Pete's random thoughts

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Making progress on the roadway

I got an "early" start on the roadbuilding project today...5:30PM. It stays light until about 6:30-6:45 before I need to use the headlights, so I got a good hour in before I had to really narrow down my operations.

Tonight I managed to get the tractor up off of the existing logging road and onto the flat spot in front of the dining fly. Once I was up there, I concentrated on ripping out sharp rocks and tree stumps that could potentially puncture a tractor tire or be something to trip over.

What I am learning in this project is that a small tree stump is a relatively easy thing to tear out of the ground...unless that tree grew it's roots into and around a bunch of large chunks of rock. And guess what, in NH, ALL tree roots grow around chunks of rock! Big rocks, little rocks, even bigger rocks. At one point, I even struck ledge.

It is a learning curve, but I am making progress.

Monday, October 05, 2009

New roadway going in

My after-work project for the past couple of days involves ripping out stumps and big chunks of granite from the hillside.

If you have ever been here for one of our shoots, you'll remember where the "headquarters" tent is placed, up on the hill near the pond. It is somewaht of a pain to get to because of the undergrowth and glacial rocks that line the hillside.

There is a logging road that goes towards the pond and off to the north. What this phase of the project is entails creating a roadway that leads from that logging road, across the front of the "headquarters" tent, across the crest of that little hill, and right up to the wooden bridge that leads to the house.

This will make it easier for visitors to use the grill and have a clear pathway to the picnic table that is under the tent fly. On a more practical level, it will make it easier to bring 4'x4' boxes of firewood (made out of pallets wired together) right up to the end of the bridge so as to make the job of carrying wood into the house easier.

At the very least, it is an excuse to play with the tractor.

The downside is that I'm doing it "after work", so that means I run out of light fast and end up working via headlights.

The pond is low on water right now, so a big part of it is accessible to the tractor, perhaps I'll be able to dig it out a little deeper with just the bucket, since I don't have an excavator for it yet. I'm thinking that the excess dirt that comes out of the pond can be piled up along the end of the range to build up a berm at the 50 yard mark.

So much tractor work to do before the snow flies!

Hopefully, by the next shoot there will be an improved facility here!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

More thoughts on the decline of phone manners

The other day I posted here about some dude who was calling and calling and calling even though it was obvious to anyone with half a brain that we weren't open that day. I checked caller ID, and he had called 21 times. That's right...TWENTY ONE times. All day long. He called, he actually left voice mail messages, then he called some more. Amazing.

Today's cranky old guy rant is about cell phones. I rarely talk on the phone because of hearing problems. Between artillery, random gunfire noise, and working in a very OSHA-unsafe mechanic environment when I was a fleet mechanic, my hearing is pretty much shot. I have lost about 1/2 of my hearing range and have pretty bad tinnitus. (ringing of the ears). It varies from day to day, today the ringing is around a 7 of the scale of 1-10. It sounds like the noise from an old-time "test pattern" that you'd see when the TV stations went off the air at midnight in the old days of television. I'm not whining, I'm just trying to make the point that if I talk on the phone, it is for a really good reason and not just for fun.

I got a call today from a satelite family member. He was calling from his cell phone as he drove somewhere. I guess that is a good use of your time, multitasking if you will. The problem with it, besides the obvious "not giving your driving 100% of your attention" part is that it puts a definite time limit on the conversation. In short, it goes something like this:

"Hey, how's it going?"

"Good, how about you?"

"I'm good too, whatcha been up to?"

...followed by a couple of minutes of story telling on both sides of the conversation. Then, the caller gets to where he was going, and cuts off the conversation because he "is there".

I think it is pretty rude. If you are going to call someone and talk with them, do it. Don't just squeeze them in while you are driving somewhere. People aren't emails, and they aren't TV shows. You can't just TiVo a real live person.

Seriously, if a relationship is worth having with someone, have it. Don't just call someone and make beleive you are interested in what is going on in their lives if you are really only bored while driving to the store, restaraunt, or whatever.

This kind of weird attitude come, I think, from the overboard way that we live. We are constantly being hammered with data. Try to watch the news, and there will be a talking head newscaster in the middle of the TV screen, the stock ticker scrolling across the top of the screen, and an unrelated news ticker scrolling across the bottom. Then, on top of that, the TV station is running some kind of commercial for one of it's shows in the corner of the screen!

People have to text with their phones while surfing the net and chatting with an IM program at the same time. This can't be good for our brains. (me, I don't know how to send a text message, and I'm getting on just fine)

In the pre-election months of 2008, we went down to Keene State College to meet Ron Paul and hear him speak. I am not a big fan of colleges, but I've bene on many campuses. This was different. The students were walking from building to building in little groups, but they weren't talking to each other. They were talking on their phones or texting to someone somewhere else instead of talking to theri real live classmates walking right next to them. What have we done to our society?

Hang up the phone and drive. Go visit a real live person and sit don to chat with them for a few hours. Treat it like a reenactment if you have to...reenact the "old days" of the late 20th century when people still had the power to communicate without electronic gadgets!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Magazine issues

No, not the kind of magazines that you read or the kind you keep gunpowder in, I'm talking about the kind that feeds ammunition into your repeating rifle.

I've got a stack of assorted 15 round WW2 vintage USGI magazines for the M1/M2 Carbine, and a few aftermarket 30-round M2 mags. Some work well, others don't. The weak point in any semi auto is the feed lips of the magazine. If they are bent, the gun just won't feed right.

The way to see which ones work and which ones don't is to try and shoot with them. Oftentimes "bad" mags can be fixed by tweaking the feed lips. In this video, the 15-round mag works perfectly. The one before that allowed a couple of short bursts, but most of the time it failed to feed the next round into the chamber. The 30-rounder before that just wouldn't feed and I had to manually push the nose of each round down towards the chamber. Not a fun way to empty a 30 round mag!

The target during all of this testing was an empty Mapp gas cannister. For reactive targets, I use the Mapp gas cans, bowling pins, and clay pigeons. The bowling pins and pigeons I gotta buy, the Mapp gas cans are free with purchase of Mapp gas.

Here is the can when I was done with it. It probably won't hold gas at this point.

Why can't people deal with voicemail?

Today is opening day for pheasant hunting in NH. Since I am the boss here, I get to decide what the paid holidays are for the MVTCo employees. Sure, there is Christmas, New Years, the 4th of July, etc, but that doesn't use up the 10 paid holidays that we offer, so we make our own "opening day for pheasants" and "opening day for ducks".

Me, I am at work. Everyone else is out tramping around out in cornfields with dogs and shotguns.

When you call the shop phone number, and nobody picks up (for instance, let's imagine it is a holiday and nobody but me is here...and I don't talk on the phone anymore because of hearing problems) you get a voicemail message telling you what our hours are and it asks you to please leave a message so Kathy can get back to you.

So I'm sitting here at my desk, and the damn phone is ringing away. According to caller ID, the same person is calling, waiting a few minutes and calling, etc etc. He's called about 8-10 times so far. For some reason, he's not bright enough to FOLLOW THE SIMPLE DIRECTIONS to please leave a message. (as I'm typing this, he is calling AGAIN)

If a person can't follow instructions to be able to handle voicemail, is he really ready for the responsibility of owning a gun?

Please folks, use common sense. Calling every few minutes instead of using your head and leaving a message is as dumb as pushing the elevator button repeatedly in the hopes that it will get to your floor faster. If you get voicemail, leave a message, that's how voicemail works.

Let's imagine that Kathy is on the phone talking someone through how to adjust their flint, and it turns into a 20 minute conversation. In the meantime, Bubba calls and the line is busy, so he gets voicemail. Instead of leaving a message like an intelligent person, he hangs up and immediately calls back. Every time he calls, Kathy and the customer she is currently helping has to listen to "click-click, click-click". Because of the clicking, their conversation has to pause. What happens then is that the conversation takes LONGER, so Bubba has to wait even longer for the line to open he keeps calling!

Then there are people that seem to think that since I USED to answer the phone at all hours of the day, seven days a week, that we still do. No. The business has matured enough to have ***normal hours of operation*** and these hours are Monday thru Thursday, 9am-4pm. That is when people come to work. There are people that call all weekend, assuming that they'll catch me at home. I AM home, but I am not going to answer the phone at 8am on Sunday morning. One jackass even called on 11pm on Christmas eve.

If the call is important enough to tie up the phone line with 10 calls, just to hang up and try again, it is important enough to leave a message and be patient enough until people are back at work and able to call you back.