30 June 2016

And Then There Was One

David Thatcher, tail gunner in the seventh plane on the Doolittle raid over Tokyo Japan in WW2, passed away on June 22, 2016 after suffering a stroke on Father's Day.

The last remaining survivor of the Doolittle Raid is Doolittle's co-pilot Richard Cole who is 100 years old. Cole attended Thatcher's funeral on the 27th of June.

Farewell and Godspeed SSgt Thatcher. Thank you for your service.

26 June 2016

This

is the million dollar smile that caught my eye a little over a year ago.

When I saw it, I told myself that the right sort of fellow would make her smile all the rest of his life just so that he could see it, and at the end of that life would discover that he had not wasted a minute of it.

Much to my stunned surprise, she decided that I was the right sort of fellow. I've been working hard at keeping up my end of the bargain ever since.

She's not really fond of having her picture out in public, but since these have been posted on the Book of Faces I don't think she'll mind, just this once.

19 June 2016

Father's Day Weekend

For me the "weekend" started on Wednesday.

I put slotted rotors on the Mustang on Thursday.

I played trains with my grandson on Friday.

Yesterday we had a cook out in the back yard and made s'mores over the fire pit.

Unfortunately today it's back to work.

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

16 June 2016

Blazing Sword Project

I may not agree with your lifestyle choices. In fact, your lifestyle choices may squick me out entirely from time to time. But there are two things about your choices that will always remain true:

1. I am not involved in your choices, nor have I any legitimate input in them as long as they do not involve me. As long as you are not taking someone's health or wealth through force or fraud you should be allowed to do or be whatever you want, regardless of anyone elses opinions, including mine. (Of course the reciprocal of that is also true, which is sort of the whole point.)

2. I will defend your right to make those choices with my life if necessary, and I will help you learn how to defend them yourself in any way I can.

Yes, I'm on the map.

Learn more here.

11 June 2016

Baja

When last we spoke of the yellow beastie it was to document this occurrence.

At the time I speculated blown head gaskets, since it is a common Subaru item. Unfortunately...or maybe fortunately since it was the least expensive of the available options...this speculation was proven to be true. Yes, that is coolant pouring out of the header when I unbolted it, the water was getting in to the #1 cylinder.

Having neither the time nor the money to fix it, and having another car to drive, the poor Scooby has sat unattended for a few months. Recently I've been able to scrape the cash together to get things started, though, so by this weekend the Scooby should be on the road again.

Last week the trucklet came apart and the heads went to the machine shop to be checked out and resurfaced. On Tuesday they were ready so I went and picked them up and then went to the parts store for the needed materials.

In addition to the head gaskets I am also putting on a new timing belt with the associated components as well as swapping out all the accessory belts, fuel lines, heater hoses, radiator hoses and vacuum lines. It's also getting a pair of O2 sensors since they don't do well with coolant baths, and I've had a bad one for a while anyway.

 I'm 15K miles shy of the scheduled timing belt change, but since everything else is apart it's a good time to get it done. I sprung for the whole kit this time, which includes the water pump and all of the pulleys. The accessory belts were done 90K miles and six years ago, so it's time for them as well.

I've been smelling fuel on the cold mornings for a while, which is another common Subaru occurrence caused by deteriorating fuel lines, hence their replacement. As far as the other hoses, they have never been changed since I've owned the trucklet and some of the vacuum lines were getting a little soft, so I figured it was a good idea to change them all out as well.

All told the final cost, including labor, is going to run me right around one and a half K, which is still cheaper than replacing the entire motor or having to buy new heads for the darn thing (but not by much). Since I have already done the clutch, struts, ball joints, drive axles* and center drive I am hoping to get at least another 100K out of it before having to do anything else.

Eldest Son is doing the work for me. I could do it myself but I'm getting to the point where I'd rather pay him to do it.

*And strut bearings, which was why the truck would start to pull one way or the other right after a sharp turn in that direction.

10 June 2016

In the Spring

a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of...


TRAINS!!!

And in that vein, I have acquired new motive power...well, new to me anyway. While poking around the local hobby shop with the lovely and gracious M in tow I ran across this little gem.

That is a Pennsylvania Railroad class K4 heavy Pacific steam locomotive, a mainstay on PRR passenger trains from before Dubya Dubya Eye right up to the end of mainline steam operation. In N scale there are exactly two manufacturers who have ever produced it, Bachmann with a brand new offering with digital controls and sound and everything, and this classic Minitrix offering.

Right out of the box it runs horribly because it only picks up power on one side by way of two tender wheels, which means it stalls whenever it hits any type of power interruptions (such as the plastic parts of the switches) on that side unless it is running at ludicrous speed. However, with the addition of all wheel pickup on the tender wheels it runs fairly well for a vintage locomotive (with it's vintage not-very-good electric motor). I have a remotoring kit on its way, but until then the tender truck swap has it capably heading up the Pennsy passenger train that runs through my layout.


And since we're talking trains, and since it is a new month, let me present this month's offering.


Apparently this is Samantha Abernathy. Relax, I think we're in good hands.

All aboard!

26 May 2016

Grrr

So I got the letter I've been expecting from the Infernal Revenue Service. They want their money back, and oh yeah, since they've been basically loaning me the money since April they want interest totaling a bit over $15 to go along with it (never mind that I loaned them the money interest free all year, the bastards). Cheap pricks can't even spring for postage.

It's no wonder the IRS is the most hated agency in government.

Yeah, I expected it, but there's no reason I can't bitch about it anyway.

05 May 2016

May

Brought to you by: Wow, they have a whole Facebook page!!!

04 May 2016

Turd Flavored Icing

on the shit cake.

But at least there is bourbon.

I think I'll just pour myself a drink and watch the flames.

23 April 2016

Moving And Shaking

I've been on the waiting list to join one of the local (local being a relative term, it's an hour away but so are all the other ones) gun club for a couple of years now, and a couple of weeks ago I got the notification that my number had come up, so to speak.

The club owns the range where Range Partner and I go to shoot, he's a member so we've been shooting on his ticket. He's changed jobs and his schedule is kind of crazy lately so it's been a while since we've been shooting. This way I can go even if he isn't available.

At the same time M has decided the gun safe should be in the office. That's a heavy bitch, when it arrived four of us lifted it up out of the trucklet and brought it in through the front door. We had no materials handling equipment, so once it was in the door we made the command decision to put it in the first available corner and there it has sat ever since.

And of course now that just will not do. However, it has not gotten any lighter since I brought it home, so I really needed a hand truck. Lucky for me I know a guy...and he owes me since I helped him move his gun safe once, which is kind of ironic, really, since this is kind of where the whole thing started.

So off to the gun club I went today where I got my orientation and shot 50 rounds through the Sig to demonstrate that I can follow directions (although I really did suck at it, good thing I'm joining a range) as Range Partner laughed at me. Afterwards it was off to the Refuge for some toasted cow and safe moving. All too soon the day was over, and we parted with the usual declarations that we would have to make it happen sooner rather than later.

It's been a pretty good day.

15 April 2016

It Lives

Last week I attempted to access Refuge Central, the desktop computer that formerly resided in my living room but has since been moved to an office which I rarely use. I have been using the laptop almost extensively since the move, but I wanted to get into my pictures that are located on the external hard drive hooked up to the desktop.

The computer had shut itself down since the last time I saw it, I figured that there had been a power bump or something that had caused it so I just booted it back up. Imagine my surprise when Windows 10 appeared, even though I had not downloaded it.

I uninstalled Windows 10 and took my external hard drive out to the laptop while it reverted and didn't think any more about it. When I brought the external drive back it was done reverting back to my previous Windows 8 installation, as if nothing had ever happened.

The next day I went back into the office because I decided it was time to play with Linux since Windows wanted to be such a pain in the ass. Imagine my surprise when once more the computer was off, even though I had left it running the previous day. So, I booted it back up and opened the browser to find Linux and after a few minutes it shut down again, immediately rebooting upon  the shut down. After a few minutes it cycled again. About this time I could smell escaping electrons, so I shut it down.

Employing the smell check method I quickly determined the power supply had gone bad. Back to Refuge Mobile I went, where I found a replacement power supply for a nice price at the auction site. Today the power supply arrived, and Refuge Central is once more online and operating at spec.

Now to download that Linux distro... (I'm trying Fedora KDE)

03 April 2016

An Apology

for my lack of posting. Have an April redhead instead.


Enjoy!

11 March 2016

Catching Up

I have been remiss. There has not been a new ROTM for two months now.

And so, to make up for that omission, here are two:

 I know it isn't quite spring, but for the past couple of days here at the Refuge the sun has been shining and the temperatures have been in the 70s so it's close enough.


Happy Springtime!

10 March 2016

Ain't That A Bitch

Taxes, I mean.

So this year, given my significant changes in status, my tax situation is much different than last year.

First off, I have a spouse that works. Not just part time at menial labor, either, but a real career type job. One that has significant income. Significant enough that between the two of us, with my retirement pay thrown in, we are now in the exalted category of "Evil Hated Rich" (meaning we make more than 100K per year).

Unfortunately that throws us into the next higher tax bracket as well.

I use an online service to file taxes, and I prepared my returns this year as both married filing joint and married filing single...or at least I did (more on that in a bit). Married filing joint our refund (over-payment of taxes, remember, not free money that we did not earn) was a little over a grand. Since last year her return was a bit less than two grand she wasn't altogether thrilled at this.

So I redid the forms to married filing single, and when I checked the box to make this change the online service asked if I was sure about this since her information would be removed. Yes, I was, so on we went. My refund ended up being a bit over 4 grand. Oh fabulous day! I exclaimed as I e-filed my return.

Except that when I looked at the printed out forms...my status was married filing jointly. D'oh!

And so I got to pay an ADDITIONAL $42 to change the forms in this online service that I will henceforth never use again (Taxslayer, if you must know) and the end result is...I owe 311 duckets to the fed.gov for my impetuosity. I still get a tiny bit back off my state return, but that's it.

The biggest change is in the tax rates for filing status. Married filing single and single is the same, but last year I filed as head of household which is a lesser rate. I was fine at the lesser rate, but not so much at the single rate.

As a result I will be changing my exemptions from one to zero for the next tax year, I get to mail in my amended returns (with an accompanying check to the Feds), and we will still likely file married/single for both of us in the future since she will get a return large enough to make up the difference plus some.

Ted Cruz wants a flat tax. I'm a Cruz guy from here on out.

16 February 2016

Yeah...

So Thursday this happened.


Sunday night into Monday this happened.


Today I went out to move the trucklet over a bit to get it out of the way, and just out of curiosity I turned the key...and it started right up.

The coolant is still mysteriously gone, so I still have a problem, but at least now I know it didn't slip time and possibly damage valves or pistons.

I'll take it apart this weekend and inspect the heads. Maybe I will get lucky and just have to replace the head gaskets. That would be nice.

It's not all bad though. This happened Sunday also.


Valentines Day 2015 was the day I asked her to go out with me and she didn't run away screaming, so we've officially been "a thing" for a year now. It's been a good one.

11 February 2016

Well

Damn.

Not really what I'd hoped to be doing with my day.
Boy and I went to Fort Bragg today to get his ID card, mostly so I could quit paying so much for his health insurance. On the way out I thought I smelled antifreeze, but it went away immediately so I thought nothing of it. On the way home the heater started blowing cold air, so I looked at the temp gauge and saw it was spiked. The motor died as soon as I pushed in the clutch. I let it cool down and tried to start it, and it has no compression.

Either the head gaskets are blown (a common Subaru problem) or my timing belt skipped a tooth. I'm hoping it's head gaskets because that's cheaper to fix. It was about time for another timing belt anyway, so either way I'll do it when I'm there, but if it's only the head gasket I won't have to get the valves done. I guess I can't complain, it has 90K on it since the motor was apart the last time, but it is an expense I wasn't planning on.

Seems to be a lot of unplanned stuff happening lately.

10 February 2016

Also

A year ago today I got an Email telling me that someone liked my little pony so much that they had to go out and get a red car of their own.

Once More...

Sunday night I had 4G service so I was able to talk to M on my break, as usual, while keeping track of the pitiful demise of the home team.  A few hours later I went to look something up and...no service.

On my way home I tried to call M but kept getting the error message that my call would not connect, regardless of the number of bars showing on my signal strength meter.

Monday afternoon I still had nothing, so I contacted Verizon through their website. They said they were getting reports of sporadic outages and should have everything straightened out within 24 hours.

Yesterday I still didn't have service, for the second day, so off to the Verizon store I went. An hour later they were unable to get the darn thing to work, so I walked out with a brand new replacement.

I sure hope this one lasts a little longer than ten days.

03 February 2016

Oh, G

So it ends up I didn't like the old Droid as much as I remembered.

There were several things I missed about the HTC, so I switched it back...but oh yeah, it won't charge. Maybe I can turn it in under the warranty...

well, if I hadn't switched it for the Droid, that would have worked. But, since now I have totally buggered myself, time to get a new phone! Along with a new 2 year obligation, oh boy.

So, I got a Droid Turbo 2. Nice phone, leather back which I immediately covered up with a case, and a non-breakable screen. That might be handy. Another nice thing, a charging dock. No need to plug it in, just sit it on the charging dock and let it charge as I sleep. Easy peasy!

Download a few apps (including Blogger that I pulled my hair out to get set up), set everything up just the way I want it...yeah, don't care much for having to hit another button when I open the phone app just to get a keypad, and then I deleted my email app because you CAN'T SIGN OUT OF IT!!! and I think I can live with it.

So the other day I'm talking to M just before she goes to bed, as I usually do, and she mentions her cousin John is in the hospital for some sort of stomach problems and he's posting on the book of faces. I try to open it up and I can't get the internet when I'm on the phone. That's annoying, never had that problem with the HTC...and as soon as I hang up the phone I can get on the 'net, no problems. Hmmm. I check out the issue on the internets and find out I have to turn on advanced calling. OK, no probs, everything is hunky dory, right?

Yeah...not really.

As I'm driving home my phone hooks up to the bluetooth and the actions app I have turns off the wifi, turns on the GPS and opens up Mapquest as I have set it up to do. I then call M for the trip home, as I usually do, and dammit, my Mapquest hangs up with the message that I can't get data while I'm on the phone! W? T? F??? So I divert to the Verizon store to find out what the deal is.

Long story short, you can't get voice and data unless you are either 1) on the wifi or 2) in a 4G LTE network area.

Long story long, the old 3rd Generation (3G) network, which could only provide voice or data but not both, is being replaced by a new 4th Generation (4G) with Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that can use voice and data. Up to around 2008 since 4G was in its infancy (or not even around) you were limited to either making a phone call or using the internet/GPS, but not both at the same time.

However, many cell phone users were upset that they couldn't navigate to their favorite restaurant while inviting their friends to join them, or talk on the phone to a client while they are trying to navigate to the clients business, or look up something on the net while on the phone, etc. So, to overcome that little shortfall some cell phones (like the HTC One M8) have a dual receiver, one for voice and messaging and one for data.

But now, since we are entering the brave new digital world that old clunky outdated 3G network is being phased out...so no need to put in that second R/T, but instead of saying that you may be limited if you aren't on a 4G LTE network we will just tell you about the extended battery life. Yay! And since the LTE network is expanding every day, no one will notice! Yay!

Except when you aren't in an LTE coverage spot that is. Oops. Sorry about that. Of course if you start out in an LTE area you can start out with voice and data, but if you move into an area that isn't covered...goodby one or the other. And, since Verizon has built its reputation over not dropping calls (can you hear me now?) they opted to drop data rather than drop calls.

I guess that makes sense, the cell phone is primarily a phone after all, but it sure seems like I'm paying a big chunk of money to take a step backwards.

22 January 2016

The Droid I Was Looking For

I haven't really liked my HTC One cell phone since I bought it, and now it's refusing to take a charge if it is turned on. I have to either turn it all the way off or put in in airplane mode to get it to charge.

I've been sorry to have let my old Droid go, but recently Middle Daughter traded up and I was able to get it back. Yesterday I went through the steps of re-activating it and I've been downloading the apps and add-ons that I've become accustomed to.

The screen is smaller, so using it for the Kindle won't be as good. I'll also miss the stereo speakers on the HTC, but it's not like I used it much for listening to music anyway. If nothing has changed since I switched up the battery will charge when I'm in the car using the GPS or if I have it plugged in and all services active.

So today, to reward me for all my efforts, I've gotten three phone calls from the same number between the hours of 8 AM and noon. Spammers. I finally answered the last call but I can't say who it was because when I picked it up I whispered "It's done but there's a lot of blood. Send the cleaners. Make payment as agreed. Do NOT make me come looking for you. Lose this number." Then I hung up. They haven't called back so far.

One more thing I'll miss about the HTC One, I guess...the ability to block numbers.

17 January 2016

Helping Hands

Today M and I got together with the Wake Forest Mustang Club for a poker run, the purpose was to raise some money for a local mom to get a handicapped van for her two daughters.

The run went well, the weather was clear and sunny even though it was a bit cold.


 We left Wake Forest NC a little after 9:30 and collected cards along the way, ending up in Wilmington NC at the USS North Carolina.



At the end of the day we went out with the group for supper and then back home. It was a good day all in all, and it will have to do me for a while since the Mustang is now down for a left front caliper.

The brake telltale started sounding off about halfway there, fortunately the pad is not yet down to metal but it is at the wear limit. The pads just went on it in October, and only the inside left one is down to the wear limit. The rotor is not damaged or even significantly worn, so I won't have to replace it which is good since both rotors were just replaced. A new caliper and hose, new brake pads and I should be right back on the road.

Just another thing that I hadn't planned on spending the money on, but I guess I know what I'm doing next weekend.

03 January 2016

Beginning The New Year

It's been a busy year.

It's been a good year for me, but it's been busy.


I wish you all a good year this year.

30 December 2015

Nice To Be Home Again

Eleven states and both families have been visited in the past ten days. Gifts and greetings have been exchanged and a good time was had by all.

We got back home today in the rain to find the roof still leaks in the kitchen and bathroom. As I type this missive I am listening to pieces falling off the kitchen ceiling.

I guess for the new year I'm going to break down and put a new roof on the Refuge...and one on the Mustang as well, for the same reason.

Be it ever so waterlogged, there's no place like home...

25 December 2015

Merry Christmas Everyone

And Now

in an effort to offset the negativity, let me tell you what I've been up to lately.

Last Saturday, December the 19th, M and I packed up the car and headed west to Iowa. M was a bit nervous about it since it was her first time meeting the folks, but as I expected it all went very well. The trip was mostly uneventful although she did tease me a bit about going all the way through Tennessee rather than have to enter the People's Republic of Illinois.


She and Mother hit it off famously, Mother being a knitter from way back and M being a relative novice. Mother knits baby blankets and sweaters and M mostly knits shawls, so they were interested in each others work and spent some time with their heads together comparing notes.

On the second day here M completed the project she was on and needed materials to start something else, so off we went to the big city of Council Bluffs, Iowa (with a side trip to Omaha Nebraska) for yarn, and much to M's delight, Dunkin Donuts coffee. When we got back Mother said there was also a yarn shop right here in little Clarinda that might have a thing or two.

So downtown we went to find not really a yarn shop but a quilters shop. They mostly put the final stitching on quilts and can do everything from simple patterns to mural type designs, but they also had yarn and fabric. They didn't make a lot of money off of their yarn and fabrics though, so they were selling off their entire stock. M was in heaven.


The thing that really caught MY eye, however, was this little unobtrusive sign in the front door window.


There are a lot of examples of businesses that we as gunnies won't frequent because of the polar opposite sign in the front windows, so it's kind of nice to see one like this.


Handcart Quilts and Yarn, for all of your quilting needs.

24 December 2015

Apparently

TTAG is at it again.

Yep, once again they've stolen Tam's stuff for use on their own site without attribution.

At this rate they really should hire her on as a paid author...if she would lower herself to write for such a rag.

"Dan Zimmerman. Intellectual property thief"

22 December 2015

And In Other News

I have no further reason to go to Virginia.

Range Partner calls it "Occupied Virginia" and it looks as if his assessment is spot on. VA has now joined the Northeast in it's idiocy.

Shame really...it was such a nice state once.

07 December 2015

Many Pardons

I have been remiss. Allow me to correct my erroneous ways.

I bring to you...December.

Have a great day!

21 November 2015

Road Worthy

Yesterday I washed M's car and vacuumed it out for her. While I was at it I checked the oil and lights. This morning I got up and scraped the windows clean for her.

 I do these things not because I want her to leave, but because I want her to be safe.

She headed out for Pennsylvania about an hour ago to spend the first part of the week with her family. I will join her Thursday for Thanksgiving at her brother's house in Virginia.

 As she drives, my heart rides with her.

17 November 2015

Wow

I wanted something that wouldn't keep me awake for hours and didn't have a whole lot of sugar, so I got one of these.


This sh!t sucks. I don't think I'll be getting another any time soon...like ever.

14 November 2015

What I Did Today

Today I watched M do this:

She used the Sig and did very well, as I expected since she did very well with it the first time she shot it. The next step will be to actually get the permit, but this step is done.

While I watched her do this I also sat through the class to refresh my own knowledge since I have to renew my permit in February.

It was a good day.

01 November 2015

November

For November the ROTM is a classy lady who passed recently.

Farewell to Maureen O'Hara. Say Hi to John for us.