Forced Childhood

Every artist has their medium.  Snow is not my daughter’s.  My theory (based on the current state of her basement art studio), is that snow is too monochrome (#FFFFFF is sooo pedestrian).

Yet this irritates me, probably due to my own childhood memories.  Texas didn’t offer much in the way of snow, and as our culture as a whole is heavily influenced by the Midwest and New England and their associated images of holiday blizzards, Christmas time always carried with it a bit of melancholy as I peered out the window across a wind-swept and barren Dust Bowl landscape.  I never once rode a sled in my childhood, and on only one notable occasion do I remember building a snowman (to which my dad added breasts, followed by mom administering a mastectomy via garden trowel).

I am NOT having fun

But the joke’s on this youngest generation.  Climate change will either warm the region beyond the point of regular snow, or cool it to the point that it destroys us.  Either way, those quaint Rockwellian scenes will vanish alongside the planet’s biodiversity.  And I, Dad, will mock my child for her youthful indifference.

–Simon

Air Quality

I’ve given a lot of thought to the quality of the air inside the house.  Usually, this train of thought occurs after a sneezing/coughing fit, or after jumping awake due to the early stages of hypoxia.  Which begs the question: why as a species do we even suffer from allergies?  I’m guessing that the dust we choke on is largely a result of the artificial domiciles that we inhabit, and that our ancestors were never terribly concerned with this quandary whilst fleeing lions.

But the modern man, now living in the filth of his own making, must seek a solution.  And naturally, he turns to another creation of man (or retreats to the wilderness for an extended hiatus from all that tuberculosis).  I speak of the air purifier.

I’d say it’s a bit of a misnomer really, or at the very least an exaggeration.  Does a HEPA filter really cleans the air of microorganisms?  But I doubt that’s the problem anyway.  What I needed was something to remove airborne particulates–something to cleanse the colloidal detritus from the air column.  Something…overkill.

So I bought two air filters.  It was intended to be part experiment, really.  But after two months I opened one and saw this.

Where does this stuff come from?

Interestingly, the filter in the living room–the one with laminate–clogs the quickest.  I’m guessing that, without carpet, there’s a lot less available material to trap the dust and it gets airborne a lot easier.  Perhaps once all the carpet is gone, I’ll install more filters.  Then, for the first time in my life, I’ll be able to breathe out of both nostrils at the same time!  That, and the old lady smell will finally be gone from the house.

Until then, I have good health insurance that will pick up the prescriptions for the antibiotics needed to fight off respiratory infections.  Ohio!

–Simon

Patch Panel

A while back I offered my thoughts on the benefits of wiring devices rather than relying on WiFi, and my efforts with installing Ethernet drops.  The system worked well, but I had nagging doubts about my install.  Specifically, my jack punchdowns were not up to spec, my patch cables were self-made, and my drops terminated in the basement with RJ45 connectors.  In short, it was an amateurish install and didn’t look good.

After re-punching my wall jacks with the proper method, I decided that I would finally bite the bullet and buy a patch panel.  The only thing that had been holding me back was the price, and the fact that I lacked a networking rack to hold it, but these concerns were alleviated with a little bit of searching.  I decided upon these two items:

TRENDnet 24-Port Cat6 Unshielded Wallmount or Rackmount Patch Panel, Compatible with Cat 3/4/5/5e/6 Cabling, TC-P24C6
Monoprice 1.75 by 19 by 4-Inch 1U Wall Mount Bracket 108623

The intent was to mount the patch panel in the bracket on the concrete wall in the basement.  And, despite the irritations involved with drilling concrete, this idea played out perfectly:

It was also much easier than crimping.  A simple punchdown tool secured the wires and clipped the excess, and in short order I had secured my existing 5 drops.

For the record, I chose T-568A.  Although now, having purchased patch cables all configured in B, I probably should have chosen B.  Ah well, the difference is pretty negligible.  Regardless, though I haven’t benchmarked anything, the network does seem a little snappier now.  The previous RJ45s were properly rated for solid-core CAT6, but I still don’t think it’s possible to manually crimp a connection as well as punching.

And besides, it looks much cooler now.

–Simon

Holidays!

This time of year it’s hard to find the energy to do much of anything, blogs included.  So I’ll just post some holiday cheer:

–Simon

The Apocalypse Isn’t Lonely

And I’m not sure that isn’t a problem.

I awoke in a comfortable bed in a an apartment the size of something I’d expect in New York.  It was Reclamation Day–the day I’m supposed to abandon all of my worldly comforts and run unarmed into a wasteland of anarchy in naught but a jumpsuit.  I speak, of course, of Fallout 76.

The vault was exclusive to the upper echelon of society.  Reading some personal diaries on abandoned computers (the future of infosec in this timeline is somewhat unimpressive), I find that the former residents all had extensive military backgrounds or multiple PhDs.  And we were in this vault for the last 25 years.  Soooo, they opened the door and forced a bunch of people in their 50s to go out, reclaim the wilderness, then repopulate?  Discounting the radiation human gametes will be exposed to in the nuclear aftermath, I question my future procreative virility regardless on the very basis of age.  And with the way my joints hurt now whenever it rains, I doubt I’ll be sauntering off through Appalachia.

The game world also saw fit the match me into a server with someone else just emerging from his studio.  And, as one would expect of any 50 year old just waking up, starts jumping and running around the atrium at full speed.  He says nothing, which is most agreeable with me.  I, in turn, ignore him and amble up the stairs to the exit.

Outside, I surveyed the scenery, and immediately began the search for shelter in accordance with basic survival tenants.  I followed the path to the right, and was set upon by hostile robots shooting lasers.  Devoid of weaponry, I ran away, spot a corpse, search it, and pilfered a machete.  Oh good.  A blade–perfect for taking down steel robots.

As I debated, the gentleman I encountered earlier in the vault ran past, and in the squeaky voice of an adolescent (odd for a man in his 50s), uttered something–I didn’t listen, because whenever kids talk I immediately tune out.  I then searched the settings and found the option to disable all voice chat.

These were my first few minutes with the game.

My impression of the game so far is that we’re all on a general truce with the rest of the players, and we have some sort of vague objective to find out more about the world and why there’s bad things.  And to survive.

And it’s this last point that pulls me in, for I feel the need to be self-sufficient.  So I generally ignored the quests and instead spent my time collecting junk that I could use in the construction of my base of operations–or shack filled with weapon-producing workstations.  Apparently, I’m role-playing the Unabomber.

It’s an MMO designed for aging gamers.  I don’t want to enter the fray and pull victory from the jaws of defeat.  I want to putter around.

What would I do were I to enter West Virginia and found it devoid of people?  Why, drink moonshine and learn to play the banjo of course.  Maybe I’ll eventually track down the source of the Scorched and mow down Deathclaws with gattling guns, but those seem like activities for a younger man.  I just want to grow tatoes.

–Simon