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Every Blade of Grass

Admiral Yamamoto infamously said "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a man with a rifle behind every blade of grass." And so it should be, a nation of riflemen....

Updated: 2018-04-20T02:38:58.217-07:00


GROAN.........More Pigeons......


NOT having good Kar Karma the last few days. Probably lost a whole lotta Kar Karma points for leaving the poor Supra sit outside for five months, but that's past.

The tire store my wife got her snow tires from wanted $78 to swap out the mounted snow tires for her OEM aluminum rims and tires. I thought $20 a corner was a bit high, so I told her I'd do it.

The two rears came off no problem, but the left front lug nuts felt "funny" as I unscrewed them. Normally you bust them loose with a big breaker bar or an impact, and then they just spin right off. I started smelling something rotten when I had to use my impact to get them completely off the studs, and that 'aint right!

Before I even tried mounting the tire I tried a "test fit" of the lug nuts I just took off.

NONE of them would screw on the bare stud by hand. Closer inspection showed three of the lug nuts had the lead thread mashed up, and all 5 of them showed signs of thread distortion, most likely due to excessive tightening torque.

So out comes the rethreading set (my wife is starting to understand why I have two full size rolling cabinets with two full size top boxes), the metric thread pitch gauge, the dial caliper, and some tapping oil. Yeah, I could have looked up the thread size on-line, but I have the tools to figure it out, I'm not time constrained, and doing it will calm me down a bit over what I'm feeling for the person that did this. Plus I enjoy doing that kind of thing.

An Extreme Rookie Mistake was made, and I've seen people fired at auto and tire shops for doing it. And if the person doing it was an Extreme Rookie, it also becomes a management mistake for allow that person to work on a car without proper supervision.

Turns out it's a 12x1.5 thread, so I start running the die over the studs, and then the tap into the lug nuts. Flush the chips out of and off them, and do the next.....

Took me a good hour to rethread the 5 lug nuts and wheel studs, but now the nuts spin right down on the studs like they supposed to. Three of the nuts showed signs of leading thread damage, which almost always happens when you use an impact wrench to start the nuts on the studs.

Doesn't wanna fit? Mash the nut into the stud and hold down the trigger on the impact. It'll start sooner or later.......

Le Big Sigh......

Only one damaged nut and stud on the right front, so maybe the goober that did the first corner had some oversight on the rest.

All four OEM wheels and tires are back on the car, properly torqued to 80 ft-lbs, and the tires aired to 34PSI.

What would have normally taken 90 minutes wound up taking four hours.

And that tire store has lost TWO customers forever........

Huh.....Looks Like Another Pigeon Or Two Showed Up.....


After I wrote the post last night, I went back out to the garage to stand and stare for a while.Sometimes I'll get a flash of inspiration or an insight while just standing there looking at random things.Since one of the long deferred maintenance items are the hoses that carry the coolant, I started checking them. The upper and lower radiator hoses have worm-drive clamps on them, along with most of the heater hoses, indicating that they've probably been replaced at some time in the past. The radiator looks newer than the rest of the things in the engine bay, so I'm SWAGGING that it and the upper/lower hoses are replacements.I have new upper and lower hoses, so I'll replace them.One of the heater hoses is a weird two-piece thing with a metal coupling joining the two sections. It's not a flow restrictor, just a coupling.Why on Earth Toyota did it this way is unknown, but there's a similar one piece hose used on the Tundra pickup truck that fits with trimming an inch off each end, so I bought one of those when I found out about it.And there's the rub.....That hose is disconnected at one end!  And looking at the amount of glop on it, it's been disconnected for some time. I stumbled on this as I was doing the "Wiggle-and-Jiggle" on that hose to see where it went, and found out it goes......NOWHERE! Looking closely at the firewall reveals an empty hole where the pipe from the heater core is supposed to be.The out-of-focus hose is the loose one, and the connected end is out of the picture. It's connected to the other heater core pipe, which is still there.So while this is going to be a Royal PITA to fix, at least it explains the ruined carpet that I thought was caused by the clutch master cylinder failing and dumping the fluid inside the car. And in retrospect, it makes much more sense. The clutch master cylinder only holds a few ounces of fluid, and even if the seals blew, it's a contorted path for the fluid to actually get inside the car.I've had heater cores let go before, even in well maintained vehicles. Some are fairly easy to change, and some aren't. This one isn't, requiring the removal of most of the dashboard. The heater cores are between $50 and $75 depending on where you buy it from, and nobody local stocks them. Rock Auto wanted $75 for the same "Spectre" core that O'Reilly's gets $51 for, so I ordered it from O'Reilly's. I doubt if I'll change it soon, as I don't need heat here in the summer, so It'll get deferred until Fall, and I'll do it when I pull the interior out to install the new carpet and have some of the interior parts refurbished/recovered. The tops of the door panels are completely disintegrated, and crunch when you slide your fingers along them, so the foam under the vinyl is shot, along with the vinyl being split in many places.ANYWAY.....going to see Brandon Marsalis Quartet tonight at the Lincoln Center. Not sure if my wife likes Jazz or not. Guess I'll find out![...]

Somedays You're The Pigeon, and Somedays You're The Statue


And today I'm a statue.I removed all the OEM air ducting on the Supra today to replace it with the Air Intake Tube I bought a couple of years ago. The story of this particular piece of kit is a tale of woe. It came from Canada, and somewhere along the way, it "broke open", the pipe disappeared, and it was taped back up, and sent on it's merry way.It took the vendor and I SIX MONTHS to get it straightened out with the shipper, and I had to send everything I received to a special address where the shipper investigated it, admitted it had been stolen, and paid up.In the mean time the vendor sent me this one, and it's been sitting on the shelf all this time. As part of the "5000' Elevation Adjustment Program" I'll be investigating ways to pick up a few "free" horsepower by making the engine breathe a bit better, and reducing Parasitic Drag.So, after stripping off all the OEM air ducting and installing the new parts, I get this:There are two "air taps" with hoses connected to them, so I keyed the position of the tube off where they connected to the OEM ducting. And notice I had to pull my strut tower brace to get even this far.That's a 3" tube in the above picture, so to say they don't line up is being kind.Pondering over this fitment issue during dinner, and remembering the vendor said he'd "get a kit right out so you don't have to wait", and our shared tale of woe in my even acquiring this item, I chuckled to myself and said "Gee....I wonder if they put the air fittings in the wrong place, and they thing is really meant to be flipped around".Nawwwww...couldn't possibly be that simple, could it?Considering the Air/Fuel Meter (the Nippondenso box) is loose, and the coupling on the other end is loose and sloppy, I'd say it fits pretty nicely when flipped around.Sorry about those air tap fittings, though.......And oh, man.....I really hate to contact the vendor about this. He bent over backwards to get me the first pipe out of the next batch that was being ceramic coated. And he's gone out of his way for me on other items, he's one of the few vendors to make anything for these cars, and he totally supports the car community. AFAIC, this is one of those "Let's Have A Few Beers Next Time", and I'll cut those fittings down, seal them up, and install the two fittings I have from when I was going to fab one of these from scratch.My wife was wondering what I was having such a hoot about, and came out to the garage. I showed the "before" and "After" versions, and she said "You're taking this awfully well". Then I clued her in as to what this part was, and all the trouble it caused, and she said "OH NO.....That's the part you told me about? And now it doesn't fit? Because it was made wrong?".......Yup. Call it irony, or Kar Karma, or what ever, I think it's hilarious because of the back story......And I took about 50 detailed, well-lit photos of the engine compartment, the vacuum lines, electrical connections, the throttle and cruise control linkages, and some other details. I'll do the same when I start stripping the front of the engine down to replace the timing belt, tensioner and water pump. And I'll do the same when I strip down the intake side to replace the fuel injectors and give the throttle body and EGR passages a complete cleaning.I was inspecting the hoses, and noticed one of the heater hoses is disconnected. That's NEVER a good sign, and usually indicates a bad heater core. I just checked Rock Auto, and they had ONE left in stock, so I ordered it. So far, none of the auto parts stores here have anything in stock for this car, compared to SoCal. Which I kinda knew in the back of my mind but never started appreciating until I got the car our here.Swapping out the heater core in this cars is a Royal PITA. Most of the dash has to come out, at least as much as I had out when the car was apart before. And the destroyed carpet in the car, and the way it feels, leads me to believe that it was the heater core dumping coolant inside the car that ruined the carpet, and NOT the cl[...]

Supra Is Now "Colorado Tagged".....Crazy Windy Today


Total cost including title transfer was $206.20 for FIVE years of registration. Add in the cost of the emissions test and VIN Verification and the total is $251.20.

The cost of registration is Kommiefornia was $130 PER YEAR.

The Jeep is about $77 per year here in Colorado, while it was well over $200 "back there".

They gave me a temporary paper tag in a nice holder until the other plates get mailed from Denver. It should take about 3 weeks to get them.

And I sent the paperwork to Denver to get my callsign plates for the Jeep. Those have to be "approved" before they get made, so they'll take about 8 weeks to get.

And it's crazy windy here again. We're having sustained winds of 40~45 MPH with "gusts" of 65+MPH.

The big double gate blew open again, this time ripping the latch clean out of the 4x4 post. I'm getting REALLY tired of fixing this damn thing every single time the winds get up over 40MPH.

I'm gonna nail the GD thing shut with some 2x4 bracing. Maybe I was nuts to get a 14' wide double gate put in there that MIGHT get used once every few years. needs to be repaired AGAIN after the wind dies down.

This is really making me rethink the antenna tower plans........

And the wind just blew over the 5' tripod with the Davis weather station on it AND my 8' satellite antenna tower, which landed in the yard with a pretty big THUD.

And three complete panels of fence just blew down in my neighbors yard! Ripped all three panels clean off the posts, and THUMP! they went down in his yard. I'll help him get them back up after the wind dies down. Three 8' sections of fence is a little too much 'sail area' to be fighting with in 50MPH winds....yep, FIFTY MPH sustained winds.

It's almost hard to walk out there. I'd hate to be on I-80 up by Cheyenne. Probably blow a big rig all over the road.

Supra Passed Smog "With Flying Colors"


Started this post last night, so what's below is from Sunday......Took her out for about 2-1/2 hours today and put about 70 miles on her. Even got about 30 minutes of 75MPH highway time just to shake things out.It's definitely down on power at 5000' compared to "sea level" in Long Beach, so I'm thinking of ways to free up some horsepower. In particular, the engine-driven clutch fan is notorious for sucking up to 18 HP at 6500 RPM! No, I don't drive around at 6500 RPM, but I do shift up there when I'm "In The Mood". Replacing the Old Skool engine-driven fan with thermostatically-controlled electric fans is crazy easy to do on these cars. If you don't want to go the aftermarket route, there are some Ford fans that bolt right in, and they  look like they came from Toyota! Plus, the clutch units on the OEM Toyota fan are know for failing catastrophically, allowing the sharp, spinning fan blades to violently contact the radiator.Not pretty....If she passes smog on Monday, I'm good for five years, so the Air Intake Pipe I bought from good old George at Raptor Racing will go on. This eliminates 3 molded, somewhat flexible rubber air couplings, the OEM "Silencer" in the intake tract, and the constricted, molded plastic air assembly that runs across the cam covers, and replaces it all with a mandrel-bent, ceramic-coated, aluminum tube. These are proven to be worth 8~10 HP at the rear wheels, as measured on a reputable chassis dyno. The Electronic Fuel Injection system has more than enough latitude to compensate for this, AND a hi-flow exhaust, AND a cold-air intake (outside air) for the air cleaner, AND a header, AND....that's about it, folks. Hey, it's a 1985 EFI system, has one "narrow band" (basically ON/OFF for RICH/LEAN) Oxygen sensor, and a "spring-loaded pot with a flapper valve" for an Air/Fuel Meter!Quite primitive compared to the EFI systems of the late 2010's, but flexible enough to properly support the air flow needs of lightly modified engine.Anyway.....the electric fan(s) and air intake tube are a gimmie; I already have the tube kit, and the fans are available at Rock Auto. Just have to go back to the forum and see what I need to buy.This Is From Today....Yep, she passed. HC, CO, and NOx were all less than half of the allowable amounts. The staff at Air Care Colorado were surprised to see a 33 year old Japanese car in such good condition, as these cars have a remarkable tendency to dissolve before your eyes. The younger Techs were asking all kinds of questions about it, and I was happy to answer them.I took her out for a good hour to get fully warmed up, including about 25 minutes on the highway up to Wellington and back.There was NO line at the emissions testing place, and they got me in, tested, VIN verified, and out the door in about 30 minutes.Not quite so rosy at the Courthouse, though. When I called my insurance company, Hagerty, back when we first got here, they told me they'd rewrite the policy after we had a residence, and the car was registered in Colorado. The DMV told me I can't register the car unless it has Proof of Insurance in Colorado. The POI card Hagerty just recently sent me is a "California" POI, and Colorado will not accept it.Catch 22!!So I went ahead and applied for the change of title, and came home a bit dejected at how to figure this out. I called Hagerty as soon as I got back home, and it turns out I misunderstood the first Hagerty agent I talked to. The agent I talked to today verified all my information, and sent the policy over to the Underwriter's for the required changes.Everything went through, and I now have the required Colorado-specific documents.SO.....back to the Larimer County Clerk's office in the courthouse tomorrow where I can finish the process of getting the car registered as a "Collector Vehicle", and duck the smog test for 5 years.Both times I've been to the Courthouse have been pleasant, and the employees helpful. Both times I waited less t[...]

Waiting For The Electrician......


Or someone like him......

Just spent an hour going over the plans for Garage Electrification, along with adding some more circuits to the impending Radio Room.

The garage will get:

A new sub-panel fed from the main panel

Four, 20 Amp quad outlet boxes, each on it's own breaker

A duplex box for the garage door openers (they're plugged into one of the four available outlets now) on it's own breaker

A ceiling-mounted quad box for the over-the-workbench lights

And a 240 Volt/30 Amp circuit/outlet for an air compressor and/or MIG/TIG welder.

The Radio Room will get two additional 20 Amp duplex boxes on three of the four walls, and another 240 Volt/30 Amp circuit with outlet for use with my Collins 30L-1 linear amplifier. The 30L-1 is wired for 120 Volts now, but it's trivial to change a couple of  jumpers inside and swap out the power cord for one with an appropriate plug.

And I've been looking for either  a Heathkit SB-220, or a Drake L4-B so I can go to Ludicrous Speed if I need to.

The additional circuits for the Radio Room were added at the last minute. He was here, so I showed him the path from the garage, through the water heater area, and to Radio, and he agreed it would be pretty easy, and loss costly, to add those circuits while he was here doing the other work for the garage.

His rough SWAG was about $2k for all the work, but he won't get me a finished bid until later this weekend.....

Danish National Symphony Does "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly"


This is spectacular! Crank up the volume, or patch it in to a good stereo system, and let 'er rip!

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The Resurrection Of Ms Swan.....


She's alive!!!!

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Got the new battery properly installed, and added the Battery Tender 'pigtail' so I don't have to fart around with the big battery clips. Just plug it in when I get home, and the battery stays topped up regardless of how long she sits. I've been using Battery Tenders and the newer Battery Tender PLUS models for about 15 years now, and they work "As Advertised", with no worries about overcharging the battery. These are NOT 'trickle chargers', which are basically a small power supply, but are "Microprocessor Controlled", low-current chargers with a "Maintain" mode in them.

One good thing I did was to clean all the ground connections where the negative battery lead goes, and clean and grease the clamps and posts.

And wonder of wonders, my "No Charge At Idle" problem went away!

Before, the external voltmeter I have plugged into the cigarette lighter outlet would drop down to 13 Volts -or less- idling in traffic. A quick rev would bring it back to 14.1 Volts, but it was troubling. Now, the voltmeter reads 14.1 all the time, even with the headlights on high-beam, at idle. I'd thought maybe the alternator was dying, but it appears I just had some crummy connections.

But now the radio is dead. It worked fine, crummy speakers and all, when I parked the car at my son's place back in September. Now it's a brick in the dash. I popped the face plate off the head unit and cleaned the connectors, but no joy. I'll have to dig out my notes and see if I can pull the radio out with the console in place. Pulling the console starts to get involved, as there's 4 switches, and several sensors, mounted to the console, and putting it all back together is an exercise in frustration in getting the three wiring harnesses to lay in the space just right so the console can snuggle down to the floorpan.

ANYWHOO.....After I did my fluid checks, tire pressure checks, and verified all the air couplings in the fuel injection intake plumbing were tight, I cleaned the glass and took her out for a couple of hours.

Stopped for gas, and Sum Young Dude offered me $5k for her! I laughed and said I had more than that in her, and he came back with "Will you take $6500?", and that gave me real pause........but I smiled and said I wasn't done with her yet, and thanked him for his offer.

So, we headed out Drake Road, turned North on Taft Hill, and went all the way to Bellvue, where I turned South, and took the road that parallels the Horsetooth Reservoir.

Lots of nice twisty bits and elevation changes, but sadly a 35MPH speed limit. Still, a very pleasant drive after six months without her. And I (generally) obeyed the speed limit.....

Sunday is supposed to be mostly sunny with a high of 63*, and if the roads are dry, I'll take my wife out for a cruise. She's only had a couple of rides in the car, and that was before I did all the work.

I promise I won't scare her!

Two Down, One To Go


Went to the Larimer County Courthose today and got the Colorado plates for the Jeep. I wound up with standard green-and-white Colorado plates because they don't accept applications for personalized plates. I'll have to mail the forms to Denver, and then the Courthouse will call me when my Amateur Radio plates arrive. I'll go back up there, pay the $2 ( !! ), turn in my old plates, and get my new ones.

They do accept the application for Collector Vehicle plates, so after I get the Supra smogged and verified at least I'll walk out with the collector plates for the car.

Total cost was $140. $90 for license, title, and tax, and $50 in "Late Fees". I told them we bought a house November 1st, and they held me to it. Didn't matter I got my CDL on April 8th, I was on the title for the house, and that's pretty strong evidence of residency.

Oh, well, it was my fault. I dragged my feet and had to pay the price.

The staff was extremely helpful and friendly, but it took a bit longer than I expected because I brought my next proof-of-insurance card, and not the current one. I called my agent (two blocks away!), and they emailed the proof to the Larimer Courthouse.

And the nice young lady who handled it all was new (first week on job), so her supervisor helped her with some things she didn't know yet, and things went smoothly.

I'll take the Supra for smog next week. I want to spend some time going over a few specific items, and then drive her a bit so she gets limbered up again.

And tomorrow is supposed to be almost a carbon-copy of today. Windy and sunny and 74 degrees, so I'm going to back her out on the driveway and give her a good bath.

One and a Half Finished, One and a Half To Go


The first "One" is my Colorado Driver License. Went in last Friday with all my paperwork, and was out with my temporary CDL in under an hour. The snow we had Friday morning definitely made for fewer people at the office.

The first "and a Half" is getting the Jeep registered here. It flew through the smog test with flying colors, and the VIN verification was done at the same time. I'll fill out the paperwork for my "SCL" (Special Call Letters) personalized plates, and go to the Larimer County office in Old Town to turn all that in tomorrow. Yes, I'll get "paper plates" to use until the regular plates get here, but I don't mind.

The "Air Care Colorado" place I went to was well-run, the staff was friendly and helpful, and the shop and waiting areas were spotless. $45 out-the-door, and it took about 40 minutes.

Remains to be seen how things go at the County office, but my sweet little wife was in and out of there in under an hour, and under $100.

That leaves the Supra, which had a real bad habit of passing smog when it felt like it. The last time I smogged it, it passed by ONE part-per-million on HC according to the report from The Last Kommiefornia Smog Test. I was going over the smog test reports from when the car started requiring a smog test (1990; The original owner kept everything!), and you can see through the years how Kommiefornia had progressively tightened the limits up; i.e., what was a "legal" amount of smog in 1985 when the car was built was slowly made "illegal" over the last 20 years. It's getting to the point where older cars (and not just mine) can't pass the emissions test because the limits have gotten stricter than what the car was required to pass when new.

This is cause for uncountable Internet Forum discussions where a class-action lawsuit was mentioned. I'm sure it'll be like the majority of Internet Forum comments, and nothing will be done, but it's well-known in the auto hobby community that Kommiefornia has been pulling this crap for years, and they get away with it.

I spent some time talking to one of the Techs at the emissions testing place, and she said that Colorado smog limits aren't as tight as Kommiefornia, and that while she couldn't guarantee anything, if it was just squeaking by the limits in Kommiefornia, it might very well fly through the test here due to the different gasoline and the altitude.

If it does, then YAY, RAHRAHRAH, WHOOPEE! If it doesn't, I'll swap out the catalytic converter, and then I'm sure it will. The last place that smogged it was owned and operated by an older guy who knew older Japanese cars very well. He looked at all the smog records for when it failed (I have all the test reports courtesy of the original owner), and how it failed, and said he thought the converter was end-of-life. Since I'm no longer under the control of Brown The Magnificent in Kommiefornia, and am not required to buy a "CARB Compliant" catalytic converter, many more options open up. A new, HIGH PERFORMANCE converter for the car is around $120~$175, vs double that "Back There" for one that was legal, and had the laser-etched "E.O. Number" on it. The car already has a custom 2-1/2" "Cat Back" exhaust with a Walker DynoMax "Turbo" muffler, so a new high-flow converter would be icing on the cake.

Home Theater Rework


I finally got tired of the cabling MESS behind the Home Theater Center, so started cleaning it up yesterday afternoon after The Little Guy left. We have him from Friday evening until Saturday evening while the kids are at work. This gives Grandmomius Prime an extra 'day off', and lets us spend some time with him.ANYWHOO.....the first order of business was to get some furniture glider pads under it so I could move it.These simple little things are worth every penny you pay for them, and that goes double for us Olde Fartes that aren't 25 years old any more.This was just going to be a "words only" post, but then a bit after I started it I figured it might be nice to kinda-sorta document it. The shot below was taken after I'd already cleaned up all the HDMI and neatened up the combined video/audio cabling for the Wii.And a network verification test to the Oppo BluRay player and Denon A/V receiver. This took a while because both devices squawked there were firmware updates available, so I did the receiver first, and then the BluRay player. The big white box in the foreground is the Arris "SurfBoard" cable modem/Dual-Band WiFi router. The smaller white box in the background is our Wii game system. The silver box with the turquoise stripe on it is the D-Link 5-port 10/100 Ethernet switch that connects the A/V devices to the router, which has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports.Annnnd......almost finished. Still have a few cable to clean up, the telephone base station to wire in, and then push the whole shebang back towards the wall.I'll clean this up tomorrow.....There's an auto race on now![...]



Pounds, that is, something I haven't seen on the bathroom scale in quite a while.

When we moved here six months ago (already six months?) I was 230~240, depending on what time of day, day of the week, season of the year, and probably the phase of the Moon. I was also having a double cheeseburger, small fries, and medium Diet Coke at least 4 times a week, and would have KFC, Jack In The Box, Taco Bell, or other junk food an additional several times a week.

I've had ONE drive-through burger (Burger King) since we moved here, and that was the night I drove to DIA to pick up my wife on her return from the trip she made to SoCal some weeks ago. I still loves me some cheeze-burgers, but now when I get a burger, it's in a sit-down place like Smashburger, or my favorite, Vern's Place, up in Laporte. My wife doesn't care for Vern's, but their burgers are about the best I've had here. Sorry, but the closest In-N-Out is in Utah, either SLC or Ogden.

My target weight is 185, per my Doctors back in Long Beach, and my new Doctor and Cardiologist agree that would be a good weight for me to be at. The charts say 175, but my previous Doctor thought that would be a bit light for my build, and when I told him I felt better when I weighed 185, he said to make that my goal.

And I'm slowly getting there. My A1c is down to 6.8~6.9, much better than the 7.4 it peaked at when I was at Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight back in Long Beach. My hips and knees appreciate less to carry around, and I'm finding it's now much easier to squeeze into tight spots on the car to work on it. I'm no longer the "Designated Under The Dashboard Guy" that I used to be, but I can still do that type of work, albeit a lot slower than I used to.

And even though we're expected maybe an inch of snow tomorrow, Spring is really getting cranked up here. Our neighbor Sarah's flowers have popped up and are blooming, and the Iris and Crocus bulbs that 'came with the house' are through the soil and growing like weeds.

The landscape guy was here this morning, and did the first Weed-and-Feed application. With the rain coming tonight, I'd say he made a good choice to do it today. I went out and talked to him for a few minutes, and he said he had a dozen yards to treat today, and that the rain tonight should let the treatment penetrate into the grass where it will help bring it back.

One thing I noticed in the backyard was the multitude of small holes everywhere there's just dirt. I thought maybe they were from birds browsing for insects, but SURPRISE, the holes are from all the earthworms we have.

I haven't seen really big earthworms since I left Illinois in 1982. The soil in SoCal is mostly 'black adobe', about the consistency of concrete, and the earthworms there are much smaller. They almost need tungsten carbide tips on their little heads to punch through what passes as "dirt" in SoCal.

I'm working on a "6 month AAR" post, and hopefully I've have it done in the next couple of days......

Easter Weekend, Late Snow, Another "End Of An Era" Picture


And since we're the  most "centrally located", we'll be hosting "The Family's" Easter Sunday dinner. The Kids will be bringing over their BBQ grill, and will prepare Carne Asada. The family's Easter dinner is a pot luck affair, and since we're hosting it, we're not expected to provide anything. We have the little fridge stocked with beer and soda anyway, as all who come here are welcomed with beverages and/or food.Wednesday morning, we woke up to this.Started as itty-bitty flakes and progressed to large, wet flakes over the course of 90 minutes or so. It was a good day to stay in and just tinker on stuff, and do some general house cleaning in preparation for Easter Sunday.I went through every box in the garage, and sorted Supra parts by where they go on the car. One big box has all the rear suspension bits and the new braided stainless brake lines for the rear of the car; another big box has "Front of the car" stuff, like all the belts and hoses, the new flow-tested and matched fuel injectors, all the fiddly bits to replace the injectors, the new timing belt and tensioner, the new water pump, fuel filter, upper ("air box") and lower ("ram tubes") intake manifold gaskets, and so on. A third big box is reserved for stuff I'll be shortly taking off the car to attend to, like the wiper arms, window trim, and various interior pieces. Besides the unknown history of some of the items on the car, I have a YUGE amount of cosmetic items to take care of.My "End Of An Era" pix represent a permanent dismantling of a section of my Field Day equipment. These were the lines we used to guy the tent we operated out of. If you didn't have your tent up by 1000, you'd better start looking for extra people to help, as once the winds come up it could easily double the amount of time required to set up your tent, AND severely try your patience.I was cleaning and organizing that corner of the garage, and took a side trip to pull the stakes out of their disintegrating storage bag and unwind the line.The orange colored bits are a type of DayGlo caution tape.This is about half the number of stakes I have on hand. Not too long ago this would have been about one-quarter of my inventory, but these things get lost, grow legs, get given away, loaned away, or don't get pulled out of the ground where you last "Put Down Stakes". These particular stakes are listed as an antenna guying anchors, and I used to be able to get them dirt cheap. Literally "$10 per Dozen", and sometimes twice that when they were on sale. Now they go for $70 for 76 stakes, almost a buck each.These things are indestructible! They made out of some unknown aluminum alloy, and heat treated to fairly high hardness, and I've never seen one break, even when concreted in to the ground, they'll just bend, not snap.As far as the line goes, it was 5~20 years old, each line was multi-section, it had been soaked in both salt and fresh water while under tension, rubbed across rocks and other sharp pointy stuff, and in general treated like doo-doo.Bye-bye, line, and thank you for your 20 years of faithful service. Some of the stakes will get used to anchor the far end of my ground radials, and the rest will patiently wait until called again.Hope you all have a joyous Easter.[...]

Window Replacement Finished


And we already notice a difference!Monday the two guys installed all 10 of the new windows and most of the interior finish work. Today they're finishing up all the exterior "foaming and flashing", and they also finished the interior trim for the two new swing-out casement windows in the Family Room/Den.That night we noticed that all the rooms were warmer by the windows. With the old aluminum framed windows, as soon as you got near a window, you could get a pretty good idea how cold it was outside because the aluminum frame was almost the same temperature as it was outside. You could quite literally feel the heat in the room being conducted away.And on the South side of the house, the window frames in my wife's future office and our grandson's room no longer blast heat into the rooms, they're pretty much about the same temperature as the walls and rest of the room.This is the bare frame for the dining room window, the first one they did.And here's Chris, one of the installers, pulling the old frame out.Sunday afternoon my stepson came over and helped me remove the curtains and blinds from the windows so the installers could have unfettered access to the windows.And here's the new dining room windows installed.They look much nicer than the old aluminum framed windows.On to the living room, which is a pretty big window. "List Price" on this one window was over $5k!Here's the old one from the outside before removal. This shot was cropped and enlarged from the one I posted of a snowfall we had before Christmas, so it might look a little wonky compared to the others.And from the inside.Several hours later, the new window was installed. This exterior shot is from Wednesday after all the "Final Foaming and Flashing" had been done.New inside....And of course it's "Pebbles Approved"!I forgot to get a picture of the old window in the den, but it was basically a smaller version of the front window. The new one looks much nicer.The old swing-out casement windows in the den had never been maintained, and as a result the crank mechanisms suffered the fate of anything greased with 40 year old grease....they wore out! This makes the windows difficult to get open and/or shut, so they were replaced also.Here's the new after it had the "returns" and other trim installed, but before we stained the new oak trim. The screen is in the photo, and is new stuff that Andersen calls "TrueScene", and is made from very small diameter coated stainless steel wire. The "weave" of the wire screen achieves a good balance between hole size and strength, and they have increased light transmission compared to aluminum, fiberglass, or plastic screens.After the staining and urethane application is finished we'll pull the blue tape and I'll get a picture of the finished trim. It looks nice in the photo, but now that it's stained, it looks gorgeous. The stain really made the grain stand out, and I'm anxious to see what a couple of coats of semi-gloss urethane do to it.And I totally forgot to take pix of the window in the laundry room, but it's pretty much the same, so let's go upstairs (from the outside) and see what's next....These two windows are for the two of the upstairs bedrooms. Pretty ugly, eh?As we used to say at Boeing, "In Work.....".And after all the trim work was finished.....These, as well as all the others, are "Double Glider" windows, which means each glass pane can slide independently. I'm going to have to check out how the screens go in on these, as I don't remember......Meanwhile, around back.......Hiding behind the bush is the new laundry room window, and directly above it is an original window of the same size. You can get an idea of how much bigger the new frame is compared to the old frame. Y[...]

YouTube To Remove/Ban/Forbid ALL Firearms Videos and the Internet Routes Around It


Thanks to Borepatch for bringing this to my attention. I now have a site to go to to replace YouTube for all those nasty, mean, and evil gun videos!

Go to to check it out!

Cringley On The Facebook/Cambridge Analytics "Data Breach"


I don't always agree with Mr. Cringley, but he explains what's going on here.

In particular, his advice to never take any of those "quizzes" on Facebook, is spot-on.

Window Replacement Starts Today


The guys from "Renewal by Andersen" are here, and are "In Work" replacing the windows.

The windows were finished a few weeks ago, but the requested new installation date was the week my wife was back in SoCal, so we scheduled it for this week.

The new windows look great, are twice as thick as the "OEM" aluminum frame windows, and should help knock down our winter heating cost. The installers are telling us must people see a 20%~30% reduction in their heating cost depending on what their source of heat is.

Our first big electric bill was $550, a bit of a shocker, but we also didn't have a ~$150 gas bill, so all-in-all our energy cost for that month was about $100 more than in Long Beach, but we also had much colder weather, and a much bigger house to heat. The cost dropped about $100 the next month, achieved mostly by dialing back all the thermostats a notch, and slightly warmer weather.

Pix to follow later.....

Easy Round Trip to DIA Monday Night


Drove back down to DIA ( or DEN, depending on who you talk to...) Monday night to pick up my wife, and man, what a difference.

Her flight arrived at 2210, so I left at 2030, filled up the car, grabbed a medium-sized Diet Coke, and hit the road.

Practically zero traffic headed South, and I was in the parking structure at 2145. I didn't check the maps of baggage claim vs parking spaces, so I wound up taking quite a hike from where I parked to where I needed to be. Since she always uses the same airline, I'll map out my parking spot ahead of time the next time.

139 miles round trip, averaged 18.6MPG, and took 3-1/2 hours round trip, including a brief wait while she deplaned and rode the little choo-choo from the gates to the baggage claim.

We were about 30 miles or so outside of Fort Collins when the overhead signs announced a "Crash 29 miles ahead expect delays"

Turns out the crash was just past our exit, so we were able to motor along without delay, and got home right about midnight.

On our way back she asked if Colorado had any other airports, meaning large commercial aviation airports, and I replied that Denver was the only "big" airport, which took her aback a bit. She then mentioned how close everything was in Long Beach, and the ready availability of air flights, and how small the Macy's is in Fort Collins, and........

Yup....another tinge of Culture Shock.....

But she had a great time hanging out with her friends and doing stuff, including a trip to The Getty, one of her favorite places, so I don't mind two round trips to DIA when she goes "home" to see her friends.

GROAN.......Round Trip To DIA This Morning


And the I-25 South wasn't pretty due to a 7 or 8 car accident on the I-25 Northbound side just North of Johnson's Corner. At first I wanted to say that the lookie-loos on the Southbound side slowed everything down, but really, a seven car accident involving the center divider takes up a lot of room. They were using the frontage road for emergency vehicle access, something I haven't seen since I lived in Illinois, and we had frontage roads alongside the Interstates. past that minor irritation and it was smooth sailing in and out of DIA at 0900 this morning. Everything was cleaned up, and the crews were repairing things in the center divider on my way home.

And the weather was gorgeous! Mid to low 30's, clear as a bell, and not much wind.

Antenna Pix, and Grandson's 1st Birthday Party


No party pix, but here's a few of the vertical in the backyard.Yes, the installation is "Pebbles Approved".Each one of the grey tote boxes has a 50lb bag of sand in it.  I have another tote that size with the SGC-230 autocoupler in it, and a smaller one with the line isolator in it that's also my junction box for power to the SGC-230. I still have to fabricate some radials from the YUUUGE spool of #10 THHN wire I bought years ago, and then install the coupler, radials, and cabling. Monday will be very interesting, as we're expecting sustained winds of 30~37MPH with gusts to 50MPH. I'm expecting it to do some scary gyrations, and I'm sure I'll be lengthening the legs.As of 2022 local time, and I can hear the wind really blowing. Flipping on the yard lights, the whip is flexing about 30* in the gusts, and the base looks stable. It's actually pretty "plumb". The apparent tilt to the whip part is caused by the whip being deflected by the wind.And......up it goes! The "Tip 'O The Whip" is at 35' AGL.This thing is FLEXIBLE! What looks like an "S" bend in the whip is the antenna reacting to the wind. I've seen photos of the antennas bend over at what looked like 90* in 100MPH winds.And they survive......And one last one from the far corner of the lot.The "windmill" tower in the background is for my satellite antennas, seen here many times in the past. I haven't decided where I'll site that system for its permanent spot. The tree trunk will get carved a bit later this year. And peeking out from behind the tree trunk, is the 5' tripod with the Davis Instruments sensor suite on it for my "real" weather station.The snow is 99% gone, except for some patches on the North sides of houses, and the yard has dried out enough to walk through it without getting 10 lbs of MUD on your shoes! It shouldn't be any where near this bad next year, as our landscaper/yard guy is going to start seeding and feeding at the proper time. He says he's seen yards here in worse shape than ours, and with some fertilizer, and the right type of grass seed, they bounce back in one summer. The snow here doesn't bother me, but the mud does!And our grandson's first birthday party was a smashing success!Besides the 16 family members, we had another 8~10 people drop by, including three of his neonatal nurses, and several work friends and their little ones.The little guy made out like a bandit, and he now has "doubles" on some toys between here, his parent's place, and his other grandparents place! And he got real silver dollar from his Grandpa Jim to put away for a rainy day.And the best part? After things wound down and it was only immediate family, everybody just pitched in, and we had the house clean and back in order in a very short time.All in all, a VERY pleasant day spent with family and friends.MINOR UPDATE....... As of 1400 local time, the vertical is still standing, the base shows no signs of movement, but the Tip 'O The Whip is swinging back and forth through what looks like a 45* angle. One minor casualty occurred during the night. One of the black lids wasn't fully snapped on to the tote box, and is now laying against the fence. I'll put it back on the tote, and put a couple of cable ties on it and it's mates to keep the lids on the boxes......[...]

Vertical Antenna Up


Pix tomorrow.

I think I'm going to have to lengthen the base legs. I'll get another 3 pieces of angle iron that size, overlap them, clamp them together, and then drill them. Right now they're only 6' long, and even with a 50lb bag of sand on each leg, it might not be enough to keep it from tipping over.

I still have to fabricate some ground radials, and then I can install the autocoupler and line isolator, along with the feedline and control cable for the autocoupler.

Dirt Bike Does Ski Jump


I'll bet he clanks when he walks.......

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Supra Arrival


In the beginning........And then the driver from Reliable Carriers called indicating Ms Swan had been picked-up, and was on her way to Colorado! The original plans for the car were to park it at my son's place, drive the Jeep towing a trailer to Colorado, rest a few days, and then fly back to LAX or LGB, have my son pick me up and take me to his place, check the car, and then head back to Colorado.Well, between seeing the "Next Services 134 Miles" signs while I was pulling the trailer, and planning the trip back in the Supra, I realized I had some deferred maintenance on the engine that really needed to be done before heading out on an 1100 mile trip through some pretty desolate and uninhabited territory. There are "soft items" on this engine that need regular maintenance/replacement at specific intervals, like the timing belt and tensioner, and if you want that legendary Toyota Reliability, you follow the schedule. And since ALL the hoses and clamps appear to be original 33 year old items, they need to be replaced, too, along with new belts and a new water pump. It's pretty silly to tear down the front of the engine to replace the timing belt AND tensioner (another "$25" part), and not replace the $25 (gasket included!) water pump. I have all the parts sitting on the shelf now, but last September I found myself out of air speed, altitude, and ideas all at the same time, so the car got bypassed.Then we got packed and moved out here, found and bought a house, and had some issues requiring our full attention, including a garage, basement and house full of boxes, and that  meant the car sat longer.....And longer....And longer....So I made the decision to get it shipped here, and went with Reliable Carriers, based on their media exposure (TV and print), their 50 years of experience moving cars, and little else. Went online, requested a quote, and received a reply a short time later. I bit the bullet and accepted the $1407 cost for door-to-door enclosed transit. My credit card was charged at the speed of light, and I sat back and waited to hear from them.And waited....And waited....And waited some more. After almost 4 weeks, I called them to see what was going on and was told it hadn't been assigned to a truck yet. The person I talked to was very helpful, and explained they had a big auction in Scottsdale, a major car show in L.A., and business was up 25~30% over last year. He made a note in my file that I was getting very concerned that a month had gone by, and NOBODY had contacted me. If I would have called to get the quote and spoken to somebody, I probably would have been given some kind of rough estimate of time-to-pick-up. But I didn't, doing the whole transaction over the web. What caught me totally by surprise was the complete LACK of communication. HEY! It's the year 2018, and modern Enterprise Software makes it pretty damn easy to autogenerate emails at the conclusion of an electronic transaction. I don't know how many times I've bought something online, and was bombarded with emails containing order status, shipping status, and delivery status. Yes, I know shipping a car is different than buying a new TV, but the software managing such transactions should do more than just accept your order and charge your credit card. Their website also has NO provision for a customer log-in or creation of a customer account. Pretty crude stuff for 2018.Now being a "Sample of ONE", I'm not going to slam them, as it's always possible I'm[...]

Supra Delivered This Afternoon, Utility Survey, and a "Hallmark Cards" Kind of Day.


It started snowing last Sunday night, and by Monday morning we had several inches of white and fluffy. It's been getting down to "zeroish" at night, and 15~25* during the day. We had nothing planned, so my wife read, enjoyed the fire, and played with Pebbles The Wonder Dog, who really enjoys running around in the snow. She didn't care much at first for the paw washing/drying routine when she comes back in, but now she goes to the throw rug and waits for us to get the mud and snow off her paws before she leaves the sun room.And we've been baby sitting the grandson quite a bit. GrandMomius Prime was done with the flu for a few days, so GM2 took over. He's also been spending Friday nights/Saturday afternoons with us to give GM1 a break. He's been teething, so sometimes he gets pretty cranky, but he's also at the babbling stage, and it's fun to listen to him "talk" to us. Sometimes he has the cadence right, and if he wasn't making baby sounds, you'd swear he was telling you something. He's also just started officially crawling. Full coordination of legs and arms to motivate himself around, rather than rolling. I'm noticing much more in the child development area than I did 30-some years ago with my own son. Different perspective caused by a different time in life, I guess.Tuesday morning at 1000 my ex sent me a text that Reliable Carriers was coming to pick up the Supra "In a couple of hours". The truck showed up around 1300 and had some difficulty getting the car loaded because the battery was so dead that the engine wouldn't keep running once they took the Jiffy Jump off the battery. They left the Jiffy Jump connected while the engine ran, and after about 10 minutes, the car would idle, so they loaded it up, and off they went.This immediately put me in overdrive (well.....*my* version of overdrive!) to finish the garage, get another new battery and another "Battery Tender Plus" for when the car is sitting here and can't be driven for whatever reason. I'd started the final push to get the garage ready last week, and it mostly involved getting the last of the Basement Workshop boxes separated from the Garage Workshop boxes and moved to the basement, and rearranging the stuff on the "pie rack" shelves in the garage. And it's a Good Thing I spent the time in the garage and basement the last week or so. ALL "Basement Workshop" tools, equipment, parts, manuals and other errata are now down in the basement, and quite a collection of "Garage Workshop" items made the trip back upstairs and were returned to their proper spot in the garage.I'll do a post on just the Supra and her trip here as soon as I get the pix off the camera.[...]

We Can Hope.......


Found over at Common Sense Evaluation.