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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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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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August 17th, 2016
08:17 am


Military fat-headedness & journaling
My sleep was interrupted last night, but not by a thunderstorm making me close the windows. The USAF and Air National Guard use an old bomber base 25 km northeast of me. Last night they flew four heavy jets out starting at 0230. They are exempt from sound control rules; their engines are easy to recognize because of how loud they are, and they don't bother to go out over the ocean to climb to cruising altitude.

Maybe it was the ANG trying to keep planes clear of a thunderstorm. Maybe something secret. This isn't the first time. Someday it'll matter how conspicuous this cowboy behaviour makes them; at night I would have needed binoculars to know the plane type, but 100,000 people knew how many and anyone who stepped to a window knew the course.

Tomatoes doing well. First ear of corn is imminent. ~2 CM of rain over the weekend, maybe 2 MM yesterday evening. Weight is about 94 kg. on mostly corn as my starch. Clearing the paddock required finishing the elm & maple firewood in not-ideal weather.

Good to see Bill at NOFA. Now I know more about cucurbit pests and diseases. I'm going to try sheet composting. And I did some railfanning on the trips out and back. Foldy Bike gave good service, even when my skin was slick with sweat. Amherst Motel's WiFi didn't work in my room, so IMO it was overpriced.

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August 10th, 2016
03:15 pm


Most, maybe all of the winter rye is harvested 2nd week of August 2016 journaling
I got a bin of grain a week ago, but one original wood bearing in the straw rack died and its mate was almost gone. Both of the parts combine's bearings were also on the way out. I didn't know anything about wood bearings when this happened, but that didn't last long. Looked around and found replacements, but as the weekend had arrived it was faster to make my own. And I finally know why I saved that chunk of maple from 1995's kitchen counter project.

In the process the milling machine's motor starter crapped out; it's hotwired while I decide whether I really need one for a 1/2 HP motor that runs maybe 5 hr. in a busy year. I had to dig out the lathe's boring bar to arrive at a hole bigger than 5/8" but less than 13/16", but the two I made have run 6 hours without problem. And then yesterday morning I had to make a new hinge pin: cut 5/16" rod, drill two 1/16" holes for cotters. I used the Walker-Turner drill press. One drill broke as it started to exit, but I was able to punch the fragments out leaving a usable hole.

The two fields J planted produced about 6 tons. The one across the state line was thinner and less consistently seeded, but still worthwhile. The current Google Maps image is from this spring and the crop is visible, south and SE of her paddocks.

There is a 3rd field, but I don't have a shelter for the combine near it. I will look at it before leaving for the NOFA conference and see if there's hope for next week. Today's 1.5 CM of rain will accelerate weed growth and once they're too tall it becomes very difficult to keep unwanted seeds out of the grain.

I did get to the beach with J and M last week. My garden has survived with attention from both me and M. I got the body work done on the Civic. Next month Youngest will be attending www.sspc18.com. I got a call from Middle and his fiancee Sunday AM, made from their camp on Signal Ridge south of Mt. Carrigain.

My house and barn have undergone considerable cleaning and organizing, in part because Youngest's horse needs 2 months of reduced turnout rest and my barn has empty stalls. More field cleanup remains, as there were a couple of trees cut last year but no appropriate time for brush burning with the winter's limited snow.

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August 2nd, 2016
11:08 pm


More early August journaling
Last week I noticed one apple on the Beacon tree, but when I looked Sunday it was on the ground with a rotten core and a hole eaten in one side. So I got some of it, but I'm not spotting any others.

There are likely to be chestnuts on both trees. The resident squirrels have found the hazelberts before they're really ripe and are leaving remains here and there on the lawn. I need to follow a few of them to their nests.

The weekend's hike appears to have reset my weight to about 206, which pleases me. Saw the Dr. this afternoon about a spot on my arm, which was pronounced harmless. BP & pulse also satisfactory a few minutes after running up the stairs.

M planted two of the rhubarb seedlings, which seem to be doing well. Several of the small tomatoes are producing, but there are also signs of infection in a couple.

Thinking my next hike should be North Weeks via the York Pond and Kilkenny Ridge trails. But that will have to wait for progress on the rye. Which will be attempted tomorrow.

There's been some progress on the battery replacement, and I've dealt with reservations and organization for the major September activities. But Town issues remain unopened. And I still haven't been in the Atlantic this year. Hi ho, no rest for the wicked...

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