07 September 2023

How Liberty Dies


 Electronic locks are sketchy at best, especially gun safe locks. Let's face it, if you have an electronic lock the entire thing can just be taken off the door, and if the correct power is applied to the plug the damn thing will unlock.


Just because an electronic lock on the gun safe is sketchy doesn't mean the manufacturer should have a back-door code, and just because they have a back-door code doesn't mean they should supply it to the Feds just because they ask for it.

Yes, they had a warrant. For THIS GUY'S property, not for EVERY safe that is out there. But, thanks to their decision, every Liberty safe with an electronic lock is now compromised. Liberty should have shrugged and said "Why should we have this guy's combination?" and let it go at that. Instead, they chose to be the Bud Light of gun safes.

Let's see how that works for them.

24 August 2023

School Daze

 Mrs. Hades has gone back to school and so have I. Mrs. Hades is, of course, a teacher, and I am starting on my last class for the degree that I should have had 30+ years ago.

 It's a C++ programming class, and I have to say that there isn't much beyond the syntax that is new to me. I had an earlier class in microprocessors that required some lower level programming (not quite on the order of bits and bytes, but actually pretty darn close), and there has been some other bits and pieces of programming in other classes (mostly using the Arduino IDE), so the course hasn't been very tough so far.

This is an eight week class, so by the middle of October I should hold an Associates in Applied Science in the field of Electronics Engineering Technology to go along with my Associates in Applied Science in Mechatronics Engineering Technology that I achieved last spring. Of the two, the electronics degree is the one that I wanted most.

I might even decide to walk the stage for this one.

08 July 2023


The auger broke on the second day (Wednesday). It hit a rock, spun out of my hands and broke both the bolts on the spring that holds the two auger halves together, bruising the hell out of the back of my left hand. I quit after that. I managed to dig zero of four holes, but I at least got a start on one of them.

Thursday I went to town and got bolts for the auger. I brought them home and found that they were too short. Back to the store I went and bought longer bolts. I put them in and the damn thing wouldn't start. Back to town to get some carb cleaner, some judicious spraying into carb throats and it started. It wouldn't dig a damn thing, the blades were so dull it wouldn't cut through butter. I spent the rest of the day with a chainsaw instead.

Friday I went to town again for various things, worked some more with the chainsaw, then took the auger apart and sharpened the bits on my bench grinder. I reassembled the auger and my son Jack showed up to lend a hand. We got the auger started and put it to work, it died ten minutes later and wouldn't start again.

 I think it's probably due to the old gas and oil that I had laying around. Oh the joys of two-stroke power, I should have bought new gas and oil from the beginning. The carb will have to come off for a thorough cleaning before getting fresh gas and new oil. I need to take the carb apart on the generator, too, so I'll do both at the same time. 

For that matter, I have a gas powered chain saw that needs some work, too. The battery on the electric Ryobi chainsaw lasts about 15 minutes and then needs recharged. I bought a bigger battery for it and the damn thing won't physically fit into the hole in the chainsaw. That made me happy.

This morning the wife and I went out and dug the last four holes in a couple of hours with a spade and a post hole digger.

Maybe I'll get that auger running again, and maybe I won't.

04 July 2023

Happy Fourth of July

 I've taken my two work-days off this week, not to travel and celebrate the holidays but to do some work around the house. I need to get my new train room cleaned out, I need to finish some ceilings and floors, and I need to build a fence.

So, for the Fourth of July I was digging fence posts.

Several months ago, I forget how many, I mentioned to Range Partner that I needed some holes dug and asked if he had an auger on his tractor. Instead, he said he had a gas powered single operator auger that he would be glad to part with. (I think this was actually before he developed his airplane addiction, but I'm not quite sure.) Deals were made, cash changed hands, and the auger came to rest in my shed.

Today I pulled it out of its box, attached the auger bit to the power head, fueled it up and put it to work. I managed to dig 2.5 holes before I gave up for the day. Yeah, 2.5. The first was a test hole in the back that I dug down about a foot before Mrs Hades reminded me the holes need to be in the front for the new fence. Blah blah blah.

So I drug my new auger around to the front and commenced to digging holes.

First off, it's not as fast as I thought it would be. Faster than a post-hole digger, don't get me wrong, but not as fast as I had hoped. Second, it's hot today. Damned hot. When I was digging the hole in the back I was in the shade, but just in front of the driveway it's in the direct sunlight. Next up, thanks to my ongoing rock-growing enterprise, I ran into a lot of rock seeds. 

And lest I forget to mention, every 4-6 inches of digging you have to pull the auger up and clear the hole with the aforementioned post-hole digger. Not such a big deal, really, because about the time the hole needs cleared the auger runs into a rock seed and twists out of your hands anyway.

I got the first hole dug, inserted the post and tamped the dirt back around it. I stepped back and proudly observed my work, and then realized that this particular post was also going to be a gate post so it needed to be set in concrete. Back out of the hole came the post and the post-hole digger came back into play to clear the hole once more. But, I wasn't ready for concrete yet, so I moved on to the next hole.

I ran out of steam about halfway through this hole. I put everything away and went inside for a cool drink, thinking I would wait until the sun set behind the tree line and provided me a little shade. A couple of hours later I went out and finished that hole. This one didn't need cement, so I was then able to place the post and stomp the dirt around it to hold it straight and level. 

It was about then that I decided that I was done for the day. I'll go out tomorrow after the sun sets behind the trees and have another go at it. I can get two more holes dug for posts that don't need cement and set those posts, then I'll have two to dig that do. Once they get done I can mix up the concrete and set those three posts, then go about putting up the slats. Finally, after that is all done, it will be time to build two 4 foot gates so I'll still have access to my utility trailer and the lawn guy can get his mower back there.

Hopefully after a couple of days of fence building I'll have everything done that needs to get done. This part of the fence needed to be pretty because it's visible from the street, but the rest of it will be wire fence on steel poles so I won't have any more holes to dig for a while...until Mrs Hades decides it is time to expand the front yard fence to meet the back yard fence. The fence between us and the neighbor has to be pretty, too, you see. Fortunately there won't have to be a gate in that one.

I am somewhat disappointed in my progress today, I must say. I used to be able to do all of this type of work in the hot sun without having such a problem with it, but I'm a whole lot closer to 60 these days than I am to 30. How that was allowed to happen I can't say, but there it is.

02 June 2023


 Some time ago, wanting a computer for my train room to run Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI), I purchased a used HP Mini 210 computer, complete with Atom 455 processor and 1GB of installed memory.

When it arrived I was irritated to learn that it didn't have a hard drive, so off to the getting place I went to get a 500MB SSD hard drive. While I was there, I picked up another 1GB memory stick to upgrade the ram (2GB is all it can take). I had a copy of Windows 7, so I decided to install it as the operating system.

I then tried to install JMRI and found that I needed a copy of Java that wasn't supported by Win7. So off to the Microsoft place I went to install Win10, a program that I normally hate but that's what I needed to run what I wanted to run.

Somewhere in there I also picked up another Mini, this one a 110 with the same processor that I upgraded to 2GB of installed memory as well. This one already had Win7 installed, with the same problems, so I upgraded it as well.

For some reason I got the 110 to work with JMRI first, so that became the train room computer. With Windows 10 installed these things are glacially slow, but they do work after a while. JMRI worked pretty quickly so that was fine,but since I didn't really need it for anything the 210 went on the shelf.

Fast forward a couple of years or so. Now that I am pursuing a degree in electronics, I need to take a class in C programming. I don't really want to subject my everyday laptop to schoolwork again, so I decided to pull out the old Mini 210.

I thought I would get a jump on the class by getting a copy of C for Dummies and getting familiar with it. The book recommended a Windows app of Ubuntu that the Mini will not support, however, there was the option of just using Linux instead of trying to find a Windows app. I've been playing with the idea of fooling around with Linux anyway, so that's the option I went for.

I searched the internets and the three versions (called Distros, who knew there were so many flavors of Linux?) that were most recommended were Puppy, Mint and Lubuntu (which is apparently a lighter, faster version of the classic Ubuntu)*. I downloaded all three and made USB sticks for them to try them out.

Puppy works great, but I couldn't get it to do anything. I later found out that it isn't considered to be a good distro for the beginners, it's just recommended for old slow computers with limited capabilities, which made it a good choice for the old Minis.

I then tried Lubuntu, but I think I must have gotten a corrupted file because I couldn't get it to load at all. I have since recreated another USB stick for it with a different mirror site, but I haven't tested it out yet**. That leaves Linux Mint.

I chose to install it exclusively, wiping out Windows 10 in the process, since I don't intend to use this computer for anything serious. In fact, I probably would have left it on the shelf if not for the C programming class. 

 I stuck the stick into the computer port and rebooted it. It took a while to initiate on the computer from the stick, but it finally came up. I selected the install option and it took a while to get all loaded up. I then selected the options that I wanted and restarted it. Everything booted up like it was supposed to, so it's all ready to go. I will be playing with it for the next few weeks and I'll let you know how it went.

At any rate, it is installed on the Mini as we speak, so I have taken the first steps.

*Apparently there is another flavor, LXLE, that is also recommended so I downloaded it as well. I also found a recommendation for the Android operating system. So if Mint doesn't work out for me, I will have other options.

**Nope, still doesn't work.

27 May 2023

Just A Reminder

 Monday is Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is not the day you thank me for my service.


Memorial Day is the day you thank them for theirs.

18 May 2023

So This Happened


One down, one to go.

Quelle Surprise

 So as it turns out, the only thing Donald Trump has ever really been guilty of is Attempting to Govern While Republican.

Wake me up when someone (of substance) goes to FPMITA prison over it.

14 March 2023

Dear Ms. Wolf,

First and foremost, thank you.

I appreciate the fact that you can be wrong. I appreciate that fact because I, myself, have occasionally been wrong as well. We all have. As the saying goes, "to err is human."

The rest of that statement is "to forgive, divine."

I make no claim to being divine. All to the contrary, I fully and freely admit to being a flawed human being. The only perfect man, so the story I was told goes, was killed for his trouble, and I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that I ain't that guy.

And neither is anyone else.

It shames me to say that there are many on "my" side who will take your words and crow over them, they will grind it into your face and they will beat you over the head with them. Such creatures should remember that they ain't that guy, either. We can all be wrong.

You and I have, and I am sure will continue, to disagree over many things as a result of our ways of thinking. That's perfectly fine, and we can disagree without being disagreeable. I think that we all want the same things, we only differ in how we propose to obtain those things. Critical thinking demands that we not only listen to the "other" side, but we pay attention to it and honestly evaluate what they are saying. This is, after all, why we have a free press to begin with.

It takes a lot of courage to admit to being wrong, even in private, but to do it as you have earns from me a large degree of respect. I can only hope that, in your place, I would also have the courage to admit to being wrong with as much candor and honesty as you have done in this instance.

I can also hope that others, on both sides, learn from your example. I am still pessimistic enough to doubt it will happen, but hope springs eternal. But I digress.

One of the tenants of my religion is forgiveness, but the first step in achieving absolution is to first and foremost admit to doing wrong. You have certainly done that in this case, and your effort certainly deserves a reply. I can't claim to speak for all conservatives or Republicans. I can only claim to speak for me. And on my behalf, I would like to say,

"Apology accepted."

28 February 2023

A Bad Day At The Range

 is still a pretty good day.

It was a bit disappointing, however. I took the new-to-me AR upper and the lowers that I had built for it out to play, and the darn thing just would not feed from either of the lowers or from either of the magazines. If I bounced the darn thing on the polymer magazine the round would go in, but otherwise nada.

So I packed it up and took the Glock 36 to the pistol range next door and put 50 aluminum cased rounds through it. It had one FTE, not a stovepipe, where the ejector just slipped past the rim of the empty and didn't get it out. It came out with no issues, and that was the only problem with the aluminum cases.

Next, Range Partner had brought a couple hundred old reloads with him, so I helped him burn them up. I put 100 rounds through the 36 with only a few issues due more to light loads, I never had a squib but there were one or two that didn't go bang with enough authority to properly cycle the slide.

The verdict: since changing the barrel I haven't had a single problem with the gun that could not be attributed to ammo. Also, I managed to ring the steel consistently although I couldn't consistently hit the small swinging targets. So, I still suck at this game, but not as bad as once upon a time. Dry firing helps.

Once I got home I consulted the Internet regarding my AR issues and found that I have an M4 upper receiver mounted to an AR barrel. The difference is in the feed ramps. On the plain AR the feed ramps are integral only to the barrel extension (the rear-most part of the barrel that is fluted to mate with the bolt; so much to learn with the AR platforms); the regular AR has a flat front wall on its upper receiver with no ramps and the ramps on the barrel extension stop at the outside edge. 

On the M4, however, the feed ramps continue down into the front wall of the upper receiver and the barrel extension ramps are slightly deeper so it makes a smooth transition between the ramps in the upper receiver and ones in the barrel extension. The idea is that the M4 will feed better at faster cycle rates or with rounds bigger than the standard 5.56 which, mine being a 6.8, is. 

 The result of my setup is a ledge where the ends of the AR barrel extension ramps meet the ramps in the M4 upper, and that combination with my lowers and magazines tip the rounds downward just enough to catch that ledge. Funny thing is, the original setup (I bought just the upper, the guy I bought it from kept the lower to put a different upper on it) worked just fine.

 The cure is to either swap to an M4 barrel, or take a rotary tool or round file to the barrel extension ramps to match them to the receiver ramps. There is some debate as to whether it's a good idea to do this while the barrel is mated to the upper. I think this may be a job I'll leave to a gunsmith.

In other news, it looks like I may be picking up a .357, so I have that going for me. The last .357 I owned was a Taurus that I got from a "friend" over some money he owed me and then later found out that it had been lifted from his mother in law's truck, so I had to give it back. 

I am more certain of this one's ancestry, so that won't be an issue, but it is a lightweight S&W that is...let's say, somewhat uncomfortable...to shoot a lot due to the recoil inherent in a powerful cartridge and a light gun. I'll put some .38 through it for practice and keep the high power loads for business.

It's been too long since my last range day, but now that the weather is getting better I will work at improving that.

23 February 2023


 I accidentally aced my Harmonics module quiz. Three of the questions were closely related, two were identical and one was based on the answer of the other two. I flat-out guessed at the two identical questions and answered the third based on that flat-out guess, and because the one was right so was the other.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

Also, since I had all the homework done and turned in for the Thermodynamics module the instructor opened the quiz for that for me as well. I didn't ace it, but I only missed one of fifteen which is good for an A. I'll take it.

What that means is PHY-151 College Physics is effectively over except for the final project. My current grade is good enough that even if I zero out the final I will still pass, which means I just have a robotics class to complete for my AAS-MET degree. I'll be starting that class next month and I'll be done with it in May. In August I will register for a C programming class and a data communications class, then I'll have the AAS-EET degree as well.

And then I will be educated beyond my intelligence.

14 February 2023

Well Why Not

 I went to go somewhere in the Jeep today, and when I turned the key the little blinky dash lights came on but the starter didn't. Apparently the linkage between the lock cylinder and the electrical switch, called the actuator, is prone to failure and mine did.

I went online to do some pricing and holy smokes. Amazon has what I need for about seventeen bucks shipped. Auto Zone had the same part for about 40. Advance wants 66 bucks for the same part.

It will be here Thursday. Until then I'll drive the Baja. I need to get my money's worth out of that transmission anyway. It's just a shame, the weather will be nice enough for the next couple of days that I could have rode topless, but I guess I can just open the sunroof instead.

Take Off The Mask

 You look like a fucking idiot.

03 February 2023

02 February 2023

I've Been a Good Boy

I've already mentioned my degrees will be finished by Christmas.

My Jeep will also be paid off by Christmas. Truthfully I could pay it off now.

Also, my credit card balance is drawing down pretty quickly, and by the time I start school again in September I should be down to paying the balance every month (I use it for reoccurring payments).

I think I deserve a reward.

04 November 2022

In Other News

 I have just registered for what should be the final classes required for my Associates in Applied Science degree in the field of Mechatronics Engineering Technology from Vance Granville Community College. I should have all the requirements to graduate on the 9th day of May in the Year of Our Lord 2023.

After taking the summer off, I should then be able to register for the last two classes that I will need for my Associates in Applied Science degree in the field of Electronics Engineering Technology from the same Place of Matriculation, and should have all the requirements to graduate from that course of study in December of 2023.

And then I will finally have the degree that I should have had way back in 1990-something. The electronics one, that is; I'm only getting the mechatronics one because The Company is paying for it. Foolishly, they refused to pony up for the electronics degree, but I already had enough credits (aside from the two classes mentioned above, and to be fair I had them, too, they were just out of date by 30+ years) to earn that one as well with the credits obtained from the mechatronics course of study.

How Interesting...

 So I went to vote early because I am going to be out of pocket, as they say, on Election Day.

When I got to the polling place a helpful person (campaigner, obviously, since they weren't in the building and stayed outside of the proscribed "no campaigning" boundary, but they did not identify themselves) handed me a flyer saying that it would help me to fill out my ballot.

When I looked at it (after casting my vote) I had to laugh. Even though this helpful person did not identify herself as being with any particular candidate it wasn't hard to figure which party she was working for (of course the "PAID FOR" blurb in the left sidebar gives it away completely).

(For what it's worth, the actual ballot did not have any candidates name in bold print, nor did I cast a vote for any of the candidates marked on this example.)

14 October 2022

There Is No A In S.T.E.M.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are OBJECTIVE, meaning there are right and wrong answers in those four subjects. Regardless of your feelings on these subjects, facts are facts and wrong is wrong, and wrong can kill.

Art, on the other hand, is SUBJECTIVE, meaning there are no wrong answers. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and just because someone doesn't like a particular form or style of art doesn't make it wrong, and nobody has to die for it.

Lately there has been a push to include art in STEM, and it just doesn't fit. I don't know where it started but it needs to stop before someone gets hurt.

11 October 2022


 the time to deal with mental health issues is sometime BEFORE the gasoline gets poured into the bottles.

Family members of Reuel Rodriguez-Nunez, who was shot and killed by Raleigh police after lobbing several Molotov cocktails at them, think that "more should have been done to de-escalate the situation" and berate the police for failing to handle the situation as a mental health crisis.

Yeah...about that. If you know the guy was having psych problems, you (as family members) should have taken the steps to see that he got the help he needed before it became a crisis. The police are not equipped to handle such things at the scene of the crisis, their job is to stop it as quickly as possible before innocent members of the general public are harmed.

Which, regardless of your feelings about their methods, they did.

Their beef seems to be with one particular officer who is heard on body cam footage swearing at the suspect and encouraging him to "Do it! Do it! Give me the go-ahead!" just before he tosses a firebomb at the officer (at which case the four officers on scene open fire, hitting him 11 times).

Family members say he was "sending a message of his mental illness." I'm guessing this was not the first message, but in any case I would say this is an example of "message received."

Bottom line, if you have a family member in crisis...get them help. Otherwise, it may end tragically.

23 September 2022

I Get The Idea

 that Ron Desantis has read Alinsky's Rules for Radicals.

I was looking for the latest Mexican Word of the Day meme for the word Desantis. "Martha's Vineyard said they would love us but then Desantis away."

Oddly, Microsoft Bing couldn't find it...

26 July 2022


 But lest you think I'm relaxing and enjoying myself...

Eldest Daughter is going to have a formal wedding ceremony this year (they did the Justice o' the Peace thing but Son-in-Law wants a formal ceremony. She couldn't care less, but she's willing to do it for him) during the Annual Gathering of the Horde in Myrtle Beach, so my folks are going to fly in from the midwest. Beach week doesn't start until next Sunday (shame, since the very last Mustang Week in Myrtle Beach is going on this week), so the folks are going to stay with us for the week.

This means the Refuge, being in a constant state of reconstruction (Mrs Hades denies it, but I say when she moved in she decided the only thing that gets to stay is me), needed to be at least partially prepared so that the momentarily psychotic Mrs Hades didn't lose Favored Daughter-In-Law status.* This means I've had a "Honey Do (or else!)" list as long as my...arm.

To be fair, it's stuff that has needed to be done for a while, but between working and Mrs Hades' change of employment (still a teacher, just at a different school next year) and traveling and whatnot we haven't had the time to get it done. My trailer even now is filled with school stuff ready to be transported to the new school once Mrs Hades gets clearance to take it there, but since they are doing summer school there and Beach Week is next week it won't be for a couple of weeks yet. With the trailer filled certain construction (or rather, deconstruction) projects are on hold for the nonce.

But, even so, we have managed to put new flooring in the master bedroom (but unfortunately not the master bath, that room needs both floor and ceiling and then will finally be done) and re-arranged everything so that the "new" furniture we picked up on our VA/PA trip fits where it needs to. Everything else has been properly stowed (or stuffed away where it can't be seen), cleaned, dusted and polished. Several loads have gone to the landfill by way of the Baja, so some of the detritus and clutter is gone as well. We've even managed to hang up some pictures, some of them from my brother's wedding several years ago (holy crap was I a fat bastard).

Plans and arrangements have been made for Beach Week and Wedding Day, so that's done. Everyone else will arrive in Myrtle on Sunday, but we have to drop the pups off to the kennel (they are going to hate us) before we can head down there, so we won't be there until Monday around noon. That will give us six hours or so before the wedding (6:30 Monday afternoon), and then maybe the crazy can ease off for a while.

If it doesn't, I'll be ready to go back to work so I can recover from my vacation.

*Firstly, ain't gonna happen. My mom loves her, in fact once upon a time I jokingly said if anything happened between us Mom would keep Mrs Hades. She laughed...but she didn't deny it. Secondly, when I was in the first grade we bought a house and my dad started ripping the walls down as we were moving in, so Mom gets it.

21 June 2022

Adventures in Traveling

 The missus and I are out and about.

One of the first trips Mrs Hades and I took together was to her Grammy's 90th birthday party in Ohio. That was seven years ago, and we're going to go up and see her for her 97th birthday tomorrow. 

It's not going to be as big a production as her 90th was, but we had thought maybe she was going to fall short of her goal. More on that in a bit, but she lived in a retirement facility where she had her own apartment and the staff checked in on her several times a day to see if she was still among us.

One of those times they found her slumped over and unconscious, so they called the ambulance and took her to the hospital where she was found to be suffering from malnutrition. She's forgetting to eat, and since she lives alone there is no one to remind her to do so. So she is moving into a nursing home and her apartment will need to be cleaned out.

That's where I come in. You see, there are some items of furniture that Grammy wants Mrs Hades to have, so we hooked the trailer to the Scoobydoo and off we went. But first, we were going to go by Brother In Law's new house in Occupied Virginia to pick up a couple of sets of bunk beds that he no longer needs. For some reason Mom Hades wanted one set, and Mrs Hades wanted the other so that we would have a place to sleep when my parents are here this summer. Another to-do that I'll tell you about later.

So off we went, me in the Scooby with trailer and Mrs Hades in her ride with the furbabies. The trip to BIL's was uneventful, and we started loading. Five mattresses, which alone necessitated the use of my 4x7 utility trailer, but then we started hauling out all of the wooden parts. One set wasn't too bad, standard bunk beds, a pair each of headboards and footboards, four side rails, and two sets of slats. However, the other set has a trundle bed (which explains the fifth of the five mattresses).

There are a lot of parts to a trundle bed. And since, of course, that is the one that Mrs Hades wants, it all went into the bed of the Subaru. At least, the parts that would fit in the bed. The rest went into the back seat.

The trailer got topped off with a rolled up rug, which was just long enough to touch the bed side rails sticking out of the back of the Subaru, but no big deal I thought, and off we went again. That's when I noticed the vibration. Not that I could miss it once we got on the interstate since it was bad enough to blur the mirrors.

Aha, I thought, that damn rug is bouncing against the wooden bed parts, which in turn is hitting the back of the cab and causing vibration So first rest stop I came to I pulled over and redistributed the load. It was better, I thought, but still bad. I did this a couple of times and finally thought maybe I had a bad tire on the trailer. So I pulled over to the side of the road and checked the trailer tires out.

Finding nothing I pulled back out and made it about 150 feet before there was a godawful crash and the trucklet pulled to the right. Back on to the side of the road and I checked the Scooby tires this time, to find the right rear collapsed onto the tire. Upon further investigation what I found was the lug nuts were gone and the brake rotor was riding inside the surface of the wheel.

I unloaded the backseat so I could get to the jack and meager stash of tools I had on hand, jacked the trucklet up and surveyed the damage. What I found was three of the five studs broken off with the other two apparently serviceable. The wheel had come off and the brake rotor shield had deflected enough so that the rotor was riding on the inside surface of the wheel. The wheel had not come out of the wheel well, so there was no other damage at all. Apparently it was overtime day for my guardian angel, which was a good thing for a Monday.

I took a nut off of each front tire and put the wheel back on with only two lug nuts, then drove at 20 miles an hour up to the next exit where I found a nice mall parking lot to pull in to. A quick web search (the modern world is good for some things, like cell phones with 5G internet) showed a parts store right around the corner where I was able to obtain a jack stand, a tool set, and more importantly five studs and lug nuts for a 2003 Subaru Baja. Into M's car we went to obtain the needed supplies.

Fortune started (or perhaps, given how bad it could have been, continued) to smile on me at that point and I was able to pretty quickly replace the studs. There is enough room behind the rear hub of a 2003 Baja to extract and insert new studs without removing the hub, if you ever needed to know. Good thing, too, because removing that staked nut on the propeller shaft to take the hub off might have been more trouble than it was worth. At any rate, all new studs (I went ahead and replaced the two apparently good ones since I was there and didn't want to take any chances), wheel back on and appropriate use of a 4 way tire iron to seat them and we were once again mobile.

Three hours later than our previously scheduled arrival time, since our little side-trip had eaten enough time to bring on the evening and I didn't feel like pulling a loaded trailer over two lane mountain roads in the dark and opted to take the longer interstate route instead, we got to Mrs Hades parents house. We had gotten into a few rain showers when we got close, so I decided to cover the trailer and trucklet bed before turning in for the night.

Before setting out I had bought two brand new tarps, one to cover the trailer and one for the truck bed, so I broke them out and found that I may have slightly overestimated the size of tarps I was going to need...as in, one tarp was enough to cover both Subaru and trailer. Completely cover, that is, from Scooby grill to trailer tailgate. Oh well, I reasoned, if a job is worth doing it's worth overdoing, and the load was indeed covered.

Dad Hades has an awning he sets up for the 4th of July that consists of a steel pole frame and tarp to cover the top. The tarp is getting frayed, so he needs a new one. Looks like I'll be leaving at least one, maybe both, of my excessively sized tarps here for that purpose, they are about the right size.

Later this week we will unload the bed parts for the beds that will stay here and then reload the parts for the beds that are going home with us, along with the rest of the furniture that will be going back down south. Dad Hades has already gone to Ohio and picked it up for us, so it's here in PA and we won't have to take the Scooby and trailer to Ohio to get it, which was greatly appreciated. How long it will take to unload the trailer when we get home is another matter. It's a good thing I have the Jeep to drive to work. 

So why did that wheel fall off? I have no idea. I don't have neighbors that hate me as far as I know, and BIL hasn't been at his new house long enough to make enemies. Safer bet is that I didn't get the lug nuts on that wheel completely tightened the last time I rotated the tires. I had been noticing a slight bit of vibration in it and figured it was a wheel weight that had gotten tossed, but it wasn't bad enough to worry me so I didn't bother with checking it out. I did go around and check all the lug nuts on the other three wheels before setting back out again, I promise you that much.

And now for the explanations I alluded to earlier. We need the bunks because Eldest Daughter is officially tying the knot at the Annual Gathering of Clan Hades in Myrtle Beach, and my folks are flying out from Iowa to attend. They will be staying with us for the few days preceding and following Clan Week, so they will be sleeping in our bed and we needed alternate sleeping arrangements for ourselves.

What about that goal I mentioned before? Well, Grammy had an older sister, Flo, who was two years older than her, and her latter life's goal was to outlive Flo. Flo died a couple of years ago, just shy of her 97th birthday, so as long as the old girl holds on until tomorrow, mission accomplished. She's doing much better now, so that doesn't appear to be an issue. Hell, she might end up out-living us all at this point.

12 June 2022

Rock n' Roll

 Here at the Refuge we grow rocks. Every year we get a fresh crop.

Mrs Hades has been digging them up and putting them in her flowerbed. Last week we gathered three 5 gallon buckets from the front yard and today we repeated the feat in the back yard. We also drove metal fence posts with the goal of expanding the fencing into the back yard to give the dogs more room to run.

And so, my prediction of the expanding honeydo list has come to pass.

Next week we're off to PA for a week, so further rock harvesting and fencing efforts will have to wait until our return. Hopefully there will be some manufacturing of smoke and noise in the near future as well.

08 June 2022


 I seriously need some range time.

With Mrs Hades soon to be on summer break perhaps we will get some time to do that.

Of course, with Mrs Hades soon to be on summer break my honeydo list will probably start to grow exponentially.

I wonder what Range Partner's schedule looks like now that he's "retired."*

*"Retired"apparently means "changed jobs, plus doing side jobs, so busier than I've ever been."


07 June 2022

Tales Of the Hood

 As I look back through the sparse number of postings I see that I have been remiss.

Not in the quality and quantity of postings, although that is definitely a thing, but in the follow-up.

When I posted this I said I would follow up when the Mustang hood was done. It took a while, the hood was ordered in October and didn't arrive until January, but it is painted and installed and it looks great. It only took the body shop six weeks to get the work done.

Yeah. Six weeks. I finally called them up and said "Dudes, WTF?" and they told me "Oh, it's in the drying booth and we were gonna call you tomorrow when it was done."

At any rate, I am pleased with the results.

I love the way it looks on the car, just different enough to warrant a closer look and yet not so ostentatious that it calls attention to itself.

 The only two issues I have with the new hood is the windshield washer sprayers, which are mounted to the bottom of the hood, aren't aimed correctly any more and will need to be bent to correct their angle, and the cowl is now low enough that the windshield wipers hit the trailing edge when they are lifted. I've already scratched the trailing edge with them, so that will need to be fixed, but since the hood is fiberglass it only looks bad and won't cause any further damage.

That's a lot of red, though, so I'm going to have to think about some sort of striping for it. I had purchased a set of hood spears like what was on the old hood, but they won't go with the new one at all.

Perhaps something close to them can be made for it.

At What Point

 did we come to the decision that "Drag Queen Story Hour" for children was A Good Idea?

Look, here's the deal. I have no problem with your particular brand of crazy as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. I just don't think it's appropriate to subject elementary school age children to explicitly sexual materials, and I just don't understand parents who would think that is OK.

You wanna be a drag queen? Fine, go for it. I have no reason to wish harm on you, quite to the contrary I wish you a long and happy life. HOWEVER. That doesn't mean I support you or will champion your cause. I still think you are a fruitcake, but in the Land of the (Formerly) Free and the Home of the Brave you have a right to your fruitcakery as long as you are not bringing harm to anyone through force or fraud.

I think that most of the rest of us would agree with that sentiment, in fact. Most normal human beings have their own problems to deal with and are perfectly content to leave you to your own, and no one that I know will offer violence to anyone who is not threatening them. But, if you want a straight shot to a world of shit, start messing with their kids. Disney is finding this out first-hand, as well they should.

Once upon a time we locked our crazies up and provided treatment for them. Now we elect them to public office.

This soliloquy brought to you by the City of Apex, NC.

10 March 2022

How Liberty Dies

 I got an email yesterday from the college.

I am on a temporary hiatus between classes, the 13 week semester has been broken into two 8 week segments with a week between, and this past week has been the week between. The email informed me that face diapers would no longer be required to attend classes in person.

While on its face (SWIDT?) this is a good thing, it puts me in mind of a larger issue.

Many years from now - perhaps ten or so - when the pan(dem)ic is ancient history as we figure time these days, when new crisis have erupted that cannot go to waste, I believe that someone will crunch the numbers, separate the wheat from the chaff so to speak, and determine the real numbers. The deaths and hospitalizations FOR Covid will be differentiated from the deaths and hospitalizations WITH Covid, and I think we will find that a fraction - between 10 and 15 percent is my guess - of the reported deaths are actually FOR. These results will be quietly published on the last page of a scientific journal and never be seen or talked about on the evening news, maybe getting a passing mention on Fox or Newsmax and that's about it.

China and Russia have taken our measure and found us wanting. Russia is seeing how far they can push things in Ukraine right now, and if they are not stopped by outside action or pure stubborn resistance they will be successful in their bid to reclaim at least parts of Ukraine if not all of it. China will make its bid for Taiwan soon, and unless Taiwan has better luck at gathering allies more steadfast than the US then the ROC will merge with the PROC in short order.

The long term results are even worse.

Our politicians, both D and R, have taken measure of the American public, and once again we have been found wanting. They have seen how easy it is to turn us into sheeple, how quickly we trade essential liberty for the illusion of temporary security; they have seen that Orwell was an optimist and Mencken seriously over-estimated his fellow man. Regardless of how short-term world events turn out, the long term results of today's perfidy will have longer lasting effects.

And it won't end well for any of us.

06 January 2022

Fake News

 Happy Insurrection Day!

For this occasion, I refer you to a previous post.


05 January 2022

Things I Didn't Expect To Do, PT...whatever

 So tonight I'm supposed to go back to work.

 Yeah, I know. But such is life.

In preparation to go back to work, I was doing laundry. Round about 2 AM, when I was going to put the last load in the dryer, I heard water running. I thought this was strange since the washer was done. Then I noted the water all over the floor.

 The water tank had split open and it was spraying hot water everywhere.

The good news is, I'm not going back to work tonight after all.

I should have the water heater replaced by the time Mrs. Hades gets home, and then it will be time for a nice hot bath in that new tub.

Hell of a way to start the new year.

EDIT: The water heater replacement required the modification of the wall of the chamber it sits in because, of course,  no replacement of the exact size could be found. At any rate, it's in, it works and the Refuge once again has hot water.

03 January 2022

Glad That's Over


December was car fixing month.

First the Subaru needed a transmission rebuild. I told them I had a number in my head, if they could beat it they could have the job. The number they gave me, with tax included, ended up being a little bit under the number in my head, but I was willing to pay it if it meant I didn't have to get underneath the damn thing myself. It drives like a new one, so I'm going to say that's money well spent.


The Mustang got a new top the week after Christmas. It looks great and the rear window defroster works now as well, so that's a nice little bonus. The shop told me not to put the top down for a month to let it stretch a bit. and since the weather has been nice all of December I was a bit discombobulated over it. However, as I look out at the snow today and see the temps aren't supposed to climb much out of the 40's I think I'm going to be OK with it for a little while at least.

The hood on the Mustang is exhibiting the Ford aluminum hood corrosion syndrome, so I opted to replace it with a fiberglass hood. I ordered it in October. It has yet to ship. When it does, I'll spend another K or so to get it painted.

Altogether I've gone through about $6500 and I'm looking at another K or so, which puts me back over the 10K mark on the credit card. I brought it down from 20K in a year, so I'm not worried about bringing it down again.

The new semester starts on Friday. I'm only taking one class for the first 8 weeks and two for the last 8 weeks, so I'm not expecting it to be very tough. I do have to take a math class before I can take the physics class, so that will set me back a bit. But what the heck, it took me a little over a half century to get started, a few more months isn't going to matter that much.

That's it from here. Hopefully 2022 is when the insanity starts to draw down.

17 October 2021

It Has Been A While

 hasn't it?

So what has been happening between my three latest posts and the one before? That was a 10 month gap, surely something noteworthy happened?

Well, as a matter of fact...

First, since August 2020 I has been a kolidge student. Yep, it's true, my company decided that what they really needed was a professional development program so they were offering free tuition in a partnership deal with local colleges. One of those local colleges is 10-15 miles from the house, so I jumped on it.

So why all of a sudden have I decided, at the age of 55 and closer to retiring from than entering the workforce, I needed a degree? Well, y'see, way back in 1990 I went through a Navy class called AVI-C7, which is an engineering level school. If I had been a smart guy, I would have gone straightaway to Navy Campus and finished a degree by taking the requisite electives. But I didn't. I did manage to get a few CLEP (College Level Examination Program) credits in for math and history, so I had that going for me (and in fact they did come in handy for this program), but I never got that degree. Mostly it hasn't mattered, but it's always been at the back of my mind that I should have gotten it done.

Now is a good time to mention that my 1990 credits were in electronics engineering technology, and by the time I was done with all my Navy tech schools I had over 60 of them. That's good enough for a BS/EET had I taken advantage of them. Unfortunately due to advances in computer technology, the digital parts of those classes have since been Overtaken By Events.

When I applied for the program at my local community college my company didn't want to pay for the Electronics Engineering Technology (AAS/EET) degree, which I have nearly enough credits remaining from my Navy days to qualify for after the electives are taken care of (all I needed was three classes; Digital Electronics, C programming, and Intro to Microprocessors). But, they were more than willing to spring for the AAS degree in Mechatronics Engineering Technology, which is an in-between Mechanical and Electronics kind of thing. Funny thing is, the same credits that I need for the EET degree are included in the MET course of study (the three additional classes needed for the EET degree are electives for the MET degree). So, when I get the AAS/MET, I will also get the AAS/EET degree at the same time, which means that even though they didn't want to pay for the EET degree, they will anyway. It looks like I should have it all done at the end of the Spring 2022 semester.

I took the summer off (not a stretch since there weren't any classes offered that I really needed) because since the Bat Flue Pan(dem)ic was apparently drawing down at the time the missus and I decided to do a little traveling. I had lots of vacation built up since we hadn't gone anywhere for a while, so we loaded the dogs up and off we went.

First we headed north, to southwest Pennsylvania, to see her folks, then westward to southwest Iowa to see mine. After that we went to Rapid City, South Dakota (actually to nearby Ellsworth AFB where we stayed at the campground on base) to do the tourist thing, and then to central Wyoming to see my daughter (the only one of my 5 children that I had a part in the creation of). From there we returned to Iowa, then back to Pennsylvania, and finally home.

21 days, 13 states, almost 4000 miles. It was a long trip, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

16 October 2021

I See

 This damn dog eats everything.

Lately it's been my glasses. 3 pairs in the last month.

The first time it happened, I ordered two pair. Then when she ate another pair I ordered a replacement pair so I would still have two. Of course, before they got here she ate the other pair.

To do so she had to eat through the case they were in. The prior pair were just sitting on my bedside table, so I figured that a case would keep the "new" pair safe. I was wrong.

My new glasses got here today so I am once again visionary. I also have two more pair coming.

This pair is going in a lock box in my bedside table drawer. When the next two pair arrive they will go in the gun safe and I will hope I never need them. But, just in case she eats the entire bedside table just to get to my glasses, I will have replacements.

On a related note, Zenni Optical is a good place for inexpensive glasses.


 I have had my little Firefly for a little over 11 years now, and the time has taken it's toll.

The back window fell out of the top a while back and I was able to glue it back in successfully, but it never did look right. Now the fabric around the top of the window is actually tearing, and some of the elastic straps that help to fold the top when it is being retracted have stretched out and lost their elasticity.

In short, I need a new top.

There is a highly recommended shop in Raleigh for auto interiors and tops (named, strangely enough, Auto Interiors and Tops) and I took the car by there after work on Friday morning to have them take a look at it. Inspections were done, agreements were reached, and checks were written.

Because doesn't everyone drop a grand or more on their car before going to bed?

Anyway, the car is due in their shop the middle of next month for a top replacement.

But wait, there's more. Ford, in their infinite wisdom, decided to use aluminum hoods on these cars. The idea was weight savings, aluminum is lighter than both steel, and surprisingly enough, fiberglass. The problem with aluminum is that if it is not properly prepared, it corrodes.

And, of course, the aluminum in these hoods is prone to corrode. Look up "Mustang hood corrosion" and you will see that Ford not only knows about the problem, but that they have known about it since 2000 when they first started using aluminum hoods and they have yet to do anything about it. And, if your car is out of warranty (which is usually the case), you get to suck up the cost of repair (yes, there is a lawsuit, but I don't know what the status is on it).

At any rate, the body shop recommended replacing the hood with a fiberglass unit. So, off to American Muscle I went to look for hoods. And holy crap, are those damn things expensive!

I don't know why no one has simply reproduced the stock hood in fiberglass, but they haven't. There is one that is close, except it has chrome vents on the sides where my hood spear decals are. The cost is only a couple of hundred dollars less than a brand new aluminum hood from Ford though.

I finally settled on Cervani's Concept Hood because I like the low profile. It's on order, being shipped to Auto Arts in Raleigh (once again, highly recommended), and will be installed and painted when it arrives.

I got the Subaru back again (Eldest Son had it for a while) as well, and once more it needs transmission work. A definite bearing noise in the high gear. Looking at exploded diagrams leads me to believe that one or both of the rear bearings, just in front of the fifth gears, are bad. Damn, that boy is hard on cars, it seems like it needs expensive repairs every time he borrows it for an extended time.

So I have to pull the trans out of it again. Problem is, no one local can fix it, so either I have to pull it apart myself or send it away somewhere to get it fixed (or put someone else's problem in it). I'll probably just do it myself. I don't really need it right now, so it can wait a bit.

Fortunately the Jeep is doing well (except for the lake in the passenger floorboard when it rains hard). With the winter coming it's about time to put the solid doors back on it though. Maybe I'll do that this week sometime.

08 October 2021


I would post something, but we have a doddering senile idiot for President and a cackling whore for his insurance policy. 

H.L. Menchen was an optimist.

This is why God made bourbon.

FML. Over and out.