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Tuesday
Jan152019

..Hello? Its 2019 - Are you from the Past?

Going through my emails and blog subscriptions and was like - "Hey - I think I use to have a blog thingy right?"

 

Yeah.... that pretty much sums up where my mind had been the last *three* years.

 

So - as a catch up...

Hobbies..... HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!  Thats funny... I use to have those things. 

Lets see - I haven't looked through a telescope in about 9 months... haven't been out in my dome to *observe* in over two years.  I have moved some equipment around and picked up another 5" Maksutov to grab and go duties up at the cottage.... but I haven't had time to use them.  Yeah - this is one of -those- blog posts.

Music / recording - thing of the past... I take a guitar out about once or twice a year and brush up on my scales a bit, but thats about all.  I bought a Epiphone Les Paul Elite Custom back in 2017 I believe (Dream guitar - found it on cragislist and jumped).... and I think I've only played it a handful of times.

 

I did get back into Commodore computers - picked up a C64 and then got a new c64 Reloaded MKII motherboard for it and a new case... pretty cool stuff that I hope to get into more detail on in the future... but there is a whole new crop of C64 folks bringing the platform back!  I also picked up a C128 and refurbed it.... as well as an Ultimate II cartridge which allows the transfer of files from PC and acts as a virtual 1541 drive.... plus a lot more!

 

What else..... RC cars - I built my dream car back in Dec of 2017 - for Christmas that year I treated myself to a re-issue Tamiya Frog - the car I have wanted since I was a kid..  I added all the goodies, and even wired up some off road lights!

 

Vintage Audio - This will seque into some serious life changing stuff we wnet through, but during that process I managed to pick up a set of 1966 Klipschorn's.. I fully refurbed them with new crossovers and drivers from Bob Crites... they are simply amazing!  I also setup a 5.1 system in the Den using them as fronts.

 

Life Struggles - Seque.... So in December of 2017 (the 17th) I was at the Gun store (Williams Gunsite in Davison)... picking up a new Marlin lever action rifle... and on the way home got a call from Mom - Dad was dead.  That call started the most difficult 9 months of my adult life thus far..  My sister and I took over the daily affairs at the house for Mom and set up care for her... dealt with all the issues associated with Dad and his final affairs. 

 

I also took over maintaining Mom's house and the two cottages - and all the associated headaches that go along with that...  and things were starting to normalize a bit by March of 2018...

 

And then - Life struggles, "The Sequel" arrived.

 

On March 28, 2018 - at 4:15 (approx) in the morning... We were literally shaken out of our beds.

A drunk driver crashed through our living room and destroyed the living room, bathroom and kitchen downstairs.  We had to be out of the house in 30 minutes as it was flooded and condemned.

 

We spent the next 13 weeks living in a two bedroom hotel suite in Flint.  It was the single most difficult experience I have ever dealt with.  Marie took it like a champ - the woman is a rock... I love her to the ends of the earth and back for putting up with me.

 

Long story short - it was also the single biggest blessing we have ever received!  Nearly all the remodelling work we were hoping to do got done for free, all new appliances, all new home theater system (Remember those Klipschorns from earlier?  Yep - I managed to work those into the deal).. All new furniture, new laminate flooring - new masonry, new bathroom with shower insert.... All in all - including hotel stay and all associated costs - they repairs were more than our mortgage... and we only had a $500 deductible!

 

That process was completed in mid July.. and we managed to get a couple trips to the cottage in as well..

 

We just passed the 1 year mark of Dad passing, and this entire whirlwind ordeal has taught me more about myself and my family than I ever knew before...

 

During the whole mess I realized I had turned 45 - and was the same age my Dad was when he built the cottage... and also the same age as when his wife was diagnosed with Cancer - and he was going through the hardest trial of his life.  Talk about getting perspective.

 

I'm not going to say that these blog entries will be more often - because I've said that for four years now - but I will say that I would like them to be.  As with most everything these days - I want a record to be out there for my kids... something they can read and know what life was like from my perspective... so - in that spirit - I do hope I continue this.

Best of luck in 2019 to anyone who reads this!

 

 

 

 

Wednesday
Apr062016

April 2016 - And life moves on

A Year and a half since my last post... Wow.

Then again - I doubt anyone even read that one - so... ohh well.  For those of you who *are* keeping up with me, here's the skinny.

 

Kids are getting *big*.  Izak turns 7 in July and Aryanna turned 5 back in September.  As such, life is revolving slowly around them.  As such, I have re-arranged my hobbies again - around things we can do together. 

 

The RC car thing really didn't pan out so well...  They are still a bit too small for it, and the cars these days go so stinkin fast... so fast that over the summer I knocked Izak completely over in a flip with my RC8... I'm amazed he didnt get hurt - bad papa!  He asked me to drive it by him fast, and this was up north on the beach.... yeah - you know the rest... bad hop got me off course and took his feet out at about 40 mph... complete flip into the sand for him!  He's a trooper.  Was right back at it 10 minutes later.

 

This winter I decided to have a look into O-scale trains... I'll bear you the details - but that lasted until March... Lionel stuff must be gold plated because its stinkin expensive!!  Izak and I decided to go to HO scale (I had a bunch of stuff from years past)... so we sold the Lionel stuff and set up a nice HO track in the basement.  We have about 4'X12' of benchwork built and will likley expand that a bit.  We also got into DCC (Digital Command Control)... so we can run multiple trains and have sound, etc..  Its fun, and he is slowly learning to listen instead of being a typical grabby 6 year old.  Then again, I'm learning to be a patient Papa instead of a Surly engineer! lol!

 

The trains will be taking a bit of a back seat for the summer I believe, which brings me to a major update... ASTRONOMY!

 

So - when we last tuned in I was in the throes of selling some astronomy items and was very disenchanted in general with the whole hobby.  Most of this stemmed from the fact that my CPC1100 just was not set up for astro photography (AP)..  well, that came to a head back in December when I setup to test my Nikon D300 and see if I could use it for some AP work... then it happened... the mount died.  All kinds of electrical issues - and it looks like the control board in the mount needed to be replaced.  Long story short - I pulled the scope in the house and messed about with it for about two months before puting it on the bench in a fit of frustration.

 

Fast forward to a month ago.... I take a quick run out to the POD just to see if its still dry in there... still all good - save for needing a good cleaning.. and it hits me - "I really need to either start using this, or sell it".

 

All along I have wanted to get a GEM (German Equatorial Mount) for the scope.. but being as my scope weighs over 30lb, an adequate mount for AP is well over a grand....  so, no dice.

 

Then we find out that my company did pretty well last year... and they will be giviing us a bonus...

 

Wait.... what?  a BONUS?

 

After a discussion with Marie about the astronomy topic in general and the impending bonus situation, we decide that we do indeed want to invest in our astronomy outfit... especially now that the kids are showing interest and can actually enjoy the hobby.

 

So - that settles that... a GEM it is... a CGEM to be more accurate - Celestron's mid-line Equatorial mount that can support my scope and have a bit to spare, plus will allow me to do some AP.  Man these things are expensive...  Not sure how folks afford the big boys (a Losmandy mount is nearly $3k, and some of the very nice robotic mounts can be upwards of $5-$10k!!)

 

For reference - we are going from this:

To this:

I'm pretty geeked to get back into it.  It will be fun to start showing the kids all the wonders of the night sky...  Not to mention, it works perfectly with our Homeschooling plans. 

So - what else is going on... Work is interesting.  We were purchased my AVIC back in the fall - AVIC is a Chinese company that is into Aerospace and other diversified interests... they want to more than double our growth in about 5 years... that should prove interesting.  But from what I've read, they do invest a lot into growing the company and R&D, which we sorely need.

I suppose that enough blathering on and on - I'll really try and start doing something "online" again one of these days...  Hopefully it won't be another year and a half before I update everyone again!

 

- Chris

Wednesday
Sep242014

New moon and no astronomy jones...

Yeah - so its been almost a year and no posts... I see why so many blogs I read fizzle after some time.

 

Anyways - busy as always with kiddos.  Astronomy has taken a back seat of late - and I've gotten back into RC cars a bit - sold some astrophotography equipment I wasnt using.

Not sure where this winter will lead - on the hobby front that is.  I'm in line to pick up an Apple IIGS system and several Sun Workstations so the vintage computer side will definately be happenin.

 

I'll really try and post more... especially since I'm not doing much on facebook.  I really dont know which "social media" outlet to use... and no I wont just "use them all"..  

 

Seriously - Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Facebook - its like social overload.  Thank God I dont have a twitter account and dont plan to.  I did sign up for instagram just to see what its all about - like facebook lite from a glance I'd say... Ohhh and I forgot Pinterest.  Then again - Pinterest is pretty cool.  Marie is using it to do most of her homescooling stuff, and its amazing what she finds on there.  I had no idea what was available!

 

Its a new moon tonight and even though I *should* I just dont feel like going out to observe tonight.  Thats been the case for the last few times.  I cleaned up the POD and got the bugs out... there was a flying ant invasion going on in there - not to mention a million spiders to feast on the ant buffet.  but they are all living in the shop vac now.

Yeah - astronomy... I keep trying, but in a yellow zone (for the un-initiated - that means we have moderate light pollution) its hard to see much even in the best conditions... not to mention, when you have done AP (Astro-photogrpahy) you realize how much there is that you CANT see visually without electronic aid.  I'm thinking about doing some prime focus AP on galaxies... previously I was using a Hyperstar.  The difference is, the Hyperstar reduces the f-ratio to F2 (gathers more light, but is a much wider field of view) vs. prime focus which has a focal ratio of F10.  It works like this - as the F number goes up, the visual field is reduced (narrower field of view) and magnification is increased.. it also reduced the amount of light gathered.  The opposite happens when you decrease the f-number - ou gather more light, the field increases and your magnification drops.

 

I'm hoping that with Prime Focus, I can capture some larger images of the M51 galaxy.  I had done some work at F2 and got great widefields of it:

Thursday
Jan232014

Life moves on... and kids eat up all your time!

As you can see from my lack of posting - I'm busy with a four and a three year old..


While I like the idea of this page, and will keep it in some form for the foreseeable future, I just wonder how many people still view personal webpages v.s. just use facebook...?

Personally - I have a growing distaste for facebook and all it represents. I wont rant too much about it here - but it has tended to bring out the worst and most narcissistic traits in people. Personally, I'm over the site and want it gone from my life - but because of family and their reliance on it, I will refrain from obliterating it from existence.

I miss the good old days of blogs and dialy / weekly posts.. I really dont need to have up to the minute updates on everyones minutia...

Thursday
Sep052013

Revamp coming...

I think this site will be coming back from the grave...  Trying to decide what I want to do with this place as my Astronomy hobby is not as prevalent (still observing, but not as much)...