Monday, April 28, 2014

A Sterling example; a Whovian leaves latenight; a WBCQ forum legend did WHAT?!

Even people who don't follow hoops have heard about Donald Sterling's bigoted statements, and irreparably bigoted they are, described by some as a "plantation attitude".  The racism is clear cut, so what I want to address in this post is also privilege bigotry--that is to say, the entitlement that the moneyed privileged feel they have for gratitude as a benevolent provider to the have-nots.  It's racist, alright, but it's classist too, and it's as cherished a myth as is the myth of everyone being jealous of them.

The Deaf among us have already been familiar with this syndrome for a long, long time, and I suggest that everyone read the book The Mask of Benevolence for a broader view of the power of control that is expected by people who think they should be worshiped for stooping to be benevolent.

Kevin Johnson, you still rock and I'm still a fan.

Tuesday UPDATE: Sterling = banned for life. Question = what took 'em so long?

My favorite late night Doctor Who fan stirred up a hornet's nest by saying he's leaving after 10 years.  He (Craig Ferguson) said, well, that it's been TEN YEARS, and that's plenty!  I know exactly how he feels, having said the same thing about Chautauqua.  The only difference between a grave and a rut is the dirt in your face.

Since April 12, a particular Facebook thread has been rollin' like a rollin' stone even today, started by a regular on WBCQ's now-defunct forum website and who is just as nuts as the rest of us, and is just as proud of it as the rest of us are.  All he did was just post a status that tagged the whole gang including me, and we all showed up and, well, just got into a verbal/musical party.  The guy who first posted "Rama lama ding dong" started the musical stuff, and do-wop was referenced pretty much ever since...until we got to oo ee oo ah ah, and I posted David Seville's "Witch Doctor" on YouTube.

And then it went down hill from there, and it's still going.

One of the biggest benefits of being over 60 years old is all the cool music you remember.

Got a great shot of the American Goldfinch at the home-made feeder today.  The other bird is a common house sparrow (not English Sparrow). The feeder is a water container, a dowel cut to size (1/4" diameter) and one slit per side cut into it to dispense thistle seed. Needed a thick walled water bottle to keep the English Sparrows from robbing the feeder.  The shade is made of a coffee tin cover; it's quite a bit worse for the wear.
Brown Thrasher looking for lunch. Is also building a nest in the hedgerow.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I fought the lawn and the lawn won.

Over the winter when the green stuff is dead and the weather keeps me indoors, I've got a whole lot of time to be online.  Not when it's spring, though. It's a jungle out there.  The new straws that I put in the mason bee condo now have residents (well, about half of them do) and the malingerers have hatched, and I need to replace those old straws.

I'm just glad that kudzu doesn't grow around here.


Since posting the above, I went waltzing with Mathilda (what I call the mower) and hit a dust mound, sending clouds of dust all over god's li'l green half-acre.  This means that the intake air filter is clogged as all get-out, too, and I'll have to clean it again.

I've already prepped Mathilda with the usual oil change, spark plug maintenance and cleaning of air filter, but the plethora of burrowing animals 'round these parts means a plethora of dirt mounds, too, and there ya have it, friends & neighbors: a lot of air cleaner maintenance.  I think I'll take my camera with me and post a mower maintenance mini-tutorial for everybody else who's cussin' and fussin' with it right about this time of year.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I'm gonna post about me getting lucky tonight...

Yup, friends & neighbors, that's a regulation 4-leaf clover.
 Hey, I'm already lucky, having found a guy who'll put up with me for more than 5 minutes.  This clover isn't the first one I found this month, either...

The one I found today placed next to the one I found a few days ago, pressed.  Today's clover is going to get the same treatment.

Hey ladies, I picked up a good one on Facebook today. Enjoy--

Sunday UPDATE:

Oil is typically SAE 30 detergent (avoid non-detergent) and doesn't have to be Briggs & Stratton brand oil, either. But if you insist on that route, look for 4-cycle oil and avoid 2-cycle oil. 2-cycle oil is for gas-powered weed eaters, trimmers, and hedge clippers. A minor small-engine tutorial is required to explain what the difference is beyond the fact that 2-cycle oil is added to gasoline because the engine lacks a crankcase...and 4-cycle oil is added directly to the crankcase.
Consult your manual for the proper spark plug for your engine. Briggs & Stratton isn't the only small engine manufacturer out there. Tecumseh is another large U.S. manufacturer and there's an assortment of Asian and other non-domestic engines out there.
Don't even effin' think about it.

You could use a specialized spark plug wrench if you have one handy.  I have a couple of 'em but they're always further away from being handy than this adjustable Crescent (tm) wrench. Sure, go ahead and use a box wrench or an open-end wrench if they're handier. Desperate? Use your deep-well sockets. There's usually a regulation spark plug wrench included in most of those socket sets, though.
Dirt in the cylinder will sandpaper gouges into the cylinder walls and will jam in the piston rings; sandy dirt is particularly problematic in windy Oklahoma.
A plug tip clogged with oily residue hasn't been firing properly (not hot enough) and sometimes just cleaning the plug, burnishing the electrodes and then setting a proper spark gap will fix that.  A spark plug can be re-used many times with this simple proper maintenance. You'll want to replace the plug only if the electrodes show pitting and/or spiking, or if the top electrode looks like small bites have been taken out of it (not sparking straight). I clean my plugs with an old tooth brush, a flat toothpick to get between the center ceramic cone and the outer walls, and WD-40.  It's important that the ceramic doesn't short out to the outer wall, and with fouled plugs, it's often the case that it is partially shorting out. Amateur radio hobbyists won't throw out any old spark plug because they make great homebrew lightning protectors for the ole antenna farm.
Yeah, a backwards wrench position is doable in low-torque cases like this, but it's a bad habit to get into and it'll cut the life of your wrench if you persist.  Get into good habits whether you need 'em or not.  But not so fast with the wrench.  To install the spark plug, use your fingers first.  Hand-tighten to just snug, and use the wrench ONLY to tighten an additional quarter turn.  Any more than that and you could damage the plug permanently.  There's a spring washer near the tip that takes up slack generated by the inevitable heat expansion/contraction.

Impressed yet, guys?  How 'bout that--a woman small-engines mechanic. I've rebuilt bigger engines, though, fellas, and I can handle rebuilding carburetors.  I also know guys who have no idea what a venturi is (without teh Google, that is), and it's not a model of automobile.  I can deal with pneumatic (old fashioned vacuum advance, for instance) and hydraulics (auto brake and steering systems, for instance). Scale that up a few storeys of power plant machinery and you get valve position controls (pneumatic) and turbine controls (hydraulic)--so THERE.

Necessary step if you're planning to use a sink in the house to wash it in.  Where ever you wash it, wash it with warm water and mild dish soap and keep squeezing it repeatedly until no suds come out when you squeeze it. Squeeze it well to get all the water out, and don't put it back in wet.  To speed things up, you can spray it with WD-40 and continue to squeeze, but in a paper towel. The stuff coming out will have a milky quality to it, and that's also stuff you don't want to put into your machine when you put stuff back together.

The gasket area of the intake is carefully cleaned of crud while the paper plug is still in the throat, taking care that no crud gets on that paper, to sneak in when the paper's removed.  Crud is then removed from the filter housing, top and bottom, and thoroughly.  And then re-assembly takes place--

Errrrrmmm...........lemme rephrase that......

Now for the fun part--the oil change.

There's something about Mathilda that you need to know first.  Bigger, pricier lawn mowers will have a tap on the underside of the crank case, plugged with a screw that has a head which accommodates a quad wrench (hex wrench = Allen wrench = 6 sided, so do the math and figure out what a quad wrench looks like).  But bigger mowers--not even the bigger mulching mowers--will do what this li'l beauty does, and that's keeping the undercarriage relatively clean of clipping residue. It doesn't take much scraping to clean 'er up, and you need to do that to avoid rusting out the undercarriage quickly.

It also happens to be the case that Mathilda doesn't come with a crankcase oil drain tap either. You have to up-end the thing and drain the spent oil out of the spout you add oil in.  With a brick for a prop and with the handle neatly folded, that's not as big a problem as it sounds, and let me tell you from experience--unless you have an impact quad wrench, you ain't getting that quad plug loose out of the crank case for love or money.  It's a bitch and a half.  So, all in all, Mathilda is a piece o cake, maintenance-wise.   And I'm never interested in a mower that isn't a mulching mower, because my mower doubles as a bush-hogger.  I expect that its mulcher capability is what keeps the undercarriage pretty clean, too.

Mathilda's underside. No crankcase tap screw either.

The oil change takes place right here, believe it or don't.  But since I already did the oil change, I don't have pics of that to share.  The spent oil gets packed off to a recycling center, and it's done every year.
Now for a bit of old-school bushhogging...

The guy who sold me that tool told me that it was a man tool.  Well, if that thing ever had any balls, it certainly doesn't have any now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Focusing again on the Muslim world--come on, get happy!

I haven't been ignoring the recent developments in #Egypt, with 3 Al Jazeera reporters (one, a former BBC correspondent) on "trial", but it so happens that today's news reports are about Muslims in Washington gathering to put on a glad face for all cameras.  This event has been circulating on Twitter and celebrated in particular by @Park51, aka "Ground Zero Mosque".

I also heard back from a Cairo friend I was worried about; she said her account was hacked, but she's still with Radio Cairo. Whew, sez I, with great relief.

Al Arabia does an excellent analyses of the complications of treating Al Jazeera as just another independent media outlet because it is an organ of the Qatar government.
Al Arabia article about Qatar's regional support of The Brotherhood

Nothing is ever as simple as it looks, or as powers that be want them to look.

Live Egypt blog, Al Jazeera English
Journalism Under Fire-- #Free AJ Staff--Al Jazeera
American helicopters shipped to Egypt--Washington Institute

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Fertility Day, everybody!

...unless y'all try to tell me that it's Jesus that lays the eggs.  Not buying that one.

I wanted to comment also on yesterday's news that Glenn Campbell entered an institution for Alzheimer's disease, and that's mainly because I'm genetically predisposed to the same condition.  My dad died with it, and I'm starting to show symptoms. I'm putting y'all on notice that if you thought I was a pain in the ass know it all before, you ain't seen nothin' yet.  I'm going to make use of what brains I got left as long as I got any left, and with no apologies.

Where I am, I am in good hands. Luvz ya all.

Sweet Caroline, we got a lot of catching up to do about Ardd, but that's a whole lot of old water under the bridge. I hear that you've been showing up at Linc's place again...but Ardd and Apple...dunno what to say, even still.

Falcon, I'll yank your chain in a different venue, as I will other folks I've not mentioned here.

Ha.  Just now making the rounds on Facebook is an appropriate image for this segment. It's very true. The people I don't exactly know but who have made a point of making me smile feel like family even so.

This just in: Fred Waterer said that the dearly departed Bill had paid up the bills for Radio Scooter International right up to today, the 20th, and the future is uncertain. The Radio Time Capsule is being presented tonight as if it's the last show...and you're welcome, Fred, thanking me and George and Don and everybody by name on your show tonight.  Louis Prima is now playing, via AFRTS on the One Night Stand program, 1944.  GO LOUIS!

Hey Fred!  Just for you--

Monday Mini-UPDATE: Just a note about seeing ole J.J. on the Dave Letterman show, talking about the PBS show "Pioneers of Television", and talking some about Norman Lear. J.J. mentioned an impressive list of Lear's shows, but left out one of my favorite spin-offs that went from All In The Family to The Jeffersons to the show that J.J. left out.

That would be 227, starring that lady who was the Jefferson family's mouthy maid. I've been a long time fan of Marla Gibbs.  She rocks.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bee in the hole!!

Had a bit of excitement today as I discovered that I imported a snoozing mason bee into the house, who woke up as soon as it warmed up and was buzzing like crazy, where it was partially trapped.

A strong cold front came through the 'hood late yesterday and I woke up to a dusting of snow on the grass, this, after a previous day in the near 90s. The fauna certainly noticed and took refuge where it could be found.  Obviously. Still a surprise.

Well, because I have fruit trees in the yard, encouraging the bees to come early and stay late is something a priority around here, and because honeybees are a premium cultivation and, in terms of temperature, really picky, I chose to raise mason bees instead.'s not that I personally breed them or anything--it's just that I provide an irresistible nesting area for them, and took advantage of the cold snap to refresh the "bee condo" I have set up in a dead tree trunk 'way out back.

It's a simple matter of taking a 5/16" diameter extra long drill bit and drill a bunch of holes about an inch and a half or two apart from each other into the trunk, slightly angled downward to provide for drainage of any rain that might get in--somewhere between 4" to 10" deep--and you've got a mason bee condo.  They'll use the holes once and won't come back if you don't prepare those holes further, like, with common drinking straws of the proper diameter.  When a young bee hatches from a hole, you replace the straw and the hole's all clean again for the next use.

Mason Bee nesting tutorial

As it happens, I took an old straw out, put a new straw in, and put the old straw in my pocket without examining the thing carefully enough.  There was a mason bee that had taken refuge inside, I didn't see it, and into the house it came, via my pocket, via the straw in my pocket.

As long as bees stay chilled, they can't move very fast and can't fly at all. Same is true of wasps (and I keep red paper wasps around, too, by the way--best pest catchers ever!) and so I was able to carefully export the mason bee back outside, but making sure that where ever it was put, it could find cozy refuge quickly.

Here's what the deal looks like out back:

The pink straws are the new ones I installed, and clipped, except for the ones at the bottom end of the picture. They will be clipped not-quite-flush as work progresses. One orange straw is new.  The red ones are old and I found adult bees holing up in those, so I didn't replace 'em yet.
Anomaly--this straw is shoved far into the hole. Why?  It was windy and so all the old straws I pulled were put into my coat pocket, and this proceeded until I discovered an adult bee in one of them.  When I pulled out an old straw from the next hole, I put this one into that hole and it was deeper than the straw was cut for, and I wanted to make sure that its resident was properly away from the elements.
The straw in the center is mud-capped, which means it has a baby bee inside from an egg laid last fall. When the baby bee is ready to come out, it bores a hole through the mud cap.
Another mason bee discovered, taking refuge in the condo.  I pulled the straw out of the hole just enough to take this shot.  The bee is too cold to move much, so there's no problem.  The biggest problem would be if I disturbed it so much it won't come back. 
Cell replacement all done except the clipping.  The straws are clipped to stick out just a bit, and at an angle where there is an overhang provided for the bee that lands on the bottom part of the straw--for shade and protection from precipitation, which is why the holes are also angled downward, slightly, to keep the hole dry.
That bottom hole with the new blue straw in it is where the bee in my pocket came from. The blue straw was removed and the straw with the bee in it was put back in, and all's well in my universe. Between the two blue new straws is a flush-cut old straw with a mud cap.
Question: what kind of pest control do red paper wasps perform? They're great at killing off caterpillars, and with pecan trees, you get 3 kinds of worms, only one of which is a caterpillar--the Webworm.  Pesticides rarely get inside that tent they weave, but these wasps have that aced.  Ever since I started cultivating the wasps, I've had zero incidents of webworm infestations. ZERO.  Can't beat that.  They'll also eat other caterpillars like the Tomato Cutworm and Armyworm, and, unfortunately, the swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, but that's basically a tradeoff in my book.  I'll keep the wasps, thank you.

Tuesday fauna UPDATE: This morning greeted a first time visitor to the regulars in the backyard zoo: a Rufous-Sided Towhee.  In years past, I celebrated being visited by the occasional Orchard Oriole, a bird that, from the side view, this Towhee resembles.

Can't tell that there's a white streak on the breast from this angle, and so it can be mistaken for an Orchard Oriole.
I also made a point of trying out the camera on the lunar eclipse in the wee hours, too.  Unfortunately, I had to fiddle with the contrast on the following pic first before getting this result....

Rewinding to the initial parts of the eclipse....

The following shot are taken from videos I made of the event, and hereby stress the reason it's important to make videos even if it's just for the purpose of getting stills from them.  In venues where stills are permitted but video is not, it's still a major problem getting good stills all the same.

As I type this update, OETA's OKLA channel is running a repeat of Tavis Smiley--guest, Ken Burns.  At about 45 minutes past the hour, Ken's talking about time travel, not buying that history repeats itself although it appears to sometimes, and then quotes Ecclesiastes 1:9 about how there's nothing new under the sun and what has happened before will happen again (hello, Battlestar Galactica II!).  I consider this evidence that Ken has discovered time's fractal pattern at last.  Welcome to the world of time travel, Ken! Incidentally, the man who portrayed the first new Doctor in the "NuWho" era has the last name of Eccleston. ^_^

...and a late late late night Tuesday insert on the topic of Who...related, Who writer Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...NASA just issued a newsflash that Doug Adams was right about 42 being the answer to life, the universe, and everything, and it's also called molybdenum. However, NASA failed to discover what the question was...and so Doug Adams was right about that, too.

Tuesday PM UPDATE--City Commission Study Session: Benson's good behavior went out the window after the study session was over, and I got some more great footage to post.  He took some video of me, and so did Tammy Wilson, bless her li'l pea-pickin' heart.  She still thinks she's onto something with my "secret identity", so it's clear she has no clue what a pen name is.  Neither does Benson, apparently, because while he had me on his camera, he asked for another explanation as to where I post news items exactly and had me explain (AGAIN!) MSNBC Newsvine. It all soundedd like he tried to look me up there but with the expectation of somebody NOT posting under a pen name, ha. Benson threatened court, too--friends n neighbors, the fun's just now getting to warm up.

Next time you try teh Google again, Mr. Benson, this page should come up.  You're slow, Mr. Benson, but you'll get the idea eventually. It'll dawn on ya.

Tammy Wilson and beaux think I'm hot, too (she just snapped my pic on her blue machine).  Gee, I feel like a celebrity.

gri, because I know you I also have known of the other old Soviets who dream of a second USSR.  It ain't gonna happen, and taking over buildings and killing people won't bring that old dead horse back to life either.  For centuries throughout history, Europeans dreamed of resurrecting the old Roman Empire, too, and look how successful THAT was--all we got was World Wars I and II out of that aspiration. Delusions of grandeur work for nobody, and destroys everybody. Those are just the facts.  You have another fact: China, with its own delusions of grandeur second only to N. Korea's delusions. Putin wants to be the eastern alternative to the west? China disagrees.  Russia's the red filling in a global sandwich, buddy.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Night Party Memorial Tribute to Bill Bergadano happening now on Radio Scooter International as I write this.  A sked conflict arose in the form of a Doc Bryant appearance, and I'm a huge fan of his.  Will post a video ere long of that, but I have to preface that with the statement that he's really showing his age via noticeable diminished lung power on that horn.  What I don't doubt is that he'll probably still be playing that thing as he asks Gabriel for a jam session.

Well, that was quite a show, interspersed with clips of Bill himself.  I never got around to processing that Doc Bryant video tonight.  What I'll do instead is close this post (til tomorrow, anyway, when I'll do an update) as Bill closed his show...."Take it away, Shirley!"

Hokay.  Here's Doc Bryant at the Red Dirt BBQ event.  Quite frankly, I've heard him do better, but, quite frankly, that was when he was younger, before his trip to Austin TX.