I’m Back

I spent last week in Indiana at a training event for my disaster response job. I am part of the logistics team and my specialty is setting up, maintaining and monitoring the electronic medical records system, the computer networks and the radio communications systems that are used within the team.

On a deployment I tend to operate in what I think of as a “95-4-1” model. 95% of the stuff is easy, 4% of the stuff is “give me a minute to figure it out” and that 1% is the stuff of legends and war stories.

The purpose of the training is to make sure the things that belong in the 95 category actually stay there. Setting up a computer network should be easy, but if this is the first time I’ve seen the equipment, I’m likely mumbling to myself, “#(#@! Where’s the book?” and telling everyone else, “Give me a minute to figure it out”. Training fixes this.

Also, we get together to see if there is anything in the 4 category that happens often enough that it would be worthwhile to update the training so that “whatever it is” gets pushed into the 95 category.

As for the 1 stuff. There really is no training for it. Successfully dealing with the 1 stuff is an attitude combined with knowledge, experience and creativity. It’s the ultimate form of engineering and “fun” and exhausting.


Today we received a bill that was sent to our old address and then forwarded to our new address.

It seems that someone using my wife’s personal information opened a store credit account, ordered a laptop computer, and had it delivered to our old address.

We’ve filed an ID theft report with the US Federal Trade Commission and alerted all the credit bureaus.

Only one other thing has “happened” and that is what is called a hard inquiry made to one of the credit bureaus from a web based credit card company. Usually this is the result of someone applying for credit. Besides the store account and that hard inquiry, nothing else shows up, so I’m hoping this has been caught/contained before it becomes a huge mess. I’ve also asked our tax accountant if the tax authorities need to be notified or if that automatically happens from the Federal Trade Commission report.

According to the old neighbor across the street, the house has been under renovation by the new owner, a rental company, and their renovation crew was on site that day. At my request, the neighbor took a look at their 24/7 recorded video surveillance. The videos show that a short time before the delivery, all but one of the crew left, then the delivery was made and a few minutes later, the remaining person leaves with a box.

If the police decide to investigate this, it shouldn’t be hard for them to contact the rental company to find out who was on site that day, match the images to the crew member and have a talk with that person. There probably isn’t enough evidence to send this to the prosecutor, but the interview would at least (hopefully) bother the thief or add to any information so the police could continue any existing investigations.

For a $500 crime, I’m not sure if the police will bother.

Re-Box and Garage

The last load of stuff that I brought up was in odd sized boxes that often were not strong enough to hold the load imposed by the boxes stacked up on top of them. The shaking the boxes endured during transport didn’t help and the boxes were in quite poor shape.

So, I’m moving the stuff into much stronger boxes that are all the same size so they can be efficiently stacked in the storage units.

“Here”, the storage units are less than 1/3 the cost of storage units “there”, so the work of moving stuff from storage unit to storage unit, is saving us a lot of money each month. That is why I’m moving stuff.

The attached garage to the house has been converted to a place for my mother in law to live, so to have a place for our hobbies and to park our cars, we are building a detached garage/music room/ham radio “shack”/workshop. The building inspector was by earlier this week to inspect the steel reinforcing rod and footers, and, yesterday morning, five “cement” trucks showed up to deliver the 48 (cubic) yards of concrete. Each truck could haul 12 yards of concrete, but a bridge the trucks had to traverse would have been overloaded by a fully loaded truck…so five trucks instead of four.

We lucked out. The day before the concrete was delivered, it rained and wet the ground to a “just right” amount. Concrete doesn’t dry out. What happens is that it undergoes a chemical reaction that requires water and there is an optimum amount of water needed for the chemical reaction to complete without water being left over. If the ground is too dry, it will “steal” water from the concrete mix and if the ground is too wet, water will “squish” out of the ground and into the concrete mix. Either situation will result in concrete that isn’t as strong as expected. For a cement slab in a residential situation, it’s not that critical because even “weak” concrete far exceeds the requirements, so I wasn’t too worried about concrete being less strong, but since things worked out well, I’m not complaining.

Now it is “wait awhile” until the concrete “dries”.

Rain, Rain, Come and Stay Another Day

The desert’s summer monsoon season is in full force this year. For the past month, it has been raining 6 out of 7 afternoons each week. Some days it’s only a few tenths of an inch of rain and some days it’s an inch, or more, of rain. No matter the amount, this is good for the desert plants and, eventually, the ground water (wells) situation.

For getting stuff done around the yard, it’s not so good, as about half the day is spent waiting for the rain to stop.

I have been living in the desert (or a hot city within the desert…there is a difference) for nearly all of my life, so I welcome the rain.

6BTV Complete (more or less)

I hooked up the cable to the 6BTV antenna. There is no man made noise!!!!! This is wonderful!!!!

When I started with ham radio, I lived in the country and there was no man made noise. When I moved to the city to attend university, the man made noise was low enough to be okay. Over time, as the number of noise generators (computers, televisions, the black power packs plugged into the wall outlet, etc.) increased, the noise level went up to the point where using the radio at home was impossible.

I still have to complete more work for safety, convenience and efficiency. Currently the cable runs on the ground across the driveway which exposes the cable to damage if a car is driven across it. I also need to add some lightening protection to the cable. Additionally I need to do some optimization work on the antenna.

Most of this work will be done when the garage/workshop/music room/ham radio room is complete and I set things up its permanent location. I don’t want to spend a lot of effort setting up the station in the house when I’m going to move it in the near future. The optimization work does not depend on where the radio is located, so I will do that as I have time.

6BTV Stopped

6BTV is the model number of a ham radio antenna made by New-Tronics corporation. It is an almost 25 foot/8 meter long slender aluminum pipe with “bumps” at various points along it’s length. If one just glanced at it, one would assume it’s a flagpole.

I bought this antenna about 16 years ago to replace an older antenna, but I decided to not bother installing it. What was happening was that the noise from computers, televisions, stuff with computers in it (pretty much everything), “wall warts” (the black things plugging into the wall) was strong enough to over ride signals from stations as close as a mile (1.5km) distant. I had fixed the problems in my home, but the neighbors’ homes were close enough for the devices in their homes to cause problems. Under the law, I could have complained to the Federal Communications Commission and have them help me, but in my opinion it would have been a waste of time on my part. My guess (opinion) would that the FCC would have one of two reactions to my complaint; ignore it or pretend it didn’t arrive.

Now that we have moved and I have no man made radio noise to worry about, I decided to set aside a couple of hours to assemble and install the antenna. Everything is assembled but the antenna is on the ground.

As I finished assembling the antenna, the lightening and thunder show started. Right now, it’s sunny, but also with clouds and lightening. The last “blast” had only 2 seconds between the lightening flash and the thunder noise.

I’m inside now.


Ewwww was what our daughter said, as a small child, when she encountered something that was not pleasant….like “died a week ago animals” on the walking path….. She’s 24 and sometimes I still her say “Ewww”.

I decided to wash my old hat today and the wash water reminded me of our daughter’s “Ewwww”.

Our Dog’s Morning Excitement

He was (ab)used as a puppy. The sheriff’s department had videos, shown to us by the shelter workers, that were used to convict his prior owners for dog fighting. The videos showed a caged puppy put into a dog fighting pit with a fighting dog. The big fighting dog was unable to physically hurt the puppy, but the puppy was completely terrorized. After that, the caged puppy was removed from the pit and the fighting dogs were set to fighting each other.

We adopted him soon after the prior owners’ convictions were made final and in the 11 years he has been with us, we have not been able to “convince” him that other dogs can be friendly. He is now 12 years old and, with the exception of our yellow lab dog, remains aggressive toward other dogs. So, we ensure he is not put into a situation where he is off leash around other dogs and we also make sure that other dogs can’t approach him.

Fortunately he did not associate the abuse with humans or other animals. He is perfect with kids, cats, birds and adult humans…and his favorite time is when he can sit down in front of a toddler to get pets and hugs.

Anyway, this morning there was a black tailed jack rabbit about a foot from the glass door to the house. Our dog noticed the rabbit when he walked by the door and he went on “full alert”. The rabbit saw this, moved about 10 feet away and stopped. We don’t want the jack rabbits around to eat our garden so we let the dog outside and the chase was on. The jack rabbit was easily able to out run the dog, but he (dog) still had a good time chasing the rabbit and after 30 seconds of running, came prancing back to the front door.

It has been raining a lot, and the ground is now a sticky clay, so we had to wash the dog’s paws off before we let him back into the house. He (dog) actually loves the water spraying on his paws, so it was an easy cleanup.

Why I Never

I mentioned awhile back that I never look back to see what has happened to “my” old homes.

My wife decided to look at the home we just sold and found it is now owned by a property rental company.

This particular rental company has a poor record with renters, the city code enforcement department and small claims courts.

My hope that the old home would be in good hands was good while it lasted. It’s no longer our home, so I guess we shouldn’t care, but in some small way, I do care.

All we can do is to make our new home as great as possible and hope that the “next time” will be different.

The next time we move, we hope we won’t be in a position to need to wonder…..as my wife has said, the next time we move….the coroner will be moving us…..