Thursday, February 02, 2017

2017 and I’m Still Catching Up

While intentions to post were good, I failed to get anything written during the past month and a half. A great deal has happened that while not being earth shaking has been time consuming.

A few of the events in reverse chronological order:

I just purchased a new keyboard, a Motospeed Inflictor CK-104, to deal with perpetual cat hair and crumb problems. Being one of the newer mechanical keyboards with backlighting it has far easier access under the keys for cleaning. Double shot keycaps and nice Outemu blue switches made it a steal at $44 at Amazon.

So far I’ve only gamed on it without any serious typing. Writing this post is its baptism by fire…

Last Friday night was not much fun due to a midnight trip to the ER. An abscess quickly formed where I’d had one four years ago almost to the exact day. This time memories warned how bad the consequence could be so when it became apparent preparing for bed waiting until urgent care was open simply wasn’t an option.

Of course the initial response at ER was that I should have waited and generally thinking it wasn’t necessary to come in, my insistence due to past abscesses did get the doctor on duty to get a portable ultrasound to look at the very painful swelling. When his expression registered a little surprise while scanning, things changed so a decision to cut and drain was made.

No antibiotics this time around, just a wick packed in. It took longer than they predicted for the draining at home afterward – fortunately experience with the last infection allowed me to handle things. Not quite healed almost a week later, but hey, no delirium or extremely unpleasant discharge. That’s a win which I’ll take.

It was strange being the one in the ER rather than my father. Normal isn’t a word you want to associate with visiting emergency rooms, yet it is the appropriate one after events over the last few years.

A new LP gas company had been sending out cards advertising a half off on the first fill to change over to their service. With out tank down to 15%, my father decided it was a perfect time to switch. Of course we had winter storm the day before it was to happen and plowing had to be asked for by the local township. It wasn’t enough because Dad never got the full details of what was involved so the truck with the new tank arrived and couldn’t get remotely close enough to use the crane.

You see, tanks can only be filled by the company that put them in place, which Dad had no clue on and the phone help didn’t mention. They also told the driver the tank was just off the driveway rather than twenty yards from it like I heard my father tell them. A temp solution was proposed to be rigged up today, but we’ve heard nothing from the outfit.

Looks like we’ll have to crawl back to the other company now.

At least my experiments with hooking up leftover speakers upstairs in the weight/hobby room have born some fruit this week. The little Sony CMT-BX20i receiver/CD Player/iPod dock may be designed for 6 ohm speakers, but the old Insignia 8 ohm bookshelf speakers have worked just fine mainly because I don’t have a need to blow the windows out. Attempts to wire in the subwoofer from the Monoprice 8247 5.1 set I replaced succeeded, though the sound isn’t quite there yet.

An irritating issue I missed for days was the fact the Sony unit had defaulted to DSGX mode, which is some kind of bass heavy enhancement that tries to cover up bad speaker weaknesses. Using decent speakers instead of the included ones all it does is introduce distortions across the spectrum. Disabling that made for a cleaner sound more like I was hoping for.

Getting the crossover just right on the subwoofer is the remaining issue. It looks like 100 MHz is going to have to be the new setting since there seems to be quite a gap at 90 MHz. A better 8” sub would be lovely to have and I’ve identified one for under $100 I’ll get if money ever frees up for it.

Streaming via DLNA from my main PC to my tablet hooked up to the Sony was made possible by purchasing the MediaMonkey Android app after a couple of test runs. Since I use the Windows version for music playback and as the DLNA server it became a no brainer solution.

So why all the fuss to get decent sound going in the weight room? Well, this year I’ve managed to get back to a regular schedule of weight training after a three year absence. Dad’s health problems have stabilized to the point where I can finally start working on mine again.

Currently, a fourth grader could probably put me to shame. That said, there has been significant progress in moving from being completely deconditioned after a month’s worth of workouts. Changing the sets and reps from what went before to something more efficient has made it a pleasure instead of a chore. In other words, ignoring what is conventionally proscribed and going my own way works.

Well, aside from the wrist roller. That device is still a thing of nightmares though it has improved my grip strength noticeably.

Another improvement to the AV setups was finally solving the mysterious streaming problem where the TV would cut out multiple times an hour when using 4k resolution from the media center PC. A better HDMI 2.0 cable made by SecurOMax made a huge difference reducing the glitch to once an hour. That improvement clued me to the final solution of reducing the refresh rate from 60 Hz to 59 Hz for the Vizio M43C in the AMD Crimson control panel software.

It turns out pushing out that many pixels that fast along with audio had made many cable’s obsolete or marginal including the one just replaced that was HDMI 2.0 supposedly. It simply failed to keep up the data rates. Unlike the cable cons of recent years (I’m looking at you, Monster Cables), buying a good cable really does matter now that UHD 4K is on the market.

Did some testing, we can stream 1440p well but fall short of 4K. 1080p is smooth as can be, aside from server issues with some services. For instance, has horrendous quality and noticeable jitters making me wish they still had their shows on Hulu. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, and Crunchyroll all stream just fine.

There was a “normal” emergency room trip to start off the year

We were down in Indiana from Christmas to New Years and Dad had been shorting himself on needed cans of food for his pump feeds. Not only was he becoming a space cadet as a result, the old man stepped on and yanked the feeding tube completely out resulting in an ER trip on a Saturday.

Thankfully a replacement tube was able to be inserted, though it is different and larger in diameter which caused quite a bit of pain and irritation for weeks until it healed.

On a more positive note, we did get to see the house under construction that my sister and her husband are having been built. Also fun was meeting Ann’s new Maine Coon kitten, James. We didn’t particularly hit it off until the end of the visit when he decided we could be buddies. Pretty kitten, should be a spectacular cat when full grown.

Losing at foosball to a 14 year old girl turned out to be a prime motivator to start up the weight training again. My shots were in slow motion compared to the streaks of lightning posing as balls that my step-niece fired off over and over again. At least my shots moved slowly enough that they sometimes got past her since she’d counter hit way ahead of the ball’s arrival.

Hey, I have to find some kind of silver lining to the catastrophe. At least I can claim the first two skunkings on the table. As victor… victor! Just to be clear.

The biggest Christmas gift I received was a frame to go with the 24” by 24” print I’d gotten the year before. After a greater than twenty year absence, the household now has a framed reproduction of Rembrandt’s Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer hanging in it again. The one I grew up with was sold off during one of our monetary crises of the 1980s so it is very good to have it gracing a wall once more.

Going back to cats, one of the worries about being away for a week was how well the black cat refugee from the neighbors would interact with Top and Merry, especially Merry since he is a kitten. When we arrived home, the spectacle of Merry and Moriarty (as I’ve dubbed the cat) wrestling on the floor greeted us.

Merry had conquered another bigger cat to my surprise. Lately Top and Morry (yeah, yeah, two black cats with only a vowel variation to differentiate them) have been playing and hunting together. The three of them are like brothers now which is a sight to warm the heart. It is so good to see Top out of his depression.

Also surprising was catching Snooky play with Merry a couple of times. If seen, she treats him as horribly as she does all other cats. The kid has charisma that can’t be denied.

Of sadder news is that our oldest cat, Tessa, had to be euthanized. The last of her teeth fell out when we were gone and she stopped eating completely when we got back. With her amazing gag reflex being so pronounce, syringe force feeding was out of the question.

Just over sixteen years old, Tessa fought to stay with us even after the lethal injection was applied. A second had to be applied after her purring finally stopped. She wasn’t the best cat and was often beyond annoying, but she did love us a great deal and the scrawny orange and white won’t be forgotten. It was a rough way to go in the end and one of the few occasions I’ve witnessed Dad shedding tears.

Snooky is getting old now, being over ten with what appears to be arthritis developing. Normally she is very active outside even during winter months, but no longer. Age has caught up to her and the white cat has gained back the weight she’d lost earlier in 2016.

Speaking of weight gains, Top has gotten huge but not fat. The part ragdoll has to be at least thirteen pounds or more now. Of course he wants to held like a baby much to my dismay for his size is difficult to manage.

Time to wrap up the post, cats are making it impossible to type.

No comments: