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Monday, December 31, 2012

slap-happy new year!

Swimmingly fun holiday... we went to the wife's family gathering the weekend before Christmas.  you know, the one where everybody falls over sick the day after?

bingo.  we are both down with acute bronchitis, and finishing up Z-Paks.  there were also flu and colds out of that one, amazingly for everybody being on their own two feet all day and having fun talks and nibbling constantly.

I have gone back to work, for to get your super-fat holiday pay for working holidays, you also have to be in the day before and the day after.  it would appear at this point that 4 days doing nothing except sleeping and watching the cats dive into the Christmas tree and pop out like little cartoons, and eating Azithromycin and cough pills, has done wonders.

happy new year, watch out for that fiscal cliff!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

old and new cats

we had to put Pumpkins down the Friday before thanksgiving... DKA, diabetic ketoacidosis, had him on a crash to dust, and it was the only merciful thing left for us.  what a cuddlebug he was! -- but also a trial, as he almost never dumped in the litter, only urinated.

one very hard week befell, and last Saturday, Shawn texted some pictures of rescue cats that had just come in to a pet shop.  we stopped by to see them Sunday after church, as well as critters in two others, on the way home.  he called twice Sunday as I was wrestling with the impossible in fitting a handrail to DeBasement steps that would level out and curve around the wall at the landing.  wrestling.  impossible.  to hell with it, and brought in a straight handrail that will run along the steps only.

as we were stripping off and breaking screws threading the holes for the critical two of 5 holders on the floor, shawn called back... and finally said, "If $260 is too much for you (Cheryl is a tightwad, she admits it) then I'll buy one for you."

it was 5:09, and the web said that the store closed at 6, so hustle-boom, off we went with the carrier in tow.

turns out they cut off adoptions at 4 pm, but we talked our way into it because if we picked up the kitties on a weekday, there would be no time for socialization basically until the weekend.  our schedules suck.

so home came little George and Martha.  I'd show them, except when they finally worked up the courage to leave the carrier and its thick warm fleece, they high-tailed it to a corner under the buffet.  dark.  hidden.  sigh.

George finally worked up enough spunk to jump into the buffet where a bottom drawer used to exist, found he could climb up and get into the top drawer.  Martha stayed behind.  I had orange George pegged to be the chief troublemaker of the littermates.

turns out when there is exploring to do, grey Martha does it.  almost all our once-a-day kitty sightings are Martha, tailed cautiously by George, who bolts for a hidey-hole as soon as he sees eyes of anybody else.  Martha will linger briefly before disappearing in a streak.

so getting them to the vet on Saturday is going to be interesting.  I set the appointment late morning, figuring it would be quite the search for today's hidey hole.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I see I neglected to finish a story here

namely, the celebration trip to Cold Stone after I got the heat working in The Great White Whale of a car.

got there right at closing, they took pity on us and whipped a couple of treats.  we got back in the car, headed over to Menards for some screws to help hold the car door together (lost one) and headed home.

slippery slope drive... the car was barely moving in forward.  got home, started looking up transmission issues in Grand Marqs, and managed to get to work and back for two days.

Friday, really sloppy coming off a stop, ordered some likely parts online, and got a case of ATF.  seems there is a generic gunk-up issue that resolves with a new filter and uprating from Dexron II/Mercon to Mercon V in the 1995 and later transmissions, a new variant.

the next weekend, after letting my car sit a week and using Cheryl's, blocked up the car and slid under yet again.  I have jackstands, but they don't appear solid enough to me, I've wiggled the whole car underneath them.  I jack the car up as needed, and slip an assembly of cut-up 6x8 and 8x8 landscape timber underneath the frame.  once the jack goes down, I body-slam that side of the car.  no movement, barely a ripple on a glass of water put on the hood, I'm ready to work underneath the thing.

cranked around the engine with a wrench on the crank pulley bolt until I had the drain plug for the torque converter handy, drained that thing and as much ATF as would seep over from the tranny, reinstalled with torque setting, and started taking the pan bolts out.  an excellent opportunity, by the way, to get the last two sizes of micrometer torque wrenches I didn't have on sale at Harbor Freight.  about a quart of ATF left in the pan, as well as a monster beard of little fine metal shavings on the pan magnet.  was scraping those off for quite a while, it was like microfine mud.

swapped filters, cleaned the pan to eat out of, reinstalled everything, refilled, put the car back on the ground... mostly have reverse, no forward.  Eric was in the vicinity, he came over and found another 2-1/2 quarts of ATF would go in while I revved the car, so the converter hadn't refilled.  still no forward.

we ended up having a junkyard pull tranny shipped in to John's, and had them do the mechanicals.  I don't have the strength on my back or side to wrestle a damn transmission around, even if I rent or buy a tranny jack.  they have guys, hoists, and tools I don't.  easy $500 decision there.

it's running, but I couldn't see the road going home in the dark, rainy night.  next evening, put a headlight restoration kit in, realigned the lenses, all is well.

the house was a little emptier last night

since Wednesday night, we have been worried about our cat Pumpkins.  he was basically himself in the morning, jumping into the bed after my wife got up to check on me, get a head rub, and jump off again.  when it's my turn to get up, he's a fixture needing his tummy rub and neck rub at the same time until I absolutely have to get cracking and get to work.

Wednesday night, he was a listless little orange tabby rag.  poked about the web online vet sites, decided we would try broth, canned chicken, half a pepcid AC, and encouraged him to drink at every step.  cats, if you didn't know, are not long for the world if they stop drinking... there is a hand-in-hand with using the kidneys and losing the kidneys.

Thursday night, my wife had enough, and packed the kitty into the car for the emergency vet clinic 20 miles distant.  I drove over from the tail end of a union weekly negotiation call.

results... DKA, diabetic ketoacidosis, and even if we submitted him to approximately a week of high-effort, mid-4 figure hospitalization, not good odds.  we debated the obvious, and Cheryl was not ready to submit Pumpkins to euthenasia.

so Friday, I had all-day training.  cuddled my little buddy, laid next to him on the floor as he contemplated a series of dainties on plates and several water dishes of different heights and sizes, and eventually had to get dressed.  in he comes, ten feet at a time between rests, to see me.  lifted him onto the bed, gave him a good 15 minutes, and then was past the wire, absolutely HAD to get dressed and go in for factory training on a new line of equipment we are buying by the trainload for next year.  you may guess, but I'm not telling.  it'll be good.

put the fleece I've had to lay at the bottom of the bed in the sheets for my little crampy toes down in the hallway for something warm and familiar, put the cat on it, and had to run.  no breakfast, no lunch, had to live off the machines for the day.  the group decided to cut out the hour lunch break, so I got out early.  in the meantime, Cheryl had gotten a 4:30 appointment with the vet, and son 3 was going to take the kitty in.  I called Shawn, and told him I was tied up in traffic, taking an alternate, and would be able to spell him for the kitty visit if he preferred.  which he agreed to, didn't want to be anywhere near that trip, although he was at the house getting his cuddles in with pumpkins.

we went, the body temp had fallen almost two degrees from the emergency clinic, and the blood results they faxed over told the tale... it was End Times.  got ahold of Cheryl between buses, both I and the doctor talked to her, and we agreed it was time for the final gift.

told Dr. Pomeroy be careful which arm you stick that thing into... hit the wrong arm, you don't get paid.  he laughed for half a minute, and said modern practice was to reach the bloodstream via a kidney for minimum shock.

and I had time to introduce Pumpkins, perhaps the sweetest, most loving cat I've known in my life, to a friend of mine he'd be moving in with.

Fella name of God.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Them Bayou Boys... not the fastest rabbit in the woods.

I am informed that the bayou boys, poster children for not too bright, have put their reactionary takebacks formally on the table from 5 days maximum sick time a year to the awful management healthcare plan.  no solid salary offer yet.  the union negotiators will have their comebacks Tuesday.

this is proceeding right down the disrespectful Hewitt plan towards union busting, as I read the updates.

a reminder that when companies try and bust unions, unions work on busting companies.

everybody take a deep breath, and try to get along, please.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bayou Boys: going down the Nacchio road?

I am informed the CEO told an investor call, on a question by an investment analyst, that the company felt good that they were going to roll wages down to the level of the competition.  Namely, crappy cable companies that don't provide any service.

Well, in my personal humble opinion, that was deliberately providing misleading and materially misleading information to investors.  That is a Federal crime.  CWA members are not accepting wage and benefit rollbacks from a quarter to almost half of current, in some cases.  Unless the minions at the talks are lying upstream, the CEO knows this.  if CTL doesn't come clean, CWA will have to.  It would help if the company would start negotiating as well.

I am not permitted to speak for either the union or the company, to everybody's benefit I might add, but talking to my AVP today, a good number of the 13,000 members probably share my insight in this.

We all know what happened when Evil Joey Nachos pumped Qwest stock talking about a "secret military sale" that existed only in his head.  He's still in Federal prison.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

14 States Held Hostage: Day 3

day to day in your old USWest territory, we are in the office doing our usual tasks.  I'm turning up new DSLAMs, if you don't have fast internet, check your options online at  special limited time deals if you order while we're still here :-D

Sunday, October 7, 2012

not quite on strike, day to day at CenturyLink

basically in the 14 state Northwestern Bell / USWest / Qwest region that Century Link bought a year ago, CWA and IBEW workers are out of contract, and working day to day.  CTL is trying to screw the workforce down to the level of a bad cable company using the Hewitt Associates playbook.  no need to retype a lot, I'm going to copy my get'Facedbook stuff because, hey, I got it right the first time.

>> no contract. CenturyLink union workers of the CWA and IBEW are working day to day pending a change in the Bain-ish attitude of the company negotiators. the company's stated intent is to screw down wages to those of the cable companies, directly and by jabbing more healthcare costs. that's a disease going around, the only cure for which is a careful eye by consumers, and a straight Democratic vote in November. if you like Syria, you'll love the USA that the million/billionnaires want for you.

>>  The Seven Principles are taking a beating from the company side. Everybody I talk to on both union and not sides in the 14 state region wants to do the best job possible for the customers. We know it's a tough nickel out there and want to win on reliability and service. Had a senior guy couple weeks ago say in a round table that contractors are killing them and they want good stable company employees. The top level apparently doesn't buy that. Time for actions = words.

>> A great deal of blame should go to Hewitt Associates. The celebrated union-buster was brought in by Qwest to run benefits (!) and kept by CTL. Fox in the henhouse. And they can't be there unless they were let in for a reason. 

>> CTL is still shaky with Hewitt disease. Day to day. They're crazy to push everybody not face to face with customers below $8 an hour. Here are some numbers... salary packages are 60% of costs. The 13,000 "classic Qwest " workers, out of 50,000 total CTL staff, get under 40% of that 60%. That looks pretty close to parity to me head to head.

>>  not only do they want to two-tier many of the workforces (to create internal tension between workers) but they've just proposed to hack the old-timers another $300 a week to boot. I don't think this day-to-day thing is going to last that long.

nothing has changed in two days on either side of the contract expiration.  so, business as usual Monday.  no guarantee for any other day.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

cars suck. repairs suck. until it's done, then I am a genius and you should all throw money

the dashboard is back together (well, radio is still out) and clean as a whistle.  hope replacing that $25 blend door motor fixes the heat issues.  for those who like their Great American Novels finished, not just published... had everything off to the dash, it should have kicked loose.  guessed right on the wide-stud shoulder issue.  a few days of penetrating oil, jam a WonderBar up under the dash frame and some taps with a 2-1/2 pound cross-pein hammer, and pop! -- it's off.  still couldn't find the control even after cutting a hand hole in the dash which is under a trim cover, so I finally got a good excuse to get a fiber-optic inspection camera.  what was $250 for Ridgid at the Depot three years ago is $80 with a newspaper coupon at Harbor Freight.  works well... really, they are cellphone parts in a different housing, so it's not serious engineering.

I also decided to replace a lock solenoid for the driver's door while I'm gutting things.  problem I found after I took the door panel off is that I put the windows down for access... and the glass keeps me from getting to the solenoid.  so tonight instead of falling asleep to The Denver Zingers Hour!  starring Jim Lehrer, with special guests Willard and Barack, I will reconnect the battery and run up the window.

if it all goes well, we will escape to Cold Stone to celebrate.

if it bites... like for instance, if a cable got pinched and the car burns up... we push it into the street and call 911.  I don't expect that.  but being an old systems manager, I anticipate the possibility.  the garage door will be up, the tranny in neutral, and the wheel chocks moved to one only on the easily-kicked side.

the radio, converted to a Kenwood that does iPhone, is a beast to get in, with all the converter connectors and such.  it goes in this weekend, probably.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Harpooning the Whale

Aye, mateys, 'tis a difficult thing to get to the White Whale.  'Tis even tougher to bring 'im in.

The Great American Story is trying to get to failed parts on cars.  If you can reach 'em, you can replace 'em.

at this point, I have everything taken apart on the dashboard of The Great White Whale to take it out, except the wiring harnesses to the engine compartment.  there is enough slack there to pull the dash out half a foot and replace the darned heat control motor that is failed out.

but Captain, she will not rrrelease.

it would appear that a stud through the chassis has a shoulder next to the A pillar too wide to come out of the dash slot, and initial assembly cranked it over there so tight it's practically swaged onto the stud.  seeking help from the Edmunds forums.

meanwhile, down to one car.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It's been a quiet couple of weeks at Lake Woebegon...

.. but that's another writer, and no good reason to draw adverse reactions.

what's up has been chasing issues with The Great White Whale.  fine upper-body exercise.  tore out the steering flibberbegibbets from the Pitman arm to the steering knuckles and replaced it all with greaseable components.  the idler arm that anchors the other end of the cross-car steering bar was all rust and the right lower ball joint, on which up to 70 percent of all the car's force rests during some turns, had no grease... was packed full of fine black dust, though.

these parts were originals to the car with the Ford stamp.  after 208,000 miles, you can expect some wear ;)

car was nearly uncontrollable, had to be done.  got it down the road for alignment, all that's left is a little steering wheel wobble that is endemic to the Crown Vic / Grand Marquis, a signature feature.

next up:  no heat in the winter but plenty of cold... no cooling in the summer but 140 degree air coming out the dash cowls.  the culprit, since it appears the EVAC computer should be working, is a $27 part (OEM is $85) that sits on the top of the plenum under the dash to control a damper door selecting between heater air and a/c air supplies.  unreachable, of course.

it is alleged by hacks that you can rip the airbag, take out ductwork, and sorta maybe get to the blend door actuator through that pathway.  well, the duct screws face the damn wrong freakin way, and you can't get the ol' Yankee ratchet right angle screwdriver to them.  or any of my other wacko right-angle tools.

so, the dashboard is coming out.  38-odd steps per Chilton.  big-ass 15mm socket bolts and nuts among other fasteners.  got seven Ziplocs of screws from this place and that on top of the car, and the left side isn't moving.

appears I have to drop the steering column.  four bolts to remove with that thing over your head, and three wiring connectors.  DO NOT TURN THE WHEEL it implores.

so that goes down on the weekend when Cheryl can help.

ETA to replace the controller that's failed out (and generally does) once the dash is out of the freaking way... 3 minutes.

bastards.  why don't they have a repairability engineer at any of these car companies?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Hi, I'm Clippy. I see you want to start your car. Can I help?"

so we got done installing lawn signs for a candidate, and we've had our "atta boy" lunch, and go out to the car.

starts fine.  won't go into gear.  at all.  the cosmic welder has zapped the shifter.

you must understand that GM and Ford have adhered for decades to the idea that you must not go into gear unless your foot is on the brake, and thus have shift interlock systems.  if you high brake lights go out, you are sitting there until you replace them.

or a wiring harness diode has quit.  that's a no-fun job getting to them.

or a computer is constipated and won't let the bits pass and unlock the shifter.

or the feedback switch on the shift controller is not working.

or this or that or the other thing.  fah.  just shoot me.

if the dash was electronic, I would expect to see  everybody's favorite impediment, Clippy.

after the well-meaning came by to look and mutter and walk away, and I cleaned some connector contacts and gave a little sorta-love tap to the shift control shaft, and nothing worked... I cried uncle.  opened the manual.  looked up "brake interlock."  page 86 if you have a jelly-bean Taurus.

most automakers have a cheat mode for most of the things that will keep you from driving to the dealership and dumping more money than your mortgage for basically nothing done.  in this case, it's a Village People routine that involves stomping the emergency brake down, shutting off the car, turning the key to off-unlocked position, shifting to neutral, and then starting and getting out of the way on your own power.  got the rhythmn down in 5 tries.

it hasn't failed again.

son #2 says if the manual trick doesn't work, best to disconnect the car battery for the usual deprogramming time (mostly 20 to 30 minutes) and trying again when the computer has fully drained its states and is back to a cold ROM restart.

for everybody who is NOT a safety nazi, first thing you need to do is check to see if the high brake lights work when you hit the pedal.  if not, start with bulbs.  you may be able to swipe a bulb from under the hood, or the trunk light, or one of the courtesy lights inside, to get you by until you can get the right bulbs.

Heckuva job, Brownie...

collecting the sound bites as the GOP is bunching up the balloon bags in Tampa.

Tuesday:  confident the Lord will keep bad weather away from the convention.

Thursday:  we're staying put no matter what.

Friday:  stockpiling lots of umbrellas.  red umbrellas to ward off a hurricane.  oh, and tents.  you can't learn this level of stupid, you have to be born with it.

Saturday:  well, maybe we won't meet Monday.

later Saturday:  we'll convene to say "hi" and immediately adjourn on Monday.  this of course is no different than holding a full meeting with all the delegates in the convention hall as a hurricane bears down, except then the thousands will be kicked onto the streets right away to scatter among the 20 miles of hotels in a gale or worse.

Sunday:  John McCain saying woe is us if a storm goes on for 4 days, and prevents us from getting out our message.

well, uh, you know, I think we already got it.  the GOP also denies hurricanes when they're in them.  yeah, that's just what we need for four years in charge, here, seeing we already have a Congress that absolutely, positively won't do any work.

yeah, we got the message loud and clear, Senator.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Observations from the Back of a Parade

Yes, my ebullient folk loved me.

well, let's back to some reality here.  I was one of a dozen people marching for a favored political candidate on Saturday morning, and that candidate was not me.

(reference to long-running joke used to shut down arguments turning nasty in election years, to wit:  "well, if nobody can agree, then I presume you will all be supporting me for Benevolent Dictator For Three Lifetimes.  Everything will be fine, and my ebullient folk will always be happy."  shuts a crowd down and disperses them better than a tank car full of tear gas.)

so I'm one of four people cutting, weaving along handing out candidate stickers to anybody with a hand up.  reach to slap a bug, you got a sticker.

what we see is that kids are kids, they like things that come around that have pretty colors and/or are candy.  kids were plastered with everybody's stickers, spray paint the ballot black and push it in the scanner so everybody wins and all get prizes.

adults are way cautious.  those who don't want to seem involved were sitting behind the sidewalks, way back there 4 or 5 yards.  approach within half that distance, see a scowl.  bet they didn't see anything they liked... not the clown car with a clown boat on the back and a toy fish on a kiddie rod.  not the calliope 90 years old.  not the bands.  not even their candidate.  if still alive lo these many generations.

those who came for the parade and not for spitting practice are on the curb with the kids.  most of them won't take a sticker either.  oh, no, then we'd be "involved."  some will take stickers along straight party lines... all for one, and one for all, either red or blue.  only a rare few will mix 'em up.

the parents who are holding a zipper bag with the kids' candy in it, to be doled out later, or not, might have one sticker at the most.  more likely, the kids' stickers are on the bag, too, and face down.

I interpret this as nobody wants to be within the boundaries of a decision.

so they get the gridlocked government they deserve.

and we suffer, too.

meanwhile, some weasel has already started stealing signs from front yards, and based upon the last presidential election, I am starting to reinforce mine with a sheet of metal or plywood behind them, and none of the flimsy lift-up stands for the plastic cardboardy ones.  tear down, don't build up.  sneak around and don't stand up.

my, wonderful place we got here today.

Friday, August 10, 2012

back in a tent at 59 years

had to take Mom's ashes up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and scatter them furtively, lest some ranger chain me to a truck and clear a path with my face.  might scratch my glasses.  so the wife and I loaded up my old camp gear, and a few new budget items to round out the kit, and up Detour Lane to the wilderness.

most of the flood damage to roads and utilities around Duluth was either fixed or patched around... but 61 north was a whole bunch of one-lane for blacktop sealcoating.

it turns out that I can't read bed sizes using the common industry terms, and for the Gunflint Trail side of the adventure, we were sharing a single-size air mattress.  ouch.  nice time, for the first two days... the second two were drizzlefest.

drove down, and cut over on state 1 to Ely for the Blueberry Festival, and the 23 mile detour seemed like a million.  got into town, puzzled over maps, and drove back beyond the "detour now, dammit" signage four miles to get to the dirt roads to our campsite.  we had picked up the right air mattress in Grand Marais at Joynes', which is as close to a full service General Store as you'll ever find.

two good days, and we found a nice upholstered bench at the Festival for the landing of the stairs into DeBasement.  barely got it into the car.

not too sore afterwards, but there are a few things we're not doing again if we get back under a tent.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mystery of The Thing solved!

reading down a month (assuming anybody ever has/will read this mess) you will see the first references to The Thing that the doctor removed, and was benign, but which looked like menanoma.

He came after me with a knfe!  A KNIFE!!!

since then, I have occasionally noticed several other wonderfully round, full-bodied bruises about a half-inch in diameter, which fade out in a week or two.  a mystery indeed.

and I now have the answer.  after the last heart attack, they put me on the new (read: expensive) antiplatelet medicine prasrugel (Effient, or as I call it, 'Effing-ient.)  that and a baby aspirin take me to the edge of looking like I got mugged if I sleep on my arm overnight.

that and a mild squeeze from the killer-clawed cat yield little bleeders that very slowly leak for half a day.

followed in a couple days by the mystery bruises.  I'm being mugged by a zoned-out lovecat.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DNC allegedly tweeted "Take that, motherf----s!"

somebody was way too wired.  triple-ventis, no, stay away when you have the duty.  do NOT tell the barista to "kick a bucket under it, and fill it up.  extra cream, one pound sugar.  and a brownie, thanks."

that said, 'tis a glorious day for conservatives, as the Supreme Court gives all Americans a tax break.  yeah, you read correctly.  the Affordable Health Care Act (nationalized Romneycare) is a TAX, hisss.  not Congressionally-regulated interstate commerce, as was argued, but a TAX.  the taxation powers of Congress were cited by Chief Justice Roberts as the reason the law is constitutional.

but presently, the IRS requires all employers to tax benefits of employees, including the cost of health care through their policies.  "that's income, son.  we get 20%.  make it happen."

you can't tax a tax, that's double jeopardy, and one reason why there are two pages to the 1040 and an endless supply of optional forms for Stuff you already paid tax on.  to exempt the previous payments from your present accounting.

so those taxes on variously $3000 to $6000 per employee in a corporate health care plan go away.  at least, they'd better, or the IRS is treading in unconstitutional territory.

yes, G-NO!-P, you guys are fighting a TAX CUT!  shut up, sit down, close your folders, next bill.  ya motherf----s.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

stealing from myself, v.347.01B

sometimes I surprise myself with a burst of inanity that I want to keep control of.

when that happens elsewhere, I crib it to here.  dibs!  I wrote it, you read it, I ain't taking it back!  a quick one-liner tossed off on the DIY Network forums when somebody was whining about product placement got my mind running right before bedtime.  and then speculations on broadcaster music collections came along.

in discussion of broadcast music libraries on the Lileks Bleat , I did it again.  excerpted...

... the meter starts running on music licensure on the 8th note and subsequent, although some cases iirc have been won on the rhythmn being lifted whole from previous work.  so all the independent houses doing musical themes and tags for production houses hook you with the music you know for a particular moment... slightly off key or rhythm... for 6 or 7 notes.  then they drift away into "musical stylings," as they were blithly called in the glory days of radio because the band couldn't get it right, and slip the key a little bit.  now it's an original work.
so if I were going to produce "Redneck Renovations," which for some damn silly reason popped into my head almost whole last night while I was trying to sleep, I could not-crib something by whipping out the iPhone, using animoog for the theme with a little triangle and some distorted return on the five keys of 14 they give you per octave, push it to the eMac and make sure it was really not recognizeable, and then all I gotta do is get some folks in hickwear in front of a dilapidated house, and pass the Mason jar while trying to fix things and tear them down instead.  hide the dead dogs under the front porch by rearranging the beer cans. lean against the roof support and fall through it into the hog trough, with the porch roof coming off. pull down the rest by stringing a line through the doors of the pickup, and pulling the windshield out.  24 minutes of that and some knock-off commercials, and it's a perfect shock video to send to one of the networks.
concept (c) 2012 swschrad.

it's been deadly dull around here...

but then again, it's always fairly dull, leading to this being the World's Least-Read Blog (tm).

in our lives of DeBasement, we are putting the oak box trim around the windows and applying the face molding.  half done.

in the great outdoors, I got half of the gardens watered before heading off to work today.

in health and wellness, once I got past the doctor coming after me... WITH A KNIFE!  A KNIFE!!!! the Thing on my arm was benign and is almost fully healed.

at some point in the near future, I need to get the camping crud together and out of the way... and also packed up for an excursion sometime before the snow flies.  it's all three inches deep in sawdust, I am afraid.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Thing is benign

totally.  so says the dermatologist's office.

the hole in my arm is healing well, the last of the gauze pad has long been removed and we're using bandages.

are YOUR Things benign?  yeah, you, the one without the smell of sun block and the hat.  first, you and the significant other get to check each other out for stuff like this

and if anything is squirrelly, call your doctor.  they can get you into a dermatologist via referral faster than you can yourself.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Well, that was dumb of me.

It would appear the handling of long, heavy pieces of oak lumber was not quite what the cautery on my thing excision was meant to stop the bleeding for.  so last night, I found oozing on the tablecloth at supper, and promptly wrapped up the hole in my arm up with a gauze pad and some no-tape tape.

Forgetting to put a gob of Neosporin on the gauze so it didn't glue to the wound.

which has been a source of intermittent skin-pulling discomfort overnight and today.  managed to peel and separate all but one layer of gauze.  greased that up, put on a band-aid, and letting it work.

that does slow down finishing work on DeBasement a bit.  again.  and exercise.  again.

no wonder that's been a 14 going on 15 month project.  but try gutting your basement to the block and redoing it in the 6 months we initially predicted.

if we HAD won a redo on TV, it wouldn't be 6 months with a contractor and thousands in blingo prizes, not with the external and internal issues we found.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"It's probably Basal with a bruise, but..."

So two weeks ago I had a long, long time mole suddenly look like the poster child from (or the dermatology offices' own web site) for a stage 1 melanoma.  called my regular doctor, who quickly got me into the dermatologist.

curiously, in the ensuing two weeks, the Thing devolved into a little semicircle even smaller than the original mole, with some sort of a puncture-appearing thing on it.

so today, the dermatologist pulled out his magic scope, squinted, said if it was anything, it was a basal-cell with a bruise over it.  ah, but I do see some blood vessels..... guess we'll biopsy it.


everybody in the office who's had a nasty sawed off their body said it looked just like a melanoma to them.  so, guess we'll see in a week or so.  curious cloaking trick the thing pulled.

guess I'm officially an Old Fart.  so many of us kids have been cut on in the past decade, and that's before the ozone layer thinned out.

I can heartily recommend something I found in Hawaii and you can find searching on Da Webbiepoo... Ocean Potion SPF 30 sport formula.  it's the real deal, but it's not waxy goo and smells like the islands, not like duPont. blue bottle, orange cap.

everything in the stores here is variations on the same old Coppertone, and I don't like it.  all Coppertone brands, too.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Obama does nothing?? cartoon explains all!

ten bucks to put this here.  worth it.  dump the G-NO-P in 2012.  double-click art for a clearer view.

(cartoon usage licensed for personal website use through (c) others, 2012.  using media? -- pay your bills. )

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Passes for Excitement Around Here

had an old college friend up for the weekend.  there are some days that have a million things planned, and some that don't.  this was one of them, stacked three deep, and then he plans a stop-and-fish trip.

well, some things count more than others.  away, political convention!  scat, overtime possibilities!  forget about it, basement!  Bob's on the way, and we haven't seen each other in 7 years.  and that goes for the annual ham club banquet, too.  got to have priorities in life.

start laundry at 9 am that morning, and the washing machine craps out.  nothing but water fill and motor buzz.  it's been iffy spinning for a year, and now the lovely water-saver from 78 has had enough.  could be any combination of the big three... motor lockup, transmission failure, or timer collapse.  or a wild card, the motor capacitor.  that is easy to deal with.  and of course, tested OK.  I had something that would buy time, about the size of a large frozen juice can and had no chance of fitting in the washer, but if the cap was fine, forget it.  if you could get a timer, in a couple weeks, it would be over $300.  transmissions, probably about that.  motor, $100-120.  cap, another $15.

that's the cost of a new washer, a good one.

so after we had our lunch, and browsed about a fishing shop that was a damn sight more than I thought it was (Thorne "The Fly Angler" in Blaine, that place is rad), we came home to schmooze.  and one thing led to another, and we loaded up in our car and Bob's pickup, and shot out to Sears an hour before closing.

three good choices, close to the CR best buys list, and one was in stock.  the rain is coming down now, we got the Kenmore slid into the truck, and off into the storm.  got home, many interesting episodes getting the old washer out and the new one in, and start it up.  had to use, as Tolkein wrote, Words Of Command at times.  interesting episodes.

if you haven't bought a washing machine since you started the gas motor on the Maytag, and stepped on the pedal to stop the agitator and start the rollers, they burp and click and clank and hiccup and occasionally spin a minute, stop, fill THAT'S ENOUGH! and start it over again.  so the wife thought it was dying already.  I went for pizzas, and all became clear.

oh, if you think you can slide an old washer in the truck, you got another think coming.  Whirlpool made models from almost the dawn of time to the start of the HE era have an unsealed transmission with vents on the top.  you do NOT tip that thing more than maybe 20 degrees off vertical, ever.  the tranny oil is squeezed from unicorn steaks, nobody stocks it, perhaps because it's $50 a pint.  don't tip your old washer.  It won't work again.

and then we slept, and Bob was the tester for DeBasement's bedroom, and it was fine.  and he left to avoid rain and snow Up Nord, Yah.  got home in 8 odd hours.

the smelt run started Sunday, and they were thick enough to walk on Tuesday on Superior's shores.

the night Bob left, got a call from Son #2.  we've been saying for years, when you are working 10,12,overnight hours in the cities, don't drive another 80 miles, bunk here.  never, ever did.

well, we're going to have him for two weeks, now that DeBasement is not a festering hot spot for the CDC.


oh, another fine mess.  got a call Friday, payday, one of the club buddies who pushed me over the edge and into testing for my license.  he's got a little issue, needs cash fast, and at one point offered to sell his 897 radio for $200.

last time I had a deal like that in 76, I got a Sondek Export turntable, all audiophile all the time, for $175 that I couldn't afford.  bought it anyway.  still plays like a million bucks, which is good, because the current production is over 7,000 Euro in price.  some folks couldn't tell the difference between the Berlin Philharmonic and two kazoos in the shower.  I can hear the difference, and like it.

so until he gets his bonus, he's using the 897, and then I get a little hundred-watter that is a superb portable/mobile as well as a great performing base station, for the daily use radio around here.  for that, heck, I can surely let him keep his schedules while I do the last hard licks on DeBasement.

so it's not all toil and trouble here at Chez Swschrad.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

NostrilDrippus Predicts! (tm) the Vikings schedule

the planets are aligned with the stars, and a stream of consciousness has arrived to jolt famed prognosticator NostrilDrippus Predicts! (tm) to the pen.

or was it a carload of cops?

Predicts! ::=  There will be no stadium bill.

Predicts! ::=  Ain't gonna be a special session, either.

Predicts! ::= Because between May 12 and July 4, the Howling Wilves will hold a news conference with various well-heeled family businessmen primarily conducting business as Anchutz Entertainment Group to announce the sale of the Minnesota Vikings.  the LA news conference will be followed by one the next day at LA City Hall to show off the construction permit for a new stadium.

Predicts! ::= There will be no price reductions in Vikings garb; however, the advertising for tickets will look like a store closing at the K-Mart.  "Last Chance!  Time Is Running Out!"

Predicts! ::=  signage at the HumpDump will start coming down at the start of the last home game so nobody steals any on the way out.  understand, there won't be any auctioned, or anything.  it just comes down.  remember Normie Green promising the No-Stars scoreboards to U of M?  it all goes in the moving van no matter what anybody else thinks, promise you that.

Predicts! ::= signage at Winter Park will start coming down before the snow flies.  cheaper that way.

Predicts! ::= you think GOP vs DFL is a catfight?  try "fans vs pols."  there will be a large strong movement towards "no incumbents, anywhere, dammit!"  and they'll get close to a sweep.

Predicts! ::=  oh, the season.  who cares, they're short timers.  12-6 and just miss a wild-card slot.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


-- almost got the clone HP-23A power supply done for the Heathkit HW-100, hope to get on the air soon.

-- found the missing link (I hope) to getting 38 volts out of an LM317 regulator with the Elektor app on the iPhone, almost got to prototyping it last night, but I had to almost finish the power supply.

-- almost got some speaker brackets for DeBasement media system, but had to order them.  nobody stocks anything that will hold up REAL speakers with REAL response and REAL magnet assemblies, made with REAL wood and having REAL volume, any more.

-- almost out of eye meds, so hopefully I'm almost cured of an infection I didn't really know about in the site of my cataract removal 1-1/2 years ago.

-- almost blew lunch last night, felt really sick sometime about 3 am.  it's gone now.  apparently there's some stuff going around, again.  perhaps it's the antivirals that kept me from almost falling over with the flu.

-- almost tricked somebody into reading this fearful screed.

-- got my new rail and stile bits for routing out door pieces today, almost took 'em out to the garage.  but I will have to buzz 60 or so board feet of oak this weekend.

-- almost got into the DeBasement bathroom vanity job... it still needs figuring the arrangement of doors and drawers out, drawing, cutting, and building the face frame.  once that's done, and Cheryl can get the final paint coat on, I hope to almost get the bathroom ready by next weekend.  an old college buddy is staying a night or two between a conference and a fishing trip to the cold, clear streams flowing into Lake Superior.

-- almost done with this wri

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

stealing from myself again

put this on Lilek's BLEAT blog, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd like to put an archive copy here as well.  it won't be read, but it's here.  always lots of fun stuff there, well read, at

longshot whine alert:  the only logical place for the Vile Queens is in Arden Hills.  on the brownfield of an old ammunition plant.  for the sports metaphors, if nothing else.  Annndddd... a RIFLE SHOT to Punkwell in the backfield, going, GOING, G O I N G, anddd TOUCHDOWN left of the goalpost!  Another Federal Cartridge TOUCHDOWN, and Billy Joe Fauntelroy will get a game ball in Squirrel Splat, Minnesota, compliments of Federal Hi-Powers!  You got your ducks with Hi-Power!

a note of changes in the marketplace... and I'm not talking about the Best Buy president taking a walk.  starting three years ago, the formerly revered firm Johnson and johnson started recalling funky-tasting OTC meds.  gradually sizes and brands including Tylenol, Rolaids, and even stents which are not consumer products left the market.

those of us in the antacid using category have seen the shelves empty of dayamn near everything.  switched from Rolaids to Maalox.  well, that's not availiable.  the old standby Mylanta tablets are gone.  only things left on the shelf are Tums and various store clones of the stuff that's gone (Walgreen's Berry flavor antacids are actually barf flavor.)

had to go to Amazon today to get Maalox, so I ordered 8 of 'em.

bought The Smile Sessions in vinyl while there.

maybe it IS related to the demise of the Best Buy president, although we were in there last night to recycle two old TVs and buy speaker mounts.  but all they had were plastic jobs for 8 pounds or less.  had to Marketplace (tm) order some steel ones.


in the store.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

oh, and there were a few delays, too

this past week I've been under treatment for an eye infection in the cornea, where they put in my artificial lens two years ago.

which was discovered a couple weeks after I had heart attack #6... a 95 percent unstable blockage in the artery called "the widowmaker."  they kicked me out of the hospital after two days... I think I ate too much, and they wanted me gone ;)  couldn't have been snoring, we brought in my CPAP.

it's a good thing I'm not getting creaky as I get older... .

// delayed //

we have the basement cleaned, the stairs replaced with golden oak, the landing built, and the carpet guys were here.  case and base is underway, and the furniture is coming on Saturday.

there is still the bathroom to finish, and window dressing to do, as well as set up the electronics stuff.

but lordy, lordy, looks like we'll have DeBasement done at the one-year mark!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

ain't dead yet, but the flies aren't coming around any more

that could mean any one of a number of things.

but I'm doing fine, back at work, and actually did a little picking up in the yard yesterday.

this weekend, will see if we can get somewhere on the steps to DeBasement.  would love to get the furniture in, especially since they've called three times to see if we're ready for it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

sigh, back to cardiac rehab

it was a good 11 years, but on Sunday I had some recurrent and gradually increasing angina pain.  several mild episodes over the past month had me in contact with my cardiologist, and after an office visit, he said it was a toss-up.. no audible issues, good shape... set up an angiogram now, or be watchful, and in any case, come back in 6 months.

we decided to take the watchful route.  had exercise resistance on the elliptical machine after 5 minutes (which I ride sorta hard,) but fine on all the presses and lunges and rower (which I have been slacking on.)  last Friday, had another Pain Level One walking the mile to the bus after work, and told the wife it was time to make that appointment.

well, the appointment made me.

a little sore after church, faded after lunch.  took a nitro regardless.  went to Menards for some skirt board and patterned crown molding for DeBasement finishing touches, and walking back to millwork in that medium-sized store, had a #2 level come on.  sat down for a few minutes, got to the car, decided we'll not go to the superstore nearer home than church, but get the antihistimine I was out of, and go home.

decided after getting back to the car and having further pain that I was going to hand the keys to Cheryl and have her drive me into the ER at United.

peaked at a #4 on the way in before another nitro and an aspirin took hold.

with the electronic charting across Allina Health, they pulled me up, saw the last month, and immediately put me in a room, on an EKG, and admitted to the cardiac unit within 20 minutes.

diagnosis:  unstabile angina with a mild heart attack.  treatment:  angiogram.  result:  95 percent blockage in the LAD artery and one eluting stent put in.  everything else that was a problem in the past is flowing clean and clear as a trout stream in the spring.

not bad for 11 years.  probably had some intermittent hanging crud off the end of a plaque, so back on the super-aspirin, too.


delay of a few more days getting a power supply built for the HW-100 and getting on the air for the first time in 40 years as a ham.  that's OK.  all the hard work is really done anyway, all I have to do is drill in the circuit boards and interconnect stuff.  but it's 20 pounds, and I'm not lifting and turning that thing during my "watch-it!!" period.


commercial:  praise the Lord, for His mercy and love is sustaining while His hand guides the professionals who executes His miracles.  don't like it, stop reading this blog.  as if anybody does.  like it, make sure you examine your relationship with God.  all who ask, receive what they need.  if you need help doing that, check here for a field office near you ;)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

woo-hoo! a General. listen and obey ;)

well, sort of.  I tested back into ham radio this morning, direct to General class. it is possible that I could have a call sign in the FCC database within days.

have some DeBasement things to do today, then I gotta get out and finish building the power supply for that HW-100.

// edit // got my call, KD0REQ

Saturday, February 11, 2012


my annual salute to officious "moderators" who think they know it all, copied from an old sportcaster on the radio.

which arises because we woke up to no heat today, zero outside, and the thermostat sliding down to 56.  poked and fiddled, the reset button did nothing.  found we had power with the last dying chirp of the "growler" line detector's batteries.  cycled the breaker anyway at the panel.

shutting the maintenance switch off and turning it back shortly after got a click out of the burner controls, so downed it for a minute and then power on.  after a decent delay, the furnace kicked in and heated up nicely.  about three minutes into it, the flue got hot enough to equal one of the earlier cold-day "ouchies," so all is well for now.  particularly since the furnace walls were NOT hot, which is sorta significant ;)

didn't inspect this year on advice of our burner mechanic, so we're probably marginal on something (burner "eye", nozzle, ignitor tips) that hopefully we can catch next fall.  found and downloaded the burner manual, and it's all full of danger-fire and hotpuff warnings.  apparently nobody is supposed to know anything in the manuals except certified servicemen.

since ISO records indicate this house came by this furnace because of a claim, sounds like a good plan.  I suspect either the motor overheated and tripped the safety, or a preset on runtime against clocktime was reached and tripped the safety.  windows had been left open a crack in DeBasement because of varnished stair treads.

// edit 4/5/12 // replacing the vaporizing nozzle was the fix.  if it wasn't the issue would probably have been the transformer, which apparently now is not a VHV transformer, but something more like a voltage multiplier module, like old CRT TV set "triplers."  have not had to call the furnace guy back. it's expertise you pay for when you call.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

too tired to get DeBased

we did sand everything down.  didn't put any new varnish on in DeBasement, but should tonight.  looking ahead, I don't like the idea of pulling every blinkin' wire separately for a 6x1 speaker system, two coaxes, Ethernet, video feed up from the theater amp, and a partridge in a pear tree... so I picked up another 500' spool of wire on my way into work.  now it's going to be purple and white behind the walls, in the conduits.

12 gauge stranded.  take your Monster (tm) cable and twist it in knots, guys, copper is copper.  if I built a micro-ohmmeter again (whipped one up in the 70s because I had plans) each connection would have ten times the resistance as the cable.  minimum.

did vacuum up the loose dust left after we swept Monday night.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

oh, about life in DeBasement

got really DeBased over the weekend.  had Monday off, so we built 5 bookcases, 4 x 6 feet.  red oak.  cut 18 shelves.  red oak.  installed.  stained.  varnished.  lay about Monday with probable varnish poisoning while the heavy air prevented full curing.

Tuesday, flipped the shelves over and varnished the backs before coming to work.

probably do sanding and 2nd coat on the wall units (bookcases over lowers we built a week ago) tonight.

that's damn DeBased.

pave Moneyapolis, put up a parking lot. and a roof. and some grass.

(( I liked this so much after posting it at , I stole it back for myself also.  do visit the bleat daily.  it's a good time with a good writer.  and the clicks do him good. ))
heh, stadium fail.  appears the Geniuses (tm) involved in stadium location are looking to bulldoze the Intertubes House of Wires...   511 11th avenue south... suspiciously next to the HumpDump.  ((limited number of clicks monthly, or subscribe))

it's an old high-tech business incubator that housed MN.Net back in the late 80s and early 90s, when the U of Minnesota Supercomputer Center across the street got on the 56K Connected Internet and graciously permitted other important colleges and businesses to share its vast connectivity.  it's now chock-full of ISPs and there are millions of dollars worth of fiber going in there that would have to be relocated.  every carrier represented.  I was a tech rep for St. Kate's when The Connected Internet went to a whopping 1.048 megabit coast to coast and one of those who voted to open the Internet to commercial endeavors.

this is getting really strange.  the age of The Big Cigars is long over in Moneyapolis, but there are still sneaky political fixers who tilt the mirrors and redirect the smoke and change the landscape behind the scenes without long meetings at the Minnesota Club or suppers at Manny's.

apparently the lofty digs and spacious parking lots of the Strib, almost bought 6 years ago until the real estate markets caught their first cold of 2007/2008 are not lofty and spacious enough for a modern stadium.

why not bulldoze the whole dayamn thing down through HCMC and Abbot Northwestern hospitals, and over to the Crystal Courts of the IDS Tower?

these Moneyapolis boys are mad, MAD, I tell you.  put the darn stadium in Arden Hills and be done with it.  that's where the Howling Wilves want it anyway.  and there's getting to be no practical cost difference between the many and shifting Minneapolis sites and Arden.
Arden Hills or LA, baby, stand up for Arden and the Vikings!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hola, amigos

ain't had much time to rap at 'cha lately...

oh, wait, I just feel like I've been rolled up in The Onion and left by a nasty plate in a buffet.

it's been a slow week up here, Cheryl and I are all tired out.  still got the chest cold.  so there hasn't been much of an upchuck on how life in DeBasement is going.

we gutted the last stinky closet Christmas Eve, rocked out the closets Christmas Day.  taped during the week, painted and put up shelving New Years Eve.  got the doors ondownstairs.

as of a week ago, the cabinet bottoms are all cut out, but not assembled.  basement is fully painted, lit, the fans are up, the light boots are on the can lights, all the outlet plates are on except for the media stuff.   the initial stall down there a week ago was from the 60s sander coming in with 40 grit on it.  Sunday I finally got some other sandpaper and the newer sanders downstairs.  and then Eric came over to scavenge some wiring stuff for his garage project, and one thing leads to another, and phooey.

he's got 22 light fixtures up in the 2+1 stall garage.  (snif) I've only got 8.  and about 8 big 100-watt equivalent CFLs on the main garage light switch.

I tell ya, it ain't fair!  I have more stand tools!  I need more lights!  WAAAAAAA!!!!!


stuck working first Saturday in February because I picked it in early December for the "weekend of the quarter" requirement.  so that means I can't take the ham tests in February.  oh, well, more study time.  get a couple weekends in on DeBasement, and really, the rest down there for a week or two is staining and varnishing by Cheryl, and then a long day of trim work.  so I will get the studying in, and get the fake HP-23A power supply clone built for my heathkit.  it's going to work out in the end.

coming up, two days of below zero lows.  a taste of winter.