Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Time off

I'm fine. Just taking some time off from blogging for a bit.


Sunday, November 19, 2023

Exploding Totem Poles

Space X just blew up another Starship. That’s par for the course. The company is a great  believer in destructive testing. While that’s a common enough engineering procedure we don’t often see it on this scale. Maybe never. 

As far as failures go this last attempt appears to be a more successful kaboom. Right off the bat the first improvement was the launch pad success. It didn’t mimic a gigantic volcanic eruption like the previous attempt. Turn around time is so much better when you don’t have to rebuild your launch site from scratch. 

The next improvement was booster separation. It actually took place this time. However, the booster was not supposed to then explode in a spectacular manner. Ops. Stuff happens. Going to space is hard. 

The rest of the rocket appeared to be doing well. It went quite a distance before it too turned into a fireworks display. Let’s just say it’ll be a while before the vehicle is man rated. One problematic issue appears to be the shedding of heat tiles. You need those to be intact to come back safely. 

Of course the general public doesn’t have access to all the data. Hopefully Space X learned enough to keep these issues from happening again. There’s no sense in doing destructive testing if you can’t learn from your mistakes. 

For now, the Starship is on par with Musk’s other current projects, like the cybertruck and the acquisition of Twitter. 


Friday, November 17, 2023

Tests and Parts

My lovely wife just had some rather invasion medical tests done. It’s for a cancer than runs in the family. We are very relieved that the test results were good. Life goes on pause while that sort of thing hangs over your head. Sleep hasn’t been that great lately either. 

Looks like the infection in my leg is finally gone. It’s healing nicely. Getting back in condition will take some time and effort but I’m doing it. 

In other news I finally got the parts needed to fix my washing machine. There’s a load of laundry going through its cycles right now. It’s a relief that a $25 part was all it needed. Thanks to YouTube university the installation went fairly well. Of course the instruction video didn’t have the installer drop a screw into a pile of dirty laundry but that’s how those projects go in real life. 


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Woodstove Chore

Woodstoves are great, but they need a certain amount of maintenance. My wood cookstove has a lot of nooks and crannies that collect soot. Unlike a regular woodstove, cookstoves have circuitous smoke channels around the oven. That’s great for extracting more heat from every bit of firewood. The downside is that as the smoke cools it deposits soot in those channels. 

Once in a while everything has to be taken apart and cleaned out. Yesterday was one of those days. It’s a messy job. To make matters worse I also take apart the stove pipe and clean that out too. At least the stovepipe can be cleaned outside. 

On the bright side very little soot makes it to the chimney. Cleaning the chimney is even more of a chore. Not having to do that so often is a huge plus. 


Monday, November 13, 2023

About those digitals

There’s a push to eliminate cash and go to a completely digital society. Your money would be a digital account in a central bank somewhere. China is far down that road. It’s so bad that if your social score is not high enough you can’t even shop in some stores. Europe isn’t far behind. 

In England there are grocery stores with gates as you come in. To enter you need to scan a QR code with your phone and show you have the right account. Europe in general is pushing full ahead with digital money. Their excuse is that it’ll be more convenient for the citizens.

They don’t mention how it will provide more control over the citizens. That’s very convenient for totalitarian dictators. 

While this is all going on there’s something else happening in the wider universe that’s more powerful than any government. The sun’s been cranking out CMEs. Nothing like huge burst of solar energy to take down power and digital systems. The more civilization relies on electronics the easier it becomes for even moderate CMEs to take down the system. 


Sunday, November 12, 2023

The Check’s in the Mail

Okay, I admit it. I liked paying my heating oil bill with paper checks. Writing checks is a pretty Boomer thing to do. However, I didn’t just write a check out of habit. It was a hostile act. While the oil company accepts checks they have a hard time processing them. That was fun. 

They’d have a paper check sitting in their office for almost a month before they would manage to cash it. I’ve gotten up to two late notices even though they had the check. In the end they’d cash it and I wouldn’t have any penalties for late payment. 

Then those bastards upped the game. There’s a discount for early payment. Even though cashing checks took a long time they’d have to honor the date on the check. Good fun. This last time they didn’t even send my the paper bill until the discount period had passed. I suppose I could have fought them on it but this game has pretty much run its course. 

I probably shouldn’t be messing with the company that keeps my house warm while it’s snowing outside. 

I need a new hobby.


Friday, November 10, 2023

Jury Duty

My lovely wife reported for jury duty today. She had to drive through snow and freezing rain to get there. Fortunately the Escape has really aggressive snow tires. Looks like some sort of deal was cut and the whole jury pool was let go. 

It’s been a busy month with a lot of personal stuff going on. The uncertainty of her jury commitment  was putting a real wrench in planning. It’s good to have that out of the way. Both my wife and I have been called for jury duty a couple of times. It’s one of those duties you shoulder as a US citizen. While it can be terribly inconvenient we understand it’s something that has to be done. 


Thursday, November 9, 2023

Looks like winter

I woke up to an inch of fresh snow yesterday. It only melted in direct sunshine. More is expected for today. It actually feels like November in the Great North Woods. This batch of snow probably won’t last but it’s definitely a preview of things to come. 

I’ve been following a number of well known weather forecasters. Up here in northern New Hampshire it’s difficult to predict the weather -especially long range. So here’s what it looks like: either it’ll be cold with less snow than normal or warmer but with more snow. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of consensus. That’s typical for our area as a number of weather systems come together here. I’ve seen storms that drop six inches in my area but two feet of snow twenty miles away. The exact opposite happens too. 

While I’m never one hundred percent happy with my winter preps I’m prepared enough. I’ll feel a bit more secure when two more pallets of woodstove fiber blocks are delivered. They should be here today or tomorrow. That should help square us away for some time. 

I’d like to do a bit more insulating in the basement but that can be done at any time. 

One of things I keep going over in my head is whether or not to buy a snow blower. If we get buried in snow it’ll seem like a great idea. If we have a light snow winter -not so much. However, I did pull a back muscle by the end of last winter. It wasn’t awful but I felt it and wouldn’t mind avoiding that this winter. 


Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Polls and elections

People are getting upset about political polling numbers. Can’t we all admit by now that polls, especially at this point in the game, mean little? All they seem to do is upset people who’s candidate lost when expected to win. 

We just had some actual local elections in various states. Pay attention to who wins and by how much. Also, check out what other measures pass. Are they conservative or more liberal? That will give you a bit better idea on how the general election is shaping up. 

Think about how polls are conducted. Often it’s still done over landline phones. So you have to ask yourself: what kind of person has a landline and answers calls from strange numbers? That’s your poll pool. Throw in some cherry picked polls with questionable methodology and then it’s all a mess. 

It doesn’t help that so many politicians, on all sides, are very very old. Health or even death could remove them from the election. 

Of course, one certain politician is in deep legal trouble right now. That could give younger polliticans a chance to hit the national state. 

At any rate, interesting times. 


Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Me against the machines!

This time I was challenged to combat by my washing machine. The newer machines use less water but are worse in every other way. The are also a pain to repair. For years I’ve been doing repairs to major appliances and the washing machine is just another challenge. 

At least now there’s Google and YouTube university. Best I can tell from available evidence it’s a simple door switch. Of course, the switch isn’t simple at all. Anyway, I found one online and ordered it.  

There’s an easier repair hack that can be done if you have small hands and long skinny arms. Since I’ve got gorilla arms and hands I had to go in the hard way. Oh well. A man has got to know his limitations. I was able to get to the switch and tried a recommended temporary repair but that didn’t help. That’s when I ordered a new switch. 

I do miss simple mechanical controls. Once I had to pull the circuit board out of the washing machine and clean up some connections. Washing machines shouldn’t even have circuit boards -never mine ones exposed to damp conditions. 

Anyway . . . I could rage against the machines or learn how to fix the new ones. 

Grumble grumble. 


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Health update -again!

Okay . . . looks like the last round of antibiotics knocked out the bad infection in my leg. It’s still scabbed up quite a bit but most of the pain is gone. I can get out and about to do more things now. Progress -finally. 

This should have been one visit and about a month. Instead it took multiple doctor visits with 3 different doctors and seven months of suffering. I’m pretty sure it’ll finish healing up properly now However, if it starts to look like it’s stopped healing I’m calling the doctor again. 

Now I’m finally able to get away from the strick requirements of heavy duty antibiotics. My last antibiotic could not be mixed with many types of supplements. I’m back to taking those. There’s also an herbal remedy that does wonders for the remaining nerve pain. 

Since I’m not as restricted in my movements the weight is finally coming off again. 

Now all I have to do is to sort of my cpap for sleep apnea. It’s always something. Insurance rejected my claim. Apparently using a cpap for 30 years isn’t enough to show I really need one. Sigh. I’m very tempted to just pay for a new machine  out of pocket. The one I really want is not covered by insurance anyway. 

So anyway, that’s why my posting has been hit or miss lately. Life happens. 


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Then end of nomad life

There’s a lot of YouTube channels covering aspects of nomad life. They could be RV people, sailors, van dwellers, motor campers -whatever. If you follow them long enough you’ll notice a common theme. Lately it seems that a lot of people are giving up “the life.” 

Here’s the thing, that’s pretty normal. Most people who dream of full time travel last 2 to 5 years. For some that’s about as long as it takes for them to see everything they want to see. If your goal is to travel  all of the lower 48 US states that’s plenty of time to do so. If you are a sailor that’s enough time to slowly circumnavigate the world. 

It’s said that for nomads the highs are higher but the lows are lower. One day you are seeing the best that nature has to offer. The next you are stuck broken down somewhere waiting for parts. For many people they just plain get tired of the lows. 

Of course, there are plenty of other mundane things that cause people to quite the life. It could be health concerns, either their own or family members who need help. Often the nomad life turns out to be more expensive than expected. Some people just have to go back to “real” jobs. Even the mental strain of always being on the go can take its toll. 

Anyone starting the nomad life is probably going to need an exit strategy at some point. That can be hard. For example, someone could sell a house, an appreciating asset, and buy a big RV, a depreciating asset. Five years down the road they can’t sell the RV for enough to get back into the housing market. 

Personally I’m glad my lovely wife and I were just semi-nomadic. We’d travel for 3 to 6 months of the year and always came back to our house. That’s how we were able to do it for over 20 years. Currently we are sticking close to home, dealing with health and family issues. That doesn’t mean we won’t ever do the nomad thing again, but we can wait for the conditions to be right for us.