My friend (and co-author) Gaye Levy really likes “adult coloring books.”  So much so, she even has an article “Pursuing Your Passion: Getting Started With Adult Coloring” on her website.

I have been thinking this one over in background for almost a year now, “Should I try this…or do I need another hobby?”

Then, an amazing thing happened.  My wife Elaine came home from the grocery store Monday and presented me with a couple of “draw by number” books….

I don’t know if you remember this kind of book from your childhood, or not, but having all the free-hand art skill of a ditch-digger, this looked like something I could handle.  The one above is at checkout stands all over the place.  It’s about a 5-by-7 size where the second one she offered was a little larger – more like the standard sheet of paper size:

I suppose one could combine the two art forms (if you’ll be generous-enough to consider dot-connecting an art form?):  You could connect the dots and then colorize ’em. Twice the fun from one piece of paper, eh?  Well, except with bad eyes, it means magnifiers on. Or the USB microscope.

People like Elaine (and Gaye) have a kind of built-in sense of style, proportion, and color.  I’ve heard of these things, but only as rumors.  My attempts at art look like early paintball efforts.

Elaine – always sniffing around for new ideas – also came back with a finance book – something she hadn’t seen at the checkout stands before:  Does this mean ‘Merica is going up?  Coming to our financial senses?

Of course, you miss out on all the aliens and three-headed babies being born in the tabloids.  Brain food is good, though.

Bottom line?  Next time you go to the store, look for booklets like these around the checkout counter. They offer some brain-teasing and the one with financial ideas  is worth your time, as well.

New Telemarketing Law Needed?

Don’t know about you, but we’re getting sick of telemarketers who are using other people’s phone numbers in our same area code because if a TM call comes from an 800 or 866 number, I just hang up on ’em or ask them what company they are with so I can file a complaint with the Do Not Call Registry folks.

Some arrogant prick went to far as to tell me “My firm is an exception” to the law.  He was “selling” something but since it was on behalf of a nonprofit – he just got the “click.”

The FTC regulations have a trap door that is letting the sleazies call people as much as they care to.

“The National Do Not Call Registry does not limit calls by political organizations, charities, or telephone surveyors. “

Freakin peachy. So some slime-bag goes ahead and calls “taking a survey.”  They too get “the click.”

But here’s the thing:  We have two phones:

You successfully registered your phone number ending in 3874 on June 20, 2008.” and…

“You successfully registered your phone number ending in 2656 on February 27, 2004. “

So why am I still getting calls?    We need tougher rules…yesterday.

Weed Watering

Finally got some much-needed rain.  Nice for the trees, the parks, the wildlife, and our tree farm.  Almost an inch.

Not so nice for the lawnmower.

The upside of drought is you don’t wear out the lawnmower so fast.  Silver lining to everything.  Dusty silver, but silver.

Prepping: Radio Power?

Been working again on how to best prep for “whatever comes” and one of the things sticking in my craw lately is the large amount of tube-type ham radio equipment being sold as being as suitable for “Preppers.”


Let’s compare two general coverage receivers (both of which we happen to own) and see which one seems likely to be a great radio for The Great ThereAfter.

Whether TGTA is from EMP, massive quakes, or just a global bad hair day and router hacks that go viral, the end is pretty similar:  No power.

NOW – with the end of the world here – we place two radios on the desk.  Wanna make any bets on which one will work?

The 12-volt powered radio first.  You go to the fridge and take a box of double A batteries out.  Warm a couple of ’em up…and toss them in the radio.  Switch on.  Noise.

You tune in to first the WWV time signal to set the radio’s clock, then set the alarm to wake you up at 5 AM before the roving gangs are out (they tend to sleep late after a hard night of raping, pillage, and plundering) and you tune in the BBC to see what’s going on.

Takes you all of five minutes, maybe 10 if the batteries were real, real cold.

Ure Point?”

Oh…stick with me on this:  Go ahead and fire up the tube-type radio, would you?

“How?  There’s no 110-volt power…that was your set-up, right???”

OK, maybe you’re a retarded prepper. You bought a tube-type “prepper” radio, sport.  Outside in the shed, there is a 2000 watt 4-cycle runforever Honda generator.

(A few minutes pass and you come back in with fire in your eyes.)

What’s the big idea, jerk-face?  It doesn’t have any gasoline in it!  Where’s your gasoline?”

Seeing the ice pick and the disposable roasting pan on the table (and me arrogantly pointing outside) the fire returns to your eyes as I say “BeatTheS**tOutOfMe bubba.  There’s cars somewhere with gas in their tanks.  Might need a hammer to start that ice pick because if you bust your palm up, no hospital, right?

Half an hour (and some light arms fire later) who should walk in but the “radio prepper” with what look like some rock salt wounds from a 12-gauge and half a roasting pan of gasoline.

“You really are getting into this prepping stuff down, aren’t you?”

The fire is back in your eyes – you fail to see my combat motivation manual readings coming to play on you for your own good.

OK, you just watch now…”

After spilling a few precious ounces of ice-pick gas and working up a terrible sweat (no showers in The Great ThereAfter, lol) you finally get the radio fired up.

“Where’s the antenna, fatso?”

“Antenna?  Me?  You’re the one who bought a “prepper radio” bubba.  Which I assume means you bought a 40 meter prepper dipole or a 1/2 wave end-fed antenna or SOMETHING, right?  Tell me you ain’t just a paper prepper…”  (It’s OK, FB and Twitter are full of ’em and it.)

Ripping out a floor lamp and twisting around 12-feet of wire into a loose heap on the floor, you notice a signal that sounds like Radio Beijing.  And then, at last, the BBC.

Lots of generator whine…someone didn’t pre-run the radio and sort that out first.  Tisk, tisk.

“Hey, maybe you’re a prepper, after all….”  (I’m snickering by now.)

Wise ass.”

“Oh, I’m not done.  Set the clock and the alarm for tomorrow morning.”

Don’t be stupid…there’s no alarm clock in a tube type radio…”

Wrong again, pup.  There actually are a few – ver4y damn few- tube radios with clocks.  Take the Hammarlund HQ-180 with the Telechron clock option.  Think, you could manage setting an analog clock twice your age?”

Don’t be silly, of course I can!

“Set it for 9 PM tonight then and again about 2:30AM.  Even the Hammarlund clock requires 110 VAC power and that means another trip to midnight gas wholesalers for you.”

And so it goes.  The Tecsun PL880 Portable Digital PLL Dual Conversion AM/FM, Longwave & Shortwave Radio with SSB (Single Side Band) Reception. $160 with all you need to hear the news and wake up, except some batteries.

The Hammarlund HQ-180 (A model preferred) is around $350 for a good one, another $70 for shipping on eBay.  Then the Honda EU2200i 2200-Watt 120-Volt Super Quiet Portable Inverter Generator is $1,000…and then there’s an antenna, feedline…oh, yeah, and some gasoline with stabilizer in it.  A couple of safety cans and don’t let your neighbors know.

Which gets us to our perpetual question around here:  Are you a prepper or a sucker?

Write when you get rich,