OpInionAteD - Menno Aartsen Rants and Raves - June 10, 2022

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Friday, June 10: Drive swaps

Keywords: HP laptop, solid state drive, Google mail, POP and IMAP, video broadcast recordings, SSD transfer rates
The "worksurface" you're looking at is actually my 6x6 foot dining-table-cum-desk - I figured that I could clear the table quickly enough to use it for entertaining, serving dinner, as the computers I use are smaller "business notebooks", and the larger screen is a lightweight Sceptre LCD monitor, easy to move and remove, and only used as a computer monitor, connected to the docked HP laptop on the left. Having both a smaller desk and a smaller dining table in the same room didn't seem the best way to go. Of course, I have no family close, and no kids, so my furnishing needs are different from those of my neighbours - I don't have a settee either, mostly because slouching would really do a number on my lower back, damaged as it is from a vehicle accident in the 1970's.

Magnolia deskThe reason I have two mobile phones is simply that I believe in spares, one of these not only has my old East Coast number, but receives my emails, duplicating what comes in on the laptop. The other is my "home phone", I use that for my local calls, and there are some duplicate apps that are important to me, like banking and VOIP. That way, if one of my handsets fails, I don't lose the stuff I need, which is mostly both on a laptop and the primary handset. The phone I carry on my hip has navigation and my health app, which I use to monitor heart rate and other health functions. Not all apps agree with each other, so having all you need on one handset is generally asking for trouble.

Google has now disabled both POP mail and IMAP, if used from third party applications, which is really annoying, I am no longer able to retrieve Gmail using my standard mail application. While that still works with my own domain, I am going to have to stop using Google mail - and I do not really understand why IMAP works with Android phones, but not with Windows laptops. Does not make sense.

In the meantime, I've decided to swap my video broadcast drive, which is getting old, with the 4TB SSD, which is more or less new. Not being electro-mechanical, the SSD should last a long time, and I have the ADATA diagnostic software needed to monitor the drive. Of course, the very night I began moving almost 2TB of TV programming to the SSD, there was a power glitch - the drives came back, but the transfer rate more than halved, so I am going to have to try that again.

One day later, and I did manage to copy most of the broadcast video - I have a sneaking suspicion the old hard drive just has a hard time keeping up with the 4TB SSD, which isn't just a lot faster than the "regular" drive, but, using an older eSATA interface, which runs at 1.5GB/s, while the external eSATA SSD rates at 3GB/s, while the internal drive, which does the buffering, runs at 6GB/s. Anyway, this is done, and the old 2TB external ia in storage, though I will likely retire it, drives don't last forever. Something I like about the "big" SSD is that I can check its state using the diagnostic software ADATA has made available, though there is some diagnostic software for the older drives, too.

Wednesday, June 1: Banks and phones

Keywords: HP laptop, solid state drive, international bank accounts, price increases
HP 2570p business laptopWhile I had intended to move the 4 terabyte SSD to the older HP laptop, necessary it isn't, and when I tried to format the "big" SSD all I ended up with was a repeated access failure. So I eventually gave up - the 2560 with Windows 8.1 Pro now has a 2TB hybrid drive - part SSD, part conventional - while the 2570 with Windows 10 Pro has a 2TB SSD. Both run fine, for as long as I have patience booting, they both have a significant load of data on them, and I need to give them the time to get running propperly, with all of the Intel drivers loaded and running. Cutting corners is not in the program, nor is it really necessary, I have an Intel "Rapid Storage" app that autostarts and helps check drive runtime parameters.

Then, I needed to replace one mobile phone, got the new SIM card installed and working, removed the SIM card I had used for testing, and called T-Mobile again to see if I could additionally turn the spare phone off and save myself some money. Much to my surprise, that was possible, and the assistant helping me do all this told me I can switch to an "Unlimited 55+" calling plan that saves me an additional $50 per month. As I had used the older Blackberry only for navigation, and I have Google Maps on my new phone, I am pretty well set. So now everything is working, I am saving some money, and I've got a decent new phone with facial and fingertip recognition, which is convenient.

I had not been able to access my European bank account through its webpage, this since November of last year, I'd spoken to folks in their office, but nobody ever managed to turn it back on. From when they started with two step verification, I just couldn't get their system to call me for verification, which is what its security depends on. Then, yesterday, I can't even remember why I tried again, but it suddenly worked. Whether this has anything to do with my new phone I don't know, but I have access. It isn't an account I use every day, but I like being able to check balances and stuff, if I do not access periodically they send me nastigrams about data security. Having spoken to the bank again, I've managed to turn on the mobile bank app as well, so I can now access my account both on the web and on the mobile, meaning I have a backup access method if one does not work, as has happened before. European banks aren't as "astute" technologically as American banks are, honest. As I use a relatively slow WiFi Hotspot, this isn't luxury, if the interface is slow bank access can be problematical, but one out of two usually works. Occasionally, I have to switch off WiFi and revert to 4G LTE on one of my handsets, as the Hotspot isn't particularly fast, and is shared by several mobile devices and two laptops.

On the financial front, I am for now doing OK, though the price increases are not making my life easier. To all intents and purposes, the war in Ukraine has effectively halved my savings, which weren't huge to begin with. Just keeping my fingers crossed I am not going to run into big medical bills or unexpected car expenses. I don't know where I'd be without my HUD subsidy - when I got the lease on this apartment I had no idea the Fed would be subsidizing my utilities, and not until the next year did I realize I actually get some money out of that deal every year. Not too shabby...

Friday, May 27: Fixing systems

Keywords: Windows 8.1, HP laptop, EPG123, Android Blu, endocrinologist, walking, exercise
street viewI spent the better part of a week fixing all sorts of technical things. My Windows broadcast recorder stopped working, twice - it runs under Windows 8.1, on a dedicated HP laptop, but the Electronic Program Guide I use, together with something called Schedules Direct, wouldn't work for a week, and I could not figure out what was wrong. Then, after I reinstalled the app, it came back up, only to die again a couple of days ago. This is all shareware, so there is little support online, but I followed what instructions I had, and this morning everything appears back to normal, "normal" meaning I am able to copy the recorded TV programming to the external disk I have hanging off my other HP laptop. ready for playback, which I usually do in the evenings.

I've now got the new mobile working reasonably well, and I think that between the Blu handset and my trusty Android Blackberry, I can likely dispense with my third mobile, equally an Android Blackberry, but an older one, which is slowly dying. As I don't need that unit any more (I used to use it for navigation with a Nokia app, but it just isn't reliable any more) - when I receive my new SIM card, and install it, I'll just switch to Google Maps on the Blackberry, where my phonebook lives anyway.

Then, of course, more doctor stuff, where I find my endocrinologist agreeing wholeheartedly that going to the gym, at this point, is not a safe idea. He and his entire family have just had a bout with COVID-19, and I guess the statistics in King County (Seattle and environs) don't look really good, at this point in time. On top of that, my thyroid hormone level is all out of whack, very likely a consequence of my quitting alcohol, which has so far caused me to lose a good 10 lbs of weight, which negatively affects my hormone level. So I am back to adjusting thyroid hormone medication level, which ususally takes a couple of months before I can see some results. All in all, the alcohol abstinence has medical consequences - apart from the thyroid hormones, I have more energy walking, and my heart rate is down, something I noe because I wear a monitor when going for a walk. All of that takes some getting used to, though none of it surprised my endocrinologist, while my rheumatologist stated my liver enzymes were "back to normal". Cool, I guess....

I am glad I walked today - that's becoming more and more of a habit again - it was overcast, but didn't start raining until just now, several hours after I got back. Condition is much improved, so I really cannot complain. Top left is just a view down the street, my building in the middle, I took this mostly because the sky was so pretty, it is getting to be spring, most days have a modicum of sun, heating is mostly off. Tomorrow I'll talk to T-Mobile and get them to activate my new SIM card, they didn't want me to install it unless they had me on the phone with a technician. Letchaknow....

Monday, May 23: Another dying phone

Keywords: Stars & Stripes, T-Mobile, cellphone, apartment
Stars & StripesLast year, the Stars & Stripes in front of our building was torn to shreds by a storm, but we never got a replacement, so the other day I bought a replacement myself, this time three sizes larger (5x8 foot) than the "residential" version we had. It actually looks great on the existing pole, see for yourself, and it wasn't blisteringly expensive. Somehow the main wing, complete with flag, looks better now, don't you think?

Hopefully, I'll have a new mobile phone in a couple of days - my main "home" phone is not behaving itself, I have a sneaking suspicion Google turned off some of its Android functionality for being "out of date", I am not getting incoming calls I can actually answer. This isn't a big deal, I mostly use my Blackberry mobile, but it would be nice if I had a fully functional "home" phone. Once it's here, I have to get T-Mobile to give me a new SIM card, but that shouldn't be a big deal.

I suppose I can be happy with the way the apartment now looks - one table, no cupboards, no sideboards, tidy cabinets, nothing on the walls, the fewer dark objects in a well lit space, the better it is. Kind of funky and well purposed.

All in all, the place is getting pretty tidy, I have leftover space I am not using, so I definitely uncluttered. If I want to throw a party or bring some guests over there is a community room downstairs I can requisition, complete with everything and kitchen and dishwasher, so, all told, this isn't a bad place at all.

T-Mobile kindly sent me a new SIM card free of charge, should get here in a few days. In the interim, I've taken the SIM card from my older Blackberry, which happens to be the same format my new phone takes, so I could try and install some of the apps I will need on there. Much to my surprise, this relatively cheap Blu handset is quite sophisticated - fingerprint sensor, facial recognition, and a VoIP app I use does much better on the Blu than on my Blackberry, I tested this earlier with my sister in The Netherlands. The only AP I am going to lose is CarooPro, which monitors my engine and records driving video, and that I kluged, it should not have been working for a long time, the manufacturer long since went out of business. I'll see if I can find a replacement in the Android app store.

Sunday, May 15: Creature Comforts

Keywords: cravings, bedroom, California King, liver test, Cuisinart, FedEx
bedroomI deliberately didn't put lots of furniture in my bedroom, all I really wanted was a California King bed, complete with a new double layered California King mattress, and a storage chest as a night stand - closet is behind me, the clothes you see are jeans, airing after laundry, behind the louver drapes is a black drop shade, so I can sleep in a dark room, not bothered by the neighbours and street lights, or the sun, even in the morning. The reason for the oversized bed was medical - I'd been sleeping in smaller beds for several years, but really wanted a bed that will let me stretch all over the place, which is very beneficial in dealing with my arthritis condition. And that worked, especially since this mattress has a top layer of memory foam, which is firm and does not "impress", especially since I rotate and air the mattress once a week. The memory foam and the new duvet are, together, a bit warm, but in summer, at least, there is the air conditioning, so it is not an issue.

Much to my surprise, after a blood test, just two weeks after I stopped drinking alcohol, my rheumatologist emails me that my liver enzymes, which were significantly elevated, are "completely back to normal". That's very good news, especially since I did not know whether or not I had stopped in time to prevent permanent liver damage. Not only that, I am saving more than $70 a week. And I am losing weight. All good, IOW. I just have to make sure I never get anywhere near an alcoholic drink again, because I know I will fall off the wagon. But good news, and I should thank my rheumatologist, who kept nagging me for well over a year.

My new Cuisinart 3-in-1 Microwave / Oven /Airfryer broke, I'd only had that since January, but much to my surprise, when I called Cuisinart they immediately offered a warranty replacement, even cross-shipping it so I can use the new unit's packaging to return the broken one. The replacement is covered by the existing three year warranty, so I cannot complain. Superb service, I must say, hopefully the replacement is of better quality. The unit is relatively small, and fits well on my sideboard, my old Sharp oven had really reached the end of its life, I'd had that since I lived in Virginia. The Cuisinart certainly is a better fit in my small kitchen.

Most of the shipping of things I've ordered over the internet no longer needs me to be home for delivery, considering there is a lobby / mailroom downstairs, but FedEx often breaks the rules. They were supposed to deliver a parcel yesterday, and eventually sent me an email stating "You weren't home". This is bull, when I know I have to let a delivery driver access the building I stay home, not the first time a FedEx contract driver does that. Supposed to be delivered today, so we'll see - I am expecting that Cuisinart oven today, as well, via UPS, so I will be here. Much of the rest of the time shipments are either Amazon or the Postal Service, and those are more or less automatic. So we'll see.

Sunday, May 8: Repairs and injuries

Keywords: 2nd booster shot, COVID-19, oil change, power outage, cravings, ramen noodles
noodle soupNo real reason to post a picture of a bowl of ramen noodles, other than that I had not eaten them for quite a while, and sort of "redeveloped" a taste for them. Having said that, I am adding some condiments, these days, like spicy thick soy sauce and spicy salsa, and then slowly nuke 'em to perfection. Very pleasant. I had stopped eating ramen noodles because of the salt content, but as I don't eat anything salty (I don't even have the stuff in the house!) I figure I can allow this one sin, once a day. Cheap, an' all - $0.99 for a bowl @ Fred Meyer.

After giving it some thought, I went and got my second COVID booster shot today. The CDC guidance on 2nd boosters is a bit iffy, especially the bit where you might not want the second booster if you might want a third, when it is offered. I'll see when that happens, but at my age, and with my medical history, I thought it best to get the second booster. Walgreens gave me a quick appointment, and that went off without a hitch, so we'll see tonight if there are any side effects - not that that worries me too much..

Other than that, I realized a couple of days ago I had skipped an oil change, at least I think I did, so I got that taken care of today, with expensive high mileage oil. I hadn't had any problems, but better safe than sorry, even if it did set me back $101, which is a lot for an oil change. Mind you, Jiffy Lube did a great job, took maybe ten minutes, and I didn't even have to get out of my car, all new to me. For safety's sake, I'll do another in 3,000 miles, usually I take longer between oil changes, but I do need the old girl, and forgetting an oil change scared me.

Now, I'll go and nurse my sore shoulders - one, the right one, I hurt doing stuff on the car, and the left, which took the COVID booster this morning, is beginning to hurt too, more or less as expected. Blah ;)

As if that wasn't enough, on Wednesday I am sitting in a dark apartment, with a power failure affecting much of Magnolia. Thankfully, I have some battery based UPS units, so I have some ways of having light where needed, a clock that keep running, and a laptop that is usable, all with spare batteries. The battery powered T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot helps too, it'll power itself from a USB port on the laptop too. I had not expected to need the power units, but I am glad I got them, this is the second major power outage I am subjected to. It wasn't too bad - didn't run out of battry power, and the powe failure lasted only from just after 7pm to around 8:30, good show Seattle City Light.

Al in all I can't complain, and I can't say I've had much in the way of withdrawal or cravings. It looks like alcoholism, to some extent, is less to do with the chemical dependence, and more with the habits one develops in order to be able to imbibe much of the day. I am partly excluding the chemical dependence as I've always been able to stop, at night, and not develop cravings overnight, different from nicotine dependency, where a heavy smoker will wake up during the night and have a cigarette. In my case, I would get up and go downstairs and check email and have a smoke, I never smoked in bed, that can really set your house on fire. But it is the habit forming that is an important factor, I would do whatever I needed to do that involved driving or going places, shopping, or meeting people, and would not hit the booze until I had finished my activities, and was home, without the need to go anywhere. The probem then became that I was not able to stop drinking until I went to bed - strange, that, I have no idea how that habit developed. Anyway, it is largely behind me, I just hope my liver is improving, and I can change my habit to be totally independent from the time of day.

Monday, May 2nd: Booze Off

Keywords: alcohol abstinence, Ukraine, Magnolia, Spring
Magnolia neighborhoodIt may be the overdose of information coming out of the Ukrainian theatre of war, but the longer this lasts, the less I understand it. To some extent, the Western media I inhale are probably overdoing the amount and diversity of information, but what Putin wants with Ukraine is completely beyond me. The death toll, civilian and military, is already beyond horrendous, and nobody seems inclined to even try to stop the buildup. That puzzles me more than I can tell you.

Yes. I am in my second week of alcohol abstinence, I can't say I've felt much of an effect, other than that I do not doze off in the afternoon, and have more energy. It'll be interesting to see how I pass the nights, but then I never drank during the night, or, indeed, in the early morning, I hope there isn't a change there. Hopefully the weather will stay amenable, I've started walking again. Curiously (but maybe because this is week one) I have practically no cravings, but then I never drank myself into a stupor. I do notice that I am getting more active, as in, working on the car, setting up my next COVID booster shot, of course, the improving weather helps.

It is clear I have to "remodel" my life, having drunk so much for so long, it has only been for the past few days I've managed to do some car maintenance, which I had been more or less neglecting for a while. Especially the move to a single apartment in a part of town were I didn't know anybody was, well, different. From when I moved to Washington State I have lived in shared accomodation, and that came with a socialized limit on alcohol intake. But from when I moved into an apartment I could basically go crazy with the drink - excepting, that I needed to not imbibe when I needed to go somewhere, drive, that sort of thing. I don't drink and drive, because that eventually gets you into real trouble.

I still have a habit of doing alcohol-free stuff in the morning, so I can do stuff I have to be compos mentis for before I hit the bottle. And I am still not driving places in the afternoon, having planned my activities around alcohol for so long. All, of course, now obsolete habits, but there you are.

The picture above is just a bit of Magnolia, captured on my (now) daily walk. I am still not comfortable going back to the gym, perhaps in a few weeks' time, after tomorrow's COVID booster starts working. So far, so good, all tests come back negative, and this even though by now a few people in my building have contracted COVID. But the weather is majorly improving, and my health monitors show progress.

Monday, April 25: Fire and change

Keywords: Seattle Fire Dept, Windows 8.1, Windows Media Manager, broadcast recording, building fire, quit drinking
Seattle Fire DeptI can't quite figure out why the Windows Media Manager on my Windows 8.1 laptop is working again - it stopped, I couldn't access it, and then yesterday it began scheduled recording again. All I can do is make sure I don't change any settings at all, and keep an eye on the EPG123 application, which retrieves broadcast programming for the Windows application. All I use it for is the recording-to-disk of broadcast TV, so for as long as I have it working there isn't a need to futz with it, the only other purpose for the 2560p HP is maintaining backups. I had wanted to move my 4TB SD drive there, but as that seems to break some software, I'll leave it. No need.

When I looked out my window, first thing in the morning, and saw a giant ladder truck with flashing lights right outside my window, I knew we had an issue. The Seattle FD fire trucks in the picture above were for real, a few days ago, there was an electrical fault in the crawlspace above my upstairs neighbour's bathroom, and this being an apartment building, and the fire less than accessible, Seattle Fire pulled out all the stops - and that does not include the various trucks behind me, as I took this shot from the intersection, to the left is my building - you can click on the picture and see a larger version. Seattle Fire did a terrific job, pulled out half a ton of smouldering insulation from the roofspace. I got lucky, no smoke, no damage, even though SFD virtually demolished the apartment above me. And no, the firemen you see in the picture were not waiting for the bus....

What I am hoping to do is stop drinking alcohol, I got another nastygram from my rheumatologist, it is simply time. I had tried to get treatment through my primary care provider, but she never came up with anything, and I probably should have connected with my health insurance sooner. So I am hoping to empty the bottles, after all, I quit smoking cold turkey in 2010, and that worked without a hitch. So this one, which should help my health and save me money, should work too. Wish me luck and perseverance.

Friday, April 8: Everything seems to work...

Keywords: 4G LTE, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, colonoscopy, hotspot bandwidth, spare equipment, Tru coffee brewer, Senseo pods, Spectre 4K monitor, Fire stick 4K
TRU pod brewerDefinitely wobbly, this morning, after my colonoscopy. Not that there was anything wrong, but a pretty strong anaesthesia, with some extra oxygen, and I am, of course, 74. But friend and neighbour P. dropped me off at 7:15am, and picked me up again around 10. Thanks :)

Thankfully the apartment smelt fresh - I had left an air conditioner running, not a luxury after spending 10 hours in one apartment with induced diarrhea, due to the bowel prep, and that was not fresh, especially if you consider I didn't shower this morning. But it all worked out surprisingly well, and the doctor was an artisan - no cramping, no more diarrhea, one of the better ones. Come back in three years :( she said - still some polyps, possibly larger because I postponed the colonoscopy due to the COVID risk involved, but no alarm bells.

It is, thankfully, getting close to Spring, most days are sunny, with the odd shower and an overcast day in between. I've still got the heating on, but not at night, with the duvet and memory foam mattress that would be overkill. All I want now is for the daytime temperatures to "up" to where I can take my walks again, and I think the COVID spread is pretty much down to where I can hit the gym again. That would be so cool!

So I recommend having spares. This morning my coffee maker (a Tru device bought on Ebay in 2018 that takes coffee pods) packed up, made horrible noises that meant the compressor was dying, and I was able to grab the spare from my spares cabinet and make a fresh coffee. I'd bought those because there are few machines that take those Dutch paper based filter pods, common in Europe under the Senseo brand, but here in the US, no more. Turns out a vendor on Ebay still has plenty of those Tru Senseo "knockoffs", so I just bought another one, I had kind of expected they would no longer be around. I bought a "regular" espresso machine on Amazon, so I am covered both ways, for, all told, $100 or so. Especially with my favourite La Llave fine ground dark espresso roast it is much like espresso con crema. So I'll see whan the new machines arrive, I'll be able to chuck the second 2018 machine, and should be covered for the next few years, that is, if the cheap Yabano "full" espresso machine is as good as it looks. Umm, actually, I'll continue using the 2018 TRU machine I now use, and store the "new" Tru for future use. No need to chuck a working coffeemaker, and at some point these folks on Ebay will run out of stock, always assuming these Tru people stopped making that particuklar machine years ago. I've never seen one anywhere, except from this one Ebay seller.

The other "spare" I've repurposed is the 4K Spectre TV set / monitor, which had been sitting in a closet - I bought it for its 4K capability, but at the time had no 4K video source. With a new APC UPS mains feed I've been able to connect the Amazon 4K Fire TV stick to the 4K Spectre set, and finally have 4K streaming broadcast TV with a gazillion channels. I don't know how it manages to pull 4K out of my Hotspot, but it does, and it looks great. Clever blokes, them Amazons. My other Spectre screen is full HD, which is what my HP laptops will provide, brilliant for regular broadcast TV. But the colour rendition and resolution of the 4K set off the Fire stick are truly stunning, I am watching some BBC series as I write this. Skin colour is amazing, honestly.

Monday, March 28: Springlike

Keywords: 4G LTE, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, colonoscopy, hotspot bandwidth
Here in Washington State, many COVID restrictions have been dropped - in my building, no more masks, no more social distancing, though masks are still required in some stores, health care, long-term care and correctional facilities, and please like airports and airplanes where Federal requirements mandate them. I take a swab test once a week, just to be on the safe side, I actually postponed my colonoscopy twice, "out of an abundance of caution" until the testing requirements were scaled back.

I am having a hard time believing this is the end of the pandemic, if only because China and some European countries are showing outbreaks again. Not here in the USA, so far, but there really isn't a reason why COVID-19 won't spread again. We'll just have to keep our fingers crossed, and keep an eye on the CDC statistics. Just don't count on "getting lucky", for now.

While not looking forward to next week's colonoscopy, it has to be done, and if it's good enough for Joe Biden, who had one recently, it should be good enough for me. Last time around, the physician couldn't evacuate the excess air, and I was in agony for a day or so, I just hope this time things go better. I've gotten some of these "Depend" things, just in case the bowel prep gets a bit "hefty". Never has before, but better safe than sorry.

In the interim, I figured out what the problem was with the Franklin T9 hotspot / router, which turned out to be caused by a bandwidth limitation set by the manufacturer, which nobody told the users about. All it needed was to set the bandwidth to "unlimited" (doesn't mention that anywhere in the instructions) and things are fine, and the service as provided by Interconnection.org is truly unlimited. It also has a higher WiFi bandwidth, so I am happy all told, with a strong (80 - 90%) signal strength, better than the Coolpad. I am glad I have that sorted, especially since the support team told me I was wrong, even though I could see the router function had stopped working - the Hotspot is both a wireless terminal and a wireless router, with one port hardwired to a USB3 port @ 425 Mbps. As it turn out, while I had to shell out an additional $14.95 to get the new router, the monthly charnge is unchaged, $11.95, so after sorting out the problems I am defnitely happy, especialy considering the TMO device is more stable, a little faster, and has better reception. So there :)

Wednesday, March 23: Definitely No 5G, they said

Keywords: 4G LTE, COVID-19 test, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, airfryer, Cuisinart, Firestick, 2021 tax return
COVID19 testBoth the Fed and the State government are now making COVID self tests available - one (thankfully negative) you see to the left. They're free, and delivered speedily by Amazon, and one can re-order. I never had any symptoms, so hadn't had myself tested, but now that I have a supply I do this every week, considering we no longer have to mask and keep our distance.

While, as I mentioned, my new T-Mobile Franklin T9 Hotspot isn't a 5G device, it is more capable than the cheaper Sprint Coolpad it replaces. Its WiFi is faster, and yesterday, when I used my 4K HDTV Firestick with it for the first time, I noticed Alexa voice actually works with it - that certainly wasn't the case when it ran over the Coolpad. I am not necessarily an Alexa voice afficionado, I do not want to provide Amazon with "inside" data on myself, but it is nice to actually have it working reliably. I've got to where I can reboot it every day, I don't like an internet host sitting on my network with one "forever" IP address - call me paranoid.

If you're into data security, make sure you change your network interface, IP addresses, etc., on a daily basis - if a miscreant finds your IP and network segment, chances are that if they can't find you the next day, they'll move on to someone else. One thing the Coolpad wouldn't let me do, and the T-Mobile device does, is stop broadcasting the SSID. Yes, there are tools they can use, but making it as hard as possible to detect you is the name of the game. As I said, if it is too much work they'll move on to someone else who does not make it hard...

I've not eaten French fries for many years, but having discovered air-frying I am afraid I am indulging. Especially since I threw out my old Sharp multi-oven, and replaced it with a smaller Cuisinart multi-oven with an airfryer basket, which can do convection, broiling, microwave, and airfrying, if desired all at the same time, fries are the ticket. And (I swear) I lose weight. The Cuisinart basket actually gets rid of some of the fat producers build into the frozen fries (yes, they do).

Now, I need to get to my 2021 tax return. I normally have that done earlier in the year, but I have been procrastinating, and this does have to get to the IRS by mid-April. I actually ran into a snag when doing multiple accounts, and I think I was just being stupid, and haven't "cycled back", as they say. So there.

Saturday, March 19: 5G? No 5G

Keywords: Russia, Ukraine, Seattle subsidies, HUD, 4G LTE, 5G, Sprint, T-Mobile, Franklin T9, Coolpad
It is still completely beyond me why Russia has invaded Ukraine, and what the purpose of the wanton destruction of their neighbour country is. He hasn't said anything that justifies his actions, when he went into the Crimea I could understand he wanted a Black Sea port, but even then, there were many options to negotiate. This time around there's nothing in Ukraine he needs, and causing a million people to move halfway across Europe isn't going to do anything for anyone. I am just plain old flabbergasted.

Here in Seattle, a number of subsidies are available for lower income individuals, from subsidized housing to Federal support with utilities and the like - they've done that very cleverly, HUD pays the Seattle Utility company a fixed amount per person per month, and at the end of the year any unused subsidy gets paid to the subsidy recipient. One thing I was told by the Housing Authority when I moved into my subsidized apartment was that subsidized internet and subsidized telephone services were available, and indeed, I was able to request cheap internet through Sprint, provided by a charitable computer and conputer services foundation. Until this month, I've only paid $11.95 per month for my 4G LTE Internet Hotspot. Then I received an email from Interconnect, the charity that manages this service, that the network was being upgraded, and I could not request their 5G offering. 5G, as it turns out, because Sprint was bought by T-Mobile, and a 5G Hotspot is one of their products. Subsidized (again) by the Federal government, the Hotspot is essentially free, and the service only $14.95 / month. I ordered on the spot, and am waiting with baited breath until the device gets here, today. Sprint's Coolpad was OK, but this should be a lot better - I had not expected to be able to upgrade to full 5G so soon! Keep y'all posted.

Ah, yes. Or rather, no! The replacement Hotspot is a 4G LTE device, what does make it faster is that it has multichannel WiFi, but the 5G isn't there, yet. The email, now that I reread it, says 5G is on the way, and this is the (required) precursor. While this Franklin device is faster and a bit more spiffy, and more stable than the Sprint Coolpad, and more expensive, 5G it isn't, that's coming "any day now". Bit of T-Mobile cheek, I just hope there isn't another price increase. The backbone is faster, and the TMO signal strength is better, so there you go.

Wednesday, March 2: And then there's Russia

Keywords: Dodge Durango, battery, O'Reilly's, gear shift, Putin, Ukraine, Russia
I can only apologize for not blogging, I just haven't felt like writing much, between the COVID (which I don't have) scares and old man winter and some unexpected (aren't they always) car repairs it's just been upheavelish.

While in the past I could always tell my car battery was "going down" when it required more cranking to start, this time it just died from one day to the other - one day it cranked just fine, the next morning it did not, you know, when you turn the key and all you hear is the solenoid clicking. One of my neighbours was very kind and drove me to a nearby O'Reilly's, where I know they stock just about anything car you might need, and sure enough, I walked out with a massive high capacity battery, at the reasonable price of $180, with tax. My previous battery, from WalMart, had lasted seven years, so I guess I can't complain. What was a really pleasant suprise was that the new battery cam fully charged, all I needed to do was install it, connect it, and Bob's your uncle. The Durango actually takes two sizes of battery, but as I had done last time, I figured the largest battery that fits in the well is the best, it cranks the big V-8 beautifully. I recall that when I bought the car, it had the smaller battery, and that always took a bit of cranking to get the engine to go. THis until I spent three mopnths house sitting in Thailand, and my landlord kindly started the car before my return, to make sure it had enough power, but then didn't drive it, and that killed the battery stone dead...

And then a couple of weeks before that, my gear shift lever began to act up, to the point that it became almost imposssible to put the transmission in gear. On top of that, by the time I'd got the car to the auto workshop by the Ballard Bridge, I found out that I would have to wait a week for repairs, and two other workshops were either closing or closed. Thankfully, my neighbour P. knew another garage, this time due South, and they had a repair slot available. Nice people, the place within walking distance of my apartment, but expensive. They had the transmission fixed by the next morning so I ended up happy, glad to have found a reliable workshop close by.

I am totally flabbergasted by Putin's assault on Ukraine - assuming this isn't a Russian war, but a "Putin Special". The only thing I can compare it to is the antics of Soviet and Russian leaders that went before him - Poland, Czechoslovakia, Chechnia, Afghanistan, too numerous to tally, but most of those previous escapades were related to the Soviet Union, not to Russia. So, despited Gorbachev, nothing has really changed. I am just at a loss to understand what he wants, and what he wants it for. For a Russian head of state to yell "nuclear!" at the top of his voice has to mean he has a death wish. Perhaps someone can explain to him he is in self destruct mode, and that never ends well.

Thursday December 30: Now the weather is broken..

Keywords: HP Elitebook, laptop fans, webserver failure, Blackberry, KEYone, cold, snow, mountain passes
Seattle Public TransportOf course, this is the month that everything breaks - now my webserver (in Singapore) springs a leak, and has been out of action for some six hours. They were unable to restore the disk, so may have to reinstall the server and restore the backup. I try never to fall into that trap, and replace the main disk on my laptops every few years, before they fail. That's one reason why I have now managed to fully back up my 2560, I have a 4TB SSD at the ready, so to speak. The two TB in the 2560 is fine, six or so years old, but hard disks isn't something you want to take risks with, and they're not hugely expensive any more. The drive in the 2560 is a hybrid disk, and replacing it with an SSD is something I had in mind for a while now. For now, I have replaced the cooling fans in both my HP laptops, just to make sure I am safe, one of them was running somewhat noisily.

Then, of course, after the webserver re-install, my mail service, which runs as part of the webservice, never came back. Eventually, the Singapore support team gave me new server parameters, that were never in the original instruction set dating back to 2018, when I moved my website to Singapore, and now everything is working again. The Blackberry KEYone, too, is working swimmingly, and I have now bought a charging stand for it, so it can charge overnight while sitting by my bedside. The KEYone I now have, coming from Canada, is probable a Rogers Telecommunications unit, but once I inserted a T-Mobile SIM card it fully supported its command set, as I believe most Blackberrys do. I actually just received a text message that the older Blackberry handsets ar, as of the beginning of 2022, no longer supported, that is to say those handsets that run the original Blackberry operating systems, rather than those that run Android. I have a couple of oldies that I use as alarm clocks, hopefully they wont be affected, I have not had SIM cards with service in them for years. Fingers crossed..

Next thing, at Christmas time, Old Man Winter hits, with temperatures going down to 17 Fahrenheit (-8 Celsius or so) and buckets of snow. I've had to clean the car twice in three days already - if I don't do that promptly, it's end up covered in ice. So far, so good - if I understand the forecast, the Puget Sound will warm up soon, but I think the folks in the foothills and the mountains are going to be stuck with several feet of snow for a while. The weather was so bad the skiers couldn't get to the slopes, poor things...

This also meant my mobile heat pumps have had a hard time coping - at night, I only use one, they're too noisy to have running next to your bed. So I've had to resort to the baseboard heaters that were pre-installed in this apartment, between two heat pumps and two baseboard heaters (which run on 240VAC) the place is nice and toasty, no worries. I'm just not going to think about the next electricity bill...

The picture to the left is a Seattle City bus that wanted to stop at the bus stop across the road, but slid all the way over and nearly ended on our doorstep - snow and warm roads and heavy frost, what can I tell you. The driver managed to stop maneuvering the giant bus, and then had to wait for three hours until a mammoth two truck could liberate him. The snow is still going, it isn't that common in Seattle, but this year, while everybody on the other coast has warm weather... I'll go and clean the snow off the car again this afternoon, will have to run out and shop tomorrow, although supermarket shelves are pretty bare. The big rigs that run the supply routes have a hard time getting across the mountain passes they have to traverse to get here.

Wednesday November 24: breaking equipment

Keywords: HP Elitebook, backup, Hitachi, USB3, interrupts, broadcast TV dongle, Blackberry, KEYone
Blackberry Priv 2I am not entirely sure why my "secondary" laptop, an HP Elitebook 2560p, is working properly again, but there it is. I had it, fitted with a USB3 ExpressCard, backing up to a large (3TB) external Hitachi disk drive, but at some point the devices stopped talking to each other. The 2560 sits on a native HP docking station, and between the dock, the laptop itself, and the ExpressCard adapter, it probably simply had too many ports and interrupts in use, especially considering the 2560 has no native USB3 ports. It bothered me in that I could no longer do a full system backup, something I discovered when I tried to replace the 2TB hybrid internal drive with a 4TB solid state drive I had lying around. That would give me more storage space (I use that laptop for archival storage and for recording TV via Windows Media Center) and the ability to recover a disk image. Because Windows Media Center will only run on Windows 8.1, I've kept that updated and functional, but recently, I noticed Windows Update was no longer running.

Long story short, with help from the Microsoft support database I got that running again, and for safety's sake, I ran all of the Windows repair tools I could find. They did not report very much, but somehow, the issues I had been experiencing got fixed, so now I am back to backing up a terabyte or so. Hopefully, all that works, and then I can try and restore to the unused 4TB SSD. That should make the old 2560p a lot faster, considering Windows 8.1 uses virtual memory off its hard disk to swap unused code to, not a luxury with 16GB of RAM. Not having a mechanical disk in the laptop should improve its running, though SSDs tend to run pretty hot.

Of course, after four or so backup sessions the laptop stopped talking to the backup drive, for no reason that I could figure out. Not the first time, but I thought I'd try some tricks, and one actually worked - removing the laptop from its dock, and running it standalone, which removed a number of ports from the operating system. Why that setup sometimes works, and not at other times, is beyond me - having said that, I did do a troubleshooting session, although that did not report "real" errors. My guess is that, in both laptops, I just have too many devices connected, too many interrupts used, and that the operating systems (Windows 8.1 in one, Windows 10 in the other) may grab more interrupts than are available, both laptops sit on a docking station, and so have more ports available than they are probably designed for.

I can see this especially when the older 2560 won't talk to my broadcast TV dongle, something that happens occiasionally, and I have never found the reason of. Using the dongle lets me record HD TV off air, I am lucky that I can even use an indoor antenna without having to get cable or some other kind of TV feed. I record the broadcast programs on a large external hard disk, so can watch stuff later on a large 4K screen at my leisure. The other laptop, the 2570, is able to generate a 4K output to an external screen, I eventually firgure out how to let that HP service two screens without overheating. Installing a faster Intel Core i7 CPU, and renewing the thermal compound on the heat sink helped a lot. So does blowing out the insides and the fan, once a month.

In the interim, my favourite Blackberry has died - partly my own fault, its touch screen came lose, I tucked it back in, it still worked, and then I forgot to fix it. So the next time I used it, during Fred Meyer shopping, the screen came out again, and I couldn't get it to work again. Since I rely on this phone for much of my daily activities, and get much of my email there, this wasn't good. I swapped the SIM card to an older Blackberry, which works fine, for now, but that won't run all of my applications, so I needed a replacement handset. Much to my delight, I found a new KEYone in Canada, and as I write this UPS just delivered it to my apartment, took just the weekend to get here from Ontario - right across the continent. The unit certainly looks new, I've plugged it into my laptop and it started charging - if all is well it should be the same hard- and firmware as the one I broke. It will take overnight, more or less, to fully charge the new handset - as I plugged it in I noticed the battery was empty, but by morning it had fully recovered. It took me half the morning to configure it and set it up, and as I sit here I am waiting for the first emails to come in, this atfer setting up the diary and the phonebook, which sync with Google. Should be good to go - let me see if I can set up my foreign banking up, and I'll be home dry... The picture top left is the old Blackberry, a Priv, which, out of retirement, saved my hide while I was waiting for the replacement Blackerry KEYone to get here from Canada. I am glad I hung on to some of my old handsets, at least I have the ability to carry on communicatering when something goes wrong. The Priv runs an older version of Android, so it can't handle every application, but it did what it was supposed to do...

Sunday October 17: Facebook & Fall

Keywords: whistleblowers, Facebook, weather, business cases, Puget Sound fall
hallowe'en October already, though the weather remains pleasant , the odd shower, but nothing untoward. Climate change, I understand, has "warmed up" the Puget Sound area, compared to the past, and I can still have pleasant sunlit afternoon walks, though less hot than the midsummer nineties. My heat pumps switch to heating much of the day, though I still have one running a cooling cycle overnight, mostly because this is a "warm" building, if you know what I mean.

The weather is important for my walks - due to my recent shoulder injury I can't work out at the gym, so I've reverted to walking, but the lack of a thyroid makes it hard for my body to regulate its internal temperature. So I try to stick to reasonable outside temperatures, bits of sun if it is available, aging definitely does not help. I must say that in this area of Seattle there's generally more sun than elsewhere, likely because of our proximity to the coast, today began overcast, it was supposed to rain, but the sun came out and stayed.

I am wondering why Frances Haugen decided to blow the whistle on Facebook , her previous employer. I can see the relevance, and she is certainly sufficiently experienced and erudite enough to have a valid opinion, but I don't understand the why. It is the one thing missing from her narrative: her personal motivation to come forward, and share (likely illegally) internal Facebook documents with the United States government. I personally am not convinced that what Ms. Haugen proposes in changes to Facebook's modus operandi will actually work - yes, some of it makes sense, but a service the size of Facebook will have a tremendous amount of stuff going on that is virtually uncontrollable - yes, what teens get up to on Instagram, in terms of body image, is unhealthy, but in the final analysis it is something the girls do, often to each other, it isn't "promoted" by Facebook or Instagram or whoever. Verifying the ages of members has never been possible - for each time you try, thousands of clever teens will find ways around it, all the while being chased by porn meisters and pedofiles, who do nothing else all day.

Thursday September 16: 9/11 & PTSD

Keywords: power washer, Paxcell, PTSD, 9/11, late summer, FedEx, Taltz
Paxcell power washer I am not sure why I can, after all these years, still not watch the 9/11 programs and documentaries that are lighting up the media, but there it is. I would assume PTSD has an underlying long term component I was not aware of - yes, before you ask, I was officially diagnosed after "being there" and spending eight months heading recovery teams both in NYC and Arlington, VA - my 9/11 blog is linked at the top of this page. Especially seeing the prominent George Bush - "George W. President" - commercialization of BBC coverage is jarring to me. Not for nothing folks drove around Washington D.C. with Texas number plates and "No More Bushit" stickers, at the end of his presidency. Mind you, this was before we got this Trump fella - at least we got wise and ran him out of town.

The pressure washer you see to the left is a Godsend. It was on sale at Amazon ($64.99), and reading the reviews of the various models Paxcess offers, I simply bought the cheapest, not expecting magic, but it was all I could afford. I had noticed my SUV was getting very dirty - I used to clean the entire thing, including brakes, baseplate, transmission, engine and radiator, with my German pressure washer back in Lynnwood and back in Fredericksburg, but that unit ran on 250VAC, which isn't available to me here. Much to my surprise the Paxcess unit is quite powerful - I've tested it on the sidewalk but not yet washed the car - and as you can see I managed to store the unit and cords and hoses and paraphernalia in an old unused suitcase, bought in Chennai, if I remember. I don't have a lot of storage space, but like this I didn't use any. I've no idea how "hardy" the washer is, but as I don't need it very much, I really am not too worried, and it really works well and is more powerful than I expected. Time will tell..

While the hot part of summer is pretty much over, there still is plenty of nice weather and sun. I am just frustrated I cannot combine the gym with walking, I can still tell I have a latent shoulder injury. My back is not improving either, cleaning my toilet and bathroom, yesterday, was quite painful, and I guess that is just the combination of my arthritis and age.

I am not certain I should get a third COVID-19 jab, at least not until a doctor tells me so. I don't even know if they are available yet, here in King County, I have not seen any public service announcements from the State of Washington. At any rate, today I am waiting for FedEx to deliver medication - refrigerated injections in a cooler, something they do every month. Frustrating, because I don't have an announcement that says when they're coming. I the olden days, delivery of an overnight parcel happened before 10am, these days, sometime before 8pm, so you're stuck at home. They won't deliver if you're not home, this stuff is major expensive, and it can't sit around and lose it's "cool".

Monday September 6, 2021: It hurts

Keywords: A/C, heat pumps, pandemic, rotator cuff, gym, LA Fitness, Magnolia, wildfires
Magnolia sushi Seattle summer continues, with smoke added from the ubiquitous wildfires, though here on the almost-island of Magnolia, close to the waterfront, there isn't as much smoke as I was used to in Lynnwood, which is in the "convergence zone", where weather phenomena get stuck between the mountain ridges. Here, we're on the waterfront, and weather "moves through" expeditiously. Even though the news has reported haze all over the Seattle area, this morning, Magnolia started with an almost clean sky, and by now (late afternoon) there's sun all over. The heat is up to 80 degrees or so, I've not actually bothered walking today, though I do most days. I am very happy being able to go to the gym again, must say, and especially in the high heat (and later, in the cold) that's a godsend. And no, no particular reason for the picture, I just like the locally made sushi in the supermarket across the street, which I eat with spicy Indonesian sweet soy sauce.

Going back to the gym, I am paying the price, in having a shoulder rotator cuff injury, either because of the workout, or the subsequent unpacking and storage of a new pressure washer I decided I needed to keep my car clean, all in the same day. It is very painful at night, when I can't position my shoulders and back in a painfree way. I hadn't worked out my shoulder joints for a long time, due to the pandemic and not being able to go to the gym, and I guess I've got, now that the gym is "back on", to where I overdid the lifting. I recall getting this same injury when I was moving my stuff when I got my apartment, and I guess I just need to start being careful with my aging shoulder joints.

To finish off my forever A/C tale, the heat pumps are doing very well, but in this heat a single 14K BTU unit won't keep you cool, if used to cool an entire one bedroom with kitchen and bathroom in a "warm" building. Two units (which is what I have) do just fine, between them - obviously, that means keeping the bedroom door open, and as I am not there during the day, I can have that unit on high circulation. It is a "trial" I hadn't been able to do before, but the combined 28K does magic, even through what would be a real heatwave anywhere (I turn the bedroom unit off during the night, it would be too noisy, close to my bed as it is). What you do want to do, in summer, is run the A/C 24/7, and use the relative cool overnight to crank up the cooling more than you need during the day. Overnight, your apartment's infrastructure, furniture, "stuff", can soak up the cool if you program the units that way, and they can get rid, efficiently, of the accumulated humidity. It is generally not well understood that part of the "perceived" heat, in summer, is actually humidity, rather than heat calories. If you don't crank up your unit(s) overnight, the humidity will cause discomfort, your body can't sweat as effectively, and more humidity "seeps in" during the day.

Thursday August 5, 2021: Summer burbling along

Keywords: A/C, heat pumps, pandemic, gym, GP, COVID, LA Fitness, Ballard
What with the sudden heatwave (114 Fahrenheit is definitely over the top) I've finally had the chance of a lifetime to test my heat pump installation. I had bought the refurbished units a couple of years ago, while still living in a rented room in Lynnwood, and never had a chance to test the entire installation - I had calculated, tested and designed the setup as an engineer would, not even knowing what kind of apartment I would end up in, in Seattle, and not knowing how hot, cold, ventilated, and all that, the place would be. Neither did I know whether or not I'd have casement windows, or sliding, so I bought the accessories for a worst case scenario. I had been using savings to buy what I thought I might need, because I know that by the time a move would be afoot, I needed to make sure I had enough spare cash to do everything else that would need procuring - like furniture and things.

Long story short - the two 14,000 BTU heat pumps have no problem keeping the apartment cool, around 72, 73 degrees, without even having to draw the shades, despite the truly blistering heat. I love it, and I am truly happy my calculations were spot on, and the mounting kits fit perfectly. Happy with that, tell ya - until I came to live in the Puget Sound, I'd never (in the USA) lived anywhere that wasn't air conditioned, only to find out A/C isn't exactly ubiquitous here. It may well be that will change, what with the effects of climate change, and summer temperatures suddenly overtopping the norm by 30 to 40 degrees. That's a lot. Of course, A/C is expensive, and, traditionally, folks aren't used to paying for heating as well as cooling. Having said that, real summer heat is tiring and actually not good for one's health, and in some areas, humidity is bad for you and for your stuff. It is not well understood that a large part of summer comfort is humidity control, not so much heat control. Happy, of course, that even with the heat wave my HUD subsidy comfortably covers the cost of the energy my heat pumps use. Had not really expected that!

Hopefully my GP got it right - after seeing an urgent care physician with urination complaints, a few weeks ago, things got better, then worse, not helped by a complete lack of diagnosis, and advice to stop the antibiotic. This time, my PCP did another test, figured out what the problem was, gave me a different antibiotic, and that seems to be doing the trick. Between that and my rheumatology prescriptions, I do get confused, it is increasingly hard to track the side effects of the various medications - I've actually stopped one of my immuno-suppressant medications, as I got fed up having to change the dosage because of the liver impact. Without it, it is easier to track what does what. Fingers crossed.

Having said that, my PCP has opined I can go to the gym again, after more than a year, couple times a week, for now. I am in heaven, missed the workouts, and there is an LA Fitness (where I have a permanent membership) five minutes from my building. To check if my Silver Sneakers membership is valid in this fancy Ballard gym, I dropped by there yesterday, and it is. And it is fancy too, more so than the LA Fitness I used to go to in Lynnwood. So that is mega cool, I can go to the gym, and then do my bi-weekly run to the huge Fred Meyer where I get my groceries, which is three minutes from the gym. Actually, I can just drop the car at Fred Meyer, and then walk back to the gym. Teehee!

I can only apologize for my infrequent posting here. There is little going on, and with Covid-19 an ongoing concern I really am not gallivanting about. What with my return to the gym, that may change, though, we'll see. I realized only recently that my uptick in alcohol consumption, which my doctors are chiding me about, may well be because I have not had the gym and its attnedant socializing - not a lot one could do, and once I finished moving, unpacking, and redecorating, I kind of came to a standstill.

Saturday June 26, 2021: The Heat is On!!

Keywords: A/C, heat pumps, pandemic, gym, climate change, copay, prescription medication
Having finished the last of the unpacking, I find myself in the strange situation I have, after more than a year moving in and decorating and furnishing and stuff, nothing much left to do. Nothing left to do with respect to my apartment, any repairs and re-arrangements I've done in between other activities, but there really is nothing left to finish. And yes, top right, that's me, out front, in the summer heat, after my latest haircut. Still go up to my Edmonds hairdressers, ever since I lived in Lynnwood, but then I don't have to go there that often - besides, my optometrist and dentist and GP are all still up there, too.

Because of the pandemic, there wasn't much I could do anyway - no travel to speak of, no gym, no reconnoitering the neigbourhood, and until last week I had, bit by bit, tidied up everything I own, in the fairly copious amount of storage space this apartment came with. A not unpleasant surprise, lots of cupboards and nooks and crannies, and some clever organizing on my part - for instance, I ended up with a huge amount of storage space underneath my California King bed frame, about a third of which I've not had to use. Same with the storage space in my travel chests, a combination of clever packing and really throwing things out I really do not need gave me some spare space there, as well. Listing what's where helped too - you know how you spend days looking for something you need, and once you've found it "leaving it handy"? Stopped doing that too, bad habit from when I lived in a 3 bedroom "mansion" in Virginia.

Much to my delight, I am finally able to properly assess the functionality of my heat pumps - Western Washington is going through a heat wave, to the point that the local government is taking all manner of special provisions to ensure the safety and health of the citizen. While the community room in my building has been closed since March of last year, due to COVID-19, it's been opened as of today, complete with the A/C running, so tenants have a place to cool down. Many have no A/C (not unusual in these parts, only around 30% of households have A/C, unusual to see for an East Coaster like myself, in New York State and Virginia A/C is kind of ubiquitous.

Anyway, temperatures are approaching 100 (some 38 Centipedes), unusual for the Puget Sound, but global warming is affecting our climate too. So I am happy to report that my two 14K heat pumps have no problem keeping me cool at all, first time I've really been able to properly test them, they are, so far, barely breaking a sweat. Happy with that, I can tell you. I've just given them their three month maintenance, fresh filters and all that, all hunky-dory. The filters, finely mazed woven filters I found at Amazon, have a layer of sticky material on one side, which helps in catching bacteria and dust particles in ways "regular" filters can't. A normal filter can catch particles, but the sticky stuff can "hold" particles that would blow through a normal filter.

All in all, my living is pretty much under control, much to my surprise, my finances have not taken a bad hit. I expected the increase in medical expenses, especially the biologic copay, to have hurt my savings, but so far, I think I am escaping "by the skin", so to speak. Consider that I used to get a $20 copay with my previous biologic - by the end of last year, that was up to $160 (on a total real $$s cost of around $11,000 per 90 days, which is a totally staggering number). I managed to find another drug that reduced the copay to $120 per ninety days, but that is, combined with all of my other medical expenses, still a good chunk of my ready cash. Not that I have a choice.. Curiously, arthritis medication seems to increasingly get intertwined with psoriasis treatment, and I really don't know how that happened. Yes, I had a mild form of psoriasis a long time ago, and that kind of morphed into psoriatic arthritis, and that somehow is, today, merged with ankylosing spondilitis. And if you look at the various biologics available, they are, more often than not, prescribed to treat both, or either, but I really have not seen a scientific underpinning of that "merger". Curious. Seems to work, though...
The time machine through Monday May 24, 2021, with linkbacks to October, 2008, is here

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