Tuesday, December 31, 2013

last day

So this is how 2013 ends... 

Monday, December 30, 2013


Started a Facebook page for the powered paragliding adventure.  Thanks to my friend Paul Szendrey for giving me the idea of using the name The Flight Lab.  Check it out and "like" the page if you are so inclined.  There will be some extras there that won't be posted on the blog.

Put the rig on my back for the first time yesterday.  That thing is pretty dang heavy.  I have never worn a backpack with that much heft.  Kinda counter intuitive to add that much weight to me in order to become lighter than air.  Did a supply run to Alpine today and decided to pick up a bathroom scale so I would know exactly how much it weighed.  The motor, frame, and harness come in at 68.8 lbs.  Add a full tank of gas to that ( 2.5 gallons at 6 lbs/gallon) and I will have to tote 83.8 lbs. for a short time in order to get airborne.  I am counting on the fact that there are lots of folks out there doing this with ease.  43,58,26,0,C,0

Sunday, December 29, 2013


In all the places that I have lived - never has there been such a place that glorifies alcoholism like Terlingua.  Local law enforcement even has an unwritten policy to let the locals do as they might when it comes to drinking and driving.  I have had my fair share of drugs and alcohol since my early 20's.  Once I got to the desert, I found it very easy to pound down 12 - 15 beers during a long hot day.  If I wasn't careful, I would end up like the multitudes out here that drink themselves to oblivion every night.  I know several locals that start their day with a six pack and keep going till they black out for the night.  One in particular has gotten so many DUI's that he decided he would just rather give up his right to drive in order to keep drinking himself to death.  When I came to Christ, I decided that I would rather not join the Terlingua Drinking Team.  The Bible does not require us to abstain completely from alcohol.  I partake in great moderation now.  Alcohol is not a necessity of life.  In God’s eyes, one does not have to drink to show maturity, virility or sociability.  And because of the enormous destruction caused by alcohol abuse today, many people have decided that it is better to abstain even if the Bible does not require us to.  It's all a matter of showing respect for the body that God has gifted you with and keeping your wits about you.  I am reminded of an old ad on TV from many years ago..."If you drink a lot of beer - you drink a lot."

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker , strong drink is raging : and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

State of the Greenhouse

Most of the plants are limping along but I think I lost my banana trees.  My lone grapefruit is ready any time.  Winter greens are coming along very well (no bugs!).  46,63,37,0,C,0

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Boy Who Flies

I get a lot of emails from folks thinking about trying the off grid lifestyle and I am happy to offer advice but rarely do I really connect with any of these folks.  I am very aware of this whenever I correspond with someone (a stranger) about something new I am interested in getting involved in - never expecting to get much of a response.  I have exchanged a couple of emails with filmmaker and PPG pilot Benjamin Jordan about his latest film, The Boy Who Flies.  At my suggestion, he has entered it in the Marfa Film Festival next summer.  http://www.marfafilmfestival.com/  One of the things about this film that really resonated with me is Ben's opening statement that you can see in the trailer above.  I have been fairly successful in getting everything set up here...but now what?  Building stuff is my strong point, but watching plants grow and fighting bugs is not very exciting - so I am taking up powered paragliding.  As I often tell visitors to TFL..I have discovered that I am a much better builder than I am a farmer.  All that being said...I was pleased to get this latest response from the filmmaker.  42,58,35,0,B,0
This is so strange, so it's important to share: Often when people tell me that they are getting into PPG I don't get overly excited for them ..but for you, because of the context in which you are living (both environment and lifestyle) I am actually thrilled! This has never happened before. I wish I could be a fly on the wall to document your character and experience. I hope that you will take the time to record footage, even if it's just stuff on a tripod, documenting your physical and psychological transformation. Even if you don't know how to edit it, someone will, and it could make a sweet short.
Stoked for you John!!!
Peace brother,

Thursday, December 26, 2013

toys for tots

Ben and Bud got their Christmas presents a day late.  I was too busy with my new toy yesterday.  My friend Mary Charest sent them.  Bud got the red one and Ben got the blue one.  Bud played with his for awhile then promptly attacked Ben's and destroyed it.  Now they will have to share.  I won't be surprised if the red one is destroyed by tomorrow morning.  44,57,30,0,C,0

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

clean eve


Monday, December 23, 2013

flight in a box


My Christmas present arrived yesterday - UPS delivered on a Sunday!  Saving the unboxing for Christmas morning.  I'm allowed to open it but not allowed to play with it (although my trainer Kurt Fister gave me the go ahead to assemble it myself).  43,64,28,0,C,.13

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Free Gift!....Guaranteed!!

Most folks spend the Christmas season shopping for gifts and hoping for gifts.  Most stuff you buy or get has planned obsolescence built in, usually comes with an extended warranty, and sometimes has a "lifetime guarantee" (good only if you outlive the company that provides it).   The best gift of all which was purchased at great expense is available to anyone that seeks it.  All you have to do is ask for it and it is yours...and it is guaranteed to last not just a lifetime - but forever.   
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish , but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Got my commemorative stamps today.  Must say I got quite a chuckle out of seeing a page full of Carl stamps.

Dug out some hardware for the solar tracker.  Just happen to have an old satellite dish mount with its' own linear actuator.  I think the motor is shot on that one.  Went back into one of my shipping containers and found another actuator that I have had for about 20 years...and it still works fine.  I bought that one for a prop job I worked on way back in my NYC days.  A working motor and dish mount and I'm halfway there.

Spent a little more time today watching YouTube videos on paramotoring.  I think I have seen over 500 and finally came across some that were pretty inspiring by a guy named Benjamin Jordan.  This is his website http://www.benjaminjordan.com/ 
and these are his some of his videos
watching this film of his tonight
44,60,48, .30",W,0

Friday, December 20, 2013


Broke down the system today and put everything away...got a little rain last night, more expected tonight and high winds tomorrow.  Will use the down time to plan an automatic tracking system for the set up.  Always wanted to do one of these, so I reckon this is the time.  Been aware of this site for longer than I have been out here.  http://www.redrok.com/led3xassm.htm  They have a great little single axis circuit to power a motor to keep the panels pointed right at the sun all day.  I have the motor (satellite dish linear actuator) and enough steel lying around to do the project.  Sells in kit form for only $20 or fully assembled for $35.  One nice extra in this circuit is that when the sun goes down - the panels will turn back to the east and park there, waiting for the sun to come up the next day.  If all goes well, I might have to try their dual axis circuit to drive that new solar oven I started over a year ago and have yet to finish. 
57,65,60, .15",C,.12

Thursday, December 19, 2013

something solar 2

Hooked the panels all together, wired in the charge controller and the batteries, and tested out the LED string.  Added some #8 wire and these connectors to bring eight leads coming out of the panels down to two leads going to the charge controller.  3 of these  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FWO3RAE/ref=oh_details_o03_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
1 of these  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006YZC23S/ref=oh_details_o04_s00_i01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

something solar 1

It has been awhile since I got to work on a project...I'm really out of practice.  Before I begin - I should say that this is not necessarily a HOW TO, but rather HOW I AM DOING IT in order to test this system and its' components.  Proceed at your own risk if you want to try this.  Hooked the batteries together today.  Carefully checked the water levels in them first (batteries contain dangerous acid too!).  I also checked the charge condition of the batteries with a volt meter - they all read about 12.5 volts.  The batteries are "wired" in parallel meaning all the plus sides are connected and all the minus sides are connected.  This keeps the 3 battery system at 12 volts but triples the amp capacity.  Sledge hammered flat two 16" lengths of 3/4" type L copper pipe and drilled appropriate holes.  Mounted threaded rod unions onto all the battery terminals to raise everything up a couple of inches.  Squirted a little dielectric grease (from AutoZone) into the unions before putting them on.  Fastened everything down with matching 1" bolts.  Because of the grease getting compressed in the unions - I had to crank pretty hard to tighten the bolts down.  Added connectors at each end of the run - one end for the charge controller wiring and the other for the inverter wiring.  Unions, bolts, and wire connectors are standard hardware store items.  All the threaded connections are 5/16".  With all that exposed copper, one has to be very careful not to touch a metal tool between the plus and minus runs - there will be a spark and it is not good for the batteries.  Under some circumstances, shorting out the batteries (direct connection of the plus and minus side) could cause a fire or explosion.  Wrapping the copper with electrical tape would be a good idea but I have a lot of experience working with electricity.  53,70,28,0,C,.23

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HYW 18


Monday, December 16, 2013

Solutions From Science

Starting the "something solar" project this week.  On the eve of this demonstration, I thought I would share a scam warning (I think I have mentioned this site before).  NEVER get sucked into any of the products from Solutions For Science.  They have a variety of web sales sites - my favorite being  www.mysolarbackup.com.  Their products sell for a number of different prices depending on which site you go to.  I recently saw an ad for yet another of their sites where they were selling their solar generator at just over a thousand bucks with lots of freebies thrown in - 3 or 4 of their other overpriced items.  I can't remember the name of the site but it might as well be called   wehavealreadymadeafortuneoffourjunkfromsuckerslikeyou.com.  If you aren't careful, all their crap is still available at full price if you go to the wrong site.  52,68,26,0,C,0

Sunday, December 15, 2013

no chance

This is the first portrait of me...very long before the beard.  Step 1 - I was given the chance to be born and to do all I have done with my life so far.  Somehow I have managed to stay alive having never been the victim of war, disease, accident, or violent crime. 
Far more than a billion people have not even made it to step 1.  Regardless of how you feel about abortion - the shear numbers have to make one take notice and think perhaps how might our planet be different if these lives had been brought into the world.  http://www.numberofabortions.com/   I am not making any kind of judgment here...just putting out the numbers for folks to ponder.  Disclosure statement:  Something I live with every day is not one - but two youthful indiscretions that resulted in abortion...as a matter of convenience. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

HYW 67


Friday, December 13, 2013

Flight Junkies

The following message is an unpaid endorsement:

After months of research and talking to several different flight schools, I came to the conclusion that Flight Junkies was the way to go for my paramotor training.  www.flightjunkies.com  At first I was a bit skeptical about this site but discovered that he doesn't mark up the equipment prices any more than all the other distributors, yet still offers free training.  All the other schools charge around $1500 for training and charge more than just expenses to travel to your location.  Since I intend to fly mostly in this area, it makes sense to train here given that most of the schools are at or close to sea level and TFL is at 3200' AMSL (altitude you fly from makes a difference).  His claims about the equipment he sells is backed up by a good number of PPG websites.  I have spoken to Capt. Kurt Fister a bunch of times as well as several of his former students - he has trained over 800.  I have read more than enough off the web and from a couple of books (and watched a lot of videos) to make an informed decision.  All in all - I am sold on Flight Junkies.

I will have to cover his travel and room and board in order to bring him here for training.  Thanks to old/still active frequent flyer miles on American Airlines, that is a piece of cake.  Putting him up and keeping him fed will be easy - plenty of room in the barn and Ben'n'Bud are willing to share the alfalfa.  I put this out on Facebook so I thought I would mention it here...If anyone in the area has been thinking about getting into the sport, now is the time to get a great deal without having to travel to a school.  Just order a motor and wing (and a trike if you aren't up to foot launching) from Kurt and you can get in on the free training at TFL offer.  I am shooting for March or April.   If you have any questions, Kurt is happy to talk to you about the sport - just give him a call at 330-554-9194.  Powered paragliding has risks of course as does any form of aviation.  It is as safe as you make it by staying within experience and weather constraints.  Getting into the air under power doesn't come any cheaper - and no license required.  It would be nice to find some local folks that really want to do this so I won't have to always fly alone and just wave to all the folks that are still earthbound.  51,67,40,0,C,0

Thursday, December 12, 2013

got some parts today

Panels, book, led's, and inverter arrived - in perfect condition.  Waiting on my 3rd battery and the charge controller.  Just ordered some MC4 connectors to combine the panels together to go to the charge controller.  The quickest way to void the warranty on a solar panel is to cut off these special connectors.  Should be ready to do the step by step set up next week.  Keeping track of the cost of odds'n'ends for the final tally.  43,58,37,0,B,0

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Carl stamp

Just happened to get an email from stamps.com today reminding me of a holiday sale they had going on for custom photo stamps.  Decided I would order a few sheets in honor of Carl.  Not really worth it to me to try and market these, so if anyone wants some - just copy the image on the left and save it to a folder on your computer and you can go to stamps.com to order some of your own.

In donkey news:  Blue Boy aka Jesse James (got hit by a car earlier this year and was rescued by some locals) is getting some new therapy on his bad leg and seems to be showing progress.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

met some minis

Did Alpine again today and was able to get 2 of the 3 batteries I need for my something solar setup.  Highlight was meeting a local facebook friend in person for the first time.  Stopped by the ranch of Rachael Waller Rondeaux and her husband Rod.  They have a bunch of critters but my favorites were the mini donkeys (Squirt and Punkin).  http://rachaelwallerphotography.smugmug.com/  http://www.grandmothershorses.com/rod.html

Monday, December 9, 2013

cleaned up and showered

Cleaned up the front of the greenhouse where the burros have been visiting lately.  They usually show up around 4AM.  Solar shower temperature finally climbed to comfy so I took advantage late this afternoon.  45,70,27,0,B,.15