Clone Wars!

November 2008:

Clone wars!

At last back amongst the surviving packets on the grand isobaric terrain of the intArweb.  In my travels I have seen many lonely deserted packets, dropped needlessly from their groups… 8, 32, thousands… why do they not care for the feelings of a single packet, leaving them to separate into fragments of bits at our very feet.  But behold, I have before me packets folded to my bidding.  Networks staged on the very air over my living establishment are now mine, MINE, at my very bidding… my beckoned call to bow upon my every whim and desire.

Oh yes… I have internet access now.  Clandestinely perhaps, but I never claimed to be a Greenpeace activist.  I’m not armed enough for that role, yet.

June 2010:

Time progresses and this blog consists of things I have ran across and/or learned within the last 2 years.  In some cases, simply being a documentation for me to refer to later, along with sharing to the rest of the world.  I forget more than I ever type, sadly.
No longer am I clandestinely pirating airwaves to gain ‘net access.  I find my own connection to be far more sound.  That, and I can afford it now ;)

Retiring my 2002 Honda Shadow ACE Deluxe 750, Picked up a 2007 Honda VTX 1300C motorcycle

My tried and true 2002 Honda Shadow ACE Deluxe 750 had nothing wrong going on, don’t get me wrong.  I honestly did love that bike.  There was one downfall, the lack of power for two people.  You are able to ride two-up, but it’s just not comfortable over 45 MPH or so.  I did this about 4 years or so ago for about 100-200 or so miles, and it was taxing on the engine since it was through mountain terrain.  With needs changing as life changes, I figured it would be about time to change motorcycles to something with more power and cruiser-friendly.  So, I picked up a used 2007 Honda VTX 1300C, with nearly double the motor.

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The only real temporary downfall is there is no passenger seat, which I can buy of course.  The seat that is on there now is an aftermarket Ultimate Seats brand lowrider which is great for us short people. (I’m 5’6″)

The bike came with accessories strapped on all over, which is great because it keeps me from needing to do it.  The front fairing (batwing) with stereo and speakers built in, teardrop mirrors, aftermarket exhaust, Willie & Max saddlebags (with locked mounts!), kuryakyn brand crash bars (engine guards…) with flip-out foot pegs, extra lights in the front, and Perelli brand tires all around. (well, 2 wheels is all around I guess)  I’m sure there’s more that is aftermarket, but it looks quite nice as it is.

The power is something I’m still getting used to, since right now it’s enough that I need to keep myself in check.  I find myself hitting 60 mph without even a thought due to it’s torque.  Since it’s a shaft-drive (and not chain-driven), there’s much less sound to go by with the wheels, and the only real check I have is the speedometer about 45-50 degrees down from my vision!

All in all, I’m happy.  I’m having her (single) carburetor tuned by Golden Motorsports on Monday due to the MPG being about 43-45 currently when it should be 50.  The fact that she’s just as white as my Prius means it’s a great addition to the family.

A Warning to anyone searching for information on a certain person…

This is a warning to anyone who is searching for information about their potential new girlfriend or partner, Rachelle Kagan Hampton. After a relationship with her for approximately 1 year, her true self appeared and I wanted to make sure anyone intelligent enough to search for information on someone would have the information needed.
First, she will become quite self-entitled, and expect everything handed to her. This will include weekly money, certain brands of bottled water (no tap water, nor filtered), along with repairs done on her vehicle that were pro-active of your even existing in the relationship. Mind you, if you do not repair this issue immediately, she will become upset since obviously it is owed. This issue occurred during the first month of her living in Phoenix with myself, and the pricetag was ~$800. At the same time, anything she will want done will need to be done or you will be scolded. One example is at the same time of the repair on her car needing to be performed, my own car’s air conditioning condenser was broken and needed to be replaced which was approximately $1,000. Keep in mind, her time in Phoenix was approximately 2 months, which meant that everything escalated quite heavily.

The largest thing is that before the move, she asked me if after the move I would promise to take care of her in her disabled state, and make sure nothing bad happens. Of course, everyone will say yes because reasonably that’s what a relationship is about. I quickly found out that is not the case with her, and looking at her history with past husbands I’m knowing the stories are skewed. She always makes out with quite a bit of merchandise during any relationship (large television, couch, rather expensive bedroom furniture, all from her previous relationship). While leaving this one, I made the mistake of leaving the house for a bit as she was moving stuff with the movers, finding quite a large amount of kitchen items missing, floor cleaning supplies were entirely gone, and the pantry food was almost entirely cleaned out (except for what she didn’t eat, such as hot chili or honey).

The largest issue for me is her borrowing my iPad 3 to use as a GPS while driving, which she said would be mailed back once she reached Texas again. (yes, I was nice enough to pay for the moving truck, car carrier) Once she made it to Texas, she refused to send it back. She continued to make excuses about how she can’t because her cat is in the animal clinic/vet, or that she is homeless. This was while I offered to pay for the shipping from Texas to Phoenix. I gave her significant time to fix her wrong, but she was spiteful and pretended to ignore all emails. She has reported to the authorities, and I have disconnected myself from her completely.

Just keep this in mind, and make sure your back is covered. It’s fine to be in a relationship with her if you two click, but it’s also nice to make sure that you have yourself protected.
Thanks for listening, and have a wonderful day!

That feeling of no one understanding

I’ll consider this to be that infrequent post where I dump my feelings at the moment for those that are in the same boat and need that hand on their shoulder.
As other posts on this site state, I am a leg amputee and have been for approximately 7 years now. This was the outcome of large pick-up truck running a red-light at 50 MPH just as I was in the middle of a left-hand turn into a gas station. This accident removed more than my leg, it removed a part of my soul.

At the moment I am near my 40 year birthday by 2 months, sitting and remembering my time. About the time of the accident, I was an avid cyclist, runner, body-muscle tuner, and I was only a few months from registering for the military for which I had tuned my body over a matter of a year or so. I wanted to be somebody, and I was hell-bent on it. That day removed everything I had worked for, including my pride.
On this day I sit on my chair and listen to the voices I heard people constantly say to me afterwards. From, “It’s only one leg, feel lucky you have the rest of your body” to “You don’t see everyone riding bikes and running, so your normal”.

It’s the little things of life that build up to be what you are, and who you want to be over time. Imagine one day waking up and having everything you hold as yourself taken away in the blink of an eye, with scars the rest of your life that resemble a scarlet letter. I can still feel the road under my feet in my mind, the cadence, the adrenaline slowly running through your body that numbs everything but your mind. It’s your world, no one can take it away you say… until they do. It’s a double-slap during those personal moments with your spouse or significant other.

For those that have had a part of themselves taken away, I’m here for you brother. I hold back tears at least once weekly because of it, and I know there are more than feel the same way. I don’t care what anyone else in this world says, it makes you feel like half the man you were before, and the only remedy for that is someone else understanding. Don’t try and make someone else feel better, just understand and accept.  It’s more than a wound, it’s post-traumatic stress.

Electric Lawn Mower (Worx WG782)

After moving back to Phoenix, the house I’m renting has a lawn. Naturally, I’m without a lawn mower since I’ve not needed one for nearly 5 years. I’ve had too many years of pulling rip-cords and changing oil for something that simply mows the lawn, so I decided it’s time to invest in an electric lawn mower. After seeing the different expensive ones, I ran across one that fits me nicely. I picked up a Worx WG782 battery-powered lawn mower from a guy on craigslist locally. Now, it’s definitely not for those that judge their testosterone levels based on their tools & lawn equipment since it’s very quiet and tiny. The one I picked up has a mowing base of 14-inches which isn’t great for larger lawns. However, mine is only about 30′ x 40′, so it’s fine.

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The Worx WG782 is quite nice, in my opinion. The handle has 2 cam-action lockable folding joints which is great for those that want to store the mower in an area the size of the 14 inch base. The battery is a sealed lead-acid battery (proprietary), and is quite light. When storing the mower, the battery is lifted from the rear of the base, and stored anywhere that is desired. The battery has an external plug-in charger which resembles a laptop charging pack. It charges in 4-5 hours, and theoretically will step down the amperage once it’s finished in order to trickle charge the battery, but there are conflicting reports that there are flaws with that. I personally just charge it until the red light on the charging pack changes to green, and then remove the battery from the charger to store it. Since the battery is sealed, it’s quite easy to manage as it’s like lifting a normal Ni-Cd battery that weighs about 3-4 lbs.
The mower itself is approximately 35 lbs, and after lifting the battery from the base (proprietary metal contact connections, just lift) the entire body can be turned over and cleaned/maintained with no worries. The blade is easily removable/replaceable, as well.
My first run with this mower was performed the night I brought it home. Yes, it was night-time about 9-10PM, with neighbors on each side. The battery was fully charged prior, and I started mowing the back yard. There’s a switch that is pushed to the side at the same time as handles are pulled, which avoids issues with the handles being pulled back on accident. The mower was easy to push, with very little resistance. It really felt like a toy, honestly. However, the results are what matter, and it cut the grass very nicely. This Worx model has “Power” & “Quiet” settings, and for all of my tasks the “Quiet” setting was used.

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For a couple of sections I did have to pull the mower back to get a “clean” cut, but this lawn had grown for a bit before I moved in which made the first run interesting. The blade spinning sounded like a box fan, and the volume was very docile. Even the grass being cut was quiet. The docs say the battery will last 30 minutes on “Power” mode, and about an hour or “Quiet”, and my mowing was about 35-40 minutes. The results were exactly what I wanted, mowed grass. I chose to use the mulching style which left the grass remains on the lawn for nutrients, however this model does come with a bag with a “bag full” indicator. After I was done, the battery charge indicator on the top of the battery showed a full charge, still. Oh well, I plugged the battery into the charger, and left it there for an hour or two until the green light came back on. The battery was then stowed away in a safe place (so I don’t lose it), and I flipped the mower to brush the remains off real quick and rolled it into the corner of the garage. Sure, the handle could be folded, I just have no reason to do that.

All in all, I’m happy with the purchase.  It’s light, relatively maintenance-free, doesn’t leave a smell of exhaust & oil through the garage, and is extensively quiet.  The very fact that I mowed my lawn at 10PM without the neighbors knowing is testament to that, alone.

Samsung LTE Mobile Hotspot Pro on T-Mobile

I’m relocated into the Phoenix area from Dallas, and found myself with very little internet at my disposal.  Big deal, most would say!  Just go to Starbucks, check your mail, or whatever else… then go home and do your normal stuff.  Guess what?  I’ve found my life so tied into the internet that the very idea is a little disheveled right now.  My AT&T plan on my iPad Mini wasn’t handling it since it was 2 Gb only.  After bouncing it up to 5 Gb (for $50…) I noticed they tagged it as being next months package.  In other words, the one you have for this month is this months and tough if you go over, you’ll pay extra.  Since I’m using it as a personal hotspot, of course data goes fast!  So, since I’m in the Phoenix area T-Mobile works pretty well.  I went over to their store and picked up the newest coolest hotspot they had… the Samsung LTE Mobile Hotspot Pro.

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The model is SM-V100T, but they gave it that long name to make it sound awesome I guess.  I’ve used other hotspots through the years, and honestly most fell short.  Not so much with the Samsung SM-V100T, it actually functions nicely for my use.  I’ve been using it for 2 days now in normal field use.  It’s been in one of my pockets, or on my office desk, not plugged in.  I have my iPad Mini connected via wifi to it continuously as a replacement for the AT&T sim built-in, and it’s surprised me.

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I use Google Voice over my iPad for telephone, and with T-Mobile it’s actually sounding more clear and crisp then when it went over the AT&T built-in sim which surprised me.

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The only downside that I’ve found is the web interface being very slow when your administering it.  Now, it’s not often you go in to administer it so that part is minor in my opinion.  The front screen is pretty much minimal, and only shows for 5-10 seconds after pressing either the WPS or power button once.  It displays the number of wifi connections (up to 10 at a time), the number of messages (texts) that have come to the telephone number attached to the hotspot if your into that kind of thing, along with the number of gb left.  With T-Mobile it’s technically unlimited so it displays that, but basically it’s only 2G (edge) speed after the ceiling of the plan you’re on.  I personally have the 8.5 Gb plan, which I have used about 2.5 Gb so far.

There is a default hibernation of 30 minutes for the wifi if it isn’t used, and pressing the WPS or power button will re-activate it.  The battery lasts a long time with that setting, but it interrupts the wifi connection life which to me is a not-so-good idea.  I went into the interface and turned hiberation off so my iPad mini wasn’t interrupted through the day and it lasted for about 10 hours of use.  Not too shabby, and that’s for an internet connection that is being used through the day.  If you connect a micro-usb cable to a laptop or computer and charge it, the life is obviously longer.

A huge upside for people with phones that charge by micro-usb cable is the feature this hotspot has of being able to charge those phones.  The red item on the lower right side pulls out and unhinges a red cable that goes around the device to pull out a micro-usb cable.  You connect the USB connection to the hotspot and the other end’s micro-usb connection to the phone, and the phone charging begins.  It’s a nifty feature for those looking for the occasional hotspot but the definite need for a battery backup for their phone.  I personally don’t use those phones and I haven’t tested it, but it seems pretty easy.

The ability to put Micro-SD cards into this device and work as a wireless file server is a nice feature, as well.  In the web configuration, the feature of usb tethering or file sharing from the micro-sd are options, and by default USB tethering is enabled.  This will need to be changed in order to use the micro-SD card over the network.

That’s about it!  I wanted to share my brief use with the Samsung SM-V100T hotspot.  It may be priced a little steep for some ($150-$170) but the features and battery life are the selling points.  Just for the record, I’ve connected my laptops and my desktop along with the iPad Mini to it without any problems.

Sourdough starter

I love sourdough, the problem is it’s too pricy for me to constantly buy small loafs that will disappear in 2 days… at $5+ a piece. Not to mention for me it’s hard to find a truly authentic sourdough bread in the stores since they are active dry yeast risen, and not fermented with true sourdough starter.

It takes about 7-10 days for sourdough starter to fully form, but it’s so worth it. The starter is used as a fermentation base when making sourdough bread. The yeast bacteria lives with lactobacillus (another bacteria) which excretes the flavor of the sourdough bread as it breaks down the gluten into simpler sugars. The beauty of it is the fact that it lessens the amount of gluten and lengthens the lifespan of the bread.

To make sourdough starter, you will need a gallon glass or plastic container and a porous cover so the starter can breathe during it’s fermenting periods. You will also need a bag of unbleached bread flour (or unbleached wheat flour, whichever). You will also need an environment around 75-85 degrees in temperature.
These instructions will last between 7-10 days, and each day will consist of stirring the ingredients in the container to mix in the oxygen along with stuff on the top/bottom into the mixture once more. Remember to mix the mixture 2-3 times daily.
First day: add 1/2 cup flour & 1/3 cup warm water (~100-110 degrees F) to container and whisk well to mix thoroughly. Place cover over container and put aside.

Second day: add 1/2 cup flour & 1/3 cup warm water (~100-110 degrees F) to container and whisk well to mix thoroughly. Place cover over container and put aside.

Third day: Pour 1 cup of the starter into a measuring cup to set aside, then empty the main container completely & clean. Place the 1 cup back into the container, and mix in 1/2 cup flour & 1/3 cup warm water. Cover and set aside.

Basically repeat the above, watching the ingredients yeast bubble after the third day and increase as time goes on. Once the yeast reacts within 10 minutes of the daily mixing, the mixture is ready. At that point, take a cup of the mixture, put it aside and clean the container. Add the mixture back in, and add 1/2 cup of flour & 1/3 cup of warm water, along with 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix together and place into the refrigerator.

This mixture will need to be “fed” with 1/2 cup of flour & 1/3 cup of water every week. Make sure to give the container room to expand by removing some of the mixture before feeding.
The mixture will evolve over time and become better with age.

Cancelling TransUnion’s three-in-one credit system (truecredit.com)

I’ve heard lots of people complain about the inability to cancel TransUnion’s three-in-one credit monitoring system. I’ve used it off and on for many years now, with great success. Other than calling their customer service number and asking for the account to be cancelled, the following URL can be used to simply cancel: https://tui.transunion.com/user/cancelMembership.jsp

I wanted to pass the information along in case someone needed to know fast how to cancel without going to the help page of the website.