Anza Borrego desert peaceful days

January 1, 2023 Comments off

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Drone pic

August 29, 2022 Comments off

Back in April, when we were headed out on our trip to tour the Corps of Engineers facilities in the Central Valley here in California, I was experimenting with the drone (DJI Mini 2) at Mojave Forks:

Mojave Forks Campground

It’s a neat place, not CoE, but adopted from them by San Bernardino County. Quiet and out of the way.

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It’s that time of year

March 23, 2022 Comments off

When California poppies show up in all their brilliance. Right by the side of the road.

Photo courtesy B
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A Different Hummingbird

February 20, 2022 Comments off

Around here (SoSoCal) we see lots of hummingbirds, but they are almost always Anna’s. Every now and then we see other types, Costa’s and Rufous, but they never hang around.

But this little Rufous is hanging around, it’s been at our feeder for the last few days:

Photo courtesy B
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Camping again!

January 20, 2022 Comments off

It’s been months since we last camped. So we took advantage of the warm spell and camped close to home for a couple of nights.

We also now have a drone, so here’s a photo of us camping, taken by the drone:

We discovered that our solar charge controller went fut! (surprising, since it is fairly new), but took the opportunity of getting a beefed up replacement that does more amps, is MPPT, and does Lithium batteries, should we ever get around to them.

Oh, and the new ‘not contract’ with Mint (T-mobile MVNO) means that 5G speeds are awesome around here.

And don’t lecture me about not doing internet stuff whilst camping – you guys need to get with the program!

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T-Mobile Home Internet (with follow-up)

June 30, 2021 Comments off

I’m certain that everyone thought we had died. Well, we didn’t.

We’ve had RoadRunner/Spectrum home internet since 1997 or so (except for a brief interlude when we had AT&T DSL service, which was terrible). It’s been OK. Back in 1997, they charged $45 for monthly service. I built a Windows NT server with 2 NICs with a hub to share the service across two clients (home routers weren’t available then).

Time passes.

Now, we have 200 mbps download and 12 mbps upload speeds, and the bill is $60 per month. It used to be $44.95, but we went over the time limit for the promotional price. Soon, it’s going to be $75 per month, for the same deal.

So, here’s a thing. At worst, if we disconnect from Spectrum (for an undetermined period), apparently we can reconnect for the introductory price of $45 a month. We could probably do that by simply sharing our two AT&T prepaid phone plans with 8 Gb per month each, but that’s a stretch, data wise.

What we’ve decided to do is to use the Unlimited High-Speed In-Home Internet Service Plans | T-Mobile Home Internet. At $50 a month, it’s cheaper than what we are currently paying. The performance guarantees are solid (if you don’t like it, you can get all your money back within 20 days), and even if it’s marginal, it may well take us back to the lowest price point on Spectrum.

The “Gateway” arrives at the end of July (back ordered).

Looks like a win-win.


The “Gateway” arrived yesterday. Plugged it in, switched it on, connected by phone and ran the app to ‘configure’ it. Darn, how lame? You can barely do anything but change the admin password and the wifi network name. Sheesh.

I discovered that there is a web admin page which has a few more options, but still very under-powered by any router standards. I did what I could with it, ripped out the cable modem and router, and plugged the switch into one of the two supplied ethernet ports (this is cutting a long story short, as, because you can’t change the base IP address of the Gateway, I had to manually reassign the IP addresses of our printer, Network attached storage and Raspberry Pi based PiHole).

So, then I connected via a Windows 10 device wired to the switch, and ran SpeedTest. My jaw dropped. I wasn’t expecting much, since the signal strength was showing as ‘weak’. What I got was 500+ mbps (1/2 a Gbps), and 10 mbps up. Whoa! (Tests later showed around 200 mbps down and 40 mbps up – which is preferable to me) Nonetheless, for a cell based service, this is astonishing. And it, so far, seems consistent.

There is a big downside, though. Lots of features of the built-in router are missing. I cannot assign a DNS server, I can’t do any IP routing, I can’t reserve IP address ranges, or set static ones. All-in-all, very limited functionality. What’s worse is that attempts (not by me) to put a regular router between the Gateway and the network seem to have universally failed with double NAT issues.

So, unless the firmware/admin software for the Gateway gets updated, this is only a short term solution. I can’t even tell the Gateway to use the PiHole for DNS resolution, never mind pass through server requests.

Such promise.

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Whilst we’re here

March 25, 2020 Comments off

So, whilst we’re under this ‘Shelter at home’ regimen due to COVID-19 scariness, every day we’ve taken a hike around our nearby neighborhood.

Today, we clambered up to the top of the hill that dominates our little locality.

Spring is here:


You can’t quite see it, but that’s the Pacific Ocean in the far distance.

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To the ‘old’ country for a special wedding

September 30, 2019 Comments off

B and I flew to the UK last week to attend the wedding of my daughter. BA flies direct to Heathrow from San Diego, so that is good.

We stayed in pubs for the whole trip, and whilst expensive, it was a refreshing change from dreary hotels. The first one we stayed in, the Ostrich at Colnbrook dates back to 1106, and has a ghoulish history of murder of folks who stayed here. The full English breakfast included in the price was yummy.

On day 2, we toured the Bluebell railway, which was OK.


Staying overnight at the The Wheatsheaf Pub in Cuckfield, Sussex, we enjoyed a relaxed evening meal.

Next day we headed west along narrow country roads to our next destination, The Angel Inn at Hindon, Wiltshire:


where we chilled for a while until the next day which was Alice’s wedding. A most joyous event at The Gathering Barn at Monkton Deverill.

We don’t have photos of the wedding, but it was a most lovely event to be part of.

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A few photos from our trip – 4th and final part

September 9, 2019 Comments off

After Great Falls, we kind of drifted south and west, staying in such places as the Square Dance Center and Campground in Lolo, MT, and  Elk Bend RV Park, whose camp hosts were the nicest folks ever, talking of which, we have to mention the camp hosts at Kootenai River Campground, who were so much fun and helpful, too.

Anyhow, we were just drifting, which was just fine, headed over to the Oregon coast, and then kind of south. So here are some images from that time:


Erm, it speaks for itself, sorry about that.


This was a really relaxing place by the river in Dayville. South Fork RV Park. The owner was so nice.

Then we headed more west and south and did Oregon and California coasts. Traveled to Pinnacles National Park, where we saw Condors.


a kind of shaky close-up


Wow. That is all.

So, from that super heated location, we wended our way through the obnoxious LA traffic to home.

Just a reminder, you may see all the places we stayed at – This Google Map

Great trip 🙂

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A few photos from our trip – part 3

September 6, 2019 Comments off

After the highlight of Glacier National Park, we continued in a southwards loop in Montana. One of the places we went to was Great Falls, which is on the Missouri River.

Great Falls is home of the US’s shortest river, the Roe River, which bubbles up from an underground spring and then immediately joins the Missouri.


The Lewis and Clark Museum right next to this shortest river has a wonderful tableau about the expedition’s purpose and achievements. Very much worth a visit.

Great Falls has a bunch of ‘great’ waterfalls. The name of the place is a clue. Here are  some photos:

Eagle Falls


Ryan Dam


Rainbow Falls


Then, we ventured out to a state park and discovered a ‘Buffalo Jump’. What the heck is this?

Well, it’s Bison, not buffalo, but whatever – the concept is just completely out there. Young first peoples would be trained to wear a bison hide, and pretend to be a young bison, and long story short, try to persuade a herd of bison to leap to their deaths over a cliff. No guns, no arrows, no spears, but, hopefully, good eats. Apparently, the life expectancy of the young first person in a bison hide was quite short, but this job was, by all accounts, a treasured one.

A Buffalo Jump


We saw a couple more of these buffalo jumps along the way.

More later….

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