Sunday, February 27, 2011

For Our Rulers And Beloved Leaders

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Competing ruling classes, including the American rulers, are content to watch their respective pawns slaughtering each other by the thousands, but it has long been the official policy of many "governments," including the U.S. "government," not to attempt to kill foreign "rulers"--i.e., the ones most responsible for making the war happen. In truth, the most moral, the most rational, and the most cost-effective means of defense against any invading "authority" is the assassination of those who command it.




I love it when a writer surprises me. I've long held the idea that government does more harm than good, but this guy makes me look like an optimist. Hell, he makes Ayn Rand look like a government cheerleader.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Struggling Just To Get By

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I cried like a baby when I read this story about a Nevada state employee. Cash-poor states are passing the struggle on to their employees. Short article, please read to the end. Link.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Astro-Slab!

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So I got to thinking. In the turnaround part of our driveway, a nice circular slab would be a great place to set up the telescope. And what better time than while I'm pouring concrete for the retainer wall? So Gun Girl and I staked out the center and I played with the diameter dimensions. The inside white line seemed too small, so I used the outer white line, which made a 24' diameter slab. The orange outer line was the excavation line. I dug down enough so that the slab ended up level with the ground. And the orange lines coming from the center were for the conduit trench. Gotta have power for the scope.


After the dig, I ripped up some plywood into 4"-wide strips, calculated the length needed for a 24'-diameter circle (75'-4 3/4"), and connected them together into one long piece. When I was bending it into shape, it broke a couple of times, so I soaked the plywood with water and came back to it next day. Notice in this pic the hole in the middle. Where the power will come up in the center I'll make a concrete table. The hole is for a little thicker concrete where the table will be.


Next step is to get a center nail where I can hook my tape measure to make the circle spot-on curve-a-licious.


Staked! I just walked around the circle pulling a tape from the center and driving in stakes. Nice and round.


The rebar in the middle is for the concrete table. I poured it in with mud leftover from one of the footing pours. That way I had no rebar template in the way of the slab pour. The conduit is inside the column. The 110v outlet will be nicely flush after the column is poured. Notice the white paint marks on the dirt. That's layout for the rebar.


Time to cut some rebar. This is a rebar shear. I had some #5 bars (5/8") leftover from building the house, so I'll use those for this slab.


Rebar is in, dobied-up, ready to pour.


Kenny is finishing the slab. The center of the slab is about 1/2" higher than the edges so that water will run off. Kenny put a nice radial broom finish on the slab just before the concrete set up.


The next day I layed out control joints and then made the saw cuts with a Skilsaw and a diamond blade. Turned out nice!

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Pouring It

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I had 6 steps in this long footing, so I poured it in 7 pours. Here is Kenny on the float, Roger on the vibrator, and me on the chute. I used a plasticized mix to achieve a slump of 6 (on the runny side). That made it easier to pour. I don't ever add water to a mix. Bad. Against God.


At each step I put a form. Because I poured every day, I had to put in each step's form in the dark just before the pour. Notice the red duct-tape flags that mark how high to pour the concrete.


The milky-white stuff on the footing is cure. Cure keeps the concrete from drying out too quickly. Concrete needs water to achieve full-strength.

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Rebar Phase

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This is Gun Girl, aka Mrs. UC. She's using this Sokkia SET3A total station and HP48GX data collector to stake out the points I need to place the rebar.


I'm using this prism reflector to set points at the bottom of the footing. Ladies, don'cha wish your husband was hot like me? Don'cha?


These feathers are face-of-wall and the orange paint marks are for the 1'-on-center rebars.


After the footing mat is done, I put the 4x4's across to support the vertical wall steel. Notice the rebar is "chaired-up" with those plastic rebar chairs.


Vertical wall rebars attached to the template, or steel rack. I put 3" dobies under the verts to separate them from the dirt.


Where the wall height is above 5', the footing width goes from 4' to 8' wide. The dirt bank is constantly crumbling, so I'll have to clean out caved-in dirt before the concrete is poured.


There are 6 steps in this footing. Each step is 1'-6". Those bars that look like they're just laying there are to tie the bottom of the vertical wall bars together.

Next step: The Pour.

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The Dig

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When I was layed off three weeks ago I spit on my hands and started a project that has been delayed about 3 years because of job uncertainty, a 200'-long retainer wall on the south side of our turnaround drive. An unexpected return to work has interrupted this and other projects, but I expect to get back to them in another 3-4 weeks. So here's what's been done so far, starting with the dig.



Thomas Habermel, the best backhoe operator in Arizona, starts digging. That's me, standing there in supervisory mode.



Here I'm checking the grade with the laser stick. You can see the orange spray-painted line on the ground that shows Thomas where to dig. This retainer wall will look like the one in back of Thomas. It'll have the same rusting strips of steel embedded in the concrete wall--Mrs. UC's idea.



See the white "feathers" next to the footing? Those are a 1' offset to edge of footing. Those feathers used to be pink, but the sun faded them over time. I had put those feathers in over a year ago. If you noticed that the footing is not straight, then your powers of observation serve you well. The retainer wall is two long arcs.


After the dig, I compacted the earth at the bottom of the footing with this plate compactor, the "Whumper-Thumper". Noisy beast. Dig completed.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ham Radio Saturday

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 I had two weeks off from work, a short layoff that was supposed to be a lot longer. Thinking I had lots of time on my hands, I hit the deck running on a million projects around the house. The biggest ones, a long retaining wall and a stargazing slab, I started on immediately. But I've got some Photoshop work to do before posting those photos. The following pics are of my ham radio receiver and antenna which I've been working on setting up for almost a year.



This is my Drake R-4C receiver and speaker. I bought them on eBay. Getting good deals on eBay takes patience and time, neither of which I have much of. But at least I had enough patience to wait for an R-4C in good condition. This receiver is 40 years old and has old-fashioned vacuum tubes. My other choice, a Collins 75A4 receiver, I couldn't afford. I like old tube radios because that's what I used when I was a ham radio operator in my teens. The new radios are obscenely expensive, in the thousands of dollars, and absolutely out of my price range. I don't know if they work better than the old tube-type radios. Notice the pad and pencil in the pic. I prefer CW (Morse code), but I'm a bit rusty. Back in the day I could send and receive 40 words per minute. Now I struggle to copy at 15 WPM, and most hams seem to send at about 20 WPM. So there's lots of gaps.



I put in some "future" conduit lines into the house when I was building, so I grabbed one of them to run a RG-213 coaxial cable out to the antenna. In the two spots where I stubbed up the spare conduits, I cut the sheetrock and installed access doors. I mounted a SO-239 connector on this access door, because I think wires hanging out of gaping holes are an abomination. I bought the cable in bulk, so I had to put a PL-259 connector at each end, with a soldering gun. I also found some right-angle coax fittings to keep things more orderly. The coax, the fittings, the soldering gun, and the access doors were all purchased on eBay. Oh, and I used a Greenlee punch to make a perfect 5/8" hole in the access door for the SO-239. Got the Greenlee punch on eBay, too.


This is where the conduit line comes up. There's two conduits going into the box, but I'm only using one. I may need another line someday for another coaxial cable or perhaps a security camera. I always plan for future expansion. PVC doesn't take sunlight well, so you can see I spray-painted the two conduits a light tan. I had to mask off the bollard and support pipe to avoid overspray. Yes, I'm anal.


This is my CushCraft AV-5 multi-band, aluminum tubing, trap vertical. I got it on eBay. :)  When you put it together from the parts in the 4' box, it ends up being about 28' tall. It's leaning a bit because the wind is blowing pretty stiff right now. I was originally going to put up a long wire antenna or 42' untrapped vertical, which would have needed an antenna tuner. The "ultimate transmatch" I bought sits unused on a shelf. If I don't use it in the next year, I'll put it back on eBay.



The trick was how to mount the vertical antenna. I used two 6" riser clamps to fasten a 4' length of 2" gas pipe to one of the bollards that protect our well. The antenna slips onto the gas pipe, I connect a short length of coax to the antenna, then I'm good to go. Mrs. UC objects to a permanent antenna, so to keep from getting frosty glares, I separate the antenna into two 14' pieces and hang them on a rack in the garage. Sounds complicated, but it takes all of 5 minutes to either assemble or disassemble the antenna.

It's been raining since about 2 a.m. and I couldn't work outside like I planned this morning. Instead, I hooked up my antenna and listened to the sweet sound of Morse code this morning. There was some sort of contest on, where the hams try to contact as many other hams as they can. All the bands were filled. I listened to stations from Japan to Florida to Australia. My preferred band is 40 meters (7 MHz), but I also listened to 80, 20, and 15 meter CW.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm Shocked. (Yawn)

CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt's military delivered an ultimatum on Monday to dozens of committed protesters in Tahrir Square, nerve-center of a movement that toppled Hosni Mubarak, to leave and let life get back to normal or face arrest.  Link.


 OK, let's sum up events.

1.  People say, "No more!"

2.  Mubarak "hands over" power (reins of dictatorship) to the army that enforced his thugocracy for 30 years.

3.  People settle back into their nice, comfortable life of slavery.

Did I miss anything?

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Huge Snowstorm Of Irony!

The storm was so bad in Polk County, 200 miles west of St. Louis, that emergency officials requested help from the National Guard because local officials did not have enough vehicles to get the elderly and shut-ins to shelter if the power went out.


Can't you just picture those "local officials" wringing their hands, worrying about all the elderly and shut-ins standing around out in the corn fields? But it does make you wonder why not having power would be a problem if you're outside. You had to be there, right?

This art is chock full of grammatical and spelling errors. The news team obviously gave this boring weather story to the novice reporter, and the editor couldn't be bothered to proof the kid's pathetic attempt at journalism.

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