    Vehicles

    The truck now has a full array of gauges. They are sharp looking, too! The engine and gearbox are back in the MG. Thank you, Andy! All five gears can be selected. I serviced the Mazda during the week. What an easy machine to work on.

    Driveway

    I've given up trying to find an earth-moving machine right now. Instead, I purchased a pickaxe. I needed to get some real exercise anyways!

    26th of July

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database. Enjoy!

    10th of July

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database.

    Vehicles

    The truck is running well. I purchased a new dash panel to replace my aged unit. Once fitted, I'll have a decent array of gauges!

    The engine and gearbox are back in the MG. Time to re-fit everything. Then, I can address the brakes.

    Mazda's returning better than 40 mpg. Lifetime average mileage is 39.7. Not bad considering that the EPA states this machine will do 35 mpg on the highway.

    Driveway

    I met the new highway guy today. He's a good guy and took the time to explain what I need to do. Good news is that after I put in a paved apron to protect the road from erosion, I'll be set. The not-so-good news is that I have to, obviously, put down a good sublayer so the blacktop apron won't crack after a year. This requires digging out a foot of material, shaping, and laying aggregate.

    I'm thinking it has now become cost effective to purchase a used backhoe. Surprisingly, one can get one for less than five grand. Sure it won't be pretty and may need a little TLC, but it would run and work. Maybe I'll paint mine a really masculine color as a theft determent. Pink polka dots?

    27th of June

    Site updates

    I added five movies to the database.

    Truck

    It's alive! Sorting out the ignition voltage issue ensured that the engine runs as long as desired. I also found areas for minor vacuum leaks in the intake system and gooped them up with RTV silicone. Now it runs pisser, as an old mechanic-turned-co-worker who I consulted for advice, would say.

    Naturally, my first stop was a filling station. Twenty dollars doesn't go as far as in the (super-)mini Mazda! Then, I hit the open road and opened up the Stovebolt six. Yep, it's running right. Plenty of torque and runs smoothly. The misfire seems gone.

    There're a couple of oil leaks. One is from the timing cover/front seal/oil pan design nightmare and the other appears to be from the front of the tranny. (Can I say that? Or should I say identity challenged? Or gender uncertain?) Either way, the front of the tranny seems to be dripping oil. Hey, oil leaks are free undercarriage rust prevention! I'll look into the leaks next year, maybe.

    MG

    I switched the oil seals back to the OEM style. An original style throw-out bearing is in place also. I measured the clutch plate wear. It looks like nearly 50 thousandths was lost! That's quite a bit of wear in eleven thousand miles. Hopefully, the uprated disc will last longer. Now the engine and gearbox are ready for re-installation.

    Closer examination of the starter brushes leads me to believe that the original owner replaced the brushes. Still, they lasted a few decades.

    Driveway

    So, there's more that I have to do. I'm beginning to wonder if the town roadmaster is lonely. Oh, and this is a new one. I must have worn out the original? Ah, the joys of doing contracting work by oneself. Maybe the property will be ready when I near retirement age?

    At least, I can drive the length of the driveway in the car. Also, now that the truck is running I could drill a water well in the meantime. Recall that I have a DIY kit to undertake this job. I'm curious if it'll actually work. If not, then I should re-think the driveway so a drilling truck can easily get in.

    Job

    I have posted my résumé online and got quite a response. I even had a preliminary phone interview yesterday. It still seems to be an employer market out there, though.

    Fortunately unless I cheat on my timecard, I will probably be able to keep the current job as long as I want it. It'll boil down to how long I can stand working at tenth speed, I guess. Not to mention how long I can cope with the negative vibe at that place. (It's the polar opposite of what I experienced at a previous job that was located just up the hill.)

    Maybe it's time to see just how far I can go. You know, shake up the squares a bit. Do things that are so against their ingrained way of life. Got to have fun. We don't get out of life alive.

    19th of June

    Site updates

    I added eight movies to the database.

    Truck

    The truck is still not running right. I had the intake manifold magnafluxed. They found no cracks of concern, but did notice that the mating surface was warped by eight thousandths. They milled it flat.

    I found that the PCV connection to the manifold could have been leaking. The brass elbow was glued into place with RTV silicone. Previously, I have tapped and threaded fittings into manifolds. And why not? Cast aluminum and iron forms threads quite well. In this case, I have researched the correct sealant and will re-fit the slip-fit elbow employing the correct silicone. Hopefully, the rolling misfire will be gone now.

    I also wired a GM ballast resistor into the ignition circuit. This should protect the ignition coil and points from overheating and arcing, respectively. These events could explain why the engine would run for fifteen minutes and then start to bog down and eventually die. (I checked the float bowl for foreign particles.)

    At this rate, I'll have a brand new truck! And if it doesn't work, I can always fit a big-block with a blower and some machine guns and go "Mad Max" with it! The front fenders already have flames on them so I've already started down that road of fury...

    MG

    I partially disassembled the MG engine and gearbox. Recall, that I'm replacing the original seals to stem the flow of oil out the new and "improved" seal contraptions. While removing the pressure plate, I noticed that it was broken!

    The A-Series engine uses a solid graphite throw-out "bearing" so the pressure plate needs a mating, hardened steel part to depress the diaphragm--or non-diaphrahm--fingers. This steel part was broken from its carriage on the pressure plate. This explains the rattle when the clutch was disengaged!

    I think my use of an aftermarket--Peter May?--roller bearing, intended for use with a Mini gearbox, broke the pressure plate. The increased length of the throw-out assembly along the long axis of the engine/gearbox assembly must be too much. Oh well. I guess it's like the newfangled seals that "won't" leak.

    I also noticed that the clutch disc was wearing. I found a performance disc, which "should be used... if engine power is increased above 90 hp." This new clutch does look the part. I guess this is evidence that my engine develops 95-100 horsepower.

    I'm also going to replace the brushes in the starter. I found that they were worn-out on one side. This is, no doubt, the reason why many times the starter would just click and not spin the flywheel. But, of course, replacing the brushes requires pop rivets and solder. Whatever. If it lasts another few decades, then I won't mind. Hell, they may outlast me because I suspect that they are the original parts!

    Driveway

    Persistence pays off. I know exactly what I need to do to gain the roadmaster's approval. I have an excavator reserved for tomorrow. I do feel like a little boy using these earth-moving machines.

    Oh, and their power is astonishing! The 60 horsepower "baby" excavator that I have used, and will use again, is powerful enough to pick up almost all the boulders that I have kicking around. And if it can't pick up a particularly heftly bit of granite, then it can push it around with the arm. Hydraulics and diesel power!

    So I may just get this driveway in this month. We shall see. Regardless, it will be a good time.

    Job

    My contract has been renewed for another year. I really don't know why because I haven't much work to do. (Maybe I work too quickly?) I've been taking off Fridays for several weeks now without any impact on workload. I don't complain but keep my eyes peeled for closer jobs.

    6th of June

    Site updates

    I added four movies & two TV programs to the database.

    Misc

    The truck is pretty much ready to roll. Ethanol gas and a worn-out distributor were the culprits. The driveway will probably not be in this June because the town guy is mostly unresponsive. I really dislike governments. Crony-ism seems to be name of the game.

    23rd of May

    Site updates

    I added five new movies to the database.

    17th of May

    Site updates

    I added eight new movies to the database. I also added one quote:

    Never use money to measure wealth.
    Prentice Ritter in Broken Trail

    Driveway

    This past weekend didn't go exactly as planned. I intended to uproot two large oak stumps with a rented mini excavator. Unfortunately, the roots must go deep into the ground because I couldn't get the stump to move by digging around it. So, instead, I graded the driveway. I can drive along it so I do have a driveway.

    If the town roadmaster agrees that I have good line-of-sight, then I can pay the permit fee and lay stone. It would be a good thing, but I can always have the stumps ground.

    2nd of May

    Site updates

    I've added six movies & one miniseries to the database.

    I watched WarGames, my latest favorite, again because of news that the old NORAD bunker in the Cheyenne Mountains is being brought up to fulltime use again. This place was pretty much closed down when the Cold War ended.

    NORAD bolsters Cheyenne Mountain for added protection
    April 9, 2015
    The Colorado Springs Business Journal

    Adm. William Gortney, commander of the U.S. Northern Command and NORAD, announced that certain significant communications assets are being moved into Cheyenne Mountain in order to protect them from electromagnetic pulse attacks.

    "There is a lot of movement to put capability into Cheyenne Mountain and to be able to communicate in there," Gortney said during a news briefing Tuesday at the Pentagon. The asset deployment will be carried out by Raytheon, which last week signed a $700 million contract to upgrade communications facilities within the mountain redoubt.

    The company said that the long-term contract will "support threat warnings and assessments for the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.” Electromagnetic pulses (EMP) can occur naturally in lightning storms, but the U.S. military is primarily concerned with vast pulse events deliberately created by the detonation of nuclear weapons in outer space. Such a pulse could effectively shut down the all civilian and military communications networks in the continental United States.

    Ten years ago, the United States EMP Commission concluded that the civilian communications infrastructure of the United States and much of the military infrastructure were less well protected against EMP than during the Cold War.

    "Because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain is built, it's EMP-hardened," Gortney said. "It wasn't designed to be that way, but the way it was constructed makes it that way. My primary concern was whether we (would) have the space inside the mountain for everybody that wants to move in there. We do have that capability."

    It's part of the continuing resurrection of the Cold War bunker, which was virtually abandoned by the military in the past decade. Conceived in 1958, it was designed to protect military communications systems from a Soviet nuclear attack. It was so lightly regarded by 2007 that the Business Journal published a feature story speculating about the possible benefits of repurposing the site as a regional tourist attraction. Area tourism officials were enthusiastic about the idea, noting Cheyenne Mountain's mythic stature in American popular culture.

    In recent years, Cheyenne Mountain has continued to serve as a backup for NORAD's modern operations at Peterson Air Force Base, with work stations inside the mountain still capable of mirroring all aspects of monitoring the world.

    Alas, it appears that Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggressive behavior on the world stage may have ensured that Cheyenne Mountain won't be available for tourism development in the foreseeable future, if ever.

    It looks as if we'll have to settle for Terminator and Wargames on Netflix."

    source

    18th of April

    Site updates

    I've added three movies to the database.

    Driveway

    Work has resumed on the property. I should have a driveway by June, if all goes according to plan!

    11th of April

    Site updates

    I've added another eleven movies to the database. Enjoy! Sorry for being slow to update.

    25th of March

    R.I.P. "new" Top Gear (2002-2015)

    The dismissal of Jeremy Clarkson from the BBC, and thus Top Gear, is unfortunate. His comically insulting nature was the heart of this current format of the British car show. So, as far as I'm concerned, this generation of Top Gear is concluded.

    James May and Richard Hammond are also out, as they stand with Clarkson. So there's really no way that the current Top Gear, the one that many around the world love, can continue.

    Now, I've got a free Sunday afternoon. I will not be watching any sort of "reinvented" Top Gear. Bad move BBC.

    Telegraph article

    the second day of spring

    ...and it was still snowing this morning!

    Thawing out

    Now that the days are lengthening, I'm thinking of continuing work on my property. I've been in contact with a guy, who unfortunately doesn't rent stump grinders, but will do the job for me. I'll see what he wants for the job in a couple of weeks.

    After that, I need to level the area so the MG can get in and out with trouble and get the approval from the town roadmaster. Then, I can spread the gravel, and voìla I have a driveway. Next step is to drill a well. We'll see how good my well-drilling kit really is.

    The truck needs the timing gear and pinion to be replaced. (The timing marks are all over the place when a timing light shines on them.) Also, the rear main seal, which can be changed with the engine in place, also needs renewal. I contemplated letting a trusted, nearby garage do the work. But then again, I should do the job myself.

    I just purchased a pistol. It's very much like the Walther made famous by our favorite British secret agent. Now I just need an Aston Martin. Well, my MG isn't that much different if you squint or don't know much about English sports cars!

    Talking of which, the MG is ready to have the engine and gearbox removed. Yes, it hasn't been that long since I last did this job. The oil leaks have gotten out of control. Leaking a pint every few weeks is too much.

    So soon the MG will, once again, cease to be a car. I'm determined to get it back on the road quicker this time.

    Site updates

    I hope the new layout hasn't cause you any trouble.

    I've added eight movies to the database. Enjoy!

    15th of March

    Site updates

    Enjoy the new look! Please let me know if you find any problems by completing this form. Thank you.

    8th of March

    Site updates

    I've added another three movies to the database. Enjoy!

    The web site facelift is still coming. I'm 80% through updating the trip pages, the final bit of work.

    last day of February

    Site updates

    One good thing about the snow is that I've seen a number of movies. In fact, I've added another eight movies & one TV series to the database. Enjoy!

    16th February

    Site updates

    I've added another five movies & one TV series to the database. Enjoy!

    10th February

    Site updates

    I've added five movies & one TV series to the database.

    I'm now transferring the trips pages to Perl-generated pages. This will take time now but make my life easier in the future. The visitor shouldn't notice much of a change.

    Snow

    No worries about the ground water supply this year! Today, since I'm off again, I used the snowshoes to climb the snowbanks. I needed to lower them so I can see out of the driveway!

    24th January

    Site updates

    I haven't finished freshening the web site yet. It takes a surprisingly amount of time to update all the web pages. I guess if I was a web geek, then I'd have, long ago, gone to something standardized like style sheets, CGI-generation, or other such magic.

    I've added seven movies to the database.

    I also added a notable quote:

    What's yours?
    Phobia? Manual labor, you know that.
    Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear

    11 January

    Site updates

    I've added five movies & one TV series to the database.

    This makes 2,000 entries!

    The site refreshment is coming along. I'm about 90% finished with the job.

    2 January, 2015

    Site updates

    I've added five movies to the database.

    Happy New Year!