Coping: Around the Ranch on Holiday

It’s been a while since we have toured the Ure outpost here in the Outback of East Texas. Despite the two major eye operations, Life goes on…and with it, our hobbies, pastimes, and amusements.

Starting with the hobbies: Fellow ham radio enthusiasts will appreciate that I just picked up an antique radio to restore. It’s a Hallicrafters HT-18 and one of the earliest examples of a “civilian” variable frequency transmitter.

You may not realize it, but for the first (roughly) 50 years of radio, the frequency of the transmitter was maintained by a crystal.

This was a small piece of quartz, precision-ground, and held between two metal plates. When properly place in a circuit (a crystal oscillator), that little hunk of quartz would vibrate and so many times per second – and this determined the radio’s transmitting frequency.

During World War II, variable frequency oscillators (VFO’s) became important, as popularized in the ARC-5 series of radios.

After the war, often times this radios (light weight and designed for airborne use) were scavenged for their VFO circuits and when Single Sideband came along, manufacturers like Central Electronics in their 10-A and 20-A models, would offer a retooled VFO based on the ARC-5’s as their frequency generator.

The radio coming to me from up in Kalama, WA is not exactly high-power. It develops a whopping 4-watts of output, but that is enough to send Morse code anywhere in the world provided the right band (frequency range) is used and the operators at both ends have some degree of skill.

This odd penchant (how far can you communicate with a flashlight’s worth of power) is called “QRP” operation; taken from the list of Q signals developed by Morse operators over the years.

There’s a pretty good list of Q-codes available on Wikipedia over here.

Among young radio ops, such of me and my lifelong bud up in Gig Harbor, we would often change the meanings of certain codes.

For example, I might say “It’s time to QSY…” In Q-code, this means “change frequency” but it was convenient short-hand for let’s get out of here and go somewhere else. Early parent-proof comms are not a new invention of the FB crowd. Been around forever.

When it arrives, and over the next year, it will be restored to good operating order, and it will be paired with an early Hallicrafters SX-101 receiver, still one of the best ever built. That will be my “QRP” station.

Do note that there is a prepping angle to this: QRP is a very useful art because if TSHTF, we will not be “plush with power” and low power units that can operate a day or longer on a car battery will be prized. Tube type gear, of course “eats more power” than transistorized gear, but it’s nearly completely EMP proof when disconnected from the antenna system. So this is more art than form, in some ways. But for the real deal, I’ve built up a solid-state QRP radio that lives in our Faraday garbage can.

The Tour Moves On…

Panama’s Housing Hunt, Chapter 8

Panama and his wife are tiring of living in their tiny apartment here at Uretopia.   But I have never seen someone have so many house deals fall through.  Call Guinness.

At last count, I think it was up to seven, or so.

The list of reasons is impressive: Sometimes a home would be listed VA but it would turn out to be on a non-complying water system, so there went one.

Another had termites. Another had foundation issues. Still another had other structural issues….and so it has gone for them.

It may be a “buyers market” but when you really want to take the time and get a good house in a reasonable neighborhood, free of insects, structural defects, and clear title, things get “iffy”,

In fact, one of the homes they tried to buy was owned by VA…and they couldn’t find the title and associated paperwork.

I have told you before about “The Bates Luck” and it really is something to behold. My theory is he used his lifetime “Luck” allocation during his 20 years in SF, two combat tours in ‘Nam, and years through 1991, or so, being a “lone wolf” type in the jungles of Central and South America. My theory is that after all that, his luck has been pretty much spent. And his real estate efforts tend to bear out that hypothesis.

Panama is a fine fellow, wouldn’t hurt a fly (since retiring) and you’d think that over time, a little portion of luck would accumulate. But in his case it hasn’t and it’s pronouced enough that I could damn near write a book about it.

Elaine’s Maters

We didn’t put in a garden this year. Nor did I hook up hydroponics. Still, Elaine has three bit plant pots up on the deck in front of the dining room with two tomato plants and one citronella plant.

The tomato plant has its first tomato showing and its about dollar-sized. She’s out every day inspecting it. Along with administering some kind of chicken-poop-based “organic” fertilizer than make a sour landfill seem perfumed in comparison.

She also has been researching adding a bit of solution of Epsom Salts to the equation. But I don’t ask.

One of our readers over on the comments side of this site (Bryce) has been doing porch gardening, and I’m trying to get him to write up how he’s done it and maybe a picture, or two.

Over the winter, I did get the deck finished with the 2X6 top rail that was going to be a hydroponic lettuce bed, but time got away from me. So much for To-Do lists, but I have more excuses than Carter has pills.

(If you’re under 50 and can’t comprehend what I’m referring to, see Carter’s Little Liver Pills in Wikipedia here.)

Echo’s of Present

The eye surgery Thursday was longer than expected – another nearly 2 ½ hours worth. The operative eye is healing, but very slowly, it feels like about 20/70 at the moment, but it should quiet down in coming weeks.

So I passed the time Sunday having our Amazon Echo read me the first several chapters of Joseph Farrell’s latest: Hidden Finance, Rogue Networks, and Secret Sorcery: The Fascist International, 9/11, and Penetrated Operations,

The book is interesting, but it is very 9/11-centric. In the second half of the book, you begin to get into the Nazi’s that escaped punishment after WW II and from there into the UFO’s that have been recovered, and so forth.

If you don’t have one of the voice-controlled computer/companions yet, they are a lot of fund.

One problem – which I’m sure that Amazon engineers are working on – is that in a heavily footnoted book, you can burn 10-minutes at the end of a chapter listening to all the citations. Given the command “Alexa, next chapter”, the computer comes back with “I can’t do that yet.”

But in time, I’m sure they will get to it.

So there ou have it – airplane will start it’s annual inspection process this week and I am still going on the assumption that the eyes will be good enough for flying sign-off. (20-40 or better and the right eye is already there.)

In the meantime, just waiting for the left eye to heal up to the point we can refract the glasses for it – get them made – and then get back to the business of high-speed living.

What’s the old saying? “There’s too much to do in the here-and-now. Plenty of time for rest in the grave.”

A Personal Memorial

Last, but not least, you know what day this is.

For the friends I went to high school with who didn’t come back from a certain slice of hell in Southeast Asia, Gil and others from high school, thank you for your service.

I will spend at least an hour today trying to figure out how the president can claim Vietnam’s sovereignty IS important, but Syria’s is NOT.

I used to pray that those who gave their lives in service of America had not done so in vain.

But clearly, the globalist agenda has other plans in mind.  And the voices of those who oppose corporate tyranny are strangely quiet.  Oh, wait, they got theirs.

Even if the eye surgery had not gone well, there are some of us who are not blind.

Write when you get rich…


Coping: Around the Ranch on Holiday — 18 Comments

  1. Hi, George.
    Nice article on the Hallicrafters rig. That will be great when you get it on the air for the first time. I just finished restoring a Hallicrafters S-76 receiver. Some nostalgia there- I had one when I was a kid before getting my ticket. After I got my ticket I traded it for another piece of gear. Regretted it to this day. But I found another one, and got her working. Also- next project- I got a Heathkit Apache transmitter. A real piece of Benton Harbor iron. Beginning the resto soon. Can’t wait to operate real plate modulated AM!

  2. Maybe he should quit looking in Temple and instead look in the Lake GRANGER, TAYLOR AREA.

  3. Can you ask Elaine how many years she had to compost the chicken poo to get the nitrogen levels down to a level non-toxiv to plants?

  4. Maybe he’ll have better luck after the (allegedly near) real estate crash.

  5. 60 Minutes had a great segment yesterday on M PESA, the Kenyan created and based mobile money system. It is based on the concept that almost all adults have a cell phone. All banking is done by phone. Leslie Stahl paid her cab driver with M PESA but he had to show her how to do it. The manager of the M PESA bank and system says mobile money systems are operating in India and other similar countries, but none of them have been as successful as Kenya.

    Part of the answer to ridding ourselves of the banksters is to make them irrelevant.

    • Yes I tried to get Mpesa on my phone, but it is only available in 3 countries now, glad to hear 60 min did a show on M pesa!
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  6. As usual spent the Memorial Day early morning with coffee and my Dad. He’s sprinkled out front of the little cabin on the back side of the El Rancho de Chaos. I keep hoping my Boys won’t have to go through any of what we did, but they are both willing and ready if need be.

    Sounds to me like Panama needs to consider building. Once past the BS you should come out with what you want/need.

  7. Re: Elaine’s Maters – Epsom Salts contain magnesium which prevents/cures blossom end rot. This I know from experience. She may also want to add some powdered milk to up the calcium level in the soil. A little ‘net searching will provide more information – which she may have already found.?

    Re: Your Lettuce Rail – About the end of August (when your eyes hopefully will be well healed) could be a good time to plant for your fall garden.

  8. BTW George, appreciated your rant on remorse/regret. Reminds me I need to do something!

  9. I would say that it looks like someone on the inside is cherry picking the real estate market to bundle to sell to the big boys to put on the market as rentals. It’s not a coincidence the VA couldn’t find the paperwork on that one good house.

    Rents are up now, and a friend who has 20 units says it is like printing money. People lose their houses for one reason or another, but don’t lose their jobs so they are flush with rent money. Problem is, he is in Spokane, which chronically has more than 1,000x normal background radiation.

    And BTW, a garden is not something you can just put in any old time and make it produce. In the first three years in a new location you will have as many failures as successes in what you choose to plant. For example, new pests will continue to show up for three years as a new food source is developed in a new location. If you are not prepared for that, in hard times the solution to a particular pest problem may simply not be available. Then you have to know when you will exhaust your soil, and how to amend that.

    I lived on a family ranch that was 90% self sufficient, and seven of us worked 60+ hour weeks to maintain it. My dad joked he liked school, because he got a days work out of us before school, and another after school.

    No garden, no capability to preserve food, and no renewable protein source, you are as unprepared as many urban dwellers.

    • Im seeing that in my hometown in northern IL. Its a depressed economy with lots of gang related violence and crime, but someone is scooping up the homes priced under $90,000 almost as soon as they go on the market. Ive been wondering who is buying up these homes. Some are only two bedroom. I’ve heard as you noted, they’re being picked up and bundled as rentals. Will probably become some kind of REIT and sold as AAA rated investment, like the derivatives were back in pre-great recession era. I live in the pacific northwest. Real estate here goes up daily. Sometimes by $1000 a day. There’s so many new people moving here it has congested the freeways and makes everyday driving quite a mess. Not to mention the increase in bicyclist and pedestrians. Many people I speak with who’ve lived here, before this boom in population growth, want to leave but not sure where to go. I’ve never gone through population growth like we’re seeing here. Even shopping at grocery stores has become a nuisance as parking lots aren’t able to accommodate the people looking to park.

      • Also forgot to mention re: gardens… the price of water is so high here, its becoming cost prohibitive to grow a vegetable garden. I had a nice set up when I owned my home but the last few years, before I sold, had to cut way back because it cost so much to water them. I could buy produce cheaper than it cost me in increased water bills (mostly related to sewers cost and rainwater processing). The water portion was a smaller portion but the higher usage from watering cause the sewer water disposal portion to be the much bigger portion of the bill.

    • 40% of Air B n B are houses bought for Air B n B rental only.

  10. Panama should know by now that if he doesn’t succeed at getting what he wants after the third time to just back off. There is a reason for not getting what he wants and if he finally gets it after pushing the envelope he will wind up regretting it. There is a reason for now why he should stay where is and if he is patient he will find something better than he expected.

    • Could you elaborate Tom? Might help those of us who are also “real estate luck-impaired” &/or “relationship-impaired.” I believe Panama & I must be at least distantly related. What led you to the 3 times & quit hypothesis – as I have also found that steamrolling anything leads to regret. Thanks!