Category: computing

Fri. Feb. 23, 2024 – Friday the 13th happened 10 days ago this month…

Warmish, and clear. Yesterday started with a lot of overcast, and very wet, but turned into another beautiful day. Today is forecast to be the same. It’s definitely time to get the garden going.

Bit of a mixed bag yesterday as far as getting stuff done. I was able to get the plumbing parts I need, and should be able to get the tub back together today. They even had the transition fitting to attach to the lead pipe sewer connection. Good thing the HD managers are allowed to pick some items to stock for their local market. We have lead sewer pipes coming up through our slabs, and it’s been long enough that they are falling. Probably not something you needed to stock 20 years ago.

I also got the Ranger smogged and inspected, so I can remedy my registration issues. Expy too. Maybe I’ll do both at the same time. I have some maintenance due on the Ranger too, that I’ll have to find time for. Won’t be this week or next.

I wasn’t able to do my auction drop off, so that gets pushed to today. I have one pickup on the south side of town, and one near me that I forgot to do last week. Then I’m loading for my trip to the BOL. Still not sure if I’m going up today or tomorrow, but today would be better. Turns out I need to cut the grass there, which means doing some service work on the mower first… and pitching in on my neighbor’s garden plot. I might try to get something planted in my own plot too. Then the irrigation needs to be sorted out, with the broken line fixed, and the sprinklers re-installed…

It’s fractal. The closer you look at a task, the more tasks there are to do.

And when I get back, I’ll spend the next week getting ready for the Hamfest, and getting my hobby website up. Whoohooo. Fun times.

Better to be busy than bored I guess. Meatspace. It takes more work than a hermit’s life, but it’s worth it.

Stack some facetime with people. Start on your garden.

n

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Thur. Feb. 22, 2024 – 02222024 – and just like that, half the week is gone…

Cool but not cold, forecast says mid 60s F. And clear. Warming later. Sometimes we’d call this nearly perfect weather. Yesterday was certainly nice. More driving around with the windows down…

And I did drive around. Pickups all over the south side of town, and beyond. Got some good stuff though, so even with mileage and tolls it still saves money. Went to Lowes for the plumbing parts I need and came up empty. I’ll have to hit HomeDepot today.

Doing another pickup today, a chest freezer. It’s the season for them again I guess. The retail prices have come down from the wuflu peak, and so they are even better in the auctions, if you don’t mind a dent or a scratch. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer several smaller freezers to one big one. Better chance of not losing everything if you have a failure. Plus they fit into the space better, being only 24″ deep.

After the pickup, I should be doing a drop off too. More stuff to the auctioneer.

I’ll be loading the truck for a run to the BOL too. Wife and kids are doing Girl Scouts, so I’ll head out for the weekend. I’ll have the dog with me, and I’m sure I’ll find stuff to do beyond just dropping off a load of stuff. I’m bringing the huge ladder, the meat saw, a 40 gallon water tank on wheels, a patio heater, and whatever else I can fit in the truck. Maybe I’ll be taking a freezer up with me too. Just brought one home, but then bought another. It’d be a sickness if it wasn’t so useful. Dunno when I’ll leave, probably Friday, but maybe Saturday. Depends on if I have to do any pickups on the way. I’m bidding on more solar panels and another generator. Don’t really expect to get the gennie, but the panel would be a nice addition.

Time to start cobbling something together with the solar, so I can find out what I don’t have and don’t know.

There’s always something that needs doing. I don’t understand how someone retired can have “free time”…

Stack up some more stuff. It’s getting sporty out there.
nick

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Fri. Feb. 16, 2024 – half way thru the month, already…

Cool and damp, maybe some rain today. It was overcast and damp all day Thursday, but never did rain. Today the forecast says “some rain”. I hope not much.

I looked at my posts and comments for the month around this date 4 years ago, and my lime tree was budding, the weather was similar, but prices for food were half. It’s very useful to have a daily journal to track what changes and what doesn’t. I felt like the lime had budded way early, and that $2/pound for pork on sale was reasonable. Checking allowed me to see that even “on sale” prices have doubled, and the weather is very much the same. Last year I suggested to D1 that she start a journal so she had something she trusted when the world tried to gaslight her. I recommend it to everyone now. Write down what is happening to you and around you. First person and contemporary accounts are valuable. Hand written hard copy is best, but anything you control is acceptable. Our memories are fallible and we adjust to accommodate our circumstances.

Didn’t get much done yesterday, I spent most of my day doing auction stuff online, and exploring my options for my new position in my non-prepping hobby club. I’ll be sharing some of that journey here too.

Today I’ve got a couple of pickups to do, which will involve some driving. I’m really hoping for minimal rain as I need to use the pickup truck and rain always messes up the freeways. There’s a three day weekend ahead of us, and I’ll be using it to do stuff around the house here. It would be nice to have cool, dry weather for that. Anything else will mean picking and choosing what I can do. Pouring rain means I’m working on ebay listings, or my new website project. We’re not going to the BOL because it’s GS cookie sales weekend. Support your local troops, it really helps the girls do things, even though the price has increased per box. It makes a difference in getting them out of the house and interacting with people. And it’s a great way for you to impact your community.

Which is a good thing.

Stack up all the things. You won’t regret it.

nick

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Thur. Feb. 8, 2024 – fast or slow, here we go!

Cool and overcast. National forecast is clear for a couple of days, while openweathermap says “light rain” but the daily hour by hour forecast says “0%” chance of rain. Liars gonna lie… We’ll see what actually happens. Only impact on me is if the stuff in the back of the truck gets wet or not…

Did my big loop of pickups yesterday, then did my kid stuff. Nothing of interest with either. Then stopped at HEB grocery for my prescriptions, and to see what was on sale. Bought some more meat. Tasty cow. If it’s on sale, I’m a buyer. I’ll break that down today, and maybe put some brisket in the slow cooker. Gotta find another solid slow cooker recipe.

Hit the chiropractor too. I’m sore. I let my misalignment go too long. Y’all might remember I’ve been trying to learn to manage my typical issues without outside help, for when there isn’t any available. Well, I let the experiment go on too long this time. I’m paying for that now. Use civilization for what you can while you can.

Today I’ve got one more pickup. There have been a ton of dewalt and Milwaukee tools in the auctions lately. I own both, so I’m always looking to get more if the price is right. And it was last week. Dunno why all the brand new tools in unopened boxes are in the secondary markets right now, but there are a LOT of them. Maybe the manufacturers need to generate cash so they’re dumping stuff? I can’t really think of a good reason for it. New unopened current production. Nuts.

Speaking of new, I was behind a flatbed truck loaded with the wheel carriages for freight trains- boggies? No wheels, but the huge casting with the springs inserted. New old stock, casting dates clearly visible from the mid and later 90s. That stuff has been sitting for a long time. It was strapped and stacked, so I think it was finally being delivered for use, and not sent to the scrapper. If they’re just getting to inventory that is 30 years old, I wonder if anyone is still making the parts currently? Houston features a locomotive on the City Seal, and we have a lot of track, switchyards, and other RR infrastructure in use. I see them switching out ties, reballasting, and updating grade crossings, so it’s still important to someone here.

But there is a lot of infrastructure that is going un-repaired, and un-replaced. I don’t see that as a good thing. Wait too long and you lose the facilities and craftsmen who make the stuff. You lose the stuff when it fails catastrophically instead of just having small issues routinely fixed. Look around your area. If you don’t see infrastructure projects, whether new or maintaining the existing, your area is probably in decline and it won’t be long before the failures start, or worsen to the point of no return. Get out while you can if you are facing that.

Whatever happens in the next 5-10 years, where you are is probably going to be the biggest factor in how well you do, or how poorly.

No matter where you are though, preps will help. Stack!

nick

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Tues. Feb. 6, 2024 – well, if not hell, then heck?

Cool and clear. It never did rain on my house yesterday, but it did rain on my wife on her way to work so BOTH forecasts were correct! Hers and mine. Peace in the house, hooray. Today should be clear, and warming later in the day.

I didn’t get everything done, or even started, and what I did do took longer than I hoped. Sometimes it be that way. I got some stuff pulled out for ebay, some for my local auction. I sorted some stuff that has been sitting since October. My back was hurting so I’ll claim that as my excuse for not doing heavier work. Well, hurting more than normal…

Then I had to get the kids from school, and do some cooking. I was going to make some frozen fish, but I started breaking down some bulk meat and vac sealing it, so after doing beef brisket, pork shoulder, and a spiral sliced ham, I decided that I could just throw the ham in the skillet and make that. I was browning chunks of the pork shoulder to make carnitas in the slow cooker. Freeze some, cook some… so the ham was a natural choice. The vintage cast iron performed beautifully. I’ve got a good seasoning on it and with some bacon fat, even the sticky sugar from the ham scraped away with a smooth utensil. A quick rinse, then dry and re-oil with clean peanut oil, and back into the drawer for next time. Cooking with good cast iron is a joy.

The pre-browned chunks of pork will go into the slowcooker today. Some of the ham I packed in 1 pound bags, and I’ll take that to the BOL for when I’m up there alone. It’s a quick and tasty dinner. The rest is in 2 pound bags. The pork is in 3 pound bags, and the brisket is in 4 pounders. That is one bag per meal, with some leftovers. I mentioned before that I have increased the weight of my “per meal” packages. Freaking kids eat like crazy. Buying in bulk, cutting to meal size or portion size, and vac sealing before freezing is economical and convenient. Takes a bit of time, but not much more than putting the groceries away. The savings make it worth it.

Late in yesterday’s comments I linked to a couple videos of shootouts involving cops, and civilians. One is a guy who’s just had enough, the other is a young thug. There are lessons to be learned from watching other people experience violence, and violent situations. Note too the police response and tactics. In the second one, the neighbor threatening to kill people, note when the cop reminds the neighbors that he’s recording and asks if it’s alright. Remember that they didn’t do that while interviewing people on the Rust set, when Alec Baldwin shot and killed his Cinematographer. No Miranda warning, and the video is admissible. Something to keep in mind if you are in a bad situation, or even witness to one. Like I said, lessons to be learned.

Today I’ll be doing the same, over and over again. It’ll be fun! Well, it’s never boring.

Learn something new today. Practice a skill, or start on a new one. Stack experiences like you’re stacking food.

nick

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Wed. Jan. 24, 2024 -01242024 – the rain continues, “how high’s the water momma?”…

Cool and wet again, with more rain on the way. Ground is saturated, and there has been so much development in town replacing grass with concrete, that I’m sure the downstream watersheds are flooding. My house is about 100 yards from the edge of a watershed, so about as high as it gets locally, it all flows downhill from here… I’m not worried about flooding for myself, but there are going to be some people who get wet.

Had kind of a busted day yesterday. Tried to get to the rent house, but the roads were flooded just getting out of my neighborhood. I didn’t really want to head downstream and then try to get back in time to pick up the kid, and my renter hadn’t replied to my messages. So I went and hung out with my gun store buddy. Had a good long chat with him and his wife. Tenant eventually texted that she’d been sick, but later would be ok… so I’m headed over there today.

EVERYONE I talk to has had the crud that’s been going around, either in December, or they’re finally getting it. I remember a December in 2019 that was similar…

I haven’t been able to do any auction drop offs with the rain pouring down. Just getting stuff out of storage, or to the truck, would mean it got wet. I need to get some lots listed on ebay too. I’m only listing high value lots, pipes, and whatever I can get the kid to list, but I need to actually do it. Inertia is a thing. So is being over-committed.

Stopped at the HEB on my way home yesterday. Bought some more pork shoulder, and beef brisket. Still $1/pound and $2.50/pound. That’s cheap protein.

Dinner was supposed to be pork ribs, but they were spoiled. Still had a day to go on the Best By too, so I’ll be trying to get that money back. If the problem was the store, they need to know about it. If no one else complains, then I guess the problem was me, but I don’t know when it happened. Sucks but it was cheap so worst case I’m only out $12.

I expect a certain amount of “breakage” but food from the store should be good.

Meanwhile the world gets crazier every day.

Stack it high and deep people. We’re gonna be on our own, together.

nick

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Thur. Dec. 28, 2023 – now we’re counting down to the new year…

Another cool but clear day ahead of me, and one in the past. Yesterday was nice, a bit on the cool side, but clear and not too damp. Today should be the same.

I did my main pickup, of all the stuff for resale. That took a while and I was chatting with the auctioneer. He’s a guy who is new to me, having bought the business from the guy I knew before. He sees hard times coming as the dollar is failing, because of inflation, debt, and the other countries that have built alternatives to SWIFT and are looking to avoid the dollar. In other words, pretty clued in.

We also chatted about rent houses. He takes a different approach, renting houses in the ‘hood to individuals, on a per room basis. He’s got several houses, with 2-4 rooms each, cash money every week. He collects in person, and charges a lot if you miss or are late. With weekly rent, he gets a lot of turnover… I want the opposite. One renter, for a long time, with as little involvement as I can manage. I’ll accept that I’m getting less money than I could, if I was more hands on. Not my thing though. And frankly, IDK if it would work for me, being a paleface, vs him, who looks like his renters. Even if I was in Kentucky or someplace, renting to white tweakers and transients, I wouldn’t want to work that hard for it.

There’s room for more than one way of doing business.

Came home and did some domestic bliss, worked on computer stuff, and then had family game night. The first game was not one of my favorites, but the second might become one. Called “SmartAss” it’s a trivia game, but much simpler, faster, and easier than Trivial Pursuit. The kids were able to keep up, and enjoyed playing. My wife won 2 games, I won 3. There are some chance elements that can help or hurt you, which makes for some interesting rounds. Tentatively recommended for a mixed age and experience group, or when looking for a game for adults when alcohol might be involved and nobody wants to work to hard.

Today I’ll be wrapping some things up, probably hit the Lowes for some parts, and the HEB for some groceries, and then off to the BOL for the weekend.

I’ll be taking some stuff up to add to the stacks there, and reduce some of the stacks here. It’s a difficult balance. I’m not sure I have a good strategy or feel for it yet, but I know I’m really short on some stuff (defense mainly), and I need to get a handle on that. I like having stuff close at hand, which makes the decisions about what to put there even harder. We’ll see how it goes.

In the mean time, adding to the stacks is a no brainer, no matter where they are stacked.

nick

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Wed. Dec. 27, 2023 – just another day…

Cool and clear. Supposed to be clear for a couple of days at least. Yesterday stayed clear most of the day, but somewhat overcast at times.

I spent another day of down time, watching videos, and doing minor stuff around the house. I did pick up one item, a table that will get the kids’ 3D printers. D2 was supposed to help me assemble it, but she played video games all day instead.

Today I’ve got one pickup, with a bunch of stuff for resale. Very good scores should get my 2024 ebay off to a good start. I just hope prices on ebay hold up long enough to sell the stuff. There is always some risk.

One slightly odd observation… as I was driving to get my auction stuff today, I noticed a garage door opener laying in the road. People were just going around it. It wasn’t a busy road, but it is two lanes each way with a center median. 15 minutes later on my trip home, it was still there. No one had stopped to clear it. Ten foot long metal thing laying in the road. So I stopped and threw it in the truck. I’ll take it to the scrap yard on my next trip. It really bothers me that no one took the time to move it, even to pick it up and throw it to the side, off the roadway. A couple of semi trucks were stopped at the intersection, and then continued on. Used to be, someone would have cleared the road, especially in a working area where it was easy and safe to do so.

I’ll put that in the declining social cohesion column.

Keep your eyes open, and don’t count on things being the way they’ve always been. Things are changing.

And stack what you need. No one knows as well as you what is critical to you.

nick

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Wed. Dec. 6, 2023 – on this day not much special happened.

Cool and clear, again, and still. Nice in other words. This is winter in Houston. Some rain coming though, just not sure when. Long range forecast has us clear through Thursday or Friday at least.

Spent yesterday doing errands and work. Did my kid chauffeuring in the morning and afternoon. Got to my client’s and swapped some gear. The switch I picked doesn’t seem to work in the application. The goal is to get internet and internal net to the remote driveway gate. I used a pair of ubiquiti AC5’s in “cable replacement mode” for the wireless link between the house and the gate, but I need to provide PoE for the AC5 and I need a small rugged switch there to connect the AC5 and the gate company’s hardware, and provide a future upgrade port for a camera, also PoE. I was using a NanoSwitch, which is 4 ports of PoE passthru. The one I was using had a dead port from a lightning strike so I wanted to replace it.

Enter the Flex mini… a 5 port switch, powered by PoE and providing 4 ports of PoE… Seems perfect, and it is smaller and cheaper than the Nano, and part of the unified management system. (ubiquiti has two main management systems, UISP and UniFi, no idea why, but most of the deployed gear at this site is UniFi and it is automagic… and simplifies deployment and management – when it works.) So the Flex looks like a good fit. Except it isn’t. UniFi gear has to be “adopted” by the management console (another piece of gear running EdgeOS and uses a browser as a GUI) before it’s anything but a lump. In other words, the AC5 provides the connection back to the network, but the switch isn’t a switch until AFTER it sees and joins the network…

When I figured that out, I took the switch inside, connected it to the network, adopted it, made sure it was configured to have PoE on every port, took it back out to the gate, hooked it all up and >>>>> Nothing. AC5 still not powered. The f-ing switch is too dumb (by being too smart) to turn on the PoE and enabling the gear that provides its network backhaul. So I add a PoE injector to power the AC5, and connect it to the switch, and NOW everything is fine. But it feels kludge-y and the additional injector is another point of failure in the enclosure, and it’s an example of someone being too clever by half.

At some point, I’ll go back to a new NanoSwitch, even if I can’t manage it with the same tool. It’s a cleaner solution. It occurs to me that I might not have the issues if I actually was trained on the gear choices but as my career winds down, that is less and less likely.

Someone asked yesterday about extending their wifi a little bit, and this is clearly overkill for that. I am happy with a netgear wifi extender at home. It plugs into a wall outlet for power, and it works to extend my wifi into the back bedroom with a good signal. It needs to be rebooted every couple of months, but other than that, once configured it just keeps working. It also has an ethernet port to provide a wired connection to the wifi for older hardware. Using APs with mesh linking and backhaul is another more involved option.

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Today I’ll do a couple of auction pickups and some shopping for us and for my party duties. With collecting the kids from school, that will eat my day.

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Btw, anyone else have an ulcer/cold sore/fever blister/painful crack on their lip that is unusual for them, along with cold or flu symptoms? My client’s wife has the same symptoms I’ve been having this week, right down to the sore lip. IDK if this is related, something new going around, or just coincidence, so I’m asking the group.

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Take this time as the gift it is, and keep preparing. Stacking is preparing…and it’s easy.

nick

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Wed. Aug. 2, 2023 – Home for a few days… so I’ve got work to do!

Hot and humid of course. It was smoking hot when I left my BOL, and pretty freaking hot when I got to Houston. It started blowing and raining shortly after I got home, and that helped for a short time. Still hot.

Got everything buttoned up, and finished cleaning up some of the mess from all the grading and excavating I did last month at the BOL. It wasn’t on my list to clean the driveway but after seeing it through fresh eyes, it had to be done. It was also the coolest thing I could think of to do in the morning. I’m glad I did it too, as it made a huge difference.

That and putting everything away took most of the day. I left for Houston, did a stop for gas and to pick up some auction items, and eventually got home.

Where I discovered some computer issues. We had a power outage and things didn’t come back up. Details are in yesterday’s comments, but the takeaway is- be sure your electronics are on surge protectors and UPSs, not just ‘power strips’. Even good power strips with metal cases, aren’t necessarily surge protectors. My main PC is one month shy of being 10 years old. It still works (other than this new power supply issue) well for everything I need to do. I have a software environment that I like, with everything saved and auto-filling what needs to be filled, and don’t want to change or re-install a bunch of software. Besides that, it offends my soul to get rid of something that is working well.

So I’ll try a new psu and hope there wasn’t any damage to motherboard or other components.

Today I’ve got stuff to take to my auctioneer. I’ll try to make a couple of trips if I can. One pickup in the afternoon, and IF there is time left after that, I need to go by the rent house and see what my part of the ‘getting ready to rent to new tenants’ clusterflock will be. I’m thinking fence repair, porch floor repair, and ceiling drywall repair, just from what I already know. My wife will be cleaning and painting and doing any small wall repairs. Thank gnu we only have to do this every few years. Five years in this case. I would not like to do it every year.

It’s a busy time of year and the rent house changeover isn’t helping. We’ve got to hit it hard and get the place rented again. There’s no rest for the weary, or the wicked. Take your pick. And stack something.
nick

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