Where's Hazel? Pet Hazel. Hazel needs her dreadlocks
A cautionary note: There are a
number of photos in this letter that have little to do with
the text; they are included solely to make the letter
longer. Sometimes if you can find the Alternate Text you
might be provided with a caption. There also might be some
redundancies in a few paragraphs. Just think of them as
reruns, like on PBS.
NOAA starts the Monsoon Season on June 15th. Weather
patterns change: prevailing wind moves from southwest to
southeast, cloudiness and humidity increase, likelihood of
rain goes from nil to some, daily thunderstorms add to the
excitement. Everywhere hereabouts except in Tonopah.
Summer Solstice Letter Posted
One marker of the Monsoon Season is the prevailing wind
shifts to the south east and when that gets going my big
awning is at risk. The awning is important to keep the
starboard side of the bus shaded from the hot morning sun. I
dream often about "upgrading" to one of tho$e motori$ed
awning$ that $elf-furl when the wind exceeds about ten miles
per hour. What usually happens, as during last night and the
night before, is the wind will wake me at oh-dark-30 and
I'll be out there furling the awning with the southeast wind
trying to fly a 100 sq/ft kite. Drifting and blowing lawn
furniture engenders the remark DBLF in the daily weather
Let’s hope this is not too late. Not much to go on other
than that phrase, this
looks like a good read.
Ham Radio Field Day Exercise
Twelve images over the course of six days transmitted from
the ISS. As the orbit precesses I typically see three to six
passes a day where Tonopah is within the radio footprint of
the space station. During each pass there may be time for
one to three images depending upon elevation above the
horizon, antenna pattern, interference, equipment priorities
on the ISS. For instance during this recent set the Ham
Radios were off during the spacewalk. K1oiQ/NU7DE collected
some 70 images. Many dups of course, another many from the
beginning or end of a pass were partials, some had dropouts
or noise bursts. Out of all that there were 11 of the 12
very Excellent copies. Number 7 of the set had to be
reconstructed from two Good images. The most fun image was
Number 1 commemorating SuitSat-1
|From: Slawek SQ3OOK, Award
To: ajo K1OIQ
This time the SSTV images series is dedicated to
radioamateur astronauts and cosmonauts and their
activities on board of the Space Shuttle, Mir Space
station and International Space Station. The ARISS SSTV
presents three special people: Musa
Manarov U2MIR - Russian cosmonaut who launched
amateur radio equipment on board of the Mir space
Krikalyov U5MIR - Russian cosmonaut, launched
an amateur radio station on board of the ISS...;
Garriott W5LFL who was the first astronaut and
amateur radio operator to take with him on the space
shuttle Columbia (STS-9 mission in 1983) amateur
radio equipment and conducted radio communications
with radio amateurs on Earth.
Mr Garriot was instrumental in creating the
SAREX program (Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment later called
Space Amateur Radio Experiment). In 1992, while at Palmer
Station I chatted with Ham/Astronauts on Shuttle Mission
2021vii8 On Your Mark...
Main engine starts and builds air. APU starts and makes
watts. Lights check OK. Transferring old fuel to main tank.
All good so far without any connexion to the internet of
2021vii10 On Your Other Mark...
WX Warning on my alarum ridden
oblong this evening. Conditions had been nice outside all
day, albeit too hot as usual, so I hadn’t thought to furl
the big awning. I was settled in with a sack of food bank
popcorn to ingest my MDR of tellyviewing when the WX alert
radio commenced to blather on about 4-inch mesquite trees
being broken and blown about in the East Valley. That’s the
better part of an hundred miles to the east of The Cat
Drag’d Inn so I reached for another fistfull of
popcorn. Just then the bus lurched as if hit by a strong
crosswind. A 121Sqft kite was trying to take the bus
for a sail. I canna describe without a lot of hand-waving
the machinations undertaken to ground the awning. No serious
damage that three hours of hammer and saw wouldn’t fix.
Nine Days Later
Still in Tonopah suffering from chronic procrastination. My
totem animal reminds me: “If you want to get anywhere you
have to stick your neck out”. Right now I need to do a dump
and fill and pack a few more things. Projected departure
now: Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.
Do i have Alzheimers? An article
in a recent BBC News discusses how studying changes in
the driving habits of over-65s could reveal the start of the
Specifically, those with preclinical Alzheimer's tended to
drive more slowly, make abrupt changes, travel less at
night, and logged fewer miles overall, for example. They
also visited a smaller variety of destinations when driving,
sticking to slightly more confined routes. Describes a lot
Might I be slowly transitioning from nomad to nester?
Morphing from Desert Rat to Snowbird? Michael writes:
“You're already pretty much more of a seasonal nester than a
true nomad.” What’s in a name? Tiny fine distinctions
between nomad and migrant. What a difference a label makes?
Migrating implies seasonal periodicity while nomadic implies
wandering opportunistically. My mantra says “Does it really
It doesn’t really matter. It really doesn’t matter. Please,
someone diagramme those for me? Done!
Thank you Stack Exchange.
What does a Buddhist Bamboo Eater use for an
aid to meditation?
I could have left today but the threat of rain and flooding
gave me cause to pause the countdown.
No. Wait. There is mail waiting. Important mail. And more
21vii23 Friday Try That Again
After nearly two years of sitting in the desert of Eastern
Tonopah (Thank you very much Paul) I have finally cleared
the roots growing out of my tyres and put away the sugar
bowl to see if I can remember how to drive The Cat
Several days of torment and packing followed a month of
procrastination and delays not of my own doing. Just this
morning for instance I found all the wind yesterday loosened
a length of the metal roofing of the Tin Shed. Six feet of
rusty sheet steel flapping in the breeze. I have to fix
TinyTruck is packed with more stuff than I need but
not all that I want.
Air up the tyres, wash the windows, TV antenna down, awnings
furled, shore power disconnected and power cords stowed, and
roll out the yard.
Two miles down the road stop to check the load, have lunch,
and find I forgot to secure the Spice Rack...
Now The Cat is Drag'd Inn to Sonoran Desert
RV Park in Gila Bend. A short first day but long enough to
get started and find out the situation is worse. I actually
had the bus in gear when I noticed the shore power cord was
still connected to the RV pedestal.
24 July—The Fridge Failed
Saturday started out just dandy; on the road south to Tucson
early. In and out of rain. Then the Nagrivator went to sleep
and the APRS monitor shut down; I pulled off i10 to check
the load, reboot, and ultimately have a cup of tea.
Eventually found that the 120vac inverter was off; alarum
condition “Overload”. Reset. Restart. Reboot. On down the
road until the whole scenario repeated.
Well! That adventure didn't last too long.
The drive from Sonoran Desert RV Park in Gila Bend to find
old ham radio friend Virginia in Tucson was all on i10 but
for the last few miles of surface streets on the north side
of Tucson. In and out of rain kept the temperature down.
Along the way I began to realise there was an electrical
problem as the 120vac inverter would cut off leaving the
Nagrivator without power and the fridge not cooling.
A Comic Interlude?
Somewhen along in here I needed a
four-inch funnel and could not find the one I knew I had
somewhere amongst all the stuff in the port-forward
bellybox. Basha’s didn’t have one. Two stores later I ended
up at the Maricopa Wal-Mart where the Greeter sent me to
Automotive. Their funnels were red and narrow and long with
a rim shaped like _/ for pouring oil into your motor (or
using as a urinal). No. I want a flat top 4-inch funnel, no
backstop. So I was sent to Garden Center. They had black
funnels, more or less the same shape as Automotive’s. Useful
for getting fertilizer or insecticide into an applicator.
Nope. I want a flat top 4-inch funnel. On the way to
Housewares another clerk was a Whirling Dervish of
suggestions as I been-there-done-that each one. In Canning
Supplies I found a blue 5-inch funnel for getting chunky
preserves into a canning jar. Then finally to Housewares
where a Finder had to get down on their knees to reach way
back behind some unrelated things to bring fourth—Viola!—the
last one. A flat top 4-inch funnel. White.
After several stops to restart the inverter I eventually
found my way to the gatekeeper at Tucson Meadows who said I
could have a couple hours parking at the entrance to the
dog-walk half a mile from Virginia's house. Then TinyTruck
wouldn't start since a wire in the starter relay circuit had
Virginia is 93 and walks a mile every morning; her long term
partner/husband Cliff died last year and as much as she
misses him and their RV lifestyle she is mostly content
where she lives now except for the lack of contact with
former travellers and colleagues. We had a lot of hugs to
catch up on. Dinner and wine later I was back to The Cat
Drag'd Inn and on my way to The Flying Pilot Truck
Stop for fuel and parking.
So many things have changed in the past year and a half.
Roads are in different places. Businesses have changed names
and buildings. In Gila Bend Holt's Texaco Fuel, Campground,
and Dinosaur Park has been bulldozed flat. There is now a
Pilot Truck Stop there but no camping and no dinosaurs. In
Maricopa AridZona an intersection and grade crossing has
been replaced by a huge flyover but at least the Basha's
still has B&J's Coffee Ice Cream. In Tuscon at i10x268
at the Pilot (Truck Stop) Travel Center there no longer has
any dedicated RV parking. Time was one could fuel and then
park for the night. Now if you can think and plan far enough
ahead you might make a reservation for a slot in the
semi-truck's parking area. Getting on towards dusk by the
time I finished fueling around in the rain and resetting the
ac inverter, The Cat Drag'd Inn was like a tired dog
going round and round looking for a place to park. Finally
paid 15$ at the nearby TTT Truck Stop to share the puddles
in the rain.
25 July—Sunday rainy morning! Staying above high
water in Tucson.
Destination now depends on the troubleshooting. I’d set out
to go to Deming and Pie Town for a month or so, but now? I
may stay here if I can find a fridge repair service. I may
continue to Deming where Captain Hook might help. Or I may
return to Tonopah for repair and try the whole adventure
later. What a trilemma! By now I have sorted out the
troubleshooting and come to the conclusion that the fridge
compressor has failed. Where TinyTruck is parked
behind The Cat Drag’d Inn the puddle is nearly up to
her axles. With the advice of some local ham radio people
and a shot of Google I found a Fry's with dry ice. A couple
blocks of that kept the B&J's from melting and I made
the snap decision to return to Tonopah. 175 miles and two
cups of tea and I’m back in my familiar ruts where I started
from about 53 hours ago. I found 1.60” of rain in the gauge
I forgot to bring along and 3.7" of rain in the fire bucket
in the bed of TinyTruck.
Monday Morning Coming Down
Needless to say I am quite bummed. I'm moving some food to
Paul's fridge and some to an iced cooler on the couch and
contacting the manufacturer of my fridge this morning.
Troubles multiply exponentially! Like compound interest. All
the rain has pushed me into cleaning some storage areas that
have not been opened in too many years. I am finding all
sorts of things I could throw away. And a few things I
should have not been carrying in the first place. Need any
snowshoes? If I can get my fridge repaired in a few days
perhaps I will try again for Pie Town. WTF, there is only a
small fortune involved. Only money as they say. And time.
For now my meals are like a progressive dinner party. Go
visit one fridge for comestibles, back to my ice chest and
galley for prep and main course, then a different fridge for
desert. I have lost at least four pounds--I'm gonna market
this idea as the Broken Fridge Diet.
The cooling unit manufacturer said they have never had a
problem with the compressors however they have had failures
of the widget that sits between the compressor and Fridge
Controller. This device contains the starting capacitor and
start winding switch. Symptoms indicate that the switch has
failed and is stuck on. So when the Fridge Controller calls
for cold this widget turns the compressor on but the switch
fails to disconnect the start winding so the overload
circuit breaker opens. They are sending a new starter
device. [Repeat cartoon?]
They sent a new one monday afternoon (warranty) which
arrived today. The fridge is now cold enough that I have
started moving in my comestibles. I have to wonder if the
switch failed due to getting wet in all the rain. I’ve
ordered a second starter switch to have a ready spare. This
trip also uncovered a couple other problems. One is a leak
in the roof of the head, above Hurricane Hazel-Rah’s
commode. May have to add some sealant around the roof vent
fan. The other is a failure of the main engine alternator
charge amp-meter. Seems to be a bad wire. More critter
damage? So I have a few things to do to get turned around
and then reload-repack-restart. Now looking at departure in
a week or so. By then I will have to do another dump &
August 7th Nothing By Chance
narrative could be titled A Stormy Adventure of the Open
Road (with thanks and regards to Richard Bach) A week
has come and gone. Fix one thing find another failed. Today
Sammy’s penis was frozen. Unable to drain. I guess his
action has been too long neglected. Usually you pull on his
handle and he will fill your mug with hot water. R&R the
mechanism adding a dose of Plumber’s Grease cured the
malady. Would that mine could be fixed so easily.
In the old days Humans learned Common Sense. But Common
Sense along with tree climbing and free range unstructured
play is now considered Child Neglect. Most interesting is
that these new rules are promulgated by the very same people
who enjoyed such childhoods as they are now proscribing.
Planet Water Cycle
and global warming ... very bad news … Articles such
as that one are part of my reluctance to drive anywhere. The...Inn
must be making a contribution to my personal carbon
footprint. But if I am going to get stuck anywhere then
where should that be? Where should I go for my final
destination? How long do I have to get there?
I'm sure you all have been sitting on pins and needles just
groaning in anticipation of this next installment. At least
I like to believe that.
The manufacturer of my fridge's cooling unit said they've
never had a problem with the compressor and indeed that
turned out to be the case. The problem was with the
compressor starter switch. One more thing to bitch about. In
the old days these these switches consisted of a couple of
parts you could see and a mechanical relay that controlled
power to the start winding of the motor. With a couple of
hand tools one could fix the thing. Today this thing is a
plastic box smaller than the original relay containing a
dozen components you can't hardly see let alone replace. The
mechanical relay has been replaced by a triac. You cannot
burnish the points of a triac. When a triac fails you
replace the triac with another triac. If you can find one.
If not then you replace the entire starter. While I was
waiting for the new starter widget (coming out 2nd Day Air,
no charge) I disassembled the broken starter device just for
the hell of it.
The triac was shorted as expected. After some diligent
searching I found that I could get a new triac for $0.47
(forty-seven cents!) if I ordered at lot of 500. Eventually
I found a retailer on eBay who would sell one for four
dollars plus five dollars shipping and then I would have to
install and test. The entire starter device was only $15
post paid plug&play.
So, the new starter arrived and worked just fine. I ordered
a second for a spare. Now I'm still wondering why the first
one failed. All the details make for another few paragraphs
of speculation and only some further testing will result in
any knowledge. Meantime on to the other problems and
repairs. Let's see if we can get this bus on the road again.
Not So Fast...
TinyTruck's RF tyre has been loosing 2-3 psi a day
for the past couple weeks. Finally got an appointment to
have that repaired and learn there is irreparable damage to
the shoulder of the tyre, where the tread becomes the
sidewall. The good news is that a prorated replacement will
cost me only sixteen dollars. The bad news is the
replacement tyre will not be available for 5-6 days. There
goes another week.
“Sometimes I think that life is just a process of collecting
scars.” --Deborah Shapiro
2021iix22 Green Flash sunrise.
One good thing about Autumn: The sun's rise moving south
along the eastern horizon is finally out from behind the
trees. Another: Clear sky and drying air, this could be the
end of Monsoon.
Made the drive as far as Safford AridZona yesterday, 40-some
miles short of my goal. But I was tired and overheated so
this WallyWorld Caravansary appeared as an oasis in the
desert just in the nick of time. On to Deming Nude Mexico
today. Getting started shortly.
The Cat is Drag’d Inn to Little Vineyard camp in
Deming now. Several problems to work on but nothing really
serious. I've been too long off the road so these things
have been laying in wait.
Really bummed today. Yesterday I managed to ruin my fine
copper tea kettle not paying attention to the boiling dry
until the smell of burning metal brought me to my senses. So
far I’ve managed to fix an antenna for a neighbour, rewire
the cooling fans and alternator amp meter in this bus, have
a couple of nice meals and long chats with my other old
friend Captain Hook, and go a week and a half without
watching any television. But ruining my copper kettle has
set me back a piece.
Welcome to September
Already the 2nd. 64f here in Deming
before dawn. Had the heat on for a few minutes. Just to see
if the furnace and gas log remembered how to get hot. Letter
from Nancy's brother David informs me that she died of
complications of life. Nancy had been living in a nursing
home for the past few years after loosing a leg to
amputation. I last visited her when I went east by train in
Labour Day Weekend
Long climb up the hill—Deming>Silver
City>Reserve>Quemado—to Pie Town. Every thousand feet
of elevation climbed the temperature declined another few
degrees. Altitude ameliorates.
2021ix10 End of An Era
This anchor chain around my neck I purchased when I visited
friends in Saint Thomas during April of 1997. Since
then I have removed the necklace only twice that I can
recall, for chest X-Rays. Now this end of an era. This
morning the necklace fell off. If you look just west of
Miami you can see how thin the metal of the clasp has worn.
The hook had opened and the chain was across my shoulder
instead of around my neck. I bent the hook back and filled
the cavity of wear with solder but noted in the process
other wear spots along the chain not quite so bad. Perhaps
I'll get another few years of being chained down. Perhaps I
will find a silversmith who can make proper repair.
Twenty Years Later
Where were you and doing what on September 11th 2001? I was
working at NH’s Louden Speedway directing traffic at one of
their car parks when one of the managers drove through
exhorting us to “...turn your radio on!” Within minutes
traffic dwindled to a trickle, the race cars were quiet, we
were all listening
in stunned silence.
Forty Years Later
This year (and last year as well?) was supposed to be the 40th
Pie Town Pie Festival. Blame the cancellation on Covid
of course however some folks are putting on a Pie Town
Reunion which has divided the town and confused the
The Ides of September
Extraordinary adventure today. Pie Town this morning was at
40f and my furnace failed. Busy with troubleshooting for
several hours. Then another hour removing the furnace with
shovels and rakes and other implements of distraction. In
the process of which the under-the-galley-sink light failed
so I was obliged to redirect my attention there. In the
meantime the gas log and the overhead electric heat were
working. Had to replace the switch in the light so I could
see what I was doing on the furnace.
Eventually got the furnace out on my outside table.
Troubleshooting guide indicated the problem was with the
string of items following the wall thermostat: on/off
switch, high temp cutout device, sail switch. Eventually
found the high temp cutout device was open. not resettable.
no idea why. At least the circuit board was not faulty. Took
the opportunity to clean the blower squirrel cage of how
many years of cat hair and dust. This is the furnace Allan
gave me several years ago. Found a thermal cutout switch in
my parts stash that sort of fits. Everything glued together
and connected and working--stopped for lunch. But no nap. No
rest for the weary. The whole thing went together a lot
easier than apart. Makes heat. We'll see what happens in the
morning. Another hour or so of cleaning up after. A new
proper official Suburban thermal switch is on backorder.
Who sent me this link? CDI at
34f here this Double Green Flash Almost Equinox Sunrise.
Colder than atop The Rock Pile.
Thank you for reading and writing
your kind thoughts. Ride
along with me.
Michael published “Vinyl
Record Revival Puts New Spin on HiFi Music” on Medium.
And that bamboo question?... A pandamantra? A pandala!