Sunday, May 07, 2017


The past month and a half has been a blur of obligations, medical issues, and no energy to do much else so the blog has been neglected. No promises on increasing the frequencies of posting can be made until life gives me a few breaks. The Cubs could use some breaks right now too, as I type they are down 3-0 to the Yankees and it is the top of the first inning.

Like the baseball team is experiencing, it feels like life is hitting doubles against me. 5-0 now, the Bronx Bombers are clobbering starter Anderson.

Dealing with Dad’s health problems has been most of the drain though that will be letting up for awhile now that he’s successfully undergone multiple procedures to stretch his pyloric valve. Along with a change to Nexium (insurance hates that so the co-pay is large), his heartburn and reflux have vanished. Now to see if he can tolerate solid food again.

During this, I had a pre-molar break rather dramatically while chewing a softened Skittle. Thanks to all the healthcare changes over the past eight years, I no longer had a dentist locally who’d accept MA. A list provided me by the state produced no takers in Winona and I was told to look up two places in Rochester (over an hour away) that still accepted it.

Only because there were warning signs a root canal might be needed got me in to one of those, normally the waiting list is months long. Testing showed that I got lucky, if good fortune can be attributed to the situation in any way or form. No root canal, but impossible to afford a crown from my own funds. At over a grand, building up a filling that might last three to four years was the only option.

Back in the past, crowns were covered but no longer. Oh well. Next appointment I could get is for September. I have a molar that blew apart before Christmas that will have to somehow hold together until the end of the year.

Wow, Pat Hughes mentioned it was the 19th anniversary of Kerry Wood’s twenty strike out game. Way to make me feel old, I remember listening then watching it on WGN.

More than health issues occupied time, though I’m still fuzzy from all that’s happened and can’t reliably relate everything. Political obligations including a congressional convention for the GOP started April out, so I was a dead man walking by the time the other things came up.

Let’s see, General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came and went as well. President Eyring’s sermon “Walk with Me” was the highlight for me, being one of the better descriptions of the duties, burdens, and rewards of holding and exercising the Priesthood. Watching President Monson struggle with his health makes me pray for mercy to be on him, for his service to God has been long and devoted. If anyone can be said to have earned their rest, he has.

Finished the last of my speaker rebuilds, turning old Sony cabinets into homes for 4” Dynavox speakers. With this, I’m done for a good while and am now a believer that full range single driver speakers can sound good. While not as smooth as the two way builds, these little things sound amazing and manage to have decent bass that’s audible at 30Hz! The original drivers only got down to 100Hz topping out at 10kHz so what I’d guesstimate as 60-20,000Hz is a huge improvement.

So a little fun has been had during the mess that was April. Most of it has been watching Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return on Netflix. Glad I was able to contribute to the Kickstarter and even happier with the result. It is true to the spirit of the original and just as funny.

And with the Yankees annihilating the Cubs 8-0, time to turn that stream off and finish the last two episodes of MST3K: The Return.

The Next Day

Not up to going in to church again, simply too much went on this week and the cold weather has upped my pain index to the point where sleeping comfortably doesn’t happen. This has been a pattern during the overly long winter and late arriving spring (we had frost warnings for last night).

At least I’m not the only one running behind, crop planting has been late due to the cold and wet conditions. The sun shining and no rain the past week has helped a bit, thankfully.

Found the final score, the Yankees 11 and the Cubs 6. When your backup catcher has to pitch the ninth inning, there is something wrong with your pitching staff. Of course my returning to follow the Cubs after years of ignoring the team would coincide with them struggling.

Speaking of struggling, for about a year I’ve been dealing with sudden disconnects from online games, voice chat, and occasionally streaming. Over time it escalated into a regular occurrence when any two of the three were combined. Never could trace the problem or trouble shoot it until recently.

A disconnect from Star Trek Online led me to wondering if one of my speakers was too close to the DSL modem our ISP provided and somehow could be causing problems thanks to the large magnet in the 5.25” midwoofer. Moving the two items away from each other revealed that the modem was incredibly hot and took a very long time to cool down. In fact, I had to unplug it for five minutes to get it cool again.

Looking at the case, the vents are very poorly designed and airflow only worked if the modem was stood on its side. A temporary fix of using a C-clamp for a makeshift base showed an improvement, but the ZyXEL P-600 was still too warm. What makes this amazing is that it isn’t placed on a shelf or in a confined area, but on top of the hutch style desk with plenty of air.

A search on Amazon produced a line of fans made by AC Infinity that plug into USB ports for cooling all sorts of devices ranging from AV receivers to yes, routers and modems. The twin 80mm set was purchased and hooked up to a plugin adaptor (though tested with the PC USB ports too) after being placed on top of the case toward the back. Exhausting out and up, they have kept the ZyXEL modem very cool on the lowest setting.

The final result: no more disconnects or streaming issues.

Poor thermal engineering seems to be a growing problem in devices that I’ve encountered over the past decade. Most likely this is a result of penny pinching meeting the ever growing demands for miniaturization. If I get into making my own amplifiers and power supplies like I plan to, airflow is going to be over engineered in my cases.

With a slightly smaller than full size AV receiver on my computer desk, I’ll be keeping an eye on temps as summer approaches. A 120mm AC Infinity may be in its future.

Meanwhile, destruction is all about us. The surrounding falling apart old farm buildings are being demolished and the fences being taken down since cattle are a thing of the past in our part of the valley. It’s an oddly sad affair due to the tear downs marking the end of an era. Watching a bulldozer go through the middle of the unusual swaybacked barn was a melancholy thing to witness leaving a vague sense of loss behind.

The fact it didn’t collapse and isn’t easily going into the night compounded the emotions felt. As I age, reminders that one can’t hold onto the past or even the present seem to increasing in frequency.

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