A memorable Independence Day to All

Well here it is the 248th annual celebration of the United States of America’s Independence day that occurs each 4th of July. It might have been the 2nd of July when the first motion by the Continental Congress passed to end our colonial status and establish the Thirteen Colonies as a new Nation. However, the Continental Congress decided that a declaration of that independence was needed. Fortunately, Thomas Jefferson already had such a document in work. After sprucing it up a bit, two days later on the 4th of July, Year of Our Lord 1776, the Declaration of Independence was ratified and received its first signatures. The most prominent of those was John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress.

We of the 21st Century should remember this day what those men did that day placing their very lives on the line for this new nation and the concepts contained in the declaration. The very ideas embodied in the Declaration of Independence are being threatened in our country by tyrannical Leftist who control the Democrat(ic) Party. It is also threatened by external organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the United Nations (U.N.), and by foreign nations such as the Peoples Republic of China, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. They all hate Freedom and Individual Liberty.

Enjoy and celebrate the day.

Here is the transcription of the Declaration of Independence from the United States National Archieves:

In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
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And So the Day Ends

Sunset looking west from Polly's Peak, Bandera County, Texas, USA on 29 May 2023.
Sunset from Polly’s Peak, Bandera County, Texas, USA

After a wonderful hamburger dinner with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons we were on the way home. We had some nice South Central Texas afternoon thundershowers; their remnants left this beautiful sunset. This was taken with my cell phone from the southwest end of our street. A good thing to see at the close of Memorial Day. My thanks and prayers go up to those who died that gave me the freedoms to make it possible for me to see such a sight, record it and share it.


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— Some Gave All —

Young lady laying on grave of a military casualty

Today, May 29th, 2023 is Memorial Day. Remember all of those who gave the “ultimate” sacrifice to preserve Freedom. It is unfortunate this year that the sacrifice they made is being erased by power hungry psychopaths and sociopaths who want to take away the God given Freedoms we have enjoyed.

Pray for those that made that sacrifice. It is my belief that God is outside of time as we experience it and any prayer said now, He will apply it to when they died.

Memorial Day was first celebrated as Decoration Day beginning in the 1860s immediately after the American Civil War. The graves of those who died in that horrendous conflict were “decorated” with flowers or other decorations. The very first such action is attributed to freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. They exhumed the bodies of 257 Union Soldiers from a mass grave at the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp at Washington Race Course, gave the remains proper burials on May 1st, 1865 and decorated the graves with flowers. The holiday became more formal on May 5th, 1868 when General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (an organization of Civil War veterans), made a proclamation to celebrate Decoration Day on May 3oth of each year. The transition from Decoration Day to Memorial Day began in 1882. It was not until 1967 that it officially became Memorial Day by the passing of a Federal law. The celebration moved to the last Monday in May upon the passing of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in June 1968.

Some more images for you to give thought to on Memorial Day:

A drawing of period helmets on the primary rifle in a boot from WW I through the Afghanistan Conflict with the number of American Military casualties.
Casualties being transported on a C-130.
Casualties being transported on a C-130.
A warrior's son at the funeral of his father.

Nicholas Weichel, son of Rhode Island National Guard Sgt. Dennis Weichel, Jr., who was killed in Afghanistan.

"I really, miss you, I promise I will protect my sisters, Hope and Madison, like yu told me to.  You are my hero.  I know you are in heaven watching over me." -- Nicholas

Not all heroes are human.

God Bless Military Dogs!

An Air Force Tech Sgt. kissing the head of a decease military dog.

And sometimes that loyal companion that is left behind morns the loss.

Dog lying in front of the casket of Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson.
The funeral of Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson

This song is from the 2000s, written by Dustin Evans during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, it is still applicable and dedicated to those on active duty who are watching over us.

Please on Memorial Day take time to remember and pray for those military people who died in the line of duty whether it was in a conflict or training, for their sacrifice was just as great in either situation.


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A Little Vacay and other Happenings

Back again to posting. I started to create a post back on the 29th of April but was overcome by preparations for a short vacation we were going on. So I decided to post on that excursion and the current happenings. I guess I am paranoid and don’t drop vacation plans here on the Internet before the fact.

Mrs. BillB and I needed a little time away from the home station and all the goings-on here like laundry, house cleaning, yard work, etc. etc.. We decided a little beach time on North Padre Island in Corpus Christi would be in order. This was a couple of months ago that we made that decision but booking a place to stay had to be done that early. We wanted to miss Spring Break for certain, and we scheduled for the 1st through the 4th of May. We stayed in some condos that we had stayed in before that were about 1/4 mile from the Whitecap Beach. Now we are back.

It was an enjoyable time. I got to fish. Mrs BillB got herself some time on the beach. And we got to eat some good food. We found a neat restaurant just a mile or so from where we stayed the previous time we were there. It is named “The Angry Marlin” with accompanying decor such as full size marlin sculptures and a sailfish sculpture that looks a taxidermy mount. On the second day, ae had lunch there noshing on their mahi-mahi fish tacos.

Mahi-mahi fish tacos at The Angry Marlin in North Padre Island.
Mahi-mahi fish tacos at The Angry Marlin in North Padre Island.

Those were huge. I had my two and had to finish 1/2 of one of Mrs. BillB’s tacos. They are a little exotic with dried banana breading and chipotli aoli.

And beach time was great with seeing the shore birds and enjoying the sunshine. There were numerous “squadrons” of brown pelicans flying up and down the beach with an occasional loner diving into the water a 100 yards off shore to catch something. I have seen 10, 20 or more pelicans in this “in-trail” formation at other times.

A squadron (flight) of brown pelicans at Whitecap beach.
A squadron of Pelicans.

And then there were the Laughing Gulls. There call is really that close to some human laughs.

Laughing Gulls on Whitecap Beach, North Padre Island, Corpus Christi, Texas
Laughing Gulls

And I got to surf fish! Five years ago, I went surf fishing at Sea Isle Beach on Galveston Island and the only thing I caught was an infection in my big toe. This time was more productive but all I caught was some Hardhead Catfish. And the last slimy little booger finned me as I released it. They have a toxin in their mucus coating that probably won’t kill you but it hurts and makes it swell up. My best catch was two at once.

Two Hardhead Catfish
My double catch of Hardhead Catfish.

After we got back it was catch-up time at The Last Frontier.: laundry, house cleaning, lawn mowing, cleaning up in the shop and the ham shack. The night I got home, after we picked up the doggies at the kennel where they vacationed, I ran off to the Hill Country Amateur Radio Club May meeting. I am secretary for the club and needed to get into that mode. But the best thing was all of the rain that came. As of 16 May we had around 4″ of rain in the last 10 days. I hope that moves us out of the Exceptional Drought condition we have been in for months now. The Last Frontier is located about where that little dot the arrow is pointing at is.

Ten Day Radar Rainfall estimate at 7 AM, May 16th, 2023
10 Day Radar Rainfall Estimate

Best wishes to all!


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Success in Failure, Starship Launches and then blows up.

Today, 20 April 2023, at 08:33 CDT, SpaceX launched the first Starship/Superheavy. This is truly the beginning of a new Era in spaceflight if the objectives of rapid reusability are reached with this vehicle. The cost of moving a pound mass/kilogram into orbit will hopefully be reduced to the point that at the least our Solar System will become accessible to many and that we humans can become a multi-planetary species.

On first viewing, the liftoff was spectacular. The flight was awe-inspiring. That is, until it went out of control and the Flight Termination System kicked in. And even that was a sight to be seen. The SpaceX presenters on the SpaceX feed even thought that it was starting the flip/separation maneuver. I had noted that some of the Raptor 2 engines were not firing, but thought that was par for the course.

In going back over the videos and pictures from various sources, things were not all that good from the start. As Starship cleared the dust cloud, it was at a strange angle, canted slightly off the vertical even before clearing the launch tower. In other launches I have seen, the rocket remains vertical for a bit further. (The image below from Tim Dodd via NASASpaceFlight Forums.)

Tilt at liftoff

There were clear indications of engine failures as it climbed, with one as early as about 7 seconds into launch. Ultimately it appeared that 8 engines had failed, 6 in the outer ring of 20 and 2 in the innermost 13 gimbaled engines. (Image below from NASASpaceFlight Forums.)

This must have eventually lead to the loss of control of the booster as shown in the tweet below.

And to top things off a lot was learned about the durability of Stage Zero, the reference SpaceX makes to the ground launch systems. There was quite a crater dug out under the Operational Launch Mount (OLM). The LOX (Liquid Oxygen), LN2 (Liquid Nitrogen) and water storage tanks just north of the OLM were damaged; there are huge dings in two and an apparent hole in one of the cryogenic storage tanks.

At least SpaceX won’t have to do too much excavation to install the water deluge system and maybe a flame diverter under the OLM. The speculation is that the material from that crater did most of the physical damage. As an aside, some projectile destroyed NASASpaceFlights van that was parked about 1100 feet from the OLM on the other side of those tanks.

The data from this launch is the success. In the coming weeks we should see and hear what happened and what will be done to upgrade Stage Zero, Stage One (Superheavy Booster) and Stage 2 (Starship). Some of the information will be from SpaceX news releases or back channels. Some will be from the work being done on Stage Zero. I am looking forward to the next launch within a few months, as Elon Musk tweeted out:

I will recommend the NASASpaceFlight Forums on SpaceX as a good source of information. One only needs to put a few mental filters on for some of the comments in the various threads.

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It is on!

SpaceX received its FAA launch license for Starship/Superheavy just before 5 PM CDT this Friday the 14th of April 2023. SpaceX is targeting Monday, 17 April for the launch with a 150 minute launch window opening at 7 AM CDT (7-9:50 AM) (Edit – I can’t add, it should be 7-9:30 AM). This was announced here: UPCOMING STARSHIP FLIGHT TEST. Scroll down that page for the full timeline of the launch sequnce. The Starship will land (splashdown) just off the island of Hawaii 1 1/2 hours after launch.

I was watching the live update from NASASpaceflight on Youtube where I heard the announcement. The license is good for 5 years and I have to wonder if it applies to future vehicles or is limited to S24/BN7.

An animation to sooth the anticipation.

I will be up early on the 17th to watch it on the SpaceX channel. The above SpaceX webpage states that they will start coverage about 45 minutes before (the first attempted) launch time.


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Hallelujah! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Hallelujah!

May everyone have a blessed Easter/Pasche.

The Resurrection is the basis of the Christian belief. As Saint Paul the Apostle says in his first letter to the Corinthians that has been preserved (1 Corinthians 15:12-22):

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

May you have a good day celebrating it with family and friends.


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The Shop — The Building

So why am I going through all of this past history, you ask? I didn’t want to spring any of the projects I am going to do on the blog-0-sphere without explaining how this shop I am doing them in magically appeared in my world. The shop will be a multi-use shop with woodworking, automotive repair and any other function that might be carried out in such a facility.

On July 27th, 2021 the foundation was finished. We had already contacted the company that was going to put up the building itself once we were sure the foundation would be built. When the dust had all settled, they were going to send their crew down to the wilds of the Hill Country on the 12th of August. In the meantime, I had to remove limbs from trees to give a clear space for the building to go up in. So out came the tape measures, chain saw, pole saw and ladders. In a couple of days I had what I hoped was a cleared volume for the building to go in.

On the morning of Thursday the 12th, we called and made sure the crew was on its way. They showed up just after 12 PM with a trailer load of materials and 3 men.

Building crew and materials show up to erect the building.
Building crew and materials show up to erect the building.

The trailer was loaded with lengths of 2 1/2 inch square galvanized tubing, roof trusses of the same material, premade bottom wall plates, yards and yards of metal siding and roofing, a roll up door, five windows, a couple of man doors and boxes of screws and other fittings. The guys set to unloading stuff from the trailer. And boy, did they move fast. By 12:57, the crew had the sidewall wall plates positioned, screwed to the foundation and the first “bent” erected.

The first "bent" is up!
The first “bent” is erected.

Just 20 minutes later, all the “bents” were up. I was totally amazed at the speed they were moving at. I didn’t take any more pictures that day because I felt I might be interfering with them. By sunset, which was their quitting time, they had built the front and back frames out with all vertical and horizontal frame pieces, put in all the purlins in the walls and roof, and had started putting the siding on the building.

When they came back the next morning, Friday, August 13th (I wanted to point out the auspicious date), the crew charged right back into the building. By 10 AM they had the building almost complete. The roll-up door trim, roll-up door and the trim around the roof were still to be done. You can see the frame structure through the door opening

Shop building is nearly complete, just the roll up door to go.
The shop building is nearly complete.

By 12 Noon the building was complete. The crew drove away about 12:15 PM. And I took this picture at 12:19. I just have to say that was fast. The crew put up the building in 24 hours including taking an overnight break.

The finished shop building.
The finished shop building.

There was still more to do. We needed to epoxy the floor, get electric power to the shop, wire the shop and start filling it with tools. More in the next installment of “The Shop”.


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The Shop — The Foundation

The post on April 1st was the first post in over a year. I don’t know why. I guess life got in the way. So many people’s blogs that I read have a good grip on doing it that I didn’t want to replicate their blogs. Commenting there just seemed easier. Sometimes what I wanted to blog about was more a rant than anything else and did not provide anything more than my view of a subject without adding information to the pool. Anyway, I am still here and wanted to celebrate the latest addition to The Last Frontier.

Three years ago, just before the COVID panic, I went to work for Lowe’s Home Improvement. I lasted about 8 months before that particular retail environment just wore on my nerves, having been an Air Force pilot, an Engineer in the Air Force and done engineering work in aerospace and defense. I left their employment amicably. The goal of working there was to earn some money for goals around our property and a new radio for me. In June 2020, I got the new radio, an ICOM IC-9700 VHF/UHF 3 Band transceiver. It’s a sweet rig! In the early months of 2021, Mrs. BillB and I decided to go ahead and build a shop, partially funded by the proceeds from my employment.

We settled on a 30 x 30 foot metal building with 12 foot walls from a company in Grandview, Texas. The company was founded by some of the Old Mennonite community that live in that area of Texas. We had dealt with that community before and found that they were in general fair dealing folks. On May 7th we bought the building with a 50% down payment, the rest due on completion of the building. Since we are self-contracting this project, the ride had just begun.

We sited the building about 50 feet west of our garage. This was where the previous owners had a garden area that was about the same size as the building. Half of this garden area had Century Plants (Agave Americana) in it. They were mature and large. Winter Storm Uri had killed or severely damaged most of them. So I got the tractor with front-end loader and took them out after taking down the fence around the area. I put the remnants in our burn pit and that is another story. We did a “rough” stake out of the building. The difficulty here is that the Last Frontier is on a slope; where we determined the shop would go there is about an 18″ drop from the high corner to the low corner.

Now we had to find a concrete contractor to put in a slab foundation. We got names from THE local lumber yard to be able to get multiple quotes on the job. The first quote we got was high. The next quote we got was in the ballpark of what we had estimated it would cost. So we went with him. He came and surveyed the area then texted us a quote. He was supposed to show up on June 10th. But he never appeared and didn’t answer the phone when I called. We kept trying and finally got someone who showed up. They came on the 16th of July 2021 to put in the forms. Here is the end of the first day’s work.

The foundation forms before steel (rebar)

The next day they came and put in the steel/rebar. They also completed the forms so that was a little step for the siding to sit in to keep water out, and a step-down for the roll-up door.

Completed forms with steel and all of the other.

It was about a week later that they came to pour the foundation. Always love the sound of them doing that. Here is the first concrete going in.

First Concrete pour
First concrete pour.

They came back a week later and pulled the forms. Here is the bare foundation in all of its glory.

The foundation with the forms removed
The foundation in its bare glory!

The next installment will be the shop going up.


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Sunset in the Hill Country

Venus over Mercury at Twilight

First off, this is no April’s Fool joke.

I caught this picture of Mercury and Venus in the deep twilight on my cell phone on March 4th, 2023. The picture was taken from the top of the hill that is at the southwest end of our street. I had to maneuver around a little to get the power lines out of the picture.

In these times of turmoil, it was a wonderful, calming view. This was my first solo outing after getting out of an 11-day hospital stay a couple of weeks before. It was great being alive and seeing this.


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