Monday, January 12, 2015

The fifth anniversary of my retirement

Since it is my mother's birthday, it is also five years from when I fully retired. What a wonderful five years! Each anniversary I write a short blog and I've just been back to review them. I see that in other years there was a lot more snow than what we have now, but I am not complaining. I also see photos of Robin when she came home for Xmas but she has missed out the last two Xmas's. She is coming home in June / July to be bridesmaid at her best friend's wedding.

As usual, I went for my three mile walk. The day before it was so cold and windy that I had to give up and take a short cut home. I suspect the windchill was dangerous.

The bay had frozen over so the geese were just standing on top.

The ice is not thick enough to walk on.

This year I am planning to go to Turkey for about a month in April or May, travelling all over the country from Istanbul to Kars by train and also walking part of the Lycean Way along the Mediterranean coast. It should be interesting since I have never been to Turkey.

In July and August we have house exchanges lined up for Near Leipzig in Germany and near Selestat in Alsace. We are thinking of doing our annual Oz trip in late October / November. Marianne wants to experience some Aussie heat again.

And now, announcing the cat vomit proof tube amplifier. Early last year I started a thread on one of the hi-fi forums about how to deal with a vomiting cat that wanted to enjoy the heat of a tube amplifier when it was feeling cold. I'm not worried that the cat would be hurt by the heat but that it would be electrocuted. Here is my solution.

These 6C33C tubes put out a lot of heat and the design also uses two big fat black 100 watt resistors. All told there is 200 watts of heat rising up. The amp itself produces about 14 watts per channel to drive the loudspeakers. I've covered the really high voltage (480 v) with black electricians tape.

Those of you who are older might remember a Russian pilot defected to Japan in 1976 in a MIG fighter jet. The Japanese let the Americans examine the plane and they were puzzled that the Russians were still using tubes / valves in their planes. It turned out that the tubes were not effected by the electro magnetic pulse generated by a nuclear explosion. Ordinary solid state components would be effected or destroyed by the pulse. These are the same tubes used in the jet fighter. They cost about $20 each when you buy them from Russia or the former Soviet bloc countries.

The grates came from Ikea I think and were originally serving stands.

The amplifier circuit for those of you who can understand it.

By the way, it sounds very good. Catty-watty of course got up to investigate, I could see her thinking 'What the hell is this?' and then she wandered off to sit on the old laptop that I use as a music server.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Havre de Grace

My sister and brother-in-law are visiting from Georgia so we decided to go for a drive to Havre de Grace which is about a 45 minute drive from our house. As you can see, in a straight line HDG is not too far away, but the Susquehanna Flats make for a longer drive.

We parked the car and walked along St John Street which is the main shopping area. It was about freezing with some breeze, so quite chilly.

HDG is larger than North East or Elkton and is quite trendy with quite a few restaurants. At one time, HDG was in the running to become the capital of the US in 1789 and missed out by one vote. It is positioned right where the Susquehanna River enters the Chesapeake Bay so it was an important port in Revolutionary times. Personally I think HDG would have been better than Washington.

There are quite a few distinguished buildings.

The proximity to water has resulted in much of the waterfront now being lined with apartment complexes.

Many buildings are painted in bright colours.

I told Clare and Ric that I would shout them the meal if they ate it out here in the cold. They missed their chance.

Most of the shop windows were decorated for Xmas.

As I took this photo, the woman who owned the house drove into her driveway and was pleased that I took the photo. I told her that many people around the world would see her house. She was responsible for the bright colours.

There are also several marinas. Years ago, the CIO of the community college in Harford County lived on a sail boat with his dog in one of these marinas. A couple of divorces was the reason.

The old cannery building, one of the many antique shops.

Over the past 30 years I have eaten a few times at the Tidewater Grill and can recommend it. It has the best views over the Bay and there is plenty of parking.

The Amtrak rail bridge over the Susquehanna River.

The view across the bay to the peninsula where we live.

We got back into the car and drove around for a short while. If you like chocolates, Bomboys is famous in the area. Towards the end of her life, my mother became diabetic and could not eat chocolates because of the sugar. Each year when I visited, I would bring her a large box of sugar-free chockies. She would share them with her friends who were also diabetic. She mentioned that one gentleman burst into tears when he ate one because he thought he would never eat chocolate again.

Usually when I visited my mother, I would fly to Melbourne before renting a car to drive to Adelaide. I found that declaring the chocolates got me through customs much faster than going through the 'nothing to declare' aisle.

HDG has a light-house that is similar to the one near us at Turkey Point.

The light house keepers cottage. If we didn't live in Chesapeake Isle, I wouldn't mind living in HDG. It's a nice place and worth visiting.

The toll booths at the northern end of the Hatem Bridge on route 40 which crosses the Susquehanna into Cecil County at Perryville. The toll is normally $8 going north / east and free going south / west. We sign up for a special plan which reduces the toll to zero, but only on this bridge. If we went on the I-95 bridge, we would have to pay the full $8. If you are one of our house exchange families, try to use this bridge.

This is the last blog for 2014. I hope you enjoyed the others for this year. I certainly did.