Twin antennas.

We cut the cord a few years back, and have been watching TV since then using over-the-air (OTA) antennas, which can pick up a number of local HD television broadcasts.  That, in addition to a few online streaming sources, works well for us.

We aren’t big TV watchers.  But, we do have a large TV in our game room.  And I have a small one in my office over the treadmill.  Last year Monte found a design online showing how to make an antenna that might give better reception than ones we’ve tried.   He made one for the big TV and christened it the HD3000.  It works great, much better than any of the others we’ve bought over the years, and it nearly doubled the local channels picked up.  I’ve been waiting patiently for mine, and this week Monte made one for my office TV.  We installed it up in the attic right next to the first one.  We simply screwed the coax cable from each antenna into the existing coax cable that was already run through the attic into the room of the TV to be connected.   It works great!  Now I can reliably tune in KXAN to watch the weather alerts during severe weather, which we’ve had much of, lately.  Yay!

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If you’d like to know how many (and which) channels you can receive where you live, check out this website:  antennaweb.org.

 

Garden surprise.

I noticed a new volunteer perennial in my pollinator patch a few months ago.  It stayed green and alive through our mild winter.   I didn’t know what it was.  A few weeks ago it started blooming and is thriving amongst the returning salvia, sage, purple coneflower, vinca, and scabiosa.  I finally took a good look and did some research and was tickled purple to find out that they are winecups (Callirhoe involucrata)!  I love winecups but find them very elusive in the sprawling fields of Central Texas wildflowers.  I’m glad they volunteered here in my garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe one small plant has exploded with 3 or so long branches that are creeping out through the garden, low to the ground.  The blooms roll up every night and reopen in the morning.  🙂  The bees enjoy them, too.

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Before and after.

I need a haircut!  But I’m enjoying that my hair is long enough to braid again.    Au natural is working out well during this shelter-in-place thing.  The picture on the left was taken about 2 1/2 years ago when I was still coloring my locks.

Quarantine meal.

We joined in the Becker Vineyards virtual wine tasting last night of their 2018 Cabernet-Syrah Reserve.   It sure went well with pizza!

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This might take a while.

I ordered a paint-by-number kit a month ago to help me pass the time in self-imposed quarantine.  It took a while but arrived today.   Perhaps I should have picked something smaller…  No matter, I will start tonight and take my time.  Wish me luck!  🙂

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In like a lion…

March 2020, in like a lion, out like a freaking atomic bomb.

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Usually one of my favorite months… ushering in Spring, wildflowers, bird migration, beautiful weather.   This year it brought so much more for us to deal with.  I’m looking ahead to better things.

Take care, everybody!

New tricks.

Social distancing is turning into social isolation. To keep my sanity, I’ve been trying to find new ways to play with old friends. Like making up new games to play on zoom video conferences and WhatsApp group chats. Here’s one: an endless game of “picture UNO.”

My sister is going to teach me how to play Settlers of Catan together using zoom video conferencing.

I found a surprisingly well done website for multi-player card games like pinochle; it’s called trickstercards.com. You can play in a browser or on a mobile device using their app. Tonight we played 4-handed pinochle with Doray and Tom from our respective bunkers.

Now I need to find one for cribbage.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Distantialism.

Distantialism; a word I made up to capture the way of life we have all been suddently asked to embrace due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping in touch via technology:  We have been keeping to the house for the last week or so, even before the City of Austin declared a shelter-in-place order last night for the next 2-3 weeks.

I’ve been using video chat apps like zoom and skype to keep in touch with multiple groups of friends and family at a time.  Alternatives didn’t meet my needs; Facetime doesn’t run on non-Apple platforms, and WhatsApp only supports chats amongst 4 people at a time.

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My niece introduced me to the marco polo app, which I can only describe as a group texting app, except instead of just asynchronously texting eachother, you can send video clips to eachother which can be viewed by the recipient(s) at their leisure, and then subsequently responded to.  You can also use it for real-time communication, though, in which case, as my niece describes it, it works kind of like a video “walkie-talkie” where each person takes turns “talking” by sending small video clips.

Grocery shopping without going to the grocery store:  I have tried using our local grocery chain (HEB’s) delivery and curbside services.  I can’t say how that has gone, though, since the first delivery slot available when I placed my order 8 days ago, was for tomorrow.  So I get to wait another day and see what actually gets delivered.   Their curbside pickup/delivery timeslots are booked 10 days to two weeks ahead of time now, so I’m not sure how much more experience I’ll get with them.

I signed up for Shipt.com, in the hopes that I could schedule a much sooner grocery delivery.  The membership fee is about $99 for a year, or $15/month.  They had an opening for the next day, so I decided to try it out.   It actually worked well.  My shopper texted me when an item that I wanted wasn’t available, so I could pick a substitute from the available items.  There was a bit of a snag on the delivery end, but it all worked out in the end.  🙂

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Entertaining myself:  I’ve been taking walks in the neighborhood and nearby parks, streaming TV shows and movies, watching the many now live-streamed instead of in-person events, gardening, and whatever else my heart desires (that I can do in the confines of my house and/or yard).

I hope you are all faring well.  Take care.

Redbud.

My favorite flowering tree is the Texas Redbud (Cercis canadensis var. texensis).  Their blooms are fleeting but gorgeous, some of the first of the year.  This bee likes them, too.

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Rainy day project.

I knocked out a quick project today as rain soaked the yard. It’s a bag to hold a 3L boxed-wine bladder. Boats don’t much like things made out of cardboard; roaches do. So we don’t bring cardboard on-board. This bag will hold, hang, and dispense the wine instead, so we can toss the box for recycling. Yes, that’s right, I just ooze class. 🙂

Ready to sail.

Time has flown by since we took Nirvana’s mainsail home at the beginning of December.  But we’ve not been idle.  We’ve had a lot going on; a few visits from family and friends, an Atlantic coast boat delivery, the holidays, the bathroom remodel, yardwork, life, etc.  But I think I’m almost ready to start repairing the main.

I’ve made a scale drawing of the sail and all its detail (including seams, layers of dacron, batten pockets, luff and leech tape, direction of the warp & weft/fill – or weave – of each piece of the sail’s construction, etc).  On top of that, I marked the location of the damaged areas that need to be repaired.  Using this, I can figure out a strategy of what pieces to replace, the dimension of each piece, and then lay them out on scale drawings of 54″ wide dacron yardage so I can figure out how much I need to cut out all the pieces with the weave in the required direction.

Nirvana’s sail is a bit unusual – at least for a US boat – in that it has a furling boom (a Forespar LeisureFurl furling boom).  It’s a very nice upgrade that is reportedly prevalent in Australia and New Zealand sailboats.  We like the convenience and the fact that our furling boom allows us to have full battens in our main.   As I’m preparing to repair the mainsail, I’ve learned that sails for LeisureFurl booms are built with multiple layers, or plies, toward the leech end of the sail, which is required to ensure proper furling of the main.  It just makes things a bit more interesting (complicated), as that is where the majority of the damage is.  I’ve also spent time on the phone with Sailrite and Forespar to ensure I use the right weight of dacron for the replacement pieces.

The repairs I plan to make to the mainsail include:

– Replacing the bolt rope tape on the luff of the sail.  This goes into a track on the aft-side of the mainmast as the sail is raised and lowered.  It is well worn due to wear and UV damage.

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– Replacing the dacron tape along the leech of the sail.  This is well worn and cracking due to wear and UV damage.

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– Replacing areas of varying widths along the entire leech of the sail where UV damage has degraded much of the top ply of dacron.  The previous owner neglected to replace a worn sail cover before selling her, probably for a couple of years, resulting in a wide swath of cracked and torn dacron that remained exposed to the sun when the main was furled.

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I’ve been taking my time, as sail work is new to me, and I have a lot to learn.  The first 2 sets of repairs are straightforward.  The third set of repairs is non-trivial and essentially requires replacement of much of the top 2 plies of the sail.

The picture below shows the drawing I’ve made of the port-side of Nirvana’s approximately 13 1/2′ x 38′ mainsail.   The brown lines represent the batten pockets that are on top of all the layers of dacron and the luff & leech tape.  I essentially need to remove and replace the pink and blue layers of dacron on the aft-end of the sail.

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Because of the order in which the parts of the mainsail are sewn,  I’ll have to pull up the existing batten pockets to remove the worn pieces of the sail, then sew in the new pieces of dacron, and then sew the batten pockets back down, before sewing the luff and leech tape on.  I’ll also have to replace a couple of the numbers on the sail when all the repairs are done, as some of the sections that need replacement are under the sail numbers.

This is definitely more complicated than the repairs I made to the jib a few months back.  But, I’m cautiously optimistic that I can do this.  Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

 

 

 

Tower Girl 2020.

I’m in my 3rd year of remotely stalking Tower Girl, the Peregrine Falcon that lives atop the University of Texas at Austin Tower.  The University has a live-streamed webcam pointed at her nest box on the northwest corner of the clocktower.  And they recently upgraded it, so it now also has audio.  Be careful with that audio volume, though.  The UT clock tower chimes every 15 minutes and it is LOUD.   This is a snap from about 5 minutes ago.  She has reportedly had a male hanging around lately, too.  February/March is the time she has been laying eggs, so I’ll be tuning in to see how it goes this year.

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As long as I’ve been watching, none of the eggs she lays each year have hatched.  I hold out hope that this is the year for baby falcons!