Dead Distributor
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:47 pm)

My wife's car died yesterday while she was driving it. I got it towed to a mechanic and they found that the distributor was bad. That is the same distributor we had replaced last year around this time.

Since she'd driven less than a thousand miles (in a year!), it was still under warranty. That's great news because we put a lot of money into that car (and mine, too) last year and I wasn't looking forward to a do-over. Still, it's a hassle to go without that second car.

EDIT: Well I guess I blogged too soon. The fuel pump acted up just after she left the mechanic's and we need to replace that now.

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Welding Class, Day One
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:26 am)

Last night I attended my first welding class at Gizmo Cd'A, our local makerspace. We started out with safety discussion and an overview of what we were going to do, then we jumped in to plasma cutting practice on some scrap steel. I quickly realized how difficult it can be to cut a straight line, but started to get the hang of it after a while. I also practiced plunge cuts (as opposed to starting at the edge of the material). It amazed me how fast a plasma cutter can cut through steel.

We had a short break and got answers to several questions (there were six of us in the class). Then the instructor taught us more about different types of welding and the pros and cons of each. We went back into the shop, watched some demonstrations, learned the parts of the welders, and got started practicing with a MIG wire feed welder. That's where I learned how much welding is a skill as much as an art, neither of which I'm very good at yet. But it was great to practice, and get the feel for how fast or slow to go. Practice took up the rest of the class.

I had a great time, and learned a bunch of new things. I can hardly wait for the next class!

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Learning a New Skill
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:32 pm)

Tomorrow night I start taking a welding class. Because I don't have enough hobbies.

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Shadows of Brimstone
Posted in Reviews
First watch, 7 bells (11:53 pm)

Tonight, for the first time, my wife and I played Shadows of Brimstone City of the Ancients. Since we were only two players, and were playing the introductory adventure A Fistful of Dark Stone, we only faced low threat enemies. Until the end, where it spiraled out of control. We entered the mine, tried to scavenge with little success at first, and as we delved deeper my wife was real good at passing the Holding Back the Darkness rolls for the most part. We found our first clue in the room right past the mine entrance, but didn't find the second (objective room) until we were seven rooms in. We had several encounters, where we lucked out and missed taking damage every time, or got a good result instead. We had one early skirmish with 6 Void Spiders, and Lorien took out four of them by tossing dynamite into their midst. We quickly won that fight, and she received dynamite as a reward!

So the rest of the encounters were lucky as I mentioned, up until we got to the objective room. This is where either the game balance is off or we were extremely unlucky—or both. It appears that no matter how many players are in the game, you draw a red High Threat card to face off against in the objective room. Ours had us draw two Medium Threat cards. One of those cards had us draw two Low Threat cards. Our final fight was the Marshall and the Saloon Girl versus (in descending order of nastiness) three Night Terrors, three Stranglers, and nine Void Spiders. Most of them targeted my wife, who was stuck a bit behind me. The Void Spiders had the highest initiative and attacked first, quickly surrounding us and cutting off any hope of escape. Lorien faced two of them, and I faced four. The Stranglers couldn't reach either of us, so were sitting out the fight watching from the bleachers. Then we attacked, killed a couple of spiders, and then the Night Terrors shoved everyone out of the way and came to attack. Unluckily for her, they all chose to target Lorien first. She almost got KO'd that first round but had some luck dodging damage. The next round I managed to heal her, but they beat her like an old punching bag when their turn came up again.

So we used our one-and-only Revive token and she popped right back up. She threw dynamite again, took out a handful of spiders, wounded a few more, and even wounded two of the Night Terrors. I hit one several times with my shotgun but also had some bad luck rolls. In the end I managed to take two of them down, but not before they beat the lunch money out of Lorien again, KO'd in one round.

There was nothing left for me to do as I was surrounded on my next turn by Void Spiders and the final remaining Night Terror and pounded unconscious after surviving one round on my own.

So like I said, I may have been really unlucky, but it felt like the odds were too stacked against us at the final fight. Especially considering we'd have faced the same enemies if we had six players instead of just two…

All that said, this game kicks serious pigu. Way to go, Flying Frog!

Unfortunately we'd already cleared off the board when I finally took a picture, but here it is anyway.
My first Shadows of Brimstone game

I need a bigger game table!

PS I painted all the miniatures myself. Normally they come as grey plastic, so don't be disappointed if that's what you get.

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Time To Get Serious
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 2 bells (1:06 pm)

I guess it's finally time to get serious about taming this thing…
Beardbrand care products

Beardbrand is semi-local to me (Spokane, WA), so it's good to support the local guy.

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Need A Cheap, Great Wireless Router?
Posted in Advice, Tech
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:15 pm)

I work in IT, and I use two of these at home. Buy yourself a TP-Link WR-841N for $19.99 and flash the DD-WRT firmware on it. You'll need to do some serious reading through their documentation, but once you are done you have a router with features from hardware ten times the price. I personally set up WDS (wireless roaming) and it's incredibly cool to have for $40 and some of my precious time.

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Fajita Spice Mix
Posted in Recipes
Last dog watch, 8 bells (8:29 pm)

Tonight I made fajitas. I had vacuum-sealed and frozen some chicken with a cilantro and lime marinade a while back, so all we needed was some fresh onions and peppers. Anyway, I was looking for some extra spice and found a "fajita seasoning mix" but ended up not using it after perusing the ingredient list, which contained corn syrup solids (first on the list!), caramel color, and silicon dioxide (to stop clumping maybe?). Anyway, I didn't want to put that on my food, so I poked around the 'net after dinner and read several recipes before setting out and crafting one of my own. And here is the result:

Fajita Spice Mix
2 parts salt
2 parts pepper
4 parts paprika
4 parts oregano
1 part cayenne pepper, or more, to taste
4 parts garlic powder
2 parts celery salt
2 parts basil
1 part nutmeg
4 parts cumin
1 part marjoram
1 part thyme
1 part rosemary

Blend it all up in a mortar and pestle, then enjoy!

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Dell AppAssure Errors
Posted in Tech
Afternoon watch, 8 bells (4:26 pm)

I've been using AppAssure from Dell for a while now at work, and for the most part I have to say I'm really happy with it. Lately, though, I've been seeing errors on three of my servers that stop the backup process, saying "The scheduled transfer of 'incremental' … was ignored because the relevant transfer is running".

So I did what every sysadmin does, I googled the error message. It took me to this page that clearly states the error and three solutions: make sure the client is up to date, allow antivirus exceptions, and don't have an unreasonable backup schedule. Well, I checked all of those and confirmed they were not a problem, yet I still wasn't getting a backup.

So I did what every sysadmin does next, when things aren't making sense: I rebooted the client. That didn't work either. I then thought perhaps the server is the part that thinks the transfer is running. After rebooting the server (causing all the jobs to go on hold for about 15 minutes!), everything started transferring correctly.

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No More Room
Posted in Tech
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:24 pm)

I've been fighting a free-space issue with a Microsoft HyperV client (a virtual machine) that was out of space on its System Reserved partition. The machine was running Windows 7, which may have been upgraded from an earlier version of Windows, since I think by default Windows 7 will reserve more than the 100Mb of space that was originally allocated.

In Disk Management, I was able to shrink the C: partition down, but could not expand the System Reserved partition. After a little poking around, I found a utility called MiniTool Partition Wizard Home Edition that allowed me to resize it. I rebooted the machine, it ran through some resizing stuff for about 10 minutes, then I was in business. Now the machine has enough space to allow me to run my backups against it, which is why I had to bother with it in the first place.

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New Pink Floyd
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:02 pm)

Today a new Pink Floyd album was released. I wasn't sure about how they could follow up Division Bell, which in my heart I believe to be a musically perfect experience (in the genre anyway). But my fears were unfounded, the new album is nothing short of beautiful. Mostly instrumental, there is so much feeling behind the music. It's also great to put on repeat in the background at work, which is where it will be playing for some time I imagine.

Oh yeah, I saw the surgeon again today. I'm not allowed out of my brace completely. I can take it off when I'm safe and in no danger of using my arm to catch myself or reflexively grab something. I can start to actively use my left biceps again, but only to lift my arm—nothing more. It will be another month before I can discard the brace permanently.

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Follow-up with the Surgeon
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 5 bells (2:55 pm)

I saw my surgeon again today for my almost-seven-week follow-up. There was good news and bad news. The good being that I'm healing well, and that my arm has full extension and contraction. The bad news is that I have to wear the brace for another month. It was tough hearing that today as I was hoping to be out of this brace. Knowing I have another month of attempting to sleep with this monstrosity (on the couch, since that's the only place that supports my arm) is a bit depressing. I shouldn't be surprised, since that's about how long I spent in the boot for my achilles tendon.

I can, however, take my arm out from time to time if I'm not doing anything that could potentially call for it to be used. Sitting on the couch, for instance, or typing at the computer. So at least I have that going for me. I'm still only supposed to move it passively, and never actively. This is when re-injury is most likely to happen.

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Don’t Forget Gilgamesh
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:26 pm)

I really dig this video.

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Arm Extensions, Wrist Pains
Forenoon watch, 8 bells (12:29 pm)

I had PT again this morning. After seeing the doctor yesterday and starting my new (passive) arm exercises, I'm already getting my arm nearly fully extended, it's only about 10 degrees short. Unfortunately most of the pain I've had has been in my wrist, and as we were working on that I had a nasty twinge after a rotation of my wrist. At this rate I'll have full extension of my arm well before I can rotate my own wrist.

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Concert Season
Forenoon watch, 7 bells (11:47 am)

There are several concerts coming up that I plan on seeing. In a couple of weeks the Dropkick Murphys are playing the Knitting Factory in Spokane. About a week or so after that Carbon Leaf will be playing at the Bing Crosby Theater. Then in December (hopefully not interfering with my company Christmas party but it probably will) Flogging Molly will be at the Knitting Factory. It's going to be fun, I've never seen the Murphys or Molly live before. Carbon Leaf I've seen at least six times and they always deliver.

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The Bad News
Forenoon watch, 2 bells (9:26 am)

Well, despite feeling a little better every day, the surgeon told me this morning that I'll be in this brace for another four weeks. I'm allowed out three times per day now to do some passive exercises with my arm and wrist, and during physical therapy. That will be the status quo for the next two weeks.

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