Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I'm Chilled

     ...Except when I'm overheated, which happens infrequently.  Then I'm not chilled.  Yeah, still sick.  Managed to do laundry yesterday, very slowly, but ran out of energy.  Today I'll go to the doc.  Probably after Tam gets back from work.

Monday, February 20, 2017

And, so

     I am sicker than ever.  Slept Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday.  Woke up short of breath and feeling as if I were on a forced march.

     Called in sick and promptly fell asleep again.  Just finished rustling up a meal, nothing much, and I'm going to get cleaned up, find enough clean clothes to to wear and get myself off to the doc, assuming I can find a doc-in-the-box that is both acceptable to my insurance company (the one I've gone to for years hasn't been since late last year) and still in business.  At my present rate of activity, that's going to take all day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hamfest Haul; Still Sick

     I did get to the hamfest, and picked up a bunch of connectors (PL-259s for RG-8 and 8X-sized cables) and a few books -- Rider on Resonance and Alignment, one of their "An Hour A Day" tutorials, a bit stuffy but packed with useful information.  Also Elmer Bucher's The Wireless Experimenter's Manual, a 1920 book aimed squarely at the then-burgeoning amateur radio community, with lots of late spark-era data and projects as well as very early vacuum-tube and radiotelephone equipment for the home constructor.  Better build that rotary gap quick! The next ten years would see enormous advancement in the field, as broad, noisy spark signals gave way to needle-sharp CW, clear voice and the beginning of radio broadcasting.  I found a nice reprint of the Hugo Gernsback 1935 Short Wave handbook, too, with equipment as different from the Bucher book as a laptop is from a portable typewriter.

     Other finds included a trove of Cannon "P" connectors, which are king-sized microphone plugs dating back to the late 1930s (and my house-standard for low-impedance, non-carbon mics); a collection of telephone-type lever switches for an ongoing project; a nice 0 - 1 Amp RF ammeter in a box with coaxial connectors that will be a useful gadget, if it works; and, of all things, a telephone dial mounted in a soup can with an L bracket so you can fasten the thing in a convenient location for -- well, I'm darned if I know.  The price was right and it was interesting.  Also, I have a nice old Art Deco phone with a seized-up dial that this one appears to match, so....

*  *  *
     Returned home after a couple of hours, very sleepy, and proceeded to do nothing much.  Nuked a lasagna (Evol brand -- not bad!), ate it, fiddled around a bit more, and went to sleep early, waking multiple times only to cough, sneeze, and eventually discover that sleeping on one side had caused my sinuses on that side to fill in a manner both horrible and not (you'll be happy to know) especially describable. So here I am, enjoying sausage hash with onion and egg (and a layer of flour in the bottom of the pan* with some paprika and pepper), and almost tasting it.  Going back to bed is looking better and better.
* Just a thin layer, fingertip-sifted.  This helps with the excess grease and forms a nice, crunchy crust.  I'm sure it's not good for you.

Saturday, February 18, 2017


     I still don't feel great -- yesterday afternoon was an exercise in willpower -- but there's a hamfest this morning.  So I am hoping to do a walk-through, get back home on time for brunch, and go back to bed.  Is this wise?  Probably not.

Friday, February 17, 2017

No Bench

     It turns out that whatever Tam's got is not what I had earlier -- and now I've got it, too.  I woke several times during the night, coughing, and had trouble getting back to sleep.  It's a nasty, insistent, near-dry, wheezing cough that tastes metallic, not easy to ignore.

     So, call in sick, right?  Wrong.  We've got a tech out on vacation, the third day-shift tech is only on days Tues-Thurs, and that leaves exactly one genuine Engineering Technician on duty after the early-morning tech departs: me.  So if I can possibly haul my wheezing self out of the house, I need to proceed onward to work.  It's not dedication -- I don't trust the technical managerial types* to not make a mess of whatever will break today.  Nice fellows, but they don't hardly sling solder and haven't for years.
* From 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., there will be three (3) Engineering managers to one maintenance tech.  In fairness, there will also be one or two operating techs and a technical assistant, so at worst it's a 1:1 ratio.  I have absolutely no opinion to share about this.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

And It Continues (Also, Television)

     I'm figuring Tam's ailment for some strain of flu -- some strain that the flu shot I got may have conferred some protection against.  She doesn't seem to be having the kind of horrific sinus drainage my cold of a few weeks ago was causing, and has been achy, chilled and exhausted for several days now, with a persistent cough.

     Whatever it is, it is very clearly No Damned Fun At All, and about her only consolation is the weather.  Yesterday was about as cold as it's going to be for the next week, and even then it was as sunny and cheerful a day as could be wished for, especially in February.

* * *
     On the recommendation of multiple friends, I have been watching the series Better Off Ted.  Highly amusing, especially if you happen to be working for a Large Soulless Corporation (or even a small one).  I'd like to pretend the absurdities of Ted's workplace are new to me, but a lot of the fun is watching some of the familiar daily madness get played all the way through. 

* * *
     One other wonderful treat: on my way to work yesterday, the college radio station I listen to -- a rare non-NPR noncommercial station that alternates classical and jazz -- played the entire overture to Rossini's The Barber of Seville.  While I can't quite say it is the most fun you can have at the wheel of moving automobile in city traffic, it certainly comes very close.  Thank you, Bugs Bunny, Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese and Carl Stalling!  --And you, too, Mr. Rossini.   (Of course, I was listening to it again after hunting up links; I put on headphones when Tam came into the office, but she stopped me and said, "Oh, don't, I was liking the music!")

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Guess We're All Sick Here

     I have a lingering sore throat, mild cough and assorted sinus nastiness but poor Tam was feeling pretty bad yesterday afternoon and worse this morning.  When I went to wake her for breakfast she was suffering aches, chills and occasionally coughing in a manner reminiscent of a Victorian tragedy.  Thankfully, the clock -- and preventive medicine -- has moved on since Victoria's day, though not quite far enough to spare all the trouble, so please step quietly as you move around the Internet today and let Tam get some rest.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Another Movie

     I recently watched The Dish, one of several films with this title; the one I watched tells the somewhat-fictionalized story of the role the big radiotelescope dish at Parkes, New South Wales, Australia played during the historic Apollo 11 flight and landing, complete with power outages, high winds, and inconveniently-timed VIP visits.

     ...And what a role it was!  The big dish at Parkes was used for more than telemetry and voice reception; video of the first human footsteps on the moon was received there and relayed to the entire world.  The control/receiving room at the dish was meticulously recreated for the film, exteriors were shot at the dish itself, and the wondrously-askew Patrick Warburton plays NASA's man on the scene.

     An entertaining film, filled with engaging personalities and a positive attitude.  I recommend it.

Monday, February 13, 2017

At The Range; At The Little Screen

     Sunday, Tam hauled me off to the range, something I have sadly neglected over the past couple of months.  Holidays, cold weather and illness had done for my free time and available energy, but I am happy to report that my hands and eyes still know what to do.  The Ruger Mk. III .22 with its Millet red-dot sight continues to be one of the most confidence-building firearms I own: at 21', I can make holes appear in the target right where the red dot tells me they will.

     One reason for the range trip was to check out my Ruger LCP, a tiny .380 that I had not yet shot.  It is exactly as jumpy as you might expect from a very lightweight 380, and suffered a few failures-to-feed with underpowered Blazer ammunition.  I'll try something with a little more zip next time -- it's not so bad to begin with a light-shooting round, since it is easy to develop a flinch with something so small. It is best for me to think of these tiny blasters as "flat snubby revolvers" and not precise tack-drivers like the .22; handled that way (finger though the trigger guard to the second joint, hands wrapped around tight as if it might get away), they run well. The sights are lined up,* and I was keeping shots in the ten ring after a few wild ones out in the 8.  --Why would I fiddle with such a thing?  You see, over the time I have carried my little Colt "Pony," a small alloy-framed .380, it has gone from being a reliable (if slightly old-fashioned) choice to a near-$700 collectible.  It's getting too dear to carry!

*  *  *
     In the afternoon -- after a delightful lunch at Twenty Tap and a less than delightful walk to and from in gusty, chilly breezes -- Tam was online and I decided to look at TV.  The BBC historical TV movie Castles In The Sky had been on my watchlist for awhile, so....

     It's delightful.  Oh, all right, the critics were at pains to smirk there's no high drama if you know how WW II came out, and less so if you know why the Battle of Britain went the way it did -- but for my money, the story of how quirky outsider Robert Watson-Watt and an underfunded team of men who could be spared came to create RADAR and bootstrap it from temperamental breadboarded experiments to the Chain Home RADAR system in five years is a fascinating one.  It didn't hurt a bit that Auntie cast Eddie Izzard as Sir Robert.  If you know the tech of the time, there are a few trans-Atlantic anachronisms lurking in the corners -- but one reason they're there is the original RADAR gear was so thoroughly cannibalized to build subsequent generations that there's very little left.  I give them high marks for showing the proper A-scope displays instead of the PPI maps we're used to seeing. The film also gives passing mention of the brilliant system of command, control and communication that put the early warning RADAR provided to devastatingly effective use.  Highly recommended!   
* I mostly own used firearms.  Not only can I not count on sights being properly aligned when I get a gun, sometimes they're missing!  My nicest H&R top-break .22 revolver had an ugly plastic improvisation in place of the rear sight; my friend the Data Viking found the proper item on eBay, a modern repro at least as good as the original, and it made quite a difference.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Red-Pepper Jackpot!

     This morning, I made another installment of Roseholme Breakfast Hash, and a quick taste-test of today's skinny red pepper (I'll look up what these are next time I'm at the market, honest!) revealed they are one of the varieties that can be either sweet or slightly hot -- and it was a hot one!  Not overwhelming, just enough "bite" to be interesting and with plenty of flavor.

     I added the remaining cherry pepper to my plate, diced up raw: peppers are supposedly loaded with pantothenic acid, or something in the B-vitamin complex.  And that's supposed to be good for my aching old joints.  See, it's all part of the Great Circle of Life.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

It's Noon

     I slept until nine.  I needed it -- somehow, this cold won't quite go away.  Oh, I'm 90% over it, but ten percent hangs on and on....

     Nevertheless, I have got myself up, made coffee, fried a couple of eggs and a couple strips of bacon (one each for Tam and me), and made a short stack of Swedish pancakes for myself because I'd been wanting them.

     Installed a new water fountain for the cats (so I can finally clean out the old one instead of just changing the filter), hoping the pump will be okay in the old one (the maker redesigned them for safety but the new ones don;t last as long), and now I'm Actually Changing A Litter Box, which is a job Tam ends up getting stuck with too often.

     That's about the limit of my ambitions for the day -- that and clear off my desk, renew the plates on my vehicles, and pay a couple of bills. 

Friday, February 10, 2017


     How's this sound?
     1 "Banger" sausage, squeezed from its casing, fried and crumbled
     2 strips of applewood-smoked bacon, likewise
     1 nice red potato, cubed small and fried up
     1 red cherry pepper (alas, no firecracker, but flavorful)
     1 skinny red pepper, also mildish
     Chives to suit.
     Three good-sized golden-yolked eggs, from chickens that had a chance to eat weeds and bugs along with their chickenfeed.  Scrambled.

     It works for me.  Nicely smoky and complex.  One might sprinkle some manner of cheese on it -- even Parmesan would work. I could've stood some heat from the peppers; a little Serrano instead of one of the other two would not have been remiss.  The long-departed (and much-missed) hippy-dippy grocery chain had a line on locally-grown cherry peppers of consistent and delightful heat, but the ones from our corner grocer are highly variable in hotness. On the other hand, they have them at all, and in the middle of February, yet!