Bass on Bass

Monday, December 13, 2010

Liam spent the night

    We had Liam overnight this Saturday to Sunday. He's getting bigger, wonder of wonders, but he's still a bobble head when you're holding him head up against you. He slept for over 8 hours, unfortunately it was starting at ~ 5:00 PM on Saturday. I missed most of the night with him due to singing the concert of The Lutheran Choir of Chicago that night. I should have captured the video of him sleeping in his bouncy chair. He's a very active dreamer with facial expressions changing and arms and head moving about. It's a riot to watch. Jeanne got up at 2:00AM to feed him.Of course I had to leave the following morning to sing at church before he was up for very long. We had some time before Joi left with him in early afternoon though.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good Electrical Ground & TVSS: Modern Home ESSENTIALS

    Take a look at everything you have in your home that plugs into your wall power outlets. EACH AND EVERY item other than simple lamps has some sort of electronic circuit in it if it's 10 or fewer years old. Things like wall dimmers do also. Every one of those electronic circuits are subject to spikes, noise, etc that EVERY power grid in all the world throws at each power customer every day. The noise can disrupt them and the spikes and surges can damage them. Typically the damage starts long before any of them stop doing what you bought it to do. The damage just accumulates until the device just can't function any longer. You can think of it as each spike melting and blowing a bubble in the material that makes up the various microscopic devices that make up each electronic circuit. When enough bubbles form no current will pass through the device. Long before that it starts to "act funny". When you add up what it cost to buy all of those household items, totals in the thousands of dollars are typical.
    I look at those spikes, surges, and noise as the waste in the electrical system. To understand the role of grounding in an electrical system I look at my plumbing system. Look under your sink, in the basement or wherever you can see both water supply and waste plumbing. Notice how big the waste drains are in relation to the water supply lines. Electrically, your 3rd wire ground does exactly what that waste line is doing only with wire and cables dumping spikes, surges, leakage and noise. 
    Every known substance on earth RESISTS electrical current other than superconductors which we can so far only operate at ridiculously low temperatures. That includes your water pipes. They can be expected to be more resistive than a copper wire. There are even in-line electrical insulators involved in "couplings" where different types of metal pipe meet (copper to steel, etc). The longer the piping from where your water supply comes out of the ground to the electrical grounding connection the more resistance it adds to the flow of that electrical waste. 
    About 15 months ago I bought a whole house TVSS( Transient Voltage Surge Suppressor) from Sine Control Technology as they had proven themselves extremely effective in my last few years as a Biomedical Engineering Technician at Hines VA Hospital. We experienced dramatic fall off in failures of almost all equipment connected through them. Where they were less effective we usually discovered faulty grounding of the electrical systems they were connected to. Think of the TVSS as the toilet for your electrical system and their use on faulty grounds as trying to flush a toilet through a 1/4" drain line. 

    That being said, when I discovered that my house electrical system ground was connected to the water line way at the back of my house instead of the entry point of the water supply at the front of the house, I made sure that the electricians installing my TVSS (see photo above) ran a new fat, highly stranded ground wire line from the electrical service panel to the water service entry before installation.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Baby Boomer Road bike

   I took a Veterans Day ride. it was probably the last one of the season, The weather is not likely  to accommodate it after tonight. It was about a 16 mile ride, 8 out and 8 back, to Grace Episcopal Church of Hinsdale. That's the ride I like to take most often. I go 3 blocks north and a couple of blocks west and get on the Salt Creek Bicycle path that meanders through the forest preserves to just north of Western Springs Il. From it's end I cross Ogden Ave into Western Springs and ride to the pedestrian bridge over the Tri-State Tollway into Hinsdale Il. A couple of turns and up and down a couple of hills and I'm there.
    The picture shows my Specialized Sequoia, my "good" bike, the one I took this time, sitting on our new patio and my helmet on our patio table (the threshing table form an earlier post) after that ride . That bike is, you might say, a product of a near death experience. 
    5 years ago last July 28, I was riding the 3 miles home from  work on my Giant Cypress comfort bike in a light rain wearing my neon yellow poncho. I decided to take the sidewalk on the east side of 17th Ave. south along the edge of the mall parking lot. I was approaching the traffic light for the mall lot exit just as it went green. I noticed a large SUV stopped to my left signaling a right turn out of the lot. I looked at the driver and her eyes appeared to stop on me so I proceeded. Unfortunately so did she. She broadsided me sending me flying unconscious ~ 15' into the intersection, my bike flying another direction 1/2 as far. As my body began to wrap onto her hood the thought "so this is how it ends"raced through my mind just before final impact. Hitting the  pavement woke me up. On awaking my first thought was"am I dead or alive?" Flexing a couple of limbs convinced me of the latter. There was no major trauma. My helmet though destroyed saved my cranium. 
    Besides paying for replacement of my damaged stuff, the ambulance, ER visit and  the physical therapy for the various traumatized muscle sets etc., the settlement allowed an amount for pain and suffering which pretty closely matched the cost of a new kind of bike then termed a comfort road bike. 
    I had been periodically drooling over one at "The Wheel Thing" a bike shop in  La Grange, the suburb adjacent to mine for ~ a year. So I came to own the Sequoia with  "wicked fast" (per my son Geoff's words) frame wheels and drive train of a full-on road bike with a carbon fiber fork with elastomer inserts to dampen road vibration, a suspension seatpost for road shock absorbtion, a higher rising handlebar stem and secondary brake levers. The last 4 features give the comfort road bike's owners a fast bike that accommodates the older less accommodating bodies some of us have. That's why I call it my baby boomer road bike.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


    Yesterday afternoon I went out to do something about the dried bean pods hanging from the foliage free trellised pole bean vines. Picking them all off the remains of the stems 1 by 1 is tedious enough but shelling them bean by bean afterward is beyond endurance. Trying the latter for a while I gave up and went in to find a better way. 
    In a few minutes on line I found it, using burlap as the "threshing medium" see the facebook capture.  I hot footed it to the Ace as soon as I found out they had 1 package of burlap left. I adapted the process from bags to the sheet burlap I could get quickly. I just laid out a 3' x 4' piece of it on the patio table, piled the bean plants and pods on it, and gathered the edges of the sheet into a bag tied closed with a length of twine. I found a video of the general method of threshing on You tube. I wasn't about to walk on the bag I made though. I just squished it around a bunch on the patio table, a little like kneading a big hunk of bread dough, until it felt like all the pods were broken up and emptied. A few shakes up and down later to get the beans to the bottom, grabbing handfuls of the loose plant matter out of the opened bag until I couldn't anymore without getting the beans & the THRESHING was done
     There was just enough wind after I finished threshing to try a little WINNOWING by opening the bag and forming the loaded burlap into sort of a hammock and shaking it up and down just enough to get the chaff but not much plant or pod airborne and floating away in the wind. The chaff kind of hangs in the air like dry snow. Then the wind died. Complete winnowing awaits tomorrow. See the facebook image above for the process to be used

Monday, November 1, 2010


      A real  “bellwether” issue is on the table in tomorrow’s election that will tell us where this nation is as a “representative democracy” as it was set up to be by our founding fathers. Not so oddly it is a most discussed issue in the state wide campaigns in the State of Washington. They are one of the few states among our 50 without a state income tax. There’s a proposal on the table there, the main proponent of which is the father of that state’s and sometimes the world’s wealthiest man. A bill is in their legislature to tax the income of individuals with income of more than $200,000 per year and household incomes of over $400,000 per year. The proponent mentioned is Bill Gates’ father. Bill himself has come out as perfectly willing to pay such a tax. The education system of the State of Washington is in economic crisis. The tax is essential to it’s survival. It only applies to personal income over $200,000/yr or household income over $400,000/yr. All income under that remains untaxed, including for those who pay the tax on amounts above the limits. If one makes $1,000,000/yr in Washington one pays tax on $800,000 under the proposed tax.
    All that said, the executives of nearly all of the state’s major corporations, the economic engines of the state, to a man vehemently oppose the tax. They decry it as a jobs and innovation killer, unemployment being the whole nations well defined #1 issue this election year.   They claim that, while at the same time they demand the state provide better educated workers, taxing them, the wealthiest individual executives, to pay for it is unjust and will force them to move their companies out of Washington. Even the CEO of Microsoft is on record opposing it on that basis. Bill Gates removed himself from that role some years ago. 
   Let’s be clear here. The proposed tax is not on the corporations but the individuals’ income.
    This is just the easiest current example to understand of the argument that pervades all politics today in the good old USA. Who rules here, the people of the nation or just the wealthiest 1-5%?
    Make no mistake, that wealthiest 1-5% didn’t get there producing all the wealth themselves. It was produced by the labors of others under their control. Windows operating system would have created 0$ wealth with only the efforts of Bill Gates and his co-founders applied to it’s growth! Millions of employees’ and vendors and licensee software companies and their employees’ labor was required to get it to where it is today. Yet Microsoft’s current CEO believes his personal responsibility to maintain the quality of education of tomorrows workers in the state where they’re headquartered is 0$!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Israeli scientists have come up with an organic material that is the strongest organic material yet known. To quote the article from Chemistry World "Peptide balls prove stiffer than steel". That just about says it all. It's lighter and cheaper to produce than Kevlar yet "diamond probes were the only thing that actually made an indentation" per the same article. Imagine lighter, less bulky body armor for soldiers and law enforcement officers etal, lighter spacecraft structures (more payload per unit of thrust) and the list just goes on and on. The kicker is that the core of these "super balls" is diphenylalanine, the substance at the core of the protein that forms the plaque present in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients. Wild, huh?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


     I need to start by stating that I HAVE NO PROOF OF THIS. I am merely speculating on the basis of what the pharmaceutical industry is really about, what % of all medical research is conducted or funded by them and what similarly profit motivated executives did in the financial industry leading up to the events of 2008.
     Let's start by defining what they are about. The pharmaceutical industry is about the TREATMENT not the CURE of disease. They are all for profit entities. They exist in order to profit from disease. There are HUGE profits to be made from Treatments for victims of diabetes, cancer, hypertension, high cholesterol etc., not from curing any of them. Any cure ends all demand for treatment for the subject disease. In several recent years they were the most profitable industry on Planet Earth. It's safe to say that can't happen without serious dedication to that profit. 
     The latter can be said of the staffs of the major banks we had to bail out since 2008. It's also safe to say that industry collapsed due to some fairly extreme profit pursuit practices. 
     In the pharmaceutical industry, I believe there are some similarly extreme practices that have been ongoing for many years.  They conduct and or fund a huge percentage of all disease research in this country and around the world. What  do you think are the odds of any cures seeing the light of day that may have been stumbled  upon by researchers bound to these fiercely profit motivated companies? Remember, a cure made available ends the revenue stream from sales of treatment drugs for the subject disease. Just think, how much money is made from drugs to treat, not cure diabetes, cancer, hypertension, heart disease etc? How much money is made from drugs to treat victims of polio or small pox?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

He Who Changed Everything

Some happenings in life simply change everything or at least how one sees it all. So it has been for me to meet Liam Edwin von Rentzell, my first grandchild. He came into this world via cesarean section birth to my daughter in law Joi and son Jon on September 7th 2010 and has had pretty much our full attention ever since. In true von Rentzell fashion, he does what he does when HE is ready, not when the world wants him to. I'm convinced that all of the scares he, or rather his care givers' view of his progress, has given us all in the last 10 days are just him slowly catching up to where he wanted to be when he would be ready to meet the world. He was ~2 weeks early per his predicted due date. He's been in the NICU of Rush Copley Hospital in Aurora since birth and is now making serious progress. I hope his new grandpa can also. I think I am but we'll see. I think that and the picture and video say it all! .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

WW II: the film"Flags of Our Fathers"

    I just watched the film “Flags of Our Fathers”, the story of the lives of the men of the Marine unit that raised the flag(s) on Mount Suribachi in the Battle of Iwo Jima. It was difficult yet compelling to watch. For those of us whose fathers served in the War it’s particularly compelling. Mine was in the Army at the beginning. As part of the “great family tradition”  Dad enlisted in the Reserves before Pearl Harbor. Seeing that war was inevitable, as he put it, it gave him the best chance of not getting into the worst of it. He didn’t quite get the scale of things to come back in early 1941. Defining that “Family tradition” is for another discussion, suffice it to say that I did the same thing during the Viet Nam War. It worked for me, not for him. I think therein lies the source of some of both the difficulty and compelling nature of viewing this film.
    As is repeated a number of times in the lines of the film, most of those who experienced the war first hand, who disdain the “hero” label so firmly, were (are) generally loath to talk about it. So it was with dad, most of the time. There were small bits of stories that he shared though. He served most of the war years as a cook, later on as cook for officers’ mess. Sadly I can’t recount his unit, though I assume it was part of the 8th Army as that was made up primarily of Reservists from the Midwest.
    Mainly, for we members of the “children of the war” so to speak, I think the film raises and maybe in part answers 2 questions that trouble us all.  The first would be why didn’t they talk about it (most survivors have passed on)? The answer I get from these “realistic WWII films” of recent years is that they were sparing us and maybe themselves from the horror of much of the life of a soldier in war.
    That seems to leave us with less knowledge of who they are (were) and consequently who we are as products of their parentage. It seems inconceivable that such an experience could not be a major part of forming their persona afterward. That defines the importance to us of the answer to the 2nd question, what was it like?
    For those of us spared from life in combat, there’s only the guess that what the film(s) show is more or less what it was like. I’ve heard stories of WWII veterans saying it was pretty close. It’s not hard to conclude, though, that it’s nothing like actually being there in the midst of it fighting for all your worth for your own and your comrades’ survival.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wind energy: Not just "down on the farm" anymore?

So do we all plant one of those giant propellers in our back yard to get the benefit of wind on our energy costs? I don't think so, That doesn't mean we have no option to make use of the wind though. There are all sorts of makers and designs coming on the market or well into development for vertical axis wind turbines. Check out some of the cool You-tube videos linked to.

Problems of Energy & Waste: Glass half full?

    We all have a very basic choice which we are required to make every day in life. EVERYONE awakes each day to be confronted with a seemingly endless series of “problems” to be overcome. We must upon awaking, make the choice of how we are going to view those problems each day of our existence. Which way do we go with this ? Do we approach these problems as challenges to be met as mankind has always managed to do, thus making our continued existence to this date possible, or do we view the problems as insurmountable simply because we don’t have immediate knowledge of their entire solution? Obviously, if we wish to “continue to exist”, the only logical choice is the former. It get’s down to what we look for in life. Do we first seek knowledge of exactly how “full “ our “glass” is or of exactly how “empty” our “glass” is? Our current and hugely pressing problems of economic downturn, environmental damage and dwindling and ever more costly energy supply are no exceptions. I see the only viable alternative is to look for the “liquid” first while keeping an eye on “the air space” in the glass seeking solutions for these problems. Since mankind  still exists,  the “insurmountability” of all such problems has been proven completely false to date. Solutions grow out of “assets”, the “Liquid” in the “Glass” of life.
    So how do we do all that’s necessary to solve these problems? One “statement of guidance” I’ve heard many times seems to be pretty universally applicable. That is “Think globally, and act locally”. The examples of successful application of this are pretty much endless. A logical extension of this for me is “Think universally and act specifically”. By that I mean view all of the problems more or less together while focusing on solutions for one of them. That’s all about viewing of the glass “half full” in that one can then see the “asset value” one “problem” may have towards solution of another.
    Example:  the 2 problems of human society’s waste disposal and our dwindling energy supply
    Sewage and garbage both stink and have mass that takes up space in our lives that we need to live in. That presents the problem of disposal. How do we get it “out of our way”. Why does it stink?  The stink is a result of microbes which produce stinky waste gasses feeding on it. They feed on it because it contains the energy and materials necessary for them to live.
    We are constantly confronted with rising costs, both in purchase price and environmental impact of our main sources of energy. We all see the price we pay at the pump or for the public transit tickets going up and see the huge displacement and unemployment brought on by disasters like the Deep Water Horizon mess and their related nature. We need to find other energy sources less likely to kill off the life of the world we depend on for survival.  

    When viewing the “glass half full” it’s not that hard to relate these 2 problems, seeking to supplant the need for some of our fossil fuel consumption with waste to fuel technology.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Energy Tech: The next great American Industry?


  The Bloom Box and Biobutanol; these are just 2 more of many growing possibilities for the re-vitalization of American Industry. The massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, as tragic as it was may be exactly what the doctor ordered to get the American economy back "to work making things" which is it's only hope for sustainability. By focusing the country as never before on alternatives to fossil fuels, demonstrated by this tragedy to be  more costly than we could ever have imagined, it appears to be stimulating emergence of the possibilities for industrial growth to meet that challenge at a rapid rate.  
     Diversity is the key to stability. Nature is making this more and more evident all the time to mankind as the price for our industrial tunnel-vision of the past becomes more and more crushing. Energy supply is no exception to this incontrovertible LAW OF NATURE. Combined with the unrivaled entrepreneurial nature of American life, this challenge can re-establish the US as a world industrial power.
      We're already seeing wind energy growth in the form of the rapidly multiplying numbers of "wind-farms" appearing across the Midwest. There are new developments in cost and efficiency in solar cell tech almost weekly. And now we have these 2 technologies, fuel cells and waste biomass sourced butanol showing rapid progress toward industrialization right here in the old USA. As still the world's largest consumer economy, we can surely supply ourselves from our own waste with enough raw materials for production of  the "stuff" of dominance in both of these fields of energy technology.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Now that's the way to tour with the family! The RAGBRAI staff hauls all the other gear from stop to stop. It mentions Wilson tinkering to make the tandem into a 4 person bike. Actually, though no small bit of "tinkering" in itself,  he only added the 3rd position to the tandem. The 3rd wheel unit and the Burley trailer attached to same exactly as it would be to any bicycle, are off the shelf items. There must be 2 toddlers in the Burley. We have a 1st generation Burley Trailer that's sat undisturbed in the back corner of our backyard shed for >20 years. I doubt the boys can remember our little jaunts we took with it while their mother worked weekend shifts at Oak Park Hospital's laboratory.  

I remember taking a ride over from Omaha to Crescent IA back in ~1976 to see the start of RAGBRAI. It used to run much nearer Des Moines. I also remember feeling like an old wet "rag" "bro" at the end of my ride. That whole area of Omaha to well past Crescent is just hill after hill after hill, the whole way. 
The 1st R in RAGBRAI = Des Moines Register, the original sole sponsor.

Monday, July 26, 2010



I watched this episode "Silence of The Bees" a few minutes ago on WTTW Prime. Their experts put forth the possible outcome that we'll be left with only foods from wind pollinated plants, mostly grass grains, wheat rye corn etc. should the Bee colony collapse epidemic not be stopped. They understate the result for human existence.
It's ironic that they attribute a share of blame for the CCD events to malnutrition in the bees from monoculture which they are exposed to in our vast areas of 1 crop, typically 1 variety. They realize that the bees REQUIRE greater variety of plants to have normal good health with fully functional immune systems yet they speak as if humanity will have no such threat to survival from depletion of physical health due to loss of food source variety. If we lose food variety we will lose essential nutrients required for survival.

We already know this occurs in poor urban populations due to lack of access to the more expensive foods, being left with access to only the "fast foods", high in carbs and fat but low in all the other nutrients equally essential to anything but POOR HEALTH. For humanity as well as bees, variety is much, much more than just the “Spice of life”. IT IS ESSENTIAL TO LIFE.

The more I think about this pollinating species thing( it goes WAY beyond the honey bees)in my mind it keeps coming back to one HUGE fact of modern agriculture , the UNIVERSALITY of monoculture. Even this total reliance on the honey bees is an aspect of that. Nature will have it's way. Nature ABHORS monoculture and WILL thwart mankind's psychotic insistence on it. These farmers that INSIST on planting every square inch of their hundreds of acres each in a single crop and then must pay beekeepers many thousand of dollars each to place their hives on the fields are blind! They could certainly do much better returning a portion of the land to naturalized fence-rows for natural pollinator habitat. Work with nature rather than trying to BEAT it into submission?
Nature has had thousands of times as long as mankind's existence to develop ways to KICK OUR ASS and most certainly will do so if we don't stop trying to do same to nature.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


"Congratulations you and your family have been selected for our home security giveaway", sound familiar? This has been repeated multiple times per day for the last 2-3 weeks on our National Do Not Call Registry listed land line phone. Same Text, exactly the same inflection, clearly a recording. I did a quick check (incomplete read) o...f the law related and it appeared to prohibit telemarketing calls beginning with a recording no matter whether the call recipient is on the Do Not Call List or not.
It would appear we need existing laws better enforced more than we need new laws!
 You can quickly register a phone # on the list, check if yours is registered or file a complaint about a violation on this page. I registered a complaint (offending #=406-351-4352, thanks to caller ID) this afternoon, checked our phones for listing, found my cell # wasn't listed and corrected same.  
Does anyone have an account with a reverse search provider? I'd like to know who was placing the call so the FCC can have the name to attach to the complaint and publish it as much as possible to hopefully embarrass the offender and warn consumers away from this LAW BREAKER. I tried calling the # but there's no connection to any real human being, just another recording referring callers to dial 1 to be added to their corporate Do Not Call list. Yeah, right, like that'd ever happen! Here's another Do Not Call consumer asset.

Monday, June 28, 2010


The patio's finished, the veggies all planted but there's a lot left to do.
     We had the patio done by M&M Landscaping. Their one expert paver installer was a perfectionist. The job is beautiful. The design is my interpretation of one by a contractor who didn't get the job. He was really good with ideas but we couldn't reach him after a while. The only straight perimeter lines are where it meets the house. 
     I did the design by scanning a sheet of graph paper into a jpg file. I took the measurements and laid out the old poured concrete patio in a hand drawing. I then brought up the graph paper file in MS Paint and laid out the patio with the straight line tool after setting line end points per my measurements(10" per square worked well) Then I erased segments to set the old patio lines as dotted lines. Since I had taken curve outline segment endpoint measurements outside I set those points on the drawing for the new patio outlines. I used the MS Paint curved line tool to set and bend those segments to the proper shape. We ended up tweaking it a bit larger on layout on the ground, ~ 30sqft more. I'm still getting used to not stepping off the old tiny stoop when I come out of the back door. One can now step up on the new stoop BEFORE opening the door to enter the house. That's muy bueno
    They also built the 2  3' x 5' beds at the corners of the back of the garage from retaining wall blocks that were given to me 2-3 years ago. They're perfectly square and level. You can see one in the veggie garden photo.

The Veggie Garden:

     I found due to rust welds over time I couldn't remove the Philips head sheet metal screws holding on the top member of the trellis frames  to replace netting . I ended up cutting ~10" off the top of the verticals (see previous post on trellis design) and attaching new cross member fittings using hex head sheet metal screws so any rust can be overcome in the future.  I ended up re-netting only the one shown shorter in the photo this year. It got to be too late for the plants. I'm patching the old nets with string for now. 
    The pathways between veggie beds are yet to be graded and stepping stones installed.


It's obvious when you think about it. They took an everyday task with 2 process options, the more expensive and less healthy one, involving zero participant involvement then in 97% selection. They engineered the possibility of mentally engaging "fun" into the alternative, thereby retaining and even improving the health positive effect and positive cost factors of that option and viola, most chose to have the fun it offered. The fun introduced the possibility of distraction from the mind-numbing sequence of all of those tasks we must all endure to get by in the world. Improved societal mental and physical health would follow more universal application of this type of approach to public facilities engineering.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I went to my local ACE hardware store last Sunday to get a new 20lb propane tank for our gas grill. I left myself only ~15 min. to closing. When I got it home and attempted to install it and fire-up the grill, I found it IMPOSSIBLE to open the tank's valve by hand. Thank God for my Biomedical technician training which ALWAYS emphasizes safety. I therefor WILL NOT attempt it with tools. The tank valve is over-torqued and thereby damaged. This situation was conspicuously absent from any safety info I've found, at least in specific terms. I think it should be included. As for this tank, I'm getting my money back, getting the name of their supplier and avoiding same. See links to Propane tank safety sources below.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I had asked for a Zoom H2 audio recorder for my birthday but my son Jon, in the media equipment business, did me one better. I just had to wait a bit. The weekend of Mothers Day he delivered my belated 61st birthday gift and the EYEBALL 2.0 web-cam(by Blue Microphones, his employer) the latter being what I had requested he acquire for me to give to his mother for her birthday 1 1/2months earlier. Apparently the guys he was dealing with were not exactly responsive, hence the delay. He supposedly got a "wicked cheap" deal on both of them. 
This Zoom Q3 will record high quality audio with it's 2 high quality microphones or video (640 x 480) with CD quality sound. Now I can capture and share video of my soon to arrive (late Sept) 1st grandson.  
I have yet to use it other than the quickie test we did on Mothers Day. Concerts and gardening have kind of gotten in the way of that since. Sadly, the installation of Jeanne's web-cam fell to the same fate so far.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I have referred to what is has happened and is happening
at the Deep Water Horizon Oil platform site as completely 
predictable. The kicker is that predictable is incorrect. 
IT WAS PREDICTED and IGNORED just like the economic 
meltdown in 2008. Mega-corporation controlled markets 
WILL DO EXACTLY THIS if left to answer to no-one for 
their actions. At present, the bailed out bad actors 
continue to play profitable games with the same bad 
assets in the same ways that precipitated the 2008 
meltdown. Will now obviously dangerous off-shore oil 
drilling go the same way? If the response of 
theoretically “Democratic” governments across 
the world is any indication, these economic 
self proclaimed Gods will be left to reek 
their havoc on human civilization completely unchecked. 
At some point in the recent past (in total human 
history terms) corporations operated within 
sovereign nations “at the convenience” of each 
nation's government. The circumstances and 
responses surrounding the cataclysms mentioned strongly 
suggest that is no longer the case. 
It would appear that these individual corporations have 
gotten so big that they form an international economic 
oligarchy, powerful enough to dictate terms of all it's 
relationships with the governments of all supposedly 
sovereign nations on the globe. The United States of 
America, it would appear, is no exception. My only 
confusion on the matter is the extent of progression 
to totality of this change in human society. 
This deification of the corporate oligarchy, 
once complete, will facilitate the total destruction 
of human civilization. These recent 2 events are 
but a foretaste of the consequences of 
concentrating so much power in so few now obviously 
fallible human hands.;housing

Thursday, May 13, 2010


This seems to happen EVERY year. Just when motivation and need meet in the garden, along comes THE FLOOD. Of course the FLOOD will only stay a few days after the end of the series of rain storms WE HOPE. Almost all of the tasks noted in the picture above are both in addition to and must precede ACTUALLY PLANTING VEGGIES!
I think our residential development was designed either to allow for alleys that were never installed  or to drain all of the lots to the common back of the lot area and away from there. A lot of the homeowners have since thwarted the latter with structures and landscaping.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


These are my 2 main lawn scourges, Creeping Charlie and Powdery Mildew.
 It's been my nemesis for many years now. Lots of Borax solution did almost nothing. Charlie was the dominant green in my back yard last year when I finally gave up on "organic" means of it's control and used Scots Turf builder +2 which did the job. Some small amount has grown back from the years of seed it deposited. I'll try pulling it up wherever I see it unless it gets out of hand. Then It'll be back to the Scots. 
Powdery Mildew
This occurs only in the front lawn where there's lots more shade and the soil has had tons of tree debris mowed down into it.
I've read about milk as a treatment and baking soda as a preventative. Both are used in water sprayed on. The milk in a 1 to 10 mix and the baking soda, 1 tbsp to a gallon. I plan to try a combination of both. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 30, 2010


The perfect design for pouring creamer into a coffee cup is also just about the perfect design for pouring water into a planting  pot! 
Saving the environment is on everyone's mind these days. The Public Service spots all emphasize "Reduce Reuse, Recycle". The coffee creamer makers have given the home gardeners of the world a great opportunity to do just that with their liquid creamer containers.. The 32oz size is shown above but I use the smaller size to wet-down the newly seeded 6-packs before placing them in the trays of my plant starting rack. It's just a bit easier to manage than the 32oz bottle while holding the 6-pack in the other hand.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


A friend and fellow choral singer mentioned something last night related to identity security that I hadn't yet thought about. We've both been involved with a particular choir and he expressed concern about the fact that a publicity e-mail he received recently promoting their upcoming concert had all recipients' e-mail addresses in the "To:" line. He stated he felt it was just not at all considerate nor smart to share everyone's address with everyone else on the e-mail list. He said the only considerate thing to do in this circumstance is to address to the list using the "Bcc:" line of the address area of the message. BCC, or Bcc is an acronym for "Blind Carbon Copy" which as the term suggests hides each recipient's address from all other recipients. If we're both on the publicity e-mail list for an organization and they send their mass e-mailing of an announcement using the Bcc: addressing option for us, I won't see your address on the message and you won't see mine on your copy of the message. Thereby both of us would be protected from having our addresses shared with people we neither know nor have any reason to trust. 
Henceforth, unless I KNOW recipients already have each-others e-mail addresses I will endeavor to always address multiple recipients via the Bcc: line of e-mail messages I generate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Though it looks somewhat benign, this baby Creeping Charlie plant could completely take over the lawn in less than 2 years! This is just a baby from seed. It'll grow leaves 3-4 times this size. I've been battling this little monster in my back yard for 5-6 years. I've applied properly diluted Borax countless times, attempting to keep my warfare "organic", per the instructions found on the University Of Minnesota Ag. Dept. site for eliminating this scourge. The leaves would go brown at the edges within a week after application but not many plants actually died. Late last summer I gave up on "Organic" methods and went "heavy chemistry" on it. I applied Scotts +2. It worked.
"Well, what are we looking at here then" you may ask. Again, it's just a baby from seed.  Besides spreading like wildfire via BOTH root and surface runners this garbage plant also  blooms and sets seeds it drops to the ground. The flowers are deceptively lovely little "trumpet like" purple things. Lawns that are fully infested with this weed are looking a pretty blue-purple right now. Thus is the devious nature of the would be KING CHARLES.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This has been my Sunday morning home for many years now, Grace Episcopal Church of Hinsdale IL. It's a place of Faith, Hope and Love, of worship and fellowship. There's a unique benefit for those of us in the choir at Grace. The nave is laid out , as it is in some other Episcopal churches, with the choir seated split facing each other on both sides of the aisle from the congregation to the communion rail / altar. The choir receives the sacrament first after the Eucharistic ministers, acolytes and priests. We in the choir are seated while the congregation files past us to receive "the feast". Most families with children attend the 1 service per week at which the choir sings. That means we get to watch all the little people and their parents interacting up close during communion. I dearly love that. You literally can't not get a smile out of watching those obviously well loved little faces and those of their parents as they pass. At the risk of being sacrilegious, I leaned over to the tenor next to me after we returned to our seats following reception of the Eucharist today and whispered  "dinner and a show". Obviously it's much more than that but this grandpa to be is going to enjoy the little people as much as possible for as long as God allows me on this earth.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


So.. my wife Jeanne took her godson and our oldest son to the Cubs came today.  I drove them to the CTA train in Forrest Park. I've been on sort of a kick about being unable to figure out how the Cubs could afford a $136M 8 year contract (From 2006) with an outfielder who can't find or catch a baseball. Yes pilgrim, I'm talking about the not so great Alphonso Soriano. Anyway I couldn't help but ask how many he blew today when I picked them up at the train station after the game. They told me it was 2. It would appear he's on track to dwarf his previous record for errors per season of 23. At $17M per year or about $100,000 per game for his totally absent fielding skills you'd think Cubs management would pop for a personal fielding coach for the guy or better yet Al baby showing ANY sense of resposibility to his source of outrageous largess and HIRE ONE FROM THIS YEAR'S $17,000,000.

Friday, April 16, 2010


She found the Joke Wall!!!! See the clip below.


Ned Glowinski got me started...
The classic example of humor EONs ago in my youth, yes pilgrims I did have youth at one time, was Rowan and Martins Laugh In. It was the springboard for the careers of such stars as Goldie Hawn, George Carlin and others. My short search this morning failed to get me a clip of the Joke Wall I desperately wanted but here's some classic Rowan and Martin in the Laugh In style. See the clip on the page.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I've been looking into getting a digital recording device to use for rehearsal recordings and maybe a performance or 2 as well. In it's price range, the Zoom H2 appears to be the only one with dual stereo microphones and has what the reviewers say is the easiest interface via it's LCD panel and buttons on the front. I like the SDHC card recording media. The director of my church choir has one and has nothing but good to say about it.
My 61st birthday has come and gone and no recording device. I had hoped for one from the boys but whatever. Jon being an audio engineer working for Blue Microphone thought he might be able to get one from one of his dealers at "a crazy huge discount" but we'll see.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I missed getting most of the "events" of my 2 sons' childhood "on tape" but now there is a whole new generation of video recording devices no bigger than the digital snap shooter cameras we've all become used to. These could wipe out any legitimacy of reasons to miss the chance with the grand child that's about to enter my life. Just received a Facebook update from Tigerdirect about what seems to be a very good deal on one and am considering buying it. $60 for a kit like this is very tempting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

They're up and growing...YEA!

After only 3-5 days I have a bunch of plants sprouting on the starter rack. That's the magic of Seedling Heating Mats. There's one under the 10" x 20" tray in the picture. I may yet have plants suitable for transplanting when the time is right in mid-May. Starting as late as April 8 without the mats would make that impossible. It'd take as long as 2 weeks to get them all to sprout. I started a bunch more items just yesterday. You can see the edge of a 9 pack of heat hardy lettuce to the right of the labeled 6 packs in the photo.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oh yeah, I sing too

One of the groups I sing with is The Michael Teolis Singers. We have a concert coming up. At this point here's what the program will be though it is subject to change.

Holiday Song                Schumann (1910-1992)
Quiad Justitiam             Martinon (1910-1976)
Messe Breve                 Rota (1911-1979)
O Pulchritudo                Menotti (1911-2007)
Sure on This Shining
Night                           Barber (1910-1981)
Negro Mother               North (1910-1991)


Johnny Appleseed         Siegmeister (1909-1991)
O Lady Moon                Hovhaness (1911-2000)
Michigan Morn              Reed (b. 1910)
Sing, Sing, Sing             L. Prima (1910-1978)
                                   popularized by B. Goodman (1909-1986)
Guys and Dolls
(medley)                      Loesser (1910-1969)

Here's our website;

Driven to trellis

Vertical gardening: trellises are how I do it. I came up with this design after a coworker mentioned he made his out of electrical conduit. Sadly, that coworker died of a heart attack at 48 years old. You can't over estimate the benefits of marriage to the right woman. He was a bachelor. He was also the one who came up with the Saint Jeanne name for my wife. I'd say he knew me pretty well. I digress. The instructions in the picture and below are what I sent about the trellis design to my niece in Florida responding to her plea for guidance in starting a garden.

I use that style of clamp, drilling the arch for the screw so the top can be better supported by the 3/4' (or 1' if you chose) conduit verticals. I ran out of room in the picture for the last assembly instructions. All that was left was to drill the pilot hole for the screw attachment of the top to the verticals, screw them on and pull down the netting. I weigh the netting down with another extra assembled cross piece woven in at the bottom of the net. The fencepost driver is a big tube like thing with handles on the sides and a steel hammer welded inside at one end. You slide it over the post you've hand started and bring the internal "hammer down" repeatedly until the post (the 3/4" x 10' conduit here) is driven in a couple of feet. A link to a fence post driver is just below, as well as 1 for an example of trellis netting.
            Try it and have fun. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ah Spring...GOTTA MOW GRASS!*!*!

Spring is sprung. The birds are singing. The lawn is getting to be a beautiful green. Uh oh, grass is greening up, that means we GOTTA MOW THE GRASS, right? No problem pilgrim.We need the exercise anyway, having been slugs all winter. I know, speak for yourself (myself). All that being said, who really wants to mess around with all that smelly gas and oil necessary to use those gas guzzler mowers? Again, no problem pilgrim. There has never been a greater selection of rechargeable battery powered electric mowers. In the last 10 years or so there have been some real advancements in both battery and DC electric motor technologies. The average battery powered mower is ~ $300-$400 these days which is definitely competitive with quality gas powered mowers. I even saw a riding mower that's battery powered on line. Not being in the market( I have < 3000sq ft of lawn) I didn't check out comparative pricing on that one. I've been mowing with COM ED( Chicago) for 5 years now via my little old Neuton EM 4.1 14" mower. This mower is so quiet I can carry on a conversation with someone while mowing along, I've done so on the front lawn a bunch of times  due to folks stopping to ask about it. They see I'm using an electric mower and are grabbed by the absence of a cord. 
 A major question I get is how long does it run on a charge? I can mow my ~ 3000 sq ft at least 1 1/2 times on a charge. I have 3 removable battery packs primarily for mulching down the fall leaves in place, but that's a whole other posting.
I wouldn't go back to gas if you paid me to. 
Check out the options here:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Another year of gardening

Very interesting thing today, I FINALLY got around to starting the tomato and pepper seeds today and discovered evidence of a "senior moment" weeks ago when I ordered my seeds on line. There were no tomato seeds in the order! The 3-4 varieties I intended to order never made it into the final list.

True to my usual luck, the local ACE still had a full compliment of tomato varieties on their seeds racks. I found and purchased 4 varieties worth growing.

Into the "dungeon" they went, "secured" in new 6-packs and onto the ~20 year old planting "RACK".

I also started some basil and oregano. Those oregano seeds are MICROSCOPIC. I could barely feel them between finger and thumb. There was no way I could see most of them against the soil-less mix in the six-pack.

So starts the yearly adventure in gardening. Will it do as well as last year's shown above?