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!

26 May 2016


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

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

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

05 May 2016


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

04 May 2016

Turd Flavored Icing

on the shit cake.

But at least there is bourbon.

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

23 April 2016

Moving And Shaking

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

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

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

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

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

It's been a pretty good day.

15 April 2016

It Lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

03 April 2016

An Apology

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


11 March 2016

Catching Up

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

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

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

Happy Springtime!

10 March 2016

Ain't That A Bitch

Taxes, I mean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16 February 2016


So Thursday this happened.

Sunday night into Monday this happened.

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

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

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

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

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

11 February 2016



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

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

Seems to be a lot of unplanned stuff happening lately.

10 February 2016


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

Once More...

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

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

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

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

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

03 February 2016

Oh, G

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah...not really.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 January 2016

The Droid I Was Looking For

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

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

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

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

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

17 January 2016

Helping Hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

03 January 2016

Beginning The New Year

It's been a busy year.

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

I wish you all a good year this year.