Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blogger Bug- how to leave comments

I enjoy reading other people's blogs, and I often leave comments.   I've found an annoying bug, and if you comment on Blogger blogs you've no doubt encountered it too.

You read a good blog post and decide to tell the blogger using the comment box at the bottom of the page.   You enter the comment, and then open the pull down menu to select your "comment as" profile (I use my google account).   The google account log on screen appears and you enter your user name and password and hit the "sign in" button.  You are returned to the comment screen where you enter an anti-spam code and hit "OK".  You are again brought back to the google log on screen, enter your user name and password again and hit the "sign in" button again (are you getting this?), and are again brought to the comment screen where you are again asked to enter an anti-spam code.  Again.  I suppose you could do this for hours if you were so inclined.  Again and again.

The bug is caused by multiple layers of authentication.  The easy fix is when the google log on screen appears, uncheck the box that asks if you want to stay logged in.  You will then be able to log into your google account, be brought back to the comment screen and post your comment normally.

Doncha just love it?

By the way, do you know where the term "bug" came from?   In 1947, Admiral Grace Hopper (who invented the Cobol programming language, the best programming language ever) was working on an early computer at Harvard when the system malfunctioned.   It turned out to be a moth found between two tubes on a circuit board.   It was extracted  and the computer "debugged".

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The important thing about being an idiot is knowing it

I'm fairly handy at projects.  I've done many over the years, both on my houses and, of course, my boats.  Drift Away is a project boat, so I've got plenty to do.  One of the things that project experience has taught me is that I'm an idiot.

One of this past weekend's projects was to install an Origo ceramic cooktop in the galley.   I think Drift Away was originally set up as a party boat because it has a refrigerator, freezer, ice maker, and trash compactor but no stove or oven.   Pam and I have been using an old two burner countertop one which took up valuable real estate in our small galley.

I positioned the cooktop on our counter and called Pam to come and approve.  An angled installation was decided.

 I measured the cooktop carefully and then laid it out in pencil.  It looked good.  I then drilled a hole in the corner.   I did my idiot check and looked under the counter from below.   The hole was only a couple of inches from the side.   How could that be??   And then I remembered that this counter used to be a breakfast bar with stools.  I had removed the stools when we moved on the boat.  Where the stools were is now a bookcase, so there is almost a foot inset.  So, I had to summon Pamela again and it was decided to put the cooktop parallel to the sink.  Again, I laid it out.

I'd be cutting out the counter with my sabre saw, so I masked the counter with blue tape so the saw wouldn't scratch it.  

I cut the top out and cleaned up the sawdust.  As you can see in the pic above, there is an outlet right there.  I cut the wire, installed a junction box, and wired it up. 

At this point, Pamela came in to see how it was going.

"Awful.   I cut the hole too big and when I dropped in the stove, it fell through."

"What?!" said Pamela with a great look of dismay.

"Only kidding.  It fits good."

"You're such a jerk."

I then put adhesive/sealant around the cutout and dropped in the stove.

The finished product looks good, I think.  It even works.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Boat Projects Progress Report. Making Headway!

I had high hopes for the el cheapo Thompson's Advanced Formua Water Seal fix for our leaking teak decks.   It did work initially, but the biblical rains we had a few days ago resulted in leaks everywhere again.  We've decided to fiberglass them over.   It was going to be done this weekend, but I called it off due to the extreme heat.

This is a screenshot from my work computer.   I think it's pretty funny.

The forecast shows 91 degrees from noon to 7 PM, but the current temperature is 103 degrees.   You'd think a savvy computer programmer would have written that script to adjust itself to what the temperature is.  

In any event, 103 degrees (and it will no doubt get hotter) is too hot to do any boat projects.  I have been doing a few small things, like replacing boat speakers that have rotted over the years.  Believe it or not, this old Realistic speaker sounded great, even with the big tear in the speaker!

I replaced it anyway with a pair of marine speakers mounted on each side of the wall.

By the way, I took some good advice and bought a racheting crimper.   Like most of you guys, I had one of those cheap stripper/crimpers.   The racheting ones do it right every time.

That little piece of blue tape is where Pam has masked off to paint the underside of the roof.   It's just about done now and looking good!  She's finished the side decks and foredeck and just has to paint the aft deck part.

There's a lot going on, or will be going on in this picture.

There were two Realistic car speakers under the roof that didn't work at all.  The non-stainless screws that attached them were so badly rusted that I had to chisel them off.   I then discovered why they didn't work.  There was no speaker cones left and the metal parts were rusted and crumbling.  The new marine speakers sound very nice.

There are two other projects in this photo.  Those nasty cushions are being replaced with brand new white Sunbrella cushions, and the middle window is going to have the glass replaced so I can get rid of the round gizmo in the middle.   For my landlubber friends, can you guess what it is?  Believe it or not, it's a kind of windshield wiper.   The middle part spins really fast, spinning off water by centrifugal force.  It's a cool idea but it totally ruins the view.

The new forest green bimini I ordered will be installed over the weekend.   Pam saw it when the canvas guys were fitting it and she said that it looked really nice.

The white spots on the deck in the above pic is bird doo-doo.   This teak deck will be glassed over too.  You can see the upper helm station behind Pam.   I've ordered a new chair for the helmsman, while passengers can enjoy the view from deck chairs.   The flybridge will be getting painted shortly and new stereo speakers installed.  A new acrylic cover will replace the plastic I have tied around the instruments and new Morse controls will be installed to replace the broken ones there.

These speakers don't work.  Don't know why.   ;-)

Pam christened our new grill two nights ago.   It's a Magma Catalina Infrared.   She likes it.  I liked the chicken kabobs that came off it.

We have about two months to get the boat ready.   We're making good progress but there's still much to be done.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Favorite Boat Name

Naming a boat can be a very personal thing.  Many guys name their boats after girlfriends, some for a favorite song, and some are just clever.   These are some of my favorites, in no particular order:

College Tuition.

Change Order (many contractors bid a job at cost or close to it, and then make their big money on changes to the contract called change orders).

Plan B.

A friend bought a boat named "Wind 'n Spirits".  He was a little concerned about the Spirits part because of it's booze connotation and told his daughter that he was thinking about dropping the "s".   She looked at him quizically and said "Wind 'n Pirits"?

When Pam and I bought this boat, we tossed around a few names.   When we heard the song "Drift Away" on the radio we knew we had our boat name.   At that point, we didn't know if the engines ran and we might have to simply drift away.

This powerboat is at the yacht club next to my marina.    It is now my favorite boat name.   I would add "la la la la la la" though, a bit towards the stern.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is that on the floor... EEWWWW!

Our dogs eat... well, everthing.  So it wasn't unusual when I glanced down at Ruby (the brown pit bull) to see a wad of gunk at her feet, in the midst of scattered toys and cats.   So, I ignored it.   Later, while passing that spot, I bent down to pick it up to toss it... and... are those teeth?   Is that a tail?   IT'S A DEAD MOUSE!

Pam was up in the shower so I left it for her to see and marvel at.   I was down in the stateroom changing when I heard her shriek.  THERE'S A DEAD MOUSE UP HERE!

I would have posted a photo of the mouse but Pam tossed it to the crabs instantly.

Now the big question is, where did it come from?  We've seen no signs of mice on the boat.   One of the boat critters must have gotten off the boat in the night, made it up the dock and under the locked security gate (all of them can scooch under it), caught the mouse, scooched back under the gate, up the dock, up the dock steps, and jumped onto the boat, where they proudly deposited it on the rug in the main saloon.

While any one of the boat critters could have killed the mouse, I have to rule out Ruby.  Her best friend as a little puppy was a guinea pig, and she's so gentle with everthing (but Chevy) that she would have protected it, not killed it.  I have to rule out Chevy the big male pit bull since he's afraid of creepy little animals such as Gertie the kitten.  That leaves the cats.   I can rule out Charlie, the three legged Siamese Snow Shoe.   He can get off the boat, but can't jump up due to only having one back leg, so it wasn't him.   That leaves Smudge (the 20 year old) and Gertie (the four month old).   I've never seen Gertie get off the boat.  I think she's afraid to.   That leaves Smudge, but quite honestly, she's so old that she doesn't care about anything much besides sleeping, so I can't see her stalking and catching a mouse.

This will have to remain one of those unsolved boat mysteries.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's Official. We're outta here!

After much consideration, Pam and I have decided to head south with Drift Away this fall.  We really had much to consider.   We both have jobs we like (I work in the sailing business and Pam is a vet tech), and we have a boat that still needs a lot of work.   But the engines run, so we're not going to sweat the small stuff.  I submitted my resignation last week with a final work day of September 2nd.   

We put together a list of things to order for the boat.  Luckily, because I work in the boat biz, I can buy things at a discount but the biggest item on the list is a completely new electronics package and there's little markup in electronics.   I've decided to go all Simrad- broadband 3G radar, GS15 GPS, NSSB MFD 12" touchscreen display for the helm, NSS12 MFD display for the flybridge, NAIS-300N class B automatic identification system transponder, and an AP2802 autopilot.   I decided on Simrad for two reasons.  1) they offer broadband radar (which is much faster than dial-up radar) and 2) they have a nice 12" touch screen display.

YouTube demo of NSS touch screen

I'm also ordering an 80 pound Manson anchor and 150' of 3/8" BBB chain.  As you've probably figured out, I have two top priorities.  1) I want to know where I am and how to get to my destination without hitting stuff and 2) I want to stay put once I get there.

Yes, I'm also ordering paper charts for when the whole system shits the bed.

So Pam and I have about two months to get Drift Away in shape.  I have an A/C guy coming today to charge the A/C compressors, I've ordered a new bimini (forest green Sunbrella), and I have a guy coming over to fiberglass the foredeck and the side decks to stop the leaks once and for all.   Yeah yeah, I know. 

I'll also get a mechanic to check out the engines to make sure they're OK, and have him see if he can get one or both of the generators running.   If he can't, I'll stick a Honda gas generator on the flybridge as a temporary fix.

We will also finish painting the hull, paint the fiberglass decks, get the 13' Boston Whaler running and registered, sort out the problems with the navigation lights, etc. etc. etc.  Anything not done can wait.

So this is our plan- leave on or about September 19th to NYC and then north up the Hudson.  Keep the boat in Waterford or Crescent or Schenectady, where ever we can find a dock.  Get married on October 1st.  October 2nd or 3rd head south, arriving in Annapolis for the United States Sailboat Show.   After that, at some point continue south somewhere, arriving someplace, where we will do something.

That's our plan and we're sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Old Squaw Duck

That's what it was.

In Sunday's blog, I posted a photo of this...

an unknown duck.  An alert reader informed me that this is an Old Squaw Duck, now more politically correctly called a Long-Tailed duck.  Click on this link and scroll to the very bottom and you'll see what the adult version looks like. 

For all you birders out there, I found a good website dedicated to sea ducks called The Sea Duck Joint Venture.  Interesting stuff.  According to them, this duck can dive to 200 feet (which is a duck record) and bottom feeds on mussels, crustaceans, clams, snails, and small fish.  Only the males have the long tail.  He is also supposed to be in the Artic at this time of year.   I wonder what he's doing here? 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mystery Duck, Tennis Balls, and Messy Wires

 I saw this guy paddle by Drift Away the other day.   He was alone, even though he appears to be a juvenile.   I looked all through our bird book and couldn't figure out what he is.   If anyone knows, I'd appreciate a little help here.

People often ask me what it's like living on a boat with critters.  Well, first of all, it's messy.  The two young playful dogs leave chew toys and tug-of-war toys scattered all about, and as quickly as we pick them up, they drag them out.   They especially like to play with tennis balls on the decks.   They like tennis balls anyway because they're chewy and they bounce, and on the deck they bounce and roll in all directions.   Sometimes right off the boat.   Here's a pic of Megan (Pam's daughter) fetching an errant ball.

Today (Sunday) was a rainy day.  No outdoor boat projects for us, and no ripping the rotten wood out of the foredeck.   It would be really wet and messy.   So what to do?   Our boat had an audio system installed thirty plus years ago, and it hadn't worked since we bought the boat last year.  Even if it did, it was an underpowered AM/FM/Cassette car radio hooked up to a big honking amplifier.   I bought a 200 watt AM/FM/CD/iPod unit at West Marine today, ripped out the old stuff, sorted through all the unlabeled wires (I'm glad I can use a multi-meter) and installed the new unit.   It works really nice, although a few of the speakers are disintegrating and will need to be replaced.  

I installed the new radio in the cabinet where the old one was.   What a rat's nest!  You can see what I had to deal with in the above photo.   At least the original installer used a bus bar which made the job much, much easier.  

After powering on the new radio, the only speakers that didn't work were on the aft deck, the helm station, and the foredeck.   The problem with the aft deck and helm station speakers was the same, a box with a volume control and on-off switch.  The switches disintegrated in the off position.  I just by-passed the switch.  Now they work great, although they're always on when the radio is.  The foredeck speakers require working in the flybridge, and since it's raining, I'll leave that for another day.

I'll have to think of something clever to organize and hide all those wires, eh?   For now, I'll just close the door.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gettin' Itchy

The clock is ticking down.   I'm getting itchy.  It's time to start tackling the big boat projects.   Pam's daughter Megan is moving off the boat today and heading back to upstate New York so the forward staterooms are free.   I think it's time to repair the foredeck.

As I mentioned before for my non-boating friends, most fiberglass boats have balsa or plywood sandwiched core decks, which is about the dumbest thing boat builders have ever done.  If the wood gets wet, which it always does, it rots.  The port side of our foredeck is rotten.

I think the way I'm going to fix it is to pull down the vinyl headliner in the forward stateroom, cut the fiberglass from underneath, and pull out all the rot.   Then I'll measure it, buy some plywood at Home Cheapo,  and epoxy it up.  Once dry, I'll replace the fiberglass and reinstall the headliner.   Piece of cake, fifteen minute job.  


Yeah, not.  More like several days worth of work.

I also need to finish sanding the inside of the gunnels and painting them.  Maybe I'll do that this weekend too.  Every other weekend in July is filled with trips to upstate New York for graduation parties and one car show for the Gloversville Boys & Girls Club.  Time's a-wasting!