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Road trip

I got to spend some quality time on the road this past month. That is always fun, although not when the temperatures are 21 below with wind chills twice that! I was in Winona, MN to work on a continuing video project for St. Mary’s University. It was exhausting just getting dressed to go outdoors. At least four layers were needed and no skin could be exposed or you would freeze within minutes. I had to work on my tires and just having my hands open to the cold and wind was stunning. On the other hand, I wish I could describe the beauty of the scene as well. There was this magical evening light falling on the Mississippi river basin and the howling wind was whipping the snow into a froth. It was both magical and frightening. Definitely glad I was inside my warm car for most of the journey. Anyway, having spent 5 days driving around MN and WI, I had lots of quality thinking time.

My last Prez Blog generated quite a bit of interest in various areas (story of my early education in South Bend working at WSBT – and the transmitter clean up days). I have been experimenting with Twitter…it still seems odd to me, but I can surely see the benefits of the service, especially for short blasts of news or last minute updates on things. For most items, all you have to do is type #andthename (i.e. #Superbowl) or whatever people call their conversation and you can be included in a long stream of observers and commentators. I have also found the best use of this service is to send alerts to people with links to movies, or articles. I have been sending these NSRC Prez blogs out to my greater Twitter world followers. Of course, to follow me, you have to request permission to “follow” @roborr. To be completely honest, I am still struggling to understand all of this. However, I do think there is a place for this Twitter thing. Facebook, on the other hand, I am still on the fence. I have a Facebook account and occasionally I will see what the kids are doing, but I am generally suspicious of the way they don’t protect your information. So, here I was thinking all high and mighty about these things only to find that our own government has been snatching information for what appears to be good reasons and the virus boys in Russia have been hacking our credit card accounts. So no place is safe anymore.

When I got home, I was greeted not with a warm friendly hello but with an urgent request to fix the oven! I dropped everything and went to it…only to find that there are no schematics online or in the service manual. First, I tried to make sure we didn’t do something silly like program it wrong (remember when ovens only had one button…on and off…or a temp setting). This darn thing is operated by a small computer! Still didn’t work…but I could hear relays clicking, so I knew it was something more electrical than computer. Digging further into the deep recesses of the oven, which sounds simple but really is a pain in the can to get to, I finally found the problem. The 220v line that feeds the system had cooked itself! It was completely melted down. I did service my oven a few weeks back by putting it through the self cleaning mode, but apparently, I have since learned, never do that! All it does is cook the components. So, I have been rebuilding the electrical elements and was almost ready to finish the job when I realized I better check the heat rating of the 10 gauge power cable. Wow…I needed to have wire that is rated for 125 degrees Centigrade. I Googled the to see what the rating was for the wire I was going to use and found it was nowhere near what was needed. I did spend several useless hours trying to find a place to buy the right wire and finally just went online to order the stuff. I should also explain that a local reputable service company charges $200 for the first hour of a service call and they would not be available for a week. I figured what could I lose? I am a ham radio guy…I should be able to handle an oven! So, the parts are on order. It has been an interesting journey and I did finally find the schematic buried way in the back. I am very optimistic. Either I have either beat the system or I will be buying a new oven soon! Stay tuned.

Stay warm….73
Rob K9RST