There’s been some advances this past month or so, and a few new challenges. Where to begin ?


I’m not quite as excited about this as I was when last December I had our roof replaced with a standing seam metal roof, but it’s a good second place for the year. Almost two weeks ago my old builder-grade wooden garage doors, which despite my best effort to the contrary, were loud and rumbly when opening and closing. Being a quarter century old, the bottom panel was starting to rot from the backsplash of water.

Because so many things were questionable about the setup, I went all-out and had the doors, the rails, the framing, and springs and motors all replaced. While not cheap, they now open and close quietly. The doors are insulated metal with glass panels near the top to let a little more light into the garage.

Treadmill Desk

After months of trying, this afternoon Timothy helped me get my treadmill desk functioning again. Its controller/console died in the middle of Lent this year. It almost felt like evil was tempting me because one of my resolutions was walking daily on it.

I got my multimeter out early on and determined that the lower electronics on the treadmill were fine and it was sending power up to the desk, but the console seemed just fried. It showed no signs of life. I called a local treadmill repair guy and he was a bit surprised as the maker of my treadmill rarely has electronics issues. I tried to contact the OEM’s support, but waited weeks with no reply. Finally I went to the site’s sales side. Of course there they are hoping to close a deal and have plenty of staff ready to respond. I stated that I didn’t want a whole new treadmill, but just the console for my model. After a bit of back and forth I was finally able to purchase it. It arrived this afternoon and a couple of hours later I took a break and worked with Timothy to install it.

And it all Just Worked.

It’s such a relief and I’m grateful that Tim’s tinkering/repair gene was there to help me get it setup. Otherwise I might have waited a bit longer to find the time.

Synod on Synodality

Yesterday wrapped up the fifth and final weekly session for our local area meetings in support of the diocese. In a sense the meetings were more about the hierarchy listening and gathering a sense of things rather than asking for approaches or solutions. Similar to how a doctor might want vital stats, some tests, or scans before taking serious action, this was about how parish/community decisions are made, how voices get heard, who might be left out, etc.

It was a bit frustrating, especially for the men that met. By nature women have a tendency to want to share their feelings and frustrations, to be understood. Men do want to listen, but also a large part of our nature is that we want to move towards a fix, solutions, proposals, resolutions, action. Looking for solutions was really not a part of the charter of these meetings.

Nevertheless I’m glad I got to attend, to speak up where I could, to ask questions, to dialog with other nearby parish leaders, meet new faces and catch up with a few old friends.

RealID Bureaucracy

On June 22nd I had an appointment with our local DMV. My driver’s license would soon be expiring. Not only did I plan to renew, but I was also hoping to upgrade it to one that meets the Federal government’s new RealID requirements, which may be needed to fly even domestically in the next year or two. I went in with my ancient birth certificate, my social security card, and my current license.

It would’ve been fine, but I was born overseas on a military base and for bureaucratic reasons, they needed a more recently issued birth certificate. “Come back when you get a fresh one” was the general tone I got as I left. Before heading out my current license was cut, and a temporary paper NH license was issued until the state’s laminated one would come in the mail. Note the NH default licenses do not meet the stricter federal guidelines for RealID, but are sufficient for driving.

Surprisingly it wasn’t that hard and about a week later I had three fresh copies of my birth certificate. Being the DMV I had to wait about another two weeks for an appointment.

On July 15th I had my followup. I brought my old and new birth certificates, my social security card, and the paper license that had been issued me three weeks earlier.

This time they couldn’t issue me an upgraded license because they said I also had to wait for the laminated NH license to come in the mail from the state. Why didn’t you mention that on the last visit? Perhaps they thought getting the other country to re-issue me fresh birth certificates would take several weeks?

Alas a day or two ago my laminated license did come in the mail. Now I need to make yet another appointment. Third time’s a charm?

NextCloud and Syncthing

As part of an effort to rely less on services like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. in February 2021 I created a VPS (Virtual Private Server) instance to have my own, privately managed “cloud”. On it I installed the popular “NextCloud” software, which I would recommend for small businesses and entrepreneurs. While it does have apps, the primary thing I was using it for was cloud based file storage.

There were two minor things that still bugged me:

  1. This VPS, while rented, is still “out there” on somebody else’s hardware. It was still possible someone might hack or do a bit of social engineering to have my little server brought down.

  2. While there are some dedicated apps, NextCloud’s forte is through it’s Web Apps. While it doesn’t bother some, I do tend to get tired of things that tend to be predominantly browser based.

Since my primary goal was to have a common repository of folders that I could access on my laptops, phones, and tablets, there was another way: local peer-to-peer file sharing. The most popular app in this domain is probably SyncThing. The main issue is finding an appliance that is usually running 24/7 to host the files and run the service.

Luckily I have a NAS (Networked Attached Storage) on the home network. It didn’t take long to install SyncThing on it. At first I put all of the data files I had been storing with NextCloud. Over the past month or two, I’ve been just using SyncThing. On a computer it’s just a matter of saving to the right folder(s). On phones and tablets it’s even easier as one uses Android/iOS and “Shares” to SyncThing. My five primary devices are all communicating with the NAS whenever home and it is responsible for mirroring the directories to each of them. It’s like your own personal “Dropbox” that the outside world has no visibility or control of. I may shut down the NextCloud service soon and maybe even cancel the VPS instance.

Herman Miller Aeron desk chair

As my bithday approached I looked to gift myself a replacement work desk chair for my home office. My chair was quite old, creaky, and falling apart. Several online forums had good suggestions, and it often came back to this model of chair if you have the means. They are exorbitant when purchased new, but several mentioned that great deals are usually found online for lightly used or rebuilt ones.

As luck would have it mine arrived right on my birthday. It was mostly assembled except for four screws needed to make for slightly easier shipping.

I will say this about the chair: yes, it is comfy, quiet, and it is built like a tank. So solid. No creaks. It also “breathes” quite well, which is handy as the summer is here.

The only complaint I might have about mine is that it sinks about 2+ inches when I sit in it. The air cylinder may need adjustment or maybe just outright replacement. Luckily a new cyclinder it typically just around $30 or so.