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Monday, April 13, 2020

Hola, amigos, been a while. oops, wait, I'm channeling Jim Anchower.

let's try that again.

Reporting from coronavirus house arrest, I'm healthy and working from home. Minnesota is like every place in one respect, there are no truckloads of tests. Unlike every place else, we're at the lowest per-capita infection rate (known.) without testing, who the heck knows.

I hope to post at least once every five years ;) but you know, working away to keep the Internet safe for you to stream cat videos, hey, it takes time.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

if you want to help paint the house next weekend, call

the weekend of sept 25-6-7-8 we are painting the house... 25th is mostly prep work, the fun really starts Saturday.  10 gallons of fun.  c'mon down.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oh, my, it's almost a year since I last posted

full life doin' nothin does take up time.

at this writing, I am looking out the window at the park, watching the water sprayed on the ice rink freeze.  seasonal cold wind gusts are moving yesterday's inch of snow around and around.  both cats are sleeping on the couch near me, one on the afghan Cheryl just finished knitting, the other on the Sherpa fleece the other side of some couch pillows.

I have a pile of projects going in the Ham Cave, as usual in an array of almost-done status.  months of piddly little in-house things have kept me out of the Ham Cave, and I'm taking this week off of work to start undoing the piles and get room to stretch out in there.

it's a reflective week as I close in on age 62.  19 years ago, I was barely home from a heart attack, not a month into a new job at US West.  too soon for the health insurance to have kicked in, with $43,000 of medical bills piled up and two weeks of twice-daily shots of LMW heparin to inject sub-Q, I had to file for medical assistance.  Ramsey County taxpayers saved my life.  these days, I'm returning the favor.

and at this time, warm in my house, festive with the help of my wife, 401K building nicely under the second successor to USWest, my way of life is under attack.  every minute of every day, Big Libertarianism is attacking every segment of my life.  I work hard, brain work, supporting almost four dozen different platforms providing Internet service to home and business, from slow ATM based equipment new in 1997 and still in use, to GPON gigabit fiber service direct to the home.  when they can't figure out how to fix a streaming video service to a customer, I am one of a couple dozen guys in 14 states to get the call as well, and that area will expand over the next few years.  I am in a union job with union benefits that took 70 years to accrue.  another center that rolls contractors through it in our company has less than half the metrics we do.

I have new roads in front of my house, good fire protection and police protection.  everybody in our immediate families has post-secondary education, many degreed.  we benefitted from over a generation of government that supported the schools and colleges, fairly demanded we stay in and backed it up with staffed truancy officers for those who strayed, and as a child lived biking distance from the judge who desegregated Little Rock and frequently ran into the Congressman who rammed a money-back guarantee on military equipment through Congress.

I open the newspaper or surf the web now, and pinheads fuelled by raw unquenchable greed are in the process of wrecking it all.

millions buys election for dumbos as governors who can't get through a sentence without losing their train of thought and saying "Oops."  the guy next state over who, having crashed the unions in his state and put it in a $2 billion defecit, wants to gut the state education system next.  he's said to be a leading candidate for the Presidency next time around.  we have 60% of our legislators in Minnesota who want to "rebuild the state's roads and bridges" on less money than it takes to put another inch of blackop over crumbling bases, because it might mean a nickel more in gas tax.  the wage gap is wider than all but two states in Minnesota between black and white in a recent metasurvey, and these characters want to take back a middle of the road increase in the minimum wage, refuse to fund education gap programs in the schools, won't support transit systems and ESL that help new immigrants and second-generation Americans get into the mainstream and earn their way into society.

we have our own American Taliban, and it's the billionnaires pushing tired, failed John Birch ideology through sham TEA Parties and a slanted radio and TV empire of bad talkers with empty heads and a jungle telegraph of Today's Talking Points.  there is a museum in Texas for Melvin Munn, sponsored in the 60s and 70s by the Hunt Brothers through their "Amaze Aids" heartburn tablet rolls that were a talisman of "you can talk freely here" gas stations and little stores throughout the ultra-conservative sections of the country.  well, his little 15-minute LP radio talks (they would not release on tape because they were afraid the tape would break... never heard of grooves skipping, I guess) were protected speech and quite profitable for the stations carrying them. but it was whines in the wilderness for the vast majority of Americans building, expanding, rejoicing in their free and open society.

at the time, it was pretty much the extent of the propaganda.

now, it's damn near the whole spectrum.  today, Senator Karl Mundt, "Mr. Republican" and a brick wall to "radical" expansion of Medicaid and welfare and encroachments, would be a RINO outcast.

and if I dropped on the floor and called 911 today, new in what will be my retirement with pension job, taxpayer, productive citizen and community good guy... I'd probably be crushed financially for life.  if I got to an emergency room, they'd stabilize me.  it's a toss-up whether I'd get stented or not.  depends on where you are, and whether the uninsured had crashed the emergency room system.  the 56th silly vote in the House to abolish the ACA (Obamacare to those who still curse "the Kenyan") was just held, predictably, and there will be another 56 to come from this split House.

The biggest issue we face today is the American Taliban working against their own interests, and those of virtually every American.  the hate has to stop.

amazing what a few minutes of sitting, looking into the park and reflecting can bring.  the new ice coating is hard on the rink.  A little sun plays with the snow and adds depth and character in the mounds.  almost as if it's promising a renewal of warmth, comfort, a new day.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

putting a little life back in the car

I thought I had three problems with The Great White Whale... transmission, engine, and The Mystery Choking (fuel?).  it was almost undriveable.

last weekend, I noticed the plastic capsule around both ignition coil packs was cracked and peeling.  $180 later for two coil packs, it was better for a couple days.  then I started getting chunks and sags again.

so today, plug wires.  the box didn't have the longest one, of course, two shorties.  ohmmeter said I had some life left in that wire.  shotgunned the rest.  there was a screaming tubload of rust and crud in each spark plug well, which I had to blow out.  two hours later, it's running smoothly.  oil change and a new air filter, after blowing out a ton of leaves in the housing, and we're up to 19 mpg from 15, and it's running well again.

there was some corrosion on the connection of #5 plug, which unfortunately is in a Heli-Coilled repair of a stripped cylinder head, so I scraped it with the old plug wire a few times.  it's all better now.  there are two coilled plug holes, so I didn't want to mess with them.

for the first time in months, I test drove with the overdrive enabled, and there is no transmission issue, either, it was all misfires.  only one cylinder lit up the check engine light, but basically everything had to be honking off periodically for the engine to run that badly.

an oil change finished off a wonderful 60 degree day in the sun.  tomorrow, thunderstorms turning to snow.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

life in the great plains: winter

been a while.  same old same ol'.

this has been a cold, snowy winter so far.  had to have 2nd son Eric over with a buddy and a Bobcat to push the snow back so we can blow any new stuff (expected Sunday night) off the driveway.  it was too high for our one-lunger blower to get over the top.  now we have some semi-spectacular ski hills in the front yard, but just enough visibility to see cars coming.  season total 40.4 inches.  today, just a trace.  Sunday, another inch or two overnight into Monday.  as usual, Monday commute should be a screaming bear.  back to locking out overdrive.

we probably have 16 inches standing.

have some pretty good rust-outs on both cars, so Springtime will be a time of Bondo and screen, sanding and primer.  her car's got it the worst.

in the Hulk HATE 8! department, any advice I can get on keeping Windows 8.1 from jumping out the Charms menu and going Modern while I work on the laptop would be appreciated.  rumor has it Microsoft is going to make that possible with whatever they call 8.2.  the third party stuff I've tried either is not sticking, or prohibits starting up Chrome, so we're not making good progress.  in a perfect world, the geniuses of Redmond would finally admit that touchscreen torture on a machine that does not have a touchscreen is abject nonsense.  but with Ballmer and his billions in MS stock still on the board, I don't expect much.  just stopping frickin' Charms from jumping out when I mouse to the left is quite good enough, for almost any next move hops you away from doing anything useful, and back into the tiled Modern window, which folks, is really Windows 1.1, or maybe Presentation Manager v2.  1980s stuff.  GEOS stuff.

I have become kind of appalled at the support back home for people with cash flow issues.  my sister's car is suffering mightily, and there is no aid apparent to diagnose and fix the dying for minutes after warmup issue.  I did a long tune-up in October, which apparently only works for her at 32 and above.  there are a zillion things that could be at fault, from low-resistance injectors to sensors to oxidized plug connections, and it's a bottomless money pit to stand back, throwing parts, and seeing if any of them stick.  she and I don't have bottomless money.  in larger cities like the Twins, there are annual and semi-annual fix-it days donated, replacement cars, and the like.  not in the 250,000 metropolis that is Fargo-Moorhead-Dilworth.

so that's where we are at on my birthday.  oh, yeah, there's taxes.  this year, we owe what we usually get back from refunds, because we maximized cash at payday to take down the cards used in fixing DeBasement.  with God's help and our own, we will get through.  our quarter of beef for the year is just two weeks away.  we have half a tank of fuel oil, love, and the Cat Show is always on if we get bored.  it's OK.

God never throws anything at you that you can't handle.  I joke that I wish He didn't trust me as much.  but we always get through it.

if by chance you are not getting through it, it's way past time to give God the chance.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

a very merry Christmas

despite 3 inches of new snow, we had some family over before I went off to work, double time and a half.  this is the celebration of Christ's birthday, and we had a great day for it.  hope you did, too.

Monday, December 23, 2013

what is a BiteCon worth?

I don't believe in the pseudo-cryptic "currency alternative" called Bitcoins.  or around these parts, BiteCons.  no backing and no insurance, no fleets of auditors certifying there is actually any billions of dollars of anything behind them.

here's two interesting questions for all and sundry: you can get BiteCons either by passing over real money, or by mining. mining involves doing a metric-load of mathematics to catch a cache that releases every 10 minutes.

(1) what are these calculations really worth,

(2) and to whom, for what?

inquiring NSA searchers, do you want to know? suppose they are hydrocodes?  a cross-reference table of "if part A, then part B is the crack" for every piece of encryption in commerce?

is this just a miracle of multiplication that some person/team of unknown origin put out a paper on, or is there some Iran or Wackostan behind the game with alterior motives.

all unknown.

this could be a mere Ponzi scheme, and on day X, whoever is behind this takes all the "real" money that bought BiteCons and run for the islands and some hammocks and rum.

finally how many Flooz buys a BiteCon?

and how many folks really believe they get something for nothing?