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Picturesque rocky cone Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Br. Machine Gun of Mild Reason" journal:

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October 15th, 2016
05:38 pm


Storm windows are on journaling 2016
Most of today went to a model RR event in Stratham, then I put the last four storms on this afternoon. Barn windows are closed too. A few cherry tomato plants are still alive, I will cover them again tonight. I've lit the cook stove a few times, and kept it burning for heat after dinner. But the forecast implies that won't be an issue next week, with highs near 20C again.

Friday I got a truckload of stuff from Newburyport, mostly the mower and snowblower. The latter required a mighty effort to push up the ramp after it refused to start.

Thursday was another trip to the dentist, to scrutinize and ultimately remove the loose piece of tooth missed by everyone who worked on last week's root canal. Then a saddening walk by Haymarket, seeing the upscale eateries and so forth gobbling up the row of 7-day-a-week food stores that used to line the street. Nobody seems to learn from what happened to Harvard Sq. The Globe had an obit for King Bhumibol of Thailand, plus two other half-page stories about his birth in Cambridge and other Boston area connections.

Wednesday's meeting produced evidence suggesting that nobody involved in our emergency services has done any billing paperwork since early this year. It may be possible to recover, it may have all been lost. I don't like how our world has become 'You gotta fill out the form first..." but it would take a major nationwide attitude adjustment to change it, and these people must get with the program.

Middle came to dinner Tuesday and we talked till late-ish. He continues to cast things in aluminum and do interesting LARP-related construction projects.

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October 8th, 2016
08:57 pm


A week into October 2016, no frost, no tropical storm rains either.
Today was Transit Day at Seashore, when the subway & bus enthusiasts show up to trot out their favorite equipment. Subway cars are a part of many people's experience, but they need high platforms, heavy-duty track and lots of power. So we can't use them in regular daily service. I ran one trip and was conductor for two more, then helped put streetcars away (getting all the subway cars out had tangled up a couple of our carbarns).

Tonight I ate a Hodgies' banana split (nominally 3 of their scoops) for dinner. And a couple of bites of leftover pork chop after I got home & fed the various critters.

The high point of Thursday and Friday was the top of the wind generator - I'd noticed the furling mechanism had failed in late summer, so it was time to climb up and assess the damage: My 1st climb revealed failures of both the cable and the fairlead guiding it out of the top of the slip-ring box and around to where it could pull the tail over. Bergey discontinued this model quite a few years ago, so the 2nd climb had two purposes: First, take pictures so they could see which version I had, and if they had any replacement parts. Second, get the non-functioning windmill furled so it doesn't run wild in storm winds. Success.

My other big goal for those two days was getting my political donations out while they could still have some effect. We'll see.

Tuesday & Wednesday were slow days - the combination of staying up too late working in the attic Sunday and a chilly house gave me a cold. Sunday was the first time I'd spent more than an hour or two on the layout since April - I finished re-staging it, added lighting to three passenger cars and repaired the diode matrix for the west end of Draw staging.

Pawpaws continue to fall. Chestnuts are ripe. One of the cherry tomatoes continues to produce. I pulled the hoses I'd been using to water the garden - 1.5" of rain last week and the end of the growing season. About 1/3 of the storm windows on the house, oil tank filled. Got the PTO saw back from the sharpening guy: $66, haven't tried it yet. The rhubarbs from seed seem to be doing well.

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October 1st, 2016
10:24 pm


The best laid plans sometimes go agley, but not always
Today I went to Seashore planning to operate trolleys. But a deep-seated and complicated problem with track at a grade crossing manifested itself, and the one able-bodied guy working on it really needed help. So I spent all afternoon swinging shovel, pickaxe, spike lifter, spike maul and tamper in intermittent rain.

Yesterday was business in the AM, then a rather intense two hours planning & executing the recycling of the old battery bank. Only a couple of ounces of H2SO4 got spilled and the people at the junkyard liked the factory-ish way we'd re-packed them. And they paid cash. Closing with a long loop of errands in afternoon traffic and dinner with J.

Thursday was a pleasant visit to Deerfield Fair, and a conversation with a long-time friend.

Growing up in a community where kids played outdoors and roamed miles from home in both the urban area and adjoining fields/riverbanks/wilderness, I was an athlete of no note, but my level of fitness never stood out. Forty years later, it's likely I'm the fittest person in any given room, even when most of those present are 20 years my junior. It gets me respect but doesn't seem to make me attractive. I don't get this in the gym, I get this by farming, heating my house with wood, moving my own snow, undertaking projects like replacing the battery bank and digging up ballast by hand. And I'll keep on doing it as long as I can, because being able to undertake projects like the recent round is very empowering to me.

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September 25th, 2016
11:10 am


Technical Notes for new batteries
1. Almost 5 gal. distilled water to top off the new batteries.

2. No shipping info on the missing filler cap yet.

3. Reduce 'Absorb' voltage on Outback battery charger from 57.6 volts to 56.0 VDC.

4. Voltage down to 50.2 overnight. Charge from grid enabled but didn't activate.

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September 24th, 2016
11:19 am


Well, that was a job of work. Fall Equinox 2016 journal
With help from M, J and Middle Thursday, I got the south half of the battery bank replaced, wired and connected. Then with M, J and D helping, we did the north half Friday. M & I used the crane to remove the old S bank, but the rest of the battery hoisting was done by hand using a carrying pole. The battery sling I rigged worked out well. Now all that's left to do is top off the electrolyte level, replace the one missing cap when they ship it to me, ship out 4 pallets of old batteries and close the lid on the box as it gets colder.

Pawpaws are ripe; looks like those will be most of the tree fruit of my own that I eat this year. Maybe 3 CM of rain last night - one gauge showed a bit more, the other less than 2 CM. Don't know if this is a problem with the gauges, or if somebody checked/dumped the lesser. Possibility of a frost Sunday night, I'll put a tarp over the tomatoes. Corn is about gone, with critters eating the ears before they really fill out. My firewood situation is decent, though I will probably have room for a 2nd truckload in the cellar once the 1st is stored.

Youngest is returning from Oslo today, I will catch up at breakfast tomorrow.

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September 20th, 2016
06:57 pm


Approaching the equinox 2016: travel mixed with hard work.
Weight's back down to 204.

The new battery bank arrived today, on four half-sized pallets. Alas, the 3 point hitch forks I'd borrowed were too wide. I tried some clamp-on bucket forks on my tractor, but it couldn't lift 600 kg. that far in front of the loader. So I asked one of the local farmers what could be done. He came over in a much larger tractor whose loader could lift the weight way out front. It squashed the front tires and bounced a good deal, though.

Then I mounted the crane I'd bought in '93 or '94 for this job. Took some figuring to get the concrete anchors to work, though. As I had guessed, the solution involved a hammer - drive the bolt into the anchor till the anchor is seated, then turn the bolt to make the threads...

Maybe 3 CM rain Monday, which is very welcome but not even beginning to raise the water table anywhere. But still very warm during the days. In the 1990s, we used to schedule Harvestcon for the last week of September, expecting that a frost would have killed the mosquitoes.

Wed. - Sun. of last week I went to the NER convention in Albany. Saw many new places, had chances to railfan the old Troy & Boston line west of the tunnel, saw quite a few nice layouts, operated three. I didn't know locations and driving times when I chose the operating sessions, so the banquet was my best dinner of the trip, and the best breakfast came from IHOP Sunday morning. There was no 'best lunch'. The Scottish Inn's internet would not connect with me, so there was also dancing around to check email in bits of time between events at the convention hotel.

I entered my BL-2 diesel in the contest and got 2nd place in the category, also (barely) a Merit Award. I also was asked to help judge, as part of a 2-person team covering Detail.

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September 13th, 2016
07:57 am


Looking back on Labor Day Week 2016
Today: Weight crept up to 206; probably because the local corn was limited by the drought and is now exhausted, also a change of intestinal flora last week.

Monday: I drove M up to Seashore. We donned our armor and spent two hours pulling poison ivy in advance of hordes of families at Pumpkin Patch. Then I caught the Downeaster up to Portland and back in order to see the line from a dome car. Beautiful weather, beautiful views, not at all crowded in the dome.

Sunday: My layout open for people returning from Augusta & the National Narrow Gauge Convention. Coming home from Maine to most of the rest of the world usually involves driving down I-95, to Logan for most of our visitors: DE, UK (2), CA (2) and California (2).

Saturday: Drive back from Augusta via Seashore for Member's Day, then into suburban Boston for a party & home again.

Friday: Visit Boothbay Railroad Village. Quite a few historic structures, a modest collection of New England artifacts, an HO layout with a working signal system using photosensor detection. And a fully-certified boiler shop supporting their two small German steam engines (they're making a new boiler for an American loco they got too). Definitely worth hanging around for the Shop Tour, even though we were late for the Lobster Bake. As usual at these events, I got all the lobster I could eat by way of dissecting the bodies. And then photos of the Contest Room and a photo tour of Newfoundland and its (former) railways 1967 - 1988.

Thursday: Visit the Waterville, Wiscasset & Farmington restoration in Alna, ME. A friend who's a member gave us a tour; nice operation, lots going on, much enthusiasm among the membership. The train was full, so I'm going back at some point to get the ride. And maybe join.

Wednesday: My layout open for people driving to Augusta for the NNGC. 30 visitors, layout ran well but talking to people all day left me wanting relaxation after 4 PM. M helped as guide downstairs.

Tuesday: House cleaning. Total of 1.5 CM rain as a front passed through overnight. Lots of wind but no thunderstorms here.

Sunday 9/4: Helped someone move in Medford. The destination house was a few doors down from the one I helped J move to in 1991, and built to a similar plan. So big stuff that wouldn't fit up the stairs had to be hoisted up over the 2nd floor porch railing. Big lunch of indian food, so light dinner.

Saturday 9/3: Drove Foldy Bike to Nbpt., rode to Riverfest & saw Mike, Jon etc.

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September 2nd, 2016
09:58 am


Sept 2. journaling
My corn is being clobbered by something; I've had to eat a lot before it was as ripe as I like. Nothing I have in the 'temporary fence' area is going to keep out a raccoon; I'll have to see what's available before next summer. But the corn is good for me, my weight continues to creep down despite 6 little ears for dinner last night.

2 cm rain yesterday, in a short gentle afternoon shower and a heavier rain before sunset. The only thing that will save this year will be some tropical depressions making it this far north. I have some hope for Monday, regardless of the holiday-makers.

Horse manure mulching trees in the orchard, now the asparagus bed, probably the garden as I start to uproot corn that won't make any more ears. Model RR work proceeding, house cleaning to follow Tuesday before the tour Wed.

The replacement battery bank is likely to arrive mid-month. That will be one hard day's work getting the old bank apart, out of the box and ready to ship, then another's reversing the process for the new batteries. I need to prep the crane, or maybe some other kind of hoist. I hope I have some date flexibility, as I'm booked for a multi-day trip in that time range. I am also going to look into help, paid or volunteer.

Solar hot water controller's relay has bitten the wax tadpole; when I have time to embrace another project, it will be 'replace the relay with a better-rated one' vs. 'new controller'.

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August 26th, 2016
10:23 am


Last Friday in August, 2016 Journaling
Today: gray & damp, no rye harvesting till it dries out again. I gave the horses breakfast, did my gardening, now I'll doff my shirt, turn the attic fans on and clean up my model RR.

Yesterday: Loaded the 20" wood into the '51 truck, gardening, errands. Finished off by biking to Hodgies & back, then dinner. Big Bike is more comfortable with the nose of the seat turned a little farther down, and rolls better with 80 lb. in the tires. But one of the cable ties I used to attach the water bottle holder broke, so it's waiting for me to pick it up at the farmstand.

Wednesday: To Seashore for conductor/motorman training. Ran TCRT 1267 and Conn. Co. 303. The breeze was welcome in my long pants and cop shoes. Home in time for my meeting.

Tuesday: Civic got the last part it needed. I started repairing the Insight's interior trim panels. They're now better than they have been in years, but I had to order a few parts. Also found the Honda shop manual, which I've wanted since we got the car.

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August 23rd, 2016
08:23 pm


My Own Sweet Corn and journaling
Tonight I found four small-to-medium ears and steamed/ate them. Only one had reached the maturity I like, but none were pale and fragile. Two had lost some kernels to something that had gnawed through the husk. I'll probably have some more next week, but the drought has left me with a lot of plants which may not get past the 'baby corn' stage.

The last field of winter rye is still harvestable, and the farmers have gotten more of the sling bags, so I'll take a shot at it Thursday. But soon it will be time to clean out the combine & store it till next year.

3.5 cm of rain Sunday night - hardly any wind here, so I didn't get up to close windows. We're still short enough that watering just sinks into the garden, though that and dew from cool nights is greening up my lawn. The seedless grapes are pretty much done, so back to tomatoes as the 'fruit' part of my diet.

Several days of work on the paddock fence has it back to decent shape. The bees didn't mind people working a few yards from their hives and a lot of wild honeysuckle, poison ivy and bittersweet has been yanked out. And I did a little blacksmithing today so a gate could be properly secured.

I've attempted to order my new battery bank from a quote, but nobody at the distributor has gotten back to me; I'll call the manufacturer in Canada if I don't get an answer this week.

I spent Monday practicing to be an operator at Seashore, and was asked to go up again Wednesday, as there will be several bus tours plus a children's reading event. If I drive up in a hurry, I pay NH $2 for ~12 mi. of I-95 and ME $3 ($4 SB) for ~17 mi. But I've found a fairly direct toll-free alternative that uses only 300 m. of Rt. 1. And it might even be faster during peak weekend vacation travel.

The Mass Pike's new open road tolls appear to up the cost of I-290 - I-291 from $1.50 to $2.65 if I don't sign up for an EZPass. And per today's Globe, they're spending ~$130M rebuilding the exits w/o tollbooths, but only saving about $5M/year, much less than promised when the project was proposed.

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