Coping: With Darn Summer Decision-making (I)

“Spit fire and save matches!”

(The actual term is a little more, oh, how would we say?  Not suitable for the breakfast table, but you get the idea….)

Pull up a cup and let’s talk vacation planning as we run the numbers for another summer decision point:  So here we are:  Ures truly has been running his butt all over hell’s half-acre and I need a vacation.  Elaine needs a vacation.  Panama needs a vacation (from us, lol).

Panama’s health, by the way is quickly recovering from his lung issue, which may turn out to be a service-related “orange” thing, but for now he’s back at 100% knowing (like we all do) that there will be some degradation over time.  Golden years my foot.

Word to the wise:  If you can figure a way to pull off a mid-life retirement?  Go for it.  It’s way more fun to have limited money and great energy of mid-life than it is to have the money angle figured but then realize that the energy is fading.  Don’t start building your own home after about age 64, or so.

Anyway, we keep talking about spending time time up in the Tacoma or Gig Harbor area of Washington state for a month, while Panama runs through a year’s worth of night vision batteries and rat killing around here.

So where to stay?  Enter which is a way cool way to find long term stays, everything from shared rooms w/ shared baths (no thanks, not for us…) to really spiffy condos with everything set to roll and for about 25% of the cost of staying in a major chain, but no points, of course.

And we have a couple of hot prospects.  but we shall see how that works out.

And since we “own” our own lives (except we need to be totally wired) our timing is semi-open.

And that leaves only one question:  How do we get from here (driving or flying) to there?

We only have three choices.

One is to take a commercial jet.  Another choice is to fly our old airplane up.  Then there’s the long-drive option where we’d pile into the the 9-year old Lexus (in perfect shape that has just turned over 96,000 miles and which just had the timing belt done, brakes, and the tires have 6,000 on them); which is hard of the butt but also has the best ground-level scenery.

The car gets 25+ MPG even going through the mountains of Colorado.  But it involves a hell of a lot of seat-time:  33-hours of it, each way.  66-hours, both ways.  And since I don’t like to press more than 6 hours per day (I need time to write and sleep, OK?) that means that we’d be looking at 5-days of travel each direction for 66-hours total. Works out to 350-400 miles per day.

The worst part of driving is getting out of Texas.  It’s 7-hours from the house to Amarillo driving and that’s just a bit much for me, thanks.

Just to put the choice into perspective, 7-hours in the old airplane (you can pick one up for $25,000, or so, less than a yuppie-mobile)puts us in places like Tallahassee, Atlanta, Indianapolis, 20 minutes shy of Chicago, somewhere north of Omaha, Denver, or Santa Fe.

If we opt to drive, the best we’re going to do is maybe get out of Texas, or if we go north, maybe a bit past OK City.

Pretty quickly, driving adds 10-nights of hotels at $100 each, though as a practical matter, we always do better than that, but with bed bug reports about, we don’t try to do a lot better.

The nice thing about the car (and why it is still on the table) is that if we drive up, we won’t need to rent a car at that the Washington end; saves money.

On  the other hand, if we fly commercial and rent a car, we are stuck in the perpetually gridlocked traffic between SeaTac airport in Seattle and the Tacoma Narrows bridge area.  Sucks, and then it rains.  In our old plane, we land at an airport close to where we’re staying, the car is waiting, there is no security and that’s that.

The car is boring, too.  2,200 miles of “Did you see that?” and audio books, and pack and unpack.  Remember, we made precisely this trip in September of last year, and while it was fun, like many things done over, it’s usually not as enjoyable the second time around.  This isn’t like a stew or spaghetti that gets better reheated.

Alternative #1 is to fly commercial.  This would cost $1,300 for the tickets (two seniors, please) but then there’s the rental a car for as month.  Since I like a mid-sized cars (and don’t rent wrecks – was through that stage in life), that option tags on an additional $500-$600.  That’s enough to get my attention.

Plus, then we’d have even less freedom to move around, change plans, adapt, and so on –  since the only way back to Texas is to show up a month later at the airport and take our chances with….whatever the world is like then.  Moving reservations can be expensive and a PITA.

Which gets us to the fly the old Beechcrate up – since it is in perfect condition – and that, in turn has its own set of financial impacts.  Compared to a car, the seat-time is less than half.  Still,  I would likely stretch it out over 3-days of flying the 14.7 hours each direction.  There’s flight planning, the vagaries of weather, and all that.

Ideally, I would do maybe 5-hours on Day One. 4-hours on Day Two, overnight at relatives near Spokane Day Three., and into Tacoma Narrows (KTIW) on Day Four.  That last leg is short – about 2.5 hours from Spokane to Gig Harbor, depending on how busy the “bravo” airspace is up south of SeaTac.

This means two paid nights of hotel each way.

The nice thing about the plane is…..

a) We could have lunch and spend some business time with Gaye & SurvivalHubby at

b) Possibly lunch or dinner with Steve Quayle, since Bozeman is a neat town and has a good airport.  We think highly of Yellowstone Jet Center..

c) We might route up through Casper Wyoming (something new for us) and…

d) There’s a Beechcrate national convention on the way home in mid-Sept.

Notice I didn’t get into the tax angle of anything?  No question, though, the plane expands our options to pop in here, or there.

And then there’s the “bug out” capabilities of the air machine.  In the event of anything big happening, all I need is (under difficult conditions) 1,500 feet of grass strip off to the side of a runway and I can bush pilot it out…soft field takeoff and all that.  If you don’t entirely trust the future, private planes are great.  Until you start writing airplane money units (AMUs) to keep them in top shape.  In which case walking – no matter how long it takes – makes a lot of sense in comparison, except to your feet.

Packaged into a spreadsheet with some weighting, to me it looks something liker this:

We could save dimes on all of these, and one way to do it would be to take an actual vacation from writing for 3-days and fly longer.  But, sure as I do that, the weather turns to crud and we’ll be in the soup long enough for me to write a good-sized novel.

Your suggestions are welcome (Elaine gets to make the final decision), although neither of us likes being groped at the airport.  The Texas airports are reasonable, but seems like the further we get from home, the more the gropes, although that could just be the cynical victim avoidance factor (paranoia is the other word for it) going into alert mode..

Rest of the Story

There was something missing from my WoWW report yesterday that left a couple of airplane mechanic/pilot readers hanging.  They wanted to know about the plane issue from a week ago Saturday.  Remember?  Tach not showing full RPM but plane making better than book numbers?

We will know more this afternoon when I meet up with Jeremy the Mechanic down at the plane…we’re methodically going through things:

1. An L-bracket on the prop back plate had broken  and

2. There was a loose bolt on the starter and

3. The plugs and they were not (absolutely perfectly gapped.

None of which should account for the RPM being soft.  So, our plan of attack on this today is…

1. The mechanic’s external (laser) laser prop tach failed, so his new one should be here today

2. The L-bracket for the prop back plate (to attach spinner) should be in.

3. Then we will do a run-up with the external prop tach and see if the problem is real or the tach in the plane is off…

Armed with some data, we then go to logical decision-making mode:  Decision tree is:

a. If prop RPM is good in static run-up, then replace old cranky tach and cable or go  to electronic tach.  More money, but more accuracy.

b. If prop RPM is bad on external tach, then check the lifter settings on cold engine the next day or after we grab some Chinese food while it chills down.

And yes, I can get about 50 more RPM if I lean on full power run-up, but not recommended on takeoff for cooling.  Incoming fuel chills things out and keeps the cylinder head values happy and doesn’t burn valves…

See what fun owning an airplane is?  It pays though, in safety, to always maintain a plane in a condition of “zero squawks.”  They stick to the sky better, that way..

I know this is likely going into your (large and growing) “There is Ure, thinking things to death again…” but even if you only have a couple of choices (car, train, for example) it’s still worth running the numbers to see what you’re buying in terms of pleasure per dollar, butt callous per dollar and other key metrics of time off.

Free Fall Out of the Landing Zone

Speaking of getting “unstuck from the sky” my son’s latest skydiving adventure is pretty interesting because it has a fine lesson about life in it.  Namely:  There’s a time to “call it good” and there’s a time to “make the safe decision” which is something I’ve ground into my son’s head.  (I didn’t think he was listening, but I’m the surprised guy on this…)

Last weekend, it paid off when (on his 93rd jump or so into Harvey Field north of Seattle, he found himself having to pull in a cloud which has closed in during the few seconds from out (15,000 feet) to opening.  He and a buddy were last out, doing flips and stuff and it’s just one of those things that happens.  You aim for a hole in the clouds and it goes bye-bye.

True to his training, G II pulled (after a line tangle) and have a choice:  He would either maybe/barely/ and if everything went right, make it to the airport, but with that choice, he might have also landed in power lines or an auto junk yard, neither of which is a a recommended LZ.

On the other hand, choice b) was pretty simple:  He popped out over a soccer field and from 1,500 feet, calm winds below, simply flipped into a right hand pattern and landed in the soccer field.

His description of it (on Facebook here) .  (Language alert)

As he says in the vid: Remember: When skydiving always go with the for-sure option. The “maybe option” might get you killed.

Works well in flying anything…personal relationships, too, lol.

Tuesday WoWW: Breakfast in the Twilight Zone?

And as we trundle off into the paperwork this morning try this one one for size, as we continue to survey the World of Woo-Woo:

Hi George,

We have had objects appearing and disappearing on and off for the past few years, so I take other reader’s reports for what they are.

Just this morning my wife walked from my office into the kitchen, which has a tiled floor, and I heard what sounded like a piece of flatware falling onto the floor, and assumed she had dropped or knocked something off the kitchen counter.

She said “Well, I’ll be”, so I stood up and walked into the kitchen and she had only made it just through the threshhold when a teaspoon had fallen down from above her head, right in front of her in her line of vision, and nowhere near anything it could have been sitting on. The kitchen has no living space above it, just the attic, and she had not started preparing breakfast, so there was nothing on the counter to be knocked off either.

All the best!

Steven & Latisha

The good news about all this?  It was a dry piece of silverware.

We wake up nights sweating sometimes wondering what would happen if doggie or cat doo-doo decided to stay falling through floors or something really weird like that…maybe the effect only impacts metal?

Hmmm….seems to be mostly metallic objects in our reports.  Maybe I oughta change my name to Uri.

National Dream Center Note

Fun interview listening to Chris McCleary on Coast to Coast with George Noory overnight.  I thought George asked a really insightful question toward the end of the show when he asked if Chris would “go public” with the dream “headlines” that were coming out of the Project August effort.

George was wondering if some of the headlines might be posted in advance.  But as Chris explained, if people read reports of “dream headlines” then it might lead them to dream along the same lines and you’d get an entrainment process going and that would blow the study objectives…

We’ll let you know when the cat can be let out of the bag.

Home Shop Notes

From Reader Ray (who’s kinda like my back-up commentator, sending in fine remarks that we usually don’t have space for…):  Feed back on Reader Chet’s home shop notes in the Monday report:

In RE: Chet’s note…
First of all, lovin’ the cart! The wheel system Craftsman used to make the saw a “rollaround” sucks eggs. I’ve never had to move my saw on a regular basis, but that’ll change after the resto. Second, his homemade hood is very similar to the ABS hood Sears sold with the saw’s accessory kit. Third, notice his favorite RA saw has a real elevation crank… ;-)
Oh, and fourth: Hope you don’t mind Chet, I swiped the pic of your assembly cart. What a well-designed piece of kit!
FWIW Rockler sells an e-plan for a really good homemade panel cutter… The finished product looks like the bigbro to Chet’s Festools table, and can be set up either horizontally or vertically.
George, about your table saw: There shouldn’t be any perceptible runout in a direct-drive saw motor. It has to have a little, to keep the motor from binding due to thermal expansion, but this is probably on the order of .002″-.003″ max. The motor may be able to be shimmed to bring it within this spec (most American and European motors can, dunno about pac-rim products.)

The good news is the PacRim products (China, etc) are cheap.  The bad news is that most of them leave out one or two really important points or a critical tolerance.

And speaking of panel saws…the vid from PanelSawsRUs on YT is way cool:

You can orders the parts kit to make up one of these nifty saws at the website.  It’s $299 plus $50 for shipping, but seriously, if you have ever horsed around a 4-by-8 sheet of plywood on your own, onto a table saw (even with infeed and outfeed rollers) this is the real McGillah and way to go.  Cut the panels down to rough sizes and then finish them on the table saw for the high precision cuts for cabinetry and such…

I’ll try to hold the rest of my workshop comments for Friday columns, but a good bit of personal independence arises from being able to make custom things, like hidden doorways and the like. I could snap some pix of the hidden stuff around here, if you’re interested.  Let me know…

Write when you break-even…


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