November 29, 2003


It's Chirstmas time, and the lights are going up. Being an ace procrastinator and goof-off I am still working on mine. Meanwhile, a couple of neighbors have gotten their displays up:

As usual, click on the images to get the full sized file.

Posted by at 11:18 PM | Comments (2)

November 27, 2003

Christmas Lights

Been busy putting up Christmas lights, in my usual procrastinating manner. Pictures Saturday or Sunday....

Posted by at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

Happy Birthday Helena

Years ago I would tell people the ages of my three girls and they would laugh manically and inform me that I will be having three teenage daughters at the same time.

And that has been the case for the past couple of years. But no longer. As of today, I no longer have, nor will I ever again have, three teenage daughters living in my house. My eldest, Helena McCleary, has turned 20 years old. No longer a teen, not yet legal to be served alcohol, she now gets to live her single year as a tween.

But she is already a beautiful lady, well grown from the little not-quite-three-year-old toddler that grabbed my nose -- with both hands.

Helena, raising you has been a great pleasure and a privilege. I have watched over you and have allowed you, as much as I could, to make your own mistakes. You've been burned, literally and figuratively, and have grown wiser each time. You have also taught me much.

Posted by at 06:12 AM | Comments (1)

November 22, 2003

six tons of pennies roughly what Wendy's new car cost:

She ordered it over the Internet. Got the word to come by and pick it up at Power VW in Torrance. She sneaks out of work about 11AM, stops by the house to pick me up, and drives us to pick up her new car. As we pull into the customer parking lot in the old Ford Escort we see exactly one blue Beetle on the lot. Must be hers.

We meet Gregg Duncan, who spends many minutes showing us the car. We procede into his office to fill out the paperwork. A *lot* more paperwork than when I bought my last new vehicle (in 1977.)

Unlike 1977, moving from the salesman to the financer did not result in huge increases in the price. The contract is much longer than in '77. And I will admit that the financer did get us to add a couple of items to the total. Pre-paid 3,000 oil changes and the 7-year 100,000 mile extended warranty. With the complex systems in modern cars, I figure this is a pretty good bet.

Paperwork finished, Gregg takes Wendy to her car and she sits in it for the first time.

It has plenty of headroom in the front seats

and a reasonable spacious interior. Standard equipment included power windows, power locks, power mirrors, adjustble steering wheel, and cruise control.

Wendy has to go to work, so she drives off in her new Volkswagen Beetle. I head for the Ford, whip out the cell phone and call Wendy.

Wendy makes a U-turn, and heads back to the dealer -- to drop off the keys for the Escort so I can drive home.

Posted by at 10:29 PM | Comments (2)

November 21, 2003

Telephone Testboard

Click to enlarge 5xClick to enlarge 5x

The last Testboard.
San Pedro, California

This testboard is the last of seven that were used from 1929 to 1985 in the San Pedro Central Office to test all feasible types of cable troubles involving residence telephones, business telephones, private lines and data circuits. It served San Pedro, Lomita, Wilmington, and parts of Torrance. It was replaced in 1985 by MLT-II (Mechanized Line Testing.)

The current location of this antique is a closely guarded secret.

Posted by at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2003

20,819 days

20,819 days.
2974 weeks.
684 months.
57 years.

I remember the introduction of the Japanese transistor radio.
I remember the introduction of color television.
I remember the begining of the space age with the launch of Sputnik I.
I remember milk delivered to the door in glass bottles.
I remember the steam calliope at the Police Field Day.
I remember the introduction of stereo LP records.

Posted by at 06:49 AM | Comments (2)

November 15, 2003

Flat - Flat - Flat

So I get a call from Wendy as she's driving home -- a horrid noise is coming from the front end and the car is pulling to one side. She drives a bit and it's getting worse. She pulls over into a market parking lot, gets out, sees a totally flat front tire. I grab a flashlight and race to the rescue in the old Camaro. 10 minutes later I'm replacing the flat with the spare. Unfortunately it is one of those ridiculous undersized doughnuts. The flat has the head of a large screw nearly centered in the tread. Big, nasty, tire killing screw.
So she drives home on the doughnut, says it pulls slightly, makes weird tread noise, but otherwise is driveable. I follow her in the Camaro. She chooses side streets. Just as she passes one driveway, a police car backs out, causing me to brake to avoid hitting him, speeds after Wendy doing about 40 and passes her -- on a residential street. Pity I don't have a movie camera.

Park in front of the house, have dinner, go to bed. Next morning she takes the Camaro to work. I take the Escort to Sam's Club for another pair of tires. (Did she mention she had a flat about a month ago and I had replaced the two rear tires?) About a third of the way there the Escort is pulling hard to the side. Stopping at a light I look out the passenger door and see that the doughnut has gone flat. So I cut my speed to 20 mph and continue -- don't have any more spares. Sam's opens at 10 am, I arrive late, 10:05, due to having to go slow. I'm fifth in line with *one* person working. He's taking orders, they have in stock a pair of tires to match the new ones on the rear, I order them for the front. He has me fill out the paperwork and take it inside the main store to pay. The lines in the store, a half hour after opening, are eight by eight -- eight registers open, at least eight overloaded carts in each. Finally pay, go back to the one worker in the tire store, explain the flat in the trunk with the large screw he keeps, the left front I want the tire to go into the trunk so I can get a rim and make it the spare, the flat doughnut (see below) can be shoved where the sun don't shine.

While I'm waiting, Wendy calls. She went out to look at something and noticed that the Camaro is sitting on a flat. Her spare is in the garage, since if you want to use the trunk of a Camaro you have to remove that huge 245 width tire. After a couple of hours at Sam's Club I drive home on all new tires. I dig in the garage and find the spare under the Christmas Lights (It has been a while since we emptied the trunk). Fire up the compressor and fill the air tank to 110 psi. Drive to rescue Wendy. Again. Jack up the Camaro and replace Wendy's third flat tire within 24 hours. None of the tires on the Camaro look to be any good.

Posted by at 07:17 PM | Comments (2)

November 14, 2003


So I walk into work and some guy from Cingular had stopped by and dropped off some flyers. We are under the same corpoarate umbrella so we get a 20% discount on the basic plan. #1 daughter hogs one of the phones, #2 daughter is getting to where she needs a cell phone too often to share the existing three (mine and the wife's), so I send the guy an e-mail and ask for a fourth family plan wireless phone/number. Also change the existing two family plan phones from the old $16.99/mo plan to the new $9.99/mo plan. (2 phones for $34 a month switched to 3 phones for $30 a month. Not a difficult decision.)

#1 daughter uses her phone in class at college -- text messaging her friend across the room. At 10 cents a pop! One month she had done 170+ messages, $17+. Guy suggested the prepay $5/month for 250 text messages.

Posted by at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2003

Stretching the LAN

No pictures, daughter borrowed the camera.

Have an order at the Alameda garage to provide a LAN connection back to the mechanics. They are about 200-250 feet from the main building, over a black underground 50-pair cable. About 5-8 years ago they got a computer to connect to the Corporate WAN. They ordered an ISDN line for it. I ran the ISDN line over, and for testing purposes a LAN connection. Sounds like they are finally going to use it. Will test it tomorrow. The new hub as about 16 connections, the records show none. I'll be spending most of the day searching out computers and updating records with what is actually connected where. BLAH!!

Posted by at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2003

Siecor NID

Click for SuperSized openedSpent nearly all day, but it is done right. Started at the two jacks where the new telecommute line was ordered, replaced one single jack with a 4-jack panduit block -- two appearances for each line. This was the location on the bridal wire, so I did not need to tone to find. The other jack, since it would require a new electrical box if I were to upgrade, I cheated and just added a line-1/line-2 splitter. Put a trace tone on the line-2 jack. Going out to the protector, (see last monday's entry) I took a deep breath and got to work.

Unscrewed both existing protector housings and let them hang. Mounted the new Siecor housing. Informed the customer that their telephone service, and DSL, will be going down for a hour or so. Removed the six-pair drop and attached to the new NID. carefully removed the IWs from the left side of the old NID and tagged each pair with the last two digits of the telephone number. Repeat on the right side, tagging with that telephone number. Tag the DSL's IW. Find my tone on the IW for the new line. Feed IW's one at a time into the new housing and terminate on the appropriate terminals for each telephone number, including the new line that I am installing. Inform the customer that all existing lines should be back up -- including the DSL service.

Take my order to the B-Box. Actually look at the blocking to see what is required. ARRGH!!! I have to rearrange another service to free up my pair -- I need to work two separate B-Boxes. Check the first, other line is wired as per the order. Check the second, other number is on my F1 *AND* my tone appears on the F2 -- I will not need to climb the pole. Back to the first B-Box, call the frame to tell them that I am in the field to work the order and that they may work their end. Move the other line to it's new F1, wait a few minutes and the number goes live on the new pair. Close up, go to the second B-Box, my new number is now on it's assigned F1. Call the customer, have him pull my tone, cross-connect the F1 to the F2, and close up.

Back on customer prem I check that the new line appears on both jacks as requested, break out the P-Touch and label the new NID. Tell the customer I'm all done and head back to the barn.

Posted by at 12:47 PM | Comments (1)