All posts by Ken

For 2019…

2019 the big messI don’t do New Years resolutions but I do have a lot of things planned for 2019. My brother and sister in-law got us going pretty good before they went back to China and I want to keep that going. It’s hard to believe we got so complacent over the years and them giving us a kick in the butt was a good thing. I have a problem with making to-do lists because I put too much stuff on them then nothing gets done. But here are some things i hope to get done in 2019…

Health, studies, and home…

I really need to lose about 20 lbs and get in shape. The funny thing is, when I asked my 13 year old what he wants for Christmas this year he said weights and a punching bag. Really? OK I can love that idea. I don’t know where it came from but it’s a great idea. Something the whole family can do together. I don’t have a place to put it so I even decided to do something I swore I’d never do – give up my train table. It takes up a lot of space (hard to believe how big a 4×8 table seems when it’s in your living room) and if I get rid of it we’ll have plenty of room for a punching bag and a weight bench. Also more room to play ping pong…

Last year I got my technician class amateur radio license and started studying for my general class license but never finished. For 2019 I want to get my general class license. Also need to finish my FEMA training so I don’t get kicked out of CERT, and I want to learn to speak some Chinese.

As for home, other than cleaning and organizing there’s not a whole lot of things. I do want to convert our entry hall closet into a second pantry and do a lot of cooking and canning. Maybe even start brewing my own beer.

Yard

My brother and sister gave us a pretty good start on the yard, especially the back yard. We’ve got a nice shed put up (still need to finish the siding) and a chicken coop built (still need to put up a chicken run). My brother also helped me get rid of a huge bush in the front yard so we’d have room for a couple grape vines. So first things will be to finish the shed and chicken run.

When it gets warm next spring I want to put in a couple of grape vines. Hopefully we’ll get a lot earlier start on the garden than we did this year. We’ve got re-bar and PVC hoops over most of the raised beds so I’ll be able to put up Agribon after the last snow. I also want to build an automatic watering system, a water collection system, and put in a fire pit. IF there is time I’d also like to build a rabbit hutch.

Planes, trains, and automobiles…

I have a drone I started and never finished so I need to get that done. I also want to restore one of my grandpa’s control line airplanes. Maybe fly some model rockets with my son…

I’m giving up my train table but not giving up on having a layout. I want to put up a shelf layout in the garage, or at least have a portable switching layout.

I need to get my Buick running. Actually I have 4 vehicles i need to get running but I’ll settle for 2 running by the end of 2019 – the Buick and my dad’s old pickup. Speaking of which, I’ll need to take a road trip to get it. I’ve given up hope of getting my Barracuda running any time soon but I need to at least get it cleaned out (it’s being used as a storage container) and get the engine pulled. Maybe it will be running in 2020…

The Man Cave

I’m in the middle of cleaning and organizing my garage (a.k.a. the Man Cave). I just got a drill press and a band saw so i need to make room for them. I also have a router but I never put up a router table so I’ll need to do that. I haven’t decided whether to put my sewing machine in the garage or the house, but if it goes in the Man Cave I’ll need to make more room.

 

My Family

brother in law and older sonThis past June (June 26) I got to meet part of my family for the first time. My wife’s sister and her husband came here from China. I guess technically they’re my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. I just call them brother and sister. Part of my family. They’ve been living with us and I hope they stay. My brother is home sick for China so they’re talking about going back after the first of the year. My sister plans to come back here after a visit but my brother isn’t sure. I hope they do come back.

Update, November 29

My brother and sister went back to China today. Their flight left at 6:00 am so we had to get up about 4:00. I knew I’d be tired so I took today and tomorrow off from work. It was pouring rain on the way to the airport. Really glad it wasn’t snowing. I thought I was going to be really sad but I did OK. The house sure seems quiet now though…

Update, November 30

Got word that they arrived safely in China. They have some app to do live streaming video between their cell phones and my wife’s iPad so we got to see them. Wife said sister is coming back for sure because she doesn’t want to lose her green card. Brother – not sure but I’ll be working to get things going so he WANTS to come back.

Garden 2018

Last year’s garden was even worse than our 2016 garden. We only got summer squash (zephyr and zucchini), some okra, and a few cherry tomatoes. Mostly I think it was because we planted too late. Also, our winter squash was planted in the ground instead of our raised beds, and the soil in our yard basically sucks. This year should be a lot better. I’m putting in six new raised beds and we’re starting the seeds a lot earlier. Except for some zucchini and zephyr squash, everything we’re planting this year will be open pollinated, heirloom varieties. I don’t know if I’ll have room for everything. We have seeds for cherry tomatoes (Indigo Blue Berries and Chocolate), corn (Hopi Blue and Stowell’s Evergreen), beets (Chioggia), summer squash (Zuchinno Rampicante), winter squash (f, f, and f), beans (), okra (), and carrots. We also have 3 beds of garlic that we planted last fall, 2 fig trees (in pots), and 4 blackberry plants. Oh, and some potatoes.

Most of the work I’ve gotten done so far has just been yard cleanup and getting rid of all the sucker roots from the locust tree we cut down 2 years ago. I hope to get most of the seeds started this weekend and get the new beds built between the 19th and 21st of this month. I also need to get some large planters because I don’t think everything will fit in the wood beds.

We’re also going to try a few new things this year. I just finished 2 really simple worm beds and put red wigglers in one and European night crawlers in the other. Once the weather warms up a bit the wigglers will go into one of the raised beds and the crawlers will go into the one place in my yards that has decent soil. I found a good video on YouTube about raising carrots in a pot – something I didn’t think was practical – so we’re going to try that. We also plan on having some upside down tomatoes. And hopefully, either ducks or rabbits before the end of the season.

My Dad’s Dad

I never got to meet my dad’s dad – that would be my Grandpa Deboy. He died long before I was born, to tell the truth I’m not even sure what year. Looking back at family history though I can kind of guess… I think he was 54 when he died, and my dad was 20. Since my dad was born in 1934, my grandpa would have died in 1954 or early 1955, meaning he would have been born in 1900 or 1901.

I do know some things about him… he came to the United States from Germany. I don’t know the date he was processed through Ellis Island, but his ship left Germany on May 23, 1922. I have a copy of the page from the ship’s passenger list with my grandpa’s name on it. I guess he came here because he wanted to be an American. My dad said as early as he can remember, no German was spoken at home, only English. Some time after arriving, he married Thelma, my Grandma – for some reason we always called her “Murphys Grandma” instead of Grandma Deboy. She passed away when I was 4 or 5. I loved her dearly, but I’ll write about her later. This is about her husband, my dad’s dad, Albert Deboy.

At some point, my grandpa got a job with a dairy. He was good at his job, so good that he eventually he was in charge of taking the dairy’s “show string” to all the big fairs in California (including the State Fair) to show them. In those days, that was a big deal. Then he gave it all up and quit to become a caretaker at a sanatorium in the little town of Murphys, California.

If you’ve ever been to the Central Valley in California, you may know how hard it can be in kids with asthma or allergies. Lots of heat, lots of pollen, hell on allergies and asthma – and hell on my dad, who suffered from both. The family decided to send my dad to a sanatorium in Murphys for a better climate and treatment for his allergies and asthma.

It didn’t work out so well I guess… my dad missed my grandparents and they missed my dad, so they moved him back home and told him to just deal with the allergies and asthma… NOT. My grandpa gave up his prestigious job with one of the top dairies in California and moved the family to Murphys so the whole family – my dad included – could be together. My grandpa was unemployed for awhile, but eventually he was able to get a job as caretaker at the sanatorium that was treating my dad.

When I look at the little I know about my grandpa, I wish I could be more like him – selfless instead of selfish, willing to sacrifice my own ambitions for the sake of my family. Unfortunately I still have a long ways to go…

We’re Back…

we-be-backSo much for not paying attention… my web hosting expired (I knew it was coming so no excuses) so my several domains stop working last Friday. Luckily I’d backed up the databases for the important ones, but did nothing else. It took me awhile to get the domains transferred and I’m still trying to figure out the new account interface (cpanel) and domain user scheme. But anyway, we’re back.

As for the garden, we had mixed results but it wasn’t a total failure. We got lots of summer squash throughout the summer and a so-so crop of cherry tomatoes. We also got 8 or 9 butternut squash and 7 pumpkins, but the pumpkins didn’t get ripe before the first heavy frost killed the vines early last week. My salsify experiment was a failure and my wife’s asian bean plants grew into some beautiful and healthy looking vines with lots of blossoms, but no beans. Anyway, hoping next year is better. We got a late start this year, but I have six new planting beds for next summer. I’m going to spend the winter trying to make good soil for them.

Fall is here and I love it…

I didn’t realize it when I woke up this morning, but today is the first day of fall and I’m loving it. We’ll have more hot days yet this year, but today was cool, cloudy, it even rained – well, sprinkled – a little bit. Work is going well, and I have a new rifle on the way – a Savage Axis II in 223. Also parts to convert it to 277 Wolverine in the future…

My older son is taking a ceramics class at community college and my younger son just got glasses today. I’m kind of sad he needs glasses at only 11 years old but happy he can see really good now and he’s excited about getting them, so I guess it’s all good.

We got half of the duplex that our ex-tenants trashed finished (finally!!!) and a new tenant in place, the other side should be done by the end of the month and we have a tenant lined up for that side too.

The best news is my wife is buying a new car this month, so that’s wiping out most of the money we’d saved up for the down payment on another rental house. YIPEE!!! I _SO_ need a break from working on houses…

So next 3 or 4 weeks will be really busy finishing up the duplex and getting my wife a new car. After that, well… I’ve got some vacation time saved up at work, hunting season starts at the end of October, and I’m getting back into a hobby that I used to love but haven’t had time for in many years. I take back a previous statement. It’s not all good. It’s fantastic. Have a wonderful autumn:)

Bishop – twice in two weeks – week two

The first trip was going to be the only trip, but after packing and cleaning for two days mom decided we needed to make one more trip before the estate sale. This trip was better and worse. The first time she griped about the way I drove, so this time I followed her down, and she stayed when I came back to Reno so I could set my own pace coming back. This time we left on a Saturday and I came back on Monday. Since the Monday was Robert’s first day back at school after Easter break, the kids stayed home this time. That was good and bad – since Mom was content to hang out at the motel (I guess she gets sad hanging at the house and getting ready to hand the keys over to someone else) I got to have a lot of alone time that I needed. OTOH, I missed the kids, and Robert got really upset Sunday morning when his mom was late getting home due to working 4 hours of overtime on her shift.

Unlike the first trip, I got to spend some time over at the lot. Very depressing looking at the two dry creeks. They ran continuously from at least 1975 when my parents bought the lot all the way through 2012. I’ve caught many fish in them, and since they had the bigger creek dug out it’s deep and wide enough to float in – if it had water. Now it’s just dry, with mud at the bottom every time it rains or DWP decides to let a little water down. Depressing.

Mom found some more things she wants to bring to Reno that wouldn’t fit in the back of my truck so in a few weeks I’ll be renting a U-Haul and making another trip. I also decided to get as many of Dad’s lave rocks while I’m there since I’ll have a big, almost empty truck.

I took my camera this time but didn’t bother to take any pictures. In some ways Bishop is the same as it’s always been, but in other ways it’s changed and for the worse in my opinion. Lots of areas I used to hunt, fish, fly rockets, ride my BMX bike, etc. are now fenced and posted “No Trespassing” even though the land is still empty. Hardly any local businesses left but more people. Down town is dead at night. It’s hard to believe that the year I graduated from high school, Bishop could support an 18 lane bowling alley, FOUR grocery stores, three hardware stores, Radio Shack, four or five sporting goods stores, a Baskin Robbins, four or five liquor stores, three bars, and lots of other small businesses. Now the bowling ally is closed and used as a warehouse, there are NO liquor stores, Basking Robbins is gone, no more hardware stores, no Radio Shack, only one bar, two grocery stores, and lots of the little gift shops and whatnot are closed. The ironic thing is the population is 10 or 15% higher than it was when I lived there – more people supporting fewer local business.

I hope the next trip is a little happier.

Bishop – Twice in two weeks – week one

I was lucky enough to go to Bishop twice in two weeks. Both were quick trips though and bittersweet. The first trip was to help my mom get ready for her estate sale. Drove down on a Saturday and back on Monday, me and my two kids in my truck and mom in her car. We didn’t have time to do much except pack and clean. Staying in a motel in my own town sucks, but at least they had a good breakfast bar. I feel sorry for my mom. She used to be so… I don’t want to say “smart” because she’s still smart, but now she gets confused easily, “remembers” things that were not the way she remembers them, says something then forgets she said it, and she takes EVERYTHING so seriously now. Like a joking comment by me on my need to lose a few points getting a half hour dissertation on the importance of proper nutrition, what I “really to do,” etc. Since I didn’t like hanging out at the motel I spent as much time as I could at the house. It was kind of sad, realizing it’s probably one of the last times I’ll get to be there.

On the plus side, I think my 10 year old really enjoyed being there. His older brother is finally getting over his need to constantly be present so me and Robert got to spend some time alone together. He has a pretty funny sense of humor – when I said one of the nice things about Bishop is there are no bad guys, right away he piped up with “So what do they do, pay the police to sit around and do nothing?” then spent the next half hour making up jokes about cops in a practically crime-free town. I got a kick out of it.

Like I said though, it was a very bittersweet experience. The creeks at the lot still don’t have water for the third or forth year in a row. Almost all the stuff mom is keeping is already in Reno, everything left in Bishop will be sold at the estate sale and what doesn’t sell will be donated to a local charity. Dad’s beautiful grape arbor will stay in the back yard.

I wish there was a way I could find a job and move to Bishop. I love it there – the slow pace of life, the wide open spaces, friendly people (but not “fake friendly” like in a big, liberal city), and the way you can get just about anywhere in 10 minutes or less. Oh, and the lack of bad guys…

Porter Cable PCE141 – First Impressions


I bought my Porter Cable PCE141 based on two things: low price and a large number of positive reviews. My main concern was – how can such a cheap drill offer “hammer” capability and be even somewhat reliable? The positive online reviews (and very few negative reviews, 3 year warranty, etc) kind of eased my worries so I decided to give it a chance. Besides, I wasn’t even buying it to drill holes with… I needed something that would spin a wire brush fast enough to clean the rust from cast iron frying pans without wasting a lot of time. To do that I wanted at least 2500 rpm and a side grip. It turns out the PCE141 is the only affordable drill I could find that meets those specs.

First impressions are that it seems light, balances really nice, and is easy to hold. PC calls it single speed, but I guess that refers to the hammer function because drilling speed is definitely variable – the more you pull the trigger, the faster the motor spins. I like the keyed chuck since it gives way better holding power than any keyless chuck, and the side handle is easy to adjust and gives a lot of stability. I just wish it wasn’t made out of plastic.

On the down side, the chuck has noticeable runout when spinning, the electrical cord has a 2-prong plug instead of a properly grounded 3-prong plug, and the motor is freakin’ LOUD – not exactly confidence inspiring. It does have a 3 year warranty though, so we’ll see…