Ma Blog‎ > ‎2008‎ > ‎


October 31st I didn't sleep so well, so Tilly and I got up early and played about on the computer for a while. The electrickery bill arrived, and with the solar panels working fairly well, but with shortening days, we used 87KWh.

We went and met Scott for lunch, as we haven't seen him for ages. Of course, he partially ignored my instructions and ended up miles away, but it all worked out in the end. We have different views on some of the political stuff, but it was interesting to talk about it - basically our views aren't that far apart, but the only way you can vote is one extreme or the other. For instance, neither of us think they should ban gay marriage, per proposition 8, but the trouble is that there's a lot of baggage - apparently since the state Supreme Court decreed that not allowing gay marriage was discriminatory, his kids are being taught about gay marriage at school. Even though there's no actual subject that encompasses it, and they don't teach heterosexual marriage. This means he can't remove his kids from this class, like he could if they were teaching sex education. So, from a parent's point of view, the only way to stop teachers rattling on about homosexual sex to their kids is to change the California constitution to ban gay marriage. That's like having a bolt to install, and only having a hammer to install it - rather than stopping teachers from teaching stuff that parents don't think their kids should learn, they're trying to ban gay marriage. This, we decided, is the crux of the problem with the politican system here in the US. There's no common sense, you either have one wildassed extreme, or the other. For the record, I don't think gays should be banned from marrying, as that's discrimination. But I also don't think that schools at this level should be in the business of teaching anything that isn't actually fact based either. That means they can teach history, science, maths and languages, but not religion, morals or ethics. We had a similar view on most of the propositions - our views are generally similar, but because of the levers we perceive, we'd choose different extremes to represent. I'm so looking forward to this election cycle being over and done with, so I can stop caring about all this crap again.

In the evening, Gwen called from the SPCA to say that Victoria's pumpkin had won the competition at the Sutter Hospital - now she'll have to decide if they want donuts or pizza as the prize :o)

October 30th Well, as promised, the weather has turned from "nice" to "not so nice". It was foggy and windy and sometimes it even rained. Note to self, turn off sprinklers, as there's nothing sadder than the sprinklers running while it's raining.

As I couldn't do anything interesting, I went and picked up some paint and started painting the hallway.
Tilly ran into the bedroom and hid, as usually when there's paint about, she's in trouble for chewing or breaking something, so that made things a lot easier. I was upset to find that what I thought was a paint pad (marvellous invention) was actually a foam painting thing (bloody useless). So, I used a small edger and painted a good deal of the hall. Tilly came out to investigate, didn't get yelled at instantly so leant on a wet wall, wagged her tail against another and proceeded to lick a third. I've managed to get the worst of the paint off her. Idiot.

October 29th I was finally so sick of work that I managed to take some time off. I started the day by going to the gym earlier than usual. I then traumatised Tilly by abandoning her to take the DRZ to meet Vic and Gwen at the SPCA for lunch.

After that, I ran through the house again to pick up all my junk and throw it in the van and head to the airfield to meet Jack. He was late showing up, so I pulled the Rans out and went for a play. Mounting the solid state camera lower, by the gear leg, worked better, but it's still picking up some vibration, and overexposing when it can see too much sky. After an hour or so screwing around by the casino, I headed back to see Jack had just arrived and started opening up the hangar. I parked out of the way, so he could get his Drifter out for some taxi tests.

After watching him taxi around a little, and talking about how I taxi my taildragger, I went out to do a couple more circuits, as Jack's trying to figure out how to fly his plane, and wanted to see me take off and land. The circuit was busy, and I ended up going around on my first touch-and-go as there were 2 much faster aircraft behind me on finals. We were all on the radio, so it wasn't such a big deal - I'm used to this sort of thing. I then did a touch-and-go, and a full stop landing on my next circuit, as it was getting a bit too busy for my liking.
I taxied back, and couldn't get around the back of the first row of hangars because there were some morons unloading an SUV right in the middle of the taxiway. I had to push the plane back and go down the second row. All of this bothered Jack far more than it bothered me - I'm used to people at Lincoln often not being the sharpest tools in the box.

We eventually put everything away, and I scurried home to feed Tilly and pick up a computer that Vince is going to hand to Mike tomorrow, then went out to meet everybody for dinner. I called Vic, and she showed up with Jen and Gwen straight from work.
Vince thought I was giving him a laptop, so he showed up on his BMW with a backpack, so after dinner I took the box over to his place, and got to see his new toy hauler by torchlight. It's pretty cool, and when he's done everything he wants to it, it should be pretty self-sufficient.

October 28th I've won yet more money, it would seem:
Your Email have won you this sum of £1,000,000.00GBP(One Million pounds) in cash credited to file
Please contact our Claims agent: Mr Richard Moore
Phone Number: +44 703 191 4850
To filed for your winning claims we need your :
Name, Address, Country, Age, Occupation, Sex, Telephone number.
I've decided with my luck being this hot, I should hit Las Vegas and I can retire.

Tilly's obviously feeling a lot better - she started the morning crying that she couldn't get off the bed (so I lifted her off - I'm too soft on that animal), but was soon trotting around the house just fine. Still, I'm not going to take her for a walk until tomorrow at the earliest.

October 27th I got up and started work, but Tilly wouldn't leave Vic alone, so she took her to the Bear dog park and ran her ragged. A little while later, I noticed she was limping, and found that she had blisters on all four feet from running on the bare dirt there - the dog park at Ed Levin park is mostly grass, which is obviously a lot softer on her paws. She spent the rest of the day either sleeping it off or whining about her feet and hobbling around like a little old woman. I shouldn't laugh, but I did find it quite funny.

I ended up having an argument with DirecTV about the billing - they said the new satellite tuners wouldn't cost any more, which is true, but then they upgraded the TV package without any authorisation from me. They've sorted this out (when I said "fine, cancel my account and come and pick your equipment up - it'll be on the driveway, and trash day is Wednesday") and are giving us $10 a month off the bill to get me to calm down after dealing with idiot after idiot until the customer service manager finally stepped in. It's interesting, I'm never in the best of moods having jumped through the hoops of the automatic telephone system there to talk to a real person, but it seems that half of the time the subsequent people I talk to can never do anything and end up winding me up even more. A couple of times I've had to say "fine, cancel it" before I get the service I want, and that includes a warranty claim on a broken tuner.

October 26th Vic didn't feel well enough to go hang gliding, so we basically mooched around the house all day, not doing much.

We watched the rather processional (is that a word? It is now...) MotoGP race from Valencia. It's interesting how settled down everybody was now that there's little chance of positions changing in the championship. Most of the racing was for 9th place. Still, the season's over now.

In the evening, I torched what'll probably be the last meat of the year in the back garden, as the clocks change next weekend, meaning it'll be dark by 17:30. We ended up watching a movie, and having an early night.

October 25th Vic had to work today, so Tilly and I pottered around the house, catching up with the web site, email and so on. I got the remote programmed for the new satellite tuner in the family room, and I even got out into the garage and took a look at the YSR. I checked everything, and it seemed like one of the solder connections to the lighting coil was broken, probably by me stuffing the wires out of the way so the spinny thing didn't hit them. Anyways, I soldered that back up, tested everything, and put it all back on the bike. The alternator seems to be putting out about 14v AC, but at the battery I'm only seeing 2v DC. That now suggests to me that the rectifier regulator is blown. I guess I'll be needing one of those then, won't I?

I swept up the garage, then went to the airfield. On the way there, I passed this, but it was all under control by then. I pulled the Rans out through the now functional doors. Mum and Dad had got me a little solid state camera so I strapped that on, and went out for about seventy five minutes. When I got home, I looked at the footage, and sadly half of the screen is taken up with the back of my seat. The seat is black, meaning the rest of the frame is generally over exposed. It seems to have coped OK with the vibration, so maybe next time I'll mount it further forward, or try again to get it strapped on my helmet.

October 24th I spent some more time working with Vista, I've managed to stop it treating me like an absolute n00b and making sure I'm sure I really want to do anything approaching work.

In Virtual PC, I ran into a problem with Fedora 9, but the fix seems fairly simple. I've also installed CentOS, so I think it's now running more open source software than proprietary software.

In the afternoon, the guy came from DirecTV to install the new DVRs. We now have a honking huge new satellite dish (this is why they couldn't just ship me the DVRs) hanging off the side of the house, and black boxes instead of the silver DirecTiVos. I spent some time setting up the channels in the generally OK, but sometimes infuriating interface, and we'll see how we get on with them. The good news is that he left the DirecTiVos, so I can swap back if I really want to, sell them or give one to Fred who has DirecTV, but not the HD stuff. He also doesn't have an ATSC aerial yet, but now it's cooling down, maybe he'll get up in the roof and do that.

October 23rd I'm now mostly using my new laptop for work, despite it running Vista. Maybe they could use "Not as cockawful as it looks when you first start it" in their new adverts.

I'm a PC, and I'm a human being. Not a human doing (anything, because I'm waiting for a virus scan), not a human thinking (because I'd think XP was faster), but a human being (paid to be in this advert).

Cynic, moi?

Anyways, I've started to get the hang of it. I quite like the sidebar gadgets, even if they are generally useless, and Virtual PC works if you ignore the "your operating system isn't supported" error - so I now have Fedora 7 running under Vista :o)

Even more money:




YOUR EMAIL ID HAS WON $2,000,000.00 (Two Million US Dollars) in the first category of our computer ballot email lottery.No ticket was sold but it is to encourage the user of Internet and to claim your winning prize contact the paying agent office via this email, send the following to the claim department: Full names and residential address. All winnings must be claimed not later than 30days.Note also winners under the age of 18 years are automatically disqualified

Sincerely Yours,

Mr. Greg Woodman.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do with all this money I'm going to come into. Obviously I can't put it in the bank, as they'll just squander it on risky mortgage backed securities.

The SPCA are in some sort of competition to paint a pumpkin for Halloween, so Vic stayed up half the night painting a pumpkin. Tilly and I had the good sense to go to bed.

October 22nd My new work laptop arrived today, and Tilly and I opened it with glee. I knew what it was, I think she was hoping it was full of beef jerky.
After spending a few hours cursing Vista, I think I've started to get used to the bleeding from banging my head on the desk.

October 21st In the evening we went over to Pat's and finished her computer install, now she has an internet connection. I also flattened her old PC, so she can donate it to somebody. Once again, I'm rich:
Abuja (Regional Office-North)
Plot 698, Zone B3,
Off Jelowo Idris Road,
abdul District,
We bring to your notice,that during our randomly select of the(CHEVRON OIL/PETROLEUM)lucky winner,your mail was the luckies winner of our CHEVRON ONLINE BONANZA.So all you have to do, right away is for you to go on with the forms filling,so as to no the identity of our luky have to quickly at fast as possible,once again CONGRATULATION.
Draw (#385)
Date: 20th-October 2008.
Ticket Number:234867009 with a
Serial Number 80074/09
Winning numbers: 04, 08, 20, 05, 27, 16 (BONUS.20)
Amount: $7,500,000.00 USD
Contact the promotion Manager with the information below:
Full Names:....................................
Contact Address:....................
Batch/Winning Numbers:................................
Mrital status:...........................
So your mailings are much needed,
Yours faithfully,
Mr: Ali Yusuf.
Services Manager,
Payment and Release order Department,
Federal Capital City,
Call Me @:+23480-7206-1247
Mr.Deji Suleman
Chevron Oil Petroluem Bonanza/Lottery Coordinator, Winning Department,
Strangely, I haven't had my money, or my Prius, from my Toyota win earlier in the month, so this'll hopefully make up for that.

October 20th We were all pretty tired after the weekend. Of course, I was the only one who had to get up and go to work. First thing though, before work officially started, I went up on the roof and washed the solar panels, as I'd been meaning to do that over the weekend. In the evening, we went and managed to get Tilly a sleeping bag, folded in half, which she now happily plays with in the bedroom at bed time. I'm hoping when we next go camping, it'll be familiar and she'll settle into it happily.

October 19th Tilly woke me up in the van because she was cold, so ended up sleeping on the bed with us until about 6:30, when we all got up. I had a hot shower in the excellent facilities while John and Vic got themselves all set up for the day, then they headed out while I packed up the van and fed the Mook. We met the rest of them at Ed Levin park, and John and Vic headed up to the 600' launch for the first time. When the fog cleared, they launched, getting a lot of air time on the way down. After just 2 flights, it was lunch time, and everybody was pretty much done for. Plus the wind was all screwy, so we decided to call it a day, and headed for the long drive home. The van's behaved itself pretty well, getting 19mp(US)g on the way down there :o) We'll see if it changes gear tomorrow, or if the torque converter's grenaded again :o|

October 18th Vic got up early and took the Subaru over to John's to go hang gliding. Tilly and I got the van loaded up and went first to the Joseph Grant park to book a beautiful camp site overlooking the Lick Observatory, then went on to join everybody else at Ed Levin park. We went and played in the dog park there for about an hour until she was tired, then watched the hang gliders until everybody packed up. We headed back to the camp site, about 20 miles away, stopping for some junk food. We were all pretty tired, and watched the sun go down, then headed to bed.

October 17th Having packed up the Subaru with the hang gliding stuff, we took the van and went over to Pat's to install her new computer. That all went swimmingly, other than my allergies to her bloody cat, but it can't talk over the DSL connection. I can't reset that, and it has a battery backup, so she'll have to call Surewest and get them to look into it.

October 16th The solar panels have now generated 4MWh :o)

Co-inkidinkily, John from the solar company came over today to look at the roof with a view to adding a couple of more panels - I have 500W capacity free on the inverter, and with all the rebates having reset at the beginning of the year, it might make sense to get new panels before Roseville goes to a monthly performance based rebate rather than a lump sum paid up front.

October 15th Having read this interview of the poison dwarf's manager, I'm wondering if maybe he's half the reason that the dwarf's such a miserable little bastard. Still, there are some funny parts, for example he's saying about Hayden not being able to use Pedrosa's setup data any more. Hayden never could, but it's in Pedrosa's contract that he gets to see every Honda riders' data. And we'll ignore that Hayden's beaten Pedrosa a couple of times since he "couldn't access his data" :o)

October 14th Huzzah! They finally fixed the hangar doors at the airfield, I rode over there on the DRZ to let them in, then Jack went out and told them how to do the job properly until the doors roll as well as they're going to.

One of my test PCs bit the big one, so I pestered the manager for a replacement, and finally got an approval to buy a new machine. Better start shopping in earnest then.

I took the panels out of the oven, and scrubbed them until I was bored, then put them back in. It's a lot better than it was, so now I just need to get the ladder in to brain the smoke alarm if it goes off, and I can put it on auto-clean again.

October 13th Today was Columbus Day, when Americans celebrate an idiot stumbling into their country while looking for India by going shopping. Seeing as it's also Thanksgiving in Canadia (I'm assuming that's some sort of hockey festival) I got to work, and have a free day off at a later date to be decided.

They were supposed to be coming out and fixing the hangar doors at the airfield, but didn't :o(

I'd decided to clean the oven, as I never got around to it after last Xmas' "set fire to the kitchen" extravaganza. I sprayed a bunch of nasty chemicals in there, and wiped a lot of the worst of it off, then set it to it's auto-clean. This set off the smoke alarms in the house, and sent Tilly off to hide under the bed, as there's obviously still a fair amount of burnt oil in there. Oh well, I guess I'll have to get my toolkit out and take as many of the panels out as possible for a proper cleaning.

October 12th It was too windy for Vic to go hang gliding, so we were stuck at home. I fiddled with the YSR and decided it's not charging, so there's some sort of problem with the wiring on the new coil. It wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility to find out that there'sa broken wire somewhere. Obviously I need to sit down with the multimeter and test everything. Bugger.

The neighbour behind us had his 2 huge conifers cut down. I don't know why, but there's a lot more light at the back of the house now. Great :o( Tilly barked at them through the window once she figured out they were there. Poor little idiot.

In the evening, Vince came over for dinner, and I cooked spaghetti. I think Vince has eaten every meal I've cooked this year - he's such a good sport :o)

October 11th Another gale force day, so I decided to Loctite the screws on the driver's side central locking in the van. While I had the door apart, I noticed that the speaker wire between the crappy bottom speaker and good top speaker was broken, so I soldered that back on too. I didn't really feel like doing much else, so we just caught up on TV and did chores around the house.

October 10th Vince pointed me at Weather Underground (no not that Weather Underground) as a place for useful forecasts. I generally use Accuweather, mainly because they have the Forecastfox plugin for Firefox, my browser of choice. Anyways, they allow you to upload the measurements from your own weather station. I realised that my work PC has a serial port, so I downoladed the FreeWX software, and moved the controller to the wall by my work PC. Now I just need to find a serial cable with the right ends to start uploading data. Cool. They also have webcams, so I might try and figure out how I can hook one of those up too... I don't think the USB cable is long enough to make it to the window at the moment.

October 9th It was blowing a gale here today, and that's predicted to last through the weekend. Great. I pulled the drivers' side door apart on the van and fixed the central locking. It's just the little linkage between the motor and the lock that starts to slip. Once I'd put it all back together, I figured that I could use some Loctite on it, to stop the screws coming out. Maybe next time. Tilly came out into the garage with me, and was overjoyed to see the van back. She jumped straight in and mountaineered about in the back, bless her. I think she's missed having somewhere to play while I tinker with things out there. She's also started standing with her front feet on the dashboard licking the inside of the window trying to get to the ball that I use to stop me crashing into the boiler. It's funny to watch :o)

October 8th As I'd worked late last night dealing with buttpuppet customers, I was given a couple of hours to myself in the morning. Well, after an 07:30 phone call. We went to Stephan's, and picked up the van. Strangely enough, the central locking's stopped working again... I sense me taking the driver's door apart yet again to look into that.

Last night there was another presidential debate, and today I was reading some of the commentaries. I don't get to vote here, so I can watch all of this from a safe distance. It struck me that people don't change their minds, at least, most people. So, the Republican leaning journalists say McCain won, and the Democrat leaners say Obama won. The interesting thing is that once you realise that you're not changing people's minds, what you need to do is get the people who will vote for you to get out of their La-Z Boy and go to the polling station. Hence the scare tactics - "My opponent voted for sex education in 4 year olds" indeed. At the end of the day, whoever you vote for, you get a politician.

In the evening, we watched the MotoGP race from Philip Island. It was pleasing to see the poison dwarf throw away all but a mathematical chance of second in the championship by crashing out on the first lap. I also found it funny that in the post-race news conference Stoner said his 2 crashes cost him the championship - ignoring the fact that even if he'd have won both those races, and Rossi had come second, he'd still be behind by (according to my reckoning) 47 points with 2 races (a possible 50 points) to go.

October 7th Vince came by on his way home from a couple of days' ride to Yosemite. It was after work hours were over, but I was still working. When I finally finished up everything I was doing (too many things, all at once), we went out and had dinner together while he rattled on about how comfortable and fast and nice handling his BMW is. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it :o)

October 6th I spoke to Stephan, and the van's all ready to go, so I'll try and get over there this week to pick it up.

October 5th We all got up terrifyingly early, and headed out to Ed Levin park so Vic could go hang gliding. Tilly and I played in the dog park there while Vic did the 150' jump, then came over to watch her do 2 jumps off the 300' hill. That's the highest hill she's launched from, and she was in the air about a minute each time. The 10 hours she needs for Hang 3 shouldn't take long at all then, should it? There were a couple of paragliders who took off from the 1700' launch, and they must have been up for 15 minutes, so maybe it won't be too bad. There's a lot of activity, as there's also a little 40' bunny hill for absolute beginners... that seems so long ago.

After we got home, we went out to dinner with Fred and Marsha from across the road, then headed off for an early night.

October 4th We went over to see Jeff for lunch, and charge the battery for the YSR - it's an archaic 6V setup, and I don't have a charger for that. After that we went to the airfield to see the airshow. It wasn't bad, considering the weather was crappy. After that, we went home and hammered the ladder and glider onto the Subaru in preparation for Sunday's hang gliding.

October 3rd I got the electrickery bill, and thanks to the solar panels, we used the princely sum of 73KWh for the month. It's raining today, so I'm not expecting to generate much power, but we were keeping up with the house the couple of times I wandered past the inverter.

It seems that there were enough bribes handed out to pass the $700 billion bail out, so I'm looking forward Wall Street driving the price of everything from anchovies to zucchini through the roof, now we've proved that they won't get held responsible for their mindless gambling.

I got another get rich scam email - maybe that's the next growth industry, but maybe I should join

October 2nd There's been a lot of talk about the $700 billion bail out, and it's nice to see democracy at work. Basically a large percentage of the senate think it's a bad idea, but if it's a bad idea with an earmark attached to it that means that their state gets some sort of special kick back, then they'll vote for it, even though it's a bad idea. We'll see if enough of the representatives are prepared to prostitute themselves to get the vote hammered through.

I don't care, I'm rich! I received a message:

Toyota Car Promotions Department
London, United Kingdom.
CVR-nr. 25554493.


This is to inform you that have been selected for a Cash prize of 950,000,00 (nine hundred and fifty thousand pound sterling) and a brand new Toyota Prius car International programs held 2008 in London United Kingdom.


Rev. Mr. James West
Tel: (+44)-702-405-1884

Mr. Tedy Lee.
Lottery Promotional Manager.

What could possibly go wrong?

Talking of Toyota, it seems that they've sent out tenders for parts bids for the cool looking Toyota A-BAT concept truck that I've decided should be our next vehicle. I don't expect the production vehicle to have some of the silly stuff, like battery packs, solar dashboards or yellow seats, but if it's a hybrid with AWD and the approach angles that the concept truck has, and I haven't spent all my Toyota Car Promotions money, we're there. 2010, here we come.

October 1st I never have any idea how much power we use / generate on a monthly basis, so this morning I went out and checked the inverter. The solar panels have generated 3781 KWh since they were installed at the end of December, and the meter has logged 951KWh since it was installed in February. Now I'll be able to see how much power I'm using compared to last year, and what percentage of that I generate.

I spoke to the people about the hangar at the airfield, and it seems the parts have been dispatched, so hopefully we can get the doors fixed early next week. It's just annoying that it's been a while since I've been able to get the doors open to fly. I'm tempted to talk to Ray at Freedom Field about taking one of his empty hangar spaces. Maybe I'll fly over there and see what it's like to land on dirt again :o)