you might have missed...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm really feeling much better... .

stress test results are in.  see the doctor next year, if you're not hurting, we're not entering.

so I should be off the cart for a while.

workout-stiff and shoulder-sore from work, I'm thinking I don't have a safe place to put the trackball, and straining the ol' strongarm.  nothing new there, either.

Cheryl and I have both been unusually tired the past few weeks, probably part of The Crud that is going around.  only one thing to do, and that's sleep it off.

we don't yet have any special plans for the holidays, which is good, because we still have some DeBasement left for us.  evening and morning services, fix another turkey, burp and roll around for a few hours and conk out.  yeah, we ARE two WILD AND CRAZY PARTY TYPES!!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

positives and negatives

on the good side of life:

ain't dead yet, don't let the smell fool you.  but I will have a radiologic stress test Friday to make sure.

we might be out from under the $600 water heater we ordered before a larger spill confirmed the devil threatening to ruin all of our DeBasement work was the softener.

we bought furniture for DeBasement and the living room, because it really looks like a couple nice hard weekends worth of work, and we can paint, slap up the bookcases, carpet, and move in.

we ducked nasty hard cases of flu, but Cheryl's still droopy, and I've been a little out of sorts for several weeks.

stuff that isn't so great:

it's winter, and it's cold.

we are still not done with DeBasement.

the cat is still having the occasional social error.

none of the Christmas stuff is up, and if it doesn't happen this weekend, might not happen this year.

the Lottery Loon is still laughing wildly... at us.  looking for recipes... .

Monday, December 5, 2011

Merry Christmas. oh, something else broke down.

well, let's see, let me count the ways.

a week ago, went downstairs to get some veggies out of the freezer, and the furnace room was full of water.  rising into the boxes of records and books, into the electrical supplies, and headed for the new carpet, walls, and furniture in the basement bedroom.  sheer panic and white-faced rage ensued.  appeared to be coming from the edge of the 12-year old water heater.

off to the 'Nard to order a heater.  we have had some end-of-tank issues for the last two inches of the second bathtub full, so we stepped up to a 65 gallon unit.  non-stock, special order, 21 days.  double price.  slap down the card.

last Wednesday, Cheryl was headed to the doctor after work, and the blower motor in her car died.  flat out died.  that's now 2 of 2 cars without heat, because The Great White Whale has only blown cold air for a month.

some webifying showed that jellybean Taurii have a little issue with water down the cowling shorting out the low-speed resistor block and blower motor.  in 1996, you had to remove the dash.  in 97, just a trim panel and the glove box to get to them.  yay!  so Saturday, as the snow was starting, tore up the front of the car and went to O,Really for the parts.

good news is, we have heat.  bad news is, only on high.  maybe the switch has failed out, next project.  it won't be this week, we're finally in the subzero temps starting tonight.

Sunday we had a work bill all drawn up for DeBasement... build the vanity, Rotozip out the porcelain tile another quarter inch to put the shower head stuff in, finish some lighting in the furnace room, take up unused tools, clean up, shine up, dance a jig and down a jug... the usual stuff.  woke up to the sound of snow blowers.  OK, cool, and in time to go to church.  padded out for the paper, and woo! -- shawn is blowing our snow, and his buddy Steve is here.  this is looking good.

decent coupon day.  so maybe we'll also check for furniture, since we can see the end of DeBasement's construction.

yeah, they can help us look at some.  sure, no problem.  oh, by the way, the basement is wet again, and it almost flooded the bedroom this time.

one specious fit later, we go to church, and shawn and steve head off to burn a gift card and get a water softener.  this time, it really kicked loose and overflowed the tank during recharge, and the house-original softener left enough wet all over that it's obvious who is at fault here.

came back from church, the softener is on hand.  a few measurements and mutterings and surveying the plumbing toolbox later, we head off for furniture.

4 grand worth, as it turns out.  head over to the Nard, and we can't Save! Big! Money! on the bypass valves (old ones are of course glued together with deposits) because they don't have any quarter-turn stop/waste valves in 3/4.  the Despot had 'em.  needed a tubload of other adaptors and crud.

get home, lay out the parts, take measurements, and it would appear we can build out and nipple down and fit the new softener.  oh, wait... is input and output reversed from the existing installation?  that's a real Microsoft Pipes (tm) game of cold water plumbing we got in that corner, and might have to take a fair amount out to swap positions.  it's 5 pm.  Sunday.

time to bag it, this could turn into an all-day solderfest, and I'm not going to stay up 36 hours to have water before I have to go to work.

so we don't have any interior lights, trees, etc. up yet, and only the November-hung outside stuff.

Ho, ho, ho. just another day for your average homeowner.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

a happy Thanksgiving to all

assuming anybody reads this rabid screed ;)  that's OK, it doesn't take long to write, because nothing happens around here :-D

round 2 on Cheryl's tooth this Wednesday.  we'll do what we gotta do on two fronts... (1) 20-pound turkey and assorted good Stuff.  (2)  Shawn and I have to put a larger door on DeBasement bedroom before his self-purchased furniture arrives Friday or Saturday.

sometime before we all die, or Christmas comes, whichever is first... I also have the yard decorations, recently-delivered balsam garland and festive Cross to implant, and inside decorating to do.  it would also be really fine if I got the space heater cleaned up, the wick trimmed, and get that sooty mess back in the ham shack.  burned out the old fuel and wick last weekend, and the heater is a mess.  this is supposed to happen several times a heating season if you use it frequently.  thank goodness I don't.  but the old fuel attracts moisture, and it was not burning really well end of last season.

you can run up $50 in electric bills using the 3Kw heater in there every month, so the little heater has been great.  very little sooty guck built up behind and under the parts bins.  it would be nice to have a wood or vented oil heater in there, but man, the initial cost is not positive to go there.  all the old potbellied stoves I had a chance at when I was growing up, sigh.  stovepipe is cheap.  stoves are not.

for the unchurched who do not read this rabid screed:  we are now in what church calendars call the Advent season.  Advent is the run-up to the birth of Christ, long fortold as God's train pass to sinners who want out of the slide to hellfire and death.  it's a really good time to think about John 3:16... For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

that's it.  the one absolute definining sentence of the Christian faith.  all the rest of the bible is really ya, sure, ya betcha then.  Sven, in the details and proofs.

is that really so hard to get into?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

DeBasement delayed

Cheryl needed an emergency root canal yesterday, and it kind of takes two for serious tiling work.  so we're looking to the weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

stealing from myself

failing to broaden my reach by quoting from myself on the Lileks blog ( ) on this here religiously unread screed:

a straw poll in the bars on the NatReview Cruise, and we have the numbers.  Wheat straw, 20%... curly straws, 15%, rice straw 18%, 2009 hay 16%.  the rest split among various grasses and weeds.

they also had a "candidate straw" entry on the poll, with one vote.  this is because everybody knows no candidate for anything, anywhere, has one straw of fiber in their whole being.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the lull before the storm in DeBasement

around Chez swschrad, monday and tuesday are typically slacker nights... right now we're watching Duggermania.  starting tomorrow night, back to DeBasement.  got to expand the shower outlet hole in a porcelain tile, and then we finish the shower.  and then we do the shower floor and curb.  and then we're hoping to get the floor at least laid out.
a little painting, a couple electrical hookups, grout and set the toilet, and a door... we've got the second room done down there.

then we have a closet yet to rip out and rebuild with new exterior walls so we can clear the family room and complete that bugger.

it's still possible to get it carpeted and ready for party! by Christmas.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

news items, and commentary

ITEM:  Penn State a zoo over child sex abuse.

COMMENTARY:  about 10 years too late, with rules 30-40 years out of date.  fire them all and let God sort them out.

ITEM:  Academy Awards director, host bail over director's gay epithet.

COMMENTARY:  yawn, Billy Crystal took the job.  should have been the Muppets.  in particular, Statler and Waldorf, the hecklers from the balcony.  sorry, Kermit, the jokes are above your head.

ITEM:  deadbutt North Dakota "legislators" finally can stupid law, allow UND to change mascot so it can play in tournaments.

COMMENTARY:  yeah, right, with the changes delayed until 2015, and blank uniforms until then.  when will these fossils ever lie down in the tar and disappear?

ITEM:  Reuters reports home improvement projects getting smaller, weather doors the best investment.

COMMENTARY:  really, people aren't blowing out the wall to add a sun porch with granite countertops and Wolf stoves any more?  well I'll be damned! -- the republic is plum gone to Hell.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

the Home Despot had the offset toilet flange

may not get to it this weekend, but it's ready.  we also got more tile, white, for the ceiling of DeBasement shower.  even if I have to do OT on Saturday, we're tiling that motha.

also Cheryl got the base molding stained and varnished, so that's up for the weekend.  I have everything else except doors in the basement bedroom.  looks like we're going to have to cut down every freakin' new door on the existing openings, dangit.  we knew four would have to be cut 3 inches around openings under the hvac bulkhead.  cut those 3 inches.  everything else except the new opening I built under the stairs needs to be cut 1 inch.

man, there was a lot of slop done in the basement.  everything is spot-on in the original construction upstairs.  and then it looks like they let the journeymens' kids finish it up on the weekend.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

oh, for a toilet flange

to be precise, a 3-inch offset closet flange in ABS.  save a LOT of floor breaking and pipe work in DeBasement.  got a couple other places to look before giving up with a sigh, and planning to break out twice as much floor concrete.

light week, in fact, we didn't get down there.  we're bedraggled with colds, it would appear.  have some mudding for this weekend to do, I have some light wiring and removal of a media cabinet in the main section so we can replace a little more sheetrock.  carpet for the bedroom is going in Tuesday afternoon (hey, I feel a song coming on!...) and then son #3 can start cleaning his crud and moving it in.  anything stinky or dusty will have to be remedied before going in there.

then my next big plan is getting the 15-foot 2x6s trimmed up and under the stairs for reinforcement, and building a proper header for the staircase to the joists.  things that the original builder fudged on.  will have to sacrifice one tread to get the stringer bracing in, I'm afraid.

at that point, we can get back to kicking and taking in the main room, while sanding and painting the bath.  tile, in-floor heat, floor base, tile, and vanity construction next.  then we can install the new shutoffs and the fixtures.  voila!

there is also a little matter of getting the junk dirt piles up from the egress window jobs and in the Bagster, and get this crap out of here by the first freezing precip.  and the gardens covered and the crocuses planted.

never enough time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

relaxing midweek

sunday we made nice headway in DeBasement, getting the paint, wiring, and fan done in the bedroom.  and we got the pan and shower durock up in the bathroom, along with prewire for the heated floor.

mowed lawn for the first time in a month (!) yesterday, before the rains started.  tonight is lazy time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

too darn hard

helped one of son #3's friends pack up for a move to another city last night... took a totally full U-Haul truck to clean-up day... and it filled a mondo big dumpster over 1/3 full.

Cheryl and I went downstairs for the rest of daylight to work on De Basement.  got way tired and cranky, so debasement we got.  hung it up at 5:30, got Subway, and we're enjoying the rest of the night.  back to it tomorrow.

knee is much better... at this point, the only people pointing and laughing at me are now the ones who have done it all along.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs

dead at 56, cause not given.  it's a pretty safe bet it was cancer of the everything.

I didn't buy my Mac until around 2005, but I was an early user of the Mac128 at college, after going to a neighbor's to see how his Mac256 worked.  supported them, including cracking the case, from 87 on.  never had to do the "MECC repair" that was famous on the Apple][ on a Mac ;)

if you didn't pick up the reference... the Apple][ had tin-plated leaf sockets and chips.  heat/cooldown cycles made the chips shrug out of the sockets.  MECC came up with a repair system that took seconds... pick up the computer about 2 feet and slam it down flat-bottomed on the table.  reseated all the chips without spreading the sockets' leaves, as could happen if you took a static-loaded finger and pushed too hard.  don't try this at home with your laptop.  or at work with your Q system.

there is a reference on Slashdot that says he was found dead at home this morning, as Wail Street had adjusted to the fact that Tuesday's announcement of the latest iPhone, not all some of the leakers had said, was still going to sell.  the stock rose from the slight 2-3 buck loss yesterday.  can't find confirmation.  but it went all day unreported.

Godspeed, Steve Jobs.  I'd be using a greenscreen terminal program on CompuServe if you hadn't peeked around the corner at Xerox PARC and found a way to make WIMPy computers cost less that $50,000.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

they say I'm not dead yet

and I'm feeling very much better.

2-week post-surgical exam says... no tub or swimming yet, but the mass from my knee is nonspecific and non-threatening.

this provided a chance again to stop in at Ax-Man and paw through the tube buckets.  thought I found a couple decent 6EA8s.  both had 8 volt Tubes From Hell in the boxes, lost that $5 bet.  win some, lose some.

Monday, September 26, 2011

back at work

break in the action, but I'm back, and through hundreds of emails that could be deleted.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

geez, you pay for your good days

paid with a really rotten night.  it would appear that two short road trips... one for lunch, one to pay a bill... and hauling a little cardboard from the garden to the trash was way too much for Knee 2.0.  up almost all night trying to find a combination of covers/none, pills/none, and bracing/none that would stop the pain (3 to 3.5) and allow me to sleep.  a miracle I didn't wake the wife.

upshot was that pressure on the inboard side of the knee was evil, EVIL.  any pressure.

a little swollen today, but symmetrical.  so I'm taking it really easy.  got a decent nap, in fact, almost the whole afternoon.  feeling much better.

lesson learned.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

woo-hoo! field trip!

rolled up the cardboard protectors in the garden from the five doors the wife stained and varnished last week, took 'em to the recycling bucket.  then I drove to the gas station for some budget pop 12-packs, and down the road to Subway for lunch.  knee felt good.  start getting up a little earlier, and stop having to take a generic T3 equivalent to damp the aches and twinges so I can sleep at night, and I can see going to work next Monday.  time will tell.  the doc is saying Wednesday the 28th to the disability folks at work, so I'd like to be able to rehab early and find out how many of my 200-odd passwords have aged out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

two days later

it's been a long week since I got a bunch of doctors draw a pentagram (rough one) on my knee and start poking around in it.  feeling better.  it's still weak and "spongy" to walk on, but mostly pain free.  I do have twinges and a minor ache that are persisting.  but for having a big mass of crud of some sort carved out and removed through a hole a little smaller than a half-inch, we're doing OK.  swelling is greatly down and symmetrical.  really ought to take a little field trip tomorrow if weather permits and see how it's holding up.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

well, one trip out and I'm worn out

went to church today.  worn out.  puttered a while in the shed, but I think it's nap time.  for sure there's no going in to work tomrrow.

Friday, September 16, 2011

blood. blood! bwa-ha-haaaaaa!

since I didn't get any specifics about times, dates, astrological signs, etc after my surgery (I am Aquarius with Pisces rising, btw... which means I'm all wet and everything I do is a little fishy) I called the surgeon's charge nurse.


apparently the stuff was supposed to be in the plain-vanilla discharge instructions from the hospital (on the order of "discharge?  EWWWWW!")  but I learned today was the day I could take off the surgical dressings from my arthroscopy, and should have been doing leg lifts for exercise.  so I did.  the holes cut in my knee had been doing a bit of seeping, almost through the 8 layers of gauze, but not to the 2 layers of gamgee (you Hobbit fans can look that up.)  one still was a little wet and red, so I put two new layers of no-stick pads on it, cleaned the area, and put the 8-inch wide elastic bandage back over it.

Son #3 got the FFNB loans paid off along with everything else today... and Friends and Family National Bank and him went out for supper.  I didn't even limp and roll enough to be saying "arrrrrr, matey" with every sentence.  today I went the whole day on "hospital Motrin", and not on T3s.  so I'm doing better.  stamina is still not great, however, so next big trip out is church Sunday.  if I get through that, I think I'm doing well.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


there are things happening on their seeming own with the wife's WinSeven laptop that massively piss me off.  just installed firefox in hopes I can actually freakin' publish this damn post.

using her machine on the davenport, because I got the knee job done yesterday.  no chance of getting to the second-chance pc in the shed, up and down all the darn stairs.  there was not a polyp in the knee, it was a big ol' mass that pretty well took up all the inside of the knee.  they got most of it with arthroscopy.  really not having much pain, but mobility is quite limited with the gob of dressings and super-wide elastic bandage on it.

hope to get back to work monday.  at this point, it's rather like Lurch comping around.

Monday, September 12, 2011

significant basement progress

got everything but the riser for the shower plumbed out last night.  got the garage door reinforcements in and the counterbalance reset.  got the dangling 120 volt stuff tied up and ready for lights and the fan.

did NOT get the shower pan liner and top layer in.  did NOT get the new shutoffs in the walls, rigid, for the sink and toilet.  did NOT get the bulkhead framing done.

so be it.  have to be at the hospital at 5:30 tomorrow for surgery at 7:30, and I am damn well going to get some sleep.  it's legal and safe and it will hold a few weeks.

pity we lost forward motion a couple months ago, but there ya go.

there might be more random nonsense and less filtering by decades of convictions in the next 48 hours.  if it gets really nutso, we'll charge admission for the improved entertainment value ;)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

new computer at work, redoing basement bathroom

and we got a cite from the city for our bags 'o' evil from gutting the basement... clean it up by the 16th.  called the community service officer who issued the citation, told him we wouldn't have started if there wasn't a clean-up day october 8th... and we're OK to haul the creepy crud to the city garage on the 8th.

we're mudding the basement shower at this point.  tonight, liner and mortar coat, then finish studding out bulkheads in the basement ceiling around pipes and such.  the old ones were a freakin' interconnected hodgepodge.

just had my pre-surgical physical for the knee job, and we're good to go.  hooked me up to the 14-lead EKG, and a twisted-sounding voice from nowhere said, "Master, IT'S ALIIIVVVEEEE!"  must be all the bruises I've got from the basement confused the muses.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

met the orthopedic surgeon today

next meeting TBD, and it will be in an OR at United Hospital.  so we are going to have to kick ass and take names this weekend in the basement.  plan is to demo, rewall, insulate, and drywall the basement bedroom, so Shawn won't be discommoded more than a handful of days.  it's doable..  minor wiring to be done.  after that, I really need to make the bathroom vanity for the basement.  need some fresh glue and 1x2 red oak for the face frame.

that should probably take me to the surgery date, whenever it will be.  I'm guessing about 2 weeks out, time to line things up and time to get my pre-op physical and stop the anticoagulants.

took tonight off.  sawed off an open fitting on the sump pump drain line that looked to be 1-1/2 inch, so I could fix a break.  hey, what you know, turns out the outside pipe is 2 inch.  so get that at the yard as well.

got another parts cabinet in the new style yesterday, and started reconfiguring the parts shelves tonight.  geez, I wish I could still get the Akro-Mils steel framed 20- cabinets of the 70s and 80s.

Monday, August 22, 2011

the old garage door tried to kill me!

ahh, but that's been tried before, 5 times at least, and failed.  booyah!

actually, what happened was I was trying to get a locknut off a track of the old one, and it snapped the drill around hard, the torque whacking my left hand square on the back with the battery.  after which, grip lost, the drill started tumbling down.  managed to direct it onto some sacks of lawn fertilizer, saving the $180 drill.  hand is still quite swollen two days later, but it's working.  yesterday it was a red as Kremlin Square on May Day used to be.

the new door is up, the new opener is installed, and we have moved the crap back into the garage.  had to haul 35 sheets of drywall into the back entry.  good place for it.  glad it's out of the garage.

tonight we hit a 48 hour sale at OfficeMax, and Cheryl finally has a laptop.  acer core processor 2 GHz, wide screen, HDMI out and all the media wonders of WinSlows 7.  running recovery backup generator right now, before DeCrapifying the computer.  and that's probably going to be it for tonight.

update:  first of 3 recovery disks failed verify.  hope this doesn't need DVD +, as a Mac house, all we have are DVD -.

still going to see the orthopedic surgeon Wednesday for my knee, although I can take a flight of stairs OK today.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

diagnosis: crud, holes, and a funny growth

in a nutshell, words of one syllable, the knee has to go to the mechanic.  it's broke.  so there.

got the MRIs to give to the orthopedist next Wednesday, and could not resist a peek.  mind you, I am not a trained radiologist, although I can find 8-3-0 in bad weather.  what I get out of them... I see horsies, duckies, bunnies... and the Hounds of Hell, fangs dripping, leaping off the page.

methinks I could use some other medical help... .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

our little rain forest

forgot to mention... neighbors sump pump kicked off last night for the first time in 7 years.  ours hasn't really stopped since we got 3.7 inches of rain in under 4 hours last night.

been a wet year, and it started the day after I fixed all the sources of infiltration into the basement from the east side of the house.

creepy right knee: this won't hurt a bit. nurse, the walletectomy kit.

missed the phone call from the doctor tonight as I was walking to the car... but got the gist of it on MyChart.  the words "probably" "orthopedist" and "arthroscopy" were there in that order.

so got to call him tomorrow before he takes off for a couple weeks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

creepy blown knee and Superman's Noisy Magnet

MRI today on the knee, after a really sleepless night.  40 minutes listening to the whacking and whining, and between adjustments to the MRI, the vacuum pump wheezing and clanking.  an occasional bubbling sound, probably of boiling bubbles in the cooling oil.  to me, the thing is basically a calutron magnet with an X-ray in the middle, with really pretty plastic skins on it.  it was an Open MRI unit, so I wasn't jammed in a plastic drainpipe with that gabble of funny noises around me.

not only was the knee bothering me overnight, but I'd been back and forth from garage to basement cutting lumber, and up and down a little 2-step ladder framing a door we all forgot about.  that meant my feet kept trying to cramp up all night.


a little bit of a liars' contest on the Lileks blog while he's away for a week, and it veered into the direction of what would YOU, a time traveller, go back and "fix."  comments started coming down of the variety of "went back to kill the Kaiser, and only crippled his arm" and "went back to kill the Fuhrer, but some guy named Hitler got the job."

so I'm going for honorable mention, at least, with "so, you mean my little "vacation" to bring freedom and democracy to the world, giving a copy of the Declaration of Independence to some guy called Lucifer, was a bust?  bummer."


TV night, and then we rest from the sleepless night.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

creepy blown knee

well, I'm not leaving a trail of metal shavings, springs, and wires behind me... but my right knee swelled and seized up again for the second time since snow melt this year.  doctor has me scheduled for an MRI next Monday.

meantime, I'm getting value from the crutches I got the first time, and didn't need after the second night.


we're making good progress on the HW-100 rebuild... don't have a power supply up yet, and had to order some 20 gauge wire to make the umbilical cable from, but found a screaming shitload of dead and out of tolerance resistors, replaced same.  in a couple cases, had to massively uprate or do a parallel combo to meet the spec.  ordered, and binned today, those common values and ratings that I didn't have.  replacement electrolytics are in.  creepy ugly IEC/Elmenco/Mullard tubes, mostly 6EA8s, are replaced with NOS from eBaying.  rest of the tubes are good.  have the controls cleaned up.

so we're getting fairly close to the smoke test... how much, and what color.  checked the signal monitor scope I got a couple years ago, and that has all sorts of ugly inside, have replacement caps on the way for that.  and a couple of next-to-impossible to get compactron tubes.

probably have sanding on the basement to do this weekend, and we have water in old carpet and sheetrock we need to replace in the basement from overflow of the a/c coil's drain pan.  weasels installed that with a iron elbow next to the pan which is probably not going to come off, so poking the drain clean might be intriguing.

never a dull day at Chez Swschrad.  dull folks, perhaps, but never a dull day.

Friday, August 5, 2011

didn't read correctly... it's a HW-100

but the dial is in good shape.  lot of resistors bad on the audio board, replacing as I go.  it's all here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

basement, radio, and garages

made a road trip Saturday to Big Orange for 40 sheets of mold-resistant drywall, 34 studs, sundries and stuff.  that's for the west half of the basement... Shawn is doing finish work on the drywall on the east side.

got home, the garage door won't open... goes up 6 inches and goes back down.  started walking around after I tried to assist the opener and we got it open 8 inches, then down.  one of the widowmaker springs is broken.  turns out on closer inspection that when it broke, the lift cables despooled and wrapped around the spring axle.

since the door is solid scuzwood and bubbling anyway, good excuse to start asking about door sales.  turns out it was second to last day of a sale at the Nard, plus the start of an 11% rebate week.  so rented a second truck for the day, and brought home a door and opener.

the door has been propped open for the afternoon with a stud, and after some light wiring downstairs, what-ho! -- lightning in the north.  so badgered Shawn upstairs and we shut the door.  mostly.  the east side hung up 4 inches from a snagged cable... I had seen and been able to pull the west side cable.

so... took off bolts, got the crowbar, and pried off the bottom door roller/support.  dropped with a bang.  got 1.6 inches of rain that night.

eek! -- just noticed I'm bleeding.  bending a steel chassis.  I won a HW-101 transciever on eBay, and got a transformer and choke pullout.  I' ve been trying to get a hot-water for several weeks, since the CX-7a power supply is a true challenge similar to passing a national debt ceiling bill.  this afternoon, put the air on the the shed, and have built 3 perfboards to constitute the power supply (ordered caps earlier this week.)  get the chassis formed, cleaned up, and primed/painted, and when the oddball 11-pin octal connectors show up, can finish the PS and feeder cable.

then I can start checking out the HW.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

it ain't over yet in Lesser Mississippi

just because we got a budget doesn't mean the shit stopped stinking.

came out today that a statewide water quality standard is now on pause, because of a little mystery line in one of the bills that calls for a new one.

and there isn't one highway contractor working on state projects yet.  last week it was reported that another little gotcha showed up in the Transportation bill... which basically held contractors to the original contract "finish by" date... which is impossible, they'd been shut down 4 weeks.  so you need overtime to finish, right?

except the gotcha says OT money is not coming from the state, nohow.

so none of the roadwork has been restarted, and the contractors are pissed off.  big GOP contributors.

tens of thousands of workers still idled because of meddling crap that was not supposed to be meddled with under the budget agreement the GOP reached with the governor.

what a bunch of backstabbing liars, they even attack the hands that feed them.

it's not just the Pee Tarty anarchists, it's the whole sordid crew.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

welcome to flood central. in today's news...

a railroad bridge washed out over placid little Rice Creek overnight, dumping 17 cars and 2 locomotives of a 106-car BN train.  this also tore up the track and bridge used by the Northstar passenger rail.  and dumped diesel fuel into Rice Creek, headed for the Mississippi.  engineer and brakeman/conductor injured, no further data in the prints.

I-35w was drowned out between I-694 and state 96, road closed.  traffic from the south end to the roofer's local 96 building in Blaine for leafletting today was up to an hour late.

at Chez Swschrad, we have had 4.4 inches in the past 24 hours.  1.6 Friday, and the rest overnight.  plenty of drowned side roads around Blaine.  our neck of the woods, just standing water in the rain gardens.  the basement remains dry :-D  it all soaked into our sandy soil here.

it is presently sort of nice in the shade in the backyard, as long as you don't move and have a little breeze on you.  soon as those conditions change, it's nasty.  we could get more rain, and we have extreme heat index warnings in the forecast through Wednesday, with the mid to upper 90s as temps through all next week.  Broadcast Weather blog says the heat index will be worse here than in Dubai.

one of our Pee Tarty representatives took his folder and went home from budget-writing bill talks yesterday when his so-called "reforms" were called out of bounds by the administration. we're not out of the woods yet on this state shutdown stuff.  the Norquist Gang still thinks, to use the telling quote of the master, they can "cut the size of government until it is small enough to strangle in the bathtub."

That's how you tell a true patriot and humanitarian, sure enough.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

14 days and we finally have a conceptual framework for a budget in MN

which allows a news conference and live coverage.  win-win-win!  they were going to celebrate with some toasts, but the package store was out of MGD.

basics:  the relevant of the GOP's June 30th final offer was taken... $700 million bonding against future tobacco lawsuit revenue, and screwing the schools one more time with a "$700 million deferment."  last 1.4 billion deferment of aid payments has not, of course, been paid out.  it will be paid out when pigs fly.  oh, and the GOP has to push and pass a $500 million construction bonding bill, which is probably the $500 billion in projects the governor last proposed end of April to try and get something, anything, to put people to work.

NOT ACCEPTED was the last-minute insertion of the GOP of the Wisconsin Agenda... take away teachers' bargaining rights, take away prevailing wage for construction, take away 15% of state jobs permanently, fully defund any medical outfit that ever did an abortion,... same old crap that just punishes and stigmatizes folks who deserve better.

it's not a good compromise, but assuming this does not blow up in the next day or two as the details are worked out, it's better than keeping Lesser Mississippi shut down, and having more bar-and-grills, more tourist stops, more 3rd-tier business dependent on state and construction collapse.  the toll is probably over 40,000 jobs so far from a two week shutdown.

Cheryl and I were in the crowd tonight in Blaine questioning (and occasionally the crowd haranguing)  the 51A state rep.  the 54 state senator did not attend, was invited, has committed to a meeting in 10 days.  much was said of the structure of the budget, and much made of the "we only have 34 billion in the checkbook" argument, basically with constituents saying "if that's all ya got with the bills coming in, around our household, we'd get another job for more money."

unsaid, and I didn't get a round to say it in, is that if you think you got structural budget problems NOW, just wait.  in 10-15 years, 60 percent of the US will be retired.  it's a little higher expected in Minnesota.  no way you're going to push all the extra costs that entails onto property taxes; if you just plain cut and smile away, it's going to be a Death Squad (tm) signing those bills.

the "important conversation" the GOP wants is going to have to include the fact that expenses will double or triple with the doubling and tripling of the non-workforce in their rocking chairs, on medical assistance/Medi/Obamacare, needing many more services.

and here in Lesser Mississippi, it's the older generation that is armed up veterans.

food for thought out there in political magic-land.

tax the rich.  that's all ya got left.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

12 days and counting

one thing about those Pee Tarters... when they're bought, they STAY bought.

so we need to find some folks who haven't signed The Pledge to agree that the 98 percent are just as important as the 2 percent who are millionnaires.

the search continues.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

7 days makes one weak

7 days since the GoOPers derailed budget talks and the state of Lesser Mississippi shut down.

for 4 weeks the wife and I have been spending one night a week on the Twin Cities Union Federation phone banks, turning out labor and supporters for district meetings with recalcitrant GOP representatives.  in 4 weeks, I have only had three "go away" responses.  that's on calling several hundred people.

the "magic" of "no new taxes" has no Horcruxes left to lull the gullible, the folks who don't know the difference between rising property taxes cities and counties have to charge for the unfunded mandates the state has pushed on them... the taxes that are driving the poor and elderly out of their homes... and the proposed state income taxes Governor Dayton wants on the millionnaires only.

now that 50,000 and counting friends and neighbors are laid off due to GOP intransigence, enough that everybody knows someone with a tenuous future, and 16 million dollars a day are lost forever to Lesser Mississippi in lost sales, receipts, and paid unemployment, it's obvious to all but a few in delusion that there's more to state government than a bunch of slackers sleeping in their comfy chairs.

unfortunately, the deluded include enough members of the legislature that we can't get anything going.

the press now appears to be finding enough folks who have principle and morals that a cross-the-aisle solution may be worked out.  I hope the Mondale/Carlson compromise committee proposals to balance the budget kick the laggards into the aisle.


in other news, the second Federal lawsuit against the Reich of Wisconsin against the unilateral tearing up of bargained labor contracts has been filed.  basically, what Herr Wilson and his ilk have done is unconstitutionally splitting a common class of workers into two parts, over and over.  that's denial of equal rights.

denial of equal rights lawsuits are just about undefensible.  even with the Roberts court.


the little guy gets trampled... unless he bonds with hundreds more, then they flip the bulldozer trying to crush them.  I will trust Union Family.

Friday, July 1, 2011

stealing from myself, in the style of Keillor...

It's a hot day here in Lesser Mississippi; where the fish are on layoff, the legislature is on the take, and everybody says they're above reproach. down in front of Ralph's Pretty Bankrupt Grocery, all the out of work citizens are throwing loose chunks of blacktop at a passing Bentley, on its way to the privately-owned lakes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

livin' the East California life. or is that Lesser Mississippi?

yeah, no budget... the leadbutt GOP is perfectly happy to sacrifice the 98% of Minnesotans to avoid a penny of tax on the richest 2%, so we have no budget.  a hard shutdown is almost certain.

about two or three days of no service, closed offices, torn up roads with equipment left on them, and all the parks and rest areas closed for the July 4th weekend, and them good ol' boys are going to find out what the voters think.

might hear something different from the 367 millionnaires, too, by then.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

busy weekend, dead night

finished framing out the east half of the basement, fixed some minor wiring issues, insulated south wall.  cleared out some surplus tools.

tonight was planned for a check of the scraped oven wiring and lawn mowing.  but it's raining frogs, and the wife is baking.  so it's a healing night, favoring the right shoulder.

I am led to believe CNN had a debate for Republican presidential candidates Monday night.  Sermonette At Signoff beat their ratings.  as it should be.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

gardens, basements, and other things that make me toss and turn all night

garden first, it's fun now.  we've had irises here since we moved in from the previous owners, and added several plants of Mom's the first year.  never a bloom.

this wet year, they're all a-flower now.  Mom's were yellow.  there's one of her blue ones in front.  the surprise was the wimpy, skimpy ones in a raised garden in the back yard grew big and tall, and are all in bloom.  red, white, and blue!  we're pleasantly surprised.

the two 96 and 105 degree days this week dried everything up, we dumped our 6 rain barrels with 240 gallons of rainwater on the gardens.  sprinkled a little more last night.  we're hoping for overnight rain the next two nights; radar is showing most south of us.

have been out of the basement so far this week.. a 3 day weekend coming up, however, that will change.  we have windows and wells in, and the south wall of the media/family/big-ass-open area has been completed.  have some LV wiring conduit yet to put in there, then some duct fixes and survey of the range wiring.  it is skinned long and deeply, and I have to see if it can be safely reinsulated, or if it has to be replaced.  code requires 6-3/WG now, four wires, which means new plug and socket for the range as well if we touch it.

we teased a politician of the "cut cut cut" variety on Tuesday night at a union-arranged town hall with a bunch of "support the (democratic) governor" sort of questions.  good clean fun for all, and everybody behaved.  I left my wish list of questions for the Pee Tarties types at home.  we're trying to avoid a shutdown here, why be antagonistic, just keep reminding folks how narrow their election wins were.

you know, things like, "Can we tie you under the arms and drag you behind the truck now?"  "May we feed your fingers to the Wolverines? (c) NBC"

not the meeting for that.  hoping we can keep that in reserve for November, 2012.

had a CAT scan today, the ENT wanted to see how the sinuses and septums and all that stuff were doing after a month of eating horse pills for a sinus infection.  it arose because I was gobbling and snoring under the CPAP.  wasn't worried, you know, do what's gotta be done... but it was a break from routine.

either the reception staff has taken lessons, or they really have NOT heard the old line, "yes, here for the 9:15 with Dr. Soandso, and my scan.  Oh, wait... I forgot my cat."   anyway, no issues, the machine did NOT print a blank page of paper representing the inside of my head, but tomography, and I politely mewed once on the way out, my inner kitty having been released.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

windows are in! I'm just about dead!

might be a bad sign, I've stopped stinking.

got a cramp-fest in the left hand, and had to go off the job twice with a right arm so pained up and crampy it was totally useless, but we got the egress windows in.  they're larger than the windows in the rest of the house.  Shawn had to cut 3 courses of block... twice... but they're in and weatherproofed.  don't have the trim on and siliconed outside, but they ought to withstand some weather for a couple days.

Memorial Day is thus a well-earned rest day, no heavy lifting.  tonight is rated severe risk of meso T-storms, more likely tomorrow starting in the afternoon.  we got a couple drips on our shoulders a couple times today, but the Lord was with us, and we got the egress windows in.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

curses! rained out again!

going to be too wet to put in the egress windows this weekend... maybe Sunday, but likely not.  raining right now.

so we're picking paint colors, having decided on the carpet, and then efforts to reinforce the basement staircase (overcut by the  builders, needs some 2x6 on the stringers), put up a pole surround wall, put up more can lights, and get wiring done.

east side towards the driveway should be waterproofed nicely.  lot of cavity under the concrete, and the wall up to ground level was 12-inch block.  the wall above ground level was 8-inch block.  so right under the walkways, there are big block openings up to 3-1/2 inches.  basically everything from the driveway to the grass ends up draining into the basement.

or did.  filled the cavities with spray foam, filled the expansion joint cracks with self-levelling polyurethane caulk (like about 40 tubes of it,) and after all the mortar cap over the block mess was removed and those cavities filled, sealed with quick-set sand mix and sealed with poly caulk over the top.

lot of escapees from the millipede and sowbug colonies that invariably form in wet, organic, peaty areas, and a lot of trapped ickbugs.  that should take care of infiltrations of bugs into the basement, too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

there's a reason I can't raise my right hand to scratch my ear tonight

at this point, we've gutted half the basement, only to find another wonderful infiltration of water that needs to be fixed.  requires breaking a mortar cap over block, sealing it, recapping with the right spec-mix concrete, using flexible urethane caulk/seal to fill the walkway/foundation gaps.

dug out one window well at about 5x4x3 feet deep.  tore out the upper deck steps, tore out 1/4 of the lower deck, which now allows digging out the second upgrade to a legal egress window.  just finished building the new upper deck steps away from the hole's work zone.  probably about a ton of wet green-treated lumber hauled and cut and placed.

still need to reframe the basement walls in the east half after Drylok, insulate, rewire, put in the conduits for the media stuff, etc.  I've taken the week off for that.

this is a 40-year job, I'm only doing it once per house ;)

Friday, May 6, 2011

I need a break

think I'm going to have a drink or two.  I hear the SEALs have whipped up a winner.  they call it Geronimo.

made with two shots and a splash.

totally whipped.

half the basement is gutted.  some of the lights and wiring are in.  we should get enough good weather to dig in the window wells, thanks Shawn.

unfortunately, have NOT gotten all of the deck-in-the-way removed yet... and we have to get up at 6 saturday to get a rental truck and haul a roll of carpet, 60-odd bags of debris, and 6 old doors and some random crap to clean-up day at the city garage.

no rest for the wicked.  it might have been a poor idea to get back to exercise today after two weeks, even though I didn't pound it.  but the arm-length bruising has been fading enough (from that vicious handrail attack) to deem it necessary to see if I'm bilateral without pain.  so far, so good.

next week: vacation from work, but not de basement.

Monday, May 2, 2011

more de basement

we have gotten into a springlike weather pattern,,, rain and blowy on the weekends, and rain every several days.  so we haven't reconfigured the deck.

but we have the east half of the basement gutted, and the first row of can lights is installed.  rot under the stairs has been cut away, we have two boxes worth of garbage bags full of foam and wallboard ready for clean-up day Saturday.  going to have to rent a truck.  probably have a couple more to get out.  believe we really did caulk up all the serious leaks 3 years ago, but going to take another run at a gutter elbow I just don't trust with some magic mastic in tape form.  cuts for the treads in the stair stringers are pretty wide and sloppy, we're going to have to sister some new 2x6 onto them.  and there is no full header, mega code and safety violation.  need some 2x8 to properly address that.

we're cutting back the side wall  along the stairs about to the second step, and will roll the light switches around that.  the basement is cut in half by a drop for HVAC and plumbing, so there will be a fan on either side.

next week is the killer week to pound on it... expand the window cuts, replace the windows, put up the walls, insulate, fire up the wiring.  well, not really fire it up, but ya know what I mean.  still need to scare up a TVSS outlet... no sense having cords all over the bookcase wall when we can just put in 6 or 7 duplex outlets, all fed with a TVSS surge suppressed outlet.

it's all very de basing.

I am reliably informed some foreign hippie got shot up.

that'll teach the bearded wierdo!

Friday, April 22, 2011

de basement

rain, working OT saturday, and of course Easter sunday services.  rejiggering decks is not a go this weekend.  we went out and spent $230 on can lights, wire, and sundries.  for the next week perhaps, I will instead get rid of the sad surface-mount lights in the basement and install about a dozen can lights, as well as two fan-mount kits.

being a basement, the fan branch circuit will have its own switch, so we can run them at low speed often and reduce disgusting air effects.

get it all done and then cut into the switches to minimize the power-down time.

starting saturday night by measuring and snapping chalklines.  last time I did can lights, I didn't get them nicely in line.  that won't happen again.  I also have to gin one up and find the coverage area of the setup so I don't foul up and get spotlight effects.  yes, we did buy flood bulbs... curly bulbs in a flood lamp housing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

don't forget to tip the wait staff department:

the Feds have released new diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimers...,0,7080277.story

they are... uh... ah... guidelines are.... ummmm... oh, look, supper's ready!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

we're hot to redo the basement

musty late 70s orange shag and barn-ish panelling, no egress windows, you know the score.  Cheryl is getting really ready to get on that, so we hit the Habitat Re-Store today to see if there was anything cheaper than we'd been finding in the big box stores.

not for the size job we have.  but I did find a strange thing... a partial 500 foot spool of Belden test lead wire from the 50s or 60s (by the graphics on the reel.)  that stuff is good for 5000 volts.  five bucks.  grabbed it.

we have already bought closeout tile from the Depot for the oversize shower we're going to build in the bathroom... it's about the size of an LA Fitness shower stall... including a glass tile accent strip.  but didn't have any tile for the shower floor.  checked out the other two fine home improvement retailers, and found some nice 2x2 noce tile mats at Menards.  since we got fixtures a couple years ago, we're moving along.

best deal on access windows so far is $199 at the Depot, but the Nard has some casements going on sale tomorrow.  if one of the 3 sizes is legal for egress, that's the ticket.

IMPHO it's too cold to dig yet.  we will have to deal with the lower deck and stairs from the upper one, so this will be a weekend of itself to clear those issues and prep for the egress.

egress windows have to be in to be able to get creepy panelling out and new sheetrock and wood in.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

don't forget to Tax the Rich

they're the only ones who have anything left.

there is a plethora of knife-to-the-throat nonsense among politicians of the right wing going on now, states and Federal both, that there are going to be random, deep, and vicious cuts in any program that does not impact the billionnaires.  oh, and additional tax cuts for them, too.

what a bunch of bull.  the paid-fors are pushing for total capitulation.

they just about cut off the soldiers overseas, among others, demanding basically an end to the 20th century nationally.  and now they're raising the whine again for the FY2012 budget.

just like the Taliban, except they aren't trying to go back to the 7th Century.  they just want to go back to the 1800s, when periodic financial panics kept everybody except far-hidden frontiersmen and the rich in their enclaves in wage slavery.

poll after poll says 60% prefer sharply targeted reconfigurations of budgets and taxes for those who can pay.

here's the bottom line:  get knotted.  you've pushed too far.  it's backfired, and you're going to find it out, tea party fans.

Friday, April 1, 2011

this is gonna be a GOOD year in the garden.

can't work it yet, so I'm building an old-school (7400) frequency counter until then.

but about the garden...

Cheryl and I ordered $120 worth of plants, mainly perennials, last night on Da ISH.  half of it was spent at Michigan Bulb, which is familiar to my side of the family, they've been getting my late mother's money for some 40 years.

3 or 4 years ago, we made an order from one of her catalogs, and have been getting them every year, in Cheryl's name.  this year, instead of the snail mail, because we frankly screwed up and let the 50% off savings pass us by, I slipped on the net and poked in the numbers to see if they were extending the deal.  and they were.

so everything on our list that they had, we ordered from Michigan Bulb.  $60 and change.

ordered from Cheryl's catalog.  used my name and credit card.  it was my name on the order all the way through processing.

at the end, when the online receipt printed out, it had Mom's name on it.

she's dead, the house was sold, she's making no responses.

and her name is going to be on this order.

it's obvious that The Master Gardener and mom have an eye on our garden this year.

I think we're gonna have a really good year.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the "America is not broke" speech

link is here

just in case they had you fooled.

should you, perhaps, want to support Wisconsin unions....

I have a website for you.  Wisconsin AFSCME is seeking donations.

they cookie you, so the site should know who you are if you go back.  the Workers Rights Emergency Response Fund is dedicated to funding the fight against the despots of what passes for the "GOP" in Wisconsin.  they are also going to have a dog in the race on recall actions.

go for it.  trust Union Family.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wisconsin. The Fourth Reich.

It should fall to Federal and State courts to show the Wisconsin Senate how wrong they were to pull a legislative trick to violate legal negotiated contracts with their employees.

At that time, the state is going to have to close down huge swaths of programs and perhaps a few jails to make up their budgets.  because no Democrat will ever trust the Quislings in that legislature again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"we said, they said." cheesy Wisconsin excuses.

Herr Walker has released some emails that he says shows he's bending over backwards to make the Madtown 14 happy.

one... that's not what he's ever said publicly.  he's always been "I'm not changing."  which lie are we supposed to believe from this guy?

two... his caucuses in the houses of state government will not support that deal.  they're trumpeting elephants that don't think, just stampede.

three... if he had the magic answers on his desk, and didn't mosey out for the photo-op at the border in Milwaukee to Illinois, shaking hands with the Madtown 14 in the middle of the bridge, he'd lose major face.  the guy was talking as if he wanted to hit the Presidential race for 2012 on the weekend, and he's throwing away a perfect photo-op faster than "crackpipe Charlie" tossed a TV franchise away.

fact is, Herr Walker is just a blowhard who hates people who band together for their rights.  in the end, he's with the billionnaires who don't want anybody beyond the serfs and pool boys they need to keep the plantation spotless.

oh, if only I had a thought on the matter... .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On Wisconsin... on your knees, ya bums...

Forbes blogger Rick Ungar proves the drool that passes for policy from Herr Walker is lying nonsense.  Those killer pensions of union workers, bankrupting the poor, innocent state?  Deferred compensation as part of the negotiated pay for the workers.

If you ever sat in on a negotiating session of any kind... school board, local plant, union rep... or read a civics book, you would know that.  There is one pot of money.  The squabbling covers both quantity and labels on this stack, and that stack.

By the way, if you cut 1.2 billion (current story says 1/2 billion directly) dollars out of school funding,  the occasional civics class that is still being given will go away.  How convenient is that for the new plantation masters?

your link, please...

The Madison Journal-Statesman noticed today that Koch Industries has opened up a new lobbying office a block and a half away from the state legislature.  Fancy that.

And the Madison police chief and mayor wants to know which of Herr Walker's aides was in on the plan to disrupt public order hinted at when Wilson told the prank caller from New Jersey that they had thought of putting some troublemakers on the street under false flag.  Cause the cops would like to seriously interview that punk.  Or punks.

Of course, the court ruled the capitol must be open to the public at all hours there is business in there.  Our dictatorial friend had Administration shut the thing down to 'clean up' before the budget address.  I'm sure to rip down all the banners saying, "Welcome to the Plantation, Massa!"

I am reliably informed by an AFSCME official that was in Madtown last week that pizzas were being ordered for the protestors in the capitol over the weekend from as far away as Egypt.

Mideast freedom fighters supporting protestors against new dictatorship in a US state.

Funny how liberty shows up in awkward places, isn't it?

// edit 3/8... fixed name... Walker not Wilson. //

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Wisconsin... and it's a fight song, sure enough

I am going to filch an article from the union website, which was written by Joshua Holland.  my source link is

because worn out old journalists come from a time when you referenced your sources.

King Walker is laid bare here.  ain't a pretty sight.  Unlike many rightie sites, if you see a blue hyperlink, it will open the source of the statement.  No anonymous lies here.  Trust Union Family!


What's happening in Wisconsin is not complicated. At the beginning of this year, the state was on course to end 2011 with a budget surplus of $120 million. As Ezra Klein explained, newly elected GOP Governor Scott Walker then " signed two business tax breaks and a conservative health-care policy experiment that lowers overall tax revenues (among other things). The new legislation was not offset, and it turned a surplus into a deficit." (Update: please see this note for more detail on the cause of the budget gap.)
Walker then used the deficit he'd created as the justification for assaulting his state's public employees. He used a law cooked up by a right-wing advocacy group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC likes to fly beneath the radar, but Idescribed the organization in a 2005 article as "the connective tissue that links state legislators with right-wing think tanks, leading anti-tax activists and corporate money." Similar laws are on the table in Ohio and Indiana.
Walker's bill would strip public employees of the right to bargain collectively for anything but higher pay (and would cap the amount of wage hikes they might end up gaining in negotiations). His intentions are clear -- before assuming office, Walker threatened to decertify the state's employees' unions (until he discovered that the governor doesn't have that power).
But he's spinning the measure as something else -- a bitter pill state workers must swallow in order to save Wisconsin's government. So the first things you need to know are:
1. Wisconsin's public workers  have already "made sacrifices to help balance the budget, through 16 unpaid furlough days and no pay increases the past two years," according to the Associated Press. The unions know their members are going to have to make concessions on benefits, but they rightly see the assault on their fundamental right to negotiate as an act of war.
2. There are already 13 states that restrict public workers' bargaining rights and it hasn't helped their bottom lines. As Ed Kilgore notes,  "eight non-collective-bargaining states face larger budget shortfalls than either Wisconsin or Ohio," and " three of the 13 non-collective bargaining states are among the eleven states facing budget shortfalls at or above 20%."
3. This isn't just about public employees. What even a majority of the protesters don't know is that Walker's law would also place all of the state's Medicaid funding in the hands of the governor.  State senator Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton -- one of the Dem law-makers who fled the state to block a vote on the bill -- told local media that this amounted to "substantial Medicaid changes" that put "the governor, all of a sudden... in charge of Medicaid, which is SeniorCare, which is BadgerCare ...and he has never once said what he intends to do" with those programs. But the provision led journalist Suzie Madrak to conclude that "the end game for all this is to defund state Medicaid programs and make it impossible to serve as part of the new health care safety net."
4. Health-care costs, rather than workers' greed, are what has driven up the price of employees' benefits. But generally speaking, those public sector health-care costs have grown at a slower clip than in the private sector.
5. Public employees' pensions account for just 6 percent of state budgets.
This has nothing to do with the state's fiscal picture. Aside from potentially undermining Wisconsin's public health-care system, it's really about destroying the last bastion of unionism in the American economy: public employees. As Addie Stan wrote on AlterNet's front page:
Walker is carrying out the wishes of his corporate master, David Koch, who calls the tune these days for Wisconsin Republicans. Walker is just one among many Wisconsin Republicans supported by Koch Industries -- run by David Koch and his brother, Charles -- and Americans For Prosperity, the Astroturf group founded and funded by David Koch. The Koch brothers are hell-bent on destroying the labor movement once and for all.
Consider these facts:
6. Last year, more working people belonged to a union in the public sector (7.9 million) than in the private (7.4 million), despite the fact that corporate America employs five times the number of wage-earners.  37 percent of government workers belong to a union, compared with just 7 percent of private-sector employees.
7. Whether in the public or private sector, union workers earn, on average, 20 percent more than their non-unionized counterparts. They also have richer retirement and health benefits -- the "union compensation premium" rises to almost 30 percent when you include those bennies.
That workers can still negotiate from a position of strength somewhere in the US is simply unacceptable to the right, and that's what this is about. As you might expect, the tool they're using in their campaign is a pack full of lies and distortions about public employees. Here are some answers to those falsehoods:
8. Public sector workers have, on average, more experience and higher levels of education than their counterparts in the private sector (they are twice as likely to have a college degree).
9. When you adjust for those factors, they make, on average, 4 percent less than their private-sector counterparts.
10. Like any group of workers with a high union density, they have better benefits, on average. But even including those benefits,   state and local employees still make less in total compensation than they would doing the same work in the private sector.
11. In 2007, the average pension for a public sector worker was $22,000. Not exactly caviar dreams.
12. Many public employees are not eligible for Social Security -- those pensions, and whatever they can put away on their own, is all that they'll have in their golden years.
(Unless otherwise indicated, you can find links to the data for all of the above in my piece: "Right-Wingers Using Public Employees as 21st-Century Welfare Queens.")
The Right has made great political progress getting Americans to ask the question: "How come that guy's getting what I don't have?" It's the crux of the politics of grievance. Progressives need to get Americans to ask a different question: "What's keeping me from getting what that guy has?" At least part of the answer is the Right's decades-long assault on private sector workers' ability to organize, and the latest battle is being waged in Wisconsin.

Monday, February 21, 2011

and now that's out of the way...

somebody respectable had a news story up today that said the kids are using that twitter thing now instead of blogging.

well, I am perfectly HAPPY to be entering these scraps by my Teletype 11.  hmph.  get off my lawn!

the whole society is acting like they're on their last pail of electrons.  "It doesn't matter if you make mistakes, as long as you act fast enough to make a lot of them" -- Evil Joey Nachos, as he was taking Qwest down from $82 a share to $1.67, circling the drain worldwide.

us old cranks, goldangit, we even sort through the 1s and 0s that fall on the floor.  use 'em again.  loose connectors don't bother us, no sirree.

get off my lawn.

tweet practice. pay close attention now.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

late storm. should have set an alarm.

we didn't, and on seeing no snow falling, we hustled and got to church right in time.

afterwards, coming home, a pickup in the far left lane sped past us doing better than 60 mph, lost control, slewed around, and hit a car 6 lengths ahead of us right behind the front drivers' wheel.  couple more taps before both ended up on the right shoulder.  barely avoided getting wrapped up in the furball, but able to  brake OK.  pulled well off on the shoulder myself, Cheryl went up to the victim car, and she was disoriented from the crash and bumping off the side window.  sat with her a bit, called her husband, and got her calmed down by the time the state patrol came.

two ambulances arrived after we all pulled up to the next exit and restarted the party at a gas station.  they left empty.  gave our witness reports to the patrolman and left.

a little nap with the cat, and tore into Cheryl's serger machine, which has been grabbing the first thread, apparently the one that does the interlock, and breaking it.  did a cleaning and lube job on the thing, took all the resistance assemblies for the 4 threads out and cleaned 'em good.

the worst part is reassembling the clamshell around the sewing machine works.  geez, that's a nasty job without breaking the alignment pins off.  but it's done.

time to make supper, and then she'll see if it's working or not.  should be quieter, for sure.  there was one little broken piece of metal in the bottom of the machine, but it bears no resemblance to anything in the chassis.  I think it was some older fancy flat needle.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Presidents' Day... what a wasted holiday.

... which is another way of saying here it comes, folks, another hell of a snowfall.  sunday from noonish on, an in ch an hour, 20-30 mile winds, and total accumulation in the north burbs could go to 17 inches.

year to date has been 63 inches, depending on where you are, and we're headed for a record winter.

I got out and got the taxes done this morning, which is good.  we basically have a clear path to snowblow, spare fuel, etc.  am in the shed now, will be headed inside briefly for a pit stop, and then back on the radio repairs.

Sunday might be a storm day for us, might not even get out to church.

winter is getting very way old.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Smooth, smoooottthhhh... the way I glide through Valentines' Day

Yeah, I'm slick.  I got this thing down.

I just spent 3+ hours in the dentist's chair getting a bridge in.

You guys, better watch my example.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

worlds 'o' flooding. free admission. but you can never leave.

interesting article in the Fargo Forum online yesterday ( that said Winnipeg is burning up the wires trying to buy all the sandbags and Hesco barriers they can, production orders through and beyond flood season.

the eagles on the Fargo city commission, no slouches in this flood stuff, promptly directed advancing their orders.

if you live in Gutless Prarie, and you just found you have floods likely this Spring, son, you is outta luck.  they just got the flood forecasts in the twin cities today, and basically every river in Minnesota has a 50% 80% chance of flooding, with the Minnesota going for records again, and everybody else near them.

NostrilDrippus Predicts! (tm) several things:

1)  with all the precip on the east coast and down south in the fall and winter, we're not the only ones getting to work by backstroke up here on the high prarie.

2)  if your city wizards have in the past taken the attitude that, hell, we can beat it in a week, so we'll get supplies in mid-March... take them out back to the loading dock and have a little chat.  they've got cobwebs between the ears.

3)  a lot of folks are going to be on their own with no direction known this year.

alternatives to pretty packaged portadikes I have seen successfully used ::=

a) "Madison blocks," those concrete road barriers used to separate lanes.  heavy and broad based, two to four tons depending on height and length, I think.  get a chain on the payloaders, start haulin' them off trucks, put down a 12 mil plastic sheet, put the barriers on that, flip the plastic over the barriers, and keep them in place during wind and foolishness with shovelfuls or buckets of sand.

b) plastic spooled out, clay/dirt/sand/mothers-in-law piled on the dry side, the plastic folded back over the new hill and held in place with a little more material also works.

c)  wood barriers with bracing behind, again, plastic sheeting under, across, and over the top.

d)  run like Hell and don't look back.

when push gets to shove, of course, you can't get any of this.  measure twice and purchase once, there are others who will need to protect their homes and livelihoods.

if you happen to be out standing in your field (chuckle) and there is a low side to worry about, use the blade to push up your own dike.  don't forget to pretest your pumps and generators, and lay in the commonest spare parts.  make sure your overhead gas tank is full and clean.  modern generators have a little spin-timer that shuts the bugger off at about 100 hours for oil changes.  find it, know how to reset it.  lay in the oil, filters, and don't let the machine get to that point in the first place.

Onans and other units using ring-float carbs like Tecumseh engines have a tendecy for the ring float to hang up if the generator engine is tipped sideways.  get carb cleaner, make sure you have a disassembly diagram, and if you've never opened one up, try it before you rely on it.  seriously.  Newport got into issues from the fire department generators not starting for this reason some 16 years ago when I was jobless and had time to sandbag with them.  it's an easy fix.  if you know about it.  you could also pour a gob of carb cleaner down the barrel, hold in the bowl drain, and sharply rap the carb near the bottom plate if you can't find the sharp end of a screwdriver.  less chance of losing parts at 2 am in the mud.

we have conquered the dishwasher. all hail!

it's been wacky for a while.  finally got wacky enough that I found time tonight to get after it.

two year old Kitchen Aid aka Whirlpool.  the wash arm was not directing water, just flying about whacking into stuff on the bottom.  of course, no water getting to the upper rack.

had earlier discovered that the arm unscrews from the pivot post.  but was not able to get it screwed back on.

looked it over seriously for about 10 minutes tonight, and started pulling on the bottom wash arm housing.  sure enough, it pivoted and unscrewed from a sixth-turn locking ring on the filter.  lifted the housing and pivot up for a good long stare.  took the wash arm, and screwed it on tight to the center.  the gasket/bearing of nylon looked good.  took off the arm, snapped everything back in with a sixth of a turn and a push on the pipe to the upper rack to reseat it in a clip.

can't screw the muffin' arm back on the muffin' axle.  can't.  can't.  held the reference bar on the muffin' axle with a pump pliers, lifted, and tried again.  can't.

the system was therefore well-managed in a private meeting with its options presented to it verbally.

excellent interpersonal management skills and firm direction prevailed, and it screwed on tightly.

in the opposite direction of which I had been turning.

turned it by hand, and CLANK.  looked around, and part of the hold-down clip for the bottom heater element was sticking up.  it had been unscrewing the arm as it turned.

so it should be nicely fixed again.  the massive wobble is gone.  the CLANK is gone.  it's on tight.

no parts bought.

this weekend, I will try the same sterling management skills on the CX7/A.  if I don't have OT on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

shovelfuls of fluff

little piles, all over, becoming at this moment one big pile of fluff.

the cx7 arc 'n' spark event... we took out the current-limiting transistor with a bang.  replaced it, and put all the +34 supply transistors into sockets while I had the board out.  now we're back to 47 volts raw, but only 10.7 volts regulated, whether or not the foldback transistor is in socket.  can't find the fix.  stinkers.  I'm sore tempted to change the power supply (double-Darlington ending up in a pass transistor) from a resistive divider to a Zener diode regulated reference voltage.  this is why the cx7 got its reputation as a garage queen of a radio, and that power supply board has always been a world-class pain in the ass.

I'm starting to think I need to bid me a HW101 to get excited, get tested back into the amateur radio service, and get wasting electrons.  Heathkits always fix easily for me, and they stay fixed.

crummy weather is escalating into 24+ hours of severe wind chill alert thanks to the weather service.  20 to 35 below with blowing and drifting snow is the start on Tuesday morning.  pffffftt.

went to Fargo (correction, West Fargo now) for delayed holidays with my sister... we picked up blinds and valances for her new apartment.  the valances are on order, so all we could do there was hang their rod.  blinds look good.

we did swing by the old homestead to check it out.  the new owners were comfortably settled in, both cars home.  from the alley, there are two snowmen in the very snowy back yard... one large one, one little one, near the red maple.  their boys have got to be having fun there.  selling it, and to that family, was the Lord's work in a crummy housing environment.

Friday, January 14, 2011

most exciting weather... not

slow going yet one more "rush hour" home, but this time the bus was delayed for only 20 minutes.  it has been as bad as several hours.

kind of like an old-fashioned winter this year... used to be when I was a kid, it snowed an inch or two every two or three days.  we've got it back again.  and most people can't seem to deal with it.  a snowplow whacked a power pole in Chanhassen tonight, for instance, and 6200 people are out in a swath across 25 miles of the greater metro Twin Cities area.


hope to get back to the cx7 monday, I have a couple days of errands to run.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

meet the new year, same as the old year

finally got somewhere on the CX7A power supply.  pulled an arc.  was not supposed to have been pulling an arc, however ;)  there are a lot of step-downs from a central 34 volt master supply for the semiconductor stuff in that hybrid ham transceiver, and at least one of them is shorted.  in chasing down the cause, I determined the 34 volt master works.

or at least did until I whacked the supply to a short.  back to it in a few days.  it's nasty getting to the pass transistors in the machine, and that's where I pulled a temporary short.  bad design put the transistors below a bunch of connection jacks, daring you to try and work on the thing.

the supply is supposed to go 0 volts with no current via a foldback loop in case of overcurrent, so the master should be OK.  if it's not, I go to a 6-part regulator using a packaged 3-terminal regulator chip, and move forward.  because the 34 volt master is fed from something approaching 50 volts DC, I'm using the high-voltage input version of the regulator.

signal/one had a history of issues with that power supply board, and I'm hoping the usual modifications using 3-terminal regulators for the 3 critical semiconductor feeds settles that bookful of problems.  if so, it's pull the output tube, and start sneaking up the other supplies.  for instance, it's quite helpful to get the screen supply working first, because that lights the Nixie tubes that display frequency.  but light up the screen grid in a power transmitting tube without the plate supply of 1600 volts on, and you end up with a flash-bang exercise in making what is now a $540 power tetrode into a $0 gassy triode that just gets hot and does nothing remotely useful.

have written about this in other venues... but the machine was bought off eBay perhaps 8 years ago because it was top of the line and scarce when it came out in 1969... and at $2395 list, way, way out of reach for a new Novice ham in his senior year of high school.  monkeys had apparently tried to fix it, losing all the undercover shields.  the PS had a bunch of roasted parts, the plate compartment had some issues, appeared to have a grid-cathode short in the output tube, blew the top off one of the 20-watt power transistors driving the tube, burned up circuit board for the display and counter section... and then monkeys tried to fix it.

it's much better now.  or should be.

just have to get power on it and see if the sparks and magic smoke stay inside the parts.