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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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January 15th, 2017
11:26 pm


Post-birthday 2017 journaling
I read friends entries back to about 12/25, but the current LJ site won't show me anything earlier; I missed from my last post on Dec. 12 through Xmas. Guess I'd better see about the DW account I made years ago but never used.

After the last snowstorm, my batteries were low, the sun was out but none of my panels had self-cleared. Observed 24 amp charging current after clearing them.

Was thinking about road salt; I think that a culvert that's been blocked for a long time is forcing a lot of the salt runoff from the road to filter into the ground. It's contaminated one of my wells, and might also be why several of my pear trees are shedding their leaves in late summer when the water table drops. I may need to fund the work, but returning the trees to production and making the well usable would be worth considerable to me.

Built the last two interlockings on my layout; still have four mast signals to build but the project is nearing its end. An afternoon's work should complete the paperwork for the NMRA's 'Chief Dispatcher' certificate.

The Insight had been parked since the first snow/ice storm more than a month ago. Left rear had leaked all the way down, but it started OK once I'd pumped them all up.

3 massages today, two yesterday, one Thursday. No soreness. And I searched out a rarely-used muscle I'd hurt last summer. It hadn't healed properly because I never used it, but now that I know how to tweak it, I'm expecting it to be cleared up in a few weeks. I've made progress in training two of my toes to move separately and extending the amount of my back I can touch too.

Some fun showing Nid around Boston, but Arisia has been mixed for her; interesting costumes, art, etc. But a lot of those here are either sticking to very well-trodden social paths or aren't really up for a conversation with someone who can do pretty well when people speak clearly and unhurriedly.

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December 12th, 2016
11:17 pm


It's been almost a month, almost mid-December 2016 Journaling
Company coming after Xmas, so I need to do some repairs, organization and cleanup around the place. A few parts to purchase to get started, one arrived yesterday which should get me solar-heated water again. But only after soldering and removal/re-installation of the circuit board.

Used a step-counter yesterday: 4,600, about 1.5 mi. and 8 flights of stairs. I think it undercounts because my floors are too close together? Only unusual activity was grocery shopping. I weigh about 204, better than this time last year. Which might be because my thermostats are at 60F instead of 58F. That doesn't make much difference in the attic...

Ran trolleys at Seashore Saturday, the next-to-last day of operation this year. I'd never run at dusk before, and it was nice in a fairly well-heated car. But as was appropriate for its era of origin, while I took off my gloves to run it, I didn't take off my cap with earlaps. Not much will happen outside from now till April, as the ground is likely to freeze this week.

Started up a signal project on the model RR a while back. The design took an afternoon/evening, the implementation several days & evenings. Now I'm waiting for parts, but there's lots of other things to do, on the RR and elsewhere.

Figured out the mechanics of donating stock instead of cash. But there are organizations out there who are so credit-card-automated they haven't gotten back to me even with yes/no. Oh, well, there are other charities.

Model RR open house after Thanksgiving was a success, 48 visitors and enough help that I got to eat lunch downstairs. My layout ran fine, but my focus on scenery & structures in preparation is why I've spent all my modeling time since on signals.

Baked bread for Thanksgiving and twice more since. The roasting pan I custom-fabricated for giant turkeys years ago was used one more time for a 39-pounder, but leaked and filled the house with smoke. Post-mortem investigation revealed someone had poked a fork through it. I need to ask my certified welder friend if he could put two tiny dots of weld in the holes, or if I should just make another. Looking at it in retrospect, it was fairly pretty sheet metal work but I miscalculated the bends on one corner. Could I do better 10 years later? Dunno, may find out.

M helped me pull bittersweet last week; there's not much left up where the birds like it, but I'll be years really undoing the mess along that fenceline. Got the PTO cordwood saw back together, but not much down awaiting cutting at this time.

Eldest visited over Thanksgiving. He went back south knowing more about driving a stick, and having seen the bounds of a piece of land he's responsible for. He found one tick, I found none. The dry summer was hard on them, but there had been a population explosion earlier in the fall.

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November 16th, 2016
04:40 pm


Fall is running really late 2016 Journaling
Current on LJ. Weighed 201.5 on my return, up to about 205 now. Less exercise, restaurant meals, haven't baked any of my own bread since early spring. I can make up for that by spending more time hungry. No reflex issues vs. the side of the car the driver sits on. Surprised (unpleasantly) to see how late the foliage has been lasting, and how warm it's been.

Election Day: Working in Town Hall, I had a bad feeling. The walk-in registrations looked different than 4 years ago: almost all white and 40+. Tired from 36 hours awake Sun/Mon, so to bed and got the bad news in the morning.

Wed. - Fri: Got some wood cut & split, dealt with bills and backlog from town gov't and volunteer work. A bit of a smile over FL voting the suicide ticket. But as others have pointed out, no matter how seriously anyone in the US talks about it, we have not been doing much. Only the Germans and the Danes (AFAIK) are actually making much progress in shedding fossil fuels. Sleep somewhat disrupted, thinking politics and futures did not mix well with a 12 hour time change. Looking at soil types, pH and elevation in a variety of places.

Weekend: Got home from Saturday's BoD meeting at Midnight. Sunday downtown for Dim Sum, then out to the west suburbs for a party with old friends. The sort of party where I could get into a 20 min. discussion of Ack timing and window policy with another TCP implementer. Stayed till the end.

Monday was the 2nd stage of the current root canal. Borrowed a bike and rode downtown to the appointment, weather was almost too warm for my Category 2 reflective hoodie. Dr. was running late, my 3 roots took 90 min., slow annoying trip home in traffic.

Yesterday and today have been all work on the model RR: structures, scenery. The Tour de Chooch is the weekend after Thanksgiving, many layouts N and NW of Boston open both days: www.tourdechooch.org Rain yesterday evening, drizzle today instead of the promised clearing.

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October 31st, 2016
11:41 am


Current. Terse trip notes
It was a long time on planes. $500 for Business Class on the 2nd flight was kinda worth it - lie flat seat allowed some sleep, but would have been more comfortable if 5-10 CM wider. But Emirates 'promotional upgrade' didn't allow me in Dubai's lounge. Speaking of Dubai, airport: Squat toilets. Dates appear to be the only locally-made product. But they had nuts and raisins from Iran. Somehow I was out of Bangkok's Immigration & Baggage Claim about 30 min. after the A-380s doors opened.

Hot (28-30C) everywhere I've been, except in a downpour and at 1400m the other day. Either the humidity isn't awful or I'm in for an unpleasant surprise when I get home. Urban air quality is mediocre at best, but out of the cities skies can be quite pretty. Only one episode of the squirts so far, only one dish so hot I got a capsacin buzz. Lots of driving, it's getting less scary as I gain understanding of right-of-way conventions. Up to about 75 usable words, my first try at a tonal language. Not trying to read the alphabet at this time.

Apple's default bloat includes a Health thing which gives step counts and delta elevation. Record so far is about 9 km. one day, 20 flights of stairs another. And I can still exercise at altitude, and swim a pool length or two. But I've wondered if I let the mani-pedi catfish take a little too much of my sandal callous off (just one little blister). 3rd country I've bicycled in this year.

Most of the toilets here are sit-down, but some are squat with a dipper flush. One was bring your own paper. But at that time I didn't understand the 'kitchen sink spray hose' beside each of them: it's a after-the-event butt washer. An idea I'm bringing home.

National mourning for the late king is novel to me: Lese majesty laws aside, almost everyone seems to have admired him greatly. People are lining streets with little pottery candles and lighting them during night markets and the like. We helped one night when the 'lighting' gang was shorthanded. And the entire multi-block night market shut down and sang along with the national anthem.

But TV gone pretty much entirely to B&W retrospectives of his life, his works (including his jazz compositions) and everyone of any note who ever interacted with him will be an interesting experiment. Elsewhere in S. Asia, TV is very noisy, colorful and commercial to the foundations, so I expect it was here too. In a month or two the sociologists and economists will have some interesting data on just how much value all of that was delivering. Meanwhile, the gov't appears to have bought up most of the local stock of 'speakers hidden in plastic rocks' to provide parks with a soundtrack of a few songs composed in his honor, repeating every 7-8 minutes.

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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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