Friday, July 31, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

just a little storm

Checked the weather forecast this morning and found a big threat due at the end of the day. Decided to make an Alpine run to stock up...just in case. Watched a big black cloud follow me back to the Field Lab late this afternoon. I wasn't home but about 45 minutes when it hit. From 5 to 7PM we got 1.33" of rain with almost golf ball size hail and a maximum wind speed of 68.5mph. Shredded a few cosmetic items here and there, took out my other two wind turbines, and busted the glass on my solar oven, but the house and solar panels held up like a champ. On the upside...I pumped another 2400 gallons into storage. Checked in with all my neighbors and everyone survived with flying colors - including Benita who came in after the rain for dinner. I got a feeling my road didn't do as well. Looks like tomorrow will be a clean up day - including looking for pieces of wind turbine blades...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

power outage...

So I'm all tucked in and sound of sleep when all of a sudden there is a gust of wind and some lightning that wakes me 3:30 AM! I got up and took a look outside and it seemed another storm was coming. Had to make sure so I fired up the computer and checked the doppler radar - big storm headed this way from the NW. Next I had to hunt down my flashlight in the dark and pack up all my tools into their storage container. Finally get back to sleep at 4:15.

Woke for good at 7:15 to light drizzle. Lots of cloud cover but could see the sky clearing in the direction from where the storm came from. Only .08" in the gauge. Rain quit by 7:30 just as Benita came in for breakfast. About 10 other longhorns followed her in. Instead of chasing them off, I put out a little food for all of them. Came in to check back in with my online world. Suddenly the modem went dead and I lost power from the wind turbine battery house. Discovered that my power outage was due to a longhorn calf attempting to chew on my extension cord. Not to worry - he just pulled the plug on me and didn't get electrocuted. That's my first real Field Lab power outage. One of the other longhorns in that group comes around every now and then and she is starting to grow on me...I call her Maybelline. She has real purdy eyes...."Maybe It's Maybelline"

Thought I'd get my blog post up in advance for a change. Having an early supper then going to work...welding up the second half of truss #1 tonight since it was too hot to work outside again today.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2 cool downs

The Field Lab got a sprinkle just like I hoped for last night....mostly wind out of the north but at least settled the dust with .05" of rain that happened in about 5 minutes. The outside temp dropped like a rock.
Long, hot day today and thought it would be a repeat of hiding from the heat, but another storm blew in late this afternoon....just a mist of rain but another fine temp drop. Took advantage of the cool down by cutting and jigging all the parts for the second half of experimental truss 1. Found some numbers online on rebar weight and how much I need for each truss and cypher'd out that they will weigh only about 250 lbs. (and please don't bother to check my math in the comments section - I've got it covered, thank you very much... ; )

Monday, July 27, 2009

Too Hot For Man Or Beast

122 in the sun...8% humidity...110 in the shade. 85 inside...45% humidity. Good day to stay out of the sun and plan the truss attack. Did lots of thinkin' and ordered some parts. Thanks for all the suggestions - we shall see what I decide to do. Made sure Benita was cozy in the heat.

Got a small storm heading south toward me...a sprinkle would be nice.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

OK so far

Welded up the first side of the truss assembly this morning. Pulled it off the jig and it held its shape just like magic. It is big and long and rather unruly at only half finished. This will be quite the monster to wrestle up on top of the containers. Should be fun figuring out how to get them in place all by myself.

Done by noon so took the rest of the day off to do laundry and brunch with Chef Ronaldo. Came back home to hang the laundry out to dry and pampered Benita. Spent the afternoon planning the week ahead.

Around 7PM, my new land owner/neighbor Brad stopped by with a gift for the Field Lab - not exactly what I was looking for but damn near close enough. Just another day of everything falling into place.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Beware of the Longhorn

Spent the day running errands and visiting friends down south. This is what I returned to this afternoon at the Field Lab. The absolute icing on the cake of my move here has been befriending an old longhorn. That is something I could never have imagined happening when I was planning the move 2 years ago to relocate from NY.

The pump on my Pepino finally pooped out yesterday. Got up to 88 degrees inside today and that it totally unacceptable. Only took about 20 minutes to wire up the new pump ( I had a spare on hand, of course). Putting off the total upgrade of my swamp cooler till next year - this one will take me into the fall, no problem...Look for the NEW/IMPROVED PEPINO in the spring of 2010! They might even be for sale by then...

Friday, July 24, 2009

nuttin but cuttin seems to look a lot like yesterday - but without the hacksaw. Borrowed a functional chop saw from my friend Julianne who ever so thoughtfully pointed out in the comments yesterday that I will need to cut 1540 13" pieces for all my truss work. Just lots of prep work before the welding gets kick started. Not sure if this is even gonna work but I have to build one complete truss and stick it on top before I know.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

now we resume our regular programming

Had the benefit of my 3 favorite longhorns here all day today....Guillermo, Benita, and Beatrice. These three seem to play well together so there were no confrontations - just relaxed snacking. I'm thinking they might all be related.

The good ol' TV test pattern from yesterday was part of my logo back in my NYC days as a prop builder when I was the artist formerly known as John Wells Televisions. That image and the loud tone that accompanied it is my earliest remembrance of TV back in the 60's. The only reason we have 24 hour programming now is so advertisers can sell more crap that we just don't need. I long for the day that I only consume what I produce myself...I cannot justify putting Google ads on this blog because the click through scam is just a big ponzie scheme that has absolutely no value. Down the road, I will have my own products to sell that will earn me an honest dollar.
Been rethinking my truss system due to a dream I had the other night. Set up the new layout and began cutting rebar (by hand)...the chop saw Ryan loaned me needs a smaller cutoff wheel than the one provided. Since I need to cut 70 13" pieces for each truss half....will run down to Bee Mountain Hardware in the morning to get the correct cutter. My hacksaw arm is plumb wore out.

A couple of big storms dumped on Marathon the last two nights but never quite made it down here. The Field Lab got .01" and 3 bees in the rain gauge last night.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Christmas on Tuesday

Had a sprinkle last night so I rigged up my PVC pipe for the creek catchment system right after dinner - just in case. Alas...just a sprinkle it was. Tuesdays are pretty special because the GrubShack is open again after 2 days off. Chowed and chatted for 2 hours there this morning. Plotted my measurements, set some blocking and started laying out half of the first truss....each truss will have two of these, spaced apart 8" and all welded together. Still have to place all my zigzag parts to keep the thing from buckling. Did a water run down to the Ghost Town then finished the day (with another looming storm that pooped out) trimming and connecting the hose from the pump to the PVC.

Monday, July 20, 2009

moonday monday

Hard to believe we set foot on the moon 40 years ago today. Thankfully, that push to beat the commies led to advancements in technology that allow things like satellite TV/internet, cell phones, and lots of other doodads that we all take for granted today. If it can work in outer space - you can bet there is a commercial use for it back here on terra firma.

Slapped two coats of paint on the BIG table but no welding quite yet - still some cypherin' to do. Discovered I was out of range feed and dangerously close to the bottom of my supply of refrigerant so took a swift poll and decided to do a quicky to Alpine. On the way up I passed this group of native African Scimitar-Horned Oryx grazing near the highway

Back home by 4:30 and plotted out the radius using the desktop computer. Perhaps after supper I will start setting blocks to form the curve of the roof system. Saving the first round of truss building for tomorrow....perhaps.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

now that's a table

Had my morning coffee out by the greenhouse while Benita had a breakfast snack. All of a sudden she looked up and turned to the south. Sure enough, about 500 yards away, a deer was wandering by. Nice call, Benita.

Got to work on the table by 9AM and plugged away till 2. Ryan came by and we headed over to Gini V's Steak Emporium. Had a great lunch and got the chance to meet a local known only as Amazon. We also tested out some dehydrated survivalist food samples she ordered. Not bad at all especially if the rest of the world has gone to hell....

We left at 5:30 and noticed some ominous looking weather out by the Field Lab. Sure enough it rained - the last half mile of my road was a slippery swamp but was able to slide and swerve the rest of the way home. We got a very isolated .17" of rain.

Took 2 more hours to finish the table. Had just enough material to fabricate all the sections and it came together just like I envisioned it....sure is nice when stuff works out the way you plan it. Will have to tweak some of the legs to get the monster leveled off. It's 40' long and 6' wide at the ends. I think I have enough parts to weld together to justify the construction of such an elaborate platform. It sure will make welding the trusses a lot easier...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Portrait of the Artist

Went digging through old save emails today and came across one from my fotog friend Denise Milford Just before I left NY in search of what is now the Field Lab, she sent me some old photos from back in our NYC days. Somewhere on her website is another photo of yours truly....can you find it?

Fired up the old desktop to print out some profiles of my curved roof for the greenhouse. Now I have all the measurements ready. Cut up parts for my table top roof truss jig just before it got hot. Hope to assemble the monster jig tomorrow so I can start welding on Monday.

Ryan came by this morning with some parts he scrounged off one of the MANY abandoned vehicles out here in the desert. I simply don't understand why some folks have such a burning desire to bring a car out in the desert - strip it down - then just leave the carcass out in this beautiful desert landscape, knowing that it will sit there for years and years and years... This is the guts of an old car AC unit. Salvaged (recycled) desert junk and something else to add to the TODO list.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

scratch that itch

Off day at the Field Lab today....had a visit from my new best friends Sarai, Joy, and Bruce. (They not only brought beer and bought my lunch - but also brought some gifts - they are welcome back anytime!) Sarai is going off to college soon...perhaps I will have a position available for a brainiac nuclear physicist in the future. I met Bruce briefly a couple of months ago at the grocery store in Alpine. I can already tell that we will be life long friends. Texans are the friendliest folks I ever met.

This afternoon, Ryan and I ran some new wiring for the GrubShack. Now Betty has more than enough outlets without having to worry about tripping the breakers in the trailer. Think we have some free meals coming down the pipeline for our services.

Big news of the day is that Benita came home late last night with what must me one of her sons. The two were inseparable last night and all day today. I have named him Ben for obvious reasons. Hopefully she brought him by to introduce him to a "friend of the longhorns". Late today as I was having a can of gift beer from Bruce, Benita came over to the porch to scratch her neck. I bet that felt good....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Solar Ripoff

Moved the last of my "stuff" out of view this morning then took a nice long shower (4 minutes, 4 gallons). Checked my list and added some items, hit the GrubShack then on to Alpine. Picked up parts to enhance the GrubShack electrical systems. Also got some plumbing parts for the gas water pump to be ready for the next rainfall then ordered more materials for the greenhouse including lumber to build a large tabletop jig for welding up the 11 roof trusses I need to build. Swung by Bennett's house to check out his jungle of a garden (actually, I believe Yvette and Lydia are in charge of the garden) - quite a change from the photo I took for the May 1 blog entry.

Amazing "Solar Generator"Is Like Having A Secret Power Plant Hidden In Your Home! A number of friends have asked me about this site on the internet... Been thinking I should write about it here for some time and now that I know someone who actually shelled out money for this piece of crap, I reckon it's time I said my piece. First of all - just the look of the web site and the video of doom and gloom should be a dead giveaway. The old adage "if it sounds too good to be true..." is a giant red flag especially for the alternative energy market. They truthfully claim that the unit will power all sorts of appliances but fail to mention that it will only be able to power ONE OR TWO of them for only a couple of hours before the unit will need at least one full day of sunlight to recharge. Of course a radio will be able to run a long time but a refrigerator/freezer will only get a short lease on extended run time. It's up to you to do the math on what and for how long a 60Ah battery can power something through an 1800 watt inverter. One ain't much and it ain't long. MySolarBackup sells their system for $1597.00 with FREE SHIPPING!...marked down from the retail price of $2097.00. I surfed the web for about 5 minutes and found all the components for this system from just two different retailers for under $1000. On a scale of 1 to 5....I give this product a generous 2 only because a complete moron might find this usefull in a pinch....but because of the web sales pitch, I give it a ZERO! Bottom line - don't waste your money.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pay Phone

hmmmmm...I've been thinking about it for awhile now and reckoned I'd troll the blog and see if anyone knows of an old phone booth that can be had. For some reason, I seem to want to add one to my overall plan. I'm only interested in a full booth with folding doors, light and fan. Anyone out there in Texas got one sitting in their garage? I've looked on Ebay and some commercial sites but know I can build one from scratch for less that their asking prices.

Just barely got more clearing done on the north side today. As usual...just too darn hot out there. Gave my friend Pat a hand extracting an old propane fridge from his travel trailer in exchange for getting it to experiment with. That 2 hours of sweaty labor was the highlight of the day and now I got more parts to play with down the road.

Guzzled down some after hours iced tea at the GrubShack and met up with Rusty to give him a Field Lab tour. Hope to make it up to his "mansion in the making" by the end of the week. The day done now - just working on a shopping list for an Alpine run tomorrow. Wish I had range feed on the list but the longhorns have all headed back NW of me. A lone bull (I think it was Sergio) strolled by the other day and I joked with friends that I stuck a note on his horn to give to Benita.

Monday, July 13, 2009

shufflin' stuff

Decided to tackle the mess on the north side of my complex. It's all about curb appeal. As construction progresses, I have to start thinking about the landscaping. Took 5 hours to consolidate and conceal the debris. Not quite done but made a huge dent in it today before I started getting dizzy from the heat and could smell my skin burning.

Camped indoors for a couple of hours then took a siesta. Woke up at 4:30 - sponged off the dried sweat and headed down for 241 night at the Starlight. Ran into 6 friends there and sucked up the cheeseburger and a couple of margaritas. Had a chance to finally meet my new best friend Dr. Doug on the porch....a bearded brother I have seen in the Ghost Town just about every time I've been down there. The two best beards in Texas.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Salamander Sunday

Took the day as it came - just as planned. Did 3 loads of laundry and had breakfast at the Motor Inn Cafe. Brought the wet rags home and hung them on the clothes line. Works faster than a 2 dollar laundromat dryer.
Did very little outside today other than moving my shade rig out of the way. Found this little salamander under the cover. Spent most of the rest of the day literally chilling out inside with Pepino.

Research project of the day was a solar oven pizza....had to bump it in the propane grill to brown the crust and cheese.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Benita's last calf...

Just over a year ago I took these pictures of my first sighting of Benita. She and her calf were both terribly skinny and covered with flies. A week after I took these photos, I never saw the calf again and reckon it died. That's when I decided to befriend Benita. Anyway...after she ate yesterday morning she headed NW and kept going when usually she would stop and graze and the end of my driveway. Not sure if or when I will see her again, but she is in much better shape now than when I first met her last year.

Did a split shift today during the cool parts of the morning and late afternoon and mixed up a total of 19 bags of concrete to finish off the east and north entrances. Think I will take tomorrow off.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Impulse Buy

A couple of days after I brought home the new amplified speakers for my computer - I had a hankerin' to test them out by finding a YouTube video of a live performance of Hotel California by the Eagles. My favorite song sounded splendid blasting out of the HP laptop. The trumpet intro really grabbed me. I played coronet in Jr. high band way back in another life in Indiana. I tried a trumpet a couple of times and really liked it better. My good ol' nickle silver Signet coronet that I had since I was 13, burned up in the house fire I had in upstate NY. Anyway...after seeing the video, I decided I would really like to start practicing with a trumpet. Within 5 minutes of seeing the video, I ordered a trumpet from Hmmmmmm....amazing how efficient the internet has become - enabling just such a spur of the moment purchase. It just arrived today and I love it but tooting it well is gonna take some getting used to. Hopefully (with a lot of practice) I can do a YouTube video soon(ish) of me playing the intro that spurred the purchase.

Got out early again this morning and filled the second layer of rebar voids on the west and south entrance. 10 bags of concrete. I'm starting to like this early day work schedule now. Nice to accomplish what may be the only outdoor labor of the day by 11AM. Sponged off the sweat and hit "you know where" for lunch. Good group there today so lingered longer than planned. Came home and popped a loaf of bread into the solar oven for some super nice folks camped out on their newly purchased property west of me.

I headed back down to Study Butte for some laundry way late in the day. Luckily, I came across the new folks on my way out and passed off the still warm freshly baked Field Lab Loaf to them. Got all the way down south and the laundry was CLOSED....problems with their water system. Came home with my dirty duds and finished off the day shuffling my rebar off to the side of my driveway. The new ability to fully furl my solar panels for late day sun is giving my batteries quite a nice bump.

Thursday, July 9, 2009