Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spareless again / but not without Coffee! / Purse Snatcher

If anyone ever offers to sell you like new tires and says they were only used for two weeks, but were a year old just SHOOT them! 3rd of 4 tires that were supposedly almost new.
I did manage to limp in to Study Butte and the Study Butte Store before having to change the tire. I drove the last three miles at about 20 MPH. I had the trailer with me because I needed to get 3 propane cylinders filled and a jug of gas and there wasn't any way to get all of that in the falcon. I jacked the car up as usual by putting the jack cradle under one of the U bolts on the rear axle to keep it from sliding off. This time that was not a good thing because the spare is lower profile that the other tire and once I got the spare on the car settled so low that I couldn't pull the jack out. I started looking around for a flat rock that I could jack the car back up and put under the tire to allow me to get the jack out, but unlike here where there are thousands there was NONE! I rummaged through the trunk to find a chunk of iron thick enough to do that with and then when I got the jack out I just drove off of the iron. I got the cylinders filled while I was doing that but after going through all of that I forgot to get some of the stuff on my list. (See below)

One of the things I forgot was coffee. Just so happens that I stopped at the mailbox on the way back and what do I find? Coffee. :) Yep... One of my site members and a follower of this blog Dennis Walker had sent me another bag of coffee. Thanks Dennis!

Some not so good news was that I got an email from Bigfoot saying that while Littlefoot was at Walmart some jerk ran up to her cart as she was loading the groceries in the car and snatched her purse. Without thinking of the potential danger she tried to catch him. According to Bigfoot the guy hit her with the rear bumper backing out and then again with the front bumper as he sped away. Fortunately it doesn't sound like she was seriously injured. I suppose one of them will update her blog and give more details later. (Which is why this didn't get top billing) They were supposed to arrive down here today, but now it will be tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Odessa / Charging / Trimming / Burn'in Poop

Had a nice trip to Odessa to visit family and pick up a few things. Enjoyed the ride there and back with Frann and she stayed with her family this trip. She pretty well had the jeep Cherokee loaded down for the return trip. Concrete, a ladder on the roof as well as a wheelbarrow. I did manage to squeeze the stuff I got in there to though. RN will be here in a day or two and bring some stuff I couldn't bring. He'll be at the NYE party also.

My # 4 granddaughter was in Odessa visiting her grandmother on her dad's side and I was fortunate enough to get about a 30 minute visit with her. Sure wish it could have been longer, but Frann was determined to come back Monday so that was it. Sure was nice to see that girl!!! Was also nice to see the son in law, his other daughter (Sort of another granddaughter) and spouse. I had intended to get some pictures of them, but I suffer from CRS and forgot about it until after they left. Damn! Getting old sucks!

I picked up a charge controller at Harbor Freight while I was there. RN had a 20% off coupon so I got a deal on it. I've been without one, but the batteries have been taking a beating in the summer from over charging. I figured it was time to add a charge controller. I'll get that done as soon as I can, but now that its winter the batteries aren't getting over charged they are staying under charged (especially with the cloudy days.) I'm running the charger as I post this.

Also picked up a cheap set of clippers to try to keep my beard trimmed up with. It has really been bugging me! Hope they do better than the high dollar ones I bought some time back did. They turned out to be junk, but these cost less than $8.

The last drum half I'd put under the It'll Du is about at the point of needing to be changed so I decided to burn the poop in the last one I pulled out. It had dried enough over the 4 months its been sitting out in the sun that it smoldered like charcoal most of the day. I won't have to buy much diesel to finish the job because most of it is ash now. I have a fresh unused half drum waiting to take the place of the one in there now though. It will be swapped out the day of the party in case anyone needs to head to the It'll Du while they are here. I could probably get by with two half drums by myself, but there were a number of guests that used it also. I'd say this is a good alternative for a composting toilet. but of course it can't be kept inside.

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Problem'Os

Had more computer problems and I'm not sure whether its actually my old laprop, a hardware conflict with the external drive, DVD player and the new USB keyboard or what? Anyway it was all screwed up and getting very hard to use. My neighbor came by and I told him I was going to have to try to find a used laptop in Odessa and he said he had one for $50. I jumped on it since its pretty close to the same as the old one, but has a working internal DVD player/burner, more memory and a larger hard drive. Its also a little faster. No telling what a used or referbed computer would cost me in Odessa, but I'd bet at least 3 to 4times as much. I plan to loose the external drive I had Linux on and add a dual boot on this computer with Linux. That will also mean I won't have to wagg the external drive with me when I go some where. This computer also has a fairly new battery so I'll be able to use it for a couple of hours at night without robbing from the battery bank. I'll just charge it during the day when there is sun to make up for it.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Years Eve Party (revisited)

Update on the NYE Party. This thing seems to have snowballed and has gotten out of hand as far as having it here! Between a few locals inviting themselves, some whining because they didn't get invited after someone else told them about it and my inviting a few others there could be as many as 75 or more people planning to attend. I've lost track of it and have decided the best way to go about it now is to host it at the Legion.

The deal is now that it will still be a BYOB if you want to drink the hard stuff. You can bring in Wine, but the beer will have to be bought at the legion. I have negotiated the price of the beer being Happy Hour prices through closing time though. $1.50 per beer instead of $2.00. The Pot Luck Lunch will be a Pot Luck Dinner at the legion since there will be facilities there to handle it unlike here. Bring some kind of dish if you can and if not we'll hope the food goes around.

I figure we can still meet up here about 3:00 and visit (Maybe do some shooting?) and probably a lot of BS'ing and then head for the legion about 6:00 for the dinner and party. The legion will have to be closed at straight up midnight (Probably will close at 11:30) and those still standing can come back here to see in the new year.

After that anyone that lives close by should be able to head home and anyone that lives a fur piece either needs to have a tent setup here or make other arrangements near by. Hopefully anyone who can't do that can stay here. (Men in tents and woman inside) or if any of the woman want to stay out with the men then what ever.

I think we can have a fun night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Return to BBT phone/DSL

Supposedly Big Bend Telephone is upgrading the system down here. Its supposed to be more stable, faster and hopefully handle the higher load? Anyway around 2:00 PM yesterday the phones and DSL in the whole area went out and the phones didn't come back up until around 6:00 I guess. The phone and DSL came back up at the legion about then, but only the phone came back up here. (No DSL) I must have rebooted the modem a dozen times last night trying to get it up with no luck. I figured it might be up this morning and the same thing. (No DSL) at least the phone does work.

I called BBT and it actually didn't take long to talk to a tech and she was probably the best tech I've ever talked to about anything. (Spoke clearly, very professional (but actually listened to me) and did all she could to get me back on line.) Unfortunately not though and I'm stuck around here waiting on a higher level of tech to do what they can. They may have to come here, but personally I think its the lousy modems they have now. Some times I have had to reboot it several times just to get online.

At least I didn't do away with the WiFi setup so I do have the legion connection to fall back on.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lunch at the Legion / Pepper Update / TFFN Update

Sunrise a few mornings ago.
There was a Pig cooking under that mound of dirt.
Some of the cooks. :)
Potatoes and ears of corn about to be roasted.
Waiting on the grub.
Killing time waiting on the grub.
Pepper (Now Athena) at the legion. She fell out of the back of a moving pickup a while back and bunged up one of her hind legs. That was a good while back and she still doesn't use that leg a lot so she may never be the jumper and fast runner she once was?
Digging up the roast pig.
About to get to the pig.
There it is in the burlap bag.
 More pictures later.

As for the progress of TFFN, well I still wasn't having any luck with the server provider doing anything so as I type this I'm uploading the whole site from here in the background. It is still going to take a good while to get the site going. I thought the last server provider was bad, but Hostgator (tm)  really really really SUCKS!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Status of TFFN.NET / Running a website off grid.

FINALLY! I'm making some progress on getting my site back online. I can tell you right now this has been a hair raising experience. This all started when the service on the old server got so lousy that I didn't have any choice other than to move it to another server provider's server. I got a higher end package because over the years each different provider did good at first and then started saying my site was too big with too much traffic and also saying I needed to go to a dedicated server. Now that is HIGH end and way out of my $$$ range. Anyway the new name servers are setup and it could take up to 24 hours for the site to come back on line. I shutter to think what I'll need to do once that happens!

BTW December the 15th will start the 13th year I've been running the site and I've been through a LOT of problems over the years, but this has to be about the worst yet. It seems now days there is no such thing as good tech support. Some providers are evidently outsourcing their tech support yo India or somewhere else which seems evident on the last server the site was on. I think everyone has probably gotten in to a situation like that.  The tech support on the new server doesn't seem to be much better because my correspondence with them has been the same answers over and over how to resolve the problem, but then them saying they didn't have that information. The tech support I'm getting now isn't even through them.

Now, the point to all of this is IF you think you'd like to start a web site and you live off grid then you should know that it will probably be tough.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

ARG... Server problems!!!

I've been trying to get my site working off of the new server for several days and actually thought it was for a while there. (Just happened to be a time when the old server was actually working like it was supposed to.) Now I find it was still working off of the old server and I'm having to jump through hoops to get it setup to go to the new server. Its totally offline now. :(

Of course having to juggle the desktop between the times of enough sun light, enough wind for generation and running the charger sure isn't helping this situation at all. The USB keyboard should be in some time tomorrow so that should help some, but with the help of support (Not from the new server provider) I hope to have it back online before long. The site has close to 5000 members and some get rather bent out of shape when they don't get their Falcon Fix. ;)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bills Bills Bills!

Got the phone bill today and they are stiffing me for $110. Got to register the falcon and trailer this month. (About another $100), Had to have my main site moved to a new server and that will double the cost of the server. Spending more $ on gas to run the charger so I can use the desktop at night. I sure hope nothing else jumps up and bites me! Thanks to Dave the legion's bar manager's sister I should have a USB keyboard in there Wednesday some time to see if it will let me start using the laptop again. I sure hope so!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pix of this and that.

Haven't updated the blog in a while so I'll mainly do it with pictures. The first four pictures are from Bigfoot and were on their last trip down here. (Thanksgiving) The first  was a sunset or sunrise from their place. The other three were taken at the Legion Thanksgiving day dinner. Once again I didn't even know the picture was even being taken and I think the one with Frann and I in it was probably taken by Littlefoot. It may look like I knew the picture was being taken because I was looking that way, but I didn't. Frann caught one of me like that while we were having breakfast at the BBMI a while back. Boy are woman sneaky!
 The following pictures are of the trip to Odessa. The first is a picture of Frann's new battery bank after RN and I got through making the cables for them. The lugs were too expensive so we made them out od copper tubing like I did for my bank. One is of Frann and my younger sister at their house. One is of my little sister and I standing behind my 60+ year old highchair. :( One is of a water tank Frann left here for me to use for a shower tank. I didn't know she left it here until today. I wonder if she is trying to tell me I need to shower more? ;) The last is of the steel siding JustMe turned me on to for the storage building. Because of that I'm now rethinking the way I will cover it.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Morning from Hell

I woke up about 5:00 and it was COLD. Stayed in bed until 6:00 trying to get back to sleep and didn't have any luck so got up to 37 degrees in here. I turned on the light and computer and the inverter cut out because of low battery voltage so I went out and started the charger. It ran out of gas no sooner than I finally got it started. Added gas and started it again so I'd have power until the sun comes up for the solar panels to start charging. Then I came in and put water on for coffee and kept waiting for the water to get hot. I noticed it never did so looked and the burner had gone out, but no propane was coming out. I just changed bottles yesterday! Next I notice the CHECK light on the fridge is on and it isn't working. I thought OK... it isn't getting propane, but I tried the burner on the stove again and it light with no trouble. Put the water back on for coffee and tried to get the fridge to fire up again and it wouldn't. Low voltage on the trailer's battery that the fridge gets its control voltage from. Looks like I'll be running the generator today to charge up that battery.

I've been thinking something is up with the batteries lately because they just don't hold up at night, but I just had an epiphany. It is Winter, the days are shorter, the sun is further away, its not hitting the solar panels at the correct angle for maximum charging and batteries don't like cold. This all equates to either going to bed real early and staying off the computer or using anything that will drain the batteries much. Either that or get used to using the charger and generator more in the evenings to top off the batteries because the solar panels couldn't.

Now this brings up a conversation JustMe and I had yesterday when I went over to pick up the siding. It was about AMPS at Volts. A lot of people seem to think that if an appliance pulls 1 AMP at 120 volts it also pulls the same at 12 volts. That is far from the truth. If an appliance pulls 1 AMP at 120 volts then it will pull about ten times that at 12 volts. You also have the overhead of the inverter which further adds insult to injury. Take the DSL modem here. I wasn't having trouble with inverter cut outs at night until it was installed. That coupled with the shorter days, the sun being further away and the sun hitting the panels at the wrong angle all cause problems I didn't have in the summer. About the only way to offset that would be to add more solar panels, setup a sun tracking mechanism for the panels to follow the sun or start running the charger and generator to take up the slack. Of course as mentioned before I could start going to bed earlier and cut back on the computer use at night, but that doesn't really appeal to me.

BTW the sun is now up and the solar panels charging the single RV battery are working giving the fridge enough voltage to work off of so its now working again.

Just something else to think about before moving off grid.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Turkey Day Dinner @ The Legion

Ok Folks, for those of you who will be in the area there will be a Free Thanksgiving dinner served at the Legion Thursday at 3:00 PM. I'll be making the dressing so don't no body knock it! ;) As far as I know there will be at least 4 bloggers we all know besides myself. Would be nice to see more!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another WiFi Dish

My neighbor down the hill brought his WiFi key up this morning and we spent the morning building him a WiFi dish like I've been using here for months. Its not to allow him to connect to me since my system wouldn't stand the extra load of me running a WiFi router along with the modem and still be able to do what I need to and want to do. He will see if he can get his Internet from the same source as I was. Problem there may be being out of the line of sight from the source.

I had the bottom to an old BBQ and it made a bang up dish with a little work. One more neighbor was also wanting to connect through me, but since that can't happen I guess we need to find another suitable dish for them to use. Will need to be larger because of the extra distance. Perhaps one of the large HughesNet dishes or maybe even a 4 foot dish. Line of sight shouldn't be a problem with this one. Only distance.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lost in Terlingua

Went in to SB this morning to take a shower and get supplies and found Frann at the BBMI cafe so had breakfast with her. Enjoyed the visit and the breakfast was plenty good as usual for there. She is wanting to introduce me to her neighbor Dale Wood who is an older ex-NASCAR driver so I was going to go to her place after my shower, but couldn't find it and got lost on the way. Guess I should have taken Laurie and the Horseshoe for good luck in finding her place. I've slept too many times since I was there last and it seemed to have changed some to. I did turn on one road that I thought was hers, but after driving for some time I decided that couldn't be it so turned around and went back to South County road. At that time I had a senior moment and turned left rather then right and drove about 4 miles looking for highway 170 and noticed the sun wasn't where it was supposed to be so turned around and went back. Once I hit 170 I said to heck with it since I was running low on gas and headed for the SB store for gas and the Cottonwood for other stuff before heading home.

I started thinking about what she had said about Dale saying his brother had restored an old Ford Bronco for him and then realized that I had already met him. He was the guy I met at the Cottonwood back when the Cobras were down here and he was also the guy that asked me if I'd sell the Falcon to him. He had told me he had a 66 Falcon Ranchero that he used to tow his race car with back many years ago. No wonder he knows Carrol Shelby!

Sorry I missed you Frann...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Got the Phone & DSL

I called BBT yesterday to find out why I was having to wait until Jan 6th to get it installed. The woman told me that it was ready to be hooked up and they had sent me the package to hook it up myself. :( I went to the mail box after that and sure enough there was a care package from BBT. When I got back I had to search through the dungeon to find some extra hardware I'd brought down here from Plano to hook it up and they failed to include the install CD in the package. I had to go to their site through the legion connection to download a program to install it. It works, but is little to NO better than the legion connection most of the time so  far so I guess I'll be spending a lot of time on my phone trying to get tech help to get the DSL working like its supposed to work. Oh well... I guess I am making some progress.

Two of my neighbors who can't get it are wanting to scab off of me, but no WiFi router is provided and the damn modem only has one connection. That would mean buying a high strength WiFi router and the added wattage to run it 24 hours a day so I'm going to have to do some thinking on that. It would also mean I would have to use the WiFi router to connect myself and I don't want to have to do that.

I ran the batteries down again last night because of one of my neighbors being here with his computer hooked up, I used the desktop computer some to try and get the DSL working and then I watched movies until the inverter dropped out about 11:45 last night. I said to heck with t and went to bed. Didn't run the charger until about 8:30 this morning and by that time the solar panels had started charging again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lucky Man

Most will remember Laurie. I put her up in the cabinet and forgot to do anything with her. As you can see from the picture of her she needs some re constructive surgery now. Today while I was taking a chicken carcass out to feed the coyotes I ran across the old horseshoe. I guess the good luck will catch up sooner or later, but maybe it already has? How much luckier can a person get having a great family and a lot of good friends.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The way we were

The Dungeon and I that is.

Its been a while since I updated this blog and I don't have much to update it with and no pictures at this time. I will post the picture of Allen and Ok Hwa Hare that I took when they stopped by on their way back to the DFW metroplex. Was good to see them again.

As far as the dungeon goes its real close to being back like it was when it was dropped off here. (Other than being full of most of my remaining worldly possessions.) The only thing remaining is the front I built for it and as soon as I have a need to that it will also be disassembled. I've started building on the new storage building with the material taken from the inside. Its starting to look like I may have to keep the dungeon for another month though because I will be just a little shy on material to finish it. Its also turned in to one of those one step forward and two steps back deals. JustMe stopped by this afternoon and renewed an offer of some used siding she has though so I may still be able to let the dungeon go to some other needy soul at the end of the month. I wish the next renter good luck with what ever they use it for.

Picture is of Allen and Ok Hwa just before they pulled out to go home. Pretty nice rig they have and I would love to have a little Broncho like the one he has. Maybe one of these days.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Droves & Droves

I think its safe to say the chili cook off is over. This morning 118 is as busy as most super highways with all the people headed north from the cook off. I hear the DPS troopers have been even worse this time and evidently harassment is foremost on their minds. They stopped my neighbor's wife yesterday when she was coming home from work at the BBMI. Worst than that she wasn't doing anything wrong, the car was totally legal and she is a preacher's wife. They made her stand between the cars while they searched her car. Now I ask... Where is the Probable Cause here? I'm not a big fan of the ACLU, but think they might actually be able to do some good in this case. So far I've seen NO troopers headed North just one more headed South. I figure since a lot of people hold over a few days to give the heat time to leave the area then the heat has decided to stick around to? From the information I got yesterday the troopers are headquartering at the Baptist Church in Study Butte? One woman and man said that was where most of the troopers were when they went by there.
State trooper headed south this morning. Night before last I saw one pull someone over on 118 out here.
Sort of reminds me of the Hippie days.
The red lines point out all of the vehicles headed North in that one picture
Its been like that all morning with drove after drove of people heading out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Man's Got To Know His Limitations

Dirty Harry (Magnum Force 1973)

Limits of his equipment that is. NO Ladies I'm not talking about that kind of equipment! I'm talking Off Grid stuff!

The cables are here now and still its supposed to be Jan 6th before its installed (If not sooner???) Anyway the road in front of here is now fine powder and I have a new road coming in to the property which I plan to use to make a circular driveway out of. Its also fine powder. I felt for the guys operating the heavy equipment and they could easily win the program Dirty jobs because the dust was covering them. Don't know how much they make per hour, but I'd say it isn't enough!

Now for the limitations... I was up about 5:45 this morning and turned on the light and this computer. They were on about 15 minutes before the inverter shut down because of low voltage. That hasn't happened in like for ever, but it happened this morning. I went out about 6:15 and fired up the gas powered charger so I could get everything working again and it promptly ran out of gas so with flashlight in hand I hunted down the gas jug and added gas to it. Ran the charger for about 20 minutes and while that was running I came in and got on line. After the sun came up good I went out to investigate to see why that happened. It was evident right off the bat. All the dust from the construction had laid down a thick blanket of dust on the solar panels and they just hadn't gotten enough sunlight to make the power to keep the batteries up. That and there wasn't enough wind to generate enough power to keep the batteries up either. Of course me watching 3 movies yesterday using the laptop, 22 inch monitor and stereo for sound didn't help much either. That and playing the stereo for a couple of hours after that to listen to music on pretty well drained the batteries.

As a side note I made it to Study Butte early this morning to take care of business and get enough supplies to last me at least a week. I didn't see so much as one state trooper or Sheriff's deputy the whole time I was there. On the way home I did see a convoy of three sheriff's pickups headed south though. I suspect by now though there are troopers and deputies everywhere down there. At least now I can dodge all of that now.

Monday, November 1, 2010


First pictures... Target practice with Bigfoot. Shooters are Bigfoot, Bob Dawson, Jackie (Bigfoot's friend) and myself.

Then there's the old trailer stripped of the chicken wire cage and rotted out floor. I have my other storage cleaned out and turned in and will soon be gutting the dungeon to use the materials to build the new storage building. Hopefully I gan get the dungeon turned in by the 1st of next month.

Last two pictures... BBT has arrived across the road. Still don't know when it will be instilled because now they tell me it will be Jan 6th (If not before) Really something to go on there Eah?