20 February 2018

It's Not That We Aren't Listening

It's that we've heard it all before. Gun control, yadda yadda, scary rifles, blah blah blah, FOR THE CHIIIIILDRENNNNN (and may I point out to you that accusing us of not loving our children is not conducive to getting us to agree to your inane schemes that have proven to a) not work and b) be extremely destructive of personal liberties).


Evil AR-15 thundercannon murderstick
 This is an AR-15. It is the generic term for a rifle originally designed by the Armalite Corporation (hence the A in AR) and sold to Colt in 1959. It is a semi automatic magazine fed rifle chambered in .223 Remington. It has been available to the civilian market since 1964, but after the original patents expired in 1977 the market really exploded. The select fire version, designated the M-16, went into service in 1961when the US Air Force purchased 8500 of them. The AR-15 is the most popular sporting firearm in America today. I probably should own one some day.

Nice Ruger Mini-14 like Grandpa used to have
This is the Ruger Mini-14. It is also a semiautomatic magazine fed rifle chambered in .223. Functionally there is absolutely no difference between the two rifles; they are chambered in the same cartridge, have the same size magazines available, and have the same rate of fire (just as fast as you can work the trigger). The Mini-14 is also a very popular sporting firearm.

If you show these two pictures to a hoplophobe they will most likely wet their pants in sheer terror of the first one and not mind the second one so much since it looks so much like Grandpa's squirrel rifle. After all, they are trying to be reasonable, they don't want to take your guns...right?

Ruger Mini-14 Tactical

OK, fine...

I have been taken to task for my lack of blogging.

Not really, but it was pointed out to me that I haven't done it for a while.

So, here's what I've been up to:

 This dollhouse has been a work in progress for several years, Laura bought it ten or eleven years ago. I finally got it done and took it to Florida for the eldest grand-daughter. She's going to have to finish the shingles on the roof, but all the structure is complete at least.

 Along with the bathroom we are also pulling up all the carpet in the house. We got the front room more or less complete (SWMBO still hasn't decided what final floor covering she wants) and moved the bookshelves in what will become the library when I get around to relocating a few walls.

 My Little Pony got a styling bar for my birthday, I've wanted to put one on it for a while and now I have.

 Eldest Boy finally moved out and I got my train room back!

 I had some passenger equipment custom painted. Above is a 4-6-4 Hudson streamline locomotive in Erie paint. To the best of my knowledge the Erie never had Hudsons, much less streamlined ones, but it sure does look good. It leads a set of streamline cars that I also had painted in the Erie scheme...just before finding a full set of factory painted cars at the local hobby shop.

Below is a set of heavyweight passenger cars in Norfolk and Western paint. Of course, as soon as I had them painted a set of factory painted ones showed up at a train show...

 I also had a semi-streamlined Pacific painted for the N&W. Again, as far as I know the N&W did not have semi-streamlined Pacifics. It was a fine running locomotive when I disassembled it for paint. Unfortunately it isn't any more. It will look good on the display line I guess.  Maybe one day I'll figure out how to get it to run properly again, but until then I have a pair of J class locos to pull the varnish.

Last but not least, yesterday was the third anniversary of my first date with M. It was snowing, so the restaurant was empty and we had the full attention of the wait staff...which wasn't so good when I was trying to monopolize her attention...but the date went well.

And that's about it.

26 May 2017


When last we met I had just started on the shower. I am pleased to report that the work is now done, it was a long hard pull but it all came together in the end.

 The last post talked about the drain and the floor board that had to be replaced, much to my surprise I managed to measure everything just right and it came out perfectly. So, starting from there, we continue.

 Here is the shower pan installed. If I were going to do it again I would cut the bottom 2 or 3 inches off of that back wall so the pan would be against the studs. I would have taken the paneling off, but it is glued to the wall board (and the wall board is glued to the studs) and I didn't feel like replacing the wall boards. Maybe I should have. I did use a mortar bed, but I could have done a better job leveling it. It isn't bad, but it's not perfect.

With the purple board up it was now time to install some corrugated metal. Notice the beam at the top, it is there to stabilize the new wall. We opted not to go all the way to the ceiling with that wall because of the vent fan right there, it will get a new fan with a light because it is somewhat dark in that corner with the new cabinet installed.

And the finished product, with the shower doors installed., the woodwork stained (I'm going to try to convince milady that the 2x4 stud there in the middle should be painted; the beam got stained, too, and it looks great) and the cabinet painted. Everything is leak-free and it works pretty good.

The train room is also coming along well, there are no pictures but I did get the linoleum floor cut and put in. Unfortunately I missed two of the old carpet staples, so there are two small holes in the linoleum. They are small enough that they shouldn't be noticed and they will be under the train tables anyway. Next in there is to get the door trim painted and put on, and I really should have painted the baseboards before I put them back in, too. Now I'll have to paint them in place.

And last but not least, I must sadly announce the end of the Redhead of the Month. It's getting harder and harder to find the time to update the blog as I should, not to mention more and more difficult to find pictures that I like well enough to use that I haven't used already. So, as a final offering, the last ROTM will not be a picture, but a painting.

Love and Pain by Edward Munch

Much love to you.

12 March 2017

What I've Been Up To

M wants a new shower. She doesn't like the old one because it's too small. So we have ordered a shower pan and the old tub has been removed. I built a wall to enclose the new shower and got the pieces for the plumbing.

The drain for the tub was nestled inside a huge hole cut into the floor, so I had to cut the huge hole out to put in a piece of plywood from floor joist to floor joist. But wait...for that I must have tools!

OK, that was too many tools, so I ended up just getting the set that had the circular saw and the drill. The collecting of tools and materials took up my Saturday, so the drain and floor work was scheduled for Sunday. But lo and behold, Sunday brought this:

Fortunately it was only a light dusting, and by noon the sun had come out and it was gone. So, under the house I went to change out the water filter and install the drain. Once the drain had been assembled and tied in it was time to install the patch on the floor.

With that being done we are now ready to mix and spread mortar to bed in the shower pan and then we can start putting the surround up. She wants to go with corrugated metal for the surround, so I will have a fun time figuring out how to poke the faucet handles through the wavy metal without creating a channel for water to get in behind it.

But that will wait for another day.

08 March 2017


Have a redhead.

13 February 2017

That Was Nice

Valentines Day will mark the second anniversary of Mrs Hades foolish decision to hang out with me for a while.

Of course I'm working on Valentines Day this year. But, since it's on a Tuesday (that's tomorrow guys, you have only one day to get your flower shopping in) she has to work as well. So instead of celebrating on Valentines Day we took the weekend off and drove the convertible to Myrtle Beach. It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

Although Friday's temperatures never climbed out of the fifties, both Saturday and Sunday were in the mid to upper 70's (and in fact I saw 80 very briefly on my dashboard thermometer Sunday afternoon). Cruising Myrtle Beach, ragtop down, with my lady by my side...yeah, life just doesn't get any better than that.

This week will see temperatures back in the "seasonal" range (meaning highs in the 50's and lows in the 30's). Oh well, back to the daily grind I suppose, but it was nice while it lasted.

07 February 2017

Oh, My Neglected Blog

Welcome back to what is becoming my seldom visited corner of the internet. It's been almost a month since I last posted. In that time we have inaugurated a new President, endured a flood of protesters as a result, and watched a stunning Super Bowl comeback.

Closer to home Eldest Son has finally moved out again, this time for the last time. That leaves only Youngest Son at home. We are finally moving forward with getting him tested and maybe we can get him some help on the learning front. I think he has come to grips with the fact that Occupy Dads House is not going to be a lifetime option, so he's showing proper enthusiasm for the project.

Today is a special anniversary for me personally as well. For the seventh of February 2015 I posted about my new Z scale model trains showing up at the Refuge. I took a few pictures of them, went out for the night with a Meetup group to hear a local band, returned home and went to bed.

It was a largely unremarkable evening overall, but a pretty girl smiled at me and laughed when I  attempted to be funny, and at the end of the evening she said she liked my car. We drove away, in separate cars but going the same direction. I found out she lived in the next town over from me, only 7 miles away or so. I hoped she would show up at the next event so that I could see her smile again.

This was, of course, the day I discovered that the lovely Mrs Hades and I occupied the same planet, and although I was blissfully unaware at the time my world would never again be the same.

Also two years ago I had not yet posted the February RotM, and then as now GFA had not showed up to give me a hard time about it. So once more, before that happens, I bring to you the next Last Refuge of a Scoundrel Redhead of the Month:

Redhead Girl by Ajsena

10 January 2017


Old NFO had a bit of an issue with a credit card lately.

It must be the season. Just before departing on Christmas vacation...and I mean the DAY before...I got a call from Navy Federal Credit Union asking me if I was in Utah...because my bank card was. Fortunately for me they are always right on top of things so it didn't cost me anything but frustration. (Today it cost me an extra $25 because my insurance payment didn't go through, but that was my own fault for not changing the account numbers.)

As near as I can figure I ran into a card skimmer. I went to the gas station to fill up and used the card reader at the pump. It asked me for my PIN and then asked me to re-enter it. Note to the unwary, NEVER DO THIS! If it asks you for your PIN twice, cancel the transaction and go elsewhere.

Using the information off of my card they were able to duplicate it, but without the PIN they are limited to credit transactions. The bank caught it and declined the transaction, but this meant the card got canceled and they would have to issue a new one.

Did I mention I was getting ready to leave town for two weeks to go on vacation?

While I was on the phone with them I logged into the bank website to find the entirety of my savings account had been transferred to checking, something that I did not do. I asked the nice lady on the phone about it and she tracked it down to an online transaction originating from a computer in...Northern Virginia. So, they immediately put a hold on my online transactions as well.

Did I mention I was getting ready to leave town for two weeks to go on vacation?

So while I was ranting and raving about not being able to access my accounts they helpfully informed me that my wife's card would still work, as well as her online access. Mrs Hades of course found this very humorous and called it "wife insurance" (as if she needs it).

My only recourse was to go to a Navy Federal Credit Union branch office and they would be able to close my existing accounts, open new ones, transfer the funds and issue me a new card on the spot. The only problem is, the nearest NFCU branch to the Refuge is an hour and a half in the opposite direction from where we were going.

But wait, her brother lives in NoVa, and there are lots of branches there!

So, a little change in plans, a detour through NoVa (which actually didn't add any travel time to the trip; we just went north and then west instead of west and then north), a quick stop by the bank and lunch with Brother In Law and all was as it should be.

I then spent a few hours on the laptop changing all my direct deposits (you can do this with DFAS but it takes some hoop-jumping; I had to call my place of employment to do the same) and online accounts (Amazon, Paypal, etc) to the new numbers. Unfortunately I forgot USAA and ended up paying a bounced check charge from them, but that is all squared away now, too.

I am also now in the habit of checking my bank accounts, if not daily then every other day, to catch anything that may be wrong. Probably something I should have been doing all along, but had not been. It's a good thing for me that Navy Fed has such a sharp anti-fraud division.

The upside to all this technology is it makes things convenient. The down side to all this technology is...it makes things convenient. We have always had scammers of one sort or another, the digital world just gives them another outlet to perpetuate their fraud. This one is just immediate and more convenient since they never have to leave their mother's basements in order to scam you out of all your hard earned life savings, as well as your good name.

So far I've been lucky, but I will pay double rates for the guy who invents software that makes the computers of hackers and online scammers to self destruct any time they try to ply their trade...and triple rates if said destruction immolates the scammers as well.

Yes, that's right. I said it. Scammers and hackers must die in a fire. Horribly. On Christmas. In front of their relatives.

But since it looks like we will always have them with us, it is up to us to safeguard ourselves.

New Year Catch Up

December brought a lot of travel for the holidays. As we did last year, Mrs Hades and I made a multi-state visit of friends and relatives...mostly relatives. Eleven states in as many days, although most of them were simple drive-throughs with stops only for gas and essentials. With her parents in Pennsylvania and mine in Iowa, that makes for a long time in a car together. It's a good thing we're so well matched.

With December done we came home to resume our normal schedule, only to be greeted with, what is for this area, a major snow storm last Friday that has pretty much shut the whole area down all weekend. The temperatures are supposed to be climbing above freezing today for the first time since Friday, so the snow will be melting off starting today and continuing through the week. By Friday it is supposed to be in the 70's before dropping back down to our seasonally appropriate 50's.

Seasons of the South. Gotta love 'em.

And of course once again I am delayed in putting up the ROTM. I hope it was worth the wait.

Happy New Year everyone!

19 December 2016

Hotel Roanoke

The Hotel Roanoke was built by the Norfolk and Western Railroad, opening on Christmas Day in 1882 in a little town called Big Lick. The N&W had chosen Big Lick as it's headquarters and the hotel was to serve as the centerpiece of the grand city they intended to build there.

Hotel Roanoke, 1882
For 107 years the Grand Old Lady of Roanoke reigned on her hilltop, gradually becoming surrounded by the city of Roanoke as she watched the Norfolk & Western grow into the Norfolk Southern. Over the years the hotel gained a couple of new wings and a grand lobby and dining facility in 1937-38. Finally in 1989, long after the era of luxurious passenger trains had ended, the Norfolk Southern closed the hotel and donated it to the Virginia Tech Real Estate Foundation.

Hotel Roanoke, 1910
 In 1995 the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center was opened. The grand lobby, the Regency Room dining room, the Pine Room pub and the Palm Court are much as they were on the day the hotel was closed and the hotel still sits atop her hill, watching over the city that she helped to build.

Today the hotel is part of the Hilton's Curio Collection.

 Every year the hotel erects a Christmas tree in the lobby, the only year there was not a tree here was in 1982 when a birthday cake celebrating the hotels 100th birthday was displayed instead.

 The check in counter would be familiar to any of the hotels guests for the past 50 years or so. Great care was taken to ensure the history of the hotel was preserved when ownership passed from the Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation to Virginia Tech.

 The Palm Court was originally called the Oval Room because of its shape.

 The Pine Room was originally an officer's club, serving the Army and Navy aviators training at nearby Woodrum Field in Roanoke during WW2.

 Many of the hotels past accoutrements were on display, donated by the buyers who attended the great 17 day sale in 1989 when the hotel property was liquidated.

The fire in the fireplace is gas now instead of wood, but it still brings warmth to its corner in the main lobby. Below, this curved wall contains the Regency Room dining room and was once the outer wall of the hotel. The conference center was added for the hotels re-opening, enclosing the courtyard around the Regency Room.

 Mrs Hade's grandfather was an employee of the N&W in the 50's and was involved in the renovation of the hotel during that time period. It is speculated that if the timelines were synchronized it is quite possible that Hotel Roanoke is the conception point for her Uncle Jeff.

We visited the hotel this past weekend and had dinner in the Regency Room, we took some pictures for Grammy and enjoyed the annual Christmas tree display. This one, of course, is my favorite; the Coca Cola Christmas Train.

13 December 2016


Bridget has written a couple of books.

They might make good Christmas presents.

Afterword: Sadly, her blog has become invitation only, and I wasn't on the invite list, so it has been taken off the blog roll.
 It will be missed, especially the recipes. Maybe one of her next books will be a cookbook.

08 December 2016

Tis The Season

The Subaru is fixed and once again on the road. It has been running now for a couple of weeks, but time will tell how well the fix took this time.

Eldest Son will no longer be driving it, though, he finally scraped enough money together to get his car back on the road. One less yard ornament in front of the house.

Speaking of yard ornaments, the tree is up and decorated but I have not put anything up outside. I might not since we are once again going to be traveling for Christmas.

And speaking of Christmas, the lovely Ms Heyworth would like to wish you a Merry one.

19 November 2016

(insert expletives here)

Subaru. Head gaskets. Again.

It started overheating last week, I thought it couldn't be head gaskets since we just put them in. We tried purging the air and a pressure test, found a few leaks and corrected them, but in the end the head gaskets are just blown again.

They have less than 5000 miles on them. I haven't even changed the oil since the last time they were changed.

I'm going with the turbo gaskets this time around, I am told they last longer. Instead of spending a lot of money and time on it this time I'm just going to yank the heads and put the gaskets on it. The heads were just planed and should be fine but I'll check them with a straightedge before putting them back on. That's what I did the time before last and they lasted 90,000 miles that time.

It likewise just got a new timing belt and timing belt kit (pulleys, water pump, etc), belts and hoses so all it should need is fluids and gaskets. Oh, and bolts, $65 for the set, one use and that's it (at times like this I really miss my smallblock Chevy, the finest V8 motor ever produced by anyone at any time in the history of ever, period, and if you don't believe that you are just wrong).

I swear if I have to put head gaskets on this thing again in the next year it's going on the block. The entire reason for getting newer cars was so I wouldn't have to do this all the time.

Either way, this is my very last Subaru.

06 November 2016


Yesterday was Love Your Red Hair Day.

What's not to love?

28 October 2016

I Didn't

get to the range yesterday like I wanted to.

I didn't go to the dentist like I was supposed to do either.

Both have been rescheduled.

26 October 2016

Speaking Of

I got an email over the transom today (or maybe yesterday, shows you how much I check my email...about as often as I write blog posts it seems) from a company called Wideners Reloading and Shooting Supply. I've never done business with them before (so the FTC can go bugger off) but they have an article about reloading powder that I found interesting, and maybe you will, too.

Here is the email in its entirety (with comments when I deem appropriate):

Anne from Widener’s over here - I can't believe the election is only 12 days away! As I saw on your blog that you have been preparing your readers for our 2016 Election of Trump v. Hillary with your latest share from Zero Hedge on how the elite have no idea that society is near the breaking point (Note: my link, HT: Guffaw in AZ) I also read that you hope to get back to the range as well. (Note: my link) Maybe we can help inspire your readers and you!

We just published a Guide to Smokeless Powder
(Note: original link) for ammo reloaders. As you probably know, smokeless powder is one of the most important components of ammo and one of the most complicated. We decided to go through the basics of reloading powder to show the different characteristics and how your choice of powder can affect your shot.

With the election coming up we don’t know what will happen with the world of factory ammo. Because of that, we anticipate a lot of questions about reloading in the coming months.

Our hope is that the guide will help make reloading less intimidating for shooters. I think you’ll find the high resolution images to be a great resource for your readers who may be considering reloading - or may already do so. There is also a great video that demonstrates burn rate in a way that is really easy to understand.

We'd be honored if you'd take a look and feel free to use any of the images or videos for your site.

Thank you for your time,


I thought it was interesting, maybe you will, too.

22 October 2016

Shame on Me

I need to get to the range more often, and now that I'm a member I really have no excuse not to.

Lately between hurricanes and doctors appointments I really haven't had the time, but that is not truly a good excuse. I really hate to go during the week because Mrs Hades can't come with me, and on the weekends we often do other things, but that's not really a good excuse, either. I'm certain that if I scheduled range time during one of our weekends she'd be glad to go, and if I went by myself on the weekdays she wouldn't mind.

Last weekend I worked and last week I had my Happy Birthday borescope inspection so those two days were pretty much shot in the...OK, bad joke. On the bright side, however, we did get down to Eagle 1 when the doc was finished with me, where the nice lady behind the counter showed a Glock 43 to Mrs Hades. Unfortunately they didn't have one to rent so we couldn't try it out, but the Mrs liked the feel of it in her hand well enough to suspect there may be one in her future.

This weekend is a postponed anniversary trip and next week I have a dentists appointment in the afternoon, which should not keep me away from the range in the morning at least. I'm going to try to get there then. It's a weekday so Mrs Hades won't be along for the trip, but I really do need to go.

And since hunting season is upon us now, I'll bring the rifles out to play a bit.

This post brought to you by the reminder that my range fees are due for the year, which also reminds me that it's been a while since I've been out there.

I Fear

that he is right.

I hope that he is wrong.

And seeing what comes of relying on hope does not give one warm fuzzy feelings regarding the future.

Either way I'm going to enjoy this weekend with Mrs Hades and deal with what comes when it comes.

HT: Guffaw in AZ

14 October 2016

In Other News


Life Goes On

Hurricane Matthew came to visit. He left us without power for not quite 24 hours which wasn't enough to melt the ice cubes in my freezer so all is well. Better for me than for some, but I was certainly thinking about a generator after hearing my neighbors. All I really need is something to run the water pump for the well, but being able to run the refrigerator/freezer would be good, too.

I have a camp stove and plenty of gas for it and I have a fireplace in case of cold weather and extended outages, but water is something I have to have brought in. Fortunately M insists on bottled water so we always have plenty on hand, and we were able to use the copious amounts of rainwater collected in buckets for flushing water.

The bottom line though is we got lucky. The temperatures have been moderate lately so it was neither too hot or too cold, even after the storm had passed, so neither heat nor AC was a critical necessity. That is definitely not always the case. We were OK for drinking water but if the power had been out much longer flushing water would have certainly been an issue.

I'm wondering how difficult it would be to have an old fashioned hand pump put in. One of the houses I rented once upon a time had a small one mounted on the kitchen counter beside the sink, which I thought was a great idea. I'm thinking something like that would have to be designed with the house, but one out in the yard may not be overly difficult.

I'm also going to need to get some more lamp oil and maybe one or two more hurricane lamps. The one we had never really got used but it would have been nice to have a few backups just in case the power stayed out longer than it did.

In other news, my work schedule changed on the first of the month. Once upon a time I worked what they call a red/blue or a 2-2-3 schedule. The way it works is thusly: working 12 hour days (or in my case, nights) in one weeks time, starting from Sunday, you will work Sunday, off Mon/Tues, work Wed/Thur and be off for Fri/Sat. The next week you will be off the days you worked on the previous week and work the days you were off. The nice thing about this schedule is you get a 3 day weekend every other weekend, but the down side is you have to keep your days plotted on a calendar for planning purposes.

For the past 8-9 years, however, I've been working a front/back schedule. The way that one works is I was on every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and ever other Wednesday, so one week I would work 3 in a row and the next week I would work 4 in a row (I was on the front end; a different crew worked the back end consisting of Thursday, Friday and Saturday and the alternate Wednesdays). The nice thing about this schedule is that you always know what days you have off and you only have to keep track of one day for planning purposes, the down side is every weekend you will be working one of the two days (the weekend being Saturday and Sunday)

The back end crew (led by their senior tech) decided it sucked working all of the prime tail-chasing days of Friday and Saturday, so they took a vote to change it (isn't that cute, they took a vote!). Of course what they WANTED to do was change our alternating days from Wednesday to Saturday, so instead of working half of every weekend (remember the weekend is Saturday and Sunday, not Friday/Saturday) I would get to work all of every other weekend and half of the rest, while they would get every other weekend off altogether.

When I pointed out that M works M-F and so I would be giving up half the days in the month I had off with her in exchange for nothing I was told that was the point; I had had it too good for too long so it was my turn to suffer. I suggested that if they wanted fair, which is what they were claiming they wanted, a red/blue schedule would be the most fair way for everyone. You would have thought I invited them to a group self-immolation.

I'm sorry...no. I have enough seniority and have invested enough sweat equity that I don't have to take that particular orifice violation. So, back to red/blue we went, which caused the instigator of the whole schedule change fiasco to put in his resignation.

I see I forgot to mention that the instigator took the boss and the bosses boss to HR over it. At any other company the HR director would have declined to get involved, but at ours they sailed right in, prepared to do battle on the instigators part, until it was pointed out to them (by the legal department) that the rest of the group was working red/blue so the instigators claim of discrimination was ridiculous from the beginning (no he wasn't a minority, just an asshole).

At any rate, taking your boss (and your bosses boss) to HR does not usually lead to a long career with the company in question, so when the resignation was tendered it was immediately and gladly accepted.

So, with the weekend of the 7th, 8th and 9th suddenly free M and I decided to take a little trip to Myrtle Beach for our anniversary...which brings us back to the first part of this post.

Obviously we didn't go. The trip has been re-scheduled for the weekend of the 21st-23rd and hopefully the weather that we have had for the past week will continue through those dates.

Last year our honeymoon was partially spoiled by the remnants of Hurricane Joaquin meandering through the Appalachians when we were trying to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, this year it was Matthew devastating the coast on the weekend we were supposed to be going to the beach.

I certainly hope this doesn't turn into a habit.

But this weekend I'll be working the entire weekend for the first time in a very long time, and then Monday...ah, Monday...

Did I mention I turned 50? Yay me.

01 October 2016

Happy Anniversary

The lovely Mrs Hades and I were wed exactly one year ago today.

I've had a good year.

And to commemorate that event, this months ROTM spot will be taken over by the one that makes me smile.

I love you M. Happy Anniversary!

11 September 2016

I Remember

I remember where I was.

I remember what I was doing.

I remember what happened.

I won't ever forget.

04 September 2016

Another Month

Yesterday was the first Redhead Festival held on the East Coast in the USA, held in Dunbar WV. I don't know if they made it or not but they were hoping to set the world record for the largest number of gingers gathered in one spot.

In honor of that event the Redhead of the Month is not a person, but instead an event, represented by this photo taken by festival goer Matt Meadows.

And also, since it is September it must be Kilted to Kick Cancer month! Head on over to this link, pick your team and make your donation, then make an appointment to get your junk checked out. Mine is set for the middle of the month, and I've got a nifty new Sport Kilt in the Navy Edzell tartan that I'll be wearing for it.

Other than that...I got nothin'.

19 August 2016

And furthermore...

So it looks like my schedule will be changing soon, which doesn't bode well for my involvement in the train club but should be good in other ways. I'll be working every other weekend, but now instead of working every Sunday I'll be getting all three days off every other weekend. Unfortunately the weekend that I will be working includes my anniversary weekend, but fortunately for me Mrs Hades is as understanding as she is lovely so we will be celebrating the weekend after.

Our plans are to drive the coast road, NC12, and see what there is to see all along the outer banks. Hopefully there won't be another hurricane (Note: Hurricane Matthew did, indeed, come to visit, damn his eye) to deal with as there was last year, but if there is one I hope that it will go to the mountains that weekend like it did last year instead of going to the coast.

The Mustang is having a brake squeak problem again, in the right rear. I found a sticking caliper pin, which I lubricated and unstuck, but the squeaking came back. I then installed slotted disks and new pads on all four corners, which solved the problem for a little while but it is back. I have obtained a new caliper mount and hopefully that will solve the problem, if not I do have a new caliper and brake hose. (Note: it ended up being the anti-rattle clip that had come out of position and was rubbing the rotor. New clip, problem solved.)

Last but not least I cooked up another batch of Chicken Marsala tonight, using a modified recipe, and it meets the full approval of Mrs Hades, who is a Chicken Marsala connoisseur. The modified recipe makes a lot of extra sauce, which Mrs Hades likes, and has a nice subtle taste which was appreciated across the board. It looks like this will go on the regular Refuge menu.

And without further ado, here it is:

Chicken Marsala

1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground oregano
8-12 chicken breast filets (or 4-6 whole boneless breasts, pounded 1/4” thin)
4 T olive oil
8 T butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 med Vidalia onion, sliced thin (optional)
2 cups dry Marsala cooking wine
3 T chopped parsley (or 2 T dried parsley flakes)
1 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta of choice

Melt 4T butter in pan, add olive oil. Combine flour, salt, black pepper and oregano in a Ziploc bag. Pound the chicken pieces until they are 1/4” thick. Shake 3-4 chicken fillets at a time in the flour mixture and brown, approximately 3-4 minutes each side, over medium high heat. Remove to a separate container and cover to keep warm.

Add the mushrooms, garlic and onion if used. Saute over medium heat until brown. approximately 4-5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Marsala,add the parsley and rosemary. Stir well, return the chicken to the pan. Cover and simmer on medium low heat approximately 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces once more and cover to keep warm. Swirl in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, stir until an emulsion is made.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Dish the pasta out, add chicken to each serving and cover with sauce. Serve immediately.


06 August 2016


August marks yet another year of y'r humble correspondent circling the drain sun, for a half century now. Funny, I don't feel a year over 49.

In other news, I think I've just about gotten this Chicken Marsala recipe down pat:

1/2 C flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground oregano
6-8 chicken breast filets (or whole boneless breasts, pounded 1/4” thin)
4 T olive oil
8 T butter, divided
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 cups mushrooms
2 cups Marsala cooking wine
3 T chopped parsley (or 2 T dried parsley flakes)
1 tsp rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta of choice

 Combine flour, salt, black pepper and oregano. Dredge 2-3 chicken filets at a time in flour and brown in olive oil in skillet, 4 min each side, on medium high heat. Remove to platter.

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in skillet. Saute mushrooms and garlic over medium heat until browned, 5-8 minutes. Deglaze pan with Marsala and add parsley and rosemary. Swirl in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Reduce heat. Return chicken to pan, stir well to coat all chicken pieces with sauce. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes. Cook the pasta according to package directions as the chicken simmers. Serve over pasta.

This is perfect for date night, served with a nice Riesling wine.

And since it is my birthday, I'd like someone to sing Happy Birthday to me.

Oh yes. She would do nicely.

05 July 2016

4th of July

Happy Independence Day!

This is my second 4th of July with M's family, and even though there were no fireworks due to the weather we still had a pretty good turnout for the party.

I also finally got to meet her Uncle Mark, who is a Syrian Orthodox priest, and he did a little something for us, in her family church, with her Mom and Dad in attendance, and her newlywed brother and sister in law joined us.

If we had opted for the big ceremony it would have been held here, and her uncle would have officiated, so in a way she got the wedding she wanted without all the hassle involved. This makes her happy, and making her happy makes me happy.

So it's been a pretty good holiday. I hope yours was just as good.

01 July 2016


This month's ROTM is brought to you by...One More Time

Happy July everyone!

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


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


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...


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!