Monday, November 30, 2015
Also for the record, Alan Grayson is from the Bronx, but he wasn’t “born” so much as he congealed in a cesspool. He’s running to take Marco Rubio’s Senate seat next year, so perhaps he said this to get attention. But there’s an equal chance that he would have said the exact same thing if he were in a straitjacket, rocking back and forth in the padded cell of a lunatic asylum.You can subscribe here. It's free. Ricochet itself isn't free, but it's worth every penny of its (very modest) cost...
The fact that more than half of Britain’s households, 13.7m, receive more in welfare benefits than they pay in taxes. The fact that this represents a rise from 45.9 per cent of households in 1997 to 51.5 per cent today. The fact that 20.3m families now receive some kind of state benefit. The fact that for 9.6m of these families, benefits account for more than half of their income. The fact that nearly five million people have their rent paid by the state. The fact that vast numbers of people, first through Incapacity Benefit and then through Employment Support Allowance, have been redefined by the state as ‘incapable’ — of work, of independence, of dignity, in effect — and have been put out to pasture. There are parts of Britain where a state-sanctioned culture of incapacity has deadened community spirit, destroyed its soul.This is by Brendan O'Neill, who wants to blow up Britain's welfare system and start over. Others (and perhaps him, as well) also want to blow up Britain's vaunted National Health Service. Its dysfunctionality has been much on display this past year, and serves as a sobering example of where ObamaCare is headed unless our politicians work up the courage to kill it.
A local note: I have yet to run into even a single resident of Cache Valley who finds the global warming alarmists credible. Not one. Now, mind you, I don't know any of the academics at Utah State University (in Logan, 12 miles north of us), and I'm sure some of them are firmly on the warmist bandwagon. But not out here, where people actually work outside. The farmers, especially, dismiss the global warming alarmism as twaddle that is refuted by the evidence visible to them. Many of them wish there really was some global warming, as a couple of degrees C warmer here would make a huge difference (in a good way) to their productivity. But there's nothing. They either see no changes over their lifetime, or they think temperatures average slightly cooler...
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Tomorrow is going to be a bit of a busy day.
First we have Debbie's surgical followup visit. The last time we saw the doctor, about two weeks ago, he expected much improvement by now on her tendonitis. There is some improvement, but not nearly enough to satisfy Debbie (or me). We're hoping for some better plan of action.
When we get home, the solar installers are due here for the final step of our solar installation: getting the networking up and running, so the system can be remotely monitored. I've got everything all ready to go, network-wise, whether they choose to use WiFi or direct wiring. It really should be easy to get this working, but you just never know what might go wrong :)
Then I'm going to start packing for my trip!
It hardly seems possible, but I don't think my calendar is lying to me: I leave on my grand cross-country adventure in just three days. It seems like I should be scurrying about getting ready for the trip, but truthfully there's little to do. I'm going to be picking up a few regional delicacies (can you say smoked bacon?) to take back to my mom, I need to pack a week or so worth of clothes, and a computer bag – but that's really it. The big things that needed to be done (getting the truck checked out, getting an overhead rack installed on the truck, getting a trailer hitch, etc.) have already been done. The weather forecast looks good for the whole trip, though anytime you're looking a week or more into the future you have to take that forecast with a truckload of salt. Bright and early Wednesday morning I'm going to climb into my (cold!) truck and point the nose toward Albuquerque, New Mexico – the first stop on the trip...
Saturday, November 28, 2015
There are a whole bunch of components on there! So far the kit has been darned near perfect. A couple of board errors for a board this complex isn't exactly unusual. If it was being manufactured in large quantities, the sorts of broken traces I ran into would be tweaked out. Undoubtedly this is a low volume board, so these sorts of problems are totally forgivable. Lots of extra components are included, though I haven't needed any so far. There wasn't quite enough solder included; I ran out partway through this stage. I have a big roll, though, so that's a non-issue.
The weather continues to be cold (around 20°F) and intermittently snowy. Some of my neighbors are plowing, but I'm holding off as there's more snow int the forecast...
Time for me to go have some breakfast. I sense an open-faced turkey sandwich, with dressing, in my immediate future!
Friday, November 27, 2015
This morning I worked on the next section of my clock kit, finishing the tens-of-seconds counter. It all worked on the first try. I'm not sure whether I'm happy about that, though – it's kind of fun for me to troubleshoot the problems :) In the second photo below, you can see (sort of) my 'scope, a Rigol DS1102E. I bought it several years ago, when it cost nearly twice what it does now – and I thought that was a real bargain! It's really quite an amazingly capable oscilloscope for the money. It's also (to my ancient sensibilities) amazingly small. 'Scopes like this, back in the '70s, weighted over 100 pounds, were the size of an oven, and were generally rolled around on carts. They also cost $15,000 or so, and didn't have nearly the feature set of this little thing – most especially they didn't have the spectrum analyzer capabilities...
We are participating in exactly zero store sales, online sales, or any other kind of sales. Most of the day we'll be wondering just what the hell is wrong with all those crazed shoppers we see on the news web sites. Haven't seen any around these parts, though. Last week there were a bunch of local stores that had signs saying “Black Friday is today”, or something much like it. If they were attempting to generate a shopping frenzy, it was a dismal failure. If they were trying to say Black Friday is nothing special, they may well have succeeded...
Thursday, November 26, 2015
That stock pot at right is what we brined our turkey in, and that's what it looked like just before I brought it in at 7 am this morning. The snow looks all nice and fluffy, but it wasn't – it was basically ice with a little air mixed in to make it white. When I got the pot inside, I couldn't remove the lid – it was frozen in place. I had to wedge a knife between the lid and the pot, and pry quite hard. Then I had to melt the ice off the lid with hot water. This should have given me a clue what I was going to run into when I went outside to plow, but I'm too dense, so it didn't.
After I finished plowing, I shoveled off our front porch and walkway. Normally that's trivially easy – we don't get much snow in the first place, and it's been light, fluffy stuff in all our previous storms. Not this time! In some places I really needed a jackhammer – that solid ice was not possible to shovel off. So I did the best I could, and then spread quite a bit of salt. I even put salt on the part of the driveway we'd walk on to get to the trucks, because I don't want Debbie slipping again.
After coming back inside, I helped Debbie with the cranberry-orange relish and potatoes. Debbie already had the turkey stuffed and in the oven. We're due for our dinner in about four hours. Counting down, we are!
We've got about 3" of snow on the ground, and the forecast says it's going to stay below freezing for about four days. I know from past experience, though, that the driveway will melt early – and then freeze into ice. So at daybreak I'm going out to do a little snowplowing. It's 28°F right now, and it will likely be another degree or two colder when I get started. Brrr!
Yesterday we started our Thanksgiving Day cooking. We made a pumpkin pie with a recipe new to us, and we're not at all sure whether the result will be edible. The appearance is ... different. I'll let you know how that turned out :) We also did something new (for us) with the turkey: we brined it. The brine recipe we used is really weird sounding: lots of salt and water (expected that), but also lots of honey, garlic, thyme, parsley, and pepper (didn't expect them!). We're soaking it in the brine for 18 hours; it comes out at 7 am this morning (about fifteen minutes from now, as I write). From then on out the cooking of the turkey is pretty conventional, but that brine step is really weird. If we don't like it, we've got plenty of great frozen meals to fall back on :) Debbie also made some chocolate pudding, from scratch. It's extremely rich (this is Debbie who made it!), and almost black with the dark chocolate in it. I got a caffeine buzz just smelling it! Tastes good, though, but I couldn't eat very much of it.
We've been enjoying a fire in our living room fireplace for the past couple of days (photo above). We haven't yet got our fireplace door, but Debbie's sister had the brilliant idea of just getting a fireplace screen (they don't cost much on Amazon!). We did that, and now we've had several mornings and evenings with the pleasure of a crackling fire to sit in front of. We're going to run out of firewood soon, though :)
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
I was seriously bummed when I discovered that HP no longer made them, and I couldn't get a replacement.
Swiss Micros) to make emulations of all the old HP calculators – including the HP-16C! His version of it is called the DM-16, and it's quite a faithful copy of the original – but with a more modern (and powerful) computer inside it, and a much smaller form factor. Oh, and also a titanium case! Naturally, I ordered one immediately – and today I received it. That's a photo of mine on the right. Within a few keystrokes, I remembered how to operate most of it. That sure brought back some memories!
For starters, the police have searched their home – and found evidence linking them to seven other burglaries. Then there's the fact that their (rental) home is in Smithfield Canyon – just a few doors down from the B&B where Debbie and I stayed almost two years ago when looking for a home here. There were two teenagers (their children?) found on the property, along with numerous animals. All of these are now being cared for elsewhere. The out-of-state owner of the property returned and reported a vehicle was missing; that's now listed as stolen.
Now these two are being held without bail. That's probably actually good for them, as the folks of this community are not likely to be shy about administering a little homespun justice if they were found out and about...
Somehow I managed to get everything done yesterday that I had planned to do. It doesn't usually work that way :) All my winter-sensitive gear is now in the nice, heated shed – and the snowplow is mounted to the tractor. The only thing that was challenging about that entire effort was removing the backhoe. There are two large pins (about 2" diameter and 8" long) that hold the backhoe onto the back of the tractor. Everything has to be perfectly aligned in three dimensions, plus all the load taken off the pins, before the pins can be removed. The first pin was easy – took me all of 30 seconds or so. The second pin took a half hour.
One of the things on my list yesterday was to remove two large apple logs from the back of my pickup. They've been there for a few days; I was waiting for some decent weather before hauling them off. There's a story behind those logs...
Several months ago, I went to Zollinger's Fruit and Tree Farm, where I bought quite a few plants. Somewhere in that process, I got to talking with Ron Zollinger, and he mentioned that toward the end of October he was planning to cut down an old orchard on the farm. The trees were over 40 years old, not producing well, and many were not healthy. I told him I'd love to have a couple of the trunks from those trees – I could slice them up and turn them into bowls on my lathe.
Well, he didn't get around to cutting down those trees until two weeks ago. Just before they started cutting them down, Jake (his son) called me and told me I could come up and mark the trunks that I wanted. Then a few days later, Jake called and said I could come pick up the logs. So this past Friday, I drove up and they loaded them into the back of my truck with their forklift. I'm guessing that the bigger of the two was close to 300 pounds, and the smaller about 2/3 of that. Two beautiful big logs! They wouldn't accept anything for them; just sent me on my way with a big smile.
I love living here!
Now I'm the proud owner of two gigantic apple logs. These will need to dry out before I can turn them – probably a couple of years. To keep them from cracking, I need to coat the ends with something airtight. Paraffin wax used to be the standard way to do that, but recently I read that latex paint works just as well – and that's a heck of a lot easier than wax! So today I'm going to paint all the cut ends. I'll keep them in the heated part of the shed until spring, then I'll take them up to the second floor (except in winter, that's the warmest part of the shed). I'll check them in about a year and see if they've dried out. If not, I'll wait another year. Cutting and turning something that big (the biggest of the two is 20" in diameter) will be fun!
Today I have to go get blood drawn – third time in the past few months. My blood levels of cobalamin (B12) have been a little low, and I've been adjusting the dose of the injections I give myself. Hopefully we zero in on a new dosage before I run out of blood to give the vampire ladies :)
We're also taking my truck in for a once-over by the good folks at Hyrum Tire. This is in preparation for the longest trip my old (2007) truck has ever made: to Virginia and back, and we'll be pulling a trailer on the way back.
I'm leaving next Wednesday for Virginia, and I was slightly worried about whether I'd run into snow on the way there. Looks like I'll miss that. I'm taking a southerly route, so there shouldn't be any cold weather other than the first day of the trip. I'm doing the same thing on the return trip, so our only risky day there is the last day, on the way home. Fingers crossed that we don't get a mid-December storm!
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Early in the morning, I traveled up to Newton with realtor and friend, Bruce N. We met with the bishop of the ward our cabin is in, a fellow named Valjay Rigby. I described the situation with my brother moving out here with him, and his response (along with his wife's) could hardly have been more friendly and welcoming. Any of my readers who are not LDS (Mormons), but who are moving into an area that has lots of LDS – my advice to you is to get to know the bishop of the ward your new home is in, along with all the ex-bishops you can find. Not only can they get you plugged into your new area quickly and easily, they know everybody. When you have a question about how to get something done, who to lean on for some particular kind of help, or even something completely off-the-wall – these guys will either know the answer, or they'll know who to ask. They are an invaluable resource, and they don't care whether you're LDS.
We also visited the post office and signed up for a P.O. Box, so the cabin can now get mail. This is something my brother needed as he filed his change of address notifications.
Later in the day, Debbie had another physical therapy appointment (the second go-around with an electrically-driven steroid patch), and we went grocery shopping for our Thanksgiving Day meal. We're going all-traditional this year, and it's just the two of us (unless one of you wants to stop by!). Roast turkey, stuffed (of course!), mashed potatoes, cranberry-orange relish, and pumpkin pie for dessert. The next day the turkey carcass is going into the pot to make stock for a giant tureen of tlapeno (Mexican chicken soup). We've done that once before, and it was fantastic!
Today we have the last forecast day of relatively mild weather (should break 50°F). Tomorrow we have 3" of snow in the forecast. So today I'll be scrambling to get all the outside stuff done: sprinklers and hoses put up for the winter, backhoe and forks removed from the tractor and snowplow mounted, pickup cleaned out and ready for the trip back to Virginia (which starts just over a week from today, the Wednesday after next). When I mentally tote all that up, it seems like about 3 hours of work – but something will likely go wrong, and if past experience is any guide, I'll be luck to finish by sundown :)
Sunday, November 22, 2015
It is one of the central political puzzles of our time: Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net.The central conclusion of the writer (Alec MacGillis) is that the problem (from the Democrat's perspective) is different than it appears at first blush. It's not that the welfare recipients are voting Republican against their own self-interest. It's that they're not voting at all.
For me the most interesting bit in here was the frank admission of the dependency of the progressives (Democrats) on the essentially purchased vote of the welfare recipient. It's also interesting, as always, to see the chain of thought of a dedicated progressive...
The well is producing 30 GPM at minimum, and the static water level is just 38 feet below ground level. That means we have 283' of water column in the pipe, a modest cistern all by itself! We're going to install a low-capacity pump (which Elray will install over the next few weeks) and pump it into a much larger cistern. I'll run a pressure tank from that larger cistern, so the larger (and less reliable) pump will be easy to access and service.
For those interested in the underground geology, I've reproduced Elray's meticulous “drill log” in the screenshots below. I've seen the log for my neighbor's wells (these are all public record here in Utah), and they're not nearly as detailed. Elray does nice work!
Saturday, November 21, 2015
The quantity of food that went into this is staggering: six pounds of hamburger, four pounds of sausage, nine big cans of tomato sauce, six cans of tomato paste, a half-dozen boiled-down tomatoes from our neighbor's garden (the last of the season, dang it!), three big boxes of lasagna noodles, nearly a gallon of ricotta cheese, several pounds of mozzarella cheese, a pound of Parmesan cheese, and all sorts of spices.
Now I'm in a pasta coma :) And I will be again, quite a few times over the winter!
Now I should say, I’m a big softy when it comes to these things. I hate to watch Zoë kill anything, but I nonetheless admire the commitment and passion. She raced-in, her paws barely touching the earth. She barreled Pippa out of the way; the little spaniel bouncing off the dingo like Robert Reich in a windstorm. Zoë grabbed the “beast,” hurling it into the air and catching it again in her mouth with a skill usually associated with frat guys’ tossing chicken McNuggets into each others’ mouths. When I yelled at her to drop it, I might as well have been commanding the statue at the Lincoln Memorial to dance. My commands were drowned out by the Viking battle drums beating in her ears. My futile attempts to grab her collar only encouraged her to run away and chomp more ferociously. I wasn’t trying to save the squirrel’s life. That would be like trying to revive the Thanksgiving turkey by chanting over the leftover-sandwiches. But I didn’t like the prospect of the bowel stewing that might accompany a breakfast of raw squirrel, healthy or sick. Finally, her war dance concluded, and the awareness came that she could not bring home her trophy, never mind enlist my wife in her cause of making a necklace of squirrel skulls. She ran off and buried it. Somehow I don’t think it was respect for the dead that motivated her.The world needs more writing like that!
The column, as always, is well worth your time to read...
Here's some more from Reason...
The only anomaly I noticed was that the Ethernet link between the house router and the shed router took an unusually long time to come up – around 45 seconds. Usually an Ethernet link will establish in under 10 seconds. I think what's going on there is that the Ethernet isolator is powering up. It draws what little power it needs from the data lines, and I'm guessing that it takes a little while to charge its storage capacitors (you could think of them as tiny rechargeable batteries).
Given that this is a residence, we have quite the network installed here. In the house, there's a cable router which feeds the main house router, which in turn feeds a 20 port switch, the shed's router, and two wireless routers. In the shed there's the main shed router, which feeds another 20 port switch and a wireless router. When I finish moving my office from the house to the shed, we'll have a fairly even split of networked gear between the two buildings, most likely using 8 to 10 of those switch ports in each place. That leaves us plenty of room for expansion!
Comcast may have notoriously bad service, and they clearly do inject content into insecure web pages (HTTP vs. HTTPS), but ... they are delivering some nice, fast Internet to us: 180 mbps down, 24 mbps up, quite consistently. That's way faster than we used to have in Jamul, so for us this is a huge step up. Partly this is just plain luck: we live on the highway that the main Comcast feed for the southern part of Cache Valley runs alongside. The cabin we've purchased for my brother isn't quite so lucky – Comcast doesn't even service that area. Instead we're connecting him through a wireless ISP (Rise), at 50 mbps down and 5 mbps up. Even that is way better than what he's used to, so I'm expecting a big smile from him when he connects for the first time...
President Assad (who is bad) is a nasty guy who got so nasty his people rebelled and the Rebels (who are good) started winning.
But then some of the rebels turned a bit nasty and are now called Islamic State (who are definitely bad) and some continued to support democracy (who are still good).
So the Americans (who are good) started bombing Islamic State (who are bad) and giving arms to the Syrian Rebels (who are good) so they could fight Assad (who is still bad) which was good.
By the way, there is a breakaway state in the north run by the Kurds who want to fight IS (which is a good thing) but the Turkish authorities think they are bad, so we have to say they are bad whilst secretly thinking they're good and giving them guns to fight IS (which is good) but that is another matter.
Getting back to Syria. President Putin (bad, as he invaded Crimea and the Ukraine and killed lots of folks including that nice Russian man in London with polonium) has decided to back Assad (who is still bad) by attacking IS (who are also bad) which is sort of a good thing?
But Putin (still bad) thinks the Syrian Rebels (who are good) are also bad, and so he bombs them too, much to the annoyance of the Americans (who are good) who are busy backing and arming the rebels (who are also good).
Now Iran (who used to be bad, but now they have agreed not to build any nuclear weapons and bomb Israel are now good) are going to provide ground troops to support Assad (still bad) as are the Russians (bad) who now have ground troops and aircraft in Syria.
So, a Coalition of Assad (still bad) Putin (extra bad) and the Iranians (good, but in a bad sort of way) are going to attack IS (who are bad) which is a good thing, but also the Syrian Rebels (who are good) which is bad.
Now the British (obviously good, except Corbyn who is probably bad) and the Americans (also good) cannot attack Assad (still bad) for fear of upsetting Putin (bad) and Iran (good / bad) and now they have to accept that Assad might not be that bad after all compared to IS (who are super bad).
So Assad (bad) is now probably good, being better than IS (no real choice there) and since Putin and Iran are also fighting IS that may now make them good. America (still good) will find it hard to arm a group of rebels being attacked by the Russians for fear of upsetting Mr Putin (now good) and that mad ayatollah in Iran (also good) and so they may be forced to say that the Rebels are now bad, or at the very least abandon them to their fate. This will lead most of them to flee to Turkey and on to Europe or join IS (still the only constantly bad group).
To Sunni Muslims, an attack by Shia Muslims (Assad and Iran) backed by Russians will be seen as something of a Holy War, and the ranks of IS will now be seen by the Sunnis as the only Jihadis fighting in the Holy War and hence many Muslims will now see IS as good (doh!).
Sunni Muslims will also see the lack of action by Britain and America in support of their Sunni rebel brothers as something of a betrayal (might have a point) and hence we will be seen as bad.
So now we have America (now bad) and Britain (also bad) providing limited support to Sunni Rebels (bad) many of whom are looking to IS (good / bad) for support against Assad (now good) who, along with Iran (also good) and Putin (also, now, unbelievably, good ) are attempting to retake the country Assad used to run before all this started?
This should clear it all up for you. Just so you know I am not taking any questions on this subject!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday afternoon, UPS delivered my Black Box SP426A Ethernet isolators. They were the last component I needed before installing a router, switch, and wireless router out in the shed – so that's what I'm going to be doing this morning. With any luck at all, I'll soon have network communications (including Internet access) out there!
Friday, November 20, 2015
This has been the talk of the town for the past few days, as nothing even remotely like this has happened in Paradise within anybody's memory. So far as we can tell from the information at hand, the house in West Paradise (a couple miles SW of us) was targeted completely at random, as with the other burglaries attributed to this pair...
I've written before that there was a challenge to this plan – to wit, the parcels have the water rights (for irrigation), but no way to actually deliver the water to the property. The canal from which the water would be drawn is a mere hundred yards away, but for some reason the water company was denying permission to connect and draw water. We made our offer on those two parcels contingent on that problem being solved, and the sellers are in the process of attempting to do just that. I offered to help where it made sense.
It turns out that the very first step could use a particular attribute that I possess: being an outsider with no particular axe to grind with the water company. We needed to gather some information to help us understand the water company's position, so yesterday I met a member of the water company's Board. It was fascinating to hear the other side of the story.
It turns out there are two main issues.
The first is that the water company isn't certain that the parcels we've got an offer on are actually part of their designated area for delivering water to. That's because the parcels are just south of the southernmost end of the water company's distribution canal, an area that's close to (and possibly over) the edge of their “decree area”. That “decree area” refers to the decree that established the water company (along with a hundred or so other water companies in the area); that decree defines their distribution area.
The second is that this particular water company made their shares freely transferable, and that led to an unanticipated consequence. The way development of the area panned out, more people wanted water at the southern (downstream) end of their canal than on the upstream end. Because the shares were freely transferable, that led to a gradual shift in the share ownership toward the south. Eventually that got to the point where the capacity of the canal to deliver water was exceeded, and the only mechanism the water company had to control this was to start refusing to connect anyone with shares that originated upstream of the point where they wanted to draw water.
For our sellers to get the water company's approval, they have to show two things. First, that the parcels are actually part of the decree area. That one is at least easy to attack – the sellers need to hire someone who can read the legal description of the decree area (gobbledygook to normal mortals) and figure out whether they are. Second, they have to show the provenance of the water rights are not from upstream. I'm not sure how they can do that, as it will require tracing the chain of share ownership. I believe (since water rights are real property in Utah) that all of this chain is recorded at the County office, so it might not be hard to do that.
On a completely different note, Debbie and I took a drive up the dirt road to Liberty last night. I was very sleepy (I'd gotten up particularly early yesterday morning), but nonetheless we saw some deer, about a million turkeys, a colony of muskrats, a kingfisher, and ... best of all ... a bald eagle. That eagle is almost certainly a migrator; this is the season they are flying south through our area. Hopefully we'll see more, but we got a great view of this fellow, just sitting up in a tree glaring at us. Or considering us for supper. Probably the latter :)
Thursday, November 19, 2015
If you've ever done any utility-side electrical work, you can anticipate my challenge: it's the classic “ground loop” problem. In my case, it's exacerbated by the fact that I have high current intermittent loads in the shed – things like a welder, 5 HP air compressor, etc. If I tried to connect the house Ethernet to the shed Ethernet, I'm sure to have large transient ground loop currents between them – and quite likely fry some equipment!
The classic solution for this sort of problem is electrical isolation (between the house and shed, in my case). I've never done this for Ethernet before (never needed to!), so I didn't know what was available. It turns out that medical equipment with network connections routinely deals with this, and there are parts readily available. I chose a Black Box SP426A “Ethernet Isolator”, pictured above left. This is an optoelectronic device that's powered from the Ethernet line, very conveniently for me. Mine should arrive tomorrow, and at that point I can actually install the router, switch, and wireless router in my shed...
First, the wall in question isn't structural; it's just a dividing wall between two rooms. That matters because that means there's no corresponding structure in the attic – in fact, nothing visible in the attic at all to indicate where that wall might be. Precisely where it was actually matters a great deal, as I needed to drill a hole through the 2x4 at the top of that wall – and my target area for that hole was 3.5" wide by 8" long. That's not a very big target!
Second, the attic is completely filled with blown-in insulation, right to the tops of the 2x12 joists. That means that everything in the attic that might give me a visual cue (like wires, nails, etc.) is completely covered up with the insulation, rendering it invisible.
How could I find my drilling target? The only way I could think of is to measure from the one reference point I had that was visible both on the second floor and in the attic: the little hole that I crawled up to the attic in. That hole is about 12' east of the target wall, and about 2' south. So I did some very careful measuring on the second floor, then went up into the attic and duplicated it. That put me right between two joists (mounted north/south) and two big rectangular air ducts (going east/west). I dug through the insulation, marked an “X”, and drilled – then went down to the second floor to see if I'd drilled a hole through the ceiling. Nope! Apparently I actually hit the target! Yay!
At that point I cut a hole in the wallboard (photo above), “fished” the cable down toward the hole, and Debbie pulled it out. Victory!
But we still had one more challenge. One of the network cables was intended for a wireless router to be located in our kitchen. The wall there that I wanted to run the cable through was just barely accessible from our mechanical room in the basement. But, once again, I had no easy way to locate it. This was actually a tad more difficult than the attic location problem, as this time there wasn't a nice convenient common reference point. I ended up using the north and the east exterior walls as a reference. The east wall was nearly 20' away, in a different room both on the first floor and in the basement – but even so, it was the best reference I had. Once I located the place where I wanted the cable, I discovered that a huge steel air duct was blocking my access. Dang it! Then I had another idea: I could drill in from about a 45° angle, with a 20" long drill bit, and I could make it into the right area. That was a little scary making that hole – if I was off by even a couple inches, I'd be drilling into either a (very) visible area, or into a kitchen cabinet. Yikes! But I drilled away, and the hole came out within a quarter inch of where I intended it. Yay!
Shortly after that, I had everything wired up for the wireless router, and fired it up. Oops. It didn't work. Out came the cable tester, and I soon discovered that one wire was broken. The cable tester tells me where the problem is – and this time, it was in the female connector installed in the second floor wall (the photo above). On inspection I found a broken wire. All I needed to do was rewire it, and everything was working. And now we have 5 bars of WiFi throughout our house, including in our bedroom. Hooray!
Elray the well driller had a very successful day. His attempts to develop the water layer at 321' were successful. By the time he left yesterday afternoon he had almost completely cleaned out the area after having opened up the water bearing seams (with compressed air). The result: 30 GPM of clear water, no detectable odors, at 54°F. He's not going to be here today, but tomorrow he anticipates finishing the development work, pulling up the outer casing, and sealing the well. Then on Saturday or Monday he'll be pulling his rig out.
The next stage for us will be to put in a low-capacity pump, wire it up (to the shed), run a water line to the shed, and then put some infrastructure in the shed. I'm planning a 2,000 gallon cistern in there, with a float valve that controls the well pump. That can be filled at a low rate – probably under 5 GPM – which will help keep pump costs down. There will be a water softener and (if needed) iron removal system between the pump and the cistern. Then after the cistern there will be a booster pump and pressure tank. One potential variation on this scheme is to have a concrete cistern underground, outside the shed. I need to check into the feasibility of that. We have that setup for the spring that feed our house water, and it works well.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Yesterday I started installing some network cables in the house. The first step was to run two CAT-6 cables from the basement “mechanical room” up into the attic. I ran them alongside the chimney, where there's already quite an assortment of pipes and wires running. Today I'm hoping to run them from the attic down through a wall in our second floor office, where I'll terminate them in a wall panel. One of those wires I'll be connecting to the underground CAT-6 that runs out to the barn; the other I'll be running up through a wall in the kitchen, to attach to a second wireless router for the house. Our WiFi on the first floor (especially in our bedroom) is kind of shaky, so we're hoping this will fix it.
We took Debbie in for her first treatment with a transdermal steroid patch. This is designed to attack her patella tendinitis. The patch contains a battery that uses an electric field to drive the drug down through her skin into the tendon. The physical therapist there noted that Debbie's extension in her injured leg isn't quite as good as in the uninjured leg, and he's pretty sure that's the root cause of her tendinitis. We got a bunch of exercises for her to do, all with the objective of improving that extension. She's hard at work on them already :)
It certainly alarms me!
Well, there really is such a group – the cops.
It's remarkable how little press this phenomenon – a recent one – gets...
When I gave my presentation, two Board members reacted as my CEO hoped – they saw the upward trend and assumed life was good. The rest of the board – four or five members – all jumped on me for having a stupid metric in my presentation, and they proceeded to lecture me about the importance of tracking unresolved bugs.
I'm so glad to be retired! :)
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Red and yellow are two of the ten standard colors used for coding the value of components (especially resistors). It's a very old system, predating me considerably, and it's used worldwide. I've been familiar with it since the early 1960s, so it's second nature to me. Red is the code for 2, and yellow for 4, hence the reference to “24” in the cartoon. The omega (Ω) is the symbol for ohms, the unit of electrical resistance.
The “red touches yellow” is part of a rhyme for telling a coral snake apart from a king snake. This is important where both snakes coexist (like in Florida), as the coral snake is venomous, and the king snake is not. The complete rhyme:
Red Touch Yellow - Kills a Fellow
Red Touch Black - Venom Lack
Yellow Touches Red - Soon You'll Be Dead
Red Touches Black - Friend of Jack