Getting Back into the Game

Walking into the light.jpg

This past year has been somewhat of a dark period for me. I have kept myself secluded and became ultra internalized. This has served some good purposes, though. They say that when one door closes another one opens. I think this is true, but I am one who tenaciously tries to hold doors open. This past year has been about letting some doors close. I worked through a lot of my personal routines and sorted the good from the bad. Now it is time for me to start looking ahead and start getting back out into the world again. That will be my resolution for the new year. So before I say goodbye to the past, let's review here some of the highlights of the last 5 months since my last update.


Over the summer I had started a walking routine. I have really noticed that it improves my general health and well being. Here, I have hiked up the road and beyond the houses up there. I am headed toward that small hill.

Climbing the Hill .jpg

I am going to climb that hill and turn around and head back to the house. This has become my regular route and it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes. I have walked some other routes down into the state land for longer outings.

The view from the top.jpg

From the top of the hill I can see down into the heart of New River. It is amazing the difference between living down there and where I am now. I don't miss it.

Turning west.jpg

Here's something unusual. Planes fly over the house often enough, but I heard one go overhead and it sounded like it was pretty low. I went outside and watched a small commercial liner going north turn toward the highway.

Circling plane.jpg

It flew above the highway for a bit and then turned back toward the house.

Emergency landing.jpg

And then it did the exact same pattern again. I suspected that it may have been dealing with a problem and was scouting an emergency landing.

Circled seven times.jpg

It kept circling and I was sure I was going to see it landing on the highway. But, after the seventh time around it just head north and out of sight. Weird.


There had been an awful lot of chatter about chemtrails early in the year. Some were saying that they were doing something to end them. I had been watching the sky to see if I could tell a difference. I have to say that it seemed like there were a lot less days with noticeable trails in the sky. I spotted this one and it is clearly a contrail. Very thin and it faded fast.

Sunset clouds.jpg

There is a lot of beauty to see in the sky.

Puffy clouds.jpg

My favorite are puffy white clouds in a deep blue sky. The camera does not capture the depth of the blue color here at all.


I was getting tired of the walking route and decide to take my bike out. I wanted to head out down toward the New River Preserve like I had in the past. However, the road is not passable any more. The water runs right up to the hillside in spots.

Coyote Pass.jpg

Instead, I rode down toward the school. Then I rode down New River road to Coyote Pass. Here I have just topped that big hill. This was of course a hike and not a ride as the hill is very steep. Good workout, though. I did not like riding on the roads with traffic. I am going to have to find a route out to the state land, I think.

Deep blue.jpg

I shot this picture because the sky was so clear and amazingly blue. Of course, the camera won't show that.


Well, the old Windows XT computer has outlived its usefulness. Netflix won't run on it. I pulled it out from under the TV and set it up here while I migrated files off of it.

Notebook TV setup.jpg

The notebook will run what I need on the TV.

Notebook monitor setup.jpg

I can still plug it in at my desk, but I find myself just working from the couch most of the time.

Notebook nestles.jpg

Working off of two screens here is more of an annoyance than a benefit, so the notebook nests under the TV nicely.

Paper Documents.jpg

I want to eliminate my paper documents, so I rounded them all up. I'll need to do a whole bunch of scanning.

PC Speakers.jpg

So, I have these two PC speaker sets. The one on the right is the one I had been using, but the wiring is funky and they don't sound all that great. This other set is one I got from an old PC. When I had them hooked up to the Optiplex, I noticed that they sound pretty nice. Turns out they push twice as much power as the three speaker set. However, there is a loose connection somewhere and the speakers cutout whenever you move them. For now, I am just using the TV speaker for my desktop setup.

Thin clouds.jpg

On this day, looking south I could see that conditions were ripe for thin cloud formations. The skies directly above me were clear blue.

New contrail.jpg

So, I watched a plane go by in that clear blue sky and form a thin trail. I decided to keep an eye on it.

Contrail spreading 1.jpg

With in a few minutes it spread out.

Contrail spreading 2.jpg

In a few more minutes another has gone across it and has already faded a lot.

Contrail 20 minutes.jpg

After 20 minutes, they barely even look like trails.


After about a half hour or so since the first one appeared, they just look like thin clouds. So, if there were chemtrails before, I have not been seeing them for about nine months now.

Chemtrails 1.jpg

So, this is in mid December. The skies are pretty cold and this is the thickest I've seen the trails since I started paying attention. This still looks like normal contrail activity to me (and not nearly as bad as I have seen in past years).

Chemtrails 2.jpg

Also, these lines are clearly on the normal flight paths. The air looks clean and fresh to me.

Dam failure.jpg

I drove down to the washed out road one day just to check it out. The river made short work of the makeshift dam.

Dam failure 2.jpg

This road will not be passable as long as the river keeps running.


The moon came up right in the saddle of the hill behind the house. Again, my smart phone does not take great pictures. It was a gorgeous sight, though.

Water heater.jpg

The water heater element went out again. When I drained it I got almost no sediment. In fact, the last time I drained it, I got less than I expected. Upon further inspection I found that the sediment was piled up to just below the element.

Water heater suction.jpg

So, I pulled off the drain valve and connected a vacuum. Using a coat hanger through the element hole, I dislodged the sediment while the vacuum ran.


That did the trick.

Cactus fell over.jpg

The ground has been staying pretty soft. This cactus fell over. I had been contemplating removing it anyway, though. It will be easier to rework this patio deck with it out of the way. I cutoff the top segments for replanting.

Cactus tops.jpg

I left the tops out of the sun to heal in the air overnight before planting.

Cactus waste.jpg

The rest will go on the waste pile.

Cactus stub.jpg

I'll let the remaining new segments recover and then I'll remove and replant them with the root ball at some point.

New cactus.jpg

I picked two spots for replanting. This one is near the barn on the edge of the wash.

New cactus 2.jpg

This spot is near the playhouse. Both are away from foot traffic, but in good scenic spots.


I have been meaning to install this heater for a long time. I fussed over where I should put it. This seems like the best spot considering that I have to locate a tank outside near it.

Santa came.jpg

Santa came! Here are all of the parts for my new computer.


First, the CPU and its cooler fan go on to the mother board.

CPU mounted.jpg

That was easy enough. I also installed the memory cards.

Power supply and case.jpg

Here is the case and the power supply.

Mounting power supply.jpg

I installed the power supply before the mouther board.

Motherboard installed.jpg

Now the motherboard is in.

Graphics card.jpg

Here is the graphics card.

Graphics card installed.jpg

Now, the graphics card is in. After that I mounted the hard drive and an SSD drive and the only thing left is a whole bunch of cable routing.

Initial startup.jpg

The moment of truth… Everything seems to work fine! Of course, now I have to install windows and drivers and updates and software, etc. I got a Windows 10 license for about $20 and all of the rest of the software I am using is either freeware or open source. In the old days I would have been digging into my wallet quite a bit at this point.

Full setup.jpg

Alright, here is the full setup.

Shelf parts.jpg

My computer desk is kind of funky and the ergonomics are horrible. I decided I needed a keyboard tray. I had this stuff laying around from previous salvage opportunities. I knew they would come in handy one day.


These brackets are a bit of an overkill, but they are rock solid.

Tray installed.jpg

This works great and doesn't look too bad, either.

PC speaker tear down.jpg

I tore into those speakers to figure out why they cut in and out. I isolated the problem to the cord that plugs into the audio out jack at the computer.

Wire splice.jpg

First I tried replacing the jack plug at the end of the cord, but that only fixed one of the audio channels. So, I chased the wire all the way into the speaker housing and spliced in another complete audio cable. Working with these fine wires is a bit tricky. Now the speakers work like a champ.


I finally rolled up my sleeves and started attacking the document scanning.

Scanning pictures.jpg

This is the photo album that mom had put together for me. It was kind of cool to go through it.

Sorting photos.jpg

I had piles of pictures that I had never really gone through. Sorting through them was tedious. But, I have to say that I wound up with a good sampling of what I considered keepsake worthy. I did toss a good number of them that I did not scan. In the end, all of the hard copies went in the trash with all of my other documents. It is kind of liberating to know that I have them all handy when I need them now and they are not buried somewhere and neglected.

Heater hole.jpg

It was pretty simple to put a hole here and it looks like a good spot for a tank.

Heater afire.jpg

The heater fired up and the warming effect was immediately noticeable. It is much better than the little electric heaters. I don't know how long that little tank will last, but I ran it all night at a very low setting. I brought the inside temperature up to about 65 and found that to be fairly comfortable.

Heater install completed.jpg

The next day, I wrapped a section of the hose to create a plug to fill the hole. I think that at a minimum, this is a good backup solution to firewood (which I don't even have this year). Eventually I think I will look into installing a larger tank.

Check in the mail.jpg

The check arrived safe and sound and I headed over to the ATM at my new credit union to deposit it right away.

Credit Union.jpg

My credit union is over by the Circle-K on that corner where Safeway is located. This is the first day we have seen the sun come out fully in the past couple weeks and it is beautiful outside.

No freeway access sign.jpg

On my into Anthem I took the high road as I normally do during the wet seasons. I noticed that the county had done some grading on that one road section down below. So, I decided to check it out and see if the road was passable. I noticed that the county had placed a "no freeway access" sign (the first one visible here). In the past we have had a lot of people following google maps directions to try to get around freeway traffic. It ends up being a ridiculous train of people passing themselves going the other way after they have to turn around and come back out the way the came.

Road closed.jpg

"Road closed to thru traffic," but they are not blocking the road. Hmm, got to check it out.

River running.jpg

The river is still running pretty good, but it is not deep. I'm getting flashbacks of that fateful day, but I decide to press on.

Crossing the river.jpg

What is interesting to note here is that the crossing is not flat. And it is sloped such that the far side is deeper than the middle. In the old days, you could tell how deep the water was as soon as you got your front tires in the water. I can see the yellow line and the water is less than a foot deep at the deepest point. I am going to cross, but I will stick to the high road whenever the river is running in the future.


At this point in the road you can see that is freshly graded. Also, they have done something different along the left side there.


They cut a ditch alongside the road. Hmm.

Draining back to river.jpg

Behind me, the water is draining back toward the river bed.

Water in ditch.jpg

Water is running nicely in the ditch at this point.

Long ditch.jpg

Driving up to the bend in the road, you can see that it is a pretty long section of ditch.

New dam.jpg

They keep building this "dam" a bit taller each time. I still don't have much faith in this project. The river is not running at a surge flow right now… we'll see what happens the next time it flashes. Well, home again, home again, this little piggy likes to stay.


Among the piles of pictures I scanned, I had some rolls of shots from the original house construction. There is not even a power pole here yet.

House built.jpg

Happy New Year!