Saturday, December 31, 2011

A thousand words:


Well, not so much, really...  I've finally gotten 'round to eating that Big Ugly Frog that's been on my never-ending To Do list for (it seems like) ever.

Now I'm bored.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Full HD video.  You will want to go full screen with this.

And while we're at it:
Marooned (HD)

Pulse - the full concert - in HD!   
(2 hours + of the very best of the Floyd!)

When I finally find this on DVD I will be buying it!

Making the budget understandable

This came to me by way of an email from a friend:

If you know who originated it please let me know in the comments so I can give a proper attribution.  Thanks.

You may have noticed …

… if you took a close look at my never-ending To Do List that the “Amphibian De Jure” was the sleep study I mentioned previously

Perhaps it should have been called the ‘toss and turn on an uncomfortable bed with impossible to sleep on pillows while wired up like the house in the Christmas Lights video I linked to last weekend’ study.  The first three times I managed to actually fall asleep I woke up almost immediately from snoring.  Hours later, and after having the tech reroute the wires so they weren’t wrapped around my neck, I did actually manage to get a tiny bit of REM sleep.  I remember exactly two very short dreams.  In one Mum and I were dropping of a walker to a friend who was most appreciative.  In the other I was at a gas station with another friend who pulled the car up to one of those put two quarters in the slot and you can fill up your tires machines.  I told her not to bother with that.  Come back to my place and I’ll fire up my compressor.  Then you can fill your tires for free.

Then it was back to tossing and turning.

I was finally unwired and allowed to leave around five thirty this morning.  I drove home in full dark and arrived at the house just as the sky was beginning to lighten in the early predawn.  I haven’t been out and about this early in years!

The study was supposed to be split between diagnostics for the first several hours and possible treatment with a CPAP machine after that.  Provided I meet the insurance company’s qualifications…  Apparently I didn’t.  It’s hard to meet the qualifications when you can’t get to sleep – regardless how tired you may be.

Regulations prohibit the tech from discussing the results directly with me.  (… because that might actually provide me with some useful information.)  It has to be filtered through the physician who ordered the study.  We’ll see what (if anything) comes from it.

I finally did get some sleep after I was home and in my own bed.  I even got up before noon!  11:58AM is before noon, if not by much…

One good thing did come from my going there.  I got to see the episode of American Masters about Charles and Ray Eames.  That’s the kind of design studio I should be working at or own!

* sigh *

It looks like fun!

Well, ain’t that interesting?

In my recent post about my technique for dealing with a cold I mentioned the Dayquil/Nyquil combination of over the counter cold remedies.  Checking my logs this morning I see that I was paid a visit by “The Procter and Gamble Company” of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Welcome aboard, guys.  Have a look around.  All are welcome here at the Dragonfly.

BTW: I only know it was them because they have their own ISP that puts their name in the logs.  Google does the same thing.  (Hi –j @ work!)  [Odd that I’m not seeing visits from the other search engines.  Then again, they do own Blogspot…]  So unless you are running your own ISP with your name on it, there is no personally identifiable information logged beyond your IP Address.  And that’s just your computers address assigned by your ISP.  There’s no way of knowing exactly who is sitting at your computer at any given time.  That’s not to say that the spooks down around the Beltway aren’t monitoring you through the web cam you have so conveniently provided…

Thursday, December 29, 2011

They tease us, My Precious!

December 14, 2012?  But what if the Mayans were right?  We won’t get to see the second part!
Well, not so much, really.  ;-)

(So I'm taking the fine art of procrastination to a whole new level.  I'm on vacation!  I can if I wanna!)

I didn’t realize that…

I was just poking around in the archive listings over there on the right sidebar.  This is the hundredth post this year here at The New Eclectic Dragonfly.  (I spent much of the middle of the year either posting over at The Guilded Cage or not posting at all.)

The other thing I noticed is that today is The New Dragonfly’s first Blogversery!  The original Dragonfly was started back on the Ninth of November in 2006.  That was over at LiveJournal (before they sucked…)  So in its entirety The Eclectic Dragonfly is a little over five years old and this iteration is one year old today.

Should I say “Woohoo!” or “Who knew?”

Oh by the way…

It was extremely windy here last night.  Sadly my weather station doesn’t have an anemometer so I can’t tell you exactly how windy it was. But I can tell you that some guests had the windows rattling pretty good!

Anywho…  When I checked this morning the solar panels on the roof looked fine.  They came through the wind storm unscathed.  The meter on the top end of the system (the one listed as optional in the schematic) said the panels were producing about 24 VDC.  That’s their typical open circuit voltage in full sun.  The charge controller shows the batteries at 13.5 VDC which is fully charged.  So everything there is working exactly as it should.

I still feel that I should be doing something with this extra capacity.  I’m not sure what though.  

Hmmm…  Maybe I should set up a trail camera in the back yard to catch the park manager violating the 940CMR 10.03(8)(b) requirement to give the residents reasonable notice that he’s going to come on our lots.  I’ve received several nastygrams from them about things you can’t see from the street.  I have yet to receive a single notification that he was gong to come around to inspect my lot.  Criminal trespass?  He’s soaking in it!

The never-ending To Do List

In yesterday’s rather melancholy post I mentioned my never-ending To Do List.

I bet you’ll never guess where that is…  ;-)

Wow!  You’re good!  Yes, that’s exactly where it is.  Right next to the pay phone. 

I was chatting with a friend the other day.  I mentioned how convenient it was having a phone here.  She didn’t realize that this was a working phone.  She said “I’ll call you back in a little while.”  I said “What?  It’s not like it’s a video phone…”  LOL!

Back to the list.

There’s a book I highly recommend called Eat That Frog.  It takes its title from a Mark Twain quote: “If the first thing you do each day is eat a live frog, you can rest assured that nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day.”  The book is about getting things done.  That’s why I’ve put notations on my list about which items are tadpoles and which is the Big Ugly Frog that needs eating.

You may have noticed that writing a blog post about my never-ending To Do List is not on the list.  I’m procrastinating.  So sue me…

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My reply to a mid-winter email:

Meow indeed, Roger.  It must be biorhythms or something because I'm feeling much the same way.  I'd say I was tired but it's more than that.  Weary I think would be a better description. 

It's the middle of the week between Christmas and New Years. 

Last night Mum and I went to a memorial service for a long time friend.  Mum’s best friend's husband.  I've known him all my life and Mum's known him since she was a teenager.  The crowd was very large for Bart's final send-off.  Audy, his widow, said she didn't even know all of the people who were there.  There were somewhat informal readings of anecdotes about Bart by friends and relatives.  The contingent from the VFW for the more formal ceremony was four strong.  A couple of them broke up a bit reciting their parts. There were seven in the honor guard from the Army who performed the folding ceremony for Bart's casket flag.

"We present this flag on behalf of a grateful Nation..."

They all seemed so young…

I just got back from the store.  Had to pick up some milk and such that Mum needed.  The trees are all bare and everything's dull gray.  It's like the world is halfway between sleeping and dead.

Here we are, midway through the last of my three weeks vacation.  I had expected to be more recharged and energized.  Instead my to-do list seems never-ending and I haven't even begun to think about any of the decisions that were the real reason I took three weeks off all in one lump.

Yes, "weary" is the right word.

UPDATE: I just found Bart's obit at the Wakefield Daily Item.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My remedy/survival strategy for the common cold:

I don’t have a cold myself at the moment nor do I want one.  A friend mentioned over on Facebook that he was working on getting over a cold, so I commented over there with what I’ve found to give me the best results when I’m fighting off a cold.  Since this could be useful information for others I thought I’d share:

Nyquil/Dayquil per the directions and the clock
Fisherman’s Friend cough drops as desired
(The only real cough drops on the market.  All the others are really just candy, IMHO.  And they also help with nasal congestion.)
Hot tea and chicken soup with lots of broth

And stay warm and as comfy as possible.  And keep reminding yourself that “in time this too shall pass.”  (Which also works for constipation…)

So there you have it.  The HerrBGone approved method of dealing with the common cold. 

It may also help to keep in mind that as miserable as you may be suffering through your cold, you are doing humanity a great service!  By being host to all those tiny microbes that are making you so miserable you are helping their species to survive.  And they will in turn help our species survive come the next Martian invasion!

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Dinosaur Turd in the Back Yard

So I got this nastygram from the park manager.  In the mail.  On Christmas Eve.  Here it is December and they want me to paint my oil tank.  Or else.

(Insert rude noise here.)

Okay, so they sent a similar little note back in May…  Well, I’ve been busy!  The new nastygram says I have seven days to have the work started or they will “pursue legal action.”  Frankly I don’t know what legal action they can pursue.  I own the tank.  They do not have it within their power to tell me what to do with my property.  The oil company says that while the tank may not be pretty, there is nothing functionally wrong with it.  If there was they wouldn’t be filling it.

Well, it is rather unpleasant looking.

Rereading this latest nastygram it occurred to me that while they said it has to be painted – they didn’t say what kind of paint to use or what color it has to be.

Heh!  >:-}

I have been meaning to do something about the tree that’s growing between the tank and the house.  It actually came in rather handy last summer!  I would open my bedroom window that’s right in the middle of the tree and use a fan to draw in the cool air through the shady branches.  That picture shows things as they were this morning with all of the leaves gone for the year and many of the branches pruned back so the tank can be filled.  Actually, some of the leaves are still there all dead and brown and jammed around the tree on the tank…

So getting rid of my tree was phase one.

Now I can legitimately order the Lumberjack breakfast at Bickford’s!

They also want me to sand off “all the rust” from the tank.  Well, the tank isn’t really all that rusty.  There are several colors of paint on it.  The last was apparently a cheap coat of some kind of silver paint that wasn’t really sticking all that well.  That’s why it looks so bad.  The other thing in the picture besides my electric chainsaw (gotta be ready for the zombie apocalypse!  And it can run on power from the solar system!) is one of my cordless drills fitted with a paint remover pad.  I switched back and forth between two cordless drills while their batteries were charging and ground off most of the loose paint.

After sweeping the dust off of the tank well enough I got down to business and painted it. 

With Rust-oleum Hammered Brown paint. 

So-friking-there!  It looks just like rust.  It’s also a quality rust inhibiting paint.  So the tank should be well protected for the next several years at least.

When all was said and done, I’d say the tank came out pretty well, actually.

Although it does bear a striking resemblance to a huge dinosaur turd right under my bedroom window…  Given that it’s full of processed dino juice it must have been a carnivorous dinosaur.  Who knew there were T-Rex’s running loose in the neighborhood?!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

And just because it's my favorite of the genera:

Apparently this was originally posted on Youtube back in 2005.  I still like it.

Central Planning Kommity vs. Free Market

I have friends who seen to think the former might be a good idea.  One in particular I believe would actually like to make someone else responsible for the important decisions in her life.  (If she ever reads this she’ll smack me up side the head for saying so so publicly…)  Being a responsible adult can at times be a little scary.  A bit like walking a tightrope without a net.  But to me the alternative is far more terrifying: having someone else decide where I should work, where I should live, what kind of car I’m allowed to drive (if any at all) -  how I should live my life.

I’m truly glad I had the dumb luck to have been born in the freest nation on Earth!  It saddens me that so many who were likewise blessed would trade that freedom for the illusion of security.

So I’ve had a hankering for a pair of Moccasins

Truth be told, I’ve been lusting after a pair of mocs I saw at Hayward’s Trading Post in Milford New Hampshire.  The pair I have the hots for are something like eighty bucks!  That’s a bit more than I really want to spend. 

So I got to thinking.  (And we know how dangerous that can be!)

I’m into leather crafts.  Moccasins are made of leather.  Tandy sells a pre-cut and punched moccasin kit.  Since I don’t know how to make moccasins I can get one of their kits and make a pair myself and learn how in the process!

Now it has always been my assumption that shoes come from the store.  You buy them already made.  And you have to settle for the styles and sizes they have.  Whether you really like how they’re made or not.  And the best you can do is find a size that’s the closest compromise to what your feet really need to work well enough.  The idea of actually making my own footwear had never occurred to me.  Until just last week when I decided to get the Tandy kit and give it a shot.

Not too shabby, if I do say so m’self…

These are a totally stock made by the instructions from the kit pair of moccasins.  I was surprised by how fast they went together.  Of course the leather was all pre cut and punched.  They’re comfortable enough to wear around the house as slippers.  A pair of socks helps enormously with that.  Personally I think the size of the kit I bought is a bit long for my feet.  I usually have trouble with that.  My feet are 9 ½ EE.  That’s extra extra wide.  The vast majority of shoes sold in America (at least that I’ve encountered) are sold in medium width only.  If you need a wide you have to ‘size up’ and then they are too long.  Being a stock kit these are sized up for width and too long as a result.

I will eventually solve that by making a custom pair that actually fit my feet.  When I do I think I’m going to redesign the heal construction while I’m at it.  Now I realize moccasins have been made the same way for literally thousands of years and the design works.  But I have sensitive feet.  My heals are particularly sensitive.  Traditional construction puts a lot of overlapping material and lacing right at my heals.  My design (when I finally get around to actually designing them) will fix that.

So how ‘bout that!  Me – making my own shoes!  Who’d have thunk?

By way of explanation…

Last night I was chatting with someone on the phone.  Actually it was a ‘coach’ from Laurel Langemeier’s organization who was trying to convince me that I need to sign up for a three day workshop.  I’d love to, but funds won’t allow that right at the moment.

So anywho, I wanted to share that photo with him so he could see that I wasn’t just blowing smoke about the Submersible ROV I designed and built some twenty years ago now.  (Hard to believe it’s been that long!)

So that’s what that was all about.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ty Ming

I think that’s an ancient Chinese curse.  Something about Ty Ming is evy sing…

One of the primary tasks Mum and I had while we were out and about yesterday was grocery shopping.  On the list were quite a bit of frozen veggies, milk, OJ and other refrigeables.

Last night I left my computer on to charge the doodad.  That’s my nickname for my mp3 player.  I almost never leave the computer on overnight.

This morning I awoke to a vaguely familiar sound.  Beep beep beep.  I’m on vacation so I don’t have that kind of alarm set.  Beep beep beep.  What the hell is that?  Beep beep beep.  I don’t think the charge controller for the solar panels makes that noise…  Beep beep beep.  I looked up at the ceiling to see what time it was on my projection clock.  It’s dark.  No clock.  Beep beep beep.  Huh?  Now I’m confused.

Beep beep beep. 

Oh crap!  It’s the power failure alarm on the telephone system’s battery backup!

I can’t see the projection clock because there’s no juice for the projector!  Why is it that the power chooses to go out right after we fill the fridge?  Ty Ming is evy sing!


So I roll out of bed and secure the computer and unplug the doodad.  Looks like the neighbors don’t have power either.  Good.  Not that misery loves company – I was afraid I might have forgotten to pay the light bill!  There’s a chance it will be fixed before too long.

National Grid (formerly Mass Electric) has a very personable computer.  I finally managed to weave my way through the maze of menus to report that the power is out.  That was around six this morning.

Then I went back to bed.

Beep beep beep.  Grrrrr!

It eventually stopped when the batteries died.  Of course then we had no phone except for my cell…  (Glad I charged it!)

The power was still out when I finally got up for the day around eleven o’clock.  After calling National Grid on my cell phone and actually speaking to a real live human* I made the executive decision that Mum and I should hop in Galileo and go off to Ihop for breakfast.  Where it’s warm.

* Pro Tip: Instead of pushing buttons or responding to the menu with one of the provided selections, say “Operator.”  That will get you into the queue to talk with a human.

Before we left I went out on the enclosed porch and announced to the batteries “You’re on – and this is not a drill…”  I haven’t installed the wiring yet that will allow me to just throw a switch to switch between grid power and the inverter so I had to string an extension cord between the inverter and the fridge as I had done for the test I wrote about here.

The cord gets strung through the hall window that looks out into my workshop, up over the curtain rods and behind a water jug that I put on top of the kitchen cabinet over the fridge to hold it.  That way the cord is over our heads instead of running across the floor.  It would really take some effort to trip on it up there!

After stringing the cord I added a blanket to block the window.  It’s cold out there in my unheated workshop and I didn’t want the shop sharing that with the rest of the house.  The curtain rods were not at all happy about that idea.  The top brads mounting the brackets to the wall were simply not up to the task.  I had to replace them with screws.  Now we have an actual load bearing system!  Curtains, power cord and blanket.  No problem!  And minimal heat loss.  Works fer me!

And the fridge was fine running on the modified sign wave juice from the inverter just like during the test.

On our way out to Nashua we stopped by and chatted with one of the guys from the crew that was working to fix the problem.  He said our neighborhood has a radial system.  They were still looking for the cause of the problem.  Once they find it they will have to dig up the road to fix it.  “Power should be back on by the end of the year…”  Har har!  The person on the phone said ‘probably by around noon.’  But it was already ten past one!  His real estimate was four to six hours after they find the cause – which they were still looking for at that point.  We thanked them for their efforts and headed along on our way.

By the time we got back the power was back on and all was well with our little corner of the world.  (“Corner”?  But the world is round…)

That’s the second power failure in as many months.  Not as wide spread nor nearly as long an outage.  But still, I hope this doesn’t become a habit…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Well isn’t this interesting…

Here I sit – wired up like a Borg.  I hope there’s no thunder and lightning in this little storm that’s rolling through right now!

Just a side point: Shouldn’t that be “lightening and thunder”?  The one always comes before the other, yet I always hear them spoken of in reverse order.  * shrugs *

So I had a little visit with my cardiologist this morning.  Pretty much standard checkup type stuff.  I borrowed an idea from Weer’d Beard* and wore a western shirt with snaps so I could do the Superman shirt-rip when they asked me to unbutton.  I only got a mild chuckle with that.  In the end I wound up performing the stunt three times before they were done with me.  I’m glad I was prepared!

So the first bit was for an EKG.  The Doc said he didn’t like what he was seeing.  Something about an arrhythmia where the old ticker is ticking a bit much and throwing a few extra beats into the mix.  Some things should not extemporize on the rhythm, if you follow my meaning!

So then we switched rooms and I got to watch it ‘do’n it’s thing’ on the ultrasound monitor.  That was rip two.

Rip three was when the tech came in and wired me up to the portable monitor that’s now in my pocket.  I can take that off tomorrow morning between 10:00 & 11:00 AM.  Then I get to drive back out to the office to drop the thing off.  I have no idea when I’ll get to hear about the results.

Another fun proposal is that they want me to do a sleep study to determine if I have sleep apnea.  Oh joy.  Okay, so my snoring sometimes wakes me up…  I can tell them that.  In fact, I did.  All the more reason to do the study they said.  If confirmed I may wind up sleeping with some kind of gizmo to help me breath.

Sounds delightful.  I have a hard enough time getting comfortable enough to fall asleep as it is.  That and trying to shut down all the stuff I’m thinking about makes it a challenge.  Now they may want to add some technology to the mix.

What could possibly go wrong? 

(grumble grumble tongue planted firmly in cheek grumble OUCH!  I bit my tongue!)

* I was thinking of a particular post of his but I’ll be damned if I can find it.   
   (grumble gru – oh…  I already said that.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sounds like embezzling to me

It is my understanding that, at least here in Massachusetts, bank fees cannot cause an overdraft.  According to this ABC News story apparently that isn’t the case in Illinois.

As a side note: I printed the story and as I handed the printout to Mum I said “This’ll get your blood to boil – then you’ll be warm!”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Update: Comments now seem to be working

Apparently the comments system here at the Dragonfly are 10-79 at the moment.  Hopefully I can breath new life into it before too awfully long.  I have not blocked the comments or instituted moderation.  Things are not being dumped into the spam-trap either.  The system is simply busted.  And that with an Uncle Launch earlier this week.  The timing is spectacular!

UPDATE:  I've just switched over to the popup style comment window and that seems to have solved the problem.  I suspect the old embedded version's not having the word verification gadget may have been the root cause.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

WTF, over...

Tyngsboro police: Suspect called 911 from cruiser

‘Solar System’ Update

The refrigerator is running on the inverter even as I type this.  It seems to actually work!

What remains to be seen is how long it can run and what will be involved in bringing the batteries back up to charge.  There has been direct sun on the panels all afternoon.  But as the sun is getting lower there are also some clouds on the horizon.  With the panels shaded we are no doubt taking most of the power needed from the batteries now instead of directly from the panels.  I don’t know how long they will hold out in actual use.

The main point of this test, however, is that I have now proven that I can run the fridge on my back-up system.  * does happy dance *  :-)

UPDATE:  Just before 11 PM local time I put the fridge back on grid power. 

Not because of any problem with running it from the batteries.  The charge controller is still showing 12.3 volts in the batteries.  The inverter even handled the start-up load from the defrost cycle which pushes its limits according to my appliance load tester.

And not because of any problem with the fridge itself.  It was running fine with the modified sign wave power supplied by the inverter.  We didn’t do anything different in how we accessed the fridge either.  It was a totally normal Saturday afternoon here’bouts.

The only reason I unplugged from the inverter was so I could get the power cord out of the way to properly close the hall window.  The workshop/pantry on our enclosed porch where the power equipment lives is unheated and it’s cold out there tonight!  With the thermostat about four feet away from a jalousie window that was open enough let a heavy duty extension cord pass through, the heater was running more than it should have been. 

I could have stuffed a blanket in the window to solve that problem, but I decided to end the test instead.  I think we ran long enough to prove that it works.  This problem with the window, that I was expecting all along, will be eliminated when I run a line from the inverter under the house in the crawl space and up the wall to a switch that will allow me to toggle back and forth between grid power and the inverter without even unplugging the fridge from the wall.  I’ll do that on an individual basis for each appliance I decide to power from our solar system.  I just had to run this test before I invest in upgrading the houses wiring to do that.  Now that I know that it really does work I feel a lot more confidant in spending the cash to bring it to that next level.

All in all I would call this test a Resounding Success!

Friday, December 9, 2011

An absolute OURTAGE!

Somebody needs to spend a VERY long time as a guest of the Government – making small rocks out of big ones – for this!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7, 2011

Seven decades after that infamous day.  Much about our world has changed – but much about the condition of man remains the same.  Great powers come and go.  Nations go to war. Sometimes for noble purposes.  Other times for greed and ambition.  And some times peaceful nations have war thrust upon them.

On this day we reflect and remember those who served their nation so long ago.  Some now advanced in age having survived both the war that was thrust upon them that day and a lifetime since who are now too frail in body (but never in spirit!) to make the pilgrimage to Hawaii after so many years.  And some who are still there having never left their duty stations – the first casualties of the war.

Once bitter enemies, today Japan and the United States are friends.  Staunch allies and trading partners.  How times change.

But there remain both nations and groups that eschew peaceful relations for what they think are the ‘glories’ of war.  Striving for fame, power and dominance over their fellow man, or simply out of hatred and fear they choose the path of destruction both for their enemies and ultimately for themselves.  How things remain the same.

On Veterans Day we pause to honor our nations Men at Arms, past and present.  Those who have honorably served, defending their nation from the time of the Revolution to this very day around the world.

But on This Day we pay special tribute to those veterans who woke up to a beautiful, peaceful Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor Hawaii and were thrust without warning into the realm of legend.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Government at work…

I may not live in "da schitty o' Boschton" (to quote their mayor), but I have worked there and have occasionally traveled there for reasons other than work.  Never once without a knife in my pocket or on my belt.  I use my knives every day, yet I have never committed a crime with any of them – except by my occasional presence in places where the mere possession of stuff is itself a crime.

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

IMHO this is preemption of stupid ordinances of this type at the Federal level and applies to the various States and to the municipalities.  The SCOTUS made that abundantly clear in Heller and MacDonald.

If all those knives that were “confiscated” by the MBTA police were such a problem, why weren’t their owners arrested?  Conversely, if their owners weren’t committing an arrestable offence, why was their property stolen by the transit cops?

The real problem is that these imbeciles are not restricted to the home of the original tea party (circa 1773).  This mentality - or more likely mental condition - is rampant throughout the Commonwealth.

Link via Uncle Ted over on FaceBook.

Friday, December 2, 2011

E. Jonsson Mora Knife

Same Knife with another New Frog

While it is a very plane Jane utility knife, it's become one of my favorites.  The blade has a double bevel grind where the bit that looks like it should be the cutting grind really is.  Almost all of my other knives are of the double bevel variety with a very short steep grind at the cutting edge.  What looks like it should be the cutting edge grind on those knives is really more like a relief that gets you closer to the final cutting edge. 

For all of it's simplicity, this is one of the sharpest knives you are likely to encounter outside of surgery!

After making the combination frog and flashlight holster I decided to make another more traditional style frog for this knife as well.  We'll see which method of carry gets used more often.

UPDATE: Text heavily revised to correct nomenclature I had originally used incorrectly.  It's all fixed now.  (I hope...)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My latest Leather Project

Knife Frog and Mini-Maglight Holster

The knife is an E. Jonsson Mora utility knife with it's original plastic sheath from which I removed the rather cheesy button strap.

The flashlight is a standard 2-AA Mini-Maglight that I've upgraded with the Nite-Eyes focus-able LED lamp and IQ Switch multifunction tail-cap switch.  I'm toying with the idea of getting a red Mini-Maglight and swapping out parts so the light will be red over black like the knife.  What do you think?

Oh, the other strap is my keyring holder that I posted about here.  On third thought that may have been over at FaceBook and that's set up so only friends can get at it.  I shall have to remedy that.  (Eventually...)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

How it works

I’m much better at explaining complex systems with pictures, so here goes…

I still need to do the math to figure out how much I can actually run with this system.  We’ll get there.

“Cap’n!  I need morrre time!”

(Actually, after fighting with my scanner drivers for much of the evening, and now sitting here listening to Cam & Co. I just don’t feel like writing.  So ask any questions in the comments {assuming the comments will actually work…} and I’ll try to find the answer.)

Introducing HerrBGone’s Power & Light

At HerrBGone’s Power & Light we have entered the testing phase of our newly installed solar powered photovoltaic distributed generation station.


I made the final connections between the panels on the roof and the charge controller last night.  Since it was pitch black night by the time I got home from work the lines from the panels were cold.  I disconnected the hot lead from the battery bank to the charge controller making that cold as well.  Then I replaced the screw connectors with new ones that were sized to fit the posts better.  The first pair had too large a hole and cranking down on the knobs trying to get a tight connection wound up pulling the threaded inserts part way out of the plastic knobs.  Fortunately I was able to press them back in and they were still useable.  The new screw connectors solved that problem and actually had to be opened up just slightly with my drill press to fit on the posts.  Probably metric posts vs. English holes.

This morning before breakfast I grabbed my meter and checked the lines from the panels to see if the were producing any electricity.  Lighting conditions were what the slip of paper that came with your roll of film might call about half way between “cloudy dull” and “cloudy bright.”  Not optimal by any stretch of the imagination.  The meter still showed 20.9 VDC open circuit!  That was with the charge controller switched off.  After switching it on the reading dropped as expected.  Under load the meter read 12.7 VDC.  Maybe enough to put a little juice into the batteries, but not enough to make much of a dent in any kind of regular use.  Still, even with fairly poor generating conditions we are making some electricity.   It will be interesting to see how it runs with actual sunlight on the panels.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Photovoltaic System 90% Installed

Yesterday was an errands day including visiting the local home center uber store for the stuff I’d need to install the solar panels on the roof and get them all hooked up to put some juice into my storage batteries.  The panels went up today and all of the inside equipment got hooked up too.  Unfortunately actually connecting the panels to the charge controller will have to wait for tomorrow.  The wires supplied on the panels don’t reach the controller.  I’ll need to stop by the uber store again for a terminal strip, about six feet of wire and some clamp type lugs.

Behold!  The panels:

I got my new solar panels installed just in time for the sun to set.  Tomorrow, before the panels will be connected to the charge controller there will be some sun.  But it will likely be raining before I get out of work.  And the ten day forecast doesn’t mention any sun again until Thursday.  They are predicting partly cloudy for Saturday so I may get to test the system then.

Speaking of the charge controller and batteries, here they are:

One of the other stops we made yesterday was at a local consignment shop.  I was looking for a small table that would let me set up the system pretty much as I have it here.  I haven’t had a desk that size since I was in the third grade!  This one even has a hole through the top for an inkwell!  That’s the perfect place to route the wires from the panels on the roof to the back of the charge controller.  That’s the box to the right where junior’s books, papers and frog for show and tell used to go.  The box to the left is the inverter.  The inverter has two standard house plugs that supply “modified sign wave” 120 volts AC.  It also has a fan so I don’t think heat should be much of an issue.  The charge controller has several options for powering various things with DC ranging from 3 volts to 12.  Both have USB connectors to charge things that need that style connection.

The two cables coming loosely down the wall and in through the inkwell are for the 12VDC florescent lights that came with the solar panel kit.  They are set up temporarily to provide emergency lighting to the area shown in the second photo.  They work – though not very brightly.  I haven’t decided if they will be set up there permanently or not.  You can see their connectors dangling from the bookshelf right next to the charge controller.

All of the ‘stuff’ on top of the desk is generally like kind to what the desk was put here for.  There’s a car charger, a booster box and a really lame ‘plugs into the lighter socket’ booster box there.  Also I’ve put the chargers for my smaller Makita power tools there.  Those will be plugged into a grid connected switched power strip.  Once I get one to go there.
Oh by the way, that’s R2 sitting next to the desk waiting patiently for the next time we’ll need him…

There was one other item I picked up at the home center uber store: an appliance load tester.  I’ll be using that to find out how much juice my stuff really needs in order to determine just how much (or how little, as the case may be) can actually be run from this system.

I am almost looking forward to going to work so I can rest!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oh realy?

Several west coast Occupy groups are "digging in and calling for reinforcements."

Keep your powder dry.  This could get messy....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

This is a test…

Not the one the FCC ran at 2 o’clock this afternoon. 

I just did a very small test of my batteries and inverter.  After moving the batteries to the top of my generator’s frame so I could get at them easier than leaving them on the shop floor, I got out my good meter and checked them both.  I was surprised to find they both are showing 12.46 volts!  They are actually charged!  I has assumed (I know I shouldn’t) that they most likely wouldn’t be.

Having juice available I hooked up the inverter to one of the batteries and tried running my air mover fan.  It worked as if it were plugged into the wall.

This actually leaves me with something of a quandary: Having both batteries charged and in good working order and having the brand new inverter that we’ve now proven actually works and hopefully having the solar panels installed this weekend to keep the batteries charged – what should I do with this power?  I bought this equipment to be able to power an appliance or two, mainly the refrigerator and the furnace, for a few cycles a day in the event of the grid going down as it did last week.  Living where we do that is a fairly uncommon thing, particularly for as long a time as it was out this last time.  In the mean time is it a waste to not use the excess power that will be left over beyond what’s needed to maintain the charge on the batteries?

Hmmm…  You know, I think this is a good quandary to find myself in.  And that’s a nice change of pace!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More on the boat

Sounds like “Moron, the boat!” – only different…

Originally written for an email:

I took a brain-care break this evening and spent some time re-rigging her.  I'd gotten her all squared away back to as-built condition for that picture.  Well, except for the broken bowsprit. 

Tonight she got something of a makeover!  I added four screw eyes to her deck.  Two by the foot of the mast.  Those are for the Main and Jib Halyards, respectively.  She had been built with no jib halyard at all and the main was doing double duty as part of the standing rigging!  Talk about minimalist!  The other two screw eyes are mounted back along the rail just aft of amidships.  Those are for the Jib Sheets.  I suspect that whoever built her just couldn't believe the sheets for the "front" sail belong so far "back."

I made her a new bowsprit from some dowel stock I'd bought a long time ago to build a boat model from scratch.  I'll have to get some stain to match it to the rest of the model.  Also, all of the standing rigging has been replaced with proper black line as if it had been tarred to protect it from the salt spray.

That's about as far as we've gotten tonight.  Most enjoyable play and an even more satisfying model.  There will be more improvements made over time.  But I think we've made a good start so far.

HerrBGone  (who bears more resemblance to a younger E.J.Smith than to Jonas Grumby...)

Monday, November 7, 2011

I bought a boat!

Actually, I mentioned that in last night's post abut the flea market.  I spent quite a while re-rigging her after the mess she was in when I first saw her at the flea.  I actually started untangling the mess even before I bought her. Being in the state she was in, combined with it being the last day of the year, I got her for a steal!  All of ten bucks got me all of this boat!  I suspect the seller might have given some consideration to my sounding like I knew a little bit about boats.  And that I seemed enthusiastic about this one in spite of her condition.

I didn't have a camera with me yesterday to take a before picture and I struck the mast to transport her home in my little VW so I couldn't take one after we got home.  I also still need to make a custom display cradle for her.  Once I do she will be displayed in the front window in the living room.

Here's a preview with her hanging from the chain that is holding a nice red glass candle holder in the window at the moment.

With the proper bracket she will be positioned (and supported) much better. 

I've always been intrigued by gaff rigged boats.  Now I have one!  (Sort of...)

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Here it is barely seven thirty EST as I’m getting started writing today’s update and I’m already starting to nod off.  It’s been that busy a day.  And to foul up my internal clock still further, today is also the day we Fall Back from daylight savings time to standard time.  The clock might say seven thirty, but my brain insists it’s really eight thirty.

Today was the last day of the season at the flea market.  I often get some spectacular deal on the last day.  Not so much today, though I did alright. 

Probably the most useful thing from the flea is the really nice pair of Thinsolate lined deerskin gloves I picked up for a very reasonable price.  They should do me well this winter.  When I showed them to my buddy Roger he went over and got himself a pair too.

At another table I found a small screwdriver set that looks like a Parker Big Red pen.  The clip is a little different, but that’s clearly what they were copying.  I had seen them on a website about Parker pens, but I couldn’t find it again when I looked this evening.

Oh, I also bought a boat. 

Okay, so it’s a display model of a gaff rigged sail boat.  She’s 29 5/8 inches LOA not including the bowsprit which is missing.  I’ve never sailed a gaff rigged boat myself, but I like their looks.  I will have to replace the bowsprit and square away the rigging since it’s rather a mess at the moment.  But that’s part of the fun!  Except for the forward end of the bowsprit everything seems to be there.  So it should be fairly straightforward to fix her all up.  Then I’ll need to make a display stand.  That should be a nice little project to break in my new scroll saw on.  Then I’ll need to decide just where to put her.  I have wanted a model like this for the house for some time.  Lashed to the deck is another boom (or possibly a yard) and sail.  I’m wondering if that’s supposed to be a Genoa and jib boom or if it might be a square rigged sail that I once saw in a book on small boats labeled as a “Captain’s handkerchief.”  I am toying with the idea of adding that later just because I like square rigged ships so much.


After the flea we took Me2 back to the County Store.  Since I had my receipt and the box was unopened and in good condition I had no trouble with the return.  I wish I could have kept the little stove, but I don’t really have anywhere to store it and I need the cash for other things.

Those other things include the 45 watt solar panels that are now sitting in front of the fuel storage shelf in the enclosed porch and the 750 watt continuous (1500 watt peak) inverter I bought to go with it.  I was actually surprised that I was able to get the solar panels in Galileo!  Now that I have all of the primary components on hand I need to get serious about designing their installation.

Between the County Store and Harbor Freight we checked out a new to us Mexican restaurant with some friends from the flea.  I can’t recall the name of the place, but it’s in the Shaw’s Plaza in Milford.  Easy parking, good service, tasty food and the desert was to die for!  We all declared it a winner.  Hopefully this one will be consistently good – unlike the Italian place that on our second visit was so-so at best.

I probably could have broken this up into three or four separate posts.  But I’m just too tired to do that tonight. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baby Steps…

A few days ago I mentioned repurposing one of the storage shelves on our enclosed porch.  I finally had some time to get to that today.  I didn’t take a junk-filled before photo, but here’s an after of sorts.

I was pleasantly surprised that the blue kerosene cans actually do fit on that bottom shelf.  Almost like it was made for them as a matter of fact!  Next to them are some fluids for the car.  I’m not sure the shelf is wide enough for a gas can. 

On the next shelf up are some more fuels for various things.  From left to right is some lamp oil.  I was sure I had some on hand before this latest blackout.  But not having a good storage place for it I didn’t realize we only had what was in the globes of a couple of my antique lamps.  So we had some – but nowhere near enough.  These two jugs are from our recent run to the County Store.  Next to that is a jug of Tiki Torch fuel with citronella.  Not the best fuel to use in an indoor oil lamp, but it will work in a pinch.  Fortunately the outage didn’t last so long that we would have needed to resort to that.  Then there’s a can of white gas for the little stove that’s hiding in the red velvet bag on the next shelf up.  The lighter fluid in front of the Tiki fuel is for my classic Zippo.  I have decided that it really isn’t the best lighter for my oil lamps, but I made do with it this time around.  That blue watering can is used to refill the oil lamps – when I have fuel to refill them with…  Next to that are two shaker cans of ice melt.

Hanging on the hook on the front of the shelf is my somewhat less than ideal fuel siphon.  I had to add additional length to the draw tube to actually reach the kerosene in the tank out back of the house.  I bought a new one that’s battery powered at the County Store.  I haven’t tried that yet, so I can’t offer a review.

The next shelf up has some candles, the white gas stove and a small tote of lamp parts, wicks and such.  The corrugated boxes are full of various glass stuff that will eventually be moved elsewhere.

There are two more shelves in this unit.  The next up from what’s shown has two or three boxes of various household hardware items.  Light fixtures, locksets, stuff like that.  The top of the unit has flattened corrugated boxes waiting their turn to carry stuff over to storage.  The plastic tarp is there to protect it all from where the awning that is the roof of this enclosed porch leaks a little right where it joins to the house.  A bit of a nuisance really, but not much I can do about it the way it was made.

So there you have it.  A bit more organized and in a secure and handy location but outside of our living area.  I will eventually replace the open shelf with an enclosed fire resistant cabinet once the funding becomes available…

My plans for tomorrow are to return Me2 (the 10.5K BTU heater) and to purchase a solar panel rig from Harbor Freight.  Buy the way, they are on sale this month for $179.95 and as of nine this morning they had twenty five of them in stock at the store I frequent.

One disappointment today:  When I brought the stuff that had been cluttering up this shelf over to storage I couldn’t find the inverter that I had for my camper.  I have no idea now where it might be and the battery back up system is useless without one.  I don’t think it was big enough to use in this kind of system anyway.

To the Wayback Machine!

Now I realize this is a repeat, and a recent one at that.  But in honor of this being the fortieth anniversary of the release of Medal I present Echos:

Go Full Screen.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Busy busy...

This noon on my lunch break I've started writing a spreadsheet to calculate our power needs for the house.  But I’m not making much headway on it.  I'll use it to work out what we can run with the storage capacity available in the batteries I already have.  Once I know that I can determine if the photovoltaic rig from Harbor Freight will be big enough to keep the batteries charged and how much of our ‘stuff’ we can expect to run in a typical day from the batteries. 

I’ve already drawn a preliminary sketch of how I can wire the system to be able to safely switch the refrigerator (or any other appliance for that matter) back and forth between grid power and the inverter that will draw power from the bank of batteries.  I’ll post a link to a better version of the sketch once I’ve redrawn it up to my standards.

Once the generator is squared away I’ll work out how to tie it in to the system both for direct power and to charge the batteries if there isn’t enough sun.

Another thing I want for the house is this really neat ventless gas fake wood stove that can run on bottled propane.  I spotted that at Lowe’s the other night.  It looks much like a larger version of the electric space heater we have in the living room.   At $450- plus installation by a licensed gas fitter I’m afraid that’s out of my reach right now.  But we WILL have one eventually.  We already have propane for the water heater.  It would be silly not to be able to use it.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Woo Hoo!

Which, after last night is not how I expected to title today’s update!

Last night R2 was acting up.  I mentioned that he was in yesterday’s posts.  Well we basically had no heat for most of the night.  And last night was the coldest night of the blackout.  My outdoor thermometer was reading 28.(something) when I checked it this morning.  What I don’t now remember is if that’s this morning after I got up or after I gave up trying to fix R2.

R2 is a KeroWorld KW24G.  We got him, as I mentioned previously, to cope with the last major power failure we’ve lived through.  That was the so-called “Great” Ice Storm of 2008.  (I’d still like to know what was so great about it… (Why am I picturing Jeff Dunham’s sidekick, Walter, saying that?))

So anywho, it’s been much smokier than I remember from 2008.  We hadn’t used it since then, but I made sure there wasn’t any old kerosene left in the tank before I put it away.  But apparently I must have had some bad kerosene at some point because gradually the wick stopped wicking and the flame became unstable.  I got up to check it around twenty minutes of eleven last night and there was just one little bit of actual flame visible in the window and a dim glow down at the wick.  But even that was only part way around the burner.  So in the dark working with my way cool camo baseball cap with the built in LED light and one of my Mini-Maglight flashlights (that I’ve upgraded with the Night-Eyes LED kit and multi-function tailcap switch) I tore into a strip, clean and rebuild of our old pall R2.

I was, shall we say, “less than successful.”

I finally gave up a little after one this morning.  After adding another blanket and grabbing one of my cold weather hats I went back to bed.

It was like a meat locker in the house when we got up this morning.

I made the executive decision that Mum and I would hop in Galileo and head off to the County Store in Milford, NH where we bought R2 and see A) if they have power and were open, and B) if so do they have a replacement wick for R2?  And besides, Galileo has heat!

Now I did check R2 before we left and the flame had come back up to nearly half of what it should have been.  The kettle had heated the water enough for hot coco.  But the room was still much too cold to leave Mum at home while I went off to work.

Back to the County Store: The first thing I spotted on entering the store (after the Christmas village decorations) was a small end cap display of lamp oil!  They not only had lamp oil but quite a few kerosene heaters and other power failure supplies too.

Have I mentioned how much I like this store?

Chatting with a very helpful sales clerk about what we were looking for she knew immediately what we were after and exactly where it was.  But she did have a disturbing question for me: “Is your heater a KeroWorld or KeroSun heater?”  I’d written down the model number – but not the brand.  Now I wasn’t sure.  The model number matched the heaters they have in stock so we made the leap of deduction that it must be a KeroWorld heater.  I confirmed that after we got home.

But that nagging doubt…

After paying for our initial purchase and going out to Galileo I made another of my executive decisions: I went back in and bought a smaller 10.5K BTU heater – just in case.  That was a $119- expense I really can’t afford.  But having driven all the way to New Hampshire and being ‘right there’ I didn’t want to have to drive back if I couldn’t get R2 back up and running.

So now we have R2 and Me2.  Since the box has not been opened I could maybe return Me2 and look into getting the Solar Photovoltaic System at Harbor Freight instead.  But that presupposes that I can get R2 running again.  I didn’t bother this morning because…

… not five minutes after we got back from New Hampshire the power came back on!

Woo Hoo!!!

More later.  Right now I’ve got to go to the cafĂ© and grab something for lunch.  What with all the refrigables declared NFG there wasn’t anything left for me to brown-bag-it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Moving Forward

After work I’m planning to go over to Lowe’s to see if they have power and to see if a fresh truckload of things like lamp oil might have come in.  I would be very surprised if they still had any of their stock from before we started with all this fun.  While I’m there I also plan on looking at prices for the components to build a Mother Earth News style passive solar heater.  I’ve decided where I can mount one (or two or three) at home and I’d like to get the planning stages started.  One thing I might buy while I’m there is a better transfer pump to give me easier access to my kerosene.

After that hopefully the Gouge Station – I mean Gas Station – will still have some (way over priced) regular unleaded in stock.  Galileo has gotten much lower than I usually let him.  Timing is everything!  * eyeroll *

So among other things this little practice run has reminded me of is that I really need to get going on my back-up power system. 

I actually have a generator.  I bought it used at a yard sale.  I was told that there was an issue with the engine not wanting to run at a constant speed.  I’ve been meaning to check into that but haven’t gotten ‘round to it. 

A couple of weeks ago I picked up, for very short money at another yard sale, a pair of good sized storage batteries that would work well with an inverter – if I had a way to charge them.  I even have an inverter around somewhere!  Come to think of it, it’s probably over in storage with all of the stuff I pulled out of the van when I was getting ready to sell it.

Another thing I want to set up is a photovoltaic system that can, among other things, be used to charge those batteries.  Harbor Freight has just such a system, though they are almost certainly out of stock.  (Assuming the store has power and is actually open…)

One small thing I can do without purchasing anything else is to continue putting up the plastic over the windows.  Mum may not realize it (until she reads this) but I am deliberately holding off on that to allow some air exchange into the house so we don’t croak from smoke inhalation what with R2 acting up a bit at the moment.

I have also decided that the black plastic shelf just outside the door in the pantry part of our enclosed porch is going to have all of the storage junk removed and boxed to go to storage to make room for fuel storage.  Both 5 gallon kerosene cans will be filled and put on the bottom shelf along with one can of gasoline.  The next shelf up will house our cash of fuel for our oil lamps along with some citronella torch fuel and lighter fluid..  There will be a box or tote of oil lamp parts.  I have quite a bit of that sort of thing scattered around various cabinets and boxes and such.  It all needs to be gathered in one place.

I have a barrel on hand just waiting for me to set up my rain water catchment system.  That’s another of those projects that’s been waiting for me to have the time to actually decide how I want to implement.

So I have a pile of work around the house to get to – much of which will have to wait for the power to come back on.  I’ll try to make a point of documenting each of these projects and post updates as things progress.  So check in from time to time to see how (if?) things are going.  I can use all the encouragement I can get as well as your suggestions for better ways to accomplish the stuff that needs doing.