Desert Cat's Paradise
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." - Proverbs 27:12.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
Not very photogenic this week, unfortunately. Like civil engineering, most of my work is out of sight. I installed more conduit runs for the 12/24 volt circuits. All I have for images are places where conduit now sticks up through the floor:Comments
...and where it branches off and disappears under the bottom wrap.
I worked on this until Sunday morning, when my solvent cement ran out...literally. I gathered up the materials into a plastic bag after completing work at one location under the house. Unfortunately the solvent cement container was not closed all the way, and the contents leaked out into the bag. As I had quit for lunch, I did not discover this until an hour later.
So much for that part of the project this weekend.
I switched to a new project this afternoon--building a set of steps for my front door from scrap lumber. Momcat was repairing her own front steps, and this served as my inspiration.
I've been making do with a ladder all this time. I fell off that ladder once already, and I'd rather not have it happen again.
In the evenings, I've been continuing with my bass upgrade. Here is the internals with the ground wires soldered in.
...and with the wiring complete except for the pickups.
I soldered new shielded wire onto the pickups...
Everything internal soldered together, and the pickups installed.
I am pleased with the sonic results. The noise is greatly reduced, although with the treble full up on the amp, I can now hear my computer performing operations. But killing the treble gets rid of that sound.
I have a lot more control of the sound of the bass right at my fingertips now. The tone control works now--it didn't at all with the old internals. And the series/parallel switch works largely as advertised. The series setting was supposed to give a midrange boost. Well, it does favor midrange at the expense of the high end, but I cannot discern any cost to the bottom for having the switch set to series. This is a good thing, actually, because you want the bottom strong on a bass. Essentially what it does is extends the range of the tone pot. With the switch set to series and the tone dialed all the way to the left, I get a super muffled, low-end-only sound. Me likey!
Jasmine says, "love me, or Else!"
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:43 PM | permalink
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
...gets his candy-ass handed to him by a little blonde girl in AZ:Comments
Obama Has Heated Argument With AZ Gov Jan Brewer | RealClearPolitics
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:22 PM | permalink
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Two skunks and one raccoon dead in the last two weeks. I'm beginning to wonder.Comments
Last week I caught one red-handed inside the cat feeder. I couldn't very well shoot him in there lest I spoil the cat food and probably the feeder itself. So I blocked off one entrance and set the trap at the other one. Sure enough he was in the trap by morning. The raccoon was caught the conventional way by setting the trap in the wash outside the fence.
This evening when I went outside to fill the cat feeder, I heard an odd scratching sound coming from under the storage trailer. Flashlight in hand, I saw Irene under the trailer, but she was not the source of the sound. It was another skunk, trying to get into the cat enclosure by crawling through the hollow rear bumper of the trailer! Well he was the proverbial sitting duck. I popped him with a .22 round, shoved his carcass out of the bumper, then retreated to the house as Satan's Own Perfume billowed forth from his orifice.
I lost count somewhere over 25 skunks last time this happened...
I wired the low voltage breaker box this weekend, or at least the supply side together with the battery equalizer.
The other end of those wires are here at the battery posts. It looks a little rat's nest-ish, but this is a temporary setup as I will be upgrading the battery bank probably before the end of this year. Nickel Iron batteries, baby!
I also got a decent start on installing the conduit spine that will run the length of the house to distribute the low voltage (12v and 24v) power.
I miscounted some parts and so ran out before I was done. But that corresponded closely enough with running out of time so it wasn't a major issue.
Not pictured is the additional foam fill I installed around the lower solar hot water tank. I still need more cans to complete insulating this tank. It was hard to judge the effectiveness as today was a hazy partly to mostly cloudy day and, as a result, I didn't get enough hot water to shower with.
I meant to take more photos of this as it went together, but this is Mom's greenhouse completed as far as it will be for now.
In five years or so, when this UV stabilized polyethylene finally gives up the ghost, she will replace it with the same clear corrugated panels that are on the roof.
In the meanwhile it is producing hot air every sunny morning, and that is reducing her winter heating bills. This window fan pushes house air into the greenhouse and it returns fifteen or twenty degrees warmer via another open window.
She is also growing lettuce and radishes, which we have eaten from already. But the main reason for building this was the winter heating benefit. She keeps her house cool at night, but as soon as the sun is up and shining on the greenhouse, the house temperature jumps ten degrees in short order.
"Tuk tuk tuk", I say, and the chickens come running.
I have a handful of Sahara mustard I pulled from my garden for them. They love this stuff. It is edible for humans too.
I wondered on this blog several years ago whether this would make good chicken food and it does. It is a weed and somewhat invasive at that. But it grows like a...well like a weed, and makes a high calcium green for the chickens. So I've been thinking actually of gathering seed and deliberately planting it in winter "chicken pasture" beds.
What else? In the evenings this weekend I've been working on a planned upgrade to my bass guitar.
I bought an inexpensive bass to start myself out with, and as I've gotten better at playing, I've been wanting the bass to sound better to match. A while ago I bought a set of Ernie Ball flatwound strings, and the improvement was astonishing. Now I'm gutting the innards and starting over with higher quality electronics.
Here it is with strings, pick-guard and electronic innards removed.
The first thing I did was improve the grounding contact under the bridge. I have long suspected the ground wire was not making proper contact with the bridge, because the bass would pick up a lot of hum when my hands were off the strings.
Next I lined the inside of the pickup cavities and the electronics cavity with self-adhesive copper foil. This will be tied to ground as well to shield the electronics from stray hum signal.
The back of the pick-guard over the electronics also got a foil shield.
As I write this, I have just gotten started wiring up the new components on the back of the pick-guard. I am upgrading the standard jazz bass wiring to include a series/parallel feature via the push-pull-potentiometer combo at the left. The wiring diagram is in the background, but for any interested it can be found at seymourduncan.com, here.
The normal arrangement is for the two pickups on a jazz bass to be run in parallel. By running them in series I get a volume boost in the mid-range. Just a nifty feature I wanted to play with. There are many more interesting modifications available at Seymour Duncan.
This project will be finished another weekend evening, as I am out of time and need to head to bed for my 4:30 AM wakeup time. Gotta leave myself time to deal with any more skunks in the trap in the morning...
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 7:48 PM | permalink
Any FPS gamers out there in my readership?Comments
I am sure I'm not the only one who, after spending a few hours in the physics of the Unreal Tournament (or other FPS universe), came back to the real world wishing for the jumping and running capabilities I had gotten used to "in there".
I do believe that problem has been solved:
Pro-Jump Jumping stilts | PowerBocking | PowerSkips | PowerBocks | Jumping Stilts not Powerisers Powerizers fly jumpers Velocity Stilts Powerskips 7leagues 7mileboots Kangaroo Shoes
This stuff gives me goosebumps to watch.
Yes, yes that's it! That's the way we can jump in the Unreal Universe.
What with my nearly half-century old out-of-shape frame in the real world, I'd probably kill myself though.
posted by Desert Cat @ 10:08 AM | permalink
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Jonathan Holden, RIPComments
I am still in shock at the news.
J. Holden, 60, dies; promoted roots concerts
Jonathan brought an incredible diversity of musical talent to Tucson. He was one of those rare individuals whose vision and passion for music was capable of pulling an entire city another small step above "cow town" status.
We often enjoyed the concerts he promoted over the last many years. He will be sorely missed.
Rhythm and Roots
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:46 PM | permalink
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Ok ok, I'm blahhging!Comments
First some pics from last week's unphotographed work. This is the swale I cut and filled to capture rainfall for an expanded orchard area, looking north with uphill and the neighbor's fence to the left and downhill to the right.
What I am trying to do is snag a bit of runoff at this location along the fence that otherwise would continue further north before entering my property.
This is looking south. You can see the reverse slope and berm I created along the left side.
For clarification, since some have asked in the past, yes it is legal to capture runoff in Arizona. In fact it is encouraged as a water saving measure and called "rainwater harvesting" in writeups generated by the jurisdictions. In some watersheds this is taboo. Not here to the best of my knowledge.
Friday I cut and taped a sheet of plastic to form a bag about 4" diameter larger than the lower solar hot water collector tank (2" each side). I filled it with foam fill, as far as the ten cans I bought would stretch. I'm short of the top, so will be buying more and finishing this next weekend.
The point here is that I noticed the system loses all of its heat overnight. This is an effort to retain some of the heat gain to transfer it over to the next day. The top tank will be more of a challenge, because it will be exposed to sunlight. Black poly will not do, as it will break down in short order. Foam fill itself breaks down in sunlight.I'm looking at fabricating a metal canister to contain the foam fill around the tank.
Saturday was an exercise in frustration and futility. First I discovered that the PVC solvent cement I thought I had on hand was still good--I last used some a couple months ago. But no, it had gelled into uselessness in the interim. So I burned up part of the morning running into the local hardware store to pick up more.
Then later I discovered that one of the fittings I had grabbed out of the 1-1/4" bin at Home Depot was, in fact, a 1-1/2" fitting. And seeing as that was to be installed at the start of the run at the breaker box, it put a complete halt to that part of the project.
What I managed to accomplish Saturday was merely this one conduit run from the breaker box...
...to this junction box under the house.
Real productive day, that.
Sunday was another wildly productive day. I made another batch of pemmican bars, but this time I used freeze dried hamburger crumbles from a storage food company. I flubbed the quantities though. I should have used a single #10 can for the recipe I had devised. Instead I put both in, and spent the rest of the day melting additional quantities of tallow until I got the quantities rebalanced.
This will not be a repeat however. Whereas the dehydrated hamburger crumbles that I made myself last time had the meat juices removed and boiled down separately for use in sauces, it is apparent that this freeze dried meat has the juices dried in to the product. The result is that the product is a lot saltier than I expected, which overwhelmed the chocolate and cinnamon flavor I was trying to establish. I will go back to making my own dried meat next time.
Because of MLK day, I also had Monday off. To complete my writeoff of this weekend as a near loss, I managed only to get these cables properly terminated for installation when I finally get the correct parts for the conduit next week. Part of the day was again burned off in what turned out to be a futile attempt to find those missing parts at the local hardware store. From where I am located, even a run to the "local" hardware store will eat up a significant portion of the morning. They did not have what I needed.
I gave up and went into town early.
On the way out I was greeted by some breathtaking views. These photos do not do the scene justice.
I try not to become jaded at the beauty of the valley where I live, but sometimes right after a rainstorm it just leaps out at me and I am reminded anew.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 10:57 AM | permalink
Thursday, January 12, 2012
You're the cutest thing that I ever did see,
I really love your peaches, want to shake your tree!
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:25 PM | permalink
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Vox Popoli: Hope and Change: Republican styleComments
Mitt Romney's top ten campaign contributors:
Any questions about who owns Mitt Romney?
Any questions why I say it does not matter who wins the general election if Romney is the eventual Republican nominee?
posted by Desert Cat @ 11:37 AM | permalink
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I've been getting mixed messages from my various sources regarding what is going on. On the one hand, the various alternative news sources, including and especially Zero Hedge, Market Ticker, and The Daily Bell, continue to chronicle the ongoing economic meltdown in Europe and the very real likelihood that the US financial system gets pulled down with it.Comments
In the noosphere I am detecting a sense of optimism about the future however.
I suppose it would be reasonable to expect this, given the fact that the reality of the situation is lost on most people. The rate of job losses appears to have leveled off, and the manipulated statistics appear to indicate a weak recovery ongoing.
Starting from 2004 onward, I knew something was up, and the noosphere readings reflected an increasing pessimism and fear through maybe the first part of last year. Is there really a sea change, or is this driven by unwarranted optimism?
Dreams have been funky lately too, but the best I've been able to make of them is a reflection of my subconscious state, influenced as it often is by things I may not be consciously aware of during the day. Zombie apocalypse stuff last night, floodwaters raging in the streets the other night. Whatever.
posted by Desert Cat @ 6:16 PM | permalink
Interesting theory nonetheless:Comments
Did the Dimona Dozen murder the Fukushima 50?
Fukushima may in fact have been caused by an act of war under the cover of an environmental disaster.
Jim Stone, arrested, detained without charges for his article and research on Did the Dimona Dozen murder the Fukushima 50?
The author makes a case that a lower intensity earthquake (about 6.3) was used as cover to destroy the Fukushima plant, and he fingers Israeli intelligence and their STUXNET worm.
posted by Desert Cat @ 5:32 PM | permalink
Monday, January 09, 2012
Yeah, there was some, and no, I didn't end up taking any pics.Comments
My chief accomplishment was reshaping a spot adjacent to my existing olive orchard to accommodate a couple of additional trees and to capture additional runoff from the neighbor's parcel. I also got a start laying out the fence line for a cross-fencing project I've had in the plans for a while. I ended up busting the blade hitch on the tractor...again.
I was going to rework part of the solar hot water system to bypass the lower tank during the winter, but changed my mind about digging into it this weekend. I'm going to try adding insulation to the tanks first to see if that helps the winter hot water production.
I will be switching gears to the solar electric project and to the fencing project going forward.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:06 PM | permalink
Monday, January 02, 2012Comments
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:06 AM | permalink
Ah, eet is zhat time of zhee year again, baybee!Comments
Les Fleurs! Les Bonbons!
...et la passion du cœur!
Ah my littel stinqueur, mon petit parfumées! Ma chérie! Your kisses, zhey set my heart afire. Tu me rends fou!
Le toucher de vos doigts sont comme de la soie. Your caress inflames my désire. Ma passion coule pour vous seulement.
Je t'aime! Je vis d'amour et d'eau douce. Twenty four years of l'amour! Let it never come to an end!
posted by Desert Cat @ 6:00 AM | permalink
Sunday, January 01, 2012
Jasmine Loves Sammy
Ultimate Dog Tease
Smoothest. Coffee. EVAR!
Oh The Horror!
Labels: blogospheric navel-gazing
posted by Desert Cat @ 9:31 PM | permalink
This weekend I made the connection between the solar tower's hot water system and the house plumbing system. Shark bite fittings and PEX pipe made the transition.Comments
Just inside the the house is where the water supply to one of the west bathroom sinks comes up. This is where I spliced in the hot and cold lines from the tower.
I am still working on threading through the dedicated dishwasher connection (the x-hot, unregulated supply). I have it about 80% threaded through the dust and spiders and insulation under the house. Thus it is not yet connected in this photo.
With the connections live, I filled the system and let it begin to heat in the sun. Saturday was hazy and the water never got hot enough by the end of the day. I finished insulating the remainder of the pipe that were slated to get insulation.
Today I spent much of the day threading this heat tape onto the lower collector headers. I should have done this *before* the lower tank was installed. Somehow I thought I'd have more working room than I ended up with. It was a painstaking process involving contortions and fishing the tape through the many twists behind the lower tank with a makeshift reacher consisting of a nail on a stick, and a long-handled pliers. But I persevered and it's on.
Late this afternoon the hot water coming off the top of the collectors and entering the upper tank was about 103 degrees. I thought that might not be quite hot enough for a shower, but after grubbing around under the house all afternoon, I took a shower using that water anyway. Hot enough! Maybe two or three more degrees would be perfect, but that gas hot water heater is now turned off and will stay off except for occasions when I need more or hotter water than the solar system will produce.
I am W00t!
Today I completed the extension of the PEX waterline to the dishwasher location and connected it at the other end. It just needs the adapter to the dishwasher water line.
I got back to installing the low voltage distribution panel, getting it mounted with the necessary cutouts to interface with the existing solar control panel and the battery load balancer unit.
Next up is the installation of the blower fan that will siphon hot air off the top of the tower and distribute it into the house. This will run off the low voltage system, so getting that system up and running is prerequisite.
Labels: San Pedro homestead
posted by Desert Cat @ 6:34 PM | permalink
Ah, how well ABBA says it!
Sometimes I seeJust change the date reference in the song and it is contemporary to today.
I narrowly escaped being subjected to a night of KC And The Sunshine Band, but also missed an opportunity for a new year party with Rick Braun, Jonathan Butler and Euge Groove. Instead I brought in the new year in the Cat family tradition--while sawing ZZ's tucked comfortably in bed.
Neither have retrospectives on the past year and resolutions for the coming year been part of my tradition. I'm more of the Dilbert school of thought** on the holiday. But just a little bit of it this year for a change:
In the wider world, the socio-economic breakdown has continued to deepen and become undeniably obvious to many more people than were willing to recognize it before. At the same time, the grip of the bifactional ruling party on the minds of the typical inattentive American is weakening--little cracks in the facade of their Hegelian dance have appeared here and there. Ron Paul is surging amongst those wakening from their blue pill slumber, and the Powers-That-Be are shrieking in response. If they cannot paper over the cracks and lull the sheep back to sleep with some blue nostrum, then we can expect much chaos going forward. They will not go without pulling everything down behind them.
In my personal and family life this year has been a year of reconciliations in a number of ways. May this trend continue into the new year.
My friends, my sense is that we have a rather rough patch ahead, the likes of which we have not seen yet. My wish for this new year is that we pray together and hang together, lest we hang separately.
posted by Desert Cat @ 8:09 AM | permalink
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