Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Other items to consider..

 My buddy Jackie, that helped me building the west TX cabin passed away a few months ago. He was 58.

John Wells, The Field Lab blogger, that was a distant neighbor of the cabin, and performed our wedding at his place nearly 14 years ago, recently passed away.

David Smith, another cabin neighbor and good friend, passed away a couple years ago.

Another cabin neighbor and at one time, a good friend, James J-------

has not been seen since Trump was elected in 2016. I knew he was Left in his politics, but we never got into any deep discussions about it. He simply cut all ties and stopped communicating. We enjoyed many meals and pleasant visits with James over several years when we were visiting the cabin. It's a shame the Lefties can be such vicious haters of anyone that thinks differently than they do. James didn't pass, he's always on FB posting.

The porch roof blew off the cabin during an odd 60mph windstorm coming from the south.  Just ripped the entire porch Roof and 2 cedar posts up and whisked it over the top of the cabin and dropped it 50 feet behind the building. We weren't there when it happened, but I would like to have been.! (Rebuilt now with metal framing)

As for local life...another gardening year has commenced.  I started from seeds indoors with a grow light, a few weeks too soon, and my Solo Cup seedlings were big and healthy by the time I could set them out, waiting for the chilly nights to recede from the calendar. And a made 21 tomato seedlings..... Had to give away a few, not enough places to plant them here. I've got 4 acres here, but lots trees, and soil is sandy or rocky.  I use wicking tubs and a small raised bed box garden.

Cilantro, yellow squash, a couple varieties of cucumbers, bell peppers, and jalapeno are in the ground.  Oh, and several garlic plants.

I'm hoping for a long growing season before the late June temps begin broiling the plants about the same time the grasshoppers begin munching on everything in the garden.

Has it been that long? Over 2 years?


I reckon life whizzes by when you're an old fart.

Survived the Covid scare. (Ever look up a graph of the flu cases year by year? The regular old flu totally vanished during the Covid years!)

Survived the pressure from all sides to "GET THE VAX!"...... And simply started popping vitamins C, D and zinc every day. 

I got a prescription for Iv.er.me.ctin. (code word to avoid the censorship algos...we ARE living in 1984).  Had to go through a Houston online doctor for that script.  This stuff is dosed by body weight so fat guys need more pills. Wal-Mart filled it for $4 per tablet. $900 total cost.  Later I found it, same exact med, same size for SEVEN CENTS EACH via an online India pharmacy. No script needed. Good Old American  Corporate Values..!!

I did catch Covid. Once. I Started horse med immediately, and it was gone by day 3. No worse than the common cold.

Main Stream media never mentions the huge increase in heart issues, blood clots, turbo cancers that are occurring in the heavily vaxxxed regions of the globe. You can't even use goggle (another code word) to research these things..... (Again, it's 1984)

Inflation continues to skyrocket, but the Guv says everything is great!!

Ukraine is still the biggest money laundering operation on the planet. But nothing changes except MORE taxpayer dollars being sent over.

Middle East is stirred up worse than it's ever been. We've been trying to goad Russia into a war since 2014. Thankfully Putin is clear headed. (Would we allow Russia to put military bases and rockets along the Mexican border?)

Need I mention The Border.....or LACK of a Border?    ( Take away the candy bar on the sidewalk, and the ants will disappear!)

But Transgender ideology is being crammed down our throat, and worse, our schoolkids throats.

The Democrats are smugly confident that the Cadaver in Chief is going to coast to another huge victory in November. If they're not careful they'll have Brandon winning by 300 million votes. Why hasn't anything been done about the easily manipulated Dominion voting machines? (RINO sternly worded letters not working?) It's almost too late to whip up ANOTHER pox to force mail in ballots nationwide, although some states are already implementing these again.

Every time I think we are living in Maximum Bizarre World, and can't get any worse....IT DOES!!!.

It's time for the pendulum to swing back.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

My vintage stereo receiver collection .... WARNING. Snowflakes shield your eyes-!!!

 Over the last three years or so I've been bitten by the vintage music reproduction device bug.  My Dad had a nice tube amp and tuner when I was a little kid in the late 1950s/early 1960s. Every time I hear some classic Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Sinatra, Perry Como, Four Freshmen, etc....it takes me back to getting Alberto VO-5 smeared in my hair while my mom got my brother and me ready for first grade/kindergarten...and an album filling our small house with music.

Later in life, after I was off to college, my Dad eventually gave away his tube equipment. Cassettes and later CDs were the latest technology, and albums faded away.

I only have one "tuber"....a 1959 Sherwood S-5000 amplifier (20 watts per channel, but over a high efficiency speaker it sounds like 40 watts).  I've had it recapped and serviced recently. I also have the S-2000 Sherwood tuner, but probably need to have it cleaned, aligned, and serviced. It's on a shelf.

Everything else I own is from the 1970s....the Platinum Age of receivers, before receivers fell in quality to bigger corporate profits and everyone chased power and watts for more bass and LOUD playback. The way they rated the wattage output changed somewhere around 1980/81 so everything seemed way more powerful than it truly was. (Kinda like the way our fearless leaders have changed official inflation calculations for us dumb sheeples)

Most everything I've collected has been from EBay which is very risky due to 2 possibilities.  First and most likely is a seller that doesn't understand how to properly package a 30-45 lbs vintage receiver. I've lucky for most purchases. Secondly is a misleading seller, that describes the item one way, and says they've checked it over, lightly, but it ends up not exactly as described. Words and descriptions are at times vague and variable in interpretation. 

I've got a couple receivers via craigslist in the DFW area. 

Initially I was chasing the big popular name brand stuff. ...Marantz, Sansui, Pioneer. But the demand for these names has driven the prices too high for me.  I've been looking at Realistic for awhile, but Radio Shack (based in my hometown of Fort Worth, TX) made a ton of different models over the years. Some crummy, some mid-level quality, and a few very good quality and great sounding models. Most hard core stereo-philes wouldn't even consider a Realistic unit, just because Radio Shack was focused on the lower-middle level consumer. And do have some crappola models out there.

Other brands I have been drawn to that are lower priced but excellent quality builds and very good sounding are.....SoundCraftsmen, Rotel and Sherwood from the 1970s.

Most of my collection is around 30 to 35 watts in output. I do have a 60 watt (recently recapped) Realistic STA-2200 that has a MosFet amp. Not sure what that is, but supposed to be very good, and kinda rare in mid-level receivers. It's a 1980 model and that's beginning to creep up into crap-tastical newer electronic equipment era. It's the newest receiver I have....for good reason.

Replacing all the capacitors in these 40-45 year old receivers is always a good practice, but only if you demand music amplification to sound just like the receiver sounded when it was brand new.  Some just sound fine as-is, but a recap job and servicing to clean switches and controls of 40 years of dust, grime and possibly nicotine .....really provides the optimum sound quality.

Capacitors all age, and performance diminishes after 20 or more years.  Usually gradually.

The guys that do this type of reconditioning and cleaning, that are skilled....are slowly vanishing. Most, but not all, are in their 60s and 70s. And many have 6 month backlogs to get to your job. And it's not cheap, these skills are not common, and valuable, especially in this higher demand time with folks becoming more aware of the value of vintage equipment. Expect to pay $350 - $500 for full recapping, servicing, and internal cleaning. And this with a unit that seems to be working fine when you bring it in for refurbishment. Higher end units usually have more capacitors to replace. 

I'm no expert, and my years of whiskey soaking my brain almost every night has, I believe, impaired my abilities to comprehend newer, complex things. But I do read alot online, so a little bit somehow soaks in.

My area is 50 miles west of the edge of Fort Worth, so without a tall FM antenna, I can't get much in the way of FM signal. Primarily using 3 Denon CD players in various groups of receivers. (All same model 1930CI)....a couple low/mid level turntables (I have 700  old albums I bought from a craigslist seller).....and a few powered Bluetooth gadgets that I use with my phone or tablet.

I have a couple of commercial grade computer rack tower shelves that I use. Just finished assembling one in my man cave listening area. 

My next ADD hobby topic is Vintage German sewing machines.  I've never stitched anything on a sewing machine. Just love these long life, amazing, all metal machines.

Monday, May 17, 2021

North Texas Garden . Quick Update

                                         Squash, cukes, and zukesWe ate three           zucchini last night, not in this photo.

This one color mixed squash...another one growing on this same plant.

Tomatoes and blossoms galore...just need more growing time

Cucumber vines from two plants. Harvested first 3 today. May 17

Tomatoes are outta control.!!!

Zuke and squash raised bed.

Cantaloupe wicking tub. Got a late start with this tub, but it's doing good.

Dang, it's been a WET SPRING, and our forecast is saying 3 more inches coming over the next 5-6 days.!! My plants love the rain....but need SUNSHINE.

I've been fighting some Powdery Mildew on a few squash plants, but I think I caught it early enough.  All these wet, overcast days don't help it though.

I'm really salivating waiting for a tomato sandwich.!!!!


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wicking garden. 56 days later.

 Survived 2 surprise freezes. Most recent was April 21 when it dropped to 28 degrees in my backyard that morning at daylight. The previous one wiped out nearly all my box garden tomatoes and 3-4 box garden zucchini. I had everything covered in plastic, but not well enough, apparently.

                                                     Squash and zucchini box garden
                                                           Tomato wicking tubs
                                                      Cucumber wicking tubs
                                                              Teenage zucchini
                                     Summer squash ....already harvested about five

       Recently planted these bell peppers and cantaloupe seedlings into wicking tubs.

Monday, April 5, 2021

My Wicking Container Garden set up. Looking great!!

 Cabin trip. Mighty windy some days. Couple of days it was windy AND dusty. Musta been the Chi-Vi blowing in from Mexico about 25 miles to the South. I'm popping my zinc, D and C so not too concerned. Temperatures were nice by late morning. Had some freeze damage, but didn't bring exactly what I needed to fix the damages. Not much variety of parts available in South County. Next trip I'll bring what I need.

I'm trying out a new way of container gardening, and so far it looks mighty promising.!!

I spent about $100 for some soil, peat moss, and composting materials to rejuvenate the existing box gardens from last year. And to get the "Wicking Containers" set up. It's a little bit of work to set up these containers....but you only do it once and can re-use for a few years. Look up "container tomatoes by Leon" on youtube. Good Ol' Country boy gentleman in Oklahoma has a slew of videos out on this method. Oughta be real good in the summertime to avoid watering a couple times a day. 

Big purchase of soil materials

Tilling up with a shovel and adding fresh soil to old box gardens

Easiest way to mix up the soil is on top of a tarp in the  yard

Got this bed loaded (too close together) with Cukes, Zuchs, and summer squash.
Mother Nature ended up wiping out about half of these with an end of March light freeze one morning (even though I had covered them the afternoon prior)

Wish I had taken more pics of the process for the wicking containers. I used water jugs with 1/2" holes drilled around the bottom edge, and a few up higher near the handle level. Next you place some good quality filter fabric over these jugs and press the fabric down to the bottom in those void areas. (about 20% of the bottom area that the jugs don't cover) . Then carefully fill with your nice, fluffy, soft dirt. Can't use just any old soil. Too much clay won't wick.

Oh, one critical note....you MUST drill a hole in the side of the tub, about 5" above the bottom of the tub or container. I did it on both ends of my tubs. About a 3/4" diameter hole. This is the overflow hole. As you add nutrients and water, once it starts running out of this hole. Stop filling. I use an old wooden dowel to check the water level every 3 or so days. When the plants are small I only needed to water every 2-3 weeks. But as they grow it might get to once a week
Don't forget to insert a length of PVC pipe with the bottom edge cut on a 45 degree angle, into one side of the tub, This is where you add your water and nutrients. Notice the white pipes on one end of each tub. One had a small funnel in the top that I move from tub to tub while filling.

My yard slopes so I have to set one end on a block of wood to try to keep it generally level.

I planted these small seedlings on March 10, this pic was from April 5. Not even 4 weeks and I pinched off the first blooms, this gives plants a better root system to get started with. I planted other tomatoes at the same time in a box garden (These in the tubs are doing WAAAY better). But that frost got most of the box tomatoes anyway.

I left out a few critical details related to the fertilizer you add as you are filling the tubs with soil. Also there are two specific water soluable nutrients that are mixed with water for each watering time. All this info can be found on Leon's youtube channel.

I bought some lumber today to rig up some overhead frame braces to support the tomato vines. Five boards of 2x4s was over $50

And with the unrestrained govt spending going on....You Ain't Seen Nuthin Yet..!!          Unbelievable Inflation is just around the corner.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

I'm still here.....a few pics from the last several months.

 Last spring I terminated the indoor growing and started a couple of outdoor, raised bed garden plots. Many bags of compost, peat moss, vermiculite, and gardening soil later... I had some decent soil made. I tried to use rain water from my two rain barrels as much as I could. In spite of mosquitoes arriving in late spring, about the same time the rains dwindled away in north TX. Switched to garden hose water, but our water source has a heavy dose of Chloramine.  I can readily smell it when I run the tap water in the kitchen. We filter all our water for consumption in the house, and chloramine ain't great for plants either IMHO.  So I bought a filter and attached it to the hose for watering.

I thought I had a bunch more pics of the garden progress, but they're all on my phone...and I'm not able to easily move them to this tablet....but I did get a good amount of tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and banana peppers until mid-summer when the heat shut down most fruiting, and the grasshoppers did the rest. Many tomato sandwiches, a few batches of home-made hot sauce (I've always called it "hot sauce" , but now folks call it "salsa"). And a few zucchini and squash casseroles. 

My cukes hardly did anything, they dries up and faded pretty early.  But they weren't underneath the partial shade cloth that I suspended across both garden boxes. You can keep the tomatoes going a little longer with some shade filtering, but eventually the TX heat gets them. We hit 111 here on one afternoon for a couple hours (in the shade!)

Made a trip out west for Spring Break. Both my kids and their children made the trip. We hauled the golf cart down for easy nearby transportation fun.

I can never get enough of these sunrise and sunset pics from the far West Texas Desert Region. Not EVERYDAY do these occur, but at least half the time they do.

Well, so much for uploading a video. It looks like it's there....but doesn't seem to work. Whatever. New Blogger ain't easy for this old non techie.