Tuesday, September 21, 2021


We are in the process of cleaning out Mom's non-frostfree freezer in the basement of her house. One of the items we rescued are Klondike bars. Lots and lots of Klondike bars.

Since nobody in our family really needs the calories, and because wasting food is a sin; I decided these would make fine treats for the two German Shepherds.

I did eat one of them, for scientific research, and there were a few ice crystals in them so I am dubious about donating them to a food bank. Not that they are bad but that people have expectations even when things are "free".

Belladonna was not happy with me feeding Herc chocolate. She laboriously peeled the chocolate from the quarter-bar I was going to give him.

That started a conversation about "How much chocolate can most dogs tolerate?"

The internet came to the rescue.

Mild chocolate toxicity occurs at about 20mg/kg of theobromine. A gram of milk chocolate has about 2.4mg/gram or 67mg per ounce.

If you use a quarter of the "mild toxicity" level as a threshold, then an ounce of milk chocolate* per 30 pounds of dog should not a big deal.

Since the chocolate on the Klondike bars is a thin wash (primarily to make them easier to handle) and is very low in chocolate and because the German Shepherds are in the 75-to-100 pound range, the amount of milk chocolate (for them) is well below the three ounces that our (conserative) calculations indicate are unlikely to be an issue.

Belladonna forgave me.

Pewter casting

Long-time readers know that I sometimes cast knick-knacks from pewter. It helps me pass the time on rainy days and keeps me out of trouble.

I recently picked up a gently-used, six cavity mold on fleaBay for about $60 and I gave it a work-out today. I was able to cast about 600 knick-knacks in an hour-and-a-half.

One of my neighbors, upon hearing of my hobby, informed me that he had many, many pounds of suitable alloys. Later that day he sheepishly apologized that he didn't have nearly as many wheel-weights as he thought he did. Would I have a problem accepting about ten pounds of 50:50 lead:tin solder instead?

I graciously accepted his gift. What a great guy!

Programming radios

A couple of BaoFeng radios fell into my clutches. Because China exports to hundreds of countries with conflicting regulations, they sell the radios and they have a chip-set that allows them to be programmed to be in compliance with the jurisdiction's regulations.

My first swing at getting them programmed leads me to believe that I need a genuine, BaoFeng programming cable instead of the generic programming cable.

The FAQs suggest that the contacts in the microphone ports of the BaoFeng model I am working with are a little bit deeper than the de facto industry standard. You can push on the connecter body until you are blue-in-the-face but if the tolerances stacked in an unfavorable way, your laptop will not talk to the radio.

It seems as if much of this "radio" hobby involves waiting for a boxy, brown truck to park at the end of your driveway.

Apple picking

We picked the majority of our Liberty apples yesterday at about 2800 b50 Growing Degree Days. To give you a sense of how the years vary year-to-year, 2017 was a cool summer and we had about 2400 GDD by September 20 and 2016, 2018, and 2021 were warmer and we had about 2800 GDD on that date. 2019 and 2020 were in the middle with 2450 and 2600 GDD respectively.

Liberty is our heavy-lifter for applesauce.

I had a conversation with Steve Tennes who is the owner of The Country Mill which is a commercial orchard. I asked him when he intended to pick his Liberty.

He informed me that he watches the wind forecast. Liberty's aromatics increase hugely with ripeness but the variety is more vulnerable to getting knocked off the trees than many other apple varieties. Starting about September 10 (in southern Michigan) he starts looking at the weather forecasts so he can pull-the-trigger and pick them before high winds show up and they end up on the ground.

Looking at the apples we picked on our property, these apples would not store very long as they are at the cusp of ripeness. They should make superb applesauce.

Next year I hope to pick them a little bit sooner and ripen them in the garage.

Fall arrived right on schedule

Highs were in the eighties last week and will be in the sixties and seventies next week.

The weatherguessers think we will have 2" of rain over the next couple of days.

We can use it.

*Milk chocolate is relatively low in theobromine. Other types of chocolate have significantly higher amounts. The calculations in this post DO NOT apply to other types of chocolate.


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  2. Speaking from experience, be sure to get the "Chirp" software and use it for programming the radio, not the Baofeng software. The website for Chirp may also provide some insight into which cable to get, and which to not get (in the comments). I got a cable from Fleabay. It wasn't the cheapest but it was far from the most expensive. It works great. Chirp is free and available for multiple operating systems. I use it with Linux. A friend uses it with Windows just fine.

  3. The Mrs. had a teacup poodle (six pounds???) that got up into a 12 ounce bag of Dove Valentine's chocolate. Dog ate it all. It was on my desk, and somehow the dog tapped his back feet while eating the chocolates and opened Word. Typed about 2,000 characters.

    So, nearly a sixth of his weight in chocolate. What happened? Killed him, of course.

    Fourteen years later. (True story)

  4. Beware that those Baofeng radios are considered 'illegal' due to their output power...

    1. Point taken.

      Legal to monitor.

      Not legal to transmit.

      Unlikely to generate FCC response unless interfering with other operators.

      As a side-note, about twenty years ago one of the teachers at the high school ran out of patience with students texting while he was teaching. He purchased a "blocker" on eBay and used it. A few weeks later, two men with bad haircuts and polyester jackets visited the principal. The principal called the teacher out of class. The agents told the teacher to lose the device.

      Did a kid complain or did cellphone providers sense the buzz and get pissed?

    2. I've heard that cell companies monitor for interference and work with the feds on finding it.
      His problem was that he used regularly in one location.

      There are now other ways around that problem, picocells are a legal way to control cell use in a small area.

  5. We got winter instead! Started snowing at midnight last night and we have six inches and 30 MPH gusts trying to take down trees with snow frozen to the branches. It’s a bit early even for the Copper Basin, Alaska!

  6. When programming the Baofengs, try using a Winduhs 10 computer. That's how I got the included cable to work for mine. Pretty much the only thing I use Win 10 for specifically.

  7. Replies
    1. Yaesu, thats my baby. Yes sir, I don't mean maybe.....

  8. Chinese radios ... maybe good for some emergencies, but as far as opsec, you might as well just put up signal flags and shoot off fireworks and parachute flares. Think of them as drone electronic targeting beacons.

    1. bin Laden had curriers carry thumb-drives out of his compound because he knew any stray electronic noise could be tracked down.

      So I just have to figure out how to get one in a goblin's brief-case?

  9. Fall has also arrived here on schedule. 80s yesterday, 70s today. Lows are going from the 60s to the 40s. And I still have a ton of outside stuff to accomplish.

  10. Re programming cables for Baofengs... it can be hard to find a cable that works. Apparently there are many cables that have chips in the cable-to-USB portion that aren't compatible with the computer or the radio or both. I wasted a lot of time with the $5 cables and the free CHIRP software. (Nothing wrong with CHIRP, it's free and works, IF BIG IF you can get it to talk to the radio).
    It's worth going to Windows device manager (if you're on Windows) and look up which driver you're using- often going to an older driver will correct the issue of the cable not connecting you to the radio.

    -> Might I most highly recommend RT Systems? (rtsystems.com I think it is) It's $25 for the software and $25 for their cable, but it will simply work with no screwing around. In the event that it doesn't work, their tech support is a real person from here in the US who you can talk to to get it working.
    I use RT Systems for all my radios, not just the Boafengs. Should have done that from the start.

  11. Interestingly, I just picked up a couple of Baofengs myself, of the apparently newer model that is FCC compliant for the problems of harmonics and out of allowed frequency range transmission. I'll be interested in your adventures! I am a rank beginner, trying to figure out relationships between the different bands (2 meter?) and frequencies. It's been a long time since my high school physics class touched on such things!


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