Keeping Sane in 2020

Seriously, what a mess of a year. So many fun summer activities my wife and I look forward to every year, just GONE. Car shows, concerts, musicals, dinners out with friends, pool parties, family get-togethers, birthday parties, just all gone. We usually try and hit at least 1 or 2 summer shows, whether it is a Breaking Benjamin concert, or Phantom of the Opera at the Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis. We’ve basically lost what feels like a year to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The scary part is that it has only been 6 months, and there is no realistic end really in sight. I don’t know how things return to normal with out a vaccine, which as of right now doesn’t exist. It just plain old sucks. You have to at least try and retain some forms of normalcy. My wife and I even went out to eat a meal for the first time since March. We’re only dining outdoors, but it was a nice change of pace, even if it’s still not normal. We also are fortunate enough to have family access to a condo down in the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, so we took the kids down there for a long weekend before school started back up (all remote learning for now).  That was definitely a nice break from the mundane routine of sitting at home. Also, never underestimate what some online retail therapy can do for yah (also the reason you’re going to see some more flashlight posts from me, my hobby got a little carried away during lockdown). It gives you something to look forward to, and something to enjoy when it arrives.

I guess I’m just saying to try and enjoy the smaller things that break up the routine that you’d normally take for granted. There aren’t many upsides at all to this situation, but maybe that could be one of them; appreciating the smaller things that would have just been another day before.

I hope everyone is staying safe, and I look forward to returning to normalcy as much as you. Hopefully that can be soon?

First site redesign, ever!

13 years is a long time, especially for something to exist on the internet. 13 years ago this October I launched this WordPress powered blog and began mashing out random rants, raves, musings, pictures, and the occasional helpful bit of information.  This site launched on WordPress 2-point-something in 2007, and I have used the same OLD theme ever since then.  The backend has been maintained and I run the latest WordPress 5 release, but the front end has remained steadfast.  I’m a creature of habit in a lot of ways, and that combined with my free time being at a premium these days resulted in the same theme for 13 years. Over the years sticking with the same old style WP theme created some growing pains, but it was always just easier to patch or hack around an issue than redesign. Today that changes and I am launching a whole new look for my blog. Not out of any particular necessity, but more so I think it’s finally time to grow up a bit. It is time for a cleaner look, and a website with a responsive design that actually looks good on mobile devices. Using a modern theme will also make the site much easier to maintain/change/customize going forward, as well as avoid an potential issues that could crop up in future backend updates.  Really, running the same front end for 13 years, and it still being 99% functional from an ever-changing backend is pretty damn impressive to me. Kudos WordPress, kudos.  All of the original features and my long history of posts are still here and still at the same url’s, so everything should function more or less how it did before. It just looks a whole lot nicer now. I’ve even got a couple new blog posts planned out that I will hopefully be posting soon, so stay tuned!

Political Spam is not ok

I don’t know why political messages get excluded from Do Not Call Registry penalties, but it’s a bunch of crap. Not only are these calls unwanted and obnoxious, but there is no way to stop them! You can’t block them as they use different numbers every call, and you can’t unsubscribe from them because there is no list, they have your number, and they’re calling it no matter what.
And now… NOW they’re Text Spamming people! So far this elections season, I have received 3 separate spam SMS messages from political candidates. So now not only are they making unwanted calls, but they’re making unwanted texts too. I’ve had psycho-ex’s less clingy than these shady campaigns.
So far, I’ve got:
1 message for Jon Ebel (D)
2 messages for Erik Jones (D)
So, at least I know 2 candidates who will NOT be receiving my vote this fall. Keep it up guys, you’re helping me narrow down my list! ūüėÄ

A word about Ubiquiti EdgeRouters

EdgeMAX-logoWell, it is 2016 and my Linksys E2000 router that I’ve been using since 2010 and running DD-WRT on was still in use. ¬†It was still a fine router for what I was using it for, but it is starting to show its age. ¬†For one, it didn’t support dual band Wifi (2.4ghz and 5ghz). ¬†A month or so ago I decided to replace the Wifi functionality part of it with a Ubiquiti Unifi AC-AP-Pro to get better coverage and better wireless speeds, both of which were accomplished. ¬†I’ve been pretty impressed with it and Ubiquiti’s controller software that I was becoming interested in some of their other products. ¬†As a coincidence, my local Fiber-to-the-Home ISP announced that they will be rolling out Gigabit fiber access. ¬†Previously, you could only get up to 250mbit. ¬†I was on the 50mbit package, but for the Gig rollout, they’re running a promotion where you can lock in to the Gigabit speeds for as long as you have service with them for only $10/more a month than I was paying for the 50mbit fiber. ¬†So, 20x the bandwidth for $10 more a month is a no-brainer for me. ¬†This meant I had to upgrade my router though. ¬†My Linksys E2000 running DD-WRT was only capable of about 60mbit throughput on the WAN interface due to its aging CPU. ¬†I was already pushing it close with my 50mbit net, but Gigabit would be far too much for it to handle. ¬†So I did some research and ended up selecting the Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite. ¬†These are powerful little machines that run Ubiquiti’s EdgeMax OS which is a customized fork of the linux Vyatta routing software suite. ¬†It seemed to have the best bang for the buck features, it was from Ubiqiuiti which I was already interested in and have one of their products, and most importantly it can push FULL gigabit line speed through the WAN!

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Fatherhood

Time flies when you’re a new Dad. Making time for old hobbies takes a quick back seat when you have a kid. To people without children, it may be seen as “your life is over” or you don’t want to hang out with them any more or some other similar nonsense. Why nonsense? Because that’s what it is. Life is far from over, and in a sense it is just beginning. Your hobbies might get put on hold for a bit, but it’s not really that big a deal because when you have a child, your child comes first because that’s what you want. It’s hard to explain, but you just know that you would do anything for your little one, and if that means putting hobbies or other things on hold for a while, so be it. If that means spending money on things you don’t want or spend time doing things you’d rather not, that’s fine as long as it’s for your child.¬† And you’re OK with that. Amelia is 21 months old… And it is wild how the past 2 years have flown, and how much she has changed, as well as I have changed. What I have found though is that the little one will be far more satisfying than any hobby out there. The first time they call you Dada (or Mama) is just amazing.

It’s scary when you’re getting ready to have your first child. “I don’t know what I’m doing!” and “What do I do when this happens??” type of thoughts easily fill your mind. All I can say is that it all comes one day at a time, and there will always be people willing to help you. It may seem overwhelming to think about it, but in reality, it’s not because it all is just one day at a time. You’re not having a 6 year old to take care of. You’re having a baby. Your home doesn’t even need baby-proofed yet (but it will soon). If you need a night out, someone in your family is surely ready to spend some alone time with the squirt. If you have a question, ask your parents, your friends with kids, or even just ring up your doctor.

It’s not all easy, as there are plenty of frustrating or scary times, but getting through those is part of the challenge of parenthood and what makes it far more rewarding than any other hobby. When I was younger I never really saw myself with kids as I just didn’t think much about it. But now that I have daughter, she is easily one of the best things to ever happen to me and I can’t imagine life without her.

I have friends in just about all stages of parenthood it seems. Some have kids, some getting ready to have kids, some who will have kids in the future, and some with no plans to have kids at all. You’re all my friends and I wish I had time to hang out with all of you every weekend, but the little ones soak up the free time. Would I rather be out riding, grabbing a beer, or playing with my daughter? I’ll pick daughter any day. At least until she hits those teen years where she hates me. Not looking forward to those, but one day at a time. Right?

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Virginia Overstreet

While the below is not written by me, I wanted to share it here as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read.

Grandma

On May 24th 1930, Virginia Overstreet was born to Frederick Dayton Westervelt and Neva Francella Ruggles in Three Rivers Michigan.¬† She was second born of three sisters, Dorothy being the eldest, and June the youngest.¬† She graduated in 1948 from Three Rivers¬†High school.¬† She was known as Ginny to her friends.¬† In 1950, while working as a secretary in the office at¬†Freeland’s she was approached by Gerald K. Overstreet, a factory floor worker, for a date.¬† She refused his attempts to get close, at least until he bought a new car.¬† She eventually fell in love with, and¬†eloped with Gerry in 1951.

As time passed and she raised a family with Gerry.¬† She had four boys. ¬†The boys in order of birth are; Thomas, Lerry, Robert, and ooops….Randall.

In 1967 Gerry got a new job¬†in Springfield Illinois where they stayed and raised the boys for the next 12 years.¬† While in Springfield, Virginia began her lifelong attachment to supporting “Meals on Wheels”, a program for getting food to those that could not get out of their home.¬† She donated her time and delivered food for several years.

In 1979, Gerry took a new position in Miami Florida.  With only Randy remaining at home, Virginia had time to return work as a bookkeeper which she did continued to do until her retirement and move to Stonecrest in the area of the Villages Florida, in 1987.   By this time Gerry and Virginia had four grandchildren to visit and be visited by; Nicholas, Aaron, Elizabeth, and Lauren. In her much deserved retirement Virginia played golf, joined the Red Hat Society, traveled, and continued to enjoy life to the fullest.

While living in the Villages Gerry and Virginia both donated their time to Operation Homebound.  Virginia helped prepare the meals and Gerry delivered them.  She donated her time to the Homebound kitchen for many, many years.

In October of 2002 Virginia was dealt a terrible blow when Gerry passed away from cancer.
Even after Gerry’s death in 2002, Virginia did not slow down.¬† She continued working with Operation Homebound, and travel the world.¬† She visited the Holy Land, China, Egypt, Greece and England to name a few places.

In 2010, Virginia was diagnosed with kidney failure.  After much debate and almost waiting too long she agreed to take the painful three times a week dialysis program.  She was generous to fault and would not impose on people even if is was to her detriment.  In her remaining years, it was to her detriment, she often refused prepared meals and assistance from other members of the community, as she did not want to impose.  With her health failing and much debate she agreed that she could no longer live alone and moved in with Randy and his wife Rose, in Texas in February of 2013.  With her health continuing to fail, she was visited by her two great granddaughters, Amelia and Natalie.  Her legacy lives on.

Virginia passed away on September 21, 2013 in Kingwood Texas; from complications relating to kidney failure.  Virginia was 83.  She IS in a better place.

The family requests in leiu flowers to please donate money and time (both are needed!) to the North Lake Presbyterian Church’s¬†program, “Operation Homebound”, 975 Rolling Acres Road, Lady Lake Florida 32159 (http://northlakepc.org/ohb.html), or to the local “Meals on Wheels” program in your area.¬† Please be sure to donation are identified as¬†going to “Operation Homebound.”

Why I Love Android

It is open.  You are given simple tools to manage your device how you want, straight from Google.  There are no back door hacks, no monkeying around.  You get to use your device how you want it.  That is what makes Android so powerful; its open nature and ability to do what you want.

The inspiration of this post… tonight I decided to flash the latest point release from Google with out waiting for the OTA update (hey, I’m impatient).

I downloaded the rom, extracted the boot and system partition images, and flashed them straight to my phone using fastboot.

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Photo Project 52. A Year of Photos

What a wild last year it has been. ¬†From planning a destination wedding, to getting married, to the honeymoon, and the reception, then Vegas. ¬†It was an extremely busy year, and possibly the best one I’ve ever had. ¬†I can’t believe the photo project is over already, but here we are.

My original goal of this photo project was to basically force myself to get out, shoot pictures, and learn more about my camera. ¬†I feel like I was pretty successful in that regard. ¬†I definitely learned a lot, but I also have so much more to learn. ¬†I had a great time taking all the pictures, and while I love most of them, there are certainly those I wish I could re-do. ¬†However, just because my project is “done” doesn’t mean I’m going to stop shooting. ¬†I still plan on taking a lot of pictures, and hopefully posting some to this blog. ¬†Looking forward to 2012, I also hope to write some more computer-related articles again. ¬†I hardly wrote any last year because I was pretty busy with the weekly photo project and everything else that was going on, so hopefully I can get some of those thrown back in the mix as well.

Keep an eye out towards the end of the month, some friends and I are goin on a Bald Eagle trip, so I’ll hopefully have some cool shots from that I will post.

What will 2012 hold?

Here are all of my Photo Project 52 photos, in one gallery.  Hope you enjoy them!