Prepping for Quarantine

Been a busy week around the old “double-wide in the woods” – getting ready for the Big Shut-In, which seems about an equal proposition, as we see it.

As we have hinted-at before, once you have “the basics” covered, there’s not too much else to do except figure out which of your hobbies will have the highest paybacks for the time and money invested.  We optimize on personal enjoyment, a lot.


Normally, we would have the garden set by now, but there are still some major roadblocks to polish off before Sunday:  For one, I still haven’t gotten around to putting the new plastic roof panels on the greenhouse.  The young man who does the bug spraying was willing to horse-trade some old tools for that, however, so that should be done tomorrow.  Barring a downpour today, the garden will get burned out today and tilled  That means when I move in an mix up the topsoil, the garden will be ready for Elaine to take over.  That’ll be watching the “children” – small plants in the greenhouse until they’re big enough to fend for themselves in the garden.

Speaking of Elaine, she added something to our preps list that I hadn’t weighed heavily-enough on the shopping binge:  Epsom Salts.  Not only is it not bad for plants in moderation, but it does a hell of a fine job in keeping raccoons and possums away.  So much so, that with a light dusting of the stuff on the decks, wildlife passes by the nightly inspection of the cat food dishes outside.

Not to say this will work in all areas – after all, urban raccoons are about the nastiest and peskiest there are – but out here in Nature Land, seems to work.  Toss in the crushed chili peppers and most of the plants will have a chance.

There are still a number of large limbs that need to visit Mr. Firewood.  But the missus is not especially interested in Paul Bunyon Jr. getting outside with his chainsaw.  She covers the climate change, save the Earth side of the argument.  I just want to eat, come what may.  She’ll come around, or I will quietly use a buck saw and ladder.

Bottom line here is that it’s not too late to get some 5-gallon pails and put in some tomato plants and the like…even if you live in a basement apartment.  All you need is sunshine and a spot with sun for 7-8 hours a day.  Plus, enough presence of mind to water daily.  Place the plants on a table in full sun in your kennel full of hjungry pitt bulls.

The Wood Shop

Went to the lumber yard earlier this week and “stocked up.”  With 2-sheets of good 1/2 inch, a sheet of 3/4 inch *(Baltic Birch) and two sheets each of luan and 1/4 inch Birch, there’s not much a fellow can’t make.  Especially if you’ve been slowly accumulating hardware for six months.

The Auto Shop

Finally got sick and tired of having to refill the damn riding mower tires every time I mow.  Solution seems to be installing the mower-sized TireJect packs on all four wheels.  I hadn’t put much thought to this before, but might not be a bad thing to get several kits and have them for the vehicles – a just in case.

W put a new battery in Elaine’s car last week…so no issues there.  But the truck battery is coming up on five-years, so pondering whether to pre-emptively change that out.  You don’t see many people clamoring for diesel yet, do you?

Writing Projects

Picked up one of those “Great Courses” on eBay the other day:  4 DVD set on “Better writing and story-telling.”  Long-time readers know I could really use that, so that’s on the “things to absorb instead of mindless TV crap.

Home Design and Tuning

Only thing that has caught my eye lately in media is the upcoming Disney “Jungle Cruise” release in July.  Not so much for the plot (figure it will be PG) but for the effects and the staging.

Ever since I had my first eye surgeries (1975’ish) and took the kids to D-Land in the 1980’s – then seeing for the first time things done using UV – it has been a joy to visit all Disney properties I can.  The angle of the glass between the scene and the ride cars of the Haunted House…where “ghosts” are projected.

The “magic home” ideas really flow.  In addition to the books on Imagineering, a couple of Marty Sklar books are in the reading queue, too.

The Electronics Bench

Still working up pieces for the great space-time bending experiments to come.  There are a couple of audio oscillator kits to build yet…and then there’s the (genuinely enjoyable) matter of going through ALL the instruments in the Garritan World Instruments series, trying to find those that look similar (spectrally) to what I’m after.

Haven’t written too much about the time machine project lately because of reading deeply on infrasound.  These are sounds that are felt, not heard.  Down in the 5-20 Hertz (cycles) range.  The question is one related to down-conversion to infrasound from assorted higher-frequency sounds…and yes, infrasound seems to support some degree of frequency stacking (think of the sub-audible infrasound as a “baseband” carrier if you’re into FDM muxing of microwaves, and then propagating piggyback….

Wonky world of rotary woofers, too.  One technique to think about involves spinning of a fan and using the modulation to alter the pitch (bite of the air) in a controlled manner.  Question is, could that “open a portal?”  It depends on the frequencies involved…and we won’t even get into the question of whether the familiar saucer shape of UFO’s is really ideal to house a rotary woofer to effect levitation… the answer is too obvious.

In the Metal Shop

A long while back, I wrote up an article “The Electronic Detective #1: Case of the eBay Amplifier.”  Without having to re-read the whole thing, I had cobbled-together a make-shift tuning knob crank out of a small length of brass tubing.

Mind you, this was more than two years ago – January of 2018.

Finally, this week I returned to the scene of the crime intent on making that tuning knob kluge look proper.  To begin with, I selected a piece of 6061 aluminum rod stock and chucked it up:

I took this picture to show you the process of “letting a useful part” out of its confinement in raw stock.

Referring to the numbers:  1) This is the business end of the raw stock inserted into the 3-jaw (self-centering) metal lathe chuck.  At 2) you make one pass down the length of the rod as a truing cut.

At 3) you get to work with your cutter and let out the basic outline of what you’re after.  Then at 4) you face-the end neatly.  The next to last part of the operation is replacing the ball-bearing center (on the unpowered, right-side of the machine) and installing your drill chuck.  (At today’s prices these are referred to as a Lathe Charles, lol).  Using high speed steel (HSS) drills is fine for 6061…and you cut down past where the bottom of the knob will be.

Last step?  Put in a cut-off tool and cut flat across the bottom in that groove you cleverly thought to put (between 2 and 3, in the picture above, got it?).

In no time at all, the tool will cut through and you’ll be left grabbing a hot piece of metal that is just one “inch & 3/8th long 8/32 screw” away from radio amplifier perfection.  The finished piece is a bit longer than the “stock” part, and the stock part doesn’t have the outer edge rise that mine does.  Matter of operator preference:  I prefer knobs that help hold your hand in position while turning and not slipping off easily.  Other people have other ideas.,  My lathe, my amplifier…my frail male ego…my, oh my….

But installed, it looks just great (at least to me…):

You may recognize the Johnson-Speed semi-automatic key from our recent “Afternoon at the Telegraph Office” report.  America made absolutely great electronics in the 1950’s and into the 1970’s.  Which is what makes collecting and restoring gear so much fun…

Serially:  Do you see the next project, here?  The three pieces of bar stock on the left?

Oh hell, you don’t see it yet, but here’s what will happen, one of these first weeks when it cools down a bit (It was over 80 this week).  I will be cutting and welding up  this little gem out of the 1/2″ bar stock:

Bar horizontal doesn’t have to be overly big – or long – 8-inches should be good.  It’s time for me to start making mallets, again.

Which gets to the home-hand-bastards club Project of the Week from 8-years ago.  It’s ugly – got to warn you about that up-front:

Yep, that wooden mallet was a 4-minute project on my old wood lathe, which was passed on to Oilman2′s son down the road a piece.  It’s nothing more than a hunk of 2-by-4 that was chucked-up,  In a few minutes the handle appeared.  Top corners were turned a wee bit and the whole thing taken to the belt-sander.

It has been an ideal tool.  Cheap, unbreakable, and used every few days.

Sure, I might have gotten similar results from the amber-head mallet, the dead-blow hammers, the leather mallets in assorted sizes, and the blsack or white rubber mallets… but this sucker has been a treat to work with for gosh, at least 8-years now.

This spring, a straight oak that is drying right now (taken out by a lightning bolt) will be cut into 12-inch, or so, hunks out of everything from 3″ up to about 9″ and start making wood mallets.   Yee haw!

We Are What We Make

If you haven’t dozed-off yet, this should reveal volumes about my personality.  Because, understand, there are things that fit each of our temperaments perfectly.

In the Ure clan, we do very well with tools and “enclosing spaces.”  Pappy’s tastes ran to helping his brother and uncles frame houses.  Pappy’s Disston 10-point crosscut was totally off-limits until I was 10 or 11.

My tastes are similar.  Give me an outbuilding and some 2-by’s and I’ll build on 10,000 square feet of covered area  in no time at all – provided you have the wood and roofing materials.

George 2 is a “capper.”  Roofing seems to be his thing – has worked at it summers and now that he’s a firefighter, ladder work seems to be running in the genes.

Other people, like different materials and modes.  One of my late uncles was a “concrete man.”  He would have paved over his back yard, if the Seattle building code would have allowed it.  “The bigger the patio, the smaller the lawnmower.”  Another uncle was an incredibly skilled cabinet maker.  Drop–dead gorgeous woodwork.  Third house he built, especially.

Elaine’s cut from other cloth.  She’s a painter.  Where painting bores me to tears, she manages to keep her head in the game as she patiently does intricate design work around the house.  Here’s a close-up of an arch we built:  I blocked it in with 2-by-4’s and luan.  Then she did the final mudding and the details…The “beading” is gobs of sheetrock mud,  carefully applied.

One of the other interesting things she does is when she gets a piece to put on a wall, she likes to “treat” the wall so there’s an underlying “story” or “theme” of some type.  Instead of just hanging an antique wooden fish on the wall, she “stages” it with a few pieces of wood (my minor role).  Then she gets after the background to sketch a story for the wandering mind…:

There’s the point, you see?  Everyone has  something they really  like to do and they’re usually pretty good at it.  Ever bitch about being “too busy?”  Here comes our chance…

That’s the key to Prepping for Quarantine.

Use the time to really enjoy yourself.  Pretend everything will pass – as for most, it will.  But don’t waste the time.  You could design a couple of news products, labor saving inventions, decorate your house so there’s a “story everywhere you look” and really challenge yourself to be great with no big investment.  You have written a concerto, right?

Here’s a little Disney-like trick:  In our “West Coast Room” there’s a mural we commissioned and out in front of it are some “real” stuffed seagull-like birds.  The effect is to draw you into the picture…just like a diorama come to life at home.

That’s something anyone can do – each and every one of us.

Us?  Can we quarantine yet?  Please…please?

Write when you get rich or get let out…

21 thoughts on “Prepping for Quarantine”

  1. George

    “But the truck battery is coming up on five-years, so pondering whether to pre-emptively change that out.”

    That battery is living past it’s time! Change it out before it leaves you stranded.

    “But installed, it looks just great (at least to me…):”

    A strip of black tape around the center section of your tuning knob would make it look like it came with the radio. Your choice of course, just a suggestion. You did a super job of increasing the functionality of your radio.

    • “A strip of black tape around the center section of your tuning knob would make it look like it came with the radio.”

      Heat shrink…

  2. You have done well in setting up your shop. Have you considered permanent raised beds in the garden? Save you a lot of time and tractor fuel. Deep mulch so you don’t need to worry about frequent watering, weeds or tilling. We have plenty of spent hay and straw here at the ranch but finely shredded wood is better.

    Stay safe.


  3. Great post George. I’m amused at the number of folks who are whining about nothing to do while they self isolate. Every creative person I know feels like they just won the time lottery and are so happy to make music, art, fix and build things, catch up on reading, go for walks in nature and just have time to dream. Shows how conditioned people are to being consumers in their lives instead of producers.

    • LOL unfortunately I must be one of the lucky ones LOL.. Manny I have more projects in the fire than I know what to do with LOL

  4. Since it has been raining almost every day here in my part of West Tennessee, I had delayed topping off the farm fuel tanks for this year’s planting season. In hind sight that was a good decision, because agricultural diesel prices have dropped like a rock. I’ll get that taken care of this week before the Saudis and Russians kiss and make up.

    Have already started on my “projects” list, that always seems to grow faster than I can keep up. Discovered just the other day that obviously my bulldozer has been lonely. Went to crank it up for a small clearing job and not only did the starter motor malfunction, but the injector pump decided that it needed a rebuild as well. So until it gets both a new starter and an injector pump rebuild at the local repair shop, that “small” project is on the back burner.

    I did take the time to order in a supply of my cat, Gandalf’s favorite food. Can’t have the resident wizard lacking his daily ration of brain food.

    Don’t know about your area, but people around here are absolutely crazy about buying toilet paper. Guess they never heard of white corn cobs and an outhouse. (White corn cobs are softer) Sears catalogue is no longer an option, and telephone books are almost a thing of the past. Did see where one person installed a “tee” on the toilet supply line and attached a kitchen faucet sprayer as a make do bidet.

    As to TP, we beat the rush and stocked up a couple of month’s ago. Only thing that we have had a hard time finding was powdered milk. Wife’s bread machine calls for small quantity in every recipe. Got what we need and froze some milk for cereal, etc. in ice cube trays. That should hold about 6 months.

    If we need to stay in for an extended period of time, I have plenty of projects and a crop to plant. Probably forego the usual “Geezers” golf gathering for a while as well, or at least ride in separate cart from others.
    Wife is excited that the “honey-do” list is front and center on my priority of things to do. If the wife is happy, everyone is happy.

    Do need to replenish my StarTron supply, just in case.

    Keep up the informative articles.

    Lloyd Snider

    • Find a competent rebuilder and have that starter motor remanned. New are all Chinese junk and will fail within a couple years.

      Put your milky ice cube trays in Ziploc bags or wrap in Saran Wrap (or generic “pallet tape” (same thing, much cheaper.) Milk will keep, frozen, for a couple years, provided it doesn’t get “freezer burned…”

  5. TireJect. I’d never heard of this brand of tire sealant before. Don’t know if they have it in our neck of the woods or not but we sure use a lot of Slime and the other type that escapes me right now. Have you ever heard of the different brands having an adverse reaction to each other in the same tire? Most of the time I can’t remember what I’ve put in which tire in the past.

  6. Good ideas.

    Do any of you know which ticker manufactures the tests that will be used on us? I’d like a piece of the action if possible.

  7. The question is George will people learn anything from this,true it will fade away over time but the odds of it coming back or another one just like it or the financial system turning over in its grave are better than even,people have got to become more self sufficient rather than counting on that tractor and trailer bringing in the products they need to live on.

    The youngest son went down to the county seat to Wal-Mart to pick up my medication, said the shelves were mighty bare and some were empty, even the over the counter medications were thin and those were limited, and of course there is no T paper in the county seeing 95% of it comes from China.Then he went to Tops and Sav-A-Lot they were no better off, he said even the meat display had little to none in it and many items were limited,so I guess I’ll pay a little closer attention to see if more gardens go in this spring,a few chickens running around, but odds are they won’t.!!!!~

  8. George a good article, Life comparisons, and C-19 helpful hints.

    George you would have been a wonderful guy to grow up with. I respect your perspective on life and your creativity. Your description of your Dad and Uncles makes me think creativity ran through your family.

    You were a city boy, and myself a country kid. You were exposed to all the activities of Seattle, while I watched the agricultural activities of Southern Indiana, grew gardens, and looked at night skies. You went on to writing, managing radio stations and aviation operations. After college I strapped two J-79’s to my butt and blasted off all over the planet in the F-4 Phantom. “Fifty feet at the speed of Heat”, and “Turn and Burn” became my reality.

    George I enjoy all your work shop projects. I also am a “Doer” but not as skilled as you, so my projects do not come out as good looking as yours.

    As to prepping for the C-19 virus I have never heard you mention Colloidal Silver and the use of a Nebulizer. I made my own Colloidal Silver with .99 Silver 12 wire and a DC power supply years ago.
    When any virus, like the flue gets into my lungs, I get out the Nebulizer and inhale the vapors, as I know exactly where the bad guys are. I also take Guaifenesin mucus thinner. When the virus absorbs the silver it dies and looses its grip from the air sacs. When I feel the urge to cough the mucus up, I get my spit cup and head to the inversion table. Gods G force helps get the mucus out of the lungs, though my head does not like being inverted.

    One other hint to you and your readers. If the local stores run out of bleach, buy some “Pool Shock”. One can take 2 or 3 tea spoons of the calcium hypochlorite and add to a gallon of water and have bleach. One caution though is when you open the pool shock, make sure you are upwind in an open area because the vapors will hurt you.

    Good luck to everyone as this virus spreads around the US.

    Red Dog

    • “buy some “Pool Shock”. One can take 2 or 3 tea spoons of the calcium hypochlorite and add to a gallon of water and have bleach. ”

      Oops calcium hypochlorite is a great product. When It hits moisture it breaks it up and generates heat.. which is why it makes such a good treatment for clearing roads of ice…DO NOT use that to try and purify water..

      What you want is Sodium Hyperchlorite.. I thought it was a third of a cup per gallon.. and mixed very well..

      To make it from scratch you use 2/3 cup of salt dissolved in water.. then use a 12 volt battery and a couple of high grade electrodes.. you can buy a cell from swim for him I think its dot com.. just google it..the money they charge goes into the making of more cells that are sent to remote villages with missionaries to teach the villagers how to purify their drinking water.

      If you decide to use sodium hypochlorite from pool shock. Make sure it’s the sodium hypochlorite.. the other ones are hazardous for human consumption.
      Do not mix the different chemicals together..or get any of it next to other chemicals. Make sure your work space is clear and clean..
      Stay safe read about what your doing.. understand the fundamentals of what you expect to get..

    • Pool shock is sodium hypochlorite USP (food grade), and ranges (typically) from 10% to 16% by volume. Sodium hypochlorite is a gas. “Bleach” is the NaClO gas, suspended in water. It is also a tiny molecule — small enough to pass through the wall of a thin plastic jug — therefore, unless pressurized it will eventually leach out of its suspension and may “evaporate” through the bleach bottle. Laundry bleach is typically 3% – 6.25% NaClO by volume, and is not necessarily “food grade.”

      16 drops of 6% bleach, per gallon, is the recommended “dosage” to disinfect clear (surface) water, to make it potable, or 32 drops (plus straining or decanting) for green or stagnant water, or mud puddles.

      The pool shock I just bought is 12.5%, and is dated 2020. The home & hardware store from which I bought it also still has TP and alcohol, and N95 masks…

    • The young’uns rediscovered the “sound.” Bands will now pay a flat, friggin’ fortune for a genuine Leslie, in any condition, and pay another fortune to have it restored.

  9. “There are still a number of large limbs that need to visit Mr. Firewood.”

    My father was a woodsman.. cut more trees the master tree cutter and he believed in proper wood lot management.

    What was hilarious was he would look at a sick tree or one with branches everywhere. ( his motto was a bird should be able to fly through a tree) and say I’m going to trim.. if I cut here and there it will grow out and look like this.. then he’d start cutting. We hen he was done you’d swear he killed the tree.. it would look like a stump.. in a couple of years his vision of how it would look would emerge.. always beautified and healthy.. if he cut a tree down he planted a tree someplace else..replace what he harvested..
    Sd o cut the branches..add it to the wood pile..

  10. I see little change in my lifestyle under a 14 day quarantine. Every day there are things to do and if I don’t have all the materials for one project I’ll have enough for a dozen others. It’s best to finish what you start though. The weather is getting warm enough for concrete and outside welding in relative comfort.

    I have no idea if there will be limited travel, such as to rental houses, mailboxes, or your shop(s). Will package delivery stop? If I’m legally confined to my own land – no big deal. If I have to stay inside – that’s OK too, but I do want to get out in the sun. Fencelines need attention too.

    I’m always amazed at this concept called “boredom”! Perhaps it’s just a phase that kids grow through.

    What does concern me is whatever’s going on behind the scene at TPTB. It’s been too quiet other than virus talk.

    • Boy you must have missed all the other crap.. troop movement and armaments..

      Stews site has a great set of predictions.. all of them seem plausible .

      What gets me is I am suspecting that this is just another nose thumbing from TPTB ..the ones running our govt from the sidelines..
      Jeopardizing everyone except themselves..
      How many black flag events have there been in the last three years 11 or 12 all without anyone pulling the trigger.. Now this.. was it an oops or just an evil deed..notice how everyone ran home right away .. sort of reminds you of the game dodgeball. Here deal with this then leave..

      • Thanks for that info! I’ve been busy outside since the weather became manageable. I just got down from the roof and wanted a break. I check the net in between getting other stuff done. It seems a bit early for a major war with anyone, and we(plebes) still don’t know who the enemy du jour really is.

        What the virus scare really has done is to ramp up suspicion between people and nations. People get suspicious when they’re scared, and trust between people cuts out the middleman.

      • ignorance is bliss Mike…

        I am going to venture back to my cardboard project..

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