Saturday, December 31, 2016

last purchase of the year...

Bit the bullet on a new computer.  Decided a laptop would be a more versatile approach.  After a lot of research, this website sealed the deal.  Not too shabby as is and it is easy to add more SDRAM and a larger SSD hybrid drive if I find I need it.  Over the past 30 years I have owned 5 main computers (Amstrad, Dell, Apple, HP, HP) and this is the first time I have spent more money for my latest one (not counting 2 tablets and a crappy netbook).  Funny thing is...the new Dell laptop is only $250 more than what I spent on my current HP All in One six years ago - but miles ahead of it as far as storage, processor speed, and graphics capabilities.  Thank you Moore's Law.  65,71,41, .04",C

Friday, December 30, 2016

unleashing the beast...

Found a good indoor project for a cool / cloudy day.  Installed Magic Lantern on my Canon T3i to open up a world of possibilities with the camera functions for both stills and video.  The download and install via SD card went flawlessly and so far I haven't turned my camera into a brick (the term used when you screw with the firmware on your camera and render it useless).  I opened up another world of possibilities 5 years ago with my old Canon G9 when I downloaded a firmware hack called CHDK.  Not sure if I will ever use all the new functions that have been enabled on my T3i.  The main reason for it was to be able to program an intervalometer feature. (an attachment or facility on a camera that operates the shutter regularly at set intervals over a period. On a movie camera the device is used for time-lapse photography.)
Next up - I'm sort of in the market for a new computer for video editing.  My current set up can't handle much more that rudimentary editing in low definition.  I don't normally ask for suggestions but any advice on this area would be greatly appreciated.  Note: for PC...not Mac - and I am more interested in an off the shelf solution over a scratch build - for under $1000.  This is one I am considering.  57,60,39, .07",B

Thursday, December 29, 2016

and then there were two...

Spotted this very pregnant momma five weeks ago.  Just saw her today with the new addition.  51,60,56,0,W  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

up to speed...

Lots of ground testing today on the newly cleared airfield.  Handled launch speed ( 20 mph ) quite well.  69,80,46,0,C

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Finished up the airfield today.  Only a couple of spots that have some drag resistant sprouts still holding fast.  Looks like I will have to do a little hand weeding.  Slowly driving around out there took me back to the good ol' days of lawn mowing.  I loved my riding mower back in upstate NY.  I used to mow about 2 acres once a week.  Came across this interesting photo artifact just as I was finishing up.  Any previous visitors missing a Nikon lens cap?  64,69,44,0,C  

Monday, December 26, 2016

weeding the airfield

Started dragging about half of the airfield today.  Worked out better than I hoped.  Nature had reclaimed the patch since I first cleared it almost 3 years ago.  62,71,37,0,C

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

A classic from the archives that was shot in 2005 at my house in Spencertown, NY. when I was just beginning to think about my move to off grid living. This was an experiment with a bike powered generator I pieced together. I rigged up a treadmill motor to the pedals that powered some strings of Christmas lights that went through a programmed flashing sequence. Niles is my middle name. My GGG Grandfather came to Spencertown in 1783. 64,76,40,0,B

Friday, December 23, 2016

I got the blue one!

Removed the golf cart batteries from the old battery house.  Now all that remains of the old power plant are a gutted house, remnants of my wind turbine towers, and an old busted solar panel.

The new recoil assembly arrived and it was a perfect fit. (I'm glad they picked out the blue one for me - black would have been so boring.)  Got the batteries all cleaned up and positioned.  65,70,38,0,B

Thursday, December 22, 2016

slide puzzle

I used to say any project here was like a Rubik's Cube.  Getting anything accomplished involves a lot of "stuff moving".  I decided today it is more like the old number slide puzzle since it is really a two dimensional game when it comes to shifting things around so everything can fall into place.  The first phase of the battery shift was deciding to do it.  The second phase was today's project - make room for them.  Before I take the bad batteries completely out of service, I figured it would be a good idea to set up the golf cart battery bank right next to them so I can switch the charging back and forth if I need to.  Creating the "right next to them" turned into a half day project.  56,63,50,0,B

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

battery shift...

Getting ready to take my flawed battery system out of service and replace them with the batteries that are sitting charged but idle in my old wind farm battery house.  I have kept these 3 year old golf cart batteries charged up but really haven't been using the juice very much.  Gonna clean up all the contacts and fire 'em up to see how they do until I decide on different batteries.  Note: my little experiment in rammed earth on the battery house has held up quite well after 8 years. 67,75,41,0,B 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

turning chinese...

My cheap 10" tablet just started going wonky yesterday.  It suddenly decided to boot up with the root menu only - in Chinese.  A quick search of the internet and I was able at least to find out what the menu means in English... no real answer as to why it is happening though.  Also learned how to pop off the back - a rather delicate maneuver.  I did happen to discover that the volume up button appears to be broken in almost permanently pressed mode and pressing different combinations of the power and volume buttons makes the tablet have a mind of its' own.  If I can manage to repair the volume button without breaking the whole thing, while I'm at it - I might just try rerouting the antenna wire outside to see if it boosts the range.  Can he fix it?  55,65,27,0,B 

Monday, December 19, 2016

took a shot...

Three years ago I set up a new system with my solar.  I took a chance with deep cycle marine batteries from AutoZone and I seem to have lost the bet.  One of the batteries shit the bed back in July.  The other three are just barely OK but no longer holding a charge very well overnight.  I am waiting on a deal from a local guy on some AGMs to replace these next month.  (My original set of golf cart batteries lasted 6 years - but I  have 2 AGM batteries that are still going strong after 9 years.)  Because of that, I have been having to run my generator for about an hour after sunset and again in the early morning if I get up before sunrise.  About a month ago the pull rope broke and I replaced it.  This morning I got up way too early (5 AM) and decided to fire it up.  Now it seems the entire recoil assembly is about to shit the bed as well.  Took me about a half hour to get it to crank after fiddling with it in 26 degree darkness.
As soon as I got it started I went online and found a replacement on Ebay.  I ordered it at 6 AM, it shipped out at noon, and will be here Thursday.  They even called me at 8:30 AM to say they were very sorry but the red one was no longer in stock - all they had were blue and black.  I told the nice rep that it didn't really matter and they could flip a coin and choose a color for me.  By the time the sun came up I felt like I had already put in a full day.  Our latest 2 day cold snap ends tomorrow.  Looking forward to a nice warm Christmas.  39,44,26,0,B

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fall in the desert...

Daniel 2:21 And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Goal Tending...

Something I have shared with visitors is my long term goal of setting up a camp on my property out in the Solitario with the Airstream.  I bought the 20 acres about 5 years ago only because it was dirt cheap.  The problem with it is that it takes quite a bit of time to get there - I have only been out there 3 times.  I drove out today taking the normal route - an hour of the trip is on back country dirt roads.  I ventured out so I could mark the other 3 corners of the property (I found a section corner already marked the last time I went out there).  I also marked what perhaps someday will be the center of an airfield.  Part of the plan is to doze a 400' circle in the center for a landing zone.  
There is an alternate route that is shorter and doesn't quite take as long but there are 2 creek crossings and the roads are horrible.
The ultimate plan plan is to just fly there with the paramotor.  At 6.61 miles away line of sight, it would only take about 15 minutes to get there by air.  61,83,60,0,W

Friday, December 16, 2016

Help Wanted...Goat Herder

May have just happened upon a part time gig.  Ran into my old friend John Stolt and he took me out to see Goat Town - his goat raising enterprise just south of me.  Since he is based in Houston, he needs someone local to kinda keep an eye on the herd...I am local and I like goats.  He also has two llamas with the goats.  We shall see how it pans out - have yet to work out the details.  From what I understand, goat herding is a noble profession.  68,84,38,0,B  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

essential flight gear...

Dug through my gear today to unearth my GoPro Hero 3+ (I had to dig deep to find the charging cable).  I have only used this camera 4 times since I bought it almost 3 years ago.  Sad thing is - this cost $300 bucks back then and now the market is flooded with Chinese knockoffs that are better than this model at a fraction of the price.  61,69,46,0,C  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

pizza with chicken george...

Alpine for supplies.  Hopped over to Marathon to visit Chicken George's studio and dine on some Big Bend Pizza.  68,79,39,0,C  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

drop test...

Let's face it...with proper training, you aren't supposed to drop out of the sky when landing a paramotor whether it be by foot or trike.  For that matter - all pilots are trained to "not drop out of the sky" but to land gently.  Although they certainly engineer big planes to handle heavy loads on landing - they don't test 747's by dropping them 50 feet in case the pilot doesn't know how to land.  That being said...I did some unweighted drop tests with my DIY trike from 5 feet just to make sure there isn't a major flaw somewhere in my design since I am not a rocket scientist.  No problems.  I don't think there is any reason to go to this extreme. 64,80,40,0,C

Monday, December 12, 2016

needle in a haystack...

...or some ribbon in the creosote.  Tracked down a marked corner for a client today.  67,75,40,0,B

Sunday, December 11, 2016

background check II...

Something has been on my mind a lot lately which for awhile gave me some doubts about my trip down Christian Lane.  I think it all goes back to a post from a little over 4 years ago and this quote from then about my decision to embrace Christianity and accept Christ as my living savior...

"I thought long and hard about the something else that stuck in my mind...But what if I become "one of them...a saved CHRISTIAN"?   From my own experience and thanks to the media, I have a very vivid notion about the stereotypical Saved Christian.   I thought about that aspect for awhile and decided of the choices I have today - that might not be so bad, and I can certainly become my own version of my perception."

Well it seems I have become "my own version of my perception".  I have always been a very practical and somewhat reserved person when it comes to just about everything - including how I see my relationship with Christ.  I have not developed the feeling that there is any need to constantly gush over God.  I have also never broken down and cried out because I have lost sight of His benevolence during hard times.  Christians who do this over and over and over still give me the willies and it makes me uncomfortable.  Did they miss or forget something along the way?...or are they just following a perception of how they should behave.  I have come to realize that I simply have accepted the Truth of his plan and try to live my life accordingly - always cognizant and thankful of His blessings in my life and to seek my place in His Kingdom by living by His rules.  That alone is hard enough - but trying to conform to behavior based on the perception of a group just confuses the path.

Matthew 13 : 9 Anyone who is willing to hear should listen and understand!"10 His disciples came and asked him, "Why do you always tell stories when you talk to the people?" 11 Then he explained to them, "You have been permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others have not. 12 To those who are open to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But to those who are not listening, even what they have will be taken away from them. 13 That is why I tell these stories, because people see what I do, but they don't really see. They hear what I say, but they don't really hear, and they don't understand. 14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, which says: 'You will hear my words, but you will not understand; you will see what I do, but you will not perceive its meaning.15 For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes -- so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.' 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

100 videos...

 Two milestones today.  First time wearing jeans in 2 years and my 100th YouTube video.  If you haven't already...please subscribe to my channel.  Lots of new videos coming up next year.  Note: This video needs a little tightening up on the edits so I will be deleating it tomorrow and uploading a new version.  It takes about an hour and a half to render and upload a video of this length to YouTube.  Sunday morning update - I deleated the original video and cut two and a half minutes out of it.  This is the tighter version.  56,64,30,0,B