Friday, October 31, 2008

Erica Wrong

Took care of absolutely no business today....must have been a day off. Lots of thinkin' but no doin'. Benita has been MIA for 4 days now but Seniora Halderson and her calf Elsalita showed up this morning and spent the day here. Highlight of the day was taking a nice warm shower late this afternoon. New acquaintance of the day was my neighbor Ara Gureghian. He rides around in a BMW motorcycle with a side car....his pit bull Spirit rides with him complete with a helmet that says "BITE ME" and doggles. I hope to get to know them better in the near future. Ya'll can too at his website/blog...

If it isn't a left wing media, why are we being inundated by series of anti McCain quotes from C-list celebrities. The latest from a long list is decrepit disco diva Grace Jones announcing that she can't stand Sarah Palin. Score one for Joe Biden. Next up we have some countdown quotes of the day from Erica Jong - self proclaimed feminist from a long time ago. The press photo along with the article in the New York Observer is from 1976...she must not have aged well.

"The record shows that voting machines in America are rigged."
"My friends Ken Follett and Susan Cheever are extremely worried. Naomi Wolf calls me every day. Yesterday, Jane Fonda sent me an email to tell me that she cried all night and can't cure her ailing back for all the stress that has reduces her to a bundle of nerves."
"My back is also suffering from spasms, so much so that I had to see an acupuncturist and get prescriptions for Valium."
"After having stolen the last two elections, the Republican Mafia…"
"If Obama loses it will spark the second American Civil War. Blood will run in the streets, believe me. And it's not a coincidence that President Bush recalled soldiers from Iraq for Dick Cheney to lead against American citizens in the streets."
"Bush has transformed America into a police state, from torture to the imprisonment of reporters, to the Patriot Act."
Thank you Erica Jong for your insight....
now do like the dog's helmet says.....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Better Tan / Better Man?

Sort of took care of business today...

1. Helped Chuck hang some plywood on his outdoor spa.
2. Assembled the anemometer I just received - except they left out the digital display for wind speed. I should get it my Saturday.
3. Did my first bit of soldering in over a year....a tiny little bit to wire up the magnetic reed switch that activates the mph display.
4. Cleaned up the trash that got loose during the last wind storm.
5. Exchanged a chunk of steel tubing for a block of ice at the ranch supply store.
6. Hiked the boundaries of the 20 acre tract south of me that I may purchase.
Countdown quote of the day from CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office. Obama's assertion that "I've offered spending cuts above and beyond" the expense of his promises is accepted only by his partisans. His vow to save money by "eliminating programs that don't work" masks his failure throughout the campaign to specify what those programs are — beyond the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. A sampling of what voters heard in the ad, and what he didn't tell them:
THE SPIN: "That's why my health care plan includes improving information technology, requires coverage for preventive care and pre-existing conditions and lowers health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year."
THE FACTS: His plan does not lower premiums by $2,500, or any set amount. Obama hopes that by spending $50 billion over five years on electronic medical records and by improving access to proven disease management programs, among other steps, consumers will end up saving money. He uses an optimistic analysis to suggest cost reductions in national health care spending could amount to the equivalent of $2,500 for a family of four. Many economists are skeptical those savings can be achieved, but even if they are, it's not a certainty that every dollar would be passed on to consumers in the form of lower premiums.
THE SPIN: "I also believe every American has a right to affordable health care."
THE FACTS: That belief should not be confused with a guarantee of health coverage for all. He makes no such promise. Obama hinted as much in the ad when he said about the problem of the uninsured: "I want to start doing something about it." He would mandate coverage for children but not adults. His program is aimed at making insurance more affordable by offering the choice of government-subsidized coverage similar to that in a plan for federal employees and other steps, including requiring larger employers to share costs of insuring workers.
THE SPIN: "I've offered spending cuts above and beyond their cost."
THE FACTS: Independent analysts say both Obama and Republican John McCain would deepen the deficit. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates Obama's policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years — and that analysis accepts the savings he claims from spending cuts. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, whose other findings have been quoted approvingly by the Obama campaign, says: "Both John McCain and Barack Obama have proposed tax plans that would substantially increase the national debt over the next 10 years." The analysis goes on to say: "Neither candidate's plan would significantly increase economic growth unless offset by spending cuts or tax increases that the campaigns have not specified."
THE SPIN: "Here's what I'll do. Cut taxes for every working family making less than $200,000 a year. Give businesses a tax credit for every new employee that they hire right here in the U.S. over the next two years and eliminate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Help homeowners who are making a good faith effort to pay their mortgages, by freezing foreclosures for 90 days. And just like after 9-11, we'll provide low-cost loans to help small businesses pay their workers and keep their doors open. "
THE FACTS: His proposals — the tax cuts, the low-cost loans, the $15 billion a year he promises for alternative energy, and more — cost money, and the country could be facing a record $1 trillion deficit next year. Indeed, Obama recently acknowledged — although not in his commercial — that: "The next president will have to scale back his agenda and some of his proposals."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

United Socialist Republic of America

Took care of business today:
1. Road trip to Alpine today with Chuck...he got more building supplies for his outhouse.
2. I got groceries and happily paid my property tax bill.
3. Got home by 4 PM, unpacked and did some target practice - I'm good...
4. Cleaned my revolver.
I finally get how the Republican tax plan differs from the Democratic tax plan. The GOP has been touting recently that Obama's tax plan is socialist and now I understand. Any redistribution of wealth is socialist in nature and historically has been a failure. The Obama tax plan is just that....Countdown quote of the day: John McCain on Socialism, "It doesn't work, number one. It's been tried many times. Second of all, redistributing the wealth creates disincentives to entrepreneurship, capitalism, small business, free enterprise. If people know that their hard earned -- the fruits of their hard earned labor are going to be taken from them and given to others, then they are obviously going to have disincentives to work. The fundamentals of the free enterprise system is that less government is the best government. Now, there are times for government, in emergencies, in wars and, you know, many other areas where we can interpret it, but the fact is that government should let free enterprise, small business and capitalism function and, of course, it has to be -- has to have regulation. Of course there has to be transparency. Of course Teddy Roosevelt was right where he said unbridled capitalism leads to corruption. But let's not take people's hard earned money that they worked to save and pass on to their children or build their businesses, let's not take it away from them and give it to others. That's -- socialism is antithetical to progress and job creation and wealth, progress for all of society."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama Nation = Abomination?

Sorry folks, since I just early voted in my precinct, I'm gonna have to get political from now until the election. Posts till then will read like this...

Took care of business today.
1. Helped Chuck put the roof on his outhouse.
2. Picked up 125 gallons of water from Study Butte to add to my tank at home.
3. Cleaned up up my first set of batteries that I have been using for almost a year.
4. Lowered tower #2 to grease the pivot bearing on the wind turbine.
5. Proudly voted for John McCain as our next President and leader of the free world.

Countdown quote of the day by Dr. Jack Wheeler: "The O-man, Barack Hussein Obama, is an eloquently tailored empty suit. No resume, no accomplishments, no experience, no original ideas, no understanding of how the economy works, no understanding of how the world works, no balls, nothing but abstract, empty rhetoric devoid of real substance. He has no real identity. He is half-white, which he rejects. The rest of him is mostly Arab, which he hides but is disclosed by his non-African Arabic surname and his Arabic first and middle names as a way to triply proclaim his Arabic parentage to people in Kenya . Only a small part of him is African Black from his Luo grandmother, which he pretends he is exclusively. What he isn't, not a genetic drop of, is 'African-American,' the descendant of enslaved Africans brought to America chained in slave ships. He hasn't a single ancestor who was a slave. Instead, his Arab ancestors were slave owners. Slave-trading was the main Arab business in East Africa for centuries until the British ended it. Let that sink in: Obama is not the descendant of slaves, he is the descendant of slave owners. Thus he makes the perfect Liberal Messiah. It's something Hillary doesn't understand - how some complete neophyte came out of the blue and stole the Dem nomination from her. Obamamania is beyond politics and reason. It is a true religious cult, whose adherents reject Christianity yet still believe in Original Sin, transferring it from the evil of being human to the evil of being white. Thus Obama has become the white liberals' Christ, offering absolution from the Sin of Being White. There is no reason or logic behind it, no faults or flaws of his can diminish it, no arguments Hillary could make of any kind can be effective against it. The absurdity of Hypocrisy Clothed In Human Flesh being their Savior is all the more cause for liberals to worship him: Credo quia absurdum, I believe it because it is absurd. Thank heavens that the voting majority of Americans remain Christian and are in no desperate need of a phony savior.
His candidacy is ridiculous and should not be taken seriously by any thinking American."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Juniperus osteosperma

Cold and breezy most of the day. Got up at 4:45 AM because the wind was howling outside and couldn't go back to sleep. Decided it was a good day to do nothing - and I got 18 hours of almost nothing done today. Highlights of the day were making bacon and eggs for breakfast, picking up garbage that had blown around my property all night, taking a nap, and going to dinner at the Starlight with Ronald for 2fer burger night and some music by Dr. Fun. Forgot to add that I took a hike around a 20 acre tract that adjoins my property on the south side. It's a very nice tract and it would be a nice addition to my desert empire. Found a couple of Desert junipers about to drop their seeds...nice to see some red in the desert for a change.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mocha boys...

Finally finished the battery house wiring today. Not quite as pretty as I had envisioned but it's simple, organized, and safe. I drilled and ran a 4th line through the wall for wiring from a solar panel and an anemometer that I am ordering tomorrow. For now I have two 15 watt panels hooked up to through the wiring from turbine mount #3 to add some juice to the battery bank. This power system will be a hybrid as it will have 400 watts potential ( 25+ mph winds ) from the wind turbines and a 123 watt solar panel.

Had dinner out again - this time at Nancy's with a group of 7 neighbors. Highlight of the evenings conversation for me was the description of a game one of the dinner guests used to play with his friends. Think cow tipping..... This game was called Mocha - pronounced Mo cha, not Mo ca. Forgot to ask the reason the game was called Mocha. The way I see get a bunch of your friends together, add a lot of beer, a couple of pickup trucks, and some open fields with lots of jackrabbits. According to one of the inventors of the game, jackrabbits tend to freeze when they are blinded by headlights. The point of this game is to pile all your buddies into a couple of trucks, head out into the field, and get one to freeze in your headlights like a deer would, then jump out of the truck and go kick the jackrabbit like a football. Apparently when they finally land, they are done staying still and take off like....well... jackrabbits. Tell me what is worse....a bunch of kids glued to their xbox or computer all day or the rabbit kickin' Mocha boys? For the point to be made here, it's best that I not tell you about another one of their games they invented....called Yodel Rollin'.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dinner out

Found out fairly quickly this morning that I needed to make another trip south to the hardware store. The last piece of the puzzle was connectors to wire up the stop switches correctly. Also had a hankerin' for some bacon and I needed gas so I killed 3 birds with one stone. I was startled to see the price of gas in Study Butte. $2.51 a gallon's falling so fast it freaks me out the same way it did when it shot up to over 4 bucks a gallon. This kind of price volatility is not a good thing - but I certainly appreciate much lower prices. About 10:30 when I got back home and made me some bacon and eggs. Started rewiring the battery house to clean up some loose ends and connect the line from turbines 3 & 4. Got it sorted out nicely but found I needed to add two more interior plywood walls to attach the additional wiring. By the time I cut and installed the sides, it was quit'n time. Had a beer...fed Benita...went to dinner at Chuck & Kathy's. Had good grub and hung out with their neighbors Nancy and Julianne. A fine time was had by all.

Photo of the day has been picked by random from the archives. This series was shot a year ago (this weekend) before I purchased my land in '07. Its interesting to look at these photos and remember the feelings of all this being so foreign (and a bit scary) to me at first. Really foreign! Very nice to now feel so familiar with my surroundings. It really feels like home to me out here.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Made cables to hook up my new inverter and installed the switches for Turbines 3 & 4. Half day today cause I had to shower and head to the Terlingua Ranch Lodge to witness part of the local home owners association quarterly board meeting. The HOA out here is kind of a mess...we'll just leave it at that.
However, on the way in I picked up my mail and got my annual property tax bill for my 40 acres of paradise. I think I can scrape up enough change to cover this. By the way, Texas has no state tax to deal with by April 15th each year. It's absurd when I compare this to what I payed in NY for property tax. This years tax out here is $146.41. That's how much I paid last year every 4.5 DAYS! for the privilege of living in my home in upstate NY. Was the quality of life 98.77% better back east? Nope...we'll just leave it at that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More wires...

Had an interesting morning - dark and early. Woke at 3AM but got back to sleep somehow. Got up at 6:45AM meaning to watch the space station flyover. Somehow I completely missed it. May have waited just a little to long for the coffee to brew. Anyway, I'm standing out there in the dark staring at the night sky. Didn't see the space station but did see two shooting stars. As I continued to search the sky, I heard a clomp, clomp, clomp in the darkness. Next thing I know, Benita is standing right behind me. Waited till sunup to give her the breakfast snack.

Found the perfect anemometer to hook up for the battery house while searching online this morning. Just what I need to factor in the wind speed with what the wind tubines are pumping out. Labored slowly all day placing the conduit and running the wiring for my second two wind turbines. Needed a couple more vital pieces so went down to Study Butte to shop and so I wouldn't waste a trip - did a load of laundry. Just about finished the wiring when my new friends Dan and Paul stopped by for a visit. Nice to have company out here every now and then.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Finishing up clearing space in my shipping container took way too much time today....but it was worth the time and effort. Now I have more than enough room for the final installment of my worldly possessions. Dropped a load of recyclables down in Terlingua at the pickup spot and picked up a few connectors for some stop switches that will be employed in my battery house wiring. Finally got good and windy out here - a cold front is heading down from the north and bringing nice winds. Just happened to be out at the battery house with my camera when the winds picked up. This is the combined amp reading (at about 25mph wind speed) from the output of my 2 wind turbines. 15.7 Amps! - That's close to 200 watts, which is just about right for these guys at that speed. Won't know for sure about the wind speed until I wire up an anemometer in the battery house.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

dung-eating butterfly

Finally got back into the swing of things today...took a couple hours this morning to wire up the pole mounts for my next two wind turbines. Went in to Chucks to refrigerate some 1lb. propane cylinders. I have an adaptor that refills them (but they need to be chilled first) from a 20lb tank. 20 one lb. cylinders would cost me ( 20 x $3.29 = $65.80 ). To fill my 20lb propane tank costs me $16.00. The adaptor cost me $30. Do some quick math and see how much I save.

The afternoon was organization time. I have to get back to Austin before the end of the month so I need to make sure I have room for the last of my "stuff". All my tools and electrical supplies were in one big pile in the front of one of the shipping containers. It was driving me crazy digging through the pile to find what I needed. Got all that sorted out and cleared quite a bit of space. One more afternoon of re-packing efficiently and I will have tons of room. Feels pretty good to go from chaos to order.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Warning: Adult Content

Benita showed up last night with a new young bull. They came to breakfast together this morning. Since I had such a confusing list of things to do - all I did was organize my tools and supplies in hope that will get me going tomorrow. Benita and Ashton ( I call him that after Ashton Kutchner who is married to - much older - Demi Moore ) came by for a late afternoon snack. He challenged me a couple of times when I got too close to Benita to feed her but he still backed off even though his balls are much bigger than mine. They must have gotten to know each other pretty well today because after Benita finished eating - Ashton mounter her not once - but twice! Afterwards, they wandered off to graze for awhile and ended up lying down together facing the setting sun. Rather touching, I must say. I have way too much free time on my hands to make these kinds of observations.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Started the day by frying up some sausage and eggs for a couple of breakfast burritos. Tourist day today. Chuck'n'Kathy came out with their neighbor Nancy for a hike and some rock hunting. Benita, Seniora Halderson and a new cow I call Sandra Bernhard (because she has a great body but is kind of ugly) were here for a snack and to put on a show for my visitors. Chuck held down the cow palace while Kathy, Nancy and I headed for the mountain top just SE of me. It is a section of property I am attempting to add to my empire. Took us about an hour to make it to the summit - 230 ft. above my house location and about 1/4 mile away. Excellent views from the top. That's Aunt Kathy on the peak and the view of my homestead from the top. Pretty much pooped out for the rest of the day as I seem to have used some new leg muscles on the trek. Note to self: Don't leave the truck radio on for 5 hours unless you want to pull a battery from the bank in order to jump start the truck....again.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Taking the weekend off. In lieu of progress, I present the following product endorsement. I have been a MagicJack customer for 3 months now. I signed up for $40 - that included the USB phone jack and software all my long distance calls to anywhere in the US or Canada for the first year. After this it will be $20 per year for all my long distance calls. I already saved 40 bucks on long distance. Make unlimited long distance calls back to the US with your laptop and magicjack wherever you travel in the world as long as you can get a high speed internet connection. Lots of other bonuses to consider. Check out Have a great weekend!

I am John Wells and I approve this message.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Legally armed...

I find it to be an exquisitely proportioned and well balanced large frame revolver. And just so you know... I take very seriously the responsibility that comes with legal gun ownership in America. However, I find that the manufacturer uses some rather creepy words and phases to describe the instrument.

"Taurus large frame revolvers deliver the goods in a big way when the chips are down. The 608 packs a mind-boggling 8 rounds of .357 Magnum firepower. Hammer forged for tough performance and confidence-boosting accuracy, these decision-makers come with hand-fitted actions, and clean, crisp triggers right out of the box. New innovations include ported barrels that reduce muzzle flip and felt recoil and the model 608's incredible 8-shot cylinder."

Beer cans, Beware!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall in the desert

Cloudy all morning but finally cleared out by 3PM. Wired up the trimetric so I can finally read what's coming out of the wind turbines. Took about 2 hours to get it all hooked up and programmed for my system parameters. Too sloppy to photograph for the blog. Problem was as usual....not much wind. Most I read was 2 amps out of both of them. Wired up 3 solar panels for now to add some juice to the batteries. Most likely will add a 100 watt solar panel to the set up.

Been so dry out here that all the greenery and flowers are starting to fade. Seems like we had spring and summer over a 3 week period. My really good green vistas are all turning brown now. Off tomorrow to go back to Alpine to arm myself. As of Friday I will be part of the faction of America that Obama finds repugnant - those that cling to their guns and their religion.

Photo from the big bloom we had out here after the rains a couple of weeks ago...shot on September 25th.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Gloomy day most of the day. Misty drizzle for an hour or two this morning. Wired up the turbines to the charger and the batteries but didn't get the trimetric meter installed so I don't know what I'm getting out the wind turbines yet. I can tell you that it wasn't much because the wind was fairly calm today. Made a trip in to the ranch supply store for ice...road was good except for the last 1/4 mile before the highway. Must have gotten alot more rain just east of me. Finished off the day by building a designer 12 VDC lamp for my nerve center using a 46 oz tomato juice can. Ikea - Texas desert style....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Last night at around 9PM I thought I was in for a deluge...thunder and lightning like crazy just south of me including lots of action on the Doppler radar. All it led to was a 10 minute sprinkle here. Felt like a stranded rainy day all day today. Got a quick downpour just after noon - only amounted to .o7" of rain. In between watching the storm and plugging away in the battery house - didn't get much done today other than connecting the batteries and starting the wiring for the charge controller. Found that I am still short a couple of vital links in the free energy train. Did clean up and organize the interior of my hut - it was getting rather cluttered. Last task was to wire up some new interior lighting I've been planning on. Just as I thought - it has enhanced my quality of living exponentially.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Long day today - no work...just driving and spending. Left for Alpine this morning at 7 AM. Still pitch black outside. The sun was just rising over the mountains as I came into town. Made a breakfast stop at McDonald's then headed over to the Antelope Lodge to look for my friends Abe and Josie. They were there with Abe's parents and Carolyn and Jim from Terlingua. Photo is of Abe and little Leo... this is the face of a baby that has found the secret of life - being potty trained before he can even say the word, potty.

Still seems strange that Abe, Josie and I have seen each other in person only twice in 2 years but I feel like we are old friends due to our internet connection and our shared passion for a sustainable lifestyle. It was great to see them again and meet his parents and brother.

After making sure not to miss them at the hotel, I went off and did my shopping run. Forty five minutes and $250 later, I was done. Went back to the motel and hung out with the group for a bit then we all went to lunch. Stuffed by a Texas Taco and a half gallon of ice tea, I stopped by the grocery store and grabbed a few items and headed home. Will have to go back on Friday to pick up my new revolver as it hadn't come in yet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Done Dam

Benita came in for breakfast at 8 AM this morning. Fed and watered her then headed out to strip the forms from the last pour on the's kind of like unwrapping a present. Looks good - hope it holds water. 50% chance of rain today but doesn't look like we will get any. After cleaning up around the construction site - I came back home to find Benita and 20 uninvited quests for Sunday brunch. Chased off the herd and then gave Benita a small snack.

Went over to Chuck and Kathy's to visit for awhile...their part time neighbor Nancy was there as well. Nancy gave me a squash, some peppers, and a red cabbage from her garden back east. Clouds started looking ominous out west so I came back home. Spent the rest of the afternoon making some cables to connect my new batteries and stripping the hot water heater I got. Finished early today and took a fantastic shower. Hope it doesn't rain tonight as I need to go to Alpine tomorrow for some shopping and the chance to see my friends Abe, Josie and Leo (the potty trained 6 month year old!).

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Almost done, dammit...

Today was just a long half day of labor. Stripped the forms this morning from yesterdays pour and built the next layer of forms. Nice and cool and slightly overcast so retained some water today while I worked. Used 8 more bags of concrete mix to finish up. Pretty much done with the dam now except for some cosmetic work. Now that it is in place we probably wont get any rain although the forecast calls for a good chance of it over the next 4 days.

Headed down to Study Butte to stock up on some necessities just in case I do get rained in. Now I'm good to go for at least 5 days. In the rare case that I do get stuck out here for an extended period - I have a one month supply of essentials. Worst case scenario, I can always hike through the mud for a 5 mile round trip to the ranch supply store. In any event, I reckon ordering Chinese delivery is out of the question out here.

Benita was here for breakfast and supper as usual.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dammit some more

Another early start but just a shift and a half today. The morning began with Benita showing up for breakfast with 8 other longhorns. We had a thunder and lightning storm last night that must have stirred them up. Got .115" of rain in an hour last night. Anyway, after Benita came up to the house I chased the rest of the rascals away - then treated Benita to breakfast. As soon as she was done she wondered off to find the herd. I spent a sweaty morning building the forms for the next phase of concrete on the dam.

Took a lunch break and drove Chuck down to Study Butte. We both had to run some errands and diner food seemed like a nice perk. I stopped by to see my friend Carolyn at H20 To Go and she just happened to have an old hot water heater she wanted to get rid of. This will be transformed into a solar hot water heater to supplement my systems. Checked with the local hardware store down there but they were out of concrete mix.

I ended up buying 2 more 80lb bags at the ranch supply store and picked up two from Chuck. By the time I got back to work it was already 2:30PM. Finished pouring concrete by 5PM. Just one more day of form building and concrete pouring and the dam will be finished. We have a good chance of rain this weekend so I might just catch some. Benita spent the day with the herd but came home for supper. Another longhorn was with her but refused to follow her down my driveway. If he was a bull - he didn't have the balls to come all the way up to my house with her. Glad to see she is following a herd again. She spent a number of weeks on her own after she lost her calf. I like to think I helped her out - she's looking pretty healthy these days.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Worked a sweaty double shift today. Decided to jump into the dam project this morning. Chance of rain coming this weekend and it might be my last chance to catch some of this runoff for awhile Took about 3 hours to clean out ( 9 wheel barrow loads of sand and rock that had accumulated from previous rains ) and prep the area including placing 18 cinder blocks. Guzzled down 4 glasses of water after as I was super parched. Felt bad for Benita so I gave her 2 gallons after I was finished re hydrating. She hung out as usual and even came down to the dam area while I was mixing concrete - it's the splashing water thing I guess and not her interest in my engineering prowess.

Had a 2 hour break then got back into the thick of it. By 4:45PM I was finally done pouring the concrete in the cinder block cavities. The notch in the center of the dam will be for runoff through my planned water wheel that will operate a pump. Next up is to build the forms so I can pour more concrete that will seal the inside and outside of the blocks and level off the whole structure. Now I know why I've been putting this off - it was a real ball buster today. Lightning and thunder to the west of me as I write this....hope it stays north of me tonight.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Field Trip

This morning I was torn between working on the turbine wiring or working on my dam for my creek catchment system. Decided I wasn't quite up to a day of building forms and mixing concrete. Instead I drilled a hole through the rammed earth wall of the battery house and ran the wiring from the first two turbines to the inside.

Took a field trip today with my friend Chuck to check out a super solar system he installed for a mutual friend of ours. It was quite impressive - all high end components with plenty of juice to spare. As most of the connections were inside boxes, it didn't help me out too much with what I have to hook up for myself - but it was really good to see a quality system installed professionally. When I got home I was greeted by Benita chilling out in the shade of my front porch. So far she still gets out of my way without too much prompting.

Still have more planning to do before I continue wiring up my system so I diverted my attention to other chores....namely, lowering and painting my other two wind turbine mounts and readjusting and securing the guy wires. Last task of the day was installing the mount for the 12 VDC hot water coil into a trash can. Once I'm sure there are no leaks, I will build an insulated box around the trash can. Seems like there is always something that really needs to be done out here - I have gotten a lot done since being out here ( officially 10 months as of yesterday ) but there is plenty more to do.
Caught a glimpse of the International Space Station flying over tonight - an even better viewing opportunity will be Friday night.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wiring Diagram

Seemed like I was in slow motion today....don't know what happened to the morning. All I seem to remember was wiring up the second turbine to the stop switch and fuse - just as the wind kicked in. Somehow I avoided getting zapped. Made yet another trip to Studio Butte - don't feel so bad now that gas is around $3.30 a gallon. Picked up some parts so I can bolt the 12 VDC hot water coil to the trash can that will be the basis of my diversion load hot water heater. Then made a trip to the ghost town to fill my 125 gallon water tank. The water was a penny a gallon for the first 25 gallons and 10 cents per gallon after it cost me $10.25 for my water run. I have over 200 gallons reserve for mixing concrete and I wanted to add some more to my washing/cooking water reserve - plus I'm forking out about 8 gallons per day to Benita now. In the late afternoon I finished the connections for the turbines and the wiring run back to the outside of the battery house. Cut a piece of 1/2" osb that will go inside to ease mounting everything. Now I gotta plan on how to make the wiring inside the battery house look all purdy...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Starlight Theatre

Checked the NWS rain gauge this morning an low an behold there was .02" of officially measured rain from last nights brief downfall. Started laying out the conduit and organizing all my parts to start wiring up the turbines. Discovered that I needed two 45 degree angle connectors to come out of the boxes I mounted yesterday - alas... another ride to Studio Butte. Stopped by the ranch supply store first to see if they had what I needed. They didn't. Figured I'd check my mail before heading south which meant hanging out at the ranch supply store and chatting with folks while I waited for the mailman. He came - nothing for me today.

Got just what I needed down south - headed right home and back to work. Ran 30 ft. of conduit and made the connections to the boxes. By the time I had wired up one of the boxes with a fuse and stop switch, it as about 4:30PM. Decided a shower and a trip back to Study Butte for 2fer1 burger night would be a good idea for the evening.

Had to shoo Benita away as I was taking my outdoor shower. Guess she was attracted by the sound and smell of running water - or maybe it was just me in all my naked splendor. She came back after I finished and proceeded to lick the base platform of the shower - didn't seem to mind the soap and conditioner. Drove over and picked up my friend Ronald ( the nicest guy in Texas ) . He joined me for dinner down at the Starlight Theatre in the Ghost Town. I got home just after sunset, gave Benita her dinner snack and now I'm hunkerin' down for the night.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


So much for a day of rest. Since I woke up at 5:30Am - I got to work once the sun rose over the mountain east of me around 8. Cut and mounted two new wind turbine tails complete with lettering. Also made some wiring adjustments to the first turbine and completed painting its pole. That is half a day right there. Made a quick run down to Study Butte for some necessities and ended up hitting a vulture that was dining in the road and didn't get out of the way in time - bounced right off my windshield...sorry about that!

Took it slow in the afternoon but was able to prep the pole boxes for the 2 turbines I have mounted. Had to cut and bend some 10-24 threaded rod to make custom U-bolts to attach the boxes. Got really windy this afternoon so I put off mounting the boxes while the turbines where screaming - and instead installed the faucets on my two new water tanks. Still windy but I wanted to get those boxes mounted so I took a chance that I wouldn't be decapitated by a wayward turbine blade. Got'er'done without mishap.

Benita came by for a dinner snack then I fired up my grill to cook a steak I picked up in Alpine. Was feeling kind of weird about cooking beef in front of my longhorn buddy....she must have sensed something as she wandered down my road to graze away from the house just as I was slapping the meat on the grill. As I was getting ready to eat we had a heavy rainstorm that lasted about 2 minutes. Just enough to settle the dust.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More Shopping

Easy morning of getting reorganized and making yet another shopping list. I need a few more parts to wire up the battery bank and new wind turbines. Most importantly is figuring out how I'm gonna hook up the 12 VDC hot water coil that will take all the excess energy from the wind turbines. Just as I was heading down my driveway, I noticed Chuck's jeep coming over the hill from Agua Fria Rd. up north. He and Kathy and our friend Craig Suber had been rock hunting this morning and stopped by on their way home.

Got up to Alpine by 1:30 and nailed the shopping list. I'm pretty sure I got everything I needed to complete the job of hooking up the wind turbines. Found exactly what I needed to hook up the hot water coil. In any event, I don't anticipate the need for another trip north for at least a week. Also picked up some fly spray to douse Benita - this is major fly season now and it's driving her crazy. Even had time to special order the revolver I have decided on through the local hardware store. More on that when it arrives.

Home at 5:30PM and unpacked...took a walk around the property to take some photos of the plant life springing up everywhere. Benita showed up soon after with another cow and calf that have heen following her around lately. Looks like I have 3 longhorns now. I named the new cow Senora Halderson because she reminds me of my high school Spanish teacher, and I call her calf, Elsalita. They aren't quite as cozy with me as Benita - but give 'em time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Cow Whisperer

Chalk up another fine day in the middle of nowhere. Benita was here for breakfast. We hung out for a little while then I got on with the day. Photographed the rain gauge in the early morning light then had an opportunity to get a shot of me and Benita. She ended up hanging out for a couple of hours while I worked on wind turbine number 2. She finally wandered off to graze on her own. Took a trip in to the ranch supply store for some human contact and a block of ice. My friend Ronald came out for a brief visit in the afternoon. Finally got the turbine mounted and up by 5:3oPM. Benita came back for a dinner snack then wandered off to graze some more. Will see her in the morning no doubt. Life is good.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Estrella Vista

Met with my new friend Susan Griffin from the National Weather Service early this morning. She came out to install a rain gauge on my my daily weather reports to them including rainfall amounts and high and low temps of the day will help aid weather forecasting - its all about collection information. Back in the early 60's, my grandfather Harold Niles called in weather conditions from his little coffee shop in Georgetown, Colorado to Denver based on truckers experiences coming west on I-70. Now I get to perform the exact same service he provided using internet technology reporting from my own remote weather station. Didn't get home tonight in time to get a picture of the rain gauge - look for it tomorrow.

Made a run to Study Butte to do a load of laundry...met up with Jerry, my UPS delivery guy at the Motor Inn Cafe and got my latest parts that will allow me to fire up 2 wind turbines to start charging the batteries I just got. Got home and reorganized one of my shipping containers so I could move the latest load from Austin in. The whole time I was working on this, Benita was hanging out in the yard. I'm getting used to having a longhorn in close proximity.

Cooked up a batch of zucchini and tomatoes to take to dinner. My new friend Dan invited me up to dinner at Estrella Vista - the former home of my friends the Connallys that led me to this area. Had a great time hanging out ( and eating a good steak - sorry Benita ). Dan has come out here for many of the same reasons I have - one of which being, a simpler life that is sustainable. This is the face of a man that has discovered the secret of life. A really weird thing about Dan is he looks a lot like my old elite fashion photographer boss from my NYC days, Bruce Weber. Really makes me think about my life path.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Home again...

Woke up and left before Dan and family were awake. Loaded up the truck and trailer by 9AM and hit the road home a half hour later. Got back to the homestead at 6PM. The load travelled well and there were no problems. Got everything off the truck and trailer quickly.

While at Dan's I couldn't help but be a little jealous of his success in the photo world but there seems to be so much chaos and anxiety that goes with it. Reminded me of my glory days in Brooklyn - I just hope that my new life works out to be as good as it feels. My blood pressure finally resumed FieldLab levels after being home 2 hours. Benita was waiting by my driveway when I pulled in. No sign of her boyfriend Oscar. She followed me in and I put out some range feed and water for her right by the house. I sat and watched her have supper then she came over to me staying about 10 ft. away and I drank a beer and we stared at each other for about a half hour. Then I walked down my driveway to lure here away as I was getting ready to grill some chicken. She followed me to the grass and stayed there to graze so I could get on with my cooking. I reckon I will see he again in the morning. It's good to be home.