It's not JUST about what I had for breakfast...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Monday Musings

Is there a word for the fog of breathe you see on a cold day?

All I can come up with is:

  • Spirit breath
  • Blowing smoke
  • Fog breath

Surely there is something better!

I really hate it when I can remember the title of a book, especially when DISTINCTLY remember reading it. I've helped other people find titles, mostly utilizing Google or Amazon. Well, I spent about three hours trying to figure this out, but no luck. Now it's YOUR turn to help ME!

The book (or story) takes place during winter. A child (a boy?) ride with his grandfather (or uncle, or something...) on a steam tractor. They help people, in some way I can't remember. I THINK it was written by someone famous. I MAY have read it in a magazine, but I have the notion it was made into a television movie. To me, the steam tractor was the focal point of the story.

Go for it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just What DO You Know?

A guest on Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? Office Party show said/implied that Robert Heinlein wrote Dianetics. And no one called him on it. There would have been a big "I think NOT" from the audience if I had been there!

As it was, the was a lound "Heinlein? Heinlein?? HEINLEIN????" from MY bedroom!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Penny

I got this penny in change at work the other year. It's a 1958 D "wheatie".

2008Dec20 misc 005

2008Dec20 misc 006

Just for fun I looked up its value at Wheat Penny Values. It's worth about 3 cents. So much for found riches!

My camera technique is somewhat lacking, as usual. There are a ton of sites on the Web showing how to photograph coins. I especially like the milk jug diffuser on Coin Photography. I thnk I might try that!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Let There Be Light

I've been having some trouble lately with my reading lamp. I replaced the 40 watt fluorescent lamp with a 100 watt fluorescent lamp. It died after two hours use. I took it back to the store and they gave me a new one. I've been using that one for about a week, no problems.

A couple of days ago the switch started acting up. I had to wiggle it to get it to work. It made scary sparking noises, and finally ceased to function, electrically, at all.

I bought some new switch guts for it today, installed same, works fine.

I drilled out the rivets on the old one to see what was going on inside.

2008Dec03 Lamp Switch 007

It looked ok, but when I loaded the picture into the computer and magnified it, I could see that one contact was not in the right place. You can see the contact on the right has sprung out of place. I don't' know if it was like that before I took the top of the switch, and it looks like it's making good contact anyway. I don't see any signs of arcing.

The only think I can think of is, maybe because the right-hand contact sprungded out on the left, there wasn't enough springy tension on the right where the contact makes contact with the piece that you can't see because it fell out.

So, I don't know what the problem was. All I know is the new one works fine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Antenna Day

A lovely morning, a pleasant ride, and lots of antennas to photograph.

I wonder how long it will be before someone calls the policia on the wierd bike guy taking pictures of roofs in the semi-darkness!!

An HF Yagi and a VHF Yagi, and one of those fake owls. Or is it?

2008Nov19 antennas 002

Which picture do you like more, the one WITH the power lines...

2008Nov19 antennas 003

Or the one WITHOUT power lines? And chimney.

I USE to be able to name all these antennas, from many nights perusing the Allied Radio catalog. Not any more. Haven't a clue on this one! Some sort of HF vertical. With a VHF vertical on the side.

2008Nov19 antennas EDITED 003

This cute little VHF quad caught my attention the other day. When cropping the pic I noticed one of the wires is broken.

2008Nov19 antennas 005

I think this is a 40 meter band quad, but I don't see the element wires in the pic! Will have to check tomorrow. Hey, it's just GOT to be a quad!

2008Nov19 antennas 007

Note also the multi-band dipole hanging down there.

Phil and I visited a fellow back in the sixties who had a GIANT two-element quad on his roof, over in Fletcher Hills. Must have been an 80 meter band quad. I wish I could remember his call.

Oh, yeah, the bike. Well, so far we got 30.6 miles on the odometer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday RR

I see no one is taking an interest in the questionnaire thingie, so you people are still going to the model railroad stuff HERE!

2008Nov14 railroad 010

Should not those boxes on the flat car be secured?

A black hole seems to be consuming the railroad, OH NOES!!!

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It's amazing how that ballast sticks to the sides of the rails, defeating the force of gravity!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I am told I am in error, that the cookies pictured yesterday are in fact NOT made with white chocolate.

Instead, they are made with semi-sweet chocolate. Which is obvious from the picture, and REAL LIFE, if one uses one's eyes.

And butterscotch, of course.

Now, where is the recipe?

On a food-related topic, How to Make a Schadenfreude Pie from John Scalzi's Whatever blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Went to the doc today, she said my PSA was as low as it can go. So that's pretty good news!


I just love the top image on the Hodaka Days website!

Why Hodakas rock:
  • Fairly inexpensive at around $425.00 ($2,507.00 in 2007 dollars) (But more than I could afford!).
  • Most parts could be interchanged between model years.
  • That shiny toaster gas tank!
  • Could be modified into almost anything, and were!
  • Came from Oregon! (Well, Japan, via Oregon.)
I wonder what ever became of my old Hodaka Ace 100 with the Van Tech forks?

Not to mention the Yamaha 650 with custom pinstriped fuel tank?


My son baked us some cookies and brought them over last night! Yum, oatmeal with butterscotch and white vanilla chips! Double-YUM!

A couple of variable capacitors I had laying about. What can I do with them? I had the idea I could make a QRP transmatch kind-of-thing with them, but I don't EVEN remember where I read the article any more.

So there they sit...

I finally broke down and bought a new tip for the soldering gun. Should make an improvement

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Train Of Thought

Ok, I promise, no more trestle pictures!

After this...

I decided to spray the trestle with a dulling spray. After I sprayed one side, I noticed I had just sprayed it with a GLOSS spray! Yikes! I then hit both sides with the dull spray.

2008October27 Trestle 006

You will notice that the spray ate the foam fillers I used at the ends of the trestle. Whoopsie!

I got the holiday Walthers catalog today. There was a neat picture of a Christmas tree cutting scene. I tore out the pic and placed it behind the trestle, and added a box car. I then edited the image in Paint and Irfanview, copying trees over to fill parts of the layout that the picture didn't cover. Badly edited, I must admit, such obvious cloning!!

2008October28 Christmas Trees MOD 010

Ok, I swear, no more trestles!

Until the next one...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Misc. Stuff

Pretend I took this photo yesterday for our 36 anniversary.

2008October20 Anniversary 007

Pretend I took THIS picture yesterday, showing too-long spikes sticking out a smidge under the trestle.

2008October20 Trestle 009

You don't have to pretend here, I took this one yesterday, showing Spivey, the cat with the cut-off tale, in his favorite lurking place.

2008October20 Cat_Spivey 001

He does NOT look pleased to be disturbed!

LATER: I forgot! My new favorite song is Roadrunner, performed by The Modern Lovers!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Railroad Stuff & Cats

If I am to spike the rail on the trestle, for maximum realism, I need to put about a zillion spikes in. It really looks much better with the spikes.

It's a four step process.

  1. Drill hole for spike, to avoid splitting the tie.
  2. Trim spike so it doesn't stick out the bottom of the tie.
  3. Dip spike in white glue.
  4. Stick spike in hole, hopefully facing the correct way!
I made a little jig for cutting the spikes to a suitable length.

Aerial view:
2008October19 Trestlec 003

Bird's eye view:
2008October19 Trestle 002

I stick them in the jig, cut a number of spikes at once (sort of). Saves a bit of time. I STILL can't see the darn things very well, though! Maybe I should switch to O gauge. Or On3 On30, because while it's a larger scale, it uses HO gauged track. Of course all the buildings would be the wrong scale, not to mention the spacing between parallel tracks would be, shall we say, TOO CLOSE!

Cat Stuff

This is Spunky.

This is Spivy.

Spivy is missing most of his tail.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday At The Pine

We went over to Torrey Pines State Reserve and wandered around a bit this afternoon. I took some Geocaching locations to look for, but the trail seemed a bit much for our foot attire, so we decided not to attempt it. That, and the lady geocacher coming up-trail who told us about the rattlesnake and the GIANT SPIDER she encountered at the caches...

Took a couple pics, though!

Looking eastish:

2008October18 Torrey Pines Trip 002

Looking southish:

2008October18 Torrey Pines Trip 001

And looking westish:

2008October18 Torrey Pines Trip 003

We then decided to do the Guy Fleming Trail. Very nice, and very interesting. I recommend it!

We went up to the museum afterwards and talked to the very helpful docents. They helped us figure out what the different flowering plants we had seen were.

Afterwards we went to eat at Roberto's Very Mexican Food on Carmel Valley Road. I took some pictures of a nearby trestle, of course. The Coaster went by several times while we ate.

2008October18 Torrey Pines Trip 010

I saw a flashing red light across the slough on the Torrey Pines Grade. I guess someone was speeding.

2008October18 Torrey Pines Trip 012

And finally, we ate!

2008October18 Torrey Pines Trip 013

I had a simple cheese quesadilla. It was good. I especially liked the hot sauce there. It seemed more interesting than one usually gets. It had little peppery thingies in it. It was thought there was not enough guacamole on the rolled tacos, so the thoughter went to get more. The lady was reluctant, but after some begging, she relented. Probably wanted us to pay for an extra dab. Probably should have. It DOES say 65 cents for extra guac (I HATE that expression. See guaC) on the menu.

Saturday Morning

Instead of going for a bike ride this morning I am eating chocolate anniversary cake.

This is not good!


There is a Bogart movie on right now that I've never heard of, titled "Across The Pacific". It's a World War II spy flick. Mary Astor is the chick. Favorite quote by Rick Leland (Bogart) is, "Ah, there's a Canadian for you! Let them take their clothes off, and they're happy."

At one point Mary Astor says something about the ship they are on, and Bogart says something about it being a boat, not a ship. It's a fairly big freighter, for the times, so I'm wonder what he means by that. Straight Dope says that, generally, a (motorized) ship is big enough to carry a boat, and boat is small enough to be carried on a ship. It's a mystery, for sure!

Back to Desktop Tower Defense...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More Trestle Pics

More trestle pics...

Well, one here...

2008October15  Trestle 010

Several more over at my Zooomr place, click the image, go there, wander about, read the humourous captions.

And yes, I painted that lettering on the boxcar by hand. With a little tiny brush. And if you believe THAT...

Also, vote on whether I should start a model railroad only blog.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mixed Media

On Weekend America this morning there an interesting segment about a prop shop in Santa Monica. They made reference to a "huge, double-pole, triple-throw knife switch". With my limited and obsolete knowledge of things electrical I tried to figure how a triple-throw knife switch would work. I decided what they meant was a triple-pole, double-throw knife switch. Like on those monster movies. And indeed, that is what the pics on the site show. And the first commenter comments, too.

Over at the Reader, reader Rico Gardner comments in a letter in the Oct. 1, 2008 issue ("We’re Cornball Rednecks"). I feel a lesser person for even responding, but I wonder why he even stays in San Diego if it is so awful here. I think he would be much happier in the wonderful cosmopolitan New York. There's no racism there, the weather is never sweltering, and I'm sure he will find many wonderful restaurants without burritos. I personally never go downtown, do not frequent restaurants, rarely go to the beach, never pay much attention to sports, and hardly EVER drink beer. Give me a library, a model railroad store, and an internet connection and I'm happy. But that's just me.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Motley Crew

We did a little Geocaching Sunday. Found two out of four caches.

2008October07 misc 001

It was pointed out that the bushes had what looks like spit on them. A result of the rain Saturday night?

2008October07 misc 002

What say you?

We've a trio of these Laotian dolls at work. Very pretty, but I don't know what the dress represents. Do YOU have any ideas?

2008October07 Lao doll   0052008October07 Lao doll  0042008October07 Lao doll  003

Yes, yes, the middle one is a weaver, I figured THAT out!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Of Trestles and Beads

I added some more nut/bolt castings to the trestle. Rusty ones!

2008October03 Model Railroad 002

Boy, that track sure looks naked without spikes. Hey, I forgot about guardrails!

Then I test-fitted it in place.

2008October03 Model Railroad 008

I had to scrape out a layer of the foam base that the railroad is on, and that left a mess of plastic popcorn beads all over the place. Even after vacuuming there were a few I missed!

2008October03 Model Railroad 005

2008October03 Model Railroad 006

I also brushed an alcohol/ink warsh over the new front-end loader, but we didn't take a picture of THAT!

Picture by Matt, giant pictures on the Zooomr page, click an image to go there.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Train'n'Trestle Stuff

I walked up to the train store this afternoon to get some nuts and bolts, scale-sized, for the trestle.

You see the six bolts there? The three on the right are the old ones I used, the three to the right are the ones (Grandt Line #5066) I purchased today. There is not a WHOLE lot of difference to MY eyes, but they ARE a little larger, and easier to insert.

Those rails certainly need something holding them in. I guess I WILL have to spike them, but it will be tedious! Yikes, is that Goo oozing out out from under the rail? How sloppy!

I also impulsed-purchase a front end loader. It was only three bucks, a savings of nearly twenty-five bucks off a good one. I think it looks pretty good, though. I will have to weather it a bit, some pastel and some Dullcote to kill the shine.

Why does blogger keep sticking the photos at the beginning of the post, eh? Zooomr seems to be down today, so I letting Blogger host the pics.

Here's that garage again. The fellow unpacking one of those legendary WWII surplus Harleys that he bought in its orginal crate is gazing at the new tractor next door.

Every time I go to the train store I feel the need to share with the train store guy some self-deprecating thought regarding my modeling talents. He doesn't buy into that game, ignores it, and so I feel foolish. I need to stop that!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Morning

I listened to NPR this morning. There was a story about a National Guard unit in Pennsylvania going to Iraq that decided to march through town to the train station as the unit has done since Civil War, even though they were leaving from the airport. The high school band marched with them. I was in tears. I'm in tears now, writing this!

Link to story and audio.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Train Stuff

I am BUILDING a short (52 feet) trestle to replace a plate girder bridge.

I am using the trestle from "Building Yancy's Coal Yard", an article by Ben King in Model Railroader a couple of years ago, as a guide.

2008September18 Misc 007

The white plastic thing is the jig for building the deck of the trestle. Not shown is the jig for assembling the bents.

2008September18 Misc 005

You can see the tie pattern from the article stuck in there to help locate the ties in the proper spacing.'

Those ties are supposed to be a scale 8 x 8 inches, that would be .092 in our big world, the stock measures .097 inches on my new Harbor Freight $20 digital calipers. Can I even SEE .005 of an inch? Can YOU?

2008September18 Misc 009

Notice the second "fence" on the jig, on left? I miss-read the drawing in the article, did not used a magnifying glass, and so glued the fence in the wrong spot. So I had to glue another one in. The funny is, it took me FOREVER to figure out why the ties were not lining up correctly.

The wood is stained with brown shoe polish (from a can) mixed with alcohol. Not good, alcohol doesn't really thin the shoe polish. I should have DRANK the alcohol! (No, no, not really, it was rubbing alcohol, you can't drink THAT!!) Also a bit of black ink thinned with alcohol. THAT works well!

Here's a picture of two cats eating...

2008September18 Misc 010

... and a Library Raid shirt from the Unshelved Store. Link goes to the jacket, the shirts are not available anymore, I guess.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Rantings

Ran across this link on This Is Your Nation On White Privilege, by Tim Wise.

Anyone want to argue his points?

Also from Reddit, If All Women Lived In Sarah Palin's America.

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Out Of Step

Drove down the Boulevard today to get poked with a needle for a TB test. After that I snuck over to the train store on 4th to get some basswood. Saw a vehicle with the message Damnant quod non intellegunt on the rear, among other things. Had to look that up.


As if YOU didn't know!

I manned up and drove home on the freeway.

Went to Performance after work to pick up a tire. Thought about the Continental, but couldn't bring myself to part with the twenty-eight bucks. So I settled for a Performance Forte GT/K. Hey, that's on sale for ten bucks! Was mine? I admit I wasn't totally paying attention, I just signed the slip! Yikes! [LATER: It was five bucks off] I should go over to Big Ring and see how much the Specialized Armadillo tire retails for. It LISTS for fifty bucks! Double Yikes!

Hey, this is turning into the bike blog! I better quit!

One last thought, a Reminder To Self: Stain ALL the wood for a model railroad project at ONE TIME, else you will different shades of grey, as it were.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sweatin' Like A


And I keep hitting the wrong key and POSTING this! Twice while typing the title!

Music of the day is:

Hoover High School Stage Band 1970's interpetation of Good Times Bad Times.

Don't bother me, I'm orgainizin' my music!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Last Gasp

Note to self: Sunflowers do not dry well in a big green trash can if they are piled on each other. They will get MOLDY!

<Insert image of moldy sunflowers here >

You will be relieved to hear that the sunflowers drying in the pail did not mold.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

All Over The Ground

The season is passing, the sunflowers are dying, there are sunflower seeds all over the ground!

Food for the birds and the rats, maybe the possums, too.

2008August07 Garden 001

These have fallen from the giant sunflowers.

2008August07 Garden 003

After spending a pleasant afternoon pulling what I persist in calling crabgrass, but was pointed out to me as being actually Bermuda grass, in the front yard area, I went into the back yard and cut off some of the sunflower heads that still had seeds and put them in a garbage can to dry. I don't know what I'm going to do with all that seed! Surreptitiously plant it around the city? Johnny Sunflowerseed? It's a thought.

The plumaria has four big leaves on it. Maybe it's going to flower after all these years of abuse. I think it needs to be potted so it will have better draining soil. It doesn't seem to be in an optimal piece of ground. It's kind of a low spot, although being next to a wall it is higher than the ground on the other side of the wall. Not enough sun, either, I suspect.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Sunflowers & Model Railroad Stuff

First, the sunflowers!

These pictures just look a lot better in their giant size, but I'm taking pity today on the person who is on dial-up, you KNOW who you are! Click the image to visit my Zooomr page for the BIGGER images.

2008July31 misc 002

I chopped off a couple of the sunflowers as they were dried up. I found that the stalks are hollow inside. Who knew?

2008July31 misc 001

and lastly, back lit spectacularity! Is that a word?

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Now for the trains!

I'm making a "track cleaning" car to keep the rails shiny. It consists of a piece of hardboard mounted on two nails that slides along under a car, scraping the crud off the tracks. Yesterday I ran Attempt I for a half-hour. It kept catching on stuff, as it was too wide.

Attempt I on the right, Attempt II on the left.

2008July31 misc 004

Actually, Attempt I should be Attempt .5, because initially it was too narrow, then it was too wide, AND too thick.

I messed up on Attempt II and spaced the nails too far apart. This shows the holes that the nails are SUPPOSED to be aiming at. But see how neatly I counter-sunkted the nails heads?

2008July31 misc 006

A fairly pointless pic showing the coupler boxes being fastened back on. Also showing that I forgot to paint the plastic coupler box spacers!

2008July31 misc 008

Oh, you probably want to know what it looks like mounted under the car. Here you go!

2008July31 misc 009

No, those are not the stock wheel sets! Yes, I will clip the nails and add a load. Patience!

So I decided to drill new holes, probably properly spaced. This would be Attempt 2.5, I guess.

2008July31 misc 015

By the way, I used the Harbor Freight el cheapo miniature table saw to cut the sucker nice and square. Very dusty, however, my lung capacity will be diminished for a while!

Yes, I HAVE a cutting mat, I just don't USE it! I need a smaller one for to fit on this, my second-favorite cutting space.

So, where are we? The epoxy is curing, I will test it tomorrow. I hope I've the width right this time, too. It seems fairly critical. Too narrow, falls between the rails on curves. Too wide, catches on stuff like switch machines and other trackside details!

During all this I noticed the black boxcar has a coupler height problem. It was catching on rails on turnouts! Using the trusty Kadee coupler height gauge, I can see that the height is incorrect, and the coupler is DROOPING! Yikes!

This pic, utilizing the flash, shoes us the gauge on the RIGHT, the boxcar is on the LEFT.

2008July31 misc 010

I tried to edit out that vertical line in the background, but gave up and left it alone. This pic demonstrates the importance of good lighting technique...

Now THIS pic is without flash, just the natural light. Too bad it it didn't forcus on the foreground!

2008July31 misc 012

Also by the way, if you go to the big pics, notice the difference in detail between the silver gondola and the boxcar. The boxcar is too delicate to really handle, but the gondola can be banged around quite a bit, and has been!

I should probably start a new blog, the Compleat Idiot's Guide To Bad Model Railroading!

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