Now that I can have them

So, having been in California for nearly 60 years and now being in Wyoming where I can pretty much have anything but a GI machine gun, I find myself musing several topics. I love to hunt and I love to shoot. Bad interests if you live in the peoples republic of socialist undocumented aliens. There are a few firearms that I wanted to acquire because I have a purpose for them or am concerned that they will not be available much longer. The weapons I came to Wyoming with all have hunting uses. Even certain pistols and semi automatic rifles have hunting uses. But here in the wild west there are certain considerations. Wolves and Grizzly Bears are near by. Also, we are in the sticks. There is a police station 15 miles away but anyone that came on my property with the intent to do harm would have plenty of time to do it with no witnesses. So my scoped elk rifle might be a poor choice. I was thinking some thing that was compact, had a lot of stopping power and would be effective out to 50M – maybe 100M in a pinch. Well, hello cowboy country, they have those and they are called lever action 30-30s. A very fun rifle to shoot at targets, short and light with open sights – a great property management item.

Now that is where I decided a few items that I would likely not ever shoot at animals. I have always loved target shooting with 1911 style pistols. Looking for something that was affordable to punch holes in paper, I gravitated to the 9mm and then I have always had a great respect for the Sig Sauer weapons. What a lot of fun. I love the external trigger, the decocking lever and how easy it is to field strip. Up to this point, the pistol would only be moderately scary to my liberal friends. I felt it was time for an AR style weapon. For one thing, they can be completely gunsmithed with out special equipment. I can replace the barrel or trigger or any other part. It uses standard military ammo. In case there was a disaster, I could use the same ammo that would be available universally. Is it a dooms day weapon? only in the minds of the weak minded. It shoots the kind of bullet I would shoot at a prairie dog. It shoots one at a time. And since I do not have any desire to replay a scene from an Arnold Schwarzenegger  movie, I do not care to waste ammo going pew pew pew. To defend against crazies that would do harm to me and my household, it would certainly be a deterrent. Oh, yes, it is fun to punch holes in paper with as well.

But back to the serious things. I love long range shooting and I can really do that here. All these things take practice and I can practice here.

Hey – I am just a salesman

I am a salesman. I go from manufacturning plant to manufacturing plant and see how things are made and sell products that help these businesses operate more efficiently. I see really well run businesses and really poorly run businesses. I see inefficient processes that would be toast if there was any competition at all. When I walk into a manufacturing facility, I can see where the bottlenecks are and can show inexpensive methods of creating wealth. But, I am a salesman. A lowly creature that is seen as if I was wearing a plaid sportcoat and selling a used car. I know that some things I know are confidential. I cannot devulge how one company does things that are proprietary. That being said, I am never asked the question, how can we do this faster, more accuratly and cheaper. They set the vision and fix their broken toe when their leg is completely not working. But you see, I am a salesman. I can offer a suggestion but it is often taken with an attitude like, “who asked you? you can be replaced with point click pay ship” Just a thought; at what point does a person who sees hundreds of manufacturing processes both well run and poorly run, become a resource of good information and best practices? Dare I say almost never? I have been doing this for 30 years. I do not try manipulative techniques with slick practices other than to ask questions and then ask for the order. I walk into a business with the ability to improve their throughput enormously and I am never asked for ideas because I am a salesman. Maybe next time a saleman walks into your business, instead of shutting them down, ask them what they would do to make your business more efficient. They might make everybody more money … just a thought.

The Hen House Project

Our hens are a lot of fun, they come up to you and talk to you and they have now boundaries. Since predators have to cross large fields, I have not had to pen them but protection at night is very important.
I did not want the hens to have to wait for us to get out and about for them to enjoy a pretty sunshiny day so I decided to make an automatic door for them. I found that unless I mounted it on ball bearing rails, I could not keep it aligned when motoring it up and down so I had a number of these drawer rails and installed them as shown. I have since sealed the wood.
This is from the back of the door and you can see the motor which is available cheap is a worm gear drive 12V motor used to move car seats forward and backward. The motor is attached to a long threaded rod by clamping vinyl tubing to the motor and the rod, offering some buffering. The rod goes through a large wing nut that is loosely captured in the wooden block as shown. In the top of the rod is a magnet and on the bottom of the rod is a magnet. When the door is all the way up, the magnet turns on a sensor that tells the PLC to stop and the magnet on the top of the rod does the same. There is to the right of the door, a switch that allows a manual raise or lower signal, above that is a daylight sensor to tell the PLC to lower or raise the door and the blue wire above that goes to an air temperature sensor to let the PLC know if it is just too cold to go out.

Here is the PLC. The cost of the basic unit with power supply is just over $110 and the right most module adds more than $100 more to read temperature.

The output for the motor goes to two relays that are wired similar to a house switch that has two switches that control one lamp. That way I can reverse the voltage to the motor easily with just two outputs on the PLC.

The software for the Click PLC is free and all from Automation Direct – here is what the program looks like:

As you can see, conditions on the left have results on the right either with “AND” of “OR” conditions and these turn on and off the relays that control the motor. I also have logic for indicator lights that I will be hooking up soon.

The hens need more than a door though. I make sure they have plenty of food and water and a light that comes on and keeps the inside nice and bright during the day and shuts off automatically at night. The heater and the water feeder have thermostatic controls to prevent the water from freezing and to keep the coup comfortable.

All in all, the hens are happy and continue to tell me so. So things here just keep getting better and better. – Loretta just obtained 6 more birds to add to the brood when they are a little bigger.

Leaving California

My dad came to California in the 1930s and my mom came to California in 1944. I have a long history of living in California, so why would I leave the golden state?

I really liked the culture I grew up in. My neighborhood was made up of lower middle class people that all worked hard every day and mostly did without many of the luxuries that most of us find ordinary. We played in the streets with neighbor kids and although there may have been dangers, it was not the primary concern on everyone’s mind. Old folks would sit on their porches and watch us kids play and often we would listen to them tell stories of war and character. These were good people and they were watching out for us kids growing up.

In school, I learned to operate printing presses and out of school, my shop teacher arranged a decent job for me. We did not worry about who we were going to offend, or wrestle with gender issues or deal with people who did not speak the language. Late in my high school years, they began to bus inner city kids to our school. They came with anger and knives. I managed not to get stuck but they isolated themselves and we avoided their violent behaviors.

When I got to college, (while working full time to pay my own way with the job I got right out of school because of shop class,) the only classes I could get were Pan African Studies, Women’s Literature and did manage to get Economics 101 102 and Business Law. Econ 101 taught me a lot and sparked my interests in marketing and sales. During the next decade or so, the culture did not change too badly. I stayed working, had a family and went to church. The 90’s though started to get different. Many folks started moving in and not learning the language and there were parts of town that you would no longer want to enter. I never understood why someone would want to hurt me just because I have light colored skin. So the city became more and more populated. Traffic got worse and worse over the next two decades.

Finally, I looked around and realized that no one around me spoke English, had a registered car or insurance. That law enforcement would be happy to give me a ticket but would not even pull over an immigrant because they did not want to deport them. Then finally, our town became a “Sanctuary City.” Rather than encourage people to become part of American and seek the American dream for themselves, it became all about waiving a foreign flag and not blending in with the rest of the culture. A felon destroyed two cars of mine in one night but driving a stolen car drunk into my property. The police said I could prevent theft from our front yard by putting up a fence but the city council  said I could not put up a fence unless it was five feet inside my yard – unlike the dozens of fences on my block next to the side walk.

It became obvious to me that there were a set of rules for those that work and follow the law and no rules for the lawless. I realized this was not the place where I want to grow old. With rampant fraud at the ballot box and impossible traffic, persistent trash everywhere and extreme rudeness  on the road and in stores, ever increasing laws and fees – we had to go.

So why Wyoming. Mostly because it is so not California. I can target shoot out the back door with a gun I bought in the morning. I can buy ammo without registering and there is NO TRASH. People there respect each other and they look out for each other. The laws are strictly enforced and people there learn the language. The Californians that go there are just like us and not like the Californians that invaded and ruined Oregon, Washington and are now invading Idaho. Our town is growing at the rate of 100 people per year and has been growing at that rate for decades. The land is beautiful. They have water. Taxes are low and there are very few stupid fees (like grocery bags.) Is it perfect? no. But the people there are awesome and we could not be happier.

We have made more close friends there this year than in all the years I can remember in California. Close friends have you over for dinner and games, help you when you need help and show you things you need to know. We are plugged into a church that gives us a wonderful family and places to serve and grow. The weather is not California. It gets cold. I think that keeps the population from growing faster and so the cold is what makes my driving enjoyable. We are truly blessed and we feel like we have been planted in a place where we will thrive and begin the new adventure of our lives.

Comming to ‘Murica

I have been off line for quite a while but thought I would at least report that we are now living in Wyoming. It is a long story that I will go into sometime but we are happy in our new digs. I need to build a new darkroom – I need to install a tower and I need to put in a proper shooting range.

My old PC

Well, it really is not all that old – less than 5 years actually. It is also far from obsolete. With two 6 core Xeon processors, 32G of RAM and 2T raid, it is no slouch machine. But then, earlier this week, it began to just shut off. The motherboard is reporting an over temp situation. This is not the first time this monster has needed repairs in its short life. But then, it is kind of a race car. The decision to scrap this amazing machine is that it is about 300W continuous. Although I enjoy having 24 threads from 12 cores, they are not all that necessary. I need to be able to virtualize up to two machines and have dozens of office application window open spanning four monitors. Doesn’t really sound all that bad right? Well – it doesn’t require dual Xeons but it needs to have some oomph though. I have three system I put into service as servers that use the Xeon E3-1245 chip – most recently a V5 version. These have been able to run several virtual machines and also serve up many files at the same time while also doing tasks like compressing and backing up. At idle, this little processor only draws about 15W. Along with drives and peripherals, I figure it will get up to about 40W with a max at about 110W. Less than a third of the power of the monster. Over a year this is a meaningful amount of energy that I do not need to waste. Also, my office is primarily on solar power and with the monster running, I have to dip into the mains for power very often. So the new system will have 16G of RAM, 2T Raid secondary and a 1T SSD primary. It will have my GTX 970 graphics card, an extra Ethernet port and a variety of other fine options. With the cannibalization of the old machine, my added expenses will be around $750. I am not going to use the old case. I also figure I will use Windows 10 on this one as the old beast did not like the upgrade. It will be dual boot of course. I am liking LXLE these days. It is based on Ubuntu repos and has an lite desktop but it is loaded with enough features to make it easy to use. I will not run Win in a VM for this though. The graphics card really needs the Windows drivers to really work well, which has always been a disappointment to me.

How to make a how-to video on your PC

You will need to load a program to do this – the one I use is

Pay attention while installing it so it does not install any crap ware.

When you run the program you can pick an area, a display or a window. It has some detailed setups to record the video in different formats with different codecs. – Save the file to a directory of your choosing.

To share the  file with others, I recommend youtube although it is pretty easy to share on Facebook these days.