ashamedtosay replied to your post:Retirement (sort of) and Money is weird and Portland?

Don’t stop in Portland, go the extra 60 miles to the coast and dip your toes in the Pacific.

Definitely! That would be the ultimate goal, doing Atlantic to Pacific. I could probably do it, time-wise. Maybe. This is something that just hit me yesterday so it’s not even in the planning stages yet, but damn it would be fun.

Retirement (sort of) and Money is weird and Portland?

I’m doing it. Retiring, I mean. Sort of. By the end of the month I’ll be dropping down to half time and my financial people tell me I can not only afford to do it, but I’ll actually be making more money working half time than I’m making working full time now. How? I have no idea. I suspect magic, black cats and tarot cards are involved. According to the projections they were running this morning, when I retire fully in 5 years, I’ll be making 3 times my current income. They assure me this is legal. We’ll see. Money is weird.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to deal with retirement. I do know that I’m planning on traveling this summer. I’m tentatively planning what I’m calling the Portland to Portland ride. I’m thinking of taking the bike from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon. Yes, Krippner’s sanity is definitely in doubt, my friends.

Radio Shack Memories

Reading about the possible demise of Radio Shack brought back a lot of memories. Back in the 70s and 80s Radio Shack was pretty much the only place within reasonable distance to get electronic parts like capacitors, diodes and resistors, electronics tools (gads, I still have and use soldering tools from RS that I bought back in the 70s) and assorted gadgets, cable, wire, antennas, etc. They were fairly expensive, probably didn’t have exactly what you wanted, but you could usually get something that was close enough to be able to kludge something together. The only alternative was a trip to Milwaukee, or risk mail order (this was pre-internet) and a potential wait of weeks, if not months, before your stuff would arrive.

It was also a source for information, selling books that would become the foundation of everything I know about electronics, radio, etc. And just talking to the other nerds who hung out there was sometimes an education in itself.

I built crappy little kits for utterly useless purposes, cobbled together circuits I gout out of electronics magazines and books. I tried to learn morse code, and failed (there is literally something wrong with my brain when it comes to recognizing sound patterns. I’ve tried learning CW since the late 1960s. I’m still trying using different techniques, but I don’t have much hope.)

Some of the stuff I threw together actually worked! I built a timer to control exposures for my enlarger in my darkroom at the time (I processed and printed my own photographs back then). No one was more surprised than I was when the thing actually worked!

Other projects, like the morse code decoder and speech synthesizer were utter failures. The decoder because the computer it was hooked to generated so much radio interference it couldn’t even pick up the local FM station down the street, much less CW signals from Europe. The speech synth got to the point where it would say “lalalalalalala” over and over again. And once I swore it said ‘daddy’, but my wife claims I was hearing things and I suspect she was right. I finally stripped it down for parts and forgot about it.

RS did prove very useful in the mid-1980s when I had a little cottage industry going building replacement power supplies for Atari and Commodore computers. The power supplies of the time were simple affairs, made up of a transformer, a few diodes, some capacitors, maybe (if you were lucky) a fuse, that changed 120V AC to 12V to 16V DC. They failed on a regular basis because the companies made them as cheap as they could. They were easy to repair until the companies found out they could make money selling replacement power supplies, and started to fill the ‘brick’ that held the transformer and circuits with epoxy so they couldn’t be fixed. I found I could build a Commodore 64 supply with off the shelf parts at RS that was more robust, less prone to failure, easy to repair, and I could sell for $25, make a profit and still undercut the company’s price by about $10 to $15.

But Radio Shack never seemed quite sure what it was supposed to be. It was trying to be pretty much everything, selling stereo equipment, computers, PA systems, CB radios, antennas, cheap televisions, cheap toys, electronic parts and tools. There was no real focus to their business model. It was never willing to invest the time and money necessary to do one or two things really well, and instead tried to do everything, and ended up doing all of it badly. 

We aren’t upset or angry with U2, we’re angry with Apple. We had absolutely no warning this was going on. Let me repeat that: We had absolutely no warning this was going on. No emails, no notices, nothing. We turned on our iPads and there the damned thing was. I thought it was A) a scam, B) a mistake and I was going to get billed for it, or C) a virus. Especially when I found I couldn’t delete any of the damned songs.
What’s really scary is that we found out Apple can push content to our devices whether we want it or not. 
Oh, and by the way, the album pretty much sucks.

We aren’t upset or angry with U2, we’re angry with Apple. We had absolutely no warning this was going on. Let me repeat that: We had absolutely no warning this was going on. No emails, no notices, nothing. We turned on our iPads and there the damned thing was. I thought it was A) a scam, B) a mistake and I was going to get billed for it, or C) a virus. Especially when I found I couldn’t delete any of the damned songs.

What’s really scary is that we found out Apple can push content to our devices whether we want it or not

Oh, and by the way, the album pretty much sucks.

(Source: unclefather)

Could Bitcoin Become Scotland’s Official Currency? | Mother Jones

MJ comes up with some ridiculous articles from time to time, but this one is just plain silly.  As one of the commenters stated, Scotland might as well adopt rabbits or haggis as a currency.

Bitcoin is an interesting and perhaps even useful idea, but in actual practice, it’s far too volatile, far too vulnerable, to use as the base for an entire economy. The perceived value of Bitcoin is based on how difficult it is to create one. It requires extremely intensive calculations based on esoteric equations that needs extremely powerful hardware to execute.

But it’s a house of cards. All it takes is one clever mathematical hack, some previously undiscovered bug in the system, some advance in computer hardware, and it will all come tumbling down. 

It’s perceived value also fluctuates wildly. It’s gained or lost fifty, sixty, seventy percent of it’s perceived value over the space of just a few hours since it’s creation. What country would base it’s economic structure on a currency that can lose half it’s value literally over night?

catching up…

Been so busy these past few weeks I haven’t had time for much of anything, so here’s what’s been going on.

Farm has been sold. We got the price we wanted for it and everyone seems pleased with the situation. We aren’t entirely out of the whole farming, thing, though. We have a close friend about 3 miles from here. He and his father own a small dairy farm and are going to be selling the cattle yet this year, and we can do gardening and farm stuff out there to whatever extent we want. So we’ll see.

I’m probably going to semi-retire yet this fall. I’ll probably go to half time, and take the entire summer off, or most of it. Already talked to the administration about it and it’s fine with them. In fact, it would help solve some problems they’ve been having regarding special events. They pretty much don’t have anyone specifically to deal with games, theater events, etc. At least no one who can deal with emergencies, helping with problems that crop up, etc. So if this all works out, that’s what I’ll be doing, working mostly with games and other events

I’m getting back into building furniture again. Between one thing and another I haven’t had the time to do more than putter around in the shop, but of late I’ve been getting more involved in that. (reminder to self - need to get more wood)

Radio stuff - Need to get the new antennas up before winter hits! I need to get some antennas up that aren’t as compromised as the vertical I’m running now. I already have two, another vertical and an off center fed dipole. Just need to get the things up. 

And I just realized I haven’t had the telescope out at all yet this year! Oh for pete’s sake… It’s been sitting in it’s bag in the closet gathering dust. I am ashamed of myself.

Guess where Krippner was today? When Donna gets Brewer tickets, she doesn’t mess around. Right behind home plate four rows back. And they absolutely trashed the Cardinals!

Guess where Krippner was today? When Donna gets Brewer tickets, she doesn’t mess around. Right behind home plate four rows back. And they absolutely trashed the Cardinals!

commodities…

Commodities prices have been behaving pretty much as expected this week. Despite the WASDE report that came out earlier this week predicting a bloody humongous corn harvest, it didn’t cause a panic sell off. Instead corn’s been slowly drifting down in price, currently at 3.38 as of the end of trading on Friday. Unless we have some kind of catastrophic harvest failure, like massive blizzards or ravenous space locusts from Mars or something that causes prices to jump, we’re going to be looking at a slow decline at least through the end of the harvest season, probably down to the 2.50 to 2.75 range.

I rarely make firm predictions as to how the markets will do, so it’ll be interesting to see how accurate I am. If I’m within twenty cents either way come the end of October, I’ll be enormously surprised. I’m usually terrible at this kind of thing.

Winter Radio Project!!!!

This is going to be my winter radio project, the Sienna transceiver kit. Electronic geeks from my generation will certainly remember Heathkit, which offered an enormous variety of electronics kits, ranging from simple amplifiers to full blown computers and even high-end robots before they went out of business. Those of us who were really into electronics back in the day are still in mourning over it’s demise. While there are still some kit companies around, no one offers the wide range of stuff Heathkit did.

The Sienna from DZ Company is a delightful, full featured and slick piece of equipment, and I’m ordering one of these puppies next week. I certainly don’t need another transceiver, but there’s something enormously satisfying about working with a piece of equipment I built myself. And even more importantly, that I can fix myself. I’ve had the lid off the Kenwood 990 exactly once, and the inside of that thing is, frankly, terrifying. If I had to trouble shoot and repair that monster I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Besides, I’m about to retire (well, sort of) and I need some kind of project or something to keep me from sitting around watching stupid cat videos on Youtube all day.

Agrimoney.com | Farmland Partners' land-buying spree tops $50m

I know that this is perfectly legal. There’s nothing really wrong with holding farmland and renting it out as an investment. Hell, we did that ourselves until we sold the place at the end of August. And if you’re careful, in a location where prices are good, you can make a tidy return on your investment. Far more than you can get from a CD or other safe investments. If we’d put the place out for bid, we probably could have been getting around $30K or more a year in rent, with our only expenses being insurance and property taxes.

But it still makes me nervous when I see investment companies buying farmland like this. It more or less takes that land off the market forever, preventing farmers from getting started in the business by jacking prices up artificially high, causing rents to go up. And there’s no telling what’s going to happen to the land itself. Is an investment company located in some city a thousand miles away going to give a damn about the health of the soil, how the land is being farmed? Or is the only thing that matters to them that the rent checks clear the bank?