The second week of November was another one of those weeks where we were busy every day from the time I got up until the time we went to bed, but I don’t have a clear recollection of what I was doing each day as I did not always mark it on my calendar. I think that is because I spent a lot of time at my computers working on WordPress websites and installing packages/updates. Some days are very clear, however.
2013-11-08 (F) The “Eyes” Have It
We had managed to snag a couple of appointment times this morning to have our eyes checked by our long-standing optometrist at the Farmington Vision Clinic. Linda’s eyes had not changed very much, but it had been a couple of years since she got new glasses, so she decided to get a pair. I had been experiencing intermittent “wavy” patterns and was a bit concerned about that. The exam did not indicate any issues with diabetes or glaucoma, so that was a relief. The tentative diagnosis was “pre-migraine ocular disturbance” which was interesting because I was not experiencing any headaches, and rarely do. The trigger may be something that I eat, perhaps caffeine or wine, so I may need to keep a food log. Ugh. I like writing about the dishes Linda prepares, but I don’t like “logging” my food intake.
Chuck is in the process of prepping their bus for southbound travel, so I met up with him for lunch. He had also gotten connected to a guy in California whose older brother was living in Michigan when he passed away back in June. The older brother was well known in the Prevost bus community, and had a converted coach stored in the N.E. suburbs of the Detroit Metro Area. The surviving brother needed to deal with as part of his brother’s affairs, and Chuck had offered our assistance on Sunday.
2013_11_09 (S) Schramm’s Mead
But first we had to deal with Saturday, which started with our usual ham radio club breakfast in South Lyon, Michigan. Attendance varies, but we had a big crowd of at least 20 people. After breakfast we decided to drive over to Ferndale and find Schramm’s Mead. I worked with Ken Schramm before I retired from Wayne RESA. He’s still the TV / Multi-media Production Manager there, but outside of normal business hours he is a well-known expert on the subject of mead, having written a well-respected book on the subject, and speaking at international conventions. He and his wife Jean and their daughter Alison have been working for over a year to get Schramm’s Mead open, and that finally happened about 6 weeks ago. They are at 327 W. 9 Mile Rd. in Ferndale, Michigan. The meadery is located in a very “happening” part of town just a short walk west of the intersection of 9 Mile Rd. and Woodward Avenue and should be a good location for them. Parking was plentiful, with both paid and free options. We sampled their complete line of currently available mead products and bought three bottles. I have added a section to the Health & Food tab of this website on Wine & Mead and refer you there for more information about mead and the offerings from Schramm’s Mead. Let me just say here “this is good stuff.”
2013_11_10 (N) Buses & Ham Radio
Sunday found me headed to Chuck’s house near South Lyon bright and early, or at least early. We needed to meet the guy from California at the RV storage lot in Shelby Township, so it took an hour to get there. He was waiting for us, let us in, and led us to the bus. It was a 1997 (~) Prevost XL (40’) Royale Coach conversion with a Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission. It appeared to be in good shape and Chuck and I set about figuring out its state. The chassis batteries had been left “on” and were drained. The house and generator batteries were also “on” but appeared to be in better shape. It did not appear to have much fuel in the tank, but with the chassis batteries drained we couldn’t get accurate readings from any of the gauges. We got the generator started, plugged in the 24V emergency chassis battery charger, turned the house batter chargers on, and set about finding the circuit breakers and switches seeing what worked.
After letting the generator/24V charger run for several hours the chassis batteries showed no sign of coming back to life. We still had enough hours of daylight to do something about it. We located a NAPA Auto Parts Store less than 2.5 miles from the storage yard and gave them a call. They had 8 of the type battery we needed (12V Group 31). We only needed four. We pulled the old ones out of the bus and headed over. By taking the old ones we did not have worry about disposal/recycling of them and avoided a “core charge.” We installed the new batteries and the DD-60S fired right up. That’s was a beautiful thing to hear. The chassis and brake systems aired-up correctly and the gauges all came to life. That’s was a beautiful thing to see.
The bus had about ¼ tank of fuel indicated, or about 40+ gallons, so we decided we did NOT need to drive it someplace to fuel it right that minute. The bus was headed to Staley Coach in Nashville, TN at the end of the week and could stop for fuel early in the trip.
I had a ham radio club meeting at 6:30 PM, and needed to get dinner, so Chuck and I made our exit and headed back to his house. I got home in time to change clothes but not sit down and eat. Linda made sandwiches for us to eat as we drove to the meeting.
Our November ham radio club meeting is a significant one as we elect officers for the coming year. Mike (W8XH) agreed to run for a 2nd term as president, Paul (N8BHT) agreed to run again for Treasurer, and I (K8BRF) agreed to run again for Vice-President. Marty (KB8JIU) did not wish to run again as Secretary, and Harvey (AC8NO) agreed to run for that position, which he has held in the past. There being only one candidate for each officer, the slate was declared elected. The program for the evening was put on by Mike (W8XH) and Steve (N8AR). They demonstrated the use of Mike’s Vector Network Analyzer (VNA) to examine the characteristics of an antenna by calibrating out the effects of the transmission line.
Technical note: Transmission lines have losses, i.e., they inherently dissipate as heat some of the energy they are trying to transfer from a radio transmitter to an antenna. The losses depend on frequency, and if the transmission line is of low quality it will dissipate more energy per linear foot than a higher quality one at any particular frequency. How much energy it dissipates thus depends on the inherent loss, the length, and the frequency of the signal. When a transmitter sends energy through a transmission line it would ideally like all of the energy to reach the antenna, be transferred into the antenna, and cause it to resonate, producing electromagnetic radiation. It never works quite that well in practice. If there is a mismatch between the transmission line and the antenna, some of the energy will be “reflected” back down the transmission line towards the transmitter. However, if there are sufficient losses in the transmission line the reflected energy never makes it back to the radio, which makes the radio think everything is just fine when in fact very little of the energy the radio produces may get turned into useful RF EM radiation. Mike’s VNA allows the user to “calibrate out” the effect of the transmission line and “see” what is actually happening at the antenna. That’s cool, and that’s a good thing to be able to do.
2013_11_11 (M) Odds ‘n’ Ends
Monday was a catch-all day for me while Linda went to Ann Arbor for her regular Monday babysitting duty. I talked to Michele and she was encouraged that she would be able to fix the two expensive body panels that I crunched. I called Prevost and ordered the 3rd panel that she would not be able to fix. It would ship via UPS and arrive on Wednesday. I updated my LinkedIn account and added all three of our phone numbers to the Federal DO NOT CALL LIST, a long overdue chore. I called Adams Well Drilling and Water Treatment to get new whole-house sediment filters and chlorine tablets for the carbon filter unit. We have a sediment filter housing that takes 10” long large-diameter filter elements. They are a spun polypropylene with a dual micron rating; 50 microns on the outside and 5 microns on the inside. It’s like having two filters in one! The 50 micron portion removes the larger sediment that can quickly plug and filter and render it useless, leaving the 5 micron filter to remove only smaller particles. The flow rate through this filter is excellent, and it’s easy to change thanks to the pre- & post-filter shutoff valves Adam’s installed, and the pressure relief button on top of the housing.
We had previously arranged to meet Kate for dinner. Having just seen her in Ypsilanti, we agree to meet at the Zukey Lake Tavern in Pinckney, Michigan. Linda and I wanted to check it out as our ham radio club had decided to go there for our December holiday meeting/dinner. They have a very average salad bar, but I was able to get plenty to eat at it. Linda had a veggie burger. Not a great choice for us as restaurants go, but it will work well for the club.
2013_11_12 (T) Madeline Comes To Visit
Linda had agreed to babysit our grand-daughter on Tuesday so our son could continue working on a presentation for his department at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. I don’t get to see Madeline as much as Linda does, so our son offered to bring her to our house and work there while Linda and I handled baby duties. Madeline is a busy little girl. She is an accomplished crawler and is working on standing up and walking. She loves her books and toys, and grandma bought some new ones to have at our house for her. She kept us both busy while her dad worked on his computer. He brought her Pack-n-Play and set it up in the bedroom that we have designated for her. She went down for nap right on schedule at 2 PM and slept for ~90 minutes. We got to play with her until sometime after 5 PM when it was time to leave.
2013_11_13 (W) & _14 (R)
Linda had called a couple of weeks ago and managed to get an appointment with our primary care physician for her annual physical due to a cancellation. Her total cholesterol had risen a little from the last visit, which annoyed her given the way we eat, but her HDL, LDL, and triglyceride numbers all looked really good. She was also able to talk to the nurse and find me an appointment time later in the month. I really did not want to wait until late April or May for my next physical.
Thursday morning I went to Chuck’s bus garage to chat with him and our mobile Mechanic, Joe Cannarozzi, who had come in from Chicago to complete some work on Chuck’s coach. Joe had also been engaged by the guy from California to drive the bus to Staley Coach near Nashville, Tennessee on Friday morning and bring the guy back to the Detroit area. It turned out that Chuck needed new brake pads for his tag axle wheels. We were sitting around wringing our hands about how to get those in time for Joe to finish the brake job when I realized that Joe was going to Nashville where Prevost has one of their major factory parts and service centers! Phone calls were made, parts were ordered and put on account for will call, and it was agreed that Joe would pick them up on Friday and bring them back with him. Sometimes bus stories do have happy endings.
I spent Wednesday and part of Thursday working at my computers. Larry (K8UT) is a member of our ham radio club and a very accomplished web designer. He had given me the “key” to getting a local web-server running: LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and phpMyAdmin). I got MySQL and phpMyAdmin installed on the Linux box but was unable to create the databases I needed in spite of spending time with the documentation. By Thursday evening I still did not have WordPress running on our local web-server, but I was clearly making progress in that direction. Sometimes computer stories have happy endings too.