Searching for contentment

Reading: Ghost Wars and Directorate S by Steve Coll

Ghost Wars and Directorate S by Steve CollNarrated by Malcolm Hillgartner

These were difficult books to listen to, but essential and eye opening.

Ghost Wars is subtitled: "The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001." [The Soviet invasion began in December 1979.]

Directorate S is subtitled: "The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001 - 2016."

Steve Coll is the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker, and was an investigative correspondent and then a managing editor for The Washington Post, where he worked for 20 years.

The research for these books is meticulous and thorough, providing readers with a deep insight into these wars that have so completely engulfed the U.S. and much of the world for nearly 40 years now, spreading chaos, instability, and terrorism throughout the region and around the world.

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Contemplating: Hywind Scotland

I had previously read about the Hywind Scotland floating wind farm project, but until I watched their full story video I had no idea how large these wind turbines are. This is an amazing engineering feat. Perhaps there's actually a chance that we'll pull ourselves out of the carbon-based fuel death spiral we're in.

The top of the assembled wind turbine

Note: To give an idea of the scale of these floating wind turbines, what you see on top of the turbine housing is actually a safety fence for visitors.

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Living in the Rockies

Mysticles on our Rocky Mountain Birch tree. There's a gentle westward mist meandering through today, forming delicate pointed icicles on the east face of every branch, pine needle, and dried grass blade.

Delicate mist-formed icicles on birch twigs

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Woodworking: A few rough cedar projects

I was at the lumber yard a few weeks ago when I spotted some beautiful 2″ x 6″ cedar planks … I love cedar!

That led to three projects: refurbishing our deck stairway, then using the cutoffs to replace a little wooden walkway between our house and shed, and finally using the cutoffs from that to build a birdhouse for our local songbirds.

Turns out I actually had just enough wood left over for two bird houses, with about 8 inches of 1″ x 6″ remaining! The leftover piece is so nice that I'll keep it; I'm sure I'll figure out something to do with it someday! By the way, I made the roofs—and the top tread of the stairway, which is even a bit wider than the other treads—from a beautiful cutoff piece of 2″ x 12″ that I squirreled away 16 years ago when the deck originally was built, just waiting for the right project to come along.

Small cedar walkway between our garage and our shed

Note: While the birdhouses are relatively smooth on the exterior from the planing, the interiors retain their original rough-cut faces, which I read makes it easier for the little birds to climb out when they are ready to fly the nest. Also, the fronts swing open (outward and upward) for the annual clean out.

I'll hang the birdhouses this autumn to be ready for tenants next spring.

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Amateur radio: digital voice hotspots

MMDVM_HS_Hat boardThe MMDVM_HS_Hat hotspot board (the authentic one) is made by hand of quality components, fits nicely on the little Raspberry Pi Zero W computer, and supports multiple amateur radio digital voice communication modes.

It works well with the Pi-Star app, and set up is easy, especially because it can use Pi-Star's Auto AP feature for effortless wireless network configuration.

Because of the extra compactness gained by using a ceramic chip antenna, it has become my new mobile hotspot, fitting nicely on the RAVPower 10050 mAh battery pack that I use as my portable power supply.

MMDVM_HS_Hat mobile hotspot setup

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