Saturday, December 31, 2011

last day...

Got the uprights in place for the north wing door.  Took some extra time because I had to weld a chunk onto the west side piece to make good use of the materials I have left.  The bees were out in full force today with the warm weather.  Put out a bowl of Coke for them to get their junk food sugar fix.  55,76,33,0,B

Friday, December 30, 2011

TINY HOMES Simple Shelter

Got back to the grind today....prepped and set the forms for the north wing pour.  Took a ride south for a lunch break and found a nice surprise in the mail - my advance contributor copies of Lloyd Kahn's new book which includes a nice spread on TFL (and 2 pictures of Benita).  Nice to see my friends Keith Levy (The Flying Tortoise) and Maximillian Godino in the book too.  As with all his other books, Lloyd did a fantastic job documenting the tiny house movement.  Nice touch - they include a tiny abbreviated version of the book with each order.  You can order a copy from  57,75,31,0,C

Thursday, December 29, 2011

too much time on my hands...

Did a quick morning run to Alpine for cow snacks and rebar.  To and fro in just under 3 hours.  I had posted yesterday on Facebook that Kristinna and I were shooting beer cans from 150 yrds. with my Ruger 10/22.  My friend JD called me on it so I had to go out and precisely measure the distance - only 120 yards.  She inspired today's afternoon project - rigging a camera to my rifle scope. The scope was dialed in nicely thanks to Paul, Neil, and Kdog who came out to visit this summer.  56,72,29,0,C

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Reckon it is time to get back to courtyard work...started setting block for the north wing.  Just about ready to set some forms when SwampGirl 2011 showed up for some shootin' while she is on her Christmas break from upstate NY.  Topped off the day with a visit from Jean and Taj from SF.  They are just beginning a photographic project around the US - "documenting the aesthetic, philosophical, and spatial ideas of currently active creative zones in North America".  50,66,33,0,B

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Finally finished a clean sweep of the hut wonder my beard isn't getting any longer - must have vacuumed up two beards worth of hair.  Nice to have all horizontal surfaces empty again, if only for a short time.

Got the shower ship shape again.  The water heated up nicely today.  From Wikipedia:  BTU is the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.  So today the sun (and a newly patched closed system) helped out and raised 333.6 lbs of water 44 degrees = 14,678.4 BTU's.

Monday, December 26, 2011

the day after...

Spent a couple of hours repairing some problems on the solar shower.  The problem was I didn't think it would get as cold as it did overnight on Christmas Eve.  Since I didn't drain the lines and the thermosyphon - I ended up with one popped hose and two breaks in the copper.  Didn't loose any water because I was able to shut off some valves before it all thawed out.  Fixed the hose and prepped for the copper repairs.  ...Thought I should include a detail photo of the cactus wreath.

Decided Benita's facebook page needed a Christmas update.  Waited for her to finish eating this morning then brushed her for a few minutes to put her in the zone.  Dropped the hat on and had all of 5 seconds to get one shot off.  She was cooperative just long enough and made it clear afterwards that she does not like hats.  43,60,16,0,B

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

almost there...

Light flurries all night long and into the morning....didn't last long.  Nasty day till the clouds cleared out just before sunset.  Did a photo lighting test tonight for the Christmas light show - dialed in the exposure for the hut'n'lights but I need just the right amount of light in the sky to make it all work.  32,37,32,0,C  Christmas Eve time lapse.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Closed in today due to crappy weather:
Fed the cows
Chased the burro - numerous times
Made JiffyPop
Took a nap
Baked a chicken in the grill

...and my IPCam guys are sending me a new power adapter.  Thanks for staying on top of the situation, Anthony!

Hi John,

Alright, Looks like we do have standard 15V power supplies as well. I'm requesting that one be shipped your way.

Merry Christmas =)
Anthony Watts
Customer Support Specialist

StarDot Technologies
Toll-Free: (888) 782-7368
Direct: (714) 228-9282
Fax: (714) 228-9283

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Key Grip

2011 seasonal lighting display underway. 12 strings of LED lights - only 70 watts AC.  Grabbed a long overdue hot shower late this afternoon before the next cold front moves in.  49,61,30,0,C

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Flipped a coin this morning and decided on extracting the old AC unit off the Airstream.  Other that the horrid interior fixtures that were cobbed into the trailer - the only other thing that really bothered me about it was the fact that when the old AC died...someone dropped a new one in through a skylight at the front of the trailer instead of just sticking it where the bad unit was.  It really wasn't that difficult to remove.  The only problem was that it was rather heavy so I just rolled it off the top once everything was disconnected.  Spent the afternoon experimenting with this years Christmas light show.  47,63,26,0,C

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

IP day...

Dialed in the focus on the IP Cam lense but the exposure was blown out....emailed StarDot tech support.  Was just about ready to ship the auto iris lens back to them.  Decided the only variable left in the equation was the camera cable.  Did a patch on a shorter cable and the lens came to life.  Perfectly happy with the performance now.  Heard back for tech support within and hour but their first suggestion was to restart the camera - like I hadn't tried that already.  Their final solution (after I got it running) was that perhaps I was only using a 12V power supply with the camera and 300 ft. of cable instead of 15 - 18V as supposedly supplied.  The only power supply provided with the cable was 12V - I think they owe me especially since they have listed my suggestion in their FAQ section about how to cool the camera in especially hot environments.

Monday, December 19, 2011

behind closed doors...

That good chance of rain turned into a downpour that lasted about 12 seconds at 3:30AM.  Wasn't able to get back to sleep till 6.  Woke up again at 7:30 to clearing skies and what turned out to be a perfectly sunny (windy) day.
Ya know...I ended up putting doors on all my little cubby holes in the hut so I wouldn't have to look at all the stuff.  Since I seem to be in year end clean up mode - I just had to sort through all the stuffed away secrets today.  Ended up with a box of miscellaneous electronic parts'n'cables to stash away elsewhere and two cubic feet of worthless paperwork slated for the burn pit.

UPS Manny stopped by this afternoon with a delivery for me (he thoroughly enjoyed the pizza).  Come to think of it - he kinda looks like a lot of the guys who work in pizza joints in NYC.  Got an auto iris lens for my IP Cam.  Haven't been happy with the dynamic range that the camera has with standard lenses and internal controls...just doesn't handle low light situations very well.  Took an hour to dial it in, loosening a back focus adjustment because of a C-Mount spacer attached to the new lens....we shall see.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

sunday round up...

Been thinking that the construction zone is turning into a junkyard....had to make a clean sweep today.  The hard part was finding a place to put Mr. Floppy.   BTW - the trick is to just move everything out of frame...good plan for cleaning up.

Spotted a badger.  Nice camouflage...except for the headgear.  Good chance of a shower overnight - finished up the day covering up stuff just in case.  46,52,42,0,B

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Alpine run today....can't help but wonder why our Border Patrol inspection station has so many new cameras set up....I reckon they are looking to see who's been naughty or nice.   46,50,43,0,B

Friday, December 16, 2011

Manny is the Man!

Ordered 4 pizzas from Lou Malnati's in Chicago (the second time I've done this).  Had something special in mind this time.  When I ran into our UPS driver (Manny) down in Study Butte - he said he had something for me. 

When he gave me the box I said I think there is something in here for you.  I gave him 2 of the 4 pizzas I ordered for a Christmas present.  Manny is a hellava nice guy and an excellent UPS driver.  He is continuing the legacy of exemplary service provided by our beloved Jerry who retired over a year ago after delivering to the Big Bend region for over 30 years.

Another indoor day so I played with the Meade LPI camera a bit and finally got it to work....briefly.  Then the software crashed.  Next - I broke out a new camera I impulsively ordered from Woot! a couple of months ago.  A factory refurbished Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 14mp digital camera. Got it for half the retail price.  Just out of the box this camera is dust free and I'm rather pleased with it over my old Canon G9.  The Lumix even has GPS built in....checked it against my position on GoogleEarth and it was identical.  Not quite as many shooting features as the Canon but it does have a wider optical zoom range....and there is no dust in it - yet.  Photos above are unretouched strait from the cameras.  44,50,42,0,B

Thursday, December 15, 2011

One Million Served

Feels kinda weird that this blog has been visited over a million times.  Watched the counter go over the mark and tagged the millionth visitor.  Reckon I will just keep plugging away till I get it all done out here...stay tuned.

Thanks for the suggestions on my IT dilemma....beckerized and Andy Newall - send me an email so we can sort this out.  Would be nice to get it all fully functional some day.  Don't mean to leave UK-IT Neil out of the loop, but he needs to concentrate on the desert rover robot project.

Did a work around today for fun....avoiding computer issues.  This doesn't solve the problem of deep space imaging or controlling the telescope but at least I can zoom in on far away objects with the stickam cam if I choose.  Unscrewed the lens on the Logitech web cam and duct taped it to a mount to fit the telescope - and now I can see almost into the future.  This is an Inukshuk on top of Mt. McKenna just over a half mile away.

Dick Cain came by today looking for some his longhorns to push back to their winter grazing grounds.  He called me this morning and I told him about 20 were in the neighborhood  I asked him some questions about Benita's history.  Seems he used to call her Strawberry long before I showed up and named her Benita - a very fitting name.  I asked him if he had any old photos of her and he thinks he might have one from when she was only 4 years old with her first calf.  I sure hope he can dig that up.  51,64,45,0,B

Tonight's blog post brought to you by TEQUILA!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


All day...allllll day...trying to get software to enable features of my telescope and imaging systems.
1.   downloaded the latest software upgrades from Meade
2.   that didn't work
3.   searched online and found that Meade imaging does not work with 64bit systems
4.   tried to download Windows XP mode for Windows 7
5.   my version of Windows 7 doesn't support the download
6.   paid for a Windows upgrade and downloaded it
7.   it wouldn't load
8.   searched online and found that I needed to install all windows updates first
9.   performed the upgrade successfully
10. downloaded and installed Windows XP mode and Windows Virtual PC successfully
11. downloaded latest software upgrades from Meade into XP mode
12. still doesn't work.....yet.
13. one more day of this and I'm back to laying block....I know that will work.
14. 56,64,38,0,B

Tuesday, December 13, 2011



Monday, December 12, 2011

Bronx Cowboy

Return visit this morning from my buddy Robert from the Bronx  - his first trip out to TFL was May 12th.  He got the updated tour and the chance to meet Dick Cain and his son Breeze who rode up on horseback for a roundup visit.  Packed up the truck and headed east.  Welded all afternoon on Aunt Kathy's screen room.  Dinner at the Starlight Theatre.  44,56,40,0,B

Sunday, December 11, 2011

cloudy day...

Another one of those days that happen so rarely out here - heavy cloud cover.  Sun finally poked out around 5PM.

Spent the day feeding cows, rigging the ringer in the base of the payphone, shuffling stuff in the hut, and trying to find the optimum exposure settings for my IP Cam (I finally read the manual).  38,52,40,0,B