Coping: Check-Out Line Brain-Power

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,

22 thoughts on “Coping: Check-Out Line Brain-Power”

  1. There is a Prepper’s Net on one of our local repeaters on Wed night. I don’t check in but usually monitor the net after our club net. Several weeks ago one guy who just got his Tech license was talking about the tube type radio he had bought a couple of months ago at a Hamfest. He was planning on using the radio after a grid down event, and I was thinking, He had better have a good genny and plenty of gas, and I wonder what type of antenna he was going to put up and that he had better upgrade to General before long.

  2. I had a “last straw” moment with my previous cell carrier so bought a new, cheap smart phone (Moto E4) and signed with a new carrier that lets you pay for what you use (Twigby). I am really pleased with both so far. I decided to keep the old, dirt cheap phone as a “home phone” backup in case the main one is not available. Both are on the “do not call” register but that doesn’t help much as you have discovered.

    I tried out several call screening apps and settled on the one I am now using “Should I Answer?” It uses a community database format to signal what is safe, and allows you to block plus rate numbers for the community. There is the option to only use a personal database instead.

    This is useful and it really feels good to block numbers knowing that this info will help squelch their future activity.

  3. “The National Do Not Call Registry” don’t do much of anything, however there are a couple of real nice apps out there that block unwanted calls from bothering me. The one I use can block anything from specific numbers to a range of specific area codes. The very few spammers that get past that simply have their numbers, or range of numbers, added to the block list. I don’t think I have had anybody get past my filters in the past 6 months. Ah, Peace at last!

  4. What I do for fun and amusement with the robodialers (especially the one that wants to install solar on my rented house for free) is wait for the “press 1 to learn more”, then when a live person answers I rain down a string of carefully-chosen curse words regarding the “do not call” registry and $10k per occurrence fines.
    Unfortunately it seems to have no effect.
    BTW my ancient tube-type Zenith Transoceanic will run on 10 “D” batteries as well as AC. But I’d rather use my Realistic “Voice of the world” DX-440, which runs on batteries or AC.

    • OH WCD you are missing an opportunity of your life…. you need to have some fun wwith these cold call phone sales.. join the smart azz of the country club.. I love to answer the phone and have the real world person start talking.. then..
      you change the subject. or I will answer the phone New mooner consulting.. LOL.. it is almost as much fun as taking someone into a car lot with you.. they tag team you at a sales lot.. one sits back to see what the other might miss if one of the sales men see something that the other is missing then they switch.. and if that doesn’t work.. well I have to see about my floor manager bob.. LOL LOL so take someone in with you.. the sales person already knows the limits.. if he falters or just has to see bob.. then walk make sure he knows you are expecting him to do the sale not bob.. other wise you would have gone to see bob in the first place.. they work on commission sales.. have the friend come along just to keep the other salesman busy.could you get me a cup of coffee or a doughnut LOL…
      I took a dog once.. LOL LOL friendly pooch but it would nip you in the sack or on the buttocks if you didn’t pet it .. LOL LOL LOL LOL I got lifetime oil changes and a steak dinner out and the car I know I got it at the bottom figure.. LOL LOL
      with the phone sales.. they have a script.. we will pass it off to bubba.. or sally etc.. but get them off script.. ask about the weather.. or say.. what color is your hair.. and then drift away.. pretty soon you will hear in the background someone telling them they can’t just visit.. LOL LOL LOL..
      It is my best dinner entertainment.. LOL LOL…I had one on the phone for almost twenty minutes one time.. LOL after you do that they put you on their no call list.. and you never hear from them again..
      the other fun one is your own script to play back for resales.. turn the tables so they are agreeing to pay for your consulting services.. that one always gets them to hang up usually before you get to the second page. especially when their supervisor answers and finds out that the sales person had agreed to your consulting fees LOL LOL… I never get mad at them.. or swear at them.. the kid on the other end is just trying to make a living with a cold call.. but this way they put you on their list to never call and your fine and had some fun in the process.. you already know when to pull the script our.. right at a meal time.. the reason.. that is when they will get the most sales exposure…

      • I love to dicker.. LOL LOL.. my wife wanted something once and asked if I would go and see what I could get it for.. well she won’t come with me because it upsets her.. LOL LOL my friend that loves to sit and watch he wasn’t available.. so my father in law went with.. LOL LOL LOL LOL.. it was an off season thing and anyone knows that off season stuff is just takes up valuable retail space.. one of my hats was big box retail.. anyway when we were walking away.. my father in law looked over at me and said.. you should be ashamed of yourself.. my rule of thumb is.. if they don’t go with your lowest walk or acceptable limit you are willing to go then.. always walk away.. even when they come back to offer me a lower price.. give me your lowest the first time around don’t play with me.. But if you really want it and are willing to pay full retail then send someone else in to buy it.. but never go back if you falter then they know you will falter.. ( I see our president doing this exact same tactics.. and I get where he is coming from..he is willing to do what it takes to get the best deal for the USA.. shoot for the moon but have a reasonable acceptable level) so when I hear people say oh listen to him he should be ashamed of himself.. well it makes sense to me at least.. he loves this country and wants to do good by her.. just look what he has accomplished so far without any support by any of the ones that should be supporting him.. instead they are still doing the .. well we can think about this for a vote at a later time.. ..
        just think about what they have done so far to try and discredit him.. well
        Racism didn’t work,
        sexism didn’t work,
        undermining him with fake adds in the election didn’t work by dumping billions in negative ads,
        Blaming him being elected by Russian involvement didn’t work,
        Gun control Didn’t work,
        Stormy Daniels.. didn’t work,
        Nuclear war with NK .. didn’t work,
        they almost got him with the gas attack claims.. (what a setup to..) but it didn’t work..
        Now they are trying to get him with a law that they have been working on for what twenty something years and haven’t been able to get it done by coming to an agreement… LOL.. Hey maybe Donald should take on the abortion laws.. LOL LOL that one is fifty years old now.. then I wouldn’t have to hear the next campaign speeches on how they are going to do this or that if they are elected….

  5. Great article, George. The 12v radio is the way to go. A lot less hassle to run off batteries which you have recharged by your portable solar panel. They also make some usb charged radios which can be recharged by the above mentioned solar or the BioLite stove which can cook your next meal at the same time.

  6. Dear Mr. Ure,

    One awaits with anticipation for this weekend’s upcoming Obama Foundation Chicago kickoff of Community Leadership Corps directed at youth aged 18 to 25 years old. It will be held at the Malcolm X College in caucasion minority and 95% democrat Hyde Park. President Obama has been one of the suburb’s famous residents.

    The corps seeks to “empower, and train highly motivated young leaders with a goal to create the world they want to live in by addressing issues in the community”.

    Looking back, the initial gathering in Phoenix highlighted a hijab-wearing woman aiming to spearhead muslim enterprise with an islamic flavour. The second in Columbia, S.C., highlighted a gay male latino. One senses opportunity at this weekend’s Chicago confab for a heterosexual caucasian to advocate for a western nuclear family future may be limited.

  7. For general timekeeping, a wind up clock is sufficient; I used one to wake me up for years . . . of course in an emergency, people will tend to use the sun as a wake up and bedding down for the day – like they did pre-electricity.

  8. My Kenwood 520 wants a lot of AC current. The Icom 718 I just picked up makes more sense, runs off a car battery, and I have a couple of 75W solar panels. As long as the sun is out, I can run virtually forever. I’m hoping that Winmor will provide reliable comms even with bad propgation.

  9. George, you’re absolutely right about the charity exemption. I get weekly calls from some breast cancer outfit asking for donations. I usually screen everything, but even that interrupts flow when I expect a call and am otherwise busy. It comes from a local exchange, and I’ve told them not to call. They still call and don’t even listen, just push their agenda. I think those people are working on commission. I care about people with diseases but have no tolerance for low-efficiency “charities”. We do need to eliminate these exemptions from DNC, or allow them as opt-in only.

    People seem to forget that they have a generator in their car! For quick use during a power outage, an inverter clipped on to the battery will power anything short of a heater or motor appliance. A better solution for anything powered by 12V is to just make up a cable to run radios, security cameras, etc. Leave the engine off and run for a while, then disconnect, start the car to charge 15 minutes, and shut off the car and reconnect. A diesel powered car or tractor is more efficient for this, but EPA all but banned diesel cars.

  10. But, but, but… if the power is out, your refrigerator will not be running, and those batteries will be WARM! In an EMP event, not everything ‘solid state’ will be trashed. It depends upon how long an antenna wire (or power cord) is attached to ‘pick up’ the EMP voltages. A battery powered rig… especially if stored in the metal garbage can George advocates… will survive just fine. LESSON: Disconnect your antennas when not in use. Lightning is also EMP.

    I finally found a QRP (low power) transceiver for SSB. The uBITx is a kit with assembled main board. You supply chassis and do the chassis wiring stuff. Not perfect, but lots of improvements, hacks, and mods are documented. It will run 10 watts SSB and is a perfect ’emergency radio’ for our 40-meter interIsland nets that rely on short range NVIS propagation. My 40-meter magnetic loop antenna is under construction.

    • Hank, you’re reading my mind. Just received my uBitX and looking for some 1 inch gas line to make a mag loop. Add 3/4″ copper pipe and a 300 mm linear actuator and the gas line is both the loop and resonating capacitor. I’ve already got an FT240-43 to slip over the gas line to transformer feed the loop. The mag loop works great for both NVIS local and DX where it is bidirectional.

  11. A couple months back, after my wife mentioned possibly dropping our group health insurance coverage, next fall, from her Texas public school teachers payroll package (school pays $200, she gets $800 deducted per month, and we NEVER go to a doctor)… I got online and plinked around on 2 Google search sites for rough cost estimates of a new basic policy. I had to enter some very basic info (age, income, etc) to get quotes that popped up from various providers, The lowest cost ones provided very little, a few copays, minimal pharmacy help, and a few days hospital time, no ER visits, $12k deductible)
    I never once clicked on a “please contact me” button…..I was only kickin tires.
    The next day I got 76 phone calls from insurance pushers, 39 the following day, and finally almost none after 2 weeks. Area codes from all around the US, and TX.
    Still get one every few days now. When they ask “how many on your policy for your household?”.. I tell them 14, and they hang up.

    • Don’t do it William you are getting a really reasonable rate now for insurance.. I was going to go into the long speal about how I gave up our insurance and ended up having to work a hundred and forty hours a week for a year and two weeks of hell at almost 160 hours( I screwed up self scheduling) (It almost killed me).. but I won’t ever forget it…. it was horrible and definitely a reminder to not complain about the insurance costs. the company we did have ended up going under so a new position had to be found a month ago..come to find out.. they don’t offer health insurance most companies now dont’ offer them only to management. for a grand we can get one but it only allows you three visits to the doctor.. a year no labs or x-rays.. the one for 1125.00 that gives you as many visits and it covers labs and x-rays but you don’t get a choice and have to stay local ( a trip to the grand canyon is out) .. the third one that covers and gives you your choice of physicians is 1600.00 a month this is the rate for one person not family ..
      the thought comes.. well we maybe go in once or twice a year.. heck that is only a couple hundred dollars.. we could save that money..
      now we got the insurance.. and will pay the 13000.00 and change with a 7500.00 deductible.for the local one.. heck where are we going to go. but the wife sprained her ankle..the price without insurance.. ( we hadn’t gotten the card yet.) so far is right at five grand just under. and it isn’t done.. a low end knee walker rented was more than the price of purchasing two cadillac knee walkers..
      Take it from this old man.. been there done that.. I sure in the heck don’t want to see you having to work off a simple debt like I have no idea what it is like to resurface a parking lot for a clinic by hand in hundred degree heat.. or work literally day and all night… and 800.00 that is nothing when you are considering insurance.. a drop in the bucket from what you could be facing.. The insurance is worth every dime not even considering if you don’t have it then you are fined….If you found anything cheaper.. heck make a claim.. they drop your zip code.. or your town etc. then you are uninsurable or high risk. they can’t drop you personally at this time but…. they sure in heck will drop the zip code forcing you to seek a higher paying insurance policy with less benefits.. its like pulling the handle on the slots.. the house will statistically win.. it is set up to be a money maker..

  12. I keep being asked if I’m going to do anything for Field Day. I just tell them everyday is Field Day here at El Rancho de Chaos. Everything in the shack is off grid and battery powered. Just don’t get to spend as much time on the air as I would like.

    Jim in MO. AD0YQ

  13. Steel drums full of Pri-D doped diesel, an EMP-proof “quiet generator,” and sufficient tactical understanding to know to only run stuff for brief periods, because the next fill-up might be — never. Yeah, I’m okay with my Hallicrafters 44/122 stack if need be.

    I’m more okay with my KW/icom transceivers though. I’d have to add the 22R or the 118 (neither of which has been restored yet) to the tube stack to pull LF, or I could just turn on the Kenwood, which seemingly tunes from near-DC to near infrared, and draws about 70W less than the 122 as long as I don’t key the mic…

    I’m all in favor of boatanchor EOTWAWKI radios, but I also assume people who buy them will have provided for off-grid mains power.

    An unconstrained world, like the one in which EVERYONE lived a mere five generations ago, is a harsh taskmaster. Everyone has final exams every day. Every single time a person doesn’t get an A+, they’re likely to die. Anyone who buys an “EMP-proof” boatanchor and hasn’t a power source for it will have much greater problems than a lack of outside communication. As L’Amour put it: “For every way to live out here, there are 200 ways to die…”

  14. My “check-out line brain power” involves adding the prices of my purchases, computing the tax, and presenting the checker with exact change, before she gives me the total.

    It’s one of the games I played with my children as they were growing up. We all still play it, too.

    I was at the local cstore the other day when my son came in. He picked up 2-3 items, then told the gal behind the computer he wanted $5.44 in gas. “What? Why? Why $5.44?” As she rang up the purchases he gave her a $10 dollar bill. Store purchases were $4.56. He told her: “Because I hate carrying change,” and walked out.

    The look she gave first him, then me, was precious…

  15. I thought the DNC registry was only good for a few years at a time. Seems like I’ve reregistered at least once and I’m about due again.

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