15 December 2023

Secure from Special Detail

 The trip to Iowa was uneventful. The funeral was Monday, December 11th. There were a good number of people and Mom was remembered fondly. The trip back was likewise uneventful.

And now we resume our regular routine, with a Mom shaped hole in it.

03 December 2023

A Sad Announcement

What they found was massive necrosis of the bowels. The docs had to remove 40 cm (that's 16 inches) of bowel to re-establish the stoma, but if the necrosis had all been removed there wouldn't have been enough left of the bowel to sustain life.

In addition, the collapsing of the capillaries that caused the death of the stoma led to a cascade failure of the circulatory system. Saturday morning the nurses found the tongue necrotic when they were cleaning her mouth.

Saturday afternoon, on the second of December, the decision was made to remove life support. The last piece to be removed was ventilation. The tube was taken out at 2:10 PM, my father went in to sit with her, and at 2:15 she went to be with her Lord. She was 80 years old.

My father is a rock. He has his faith to sustain him, and he knows he will see her again. My siblings and I suspect he will do so a lot sooner than we would like. If he is still with us in six months time I will be surprised.

I will miss my mother greatly. 57 years just wasn't enough time with her.

01 December 2023

Back to NoVa

 This time no one is liking what the docs are saying.

UPDATE: I just talked to Brother, who is NOT an hysterical basket case like Elder Sister, and got the full story.

Overnight, Mom's blood pressure dropped, and the medicine they gave her pulled the blood from her extremities. 

Unfortunately, the stoma (which is medspeak for the hole they just made to attach the colostomy bag) is an extremity, and being newly formed, it died due to the lack of blood flow.

So, Mom is going back into surgery to fix that, and anything else they find, and then hopefully we will be back on the road to recovery.

Everything seems to happen when I leave to go back home. I guess I will just have to stay this time until she is on her way back to Iowa.

30 November 2023

Faith That Moves Mountains

 My father has it.

I have been constantly amazed at my Dad, sitting at the bedside while the other half of his soul lies there. When it was me, I wasn't nearly as tranquil.

He sits in the seat of his walker, holding her hand, and prays. Even when she was at the worst point in her stay, he was calm. Now that she is obviously better his faith is sustained.

I have said it before but it's worth repeating; my father is a much better man than I am.

And I want to be just like him when I grow up.

29 November 2023

Excitement Is Over-Rated

 I would like to say, for the record, that most medical professionals are indeed professional. During my mother's previous stay in the hospital for her hernia surgery on Thanksgiving Day the staff was excellent and they took very good care of her.

This was not the previous stay.

First, they had to put her in an overflow room. Then the attending physician seemed to be undecided and uncertain as to what needed to be done. The nursing staff paid scant attention to her, treating her as if she were just an old lady that was constipated, and when they moved her from the overflow room to a regular room they went from scant attention to downright neglectful.

To the point where they removed the oxygen monitors on a patient who was receiving oxygen and having problems breathing. Or more to the point, they took them off to move her and then never put them back on.

When we left the hospital that evening there was some concern. There had been a lot of talk and conjecture, but no action. The core problem was she was constipated, which was causing everything to back up to her stomach, which was slowly filling with fecal matter. 

They were feeding her laxatives and performing enemas (or attempting to anyway) and getting next to no results. There was talk of inserting tubes to pump her stomach out, but that was never done. We told them to call us if anything changed and then we went to Favorite Niece's house for the evening.

The next morning my brother (who is also a nurse) called from Iowa raising hell because Mom was in the Critical Care unit and why hadn't anyone told him??? He had called her room to see how she was doing only to find out she had been moved.

We went to the hospital to find out that the night nurse had noticed Mom's O2 levels dropping to the point her hands and feet were blue. She had been agitating to get her to the CC unit all night, but no one listened to her until 7:30 that morning.

They moved her, set her up with monitoring and inserted the tube that had been discussed but never implemented the day before. Then they drew 1300 CC's of fecal matter out of her stomach, on top of the 600 CCs or so that she had already vomited up. Her breathing issues were due to the fact that her backed up bowels and distended stomach were pressing against her diaphragm.

At no time were we contacted.

My sisters (both nurses) immediately leapt into action. One went for the Patient's Advocate office while the other went to the Director of Nurses office. Within the hour exploratory surgery was planned to see if they could figure out what was going on.

What they found was a tumor causing a blockage to the lower colon, and a tear in the colon which had caused massive infection in the abdomen, neither of which would have been caught during the previous surgery for the hernia, nor were they new conditions.

The happy news is the tumor was completely removed, the infection was cleared up, and the colon was cleared. She had a colonoscopy that can be reversed in 6 months, meaning she will have to deal with a bag for a while till everything heals up but then she will be back to whatever passes for normal for her.

As to the tumor, it is at the pathologists to determine if it deserves further attention, but either way it has been completely removed so it shouldn't be an issue in and of itself, so that's good. We will know something within the week.

I must also say that seeing my sisters systematically dismantle the patient's advocates attempts at explaining away the medical malfeasance (there were two of them, and I got the impression they were used to dealing with non-medical people that they could baffle with bullshit) was truly a thing of beauty. 

There was no yelling or screaming, just a calm rational discussion of protocols and standard medical practices for patients presenting certain symptoms. One of the advocates, herself a nurse as I understand it, tried to say that the standard practices depended on the symptoms, at which point my younger sister (who is the Director of Nurses at her job) went over the symptoms that Mom had been admitted for and then cited chapter and verse what the standard medical practice was for those symptoms.

I don't know if anything will be done, but I do know that they know that we know...things that we know. Or something.

At any rate, Mom will be in the hospital for a while as they administer doses of antibiotics for the infection and to head off any other issues. Five to seven days, said the surgeon, and then they can go home back to Iowa.

This will surely be a Thanksgiving vacation that the folks won't ever forget.

27 November 2023

Well That's Not Good

Thanksgiving day found my parents in Northern Virginia at my favorite niece's house (how do I know she's my favorite? Because she tells me she is). Mom had been suffering from a hernia for a few days, but she hadn't told anyone because she didn't want to interrupt her travel plans. 

It got to bothering her, so she asked my sister (who is a nurse; all my siblings are nurses) to take a look at it. Sister freaked and wanted to call the ambulance, I don't remember the technical term for it but there was stuff poking out that wouldn't poke back in. Mom, true to form, refused to go anywhere until after dinner.

After dinner she went to the hospital, they admitted her and did the surgery on Friday morning. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly, so they released her that afternoon. I made it in to see her Friday, and went home on Saturday. Mom and Dad were staying in NoVa until Tuesday, and Sister had to go home on Sunday.

Today I got a frantic call from Sister. Mom is back in the hospital (at her own request, no less) with a pulse rate and blood pressure of just above dead. She and Little Sister (also a nurse) are getting in the car and coming back out most riki tik. Mom has requested all of our presence, so I'm packing up and getting in the Jeep.

If you are the praying type, I wouldn't look askance at a few.

UPDATE: So it looks like the pain meds the docs put her on after her hernia surgery dried her up and stopped her up. Translation: she's full of shit. They pumped some fluids into her and dosed her with Colon Blow to get things moving, kept her overnight for observation and we will see how things are going today. There might be some blockage or issues with her colon, but they wanted to get everything cleared out before drawing any further conclusions.

I'm not going to say everything is fine just yet, she is still in the hospital after all, but I will say I'm cautiously optimistic. She's a tough old bird, she will probably outlive us all.

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.