Monday, December 31, 2012

A Thin Year for the Blog

 Happy New Year.  I thought I would take the end of the year to sum up what was a good, but different year.  As the 5th calendar year of the blog, it has had the fewest posts by far.  This year, I managed only 28, including this one.  My first year, I managed 44, even though I only started in June.

Lots of reasons, I suppose.  Last year, about this time, I had a connector failure on my stereo receiver that got me thinking about audio electronics.  That has turned into a year long (it will become a multi-year project) to learn and build electronics for my home audio system.  Unfortunately, it is a little harder to blog about how good something sounds than it is to take pictures of motorcycles or beautiful countryside, so I've been struggling a little.

The big thing this year was my father and my father's house.  About a year and a half past, we moved my father into assisted living after a fall and a hospital stay.  Early in 2012, he decided that he wouldn't be moving back to his house and we needed to clean it up and get it ready for sale.  That took a lot of time, but was rewarding with memories as we dug through a house that our family had lived in for 50 years.

I've spent as much time as possible with my father, but also gotten to know my sister much better as we shared the work and expertise needed to clean out and fix up the house.  I'm happy for the time together with her and all my family.  I am also grateful for a family that isn't fighting over things and happy that my father's health remains good, although needing a little help.

I did get a little motorcycle riding in, but less than usual.  My main riding miles came on two MSTA rides in W. Virginia and Kentucky, respectively.  Those were great fun, but riding with others, you can't stop and take a picture when you want, so I came away with fewer pictures to share.

With Doug's help, I did purchase a new camera body that I am using with my father's old film camera lenses.  I still have a lot to learn, but I hope you notice a gradual improvement in the quality of some of my photos.

As for the electronics, I am listening to the amplifier on a board in this first picture as I write this.  It was designed by Dario in Italy and is called the Fremen Edition because he loves science fiction.  Even just mounted on a board with components temporarily clipped in place, this thing sound amazing.  There is more detail and image clarity than any I have heard.  In the meantime, I am still auditioning capacitors in key locations.  The capacitors alone can change the sound from warm and full to cool and precise.  These end up being a personal choice based on your speakers, room, and personal tastes.
The circuit board in the second picture is something that I designed using online software and had made by a prototype board maker.  Once finished, it will update a hand wired board for my subwoofer.  Overall, I'm learning a lot and having fun, even if it isn't easy to blog about.

I hope your year moved you in the right direction and that next year is even better.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wishing you a Cowboy Chistmas

It's kind of weird to have a midwestern boy like me to bring you a western Christmas wish.

I made a fast test trip out to Arizona, including a trip from west Phoenix to Kingman on Sunday.  Naturally, I planned my time so that I could stop at Anita's Mexican Kucina in Wickenburg for lunch.

Wickenburg is a small, traditional town with a history of ranching nearby.  These cell phone pictures are poor, but still capture the feel of a desert cowboy Christmas.

Of course, the local picture show is a great place on Sunday morning to hold "Cowboy Church".  I am pretty sure that the pickup and the Jeep would qualify as cowboy transportation.  I'm not sure if cowboys also ride Harley's or if the bikes come from the "Twin Wheels Cafe" next door down.

In particular, I like the Christmas wreaths on either side of the Saguaro cactus sign on the theater.

I know, you aren't supposed to shoot into the sun.  But I like the contrast of the wreath on the light pole framed by palms on one side and saguaro cactus on the other.  The rustic fence with Christmas lights is a nice touch too.

I hope this season finds you well and safe.  May your life be filled with friends, interesting things to learn, and rewarding experiences.  For those of us in the north, I hope your Christmas is white.  You southerners don't like that sort of thing, so I'll just wish you a Merry Christmas.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

No, that appliance is for #1

 Somebody is confused here.  It must be me.

These low quality photos are brought to you by my poor cell phone camera.  The cell phone was the only camera available at the moment when the photo presented itself.  Of course, for neither subject does picture quality really matter.

"Bad tray, dirty tray"