Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Camping in Kansas

When you think camping, you think Kansas, right?

Well, me either. But it turns out that much of Kansas actually has hills and trees -- so it's ok. We and the Groves were going to head down to Isabella, MO -- where Mark's mom owns some land -- but due to a whole bevy of reasons we ended up camping about 30 miles west of Olathe on some land where some friends of theirs are building a house.

We had a nice fire pit, and Mark had bought one of those tripod grill hangers from Cummins Tools which worked out real well. The grill part itself is relatively cheap, but it'll last a little while and they are easily replacable. Worked for the brats, toasting the buns, the coffee pot, the sausage in the morning, and toasting muffins.

We went to Clinton Lake up by Lawrence for a few hours... the girls and the kids waded while Mark fished. I skipped some rocks, help teach Nathanial how to cast and how to skip rocks... baited his hook a few times. Cassie collected muscle shells (she loves collecting things. Rocks. Shells. Sticks. Acorns. Bugs.)

Then we went back to camp and did some target shooting with various rifles and pistols with targets against the large dirt piles that had been dug out for the house foundation. Fairly obliterated the 2x4 scraps we had stapled the targets to. The kids got to shoot their great-grandfather's .22 rifle (with lots of supervision, of course). And I re-discovered that a .38 pistol kicks.

I started the fire with the magnesium block and some dead cedar needles & prarie grass. Dinner was good, and we had s'mores, of course, afterward. Some lightning, but no rain to speak of, moved in for the evening and we had maybe a half an hour to fiddle around with the guitars before we hit the sack.

Then I went to Cummins and got a tripod grill ;-) And a pellet gun for $20. Mark's killed 3 varmints with his so far.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Water Heater, Spring

The water heater leak picked up steam, so to speak, going from leaking about 2 tbsp per day to about a gallon and a half a day over just a few days.

So I took it apart last night. Tried filing the edges to fit closer. No dice. Even put the original gaskets back in as they looked fine. About midnight I realized that the problem is actually a hairline crack in the output pipe that is growing slowly. I melted some plastic I scraped from the outside of it onto the crack with a soldering iron... that helped some, but it was 2:00am by that time and I needed to go to bed. Turned on the water just long enough for showers and dishes this morning. then took it apart again and put epoxy on it, inside and out (where I could). I filed the hardened epoxy down this evening and put it back together and now we are back to a VERY slow leak. So I need to get a replacement pipe, if I can, from Microtherm. But it's usable right now.

Last Friday we did Kevin's birthday at the Pasta Factory, and over Easter Weekend took Mom back to Fort Wayne. Brian went back to Indiana today for Marines duty... he has about a month left on active duty, so he'll be gone during the week.

The leaves on the Bradford Pears leafed out faster than I've ever seen them do it. They didn't bloom much this year. The redbud put on a good show, and we go the first few flowers ever on the Japanese Crabapple and the lilac. My allergies are back this year. Every year I hope they won't come back. But...

It's still very pretty.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I got the H&R 922 back from the gunsmith. Took it to the range, and it fired all 9 right away. The next time 8. Then anywhere from 5 to 8 per cylinder load.

It took four weeks. I know he said he guarantees his work, but ... Another four weeks? I decided to take a look at it. My guess was that the hammer wasn't hitting the rims of the rounds (it's .22 long rifle rimfire rounds). I thought, well maybe the firing "pin" on the hammer is worn. I didn't want to "build it up" because that could break off too easily. So I decided to file the hammer face down slightly all around the pin. Took it back to the range.

It seemed a little better ... at first. Then back to the same old behavior. I tried a little bit more, same results. Last night I figured out the pin was plenty long now, so I decided to try a "sharper" edge Force/Area = Pressure. More pressure, deeper dent. Less area means more pressure.

Same thing, at first it seemed good, then quickly exhibited the same behavior. Each round is getting hit. I can see the dents in each one. The dents are where they're supposed to be. Ok... it has to be the spring. It's an old gun. Springs lose some of their tension over time. Plus -- I surmised that there must be something about a cold spring -- maybe it's stiffer -- and after it is fired a bunch the spring looses some of it's ... well ... "spring" as the metal warms up.

So tonight I took the handle off and --- wow. It's real simple inside. The spring is literally a curved piece of spring steel. I pulled up on it and it came to rest on a ledge about 1/4" above where it is "supposed" to be, and stayed there. It put more tension on the spring. Cool.

I took my file and enhanced the ledge a bit so the spring will stay there, then I took it back out to the range.

I fired about 120 rounds out of it. I had one or two dud shells (hit three different times and wouldn't fire on one of them) --- but otherwise, every time the hammer hit, it went off. Yesssss!!!! I have introduced a new problem -- it will skip a cylinder now and then. Not often. The ratchet on the back of the cylinder IS a bit worn, and I'm guessing that and the increased spring strengths result in the new, intermittent problem.

So... good for now. I'll try to find a new spring, and maybe I'll be brave enough ... or have a gunsmith ... build up and re-shape the worn ratchet piece.

Went to Fort Wayne last weekend to get Mom. Then Saturday we went to Indianapolis to greet Brian in Indy -- supposedly at the airport. But the military coudln't get them a flight in to Indy, so they flew them to Cinci instead and they were to catch a bus to Indy. That changed our plans from meeting him at 4:00 to maybe noon. So we had to leave Fort Wayne a lot earlier.

Kristin got a call from Brian Saturday morning. His plane was SUPPOSED to leave around mid day/early afternoon. Well ... he called from an airport bar in Cincinnati. And the patriotic citizens of Cinci felt obliged to buy them all rounds. At 7:30 in the morning.

Fortunately, Brian quit while he was ahead.

At any rate, in the end they couldn't catch a bus, so the armory sent trucks after them and we met them about 1:45. He looks good. Gained a little weight... not much though ;-) Lots of stories to tell. He says he wants to tell them with beer in hand, sitting by the grill.

He came over for breakfast the last two mornings. It's good to have him back.

We take Mom back this weekend, and then next weekend we camp with the Groves. Busy month!!!

Well, that's about it for now.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Sometime in my 20's, I developed allergies. At first it seemed to be just to mildew after over-exposure to it in the dorm. It seems a 2-liter coke bottle wasn't quite empty and sat there for over a month (as happens often in dorm rooms), spewing mildew spores through the room.

Later it was ragweed in the fall, and for the last few years the first blooms of spring really get my sinuses going and I usually have a sore throat for a week or two while my body adjusts.

That period has arrived. So there's anti-histamines, the still regular salt-water rinses, & sore throat. The anti-histamies are to cut down on the drainage and help the sore throat, but they zone me out pretty well, even the "non-drowsy" kind. The non-drowsy ones that don't zone me out also don't work, so no point there. But I forgot about Nasalcrom. I'm trying that again. I think that helped last year without the anti-histamine fog.

The next three weekends are suddenly taken. A trip to Indiana to see Brian at the airport, another trip the next weekend to take Mother back to Fort Wayne, and then... the following weekend it's camping with the Groves at Theodosia.

When it rains....

The water heater still has a very slow leak in it. It's where the output pipe bolts on to the rest of the contraption. The plastic resin material has warped ever so slightly over the past few years. There are a couple of rubber gaskets there where the water is supposed to pass from the chambers into the output pipe, and I guess the new gaskets are either not quite clean enough, or not quite fat enough to properly seal the gap. So it's either fatter gaskets, additional thin gaskets, or screws closer to the center to try to compensate for the warp. I'll have to think about it. I doubt we're even losing 1/2 cup a day... but still. It's not good.

Got some rosemary and lavender over the weekend. I was going to buy some vegetable plants, but they didn't have them priced and the cashier at Lowes was less than helpful so I decided they could keep them.

The .22 is still at the gunsmith. They said it could be 6 weeks. Tomorrow it will be 4 and I still haven't heard from him. But -- I figure it's probably first come first serve and he just has that much of a backlog. Once he actually gets to it it shouldn't be that long.

I re-built the trelis for the wild grape vine over the weekend. It was lattice in an odd shaped frame before. The lattice was getting ripped to shreds by the weight of the vine. I had removed it from the deck rail a few years ago and mounted it about a foot away from the deck, suspended with wood blocks. Now it's suspended with metal straps, and it's three vertical posts (2x4's) with 4 horizontal slats ... deck flooring, spaced about 9" apart. Looks much better and is much stronger.

Another modest milestone in the guitar learning process... I can now play "Grapefruit, Juicy Fruit" -- something I've long wanted to do. Not trying the B-C key, but the C-D key. I guess you could say I'm playing it in "A". Still working on "Pencil-Thin Mustache". Those F#m's and Bm's are still a bit slow on the draw for me. I'm not great at that "B" either. Anyway, you might not be impressed. But I'm happy.

The Boy Man is Back in Town

Brian is back in the States and in one piece after serving his tour in Iraq.

He's in South Carolina right now, but we'll see him this weekend. I'd like to pause for a moment to thank all of the men and women who went to advance Liberty's cause, and express joy and thanks for the vast majority who went and came back just fine (like around 98%-99% of them) and ask for a moment of silence for those relative few, who laid down their lives for it. Statistically, it may seem but little. To them -- it was everything.


Thank you.