Bun Moreland Gone West

“Gone west” is a euphemism that pilots use to refer to a pilot passing away. I just learned this past weekend that a very special pilot passed away. His name was Bun Moreland. That’s right, Bun. He was a flight instructor. My first flight instructor in fact. He was the man that introduced me to the sky. He was the man that kept pointing out everything I was doing wrong. He was the man who used to try to mess up my airplane controls just to see if I was paying attention. He was stern while I was a student pilot. It made me a fair pilot.

I’ll never forget the day we met. I walked into Sierra Aviation and asked if they gave airplane rides. Merle Furry, the owner said they did demo flights. I told him I’d take one of those. You see, I was supposed to ride with a friend of a friend and they never showed up so I was determined to get my airplane ride. Merle calls to this balding older guy that looked more like a farmer in his plaid flannel shirt and blue jeans, “Hey Bun, this gentleman was to go on a demo ride.”

So Bun walks me out to the airplane and goes through preflight inspection with me. Explaining everything he was doing without even setting his coffee cup down. He told me to get into the pilot seat. I thought he’d tell me to move before we flew but he got into the passenger seat. He fired up the airplane and we taxied out. He did his runup (more preflight checks) and then taxied to the runway and took off. He told me to put my hands on the yoke and my feet on the rudder pedals, which I did. He then let go of everything and then said, “your airplane.”

I asked him what I was supposed to do now. He said, “I dunno, whatever you want I guess.” Simply awe-inspiring. But he did let me do whatever I wanted. We climbed we turned. After half an hour or so he talked me back to the airport pattern and then took over and landed the airplane. He walked over to the display case holding all the pilots supplies and filled out a logbook. The first entry (which I still have) turned out to be my very first flying lesson. I was hooked. It was the most expensive $20 I ever spent.

After I passed my checkride and received my certificate, he became a different person. He moved from stern instructor to mentor. Also giving me advice, which I took. Later still he became a comrade, a man who could find the humor in anything. I never would have guessed when I was his student. When we became peers, I found that the man could, would, and did laugh at everything, most especially himself. And more than occasionally, me. He taught me to laugh at myself.

My favorite Bun Moreland story was when I was still a student. We were on my first long cross country flight. We were over Sacramento, California and the engine started sputtering. He immediately called, “my airplane” and took the controls. He tried carburetor heat, mixture, magneto check but nothing would bring the engine back to life. He then called Sacramento Approach and declared an emergency. Air Traffic Control asked our intentions and Bun asked for the nearest airport. That airport happened to be an active US Air Force base. But in an emergency, you will be cleared to land there.

Bun had milked the plane most of the way to the Air Force base when the engine quit completely. Coincidentally the tower called us on the radio and said that our approach end of the runway was under construction and could we please land long? I’ll never forget the look on Bun’s face as he looked at me with a half smile, half what-the-heck expression. After a few seconds he looked back out the front and simply said “unable” on the radio.

As we were gliding toward the runway we saw it was indeed torn up but the taxiways were in perfect shape and much larger than our runway at home in Oakdale. Bun just side-stepped the plane over to the taxiway and continued our approach. I looked over at the runway and men were diving off their tractors and running. Trucks were speeding away from the runway as fast as possible. At the time I just thought, “huh, look at that.” It was much later that we found out that all those men know was that “an airplane is about to crash at the airport.” The had pictures of a huge cargo jet crashing and exploding on the torn up runway. That’s why they didn’t notice the little two-seat Cessna quietly gliding past them.

But set it down on the taxiway as pretty as you please. We were just congratulating each other when I pointed out a large barricade designed to warn other aircraft that the taxiway was closed. Bun wheeled our little plane around it, though how he could have missed is beyond me. It was almost as big as my house. We costed to a stop just as a fire truck also as large as my house rolled up with fire in their moon suits pointing a huge foam cannon at us. I just out and put my hands up and said “Don’t shoot!” Though they didn’t see much humor in it.

First the fireman asked us what happened. Then security arrived and asked us what happened. Then all sorts of men in uniform started showing up and asking what happened. We spent about 30 minutes trying to tell the story and getting interrupted as the next guy that was higher up the food chain in the Air Force showed up. Finally we were stuffed in a security car and taking to the security office to make our formal statements. In separate rooms. That was another two hours of filling out forms. The last form was one Bun had to fill out. A landing permit, and that’s the one that finally set him off. “Next time I’m going to put us in a f…ing bean field!” But after the fact Bun found a way to laugh at almost everything that happened during that incident.

Why Dogs Roll In Poop and Other Stinky Things

Another time Bun and Vito (another of Bun’s former students) flew their plane up to Columbia and I flew up in my plane. We all got on the ground and were just telling stories and lies on the ramp when we noticed a plane landing really long and fast. We were waiting for him to go around but many minutes later he finally came taxiing in. They all piled out of his airplane and everyone was arguing. Except for one small dog who jumped out of the plane and immediately started rolling around on the ground, sniffing the asphalt and licking it. Bun said, “Hey look at that dog!” I said, “He sure is happy to be on the ground.” And for some reason that just struck a chord with the three of us and we almost bust our guts laughing so hard. We still laughed at those stories every time we saw each other at the airport.

And now, that’s all that’s left of Bun. Oh, he had children but they never got into flying and I don’t really know them. But Bun’s stories will live on in my memory. Bun Moreland, the man that taught me to fly. The man who introduced me to the sky. CAVU Bun Morland. Rest in peace my friend.

sunset cessna | Photos: Cessna 150M Aircraft Pictures | Airliners ...

Installing A SoftStart On The Air Conditioner

In case you don’t know there are two ways to power devices in your recreational vehicle. There are batteries for running battery powered devices such as your lights, water pump, awning, and 12 volt TV if you have one of those. Then there is the AC power cord that plugs into the electrical service at the RV park. This runs basically two devices in my trailer: the microwave and the air conditioner. Since we do most of our camping primarily in the western US, we need an air conditioner! This limits us to camping where electricity is readily available.

But there’s another option, a generator! You can plug your trailer’s AC connection into a generator and run your air conditioner that way. There’s just one problem. You have to make sure that the generator has enough power to start the air conditioner, once the air conditioner is started, it uses far less power. It’s just that initial start. This is where the soft start module comes up. You see inside the air conditioner is an electrical motor that basically runs the pump that pumps all the freon around your air conditioner. When motors start, they generally use a ton of electrical current to get them going, and then once started, they use much less current. That initial kick of electrical current is called inrush current and will bog a generator down as the generator struggles to supple enough electrical current to meet the demand. Many smaller generators will just blow their breakers or shut themselves down.

But what if you could limit that inrush current to a manageable level that the smaller generator could keep up with? Then you wouldn’t have to buy that bigger more expensive generator. This is what the SoftStart module does.

Imagine electrical current as water. When you flip a switch to turn on your AC, it’s like turning your water faucet on full blast. When you flip the switch off, it’s like turning the faucet completely off. But what if you could just turn that faucet on slowly until it reaches full blast? This is what the Soft Start does. When you turn your air conditioner on, the fan comes on, and then a few seconds later the compressor comes on with a loud “thunk”. This is the motor responding to a full blast of electrical current, like the water faucet being turned on full blast, and the motor is trying to respond to that full blast of current. It’s hard on the motor and uses a lot of electrical current to FORCE that motor to start running at full speed almost instantly!

So the Soft Start ramps up the electrical current slowly so that the compressor’s motor comes on more slowly, thus using less electrical current and also being gentler on the motor and associated components. THIS means you can use a smaller generator than you normally would because it doesn’t have to supply as much current to start your air conditioner.

(For my sister, you can tell our brother than this device OBVIOUSLY uses TRIACS to limit the inrush current)

Installation was pretty easy. They have detailed instructions for every model of RV air conditioner out there complete with pictures. It’s a matter of mounting your Soft Start module inside the AC unit, finding the electrical box, and start wiring it in. All the wires are color coded and there are only 4 of them to connect so it’s hard to go wrong.

The Micro-Air EasyStart Soft Starter

I used strong, double-sided tape to mount it out of the air flow in my AC unit. I then routed the grey cable containing all the wiring over to the electrical box. I forgot to take pictures of my wiring but I’ll include a sample from the instruction manual.

This was all the wiring that was necessary. Connect a white wire where the other white wires are connected, connect an orange wire where all the red wires are connected. Connect the brown wire to the white wire going back to the compressor, then cut the blue wire (not the red wire, never the red wire) and splice the black wire into the middle. Tuck all the wiring away nicely. Remember you’re afraid of heights. Don’t fall off the trailer.

After it’s all connected up it’s time to “teach” the Soft Start device about your air conditioner. You do this by turning the AC on, wait until the compressor comes on, let it run for 30 seconds, then adjust the temp so that the compressor turns back off, adjust the temp again to make it come back on (it will make you wait 3 minutes before it turns back on but be patient, it will turn back on.) And then repeat this 2 more times. That’s it. The Soft Start module has now learned your AC’s inrush current particulars. You will notice that the compressor no longer “klunks” on. You just hear a gentle humming begin. Very nice.

Then it was just a matter of closing the AC back up and taking a nap! Now to shop for a generator.

Snowflower RV Resort

Snowflower RV Resort is part of the Thousand Trails network of RV parks. We’ve only stayed in one other and it was not the greatest experience. However, we decided to give them another try. Snowflower is located right of Interstate 80 just west of Truckee, CA. It was about a 3 hour drive from our home. We had no problem finding the place but the fun began once we started looking for a camping spot.

Like most campground maps it’s only a rough approximation of the actual streets so we got turned around a couple of times and drove up a road we probably shouldn’t have with only two wheel drive. However, we got back down to where we should have been and started hunting again. Then we got caught in a traffic jam of people looking to park their huge rigs in Snowflower’s modest sized RV spots. It had been going on for 45 minutes at this point and the folks were pretty apologetic but it was apparent they were not going to fit so they finally drove on. A very nice gentleman on a bike told us there was a great spot next to him and that we could fit into it. It was only just up the road and we fit perfectly.

Finally! Camping.

That was really my only complaint with this park is the free for all in trying to find spots. It’s not just this park either. Most Thousand Trails parks are this way. Other than that the park was beautiful and we had a beautiful lake view. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the views and napping. What a way to spend my birthday!

Later just before dinner we decided to talk a walk down by the lake. It was really serene and peaceful. This was probably one of the most beautiful places we have camped so far.

The next morning we decided to drive around the park and try to orient ourselves. We really liked the park so we wanted to take a look at some of the other camping spots and figure out how to find them! We ended up driving up to the “overlook”. It is the topmost part of the park and is just a great spot to hike up to and have a lunch or drive up and spend a few minutes admiring the view as we did.

After admiring the view we took a drive up to Nevada City. We walked around downtown for a short time but they are still opening up after the pandemic so not much to see. We did find a bistro that was open so we stopped in to have lunch. I had a burger and Cristy had a burger salad.

Garden near the bistro

After lunch we decided to head back to the resort to take a nap and unwind. On the way back we pulled off the highway to check out a meadow I had seen on the way up. I’d love to have a house here… if it wasn’t so cold and snowy in the winter.

After taking in the meadow views we headed back to the trailer for a nap. After our nap and dinner the weather started to get a little exciting. It started to thunder and drop first sleet, and then small hail. It was enough to make things exciting but not enough to damage the trailer. The largest hail was only pea-sized.

The storm ended after a couple of hours and we enjoyed a beautiful night sleep. I have to admit that we really enjoyed our short stay at Snowflower RV Resort and will definitely be back. Maybe for a longer stay next time. I really loved waking up to this view…

Morning view

We’ll be back.

Battery Monitor Install

BMV-700 - Victron Energy
BMV-702

I just completed another mod on my Lance 1995 travel trailer. I installed a Victron BMV-702 battery monitor. It’s a simple device that displays the charge state of your battery. Rather than measure the voltage level it measure the amount of current that flows into and out of your battery. It learns over time and will give you an accurate reading of how much battery power you have left.

It was a simple install but getting at all the locations I needed to get to was somewhat of a challenge for my bad back. The first decision was where to put the shunt. A shunt is used by an ammeter (a device that measures electrical current). Normally they are built into the instrument but with the current levels involved with two car batteries it’s just not practical. You install the shunt between the negative terminal on the battery and the trailer’s ground. A wire then goes from the shunt to the instrument head to provide power and current measurements.

Luckily for me there is a convenient access panel next to the bed where the negative terminals of the batteries connect to ground.

The black wire with the blue tape goes to ground. The other black wire goes to the 2nd battery. The black wire with the blue tape goes on one side of the shunt, and then a cable I made up goes from the other side of the shunt to the terminal with the unmarked black cable on it. This places the shunt between the batteries and ground.

First I had to mount the shunt. I screwed it to the side of the access compartment. The wood screws protrude into the wood block that the back of the nightstand drawers secure to. This made for a very sturdy mount for the 1 pound shunt. I also had to find a way to get the cable that connects the shunt to the instrument head down to the baggage compartment where I was going to mount the instrument. I did this by drilling a hole in the bottom of the access compartment down to the baggage compartment directly below.

Here is a photo of the connected instrument cable. The red wire goes to the positive side of the battery to provide power to the instrument. The only photo I forgot to take was of the battery grounds connected up.

The next challenge was mounting the instrument in the baggage compartment. I decided to put it next to the battery disconnect switch. It’s the first switch you turn on when taking the trailer out of storage so it made sense to put the battery monitor there. Why not mount it inside next to the other instruments? I didn’t want to run that wire all that way and if I messed up the install, I’d rather it be out of site in the baggage compartment!

I had to use a 2 inch hole saw to cut the hole. I then used a Dremmel tool to cut a small mouse hole at the top to run the cable through. I’ll use some clear RTV to secure the cable to the side of the baggage compartment. It took a little patience and some extra work with the Dremmel to get the main hole just right but in the end it all worked out. There is a bluetooth add on that I’m going to get so I can check the voltage from my phone inside the trailer. I’ll add that later. For now I’m just glad I can get a better idea of how the batteries are actually performing and when I need to charge them.

Network Admin Life

As you may or may not know, I have a YouTube channel.  Actually two.  One is my personal channel where I post flying videos, family video, etc.  The other channel is targeted to other network administrators or those wishing to become network administrators.  It’s more or less just a peek inside my life as a network administrator.

You can take a look here:

https://www.youtube.com/c/NetworkAdminLife

 

Tonopah Earthquake

The morning of May 14th I woke up at 4am for no apparent reason.  I do that sometimes and then usually go right back to sleep.  I was just trying to get settled when I felt the bed moving.  I thought my wife was stirring but then I heard the blinds rattling against the window.  As if someone were rocking them.  I looked at my wife and she was sound asleep and the bed was still moving.  This went on for 10 seconds or so and then stopped.

It was an earthquake.  I immediately recalled the last earthquake I had felt.  You see earthquakes are rare in my part of California.  When we feel them, it’s because a strong one has struck elsewhere.  The last one we felt was the Loma Prieta earthquake which was a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter scale.  This one felt similar so I estimated it was at least a 6.0 earthquake… somewhere.  I thought it was going to be in the San Francisco Bay Area but it turned out to be in Tonopah Nevada, and it was magnitude 6.5.

Interesting.  Tonopah has certainly had some seismic activity over the years but not much.  When the ground moves near Tonopah it’s usually due to the bombing range just to the south of Tonopah at the Tonopah Test Range.  The area is pockmarked with bomb craters.  Including some really big ones caused by ground subsidence from underground nuclear bomb tests.  It’s interesting to note that a hydrogen bomb detonated underground will cause Richter scale readings in the 6.0-7.1 range.  A recent North Korean earthquake was the result of a nuclear test.   These tests can be detected all over the earth since they make the earth’s crust ring like a bell.

I just find the timing of the “earthquake” highly suspect.  The US imposes trade tariffs.  China’s economy starts to collapse.  China somehow becomes the source of a strange new virus.  Now the rest of the world’s economy is in shambles levelling the playing field for China.  Now we have an “earthquake” which can be detected all over the world in a place that is known for testing nuclear bombs.  If you look at the location it’s a perfect place to test one.  Could it be our government sending a message to the world?  If you don’t abide by our treaties then neither will we?

Or it could have been just an earthquake.

The Last Free Generation

I remember when I was younger hearing my father talk about his youth and how we had lost a lot of the freedoms in this country that he enjoyed as a boy.  At the time I couldn’t figure out what he meant.  After all, I was free.  I could go where I wanted, do what I wanted when I wanted to do it.

Until now…

Now, in the name of safety, we are prevented from going where we want, doing what we want when we want to do it.  Now, I know there are people at risk when they catch any disease and this current one is extremely contagious.  I do truly get it.  I work in a hospital.  I see the patients, I see the anxious loved ones who wait outside to talk to them on a video phone.  It is scary.  I get it.  I even have an 87 year old battling cancer living in my home.  She is very much at risk.   Heck, I’ve had pneumonia twice and could easily have died both times, I’m at risk.

And so now, to save people our government is forcing businesses to close and people to stay in their homes.  We can’t get haircuts or go out to dinner or go play golf.  However, those in positions of power are able to get haircuts, go out to dinner, and play golf.  Again, this was all done in the name of our “safety.”  But I fear they’ve had a taste, and they like what they tasted.  A population completely reliant on government.

And the media, once the champion of dissent in this country, is helping them.  All videos presenting differing viewpoints have been taken down as the Google fact-checkers have determined that these differing opinions do not represent “good science.”  A codeword meaning “agrees with the narrative”.  The fact-checkers themselves are not scientists and so aren’t qualified to decide what good science is.  Instead, they check the video for the proper political alignment.  If they don’t further the narrative of a particular political party, they are removed.  This goes for both Google and Facebook.

You are free to agree with them, but you are not free to disagree.  In fact, within my children’s life time I would not be at all surprised to see most freedoms removed in the name of safety.  They finally found an “in”.  A way to slide into socialism and have everyone cheer about it.   Americans don’t want freedom anymore, they want safety.  And that’s just sad.

And The Truth Will Set Us Free

It seems that WHO and CDC among others are fanning the flames of this current COVID-19 crisis.  The numbers are not what we were led to believe.  The current pandemic may actually be the second wave, not the first wave of infections.  The actual infection rate of COVID-19 is much higher than previously thought.  Which means the death rate is much lower than has been reported.

Here is a video from a doctor telling the full story…

Shelter In Place

Our city, county, and state have been under a shelter in place order due to the COVID-19 pandemic for the past three weeks but it seems much longer.  All non-essential businesses have been ordered to shut down.  This includes restaurants, beauty salons and supply stores, barbers, retail, and others.  Grocery stores, including convenience and liquor stores are still open.   City, county, and state parks are closed.  Churches are closed.  For the first time in our nation’s history, Christians will not be celebrating Resurrection Day (Easter) together at church.  It’s history being made.

I feel almost ashamed to admit that I haven’t been affected much by it as I have been deemed an “essential worker” due to my employment at the hospital.  In fact, other than a slight toilet paper scare, life has been somewhat easier for me.  There are far fewer people on the road making traffic conditions really light.  In fact, it is 1:30pm as I write this and there traffic overlay on Google looks absolutely surreal.  More history being made.

traffic

I’ve noticed other “benefits” of the stay at home order; people walking more, bicycling, especially families.  They can’t go see their friends so they have been forced to spend time together.  I think that’s a pretty good thing.  I feel really bad for the folks that have been laid off, or lost their jobs because of this pandemic.  But I can’ help feeling that when we come out of this on the other side, they will get new and better jobs if they don’t get their old job back.  It’s what happened to me last time I got laid off.

For now I will just keep reporting to work at the hospital, wear my mask and gloves when I go out of my office, and clean up real good when I return.  I have been trying to limit my interaction with doctors and nurses who tend to COVID patients.  I have an elderly mother-in-law living at home with me.  I don’t want to bring anything home to her.  However, I can’t avoid all interaction with the doctors and nurses so I just do my best to clean up afterward.

History is seldom fun when you are living it.  This year will go down in the history books for sure.  I hope China’s role is remembered well and remember correctly.  But we’ll all be able to say, “I was there during the great pandemic of 2020”.  Hopefully we’ll all be able to say “I survived”.   My prayer for everyone.

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