I don’t get off the ranch much. Time was, and this was back in “ought two,” people would look at me like I was a crazed nutjob for leaving the six-figure world and heading out. A return in 2004 – 2005 (the Burbank Adventure) was well worth it, in retrospect, but the joys of being “in the outback” are many and varied. But it’s not quite perfect, and anyone who tells you so, is a damned liar.
Take the septic tank work I had to do this week. Got it all pumped (twice) and a broken piece of feed pipe repaired, but even the dirt smelled bad until we finally got some rain day before yesterday which pushed the bad smell back underground where it belongs.
This, or course, left the flies who had set up a county convention with nothing to do, so they dispersed, moved on, or did whatever flies do when a promising smell turns out to be a bust.
But this, in turn reduced the number of birds around the property slightly, since they seem to enjoy the company (or entre) of flies.
And few flies, leading to fewer birds, may up the feed bills on the ranch, since the resident hawks (which Panama feeds raw chicken every morning around 9) are likely to get back to eating more regularly-like. They’ve been screeching up a storm the past couple of weeks but Panama thinks it may be mating season, though in my experience mating season has always been soft voices, mel;low adult beverages, and candlelight. Not these guys.
While it was short-term not the most enjoyable project, I’ve found over the years that even the most miserable of chores offers a chance to see life in context.
We took off Thursday morning to head up to Fort Worth (via Tyler) to pick up the propeller that failed periodic overhaul. “Spidey-sense” paid off – that slight flutter coming down from altitude at 140 MPH told me something was out of spec and sure enough, out – however slightly – and a new/old prop with the right FAA form (an 8130 meets overhaul if I have it right) would need to be acquired.
Done. But now, what do you do with 74″ diameter 58-inch pitch propeller? Sell it on eBay is the answer I came up with – there it may fetch $350 from someone who wants to hang it on a VW engine and build up an airboat. Prop ought to be fine for that. Or, if you wanted to build a hovercraft – might be a good prop for that, too.
While hanging it on the wall might be an interesting interior decorating alternative, hanging money on the walls doesn’t make sense when it could be turned into something useful – like food.
Overall the trip was somewhere north of 350-miles, which shot my Thursday plans all to hell and gone. I don’t know why I thought “Gee, just up to Tyler, then onto I-20 over to Ft. Worth and then back down Texas-287 to Corsicana and then home. B i g loop.
In fact, so big that Eastern folks who haven’t seen the larger parts of America would be amazed: Just to take this one chore off our list was more driving than the whole perimeter of Delaware. Even closer to the pumps, high-test was $4.09 when we filled up…with the cheap stuff.
Figures we’ve been following suggest tourism will be up this year so if you live in the East, try heading West. Montana is mighty big, Texas Huge, and Alaska just plain super-sized…and each worth visiting.
Part of the reason for going was to get a decent meal since my Junk Food Diet was wearing thin (although I’m a few pounds lighter for it. Elaine had been saying the food at the Stockyards Hotel was good…and after Thursday’s lunch at the H3 Ranch diningroom, I’d have to agree.
Everything was great, although Elaine ate more than I did, which was one helluva role reversal. Still, she can wear some of the same clothes she wore in high school and Mr. Diet doesn’t have a prayer.
Walking around the stockyards district, only from the car to the hotel (a block) was all it took to add about a half-dozen small appearance items to my “Thing to Do Around Here” list.
Most people when they go somewhere with a particular “atmosphere” just go, ogle for a bit, come home, and maybe will put up a western picture and pretend they have somehow done a “theme” for a room. That might play in suburbia, but when you have a rebuilt modular home (some would call it a trailer), there’s no reluctance to putting in whatever pleases the eye in the way of real decorating.
One way to tell is something is “decorated” or is .just someone going delusional, is to look at the floor and ceiling. If the carpet isn’t a part of a theme, and the ceiling doesn’t have some kind of period or location treatment, then it’s just a room.
Our tastes are more to “decorated” which is why some rooms in our house have grass matting on the ceiling, and another has rough planking….it’s all part of really fooling the eye so that a room is more like a movie set than just a “box” with a few pictures and do-dads on the walls.
When you’re out and about, after living in semi-isolation for a while, you begin to pick up on little things of interest. For example, in most restaurants, the condiment trays and such take up valuable table space. At the H3 Ranch, the condiment trays are secured to the wall about a foot, or so, over the table, so they don’t gyp the two inside occupants of a both out of elbow and maneuvering room when they sneak up on their food.
Little things like that get the mind to moving on decorating. Another item that made it into my notepad (either Elaine or I try to remember to carry one most of the time) is how the old-timers finished off their construction projects. Of particular interest to me was how tops of beams supporting roofing over sidewalks were trimmed off.
I don’t know if I mentioned it, but here a while back I put in a decent-sized carport (about 36 X 40) and while it came out fine, it wasn’t exactly “arty.” Thanks to the trip up to the stockyards district I now have several ways I can change that and improve the look of the place. Small changes like top moldings on column is what takes a structure from looking like a rannygazoo and make it look like it belongs somewhere.
(The word rannygazoo morphed in the Seattle Fire Department years ago to “rannygaboo” more than likely because no one hand time to read Wodehouse but anything close to the Wodehouse word rolls of the tongue nicely and the synonyms for it that I grew up with put it somewhere between ramshackle, decrepit, and sloppily done.)
This being the weekend, the weekend meeting of the Home Handy bastards Club will be called into order at 5 PM today and will gavel to a close about 5 or 6 on Sunday. Between now and then, armed with fresh ideas, I figure a little “sweat equity” can add anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars worth of curb appeal /value to most any property.
And if you don’t own property? Then an investment in serious study is a kind of investment you can make in yourself that could improve your personal value by a like (or greater) amount.
Don’t mean to go on like this, but as I mentioned, when travel we listen to personal improvement CDs. On yesterday’s trip, we got through one CD of Earl Nightingale’s Lead The Field, two CDs worth of Jim Collins’ Good to Great CD: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t.
Given a choice between learning things in the car and listening to some jerk whose opinions don’t square with the facts often, the choice is pretty obvious.
The magic of America is that even with all the problems of the country we can each manage our time and ourselves to whatever end we want. The people who would rather listen to refried politics do serve a purpose though: They give self-actualizing, self-directed, learning machine people a convenient benchmark against which to measure their progress.
Common Sense on the Lamb
You’d think decision-making like this would be a simple thing to do. Yet, here’s another attle from The Economic Collapse site that points out “20 signs that we are witnessing the complete collapse of common sense in America.”
Sight from our Safe Pyromanics
I was wondering the other day how the relationship might be between Hollywood special effects outfits, particularly the ones that specialize in making things go pop, blam! and kapow! in movies. I would think regulatory agencies would go nuts about explosions and so forth. Courtesy of our source, here’s the straight answer…
“…We are now famous on the internets! Can’t hurt to have more exposure at the beginning of the busy season, thanks for putting the link out there.
Homeland security deals with us via BATFE (who have always been polite and sensible with us- But we are good at keeping inventory records and following rules). Also DOT, who are not as nice some times. I think they have been around too many truck drivers and just KNOW everyone is trying to put something over on them. PHMSA (pipeline and hazardous material safety administration) does it’s best to regulate us too. Then there’s a different set of laws and often a license for every state. Much paper is handled in staying right with the governments and authorities having jurisdiction-
When I get frustrated, I go garden. My garden is now 180′x60′ and will probably get bigger this year. The asparagus just broke ground on March 26th, that is nearly a month early for this zone. Climate is sure not what it used to be!”
Just based on how rules and regs seem to be growing at exponential rates, I figure in just a couple of years we’ll be measuring the stress garden in acres. Still I’d never really considered all the paperwork (and agencies) that have to be involved in Hollywood productions. Next question is whether the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has a set of regs, too, since those nice black columns of smoke in some movies really outghta set off the air quality types.
The local lakes are starting to fill up with fishing boats, we noticed while out and about Thursday. But, rather than buy a boat, a buddy of mine found this video which will not only show you some of the pitfalls of the hobby, but may save you a few bucks (and cheap yucks) by avoiding “stupid.”
Best One of the Week?
Has to be this one which reflects large on the state of affairs in the EU:
So Angela Merkel arrives at Passport Control at Paris airport.
“Nationality?” asks the immigration officer.
“German,” she replies.
“No, just here for a few days.”
Well, like I said, only two more working days after this till Monday…
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Civilian Conservation Corps 2.0
Due to pressures of work (yada, yada) I don’t think I spend enough time pointing out the ever-growing body of evidence that the USA is in (and has been sin 2000) in a Second Depression which by many measures is worse than the first. It’s not apparent oftentimes because events which accompany economic collapse and unwinding have been spread out over time, so much. But sometimes I notice things which are almost totally “in your face” facts of a Great Depression return – like the current period’s rerun of the Civilian Conservation Corps. But, before we roll back the curtain on this one, a tromp through some of the Friday headlines and a look ahead into what seems to be shaping up in our charts as a big downer. [May load slowly due to lots of graphics this week.
Safer Computing: Swearing Off Cookies
It has been a while since I roared the praises of the Maxa Cookie Manager which you can download and install for a free test drive by clicking here.
To upgrade from the demo to full working is still less than $30 (During their Spring Sale) and one heck of a bargain at that, if I do say so.
I am a high-reliability computing kind of guy – and near as I have it figured, the road to a hassle-free computing experience is (like flying an airplane) a matter of going through a proper checklist before popping onto the web:
You need an active cookie manager – because sites you visit can put small bits of code on your computer and some of these are designed for Flash, have no expiration, and can really bugger-up the computing experience. This part gets handled by Maxa Labs’ product which on my system says 184,380 cookies have been removed, 73,881 “web bugs” which can track movement from site to site and such, and I have only 10-active cookies.
Second thing you need is a good antivirus program – and I happen to really like Avira’s Antivir pro.
Then you need to deal with Malware so for this Malware bytes is updated and run daily.
And last, though certainly not least is the firewall and the one in Win 7 works fine.
Like anything in computers, updates are critical so before work every morning, the computer does its update ritual – Check of Maxa (5.3.02 is current) Avira, and Malware bytes.
Toss in a good bit of common sense (example: Don’t open email purporting to be from UPS, IRS, the US Post Office, or anything else that even has a hint of fishy odor to it) and first thing you know, the internet’s actually a useful tool.
“Live on $10,000″ A Year
Having a hard time making ends meet? (Like who isn’t, right?) A good starting point to better match up income with outgo is our $10 e-book “How to Live on $10,000 a Year…or less!”
It’s an automatic download. It’s written in an information dense style: The whole thing runs about 65 pages, but it gives you a vision of how to not only live on the cheap, but also how to migrate up the economic foodchain if you have a little hustle left. A bonus section called “How to Build Anything” should instill confidence if you’ve never taken on a home improvement/home creation project before, too….. Click here for the index and details.
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