ShopTalk Sunday: A Day on the Patio…

…would be dandy this time of year, wouldn’t it?  I mean, a glass of hot spiced wine – maybe a hot Apple Jack…fire going to keep the chill off?  Yeah, that’d be the way to spend fall. Portable radio. Football game on…

Well, except, there’s one problem: We don’t have a patio.

As luck would have it, we were having exactly this conversation a week ago Friday at cocktail hour in the 180-degree view porch.

Yes, I think that would be nice.  Don’t know how much we would use it, but it could be interesting,” decided Elaine.

“Hand me the phone, dear.  Watch me make a call. Let’s get this project rolling.”

Five minutes (and $250 on a credit card later) the local Lowes promised it would be ready Saturday morning at 8 AM sharp.

A load of patio pavers on a pallet. Which it was.

It did take the Lowes crew a few minutes to get the loading right with a forklift.  160. of those 12-inch square pavers, does weigh a little something.  They had to push the load as far to the front of the bed it would go. Because we kept bottoming out on the rear axle.

All the way home, worries were spinning through my head.  “If I have a flat tire with this load, do I call Denson or Mattern Tire and make it their problem?


This turned out to be the easy part…”Hey Elaine, come here for a minute, would you, Hun!

She did a fine job of supervising (and moving pavers off the truck pile and onto the tailgate where her pet gorilla (me) got laid for a couple of hours!

When you put in your own version of this latest construction debacle, remember that the books and “how-to” people who write lengthy books and produce “windy videos” make far too big a deal about leveling pavers.

Yes, it’s nice if you put down 3″ of sand under everything, roll it out, water and then level that.  But over a few winters, Nature will make it all back to wavy and crooked anyway.  So, don’t get carried away with finessing this. Just get the damn job done.

My buddy (The Major and Mrs. Major Doctor) just paid a small fortune (read: kilobucks) to replace all of their 20-year-old patio.  It had settled. They all do.  Just put it in, give it a couple of years, buy sand, hire some “arm-strong for labor” and level it later.  Really.

We didn’t use all 160 of the pavers – there were a few left over for the generator shed.  Which is envisioned as a pad with pavers for the genset to sit on and a lift-up pop-off top.  The front will be mostly open, but that’s another project for another weekend story time…

Meanwhile, back to trucking through the paver patio project.

Can you imagine this old farm truck with six more layers of pavers on it having a flat tire? Buy eight ply rated tires for your truck!

Useful Construction Math Tip

My wife weighs less than a cubic foot of concrete.

That’s one way I remember that concrete weighs (depending on mix) about 130 pounds per cubic foot.

Six of the 12X12 blocks which are 2 inches thick is a cubic foot’s worth.  Which (for 160 of ’em)  is 26.66 times 130.  Amazingly, the old farm truck hauled how much weight?  3,465 lbs. plus or minus air gaps, pallet weight, my weight, and 3/4ths of a tank of gas.  Not bad for a “half ton” truck, huh?  But it explained the bottoming on the rear axle, while loading, I suppose.

Recycled Materials Use

It really bothered us – when we took down the old 20×20 foot front deck (which had become questionable over 15-20 years in the sunshine) to toss it on the burn pile.

With the BBQ deck rebuild we did better.
Saved the old decking and reused it.  We wanted this patio project to be somewhat fenced in, to look a little cozier, to hold a stove, a place to store wood (*with no snakes!) and where the feral/barn cats could hang out.

Here, for example, Princess Elaine holds up a 62-inch piece of 5/4 decking that has previously done 12-years service holding up the BBQ deck.  With that wood updated, a “weathered fence look” would be achieved with absolutely zero effort which is how we like to roll.  Well, one of us. OSHA inspecting blondes are…uh…different.

The Fence Takes Shape

The old (20×20-foot) deck on the front of the house had also been held up by almost uncountable pier blocks.  Which was great because they happen to have a 12 x 12-inch footprint.  (*Sometimes you will get lucky in Life!  We would have preferred a Power Ball winner, though.  But you take what Universe dishes out, I suppose…)

With the rustic patio “roughed in” the next step was positioning the pier blocks where 4 by 4 posts would hold up the fence.

Firehouse Fence Secrets

As a son of a firefighter (and father of one, too) – they’re the hardest working and generally also smartest working people around – there were multiple reasons why this was a two- half-day – project for us.

  1. Secret #1: Always pace your work.  (Most people don’t know this, but firefighters have a rule – no one runs on the fire ground!)  Same thing in off-shift construction.  Work hard – really, really hard – really smart – and then knock off. The name of the game is to get the job done, not die trying.  Getting the blocks down was the first half day.  Toss in the trip to town and the OSHA inspector (aforementioned princess) let me slide with a 10-hour day. (Remember, there were several hours on last week’s Peoplenomics done before all this paver stonework!)
  2. Second Secret:  Using scrap wood, always build a level line around the top you can measure from.  We never assumed this would be a dead-to-nuts level patio.  Because at our age, we are at risk of not being able to use it for as many hours as we could put into it!  Remember, you want to get a positive return – and we like 100 to 1 (or more) return rates if we can find them.  Using this twisted (but obviously logical) view, an 8-hour project should give you 800 hours of use/enjoyment/pleasure when complete. Take your time shopping for your next recliner!
  3. Secret #3 is “Corners Add Strength to Design.” Believe me when I tell you this:  The shorter runs of fence and the more “effective depth of structure” the stronger the fence is going to be.  Think of it this way. A single row of fencing, say 12 feet long, if just poked into the ground, will be a God-awful 3-day nightmare of footings and concrete work.  Because a 5-foot high fence of that length will be a 60-square foot wind sail. It will just be looking to blow over in the first good storm that comes along.  But add some “effective depth” to the design, like 6-foot T sections off either end, and now you can endure hurricanes.  Seeing how this works?  Yes, we have long straight fencing (this is a tree ranch, after all, lol).  But there’s less “wind sail” from a quarter mile of 4-point barbed than there is a single standard 4×8 sheet of plywood. Even so, we use only (slightly heavier) T-rated (transportation department approved stronger fence posts to keep animals in and off public highways) most times.
  4. And then Secret #4 to fencing is the wise use of Gauge Blocks. Once you (and the helper) get the top run of fencing rails in, put away your measuring tape.  This secret sauce will save oodles of time. This is going to take us on a little detour…

Gauge blocks are for what?  Spaces between your fence boards.

How to build a gauge block

Think through your fence. We want to see over ours, if we sit up, real tall, and so we didn’t want a solid fence, something we can see through.  Four runs of the recycled decking sounded about right, based on materials on hand…

Numbers to make the Gauge Blocks:

  • Width of material:  5 1/2″
  • Number of horizontal pieces: 4
  • Overall height desired: 40-inches

I set this up in a spreadsheet so you can use it:

This remembers that the spaces is your total horizontal runs of material minus 1.  Accordingly, 8 rows will have 7 spaces, 20 rows will have 19. And so forth.

If you want the Excel file? ShopTalkGaugeBlocks (.xlsx)

With this in mind, old numb nuts goes into the shop and cuts (2) six inch hunks of scrap and cuts them to exactly 6-inches:

Making Quick Work of Things

There was a little measuring to tossing up the top fence rails.  Use scrap for bracing then you get one set on (the top).  Level as you can.  Then you “squeeze clamp” the gauge blocks, one on either post, under the top rail. Now hold the next rail up against the blocks with one hand while screwing it in with the other. See why I pre-start the screws?  Faster than greased lightning.  Less back strain.

Even so, my back hurt like hell…old age does slow my construction speed a bit. (Pisses me off.)  On the other hand, this really is one of those “old men resort to treachery and “secrets” collected over a whole lot of years...”

Notice the outset area (62″ inches wide, middle left) will be where the small tent-sized wood stove will go. We have a bigger one that could go in as an option.  Let’s see how much use it gets in the real world, first, and if cold is the issue.  Not rain, snow, and hazards like that.

The angle areas will have pieces of wood added so the cats can play King of the Mountain.  And we deferred to the Purdue University Extension Service advisory on spacing of wood stoves out from walls here: FNR-100 (

As luck would have it, from the long-ago kitchen tile adventure and other works of wonder around here, we have a couple of sheets of cementitious board that is just the right length for the “back of stove” area.  It will be spaced 1-inch out on aluminum spacers. Which should make it very safe.

Why, if this area gets anymore over-engineered, I’ll pop a pergola roof frame over it and then lay a roof on it.  Hell, then sidewalls, windows, and insulation and we’ll have a rustic cabin… Always one thing leading to another, ain’t it?

Now, as for how the look of it came out.  About like this:

Less all the accessories, of course. Like the stock, wood pile, chairs….and booze….

We will get the “finishings” over the next week or so.  The concrete board up, the cat perches, the covered wood area, and the stove with chimney cables, and a chair or three.

The area on the (fairly fresh dirt) slopes will be dusted an inch thick, or so, with Portland Cement, and then watered in.  Which will produce a tough crust (like terra-crete).  In the spring, I will come up with some wood planters (deep so roots don’t fry in summer) and we will put some greenage around the place.

That reminds me, I will have to make a run to the booze store this week.  Getting on time to lay in a stock of Apple Jack. Winter’s out there, somewhere.

Three for the Road

The first (another firehouse takeaway) is “When doing construction, carry a marble.”  When you are leveling something (like the stainless table that the tent stove will sit on) a simple marble will tell you more about leveling than a bubble level any day of the week.

Sidebar: Why the Masons don’t have marbles in their symbols has always been a wonderment for me to ponder… I would sure like to know which Grand Lodge Warden to write to seeking the “Modern Mason’s Marble Manual” writing contract.  OK, so it doesn’t have the same panache as “Part on the Square” or
“Keeping things on the level.”  Still, “Don’t lose your marbles has potential, know what I mean?  For now, I’ll just take pride my leveling marbles rolling slowly east…with no time for meetings…

Second point is keep everything for fire-making right at hand.  I built up a “wood rick” (the base of which is the paver pallet cut down to size) to keep a supply of firewood at hand.  Remember where that came from?  Go back and connect the dots by rereading This week a further discussion of using drones around our tree farm in last week’s STS column.

This includes a large (cheap) “fire kit” box.  Any cheapo tool box so long as it’s big and plastic.  A dozen (or three) fire-starters (sawdust and wax kind – whatever is cheap!).  A half-dozen propane lighters.  Altoid box full of char cloth. Fire steel for the End of the World. A good hatchet. A fire (or two) worth of pre bundled 10-inch kindling to toss on the fire starter.

One of the biggest obstacles to outdoor fire/BBQing and cooking in the winter months is the “screw-around factor” of lining up all the shit needed and going through the checklist.  “Where’s the lighter?  Got any newspaper?  Anything around we can use for kindling?”  You know the drill.

Final hint of the three:  Clean out surrounding gutters of your house before the arrival of monsoons.  Two reasons I did this yesterday.  The first was that we will be “test firing” the whole Megillah later this morning and our gutters had some very dry (read: flammable) goo down in them. Pine straw and a few leaves.

The second reason is that at the end of last year’s rainy season there were enough leaves and debris that a couple of the gutters were overflowing before getting to the downspouts.  Much easier work when it’s warm out.

Last – and related – is the gutter on the greenhouse (lean to, a long ago project you can read about in  inexpensive Chinese “parking heaters.” These are similar to the Webasto and Espar units that have kept truckers warm for decades. Thing is, these are about 1/1oth the price. See more at  This is also a good time to clean the filters on the rain barrels…

It all sort of flows together around here.  If you keep tabs on your home’s evolution at a glacial time scale, that is…

Write when you get rich,

53 thoughts on “ShopTalk Sunday: A Day on the Patio…”

    • Actually, he looks a bit insane.

      I have no idea why normal people would want to be near crowds of that sort for any reason. Creating fights and “protests” where none will do any good is just stupid. The emotional contagion is off the charts!

      I’m sort of disgusted with the mideast wars – it really doesn’t matter who wins as long as the fighting stops. The same is true for Ukraine – I really don’t care. Regardless, we have no need to be involved. It’s not our fight, and we were not at risk until we got involved. It’s not even newsworthy other than the potential to pollute the planet with rads, and the fact that others take it seriously. I fail to see either side making a case for being “right”. We’re Americans, and we need to avoid stupid entangling alliances. Having disciplined borders with the same efficiency as the Swiss would certainly improve our world image.

      • “The emotional contagion is off the charts!“

        This is the Flood overflowing it’s banks.

        People here are getting very angry with Biden …

        Better get bigger chart paper because it’s still growing … out of the Elite’s control.

        Though you probably didn’t know, cuz it happened in Africa, Obama made a speech about the conflict.

        Better buy more popcorn cuz we’re in for the long haul with this.

        • ““The emotional contagion is off the charts!“
          This is the Flood overflowing it’s banks.
          People here are getting very angry with Biden “…

          I don’t think it is anger as much as it is frustration… The Dual Standards of Law and the realization now that the standards of law are so vastly distant for politicians than it is for the citizens that pay their wages. agencies that are openly covering up corruption.
          The situation is dire.. the less people have to work with.. the more frustrated they get. then bringing in what could be the trojan horse army to live in their neighborhoods..
          Now I do believe that If they had put the kid and the brother where they belong years ago for selling the brand ties to the top of the hill .. this would not be an issue today.. but covering it all over and the inability of congress to do anything and agencies telling them to kiss their hairy and they cannot do a thing about it.. notice how all of those investigations dropped off once israel was attacked and the crimes are dropping from the statute of limitations .. All collapsed civilizations follow a similar path..
          what seriously amplifies the situation in the USA is.. them flaunting the DUAL STANDARDS.. of law to the citizens of the USA..

          .. the fact that the agencies all telling congress to kiss their hairy…. that amplifies this to the point that No one believes that they are there for their protection…. then to open the borders to what could be a trojan horse army and give them aid and financial security placing the responsibility of their care on the peoples back that are having a hard time existing now…. not good.. doesn’t take someone with a high iq to see how this could end.. an ineffective congress.. no one is going to do anything about their corruption its a done deal…. the defunding of the only protection in the poorest communities.. just so they would have a place to send the illegals.. hmm.. not a good thing and after reading how this has turned out for other countries this will anger those people being directly affected…. the more the citizens hurt .. the faster they will get frustrated..
          I believe that they are throwing countermeasures out as distraction points.. and if a war breaks out.. then the peoples attention will be put on something more dire than a horribly corrupt administration If a war doesn’t break out.. and they cannot sway the attention of the people to something more dire or give relief to those that are dealing with a runaway economy than.. this could end really badly for those in politics..
          ON top of that then to destroy the puppeteers money and knock them off of the top of the hill of financial superiority…. they have been in control of the global finances for thousands of years.. phew.. I would not want to have that haunting my every step over a few measly million dollars..
          This is the perfect storm of calamities.. to destroy it from all angles at the same time…. look what happened to those that opposed their power before..

      • “Actually, he looks a bit insane.
        I have no idea why normal people would want to be near crowds of that sort for any reason.”

        that’s exactly why getting officers to patrol the high risk neighborhood’s is so hard.. they have to get officers that are similar to what their protecting the neighborhoods from.. defunding the police in those neighborhoods because of BLM’s and Antifa’s terrorist activities made those residents more vulnerable to the criminal elements there.

    • It always seemed to me to be the ultimate display of cowardice to “protest” something in the U.S. which is happening elsewhere.

      These bright and noble folks should catch a flight to Gaza and protest there, as should “the squid” er, I mean “squad.” They won’t, though, because most are on their way back to their colleges, to collect their extra credit for “protesting” whatever was on their list to “protest” for the past weekend.

      Funny thing. Israel and a few news outlets like NewsMax and FOX mentioned the infant beheadings and child rapes. THEN the MSM went into overdrive to claim those were propaganda inventions of the IDF.

      What nobody has mentioned (I assume because the Lamerz and the Administration want it forgotten as quickly as possible) is the beheadings and rapes were broadcast by the Hamas “combatants” who were committing them — broadcast in real time and full color, on the social media platform “Telegram.”

      • I always have said if you seriously want to make changes in a bill etc. to actually get congress to do their jobs.. then write a short letter to them to address the issue.. one letter to every member of congress a day..If you had twenty-five thousand do that every week until the actually addressed the would shut DC down.. that place is so messed up now then shut down transportation..the thousands of new jobs it would create to just unload pitch and toss.. it wouldn’t matter what someone is paying them..
        then again have them punch a timeclock and what they vote in they have to abide to..

  1. Nice patio! The fire ants will thank you for their new nursery. Those pavers make wonderful heat sinks to hatch their eggs and raise their young. I used 2′ X 2′ concrete pavers in the greenhouse, largely as a heat sink to help keep things warm in the winter, and the fire ants love it.

    • A little Chlordane or DDT will fix that, unto the next generation. WE can’t buy these pesticides, but residents of many other nations can. Alternatively, one could just pull the recipe for “homemade dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane” off the Internet. It is by far, the most effective means of remediation for a bedbug issue, and accordingly, there a lot of New Yorkers who make “bathtub DDT.” All you need is bleach, alcohol, and sulfuric acid, and a disregard for certain FDA laws…

      • The original owner of our house sprayed what was probably Chlordane under our pier and beam house with his cattle sprayer when he did the first major addition to it. That was back in 1962. To this day all I see down there are dead roaches and nothing else. As much crawling around as I’ve done under the house working on plumbing and A/C I wonder why I haven’t developed cancer or something else by now. Never wore a mask and, more often than not, wound up wearing the same clothes or jump suit for the rest of the day to ensure full exposure. It’s been a long time since I had a major project under the house but , interestingly, I never had crotch rot either until recently …

        • Hey, it’s the era of unanticipated side effects of drugs. Ivermectin, rather than killing off internal parasites, also suppresses viral propagation. The “little blue pill”, instead of controlling blood pressure, had that funny side effect everybody seems to love. Dilute the Chlordane in the dirt, age it a few decades and there’s no telling what will come of it. Perhaps I could bottle the dirt and dust from under the house and sell it to athletic departments in schools and universities for a ton of money! Everything’s a business model.

  2. George: Could you describe your rain barrel filters? I’m going to rebuild a dead system since I’ve got the time and reasonable weather. Gray Fox

  3. sometimes i think what is the point. then i read stuff like this and think, okay. mabey life is good and humanity is worth saving.

    got up early and came down go the lake to watch the sun rise, ya know alot of people say, you never complain Andy and you are always laughing and smiling, helping others in secret and in the open.

    oh i have my moments. (not very often) where i pitch a bitch. i just submit my complaints in private to THE DUDE. i dont gripe much to anyome else. this morning was one of those kinda mornings. i am always honest with THE DUDE about how i see it and im real about it with HIM.

    HE values that sort of Honestly. and i have my moments of doubt and my gripes. although, not very often.

    most of the time i think okay cool, thanks for the signs and yada yada yada. but results are just important.

    like what the odds of me driving to work, in the middle of a bunch of farm land, at 80mph with windows down that a little gold sticker of a star would fly in my window and land on my dash? and stuff like that happens all the time in Andys life. but i have no idea what it means or what to do with it. i mean its cool. thank you! but what the fuck does that mean? how is useful? how does it serve me or help me serve others? wha5 is the fucking point?

    id rather beat the odds on the lottery jackpot than beat the odds of a gold star coming flying in my window and landing on my dash in the middle of nowhere farm land USA. Atleast the money on the jackpot lottery helps me have a better life, a good home and big 4X4 truck and helps me help others who are struggling. a gold star sticker just makes me wonder what the fuck that means. ya know?

    i took this picture when it happend. see for yourself. A gold star. okay cool. thanks DUDE. I have no idea what that means or what its for. but there it is. thanks. lol

    or like being surrounded by the number 11, living in hotel room 11, driving ore train #11, working 11 hour days, hauling 11 loads. on a line with 11 signs with two stripes of gold reflective tape on the back of them so they can be seen at night (making the number 11) hauling phosph8te (the alchmy symbol for spirit and light) at night, on a haul line shaped like the symbol of infnity, in massive dymanic represntation of a living merkaba.

    i know that number 11 is the master number for Psychic ability, Charisma and Empathy. and that is alot alot of elevens.

    i am aware of those things. but how is that useful is that? what is the point? how does it profit me to know this stuff? how useful is it in expanding my abilities to help others and mankind grow in a new direction. how does it place a good woman in my bed that faithful and true? because im tired of being single dude and raw dogging randoms. lol. how does it help in any shape or form? im tired of traveling. that is forsure.

    i mean its cool. but i have no idea why im aware of such things and what good it is to know or even be aware of them.

    or kmowing that their is going to be a massive eq in china soon. that serves me and my personal infuence and life nothing. or knowing about israel and all that in advance. it serves no real tangible purpose.

    so i take my gripes to THE DUDE this morning. and watch the sun rise, hang out with the ducks and my gold star. lol.

    its not as useful as a marble to check your grade. or a patio full of concrete pavers to share life time memories on.

    beautiful section today Mr. Ure. perhaps Humanity is worth saving. i have my doubts at times. hahaha.

    that is forsure.

    have a great week.

    you are a blessed man. thanks for sharing with us George. i appreciate you.

      • thanks William.

        I think that there is more to it than that.

        you know I came to the valley of Enoch on Pure Faith and Courage.

        having never heard of it the day before I came here. not knowing a soul at all here. never even heard of this town. I had never driven trains. but I packed up my bags, said Show me the Way DUDE, I trust You above all. and set out here 6 months ago.

        not many people would do that. it’s funny, the Shamman call me Zero. I used to go by the handle 0.

        and that lady from the paranormal research society said, you are the fool card. because the fool travels and makes giant of leaps of faith. I laughed and sometimes I am the fool. that is fortune.

        she said also the fool is the alpha and omega. the beginning and the end. the sum total of all major arcana.

        I don’t think I’m that important.

        but I took a giant leap of faith and courage to come here.

        I have met so many good people and seen some of the most amazing views. the view from the top of the mountain is unlike anything I had ever seen. participated in so many wonderful experiences and like I said above, so many things that most people are simply blind to, not even recognizing that many 11’s present. let alone ever knowing that the Chariot of God, aka the Merkaba has the face of an eagle, the face of an Ox, the face of a lion and the face of the likeness of a man, with two thrones one by one. or 11 centered where Justice sits on one and Charity sits on the other. the Yin and the Yang. let alone see it and understand it in the world around them.

        and there is Great Reward for such acts of Faith and Courage.

        I do honestly think the Gold Star signals the Reward of such acts of Faith and Courage. tell me about your faith and I will tell you of mine, by how I live.

        and since I’ve been here. I even met an Angel with her 4 little angels.

        a funny story before I head out.

        I went to a kids trick or treat haunted maze with Angel, her kids and some other new friends. we get in the middle and Delta ( a 6 year old) her middle child grabs my hand and says, I’m scared Andy. I said me too. but you are wonder woman. so you will protect me. she pulls me down to her. she said I have a confession. i said ohh. she said I’m not really wonder woman. it’s just a costume dude.

        I laughed so hard. I said what????!!! your not? she said no, so you will have to protect me. because I also know you secretly superman. you just forgot your suit.

        I roard laughing and said, well don’t tell anyone I’m really super man. she said your secrets safe with me.

        I laughed so hard.

        it is my pleasure to tell you William and Mark, Delta and I made it through the Trick or Treat Haunted maze. and lived to tell the tale.

        the shape of things to come.

        like the Gold Star.

        have a wonderful week. I know I will.

        until we meet again.

    • Yo Andy, just a little reminder from the DUDE that you are his shining star. I have a daughter that needs constant reminding that she is the “Golden Child”. I believe that there is no higher calling than service to others as many on this site can attest. We the Urites appreciate the insight you provide.

      • i appreciate you all as well.

        i took the gold star as signal of
        reward good behavior and signal the achievement of goals, approval or recognition for outstanding merit or effort.

        and made a request upon the star. which i will keep for myself.

        funnny the lady who did my cards pulled for my imediate the ace of penticals for the first card.

        and that would be traveling one more time to a new location once i completed to live a life finer that i could ever imagine.

        once what was required of me was finally completed.

        a week later, the gold star flew in my car and landed on the dash.

        already said good by.. lol

    • “how useful is it in expanding my abilities to help others and mankind grow in a new direction.”

      Perhaps THE DUDE lets you know that you’re trying too desperately to interfere in HIS business? Enjoy1 ;-))

      • OR……

        He hears the whisper of our heavenly father..
        here is a great school … the gentleman that seen the need made the efforts similar to Andy to do the right thing.. doing the right thing sometimes just means you have to not just focus on ones self but see the need.. it is all around us..
        to hear the whisper of the father.. like a conscience.. where the true meaning of love one another..
        Andy has walked the road.. seen the downside and the upside.. kept a good outlook on what is.. a good man.. there were a couple of young ladies that were being marketed in human trafficing in his seattle wa area that I wished I had known Andy ..
        the man in this book.. I see as a hero.. he heard the whispers.. made the difference.. and did it on his own dime.. it took the whisper of the father and his wonderful heart to know he could do something anything.. god bless him and his family..
        I always pray for guidance.. then no matter what even if it costs me to the last dime I do what I can.. you will know instantly when you make the right choice.. the neediest usually are the last to complain.. they feel that it is what they deserve or that is all there is.. the most abused won’t tell you they are abused.. they make do..
        Read some of andies posts.. hes been there done that..

  4. Oh, that’s why I didn’t hear you in last night’s 160m CW contest!

    No Texas, but Louisiana, Montana, and California, and maybe Paraguay, though. From NW Virginia.

  5. “…would be dandy this time of year, wouldn’t it? I mean, a glass of hot spiced wine – maybe a hot Apple Jack”

    Ice cream bucket..
    One gallon of apple juice
    two cups of brown sugar.
    1 inch cinnamon stick
    2 cloves..
    a vapor lock…
    1 tbsp. yeast wine yeast but table bread yeast will work..

    pour out two cups of apply cider.. pour in two cups of brown sugar.. put the cap on it and mix it up.. drop in the cloves and cinnamon stick.. shake up again..
    now.. put the yeast put on the cap and let it go..
    after about a week or two the fermentation will stop..
    Now take the apple cider wine.. and put it in the ice cream bucket.. and pop it in the deep freeze.. check it after an hour.. scoop out the ice that is forming on the top.. then back in the freezer.. do this again after a couple of hours.. pour the rest into a bottle and back sweeten it.. ( now this is cold fermentation.. and in doing so you get the old world apple jack.. but you also get the ethanol.. you will get a headache from it.. ) to get the ethanol out of your apple jack.. take a pot pour your raw apple jack in it.. then turn the heat on low on the stove.. put a cup in the center of the pot and flip the lid so the condensation runs to the center and drops to the cup.. let about fifty milliliters or so.. maybe three or four ounces is better.. of the raw alcohol drip into the cup throw that out or use it as a burn force.. the rest is pure apple jack.. back sweeten it to your taste buds..

    • Nostradamus and The Third Age of Mars, 2024, G. A. Stewart, 2023, Page 959

      There are two comet possibilities for 2024; one comet will appear between April 8th and April 21st, 2024, Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks comes in conjunction with a total Solar Eclipse. This comet is a is a periodic comet with an orbital period of 71-years. This cryovolcanic comet had a large outburst on October 5th, 2023 and increased dramatically in size. Since it has developed two tails, it has been called the Devil Comet.

      Then there is Comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS), which will be at its closest approach to Earth on October 12th, 2024. This comet has the potential to be That Nostradamus Comet making the Sun Appear Double during an invasion of Italy.

      • The Devil Comet Puts An ‘X’ Across America In April 2024.

        For the time has come for judgement to begin, and to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who reject God’s Good News? 1 Peter 4:17

  6. Looks awesome – care should be taken with that cattywhompus level job on the pavers – someones gonna stub a toe, or worse..

    Start Level – remains level/safer for seniors – for longer.
    Start skeweyed cattywhompus – those small edges become mountains in the dim light/dark. But U already know all that..

    Nice fence – understand Ure thought process – similar to garden fencing. Cause I live in a burb of Philly (SW), in “Horse country” on an acre – post & rail fence is about only option. I prefer blow torching the wood – for that blackened look and feel, plus the wood lasts longer.
    Most of richy rich out here have post & rail all over their sprawling Horse farms, as well as the traditional wrought iron gates & fences , with newbs using pvc analogs.

    Around these parts of Pennsyltucky – got Dogs, need a fenced in electronic/invisible fencing dont work with our kinda Dogs – GSD’s and batshit crazy JackRussles.

    Approved – w/warning regards cattywhompusness – dyno -mite patio and fence project – Good Job Gpops. Ure only as old as you look, and you 2 look marvelous!

    Thanks – 4 all that you do.

  7. Oh yeah, really nice. The patio looks good too. Thanks for making me late to church.
    Stay safe. 73

  8. Hi, George,

    You did a very nice job on the outdoor patio. Your place looks dreamy. Nice trees you have. And, Elaine looks stunning.

    Many years ago, my late husband, one of our best friends, who was a cowboy in his early life and has a PhD in physics, and I built a stout fence that surrounded the five acres behind the house. We had a neighbor drive his tractor to the yard and drill some holes for the main posts for us. Then, we mixed concrete out in the field and placed concrete in the main holes and placed the main large posts in the holes with the concrete. The holes were a hundred feet apart. After the concrete hardened, we installed metal fence posts in the ground and used a come-along to stretch the fencing wire mesh so we could attach it all to the fence posts. I hammered bags and bags of those u-shaped nails into the wood posts. We also made a few gates for access. It took us three months to finish, beginning in early August and finished in late October as the snow was falling. Our friend said that our work was so good that you could bounce a horse off the fence, his words.

  9. I laid a pile of old kitchen tiles into a sort of square to put the kiddy pool with my garden pots in it so my yard guy wouldn’t run over the pots or leave a Jungle of weeds. The pool idea didn’t work but the tiles are still fine. I’m thinking of putting the firepit on them and freeing up space on my patio. Kitchen tiles are too thin for a patio and a bit slippery.

    Your patio is lovely. The flower boxes will be a nice addition.

  10. George
    I may be off topic today but I’m sure George will understand my rant.
    I know my way around digital circuits with experience in there different flavors stretching back to my military experience back in the early 1970’s. Until lately when I have been stymied by a finicky flip flop chip.
    Working to repair a piece of equipment that would not run no matter what I did totally frustrated me. Referring to the manufacturers literature it stated that the circuit in question would “Free Run” with no input. HOW? It didn’t say. No detailed splaining it.
    So I referred to the chip vendors data sheet for the part in question, a flip flop.
    A flip flop will change output
    state when triggered. On to off or off to on depending on setup inputs.
    The vendor data showed no free run capability, nada, nothing! I checked several other vendors making the same chip. Nothing.
    I then went to the internet and performed 40 to 50 searches using every combination of search terms I could think of.
    Nothing, all you get is a repeat of vendor data.
    Until I finally found a description of this situation by one of the Sages of digital systems. He explained that this condition is one of the Hidden Features that vendors sometimes have in their parts.
    Hidden Featured? What the Hell! How am I supposed to know about that if it’s not in the data sheet.
    It’s apparently just community knowledge. Either you get the word or you don’t.
    In my situation you set both Set and Reset pins to high which puts the chip into free run mode where the output constantly cycles on and off.
    Who knew!!! It’s not on the data sheet.
    It seems that there are other cases of hidden features in electronic parts. Last year I read a story about someone who had discovered an unknown command in one of the early microprocessors that was not in the data sheets.
    How many other hidden features lurk in electronic systems?
    That’s a bigger problem then most of us realize. The manuals and data sheets are getting more crappy as time goes by. It must be a collusion between the Bean Counters and Lawyers to make more money and avoid law suites.
    If you can’t fix it just throw it away and buy a new one.
    Just like they want to do to us!

    • Sometimes such “features” are put there by
      the childlike and slightly arrogant Kidd Designers
      and coders — because they can, and nobody in their
      supervisiory structure is smart enough to catch it.

      Wouldn’t be the first time. There is, of course, a
      certain danger in the result: ocasionally unpredictable
      performance. “Initiative” without discipline can be
      a problem. Some of that old 74xx crap can also
      trigger (or be blocked) on small random noise.

      • Tektronix scopes for TV control rooms are (in)famous for little ‘easter eggs’ in their circuits. I’ve seen cartoons added to the prints of complex digital circuits. On one of the new ‘scopes for digital TV control room monitoring, a certain combination of push buttons will fill the scope screen with little wireframe fish swimming around. I pulled that one on my control room operators. One went crazy looking at the ‘scope… then the TV monitor screen(normal)… then the scope… back and forth. Of course it wasn’t documented anywhere. I found it on a blog of users of the equipment.

    • In ‘free run’ mode you learn the inherent switching delay… or oscillation frequency of the F/F. Look at the discrete transistor layout of a ‘multivibrator’. (I was trained as an AutoDIN terminal repairman in 1972)

  11. Nice job on the patio, since Ure likely to actually use it! I have to wonder though about loading 3465 lbs of material into a 1/2 ton pickup truck! A 3/4 or 1 ton – yes, I’ve done it fairly often, but a 1/2 ton? That, plus fuel, two adults and misc. stuff is quite a load, especially on dirt roads.

    The truck looks really nice though. Elaine too!

    Good luck with everything!

  12. I like the idea of pavers for patios … versus poured concrete. About 1/2 of the people I know with older poured concrete patios have had leveling issues leading to cracking of the concrete.

    EXPENSIVE FIX when that happens. With paver patios you are correct, a couple of strong backs, a bunch of sand, and in about 2 to 3 days of work (depending upon the size) the patio is back to level, and after 20 years of already settling is probably not going to move much in the next 50 years.

    Of course if you are intending to eventually turn the patio into a room, been know to happen, then building the patio, “future floor”, to code for a house floor, and somewhat above (since around here the codes require more and more over time) along with an “inspection” by the code people so it is in THEIR records, is advisable since then later you don’t have to rip stuff out and build that concrete foundation base at a much much higher cost.

    My older son is considering doing that with a rebuild of his back patio – in doing that an interesting dynamic popped up … it will actually be cheaper and easier for him to bring out a concrete pumper truck to PUMP the concrete over the roof of his house than to have it transported by hand or small tractor around the house, many loads obviously!! since a concrete truck can’t get into his back yard without destroying his septic system – $200 to show up and $100/hour for a full size concrete pumper truck with driver/operator (120’+- reach I think he said) (4 hour minimum). I would have thought those concrete pumper trucks were expensive as hell and thus only worthwhile on commercial jobs … but at that rate they are a real cost effective and a time and BACK saver option for people or small contractors doing smaller jobs.

    Patio looks GOOD. Great work!!

    • One of the reasons G- lives where he does, is that he has NO ‘code inspectors’ following him around… Elaine apparently does that job.

    • Why would he pump concrete on his roof? depending on the design of the roof the weight could be a hindrance if it isn’t constructed to deal with it.

      • Pumping the concrete OVER the house … so it drops out of the last part of the piping right into the concrete forms for the patio from about 1 to 2 feet off the ground.

        Concrete pumping trucks are a regular fixture around here, much like where my son lives. Sort of like an unfolding cane that the blind use … only these are for pumping concrete through unfolding empty tubes where each section can hydraulically go up and down at each joint along their journey (and the entire rig can be swung side to side from the back of the truck).

        Used for commercial construction all the time, as well as for retaining walls etc.. Building a commercial 3 story building? They just pump the concrete for the floor up to the 3rd floor, the boom swings inside, and they pour away (The concrete trucks dump into a loading bin at the back of the pumping truck. Easier than putting a big crane on site to lift bucket upon bucket of concrete up for the floor pours. (max lift height I have never checked but is probably in the 35′ to 50′ range … with the overall tube length for most of the trucks in the 120′ or so range though a few have appeared to be longer).

        Hope that clears up any confusion

  13. I’ve done the larger patio pavers beautification around my home. One way to make it even nicer is to use concrete stain to liven up the space. I used a custom deep blue that really pops amid the green of spring and summer in the herb/flower garden. I would think Elaine would love the chance to flex those artistic skills outdoors. Just a thought to consider.

    • Dam silver that sounds awesome..great idea thank you for sharing it.. my wife would love that..

  14. (*Sometimes you will get lucky in Life! We would have preferred a Power Ball winner, though. But you take what Universe dishes out, I suppose…)
    Excuse me sir. Take another look at that photo of Princess Elaine ( and haul out the first photo of her you published of her on the sailboat years ago that I remember clearly-though I did not save it) and then tell us how you didn’t in fact score the jackpot in life. 80!?! Wow!

  15. “Sidebar: Why the Masons don’t have marbles”

    I believe that when the masons have their work being properly laid…they had the foresight of using big balls to get the job done right. as they laid their work out. typically balls of a uniform size shape, over the foundation material your going to lay. This method ensures an even distribution of weight and helps achieve a stable and balanced foundation. care must be taken sometimes when working vigorously the balls may move erratically. insertion of the re-bar for support of a job done well..

  16. I wonder if Bryce from lazy porch garden still reads the post. I haven’t read any of his comments in a long time.

    • Another wonderful idea..thanks for sharing that.. brings memories of my mother making an earthen oven to bake one of the most memorable loaves of bread I’ve ever eaten..

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