02 November 2016

Congrats to the Cubbies!

As mentioned on the sidebar, and many times subsequently... I'm not much of a "ball sport" fan.  Though if there is a fav "ball sport", baseball would win.    And because I don't have a fav between the two teams competing for the World Series, I can enjoy the game without having any skin in the game.  And it was a great game.

That said, I was happy to see it go to 7 games.   And was equally happy to see an extra innings game to decide it all!  Too many "SuperBowl" games are decided in Q1..  "WTF,  I haven't even seen half the commercials?"  No.  Indians tied it in the 8th.  No score in the 9th. ChiCubs scored 2 in the 10th, and the Indians answered back with 1... not enough.  But still a great game.

Congrats to the Cubs!  Great effort Indians!  Cubbies, Don't use this as an excuse to riot.  That's a basketball thing!  Stay Classy!

09 October 2016

Which mic is hot?

DJT's mic is picking up all of his inhalations... HRC has two mics, The obvious hand mic + a white lapel mic blended in with her tunic.    Which of her's is active?  I do not see any corresponding lapel mic on DJT.  Amy I missing something?

Who controls the gain on DJT's mic?  Either could emphasize his breathing and de-emphasize hers...

Presidential Debate #2

I tuned in and out..  (Hey the Red Bull Air Races, Indy edition, were on)!  To bad local hero Kirby Chambliss isn't in the fight :-(

Caught one question  regarding SCOTUS noms.    Hil went first...  and droned on for her allotted 2 mins with out ever uttering the word "Constitution".  Rather she alluded to "Justice that sees the world as it is today..." (IOW, completely disregard the constitution!)  DJT at least mentioned the word though I thought it was a hanging curve needing to be drilled into deep left field!

(quote from memory.. but I was specifically tuned in to the word constitution and she didn't use it!)

24 September 2016

Shooting at the SandCastle!

Fortunately not the kind of event the event the TrueBlueSam encountered, but rather it appears someone may have shot at the SandCastle!  Maybe not at the SandCastle, but could be that's where it "landed".
The SCQueen noticed the hole as we pulled a breaker to work on a light circuit in the house: "Hey that wasn't there last week when I mowed the lawn!"

Close up:
The hole is about the size of a dime.  I'm thinking possibly .38/9mm/.40/.45 sized.  The lack of penetration suggest a low terminal velocity impact and/or low impact angle.  Probably some idiot celebrating the Autumnal Equinox by shooting a gun into the air without concern for where those bullets come down.

We haven't found the projectile, nor any fragments so maybe it's much less innocuous.  The SCQueen ended up calling LocalPD on the non-emergency number and they sent an officer to take a report. We don't expect they will investigate any further but rather the report will go into the database and if the scenario starts to trend, maybe they can take action then.  Our expectations are very low...

Shooting into the air is a rule 3 violation!

Arizona has "Shannon's law" which makes such celebratory gun fire a class 6 felony.  So named for Shannon Smith who was standing in her back yard, talking with a friend on the phone when a stray bullet hit her in the head, killing her.  I am 100% on board with this law...  People being stupid with guns should not have access to guns.

MythBusters looked into "shooting a gun into the air" and concluded "inconclusive"... They tested bullets fired near vertical so they have to reverse trajectory and fall at terminal velocity.  They did not test the case where a bullet was fired at a lower angle and fly an arc trajectory.  (And how could they test that?)  I suspect that's the scenario that probably killed Shannon Smith.

Interesting, there is an exception in the law for shooting blanks.  Fair enough.  Don't shoot into the air!  Even with blanks.    Don't be stupid..

23 August 2016

TMI - Update

I survived!  Afterwards couldn't hardly open either eye.  I went home and back to bed.  The SCQueen tried to apply the prescribed antibiotic cream - yea, that's not happening now.  Got up about 4pm and continue to improve.

Thanks all for you prayers & good thoughts!

22 August 2016


I am more than half a century old... and I dread this Tuesday like never before.  I am scheduled for surgery on my right eye.  I cannot think of a single body part I'd rather NOT have surgery....

I'm very sensitive about my eyes.  Eye drops?  Yea.. right down my neck.  The blink reflex is faster than the eyedropper.  I have experienced a scratched cornea and the  ..discomfort associated.  Contacts?  You mean "in contact with the eyeball?"  Yea right, that's not gonna work.  Gimme the cokebottles!  I'm good with that.

So what would make surgery an appealing deal?  The right eye is already effectively inop.  I can only focus both eyes under the best of circumstances.  Surgery can only make things better.  I hope.

The doctor tells me "this is a very simple procedure, 15 minutes and I've been doing them for 20 years.  It will be done under general anesthesia".   "YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT it will be under general... you're not gettin' close any other way!" I replied.  I suspect the first and last 5 minutes are putting me under and reviving me. and the intervening is the actual work.  Maybe less.  I don't actually know, nor do I want to know what he is going to do.  The whole idea of operating on the eye muscles turns my stomach.  He was recommended and has experience.  I trust him.  I have to.

And the procedure is probably the easy part..  The prep and recovery *sucks*! No food or water 8 hours prior and consuming scrambled eggs is just too complex a task afterwards :-(  Gawd I wish I could stack up all the procedures someone of my age starts to need in one swell foop and only go through the pre/post stuff once rather than once per procedure...

Tuesday sizes up to be a trying day.. as in "trying the marital vows, particularly the "..in sickness and in health.."  If you're of the type, please pray/think good thoughts/etc for me... and the SCQueen.

Wish me luck.  Out for now... expect to post the all clear tomorrow!

01 August 2016

"You're missing all the excitement!"

Quoting the SandCastle Queen calling me at $DayJob.

There were 10 fire engines* blocking all access to the street.  Not to mention the 5" water line crossing the driveway that she probably couldn't have driven over.  May as well been a Jersey Barrier at the end of our driveway.

Me:  I'll pick up the SCSon from school.

The "excitement" stemmed from a propane BBQ accident a few doors down the street.  Fortunately no one and no pets were physically hurt.  Rumor has it the cook stepped into the kitchen and heard a Ka-Whump, BAM!  Apparently the "BAM" was the propane take hitting the wall following the "explosion".

Before it was over the windows on the back of the house are blown out and $LocalFD opened up all the walls on that side of the house to ensure no lingering embers.  Damage to the house is probably $50-75K, and probably 2-3 months reconstruction.  This is why we all buy fire insurance.

The street was still blocked by fire engines 30 minutes later attempting to drop off the SCSon.  He got to walk the last 1/8th mile and was happy to do so.

If you have a propane BBQ (and who doesn't?), take a moment to squirt down the tank hose connection and hose with soapy water solution and look for bubbles!   The SandCastle BBQ is on a wooden deck just off the kitchen.  You can bet we will check before next use!

Update 02Aug: I brought this up as an item for consideration to my circle of co-workers as I with this post.  One asked "Does the BBQ sit out in the sun?"  I do not know but "yes.. a BBQ on the back patio would have southern exposure and thus maximum UV exposure.   And UV and Rubber do not play nice together!  He then related his Father's BBQ had some ornate additions that blocked the gas line from direct sun in such situations... and pondered.... maybe that's not just for good looks!  [Hmm.. disclaimer...rampant speculation follows... I am not an expert but I've had sun cooked tires fail...]   Perhaps the sun exposure accelerated the decline of the gas line.   Hmmm..  good point!

* 10 fire engines may seem excessive for a simple house fire where you live, but given the 100+F air temps plus the heavy safety gear they wear, they have to rotate firefighters in on a short rotation.

20 July 2016


That would be "Remember Everyone Deployed".

The $DayJob activity club raised (past and present tense) money to create "care" packages for those deployed with the military.   I am not involved so I have no idea of the contents the packages.  We bought a couple T's to support their efforts.

At present all relatives under contract are stateside so I won't be nominating any recipients.  If you have a relative deployed that might benefit, let me know the contact info and I'll pass it along.  Recommend send your nominations to email to danno oct uno fohr at em es enn dot com.

25 June 2016

Motor Racing

I'm but a tepid fan of "ball" sports.  I've been given seats to a 49'rs game but brought along a Sailing magazine 'cuz I know the last 2 minutes of game play takes at least 20 minutes to play.  I like Baseball a little more, I'll put on a ball game if there is nothing better on.   The family used to split SJ Earthquakes season Tix with a co-worker.  I like Hockey more still because they do substitutions on the fly.  I like that.

But motor sports have always held a special interest.  We used to spend Saturday PMs at the fair grounds outside the fence watching autocross racing.  I even worked a couple races.  I think the Disney movies of my youth ("the Love Bug")  featured road racing in California gold country might have had some influence as well.  Awesome.  I wish these races had become a reality.  Forward to the watching the Indy 500 "Greatest Spectacle in motor racing" in prime time.

Which brings me this year to Memorial day weekend this year...  Possibly the acme of the racing season - we had the Indy 500 + Monaco F1 + NASCAR Coca-Cola-600.  Last weekend was pretty awesome close 2nd as well with F1 in Baku Uzbekistan - F1 of "Europe", plus the 24 hours of Le Mans weekend.    I was happy as a pig in slop (with the exception of the juggling of feeds to keep track of where the racing was covered).

This weekend is a close follow on...  Indy Cars are at Road America, Elkart Wisconsin!  Yea a Road Course!  Woot!  This is real racing.  And NASCAR is up in Sonoma at  (not sure the sponsor name these days.) I only know it as Sears Point!  This is possibly my favorite  NASCAR race of the season.  The track is designed and set up for "sports cars".  Not NASCARs, ostensibly American Muscle Cars particularly designed to turn left.  Still the track set up for cars 2 ft slimmer so it's amusing to watch full sized track cars elbow their way around the track.

Yea.. The VCR is gonna be busy Sunday!..  As it has been the past few weeks..

But every network is missing the "big daddy" of motor racing -  RARA (Reno Air Racing Association) and Red Bull Air Racing!  Both of these deserve more attention!  Don't even get me started on High Tech stuff that makes up America's Cup Sailing today!  (Hint "Awesome!")

FTC disclaimer - I have no connection to any entities mentioned here..  I am a motor racing fan.  While I like watching race cars doing ~150-200 MPH on road courses, I would *love* to see airplanes doing the same or +450MPH on pylons!

21 June 2016

Personal best

I learned the basics of Cribbage long ago courtesy of my Dad and the woman that bore me*.   It was an important tool in learning addition  ("fifteen plus eight is ... twenty three" (fast answers were rewarded over counting fingers))

As a sub teen, I recall asking Dad what's the best hand... he had to think.  Three 5's plus a jack to the  suit of 5 that was cut.  And I think he answered in the negative if he'd ever had such a hand.

A college job featured 12 hour shifts long on boredom on duty to answer a phone that a) if it rang, it was most likely a wrong number. or b) take information on a problem in the network.  Mostly there was nothing to do but wait for the phone to ring.  But in the meantime, I played a lot of games and  saw a lot of crib hands.

I've come to understand Cribbage is Poker without betting and bluffing.  You are playing the cards and not the player instead of the other way around.  But the rest of the mathematical odds still apply.  And there is no fold.

A 2 hand game starts with 6 cards dealt, discarding 2 and a cut for a community card.  It's still playing the percentages on the cut card.  I can't do the math in my head on the fly but have built up a set of ground rules based on experience which makes me a better player.

The game sets up competing reward systems where 3 card runs (2-3-4) reward sequences compete  with 15's (A-4-10) reward non-sequences.  And the best hand depends on the cut card,  But when you can put them together, there is a multiplication effect 4-5-5-6,  That's 2 15's(4) plus a double 3 card run (8). See also 6-7-7-8 and 7-8-8-9.  Given a fortunate cut on either end of the cut 6-7-7-8-9 rewards even more (16).  Not to mention double-double runs on these sequences:  4-5-5-6-6 scores 15 (8)+4 * 3 card runs of 4-5-6 (12) + two doubles (4)= 24 pts.

Tonight I scored a 28.  I got the 5's and the 10 pip, but not a jack nor of the appropriate suit.
I was dealt the three 5's and cut the fourth.  The perfect hand would be the same set of 5's but with the jack of the suit of the 5 that was cut for the 29th point.

Still this 28 is the best cribbage hand I've had in ~45 years of playing.   And thank $DIETY for the internet where I can share it and my enthusiasm for the game with all of you! ;-)

BTW... I have played this game enough to have grave concerns for the randomizer...  The opponent gets the "Jack for his heels" with maddening frequency.  Still... an amusing game.

* There is a big difference between "mother" and "woman who bore me".  "Mother" is an earned title.  As in being there for a youngun.    T'is much more than a night of passion and squirting out a living being.  The woman that bore me failed to earn the title of "Mother".

16 June 2016

Visit with Navy recruiter

The SCSon understands that earning a university degree has become extraordinarily expensive and the military can help with that.  He is also interested in serving his country.  So to learn what opportunities are available, we scheduled a visit with a Navy recruiter.

We arrived a few minutes early to find a bolted door.  Well Marines and Army are next door.  Is it one big office or are they interconnected?  As we head toward a different door, Navy surfaces and offers us entry.  As I'm walking through the door I hear "You chose the wrong door!"  To my dying day, I will never know if was Marine or Army ;-)

I opened questioning with the recruiter...  "So do you guys have bulletproof glass out front yet?"  The recruiter responded in the negative and then indicated he regretted not having a sidearm on his hip.  I responded "I too regret *you* not having a sidearm!" (I'm the one with my back to the window).  This is a broken policy that badly needs fixing.  (the offices are also marked no weapons zone... this is also badly broken policy.)  Give me a day and I'll  add a pic.

Many family elders have gone the ROTC route so he has some history there..  The Petty Officer recruiter handles enlisted stuff but happily ponied up the ROTC coordinator info.  Contrast that with the USArmy guy with the automatic "you won't qualify" attitude.

SCSon inquires about the Navy Nuclear program (as recommended by former teacher & USN Annapolis grad).     USN Recruiter offered up all the flowery "here are all the accolades you will receive upon graduation and beyond."   But that assumes you complete the course.  This scenario reminds me of the static line parachute course I did several years ago... The first 45 minutes were "this is what will probably happen if all goes well". The next 5 hours were "these are the possible failures and how to resolve them".   This path bears further exploration.  There are some pretty difficult sections of the Nuclear program (see also Thermodynamics)  What happens if he fails at one of these points?

I was amused when the recruiter put the question to the SCSon "are you ready to sign up today?  (it's on the form)"  Answer "No!"  This is day one of the exploration.

It was also a teaching moment...  The form asked for three contemporary references.  I reminded the SCSon it is customary to notify potential references and ask permission ahead of time before listing them.    In this case , as the references are all JROTC contemporaries, it would probably be sufficient to notify them "hey so&so may call... speak well of me!"

We are neither pushing pro or con.  It's his choice.  He has several relatives with history along the same lines.  I think he'd  experience either pro or con and want to share with the SCSon,

15 June 2016

Like Father, Like Son

The SCSon called me at work today.  "Hey what'd you get on the SAT?"
Me:  [redacted - the actual score unimportant to the story]
SCSon:  Hey, Me Too!   (apparently his results arrived today in the mail)

True story - we tied scores for the college entrance exam.  Though the split is significantly different.  My score was about 2/3's math, 1/3 english.  His was 50/50 even steven.  Go figure.  My english teachers didn't earn much respect while my math teach's did...  The feeling was probably mutual.

Then again... I did fine with Eng 1A in college... (and spelling has never been a problem.)   so where was the problem?  Oh and I later had an 8 year run of a monthly column with very few editorial corrections...  I bet none of them ever had a word in published on print.

I received the "we tied" news with a little sadness.  Going into the test I wished him to beat my score and told him same.  Today I am sad that he didn't but proud that he tied!  Good onYa!

01 June 2016

SCSon @17

The SCSon had a b-day the other day..  (or not..  as personal security goes)...

He requested a trip to the range.  Hey good idea... I'll take the afternoon off and we'll enjoy a quiet day at the range.  What do you want to shoot?   "The Garand!" (apparently that was a dumb question)

We also shot a couple ePostal entries.  Dang this was a tough target!  I had a near miss on a bomber but the thin white line rules against the hit.  All my targets scored nil, but you'll see them in the results anyway.  The SCSon had a couple hits.

PS.. Congrats to Gamamiel on the free plug.  FTC disclaimer We have not received any compensation from them, save for buying a really quality and comfortable T at a fair price.  In fact buying this T is the only business we have ever conducted with them.  This T just happened to be at the top of the stack as the SCSon dressed.  And thanks for seeing what a quality T-shirt really is - inexpensive advertising!  In quantity, you made a small profit in selling me the quality T, and now you are getting a free web plug.  Small businesses take note!  Offer me a quality T shirt at a reasonable price (@cost or slightly above) and I'll buy us one each.  Never know where the pick might pop up!

PPS.  The green strap across the SCSon's back in the above pic is a bandoleer of 10x 8 round Garand clips.  For the sake of authenticity, natch.

31 May 2016

informal ePostal extention

While it is not my place to set/change rules for the SCSon's ePostal match...  I will let fly a bit of insider information..  He's is presently off the grid at JROTC camp through Friday.  And we're busy with the move... also we have not yet seen a June match posted yet,  therefore entries to the May match will* be accepted through the next weekend.

We both took a number of tries at the target.   While there was a near miss on  a bomber on one target, there is a clear white line so it's a miss.  Still I missed "my base" on all three so I am declaring a 0 point victory!"  and all three will be scored entries.

He did  better connecting with a couple targets.  I blame my aging eyes :-(

* The SCSon is the matchmaster so I am loathe to speak for him, but this seems a no-brainer call.  But his word is law... when he returns.  Will he be able to reject a score dated June x when he hasn't declared a deadline?  I personally would find it difficult.. If you have scores that can beat my 3x nil, suggest get them in before he can say otherwise ;-)

30 May 2016

Fallen Soldier Tribute...

... As seen at our local Chick-fil-A:

I caught word that Chick-fil-A had a tribute to fallen soldiers somewhere in my AM webwander.  The SCSon and I dropped in to see it.  And here it is...    Click on the images to embiggen.

On arrival I was happy to see a Mother clutching her ~7/8YO daughter, explaining the meaning to her.

We ordered lunch and I took a seat where I could observe the display and those that stopped by to check it out. Most spent enough time to understand it (in chrono order):  Young African-American family, 70-ish YO (WW-II vet?  I wonder), mid 50's guy with a bicycle helmet, etc.

Thanks Chick-fil-A!  Nicely done.

24 May 2016

"Always Clamp the Work!"

Sage words of advice from a friend who is currently sitting in ICU hoping that the surgery to re-attach his thumb takes (the first one didn't).

He was using a power miter saw to slice off a piece of aluminum.  The saw snagged the work piece and twisted it sending his thumb through the blade before he knew what happened.

Thank $DIETY for modern medicine that makes even attempting to reattach a severed digit.  Seems not very long ago Dr's wouldn't have even tried.

"Always clamp the work!"

14 May 2016

Kitchen's are overrated!

The main two projects we need to complete before making the big move is to renovate the kitchen and replace the single pane windows with dual pane windows.

Step 1 in the kitchen:  Remove the existing cabinets.  The SCQueen found a contractor that would remove them and take them away (presumably for resale).  Total cost to us: $0.

The cutouts in the tile kinda show where the cabinets were.  Kitchen sink below the window on the left, stove on the right and refrigerator far back right.

Next the contractor will rip off the drywall to deal with some mold (surprise!)  But now is the time to deal with it.  Also they'll raise the drop ceiling about a foot.  How much?  Don't know... contractor still hasn't responded with a quote.  And that worries me.  It's just bad business.

Then we can bring in new cabinets and top with granite counters.  Finally we'll finish off with a new dual (and deeper sink) and new garbage grinder.

I think we can do all this in less than 1 month and under $10k.

Tonight we finished job #1 - changing all the locks.  First we changed out all the deadbolts because the existing ones were 35 years old and looked everyday of it.  One door also had to be replaced* (insecure window and a doggie door big enough for 2x sized me to squeeze through) as well, including the hinges and relocating the striker plate in the door jamb.

But the SCQueen got a heck of a deal on the new door.  The first HD had one for sale at $122 (turns out it was the wrong size).  The HD nearer the new SCbase wanted >$200 ("But you're other store had it for $122?"  "We don't price match our other stores."  YGTBSM!  She went back to the original HD, where they had the correct sized & configured door for .... ~$65!  Boom! Score!

The new door is also better insulated with double pane windows and a fiberglass core.  I care about that because this is a South facing door will see a lot of direct sun exposure.  And I pay the power bill!

07 May 2016

Shredder revival

I thought I'd covered this in the previous post.. but looking back I see a continuity error:
So  here's the deal..  the shredder died.  After several hours of hard use, it was INOP.  I'm hoping for a thermal fuse...

Next am... no such luck.. Tap *here* and the readly lite glows... but then feed  it and it dims :-(

I took the shredder apart... fully expecting a blown fuse.  But then my finger brushed a large cap and it moved as if it weren't connected.

To quote a line (switch to  New Jersey accent)  "*well there's you're problem!*"

Somehow the cap had broken one leg off the circuit board!   I repaired it with a section of multi core, probably 12-14 gauge, wire soldered to fix the now broken trace.

So it's back in battery and ready for battle.  So far so good.  I shredded a veritable mountain today and it's still running.  I think it's good.

06 May 2016

Sand Castle Base is moving!

It's official.  The SandCastle Crew is relocating the Base.  The SandCastle Queen and I spent 45 minutes signing a stack of papers at least an inch tall.  At least one document was our certification that we signed another document.  The title has been officially recorded and it's ours.

Now the real work begins - sorting through almost 20 years of accumulated stuff and moving every thing over.

Step 1 - change the locks!

more later...

Update 2145 same day...

Wow... from the first "hey lets see what's out there?" less than 4 months ago, we closed today on a new SandCastle Base.

The SandCastle Crew enjoyed our first dinner tonight at the new house.  There isn't much furniture at the new place but the Realtor bought the formal dining table from the seller for us as a "thank you" gift*.  We changed out the deadbolts and called it a day.  The SCQueen was down for the count shortly after returning to the existing base.

I took the day off and spent it reviewing the accumulation of documents on my desk.  So far I've emptied the "toss can" 4x, the shredder 8x and loaded up one box of "keep".  Oh and I may have burned out the shredder.  It presently doesn't work.  I'm hoping it's a thermal fuse and will be OK in the AM.

It amuses me...  rather than keeping after the paper piles here.. we're moving... which will force us to separate the wheat from the chaff.   The garage will be even worse :-(  Our household systems clearly need some work:-(

On the upside, the SCQueen's dad has been in a convalescent home for > 1 mo and at one point had seemed to have lost the will to live.  Now he can't wait to see the new place.  His daughter's have come up with a plan for a visit Saturday AM and then take him to lunch.

It will be a slow move.  We are not under the contractual "gun" to move under a specific timeline.  We have several property upgrades to finish before actually moving in:  double pane windows, security cameras, additional insulation, etc...

Oh.. and Mother's day is this weekend.. We got a new house.  What are you getting Mom? ;-)

* The SCQueen asked for it to be included in the sale.  The seller wouldn't include it, but our Realtor was amenable to purchase it for us.  If anyone needs an honorable rep in the Phoenix metro area, just ask and I'd happily to recommend him.  He's the best.  (FTC disclaimer: I 've seen good and I've seen bad...  Said Realtor did not solicit this recommendation nor offer any compensation in any way.  He's just that good.)

24 April 2016

Today at the Range

Our local range offers a class "M1 Clinic and Introduction to High Power shooting".  The SCSon learned about it from classmates and he's been asking to take the class.  While I took the same class many years ago and had a great time, I have been less than enthusiastic because of the show time, and the length of the class:  class starts at 0700 prompt and today's class took ~ 8 hours.  The range is at ~30 minutes drive from the SandCastle*.  And I am not a morning person, especially on weekends!

Lucky shot - (Mine in catching the brass mid flight)
But he's been getting up early for years (to his credit) and the SCQueen is naturally a morning person so we made a deal:  She'll drop him off and I'll make it out for the shooting portion of the class (We make a great team!).

While his scores were unremarkable, he had a great time shooting the Garand and it was his first time shooting high power in a competition setting.  It is interesting to note his prone rapid-fire scores were 50% better than the prone slow fire scores.  Go Figure.

Some lessons can only be learned through experience.  However he also noted of the three scoring classes (M1 Garand, Current Military, and Youth), the only class an M1 won, was the M1Garand class!  Both Current Military & Youth were won by AR-15 platforms.  So he's eager to compete again, but with an AR...  (I expected that ;-)  Still there is something... ...magical... about shooting the older equipment.  I felt it too.  I also felt that flying 60 YO airplanes...

BTW, it just occurred to me...  I took *this* class those years ago, to buy *this* very rifle...  How poetic!

Next weekend appears to be a repeat of same..  He shoots the state Trap event in Tucson with an 0845 appearance time.  That means on the road no later than 0645.  And there is no early/late deal to be had with the SCQueen.  I just gotta suck it up...   Maybe I can request the SCQueen prepare a pail of coffee for the ride down ;-)  Come back next week for a full report!

* But this weekend there was a freeway closure to deal with and a 2nd unavoidable detour :-(

19 April 2016

Cr@p news

The Queen of my SandCastle learned today her mom has breast cancer.  Long time readers will recall the woman who bore me died of cancer several years ago.    Now it's the SCQueen's mom's dance with the big 'C': Breast Cancer.

The SandCastle Mother In Law (SCMIL) is a tough old country girl* that doesn't take cr@p from no one or anything - a learned skill growing up with several older brothers.  She has the right mindset to fight it out and win.  She's also lived a clean life and is in otherwise surprisingly good shape for a mid-octogenarian.  Apparently it's "on" the breast rather than "in" the breast.  Does that make it skin cancer instead of breast cancer?  Curious but it really doesn't change the situation.  SCMIL has a serious disease that needs and will be attended to as quickly as possible.

Still the SCQueen is pretty emotional about it and there is nothing I can do to ease her pain.  Suddenly I regret skipping medical school... and specializing in surgery... of cancer ;-)  (That was never my path but still...)  But I'm really glad for a culture that has learned a metric-crap-ton about the disease and educated an army of surgeons to do retail warfare with the disease.  

If anyone can beat this, she can!   Please keep the SCQueen & SCMIL in your prayers/good thoughts.  
Thanks from the entire SandCastle Crew.

* I think she would agree with the description and not take any offence at "old".   (though I'd fully expect her to make a show of it and get up in my face asking "who are you callin' "old"?..  Then she'd back down with a "yer damn right laugh!")

18 April 2016

A liberal mugged...

An old neighbor called yesterday to say "I need to get my CCW.  I walked into a hot robbery with my 5YO daughter".

I do not actually know her political tendencies, but if I had to guess...  I'd probably be right...

She walked into a local mart to buy donuts for her daughter's class.  Her spidy senses noticed something was wrong so she was trying to back her daughter out without causing a scene.  But needless to say the 5YO was goal focused on DONUTS!  I don't know the full story but she reports things like "in a head lock" and "lets go to the bathroom" and her momma bear instincts kicked in and she fought back and got away mostly unscathed.  FIGHT BACK!  She mentioned the clerk didn't fight back and took a beating :-(

Anyway, we gave her several suggestions on local CCW classes (highly recommended, even though constitutional carry is the law here in AZ)

I hope she follows through... And watches the MJV video.

17 April 2016

Great free advice for gun owners from an actual attorney.

"5 things every gun owner should know"...  Straight from the euphemistic "horse's" mouth.  I won't even summarize his main points.  Just watch the video.

It's pretty much the same stuff my CCW instructor stressed (Pulling the trigger is *the* last resort, it's going to cost you everything you own to save your freedom, and you can still lose).  But still that's been several years.    Block out 30 minutes and enjoy.

He even offers DVDs to instructors, free for the asking.  I am not an instructor, but I asked nicely. and they gave me one too (If I'd known the video was posted I wouldn't have even asked).  Notwithstanding, I value his advice.  If I were an instructor, I'd run the video for every CCW/self defense class.

He's an engaging speaker so it's an easy listen.

I hope I never need their services.  But then again I hope I never need to use the gun I carry either.

FTC disclaimer... save for the free DVD provided as mentioned above, I have no connection to MJV law.  I value his advice and recommended to my own family to learn from his videos.  His number is in my cellphone because bad things happen to good people.  And if a bad thing happens to me, he's the one I will call.  YMMV.  But no other compensation has been received or promised.

22 March 2016

Arizona Primary Day

Primary day is finally here in Arizona.  And for once our votes will count!  Usually it's all over but the crying by the time we get to cast our ballots.

I voted 3-4 weeks ago and I'm really glad I did.  Just drove past a polling location and the lines are out the door and down the block:

The SandCastle Queen reports she was at the polling location when it opened.  The lines were pretty short at 6AM ;-)  I'll be glad when this day is over.  Local TV has been unwatchable as it seems nearly non-stop political ads.

Update: 2130: Driving by the polling site around 1830 the line took the dimensions of the red line.  The Google Maps measurement tool puts this path at  >1000 feet.  At ~2100, 1 hour after the polls had "closed" (these people still get to vote), Media has already called the state for Trump & Clinton the end of the line stopped at the green dot (~650 ft).

This for a ballot with one question.  Someone said the voter check in process was taking a couple minutes per voter and that was the bottleneck.

So the line advanced 350-400 feet in 2  1/2 hours.  
So if we extrapolate, the last ballot will be cast around 0100-0200! strike that... it's not a valid extrapolation.  At 1830 the polls were still open for another 90 minutes and voters were free to join the line.  But after 2000 no new voters could enter the line.  But it's still going to be a late night for many.  Props to those that stuck it out in line for 4-5-6 hours to cast a ballot!

P.S.  This is one of the reasons I voted a month ago!  Recall the six P's: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!  I planned ahead and thus enjoyed my relaxing evening.  You didn't and ... enjoy your queue!  (I chose wisely!)

25 February 2016

I voted today

The Arizona Republican primary is still four weeks out.  But as one on the permanent mail in ballot list, my ballot arrived today*:
The Arizona primary date is March 22.  Today we are about 4 weeks out and there are 14 names on the list.  IMHO only three candidates are still viable, possibly only one by the time this ballot is counted.  I'm not a big fan of how certain states get to choose our runners and the other states opinions really don't matter.  There's got to be a better way.... but I don't know what that is...

Cruz got my vote.  Always liked him.  Trump is the only reason illegal immigration is on the table and I respect him for that.  But he's seriously wrong on other issues like imminent domain.  "Gang of Eight" Rubio is a non-starter.  I held my nose for Romney in 2012... they'll have to invent a weapons grade clothes-pin to hold off the stench long enough to pull a Marco lever.  See also Romney 2012 where some 4M voters stayed home.

Carson and Kasich at single digits are irrelevant..  Never been a Kasich fan but I have great respect and could vote for Carson.  but neither are viable as of today....  See.. this is what I mean about a few early states seriously affect our selections.

YMMV but that's my call.

I wonder if my vote will count on the day it's counted and that is the argument against early voting.  I don't see it that way.  I see my primary vote as supporting the guy that best aligns with my viewpoints, regardless of reported polls.

* ballot image is intentionally de-res-ed and distorted to deter ... voting shenanigans (why should I unintentionally abet someone else's ballot stuffing?)...but the candidates portion is (mostly) unchanged.  (maybe)

13 February 2016

How fast can you reach a loaded firearm?

TrueBlueSam's ordeal offers some important "lesson's learned".  We talked on the phone this AM and while physically OK, the nerves are thoroughly rattled and I bet the adrenaline is still flowing.  Comments here reflect some of that conversation and he gave permission to post.  This is not a game of "Let's Second Guess The Victims".

Let me address one.  Put yourself in the scenario...  It's 1030PM and someone is trying to physically force their way into your residence (Kicking doors & breaking windows).  From where ever you would be at that time, how quickly can you arm yourself?  For some very good family structure reasons everything was locked up in the safe at the back of the house.  I bet those seconds running to the safe and working the lock felt like days!

Takeaway:  Guns secreted around the house are a good thing!  Implementation is left as an exercise to the reader, subject to and tailored to family situation ;-)

BTW, I can reach one in 1-2 seconds "in my office" (best case scenario).  But what if I happened to be in the kitchen when the attack commences?   A lesson learned from a late night visit from the "good guys".  Or so I'm told the boys in blue are the "good guys" but their actions sometimes give me pause...

12 February 2016

"It Can't Happen here..."

Yes it can and yes it just happened to one of us.

What would you do?  Here's the scenario... 10:30PM on a weekday night.  Suddenly there is a banging at the door and someone yelling about an accident.

What do you do?  Do you open the door?

Glad the unwilling participants weren't physically hurt though I bet the nerves are thoroughly rattled.  Also glad TBS had the 2nd Amendment option on tap but didn't have to use it.

BadGuy(tm) probably doesn't realize how close he came to a permanent dirt nap. Hopefully someone will explain that to him...

02 February 2016

New SandCastle update

Merle asks in the comments: "Will there be room for a shooting range? :)"

Ooooh...  I could have a re-loading station and a de-loading station!  Would that be awesome or what?  Merle - I like the way you think!

Good question..  I'll have to look into it.  There is certainly room.  It would have to be underground to make absolutely sure nothing leaves the property.  Probably could do a 25 yard range..  We'd have to look into all the legalities  & environmental requirements (sound absorption, ventilation, lead capture,  safety features, etc.)

And I vaguely recall reading a story about the mayor of the town had a range in his house.  So it must be possible.. But is it possible for someone without a title of "Mr. Mayor"?

Update on the offer to buy:  We walked away.

Poking around on Zillow, I found another property that is newer, bigger both in lot size & house size, further off the beaten path and only two miles away for about the same $$$ we'd be into the property we'd offered on..  Thus we decided even what we offered was too high.  We are a long way apart.

We looked at the larger property today.  I found a lot to like, but there are some real WTFs.
  • No hand rails on the stairs
  • The pictures on Zillow & MLS showed the outside of the house as a dark blue.  If it's a blue, it's the naviest Navy Blue I've ever seen.  Pretty much black.  Who paints a house black in the desert?
  • Updated (marble) kitchen & master bath, but still had the Tract-home tub/shower. 
  • The swimming pool was 50% larger than my first house (>1800 ft^2 surface).  Too Big!
  • The patio seemed built on a 12/15" thick pad and with an odd cut out in the tile as if there was going to be an outdoor kitchen.  Why?
In the end the SandCastle Queen said "no".  We are in no hurry to move so we can wait for the right deal.  Time is on our side.  We bought this house because it's close to the $DayJob.  Will we want to remain here after retirement?  Not here, but do we even want to live in the area?  I don't know.

31 January 2016

Update to my previous...

We just signed an offer to move the SandCastle.  Alas this property does not include the safe door in the previous post.  That one was under contract before I tripped across it so it was effectively off the market.  but now.. though I wasn't looking to move and now we've signed an offer.

*sigh*  This offer is likely only the opening salvo of a very long process... We are a long ways and a lot of work from laying head on pillow there.

Interesting... we are considering a move to a smaller house but on a larger property because the SCSon is soon to be moving on...  The sellers are looking to move to a smaller property with a larger house because they have two small boys (I'd guess 4 & 7).

The property is missing a huge "need": a garage.  It has a carport but I need to be able to take a car apart, close the door and leave everything without worrying about security.  There is room both on the property and budget to add one pronto.  And since we are building rather than buying, it _will_ be big enough to be considered a shop...  And I'm thinking a climate controlled "reloading room" would be in order.

We are looking forward to  jettisoning the HOA for a slice of freedom!  Wanna park in the yard? The "back 40" is currently unused.  And I can put it and the boat under a "tent-garage" to keep the sun off.  Personally I'm looking forward to putting up an Antenna mast.

Update 01Feb:  They countered (We expected that).  [Is the opening offer ever accepted?]  The counter offer price is lower but still waaay high.  At this point, I'm not sure I even want to counter.  Poking around on Zillow, I found another property (bigger both in land & square footage, newer, already has a garage and at an asking price around where we will end up at buying & upgrading this place, but without any of the hassle of doing the upgrades our self.  It would be a turn key deal.

I'm inclined to walk away or counter with a price lower than our original offer based on what I saw tonight.  This property has been on the market for several months.  It's far from perfect and right on the borderline of "workable" and "bulldoze" and build the house we want.  The only advantage is "closer to work".  But is the difference between a 3 mile commute and 5 mile commute significant?  I bet most worker bees would figuratively kill for a 5 mile commute!

Also, we are under no pressure to move.  We can afford to wait for the right deal. I don't think this is it.

Update 13Feb2016  Seller sprung for an appraisal out side of a signed offer.  Closer to our number but I still think even our number was high.  We are walking away.

14 January 2016

I wasn't planning to move...

But then I saw this (it's part of the house):
Now that's a safe!
Found in a Zillow property listing (no link to it to protect future buyer's privacy)...  And it's part of the property!  I don't imagine it opens to house anything like this, but still....  My phriendly purveyor of phine properties tells me this one is under contract, but offered to look for something similar.

So we started to outline our list of desires which quickly became a list of reasons we don't like this house, and dimensions of Robo Cop 2 directives (you have to scroll down a bit to see a partial RC2 list of directives).   So maybe it's time to move.  After all the SandCastle has been at this location for ~20 years which predates the SCSon.  The SandCastle is our family abode, not a fixed location.

Reason's for not moving - we've improved the property in a lot of ways we like...

In less than an hour said phine property purveyor has returned 27 qualifying MLS listings within 10 miles.

Oh crap... an hour ago moving wasn't on the table.  Now it may be inevitable...

13 January 2016

Car stereo update..

I opened up the radio box tonight...and was not particularly surprised.  The chassis felt mostly empty.  Here's proof:

That one board in the back of the case likely *is* the radio.  

The antenna hooks in via the silver connector on the right.  The radio chain is likely processed in the black IC with the red stripe probably meant to obscure the IC identification.  I didn't actually look that close.   The IC screwed to the back panel is probably the power amp (20W x 4 channels - The chassis connection acts as a heat sink).  And the teflon connector left is where DC  power comes in and audio signals exit.   The front panel likely has an MCU that interprets button pushes and updates the front panel display.  It also would likely control the radio IC on the main board.

I find it amusing that they felt the need to maintain the 1/2 DIN form factor when they could have saved money and put the boards back to back into only a 1/4 DINform factor or smaller.  Guessing it was too much trouble/not cost effective  to change the chassis tooling!

Hmmm... Now I'm wondering if the "old" radio doesn't have a similar power amp that might easily be replaced for a couple bucks.  AM reception would be worth the bet...  perhaps I should fit quick connectors for the relevant lines for easy swappage.  Stay tuned!

* I do not have any direct knowledge of this radio, save that of a buyer... opinions offered here are that of one in the industry and should not be relied upon with any weight greater than any given person begging on the corner of anytown Planet Earth.

12 January 2016

Rule #1 of owning a car....

... Never park it with anything inside that you cannot afford to lose!

I learned this lesson long ago when someone broke out a window and stole my (expensive to me then) stereo.  Ok lesson learned.  A vehicle is not secure, no matter what.  Never leave anything in a parked car that I can't afford to lose.  If someone want's it bad enough they'll pick it up with a fork lift and take it away on a semi trailer.

Fast forward to today... driving a rag-top.  That means anyone with a knife has "a key" to the car.  And if I lock the door, "forcing" the thief to use the knife to get access to the lock, it's my fault* for locking the door."

Fortunately the march of progress has meant car stereos are almost free.  The last one was $40, delivered.  I can afford to write off $40, just please don't cut the top!  That also has nearly eliminated the profit in stealing car stereos.

Many years later, that $40 radio seems to have developed a fault, I'm guessing in the amplifier section.  Probably an occupational hazard when most of the time it's being driven at 100%  (the scale goes to 42)...  These are the hazards of trying to listen to the radio with the top down at 70mph.

FF to today... The SCSon announced "nothing interesting the Fry's ad today".  "What about a car stereo?" I asked...

"Fifteen dollars"

I can do $15. lemme see.  SD card... aux input... It's almost perfect.  Also lamenting the $DayJob can't sell an empty cardboard box for that price.  OK, different problem, but still...   Shudder!

But you know what I don't get for $15?   AM reception!  The next least expensive model with AM was nearly 4x at $55.  But you know what?  I have several AM handheld radios and an aux cable..

It's also educational to understand the reason why FM is now easy and AM is hard (when it used to be the other way around).  It's because radios are now mostly digital while they used to be analog.  Analog AM radio was easy-peasy - diode detector stuff + amplifier while FM was harder.  Now it's digital, SDR (Software Defined Radio).  Plug an antenna to one end of the chip...  chip converts RF via an Analog to digital converter... detects the encoding... reconverts to audio and a speaker connects on the other side.  I'm guessing the lower frequencies of AM make it harder? (I don't actually know).

* I'm going to credit this thought to Ms. Tam, rather than claim it an original thought or research the actual link.