Piddling

I took a break from researching the countless different Medicare supplemental insurance plans to sit down with the keyboard… something I haven’t done in quite a while. I just really like the song Severely by FT Island, so I listened to it a couple more times and started picking out the chords by ear as best as I could – and this is what I’ve ended up with so far.Β πŸ™‚ Yeah, a little bit of cheating by using the auto accompaniment, but I do still have to key in the proper chords to make it sound right.

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Unrelated to Adulting

Okay, now that I’ve got all that other shit out of my brain for the moment… now I can write about the other stuff from the past week or so. Let me start off by talking about a new toy that I couldn’t resist. 😊 It was only $80 shipped, which isn’t too bad… and considerably less than what the original (with disk drive) would have cost new. It’s called The C64 Mini, and while it’s not an official Commodore product, it’s essentially an entire C64 emulated on a teeny board, in a teeny replica of the original “breadbin” style Commodore 64.Β πŸ˜ƒ And before you ask, no… the keyboard doesn’t actually work… but you can plug a USB keyboard into it and use it as an actual computer – and the company intends to come out with a full-sized, completely working replica soon. 😁

I’ve yet to even power the thing on, because I’m waiting for a spell when I’ll be able to do nothing but mess with the thing… which will include upgrading the firmware to allow me to load any program from a flash drive, and loading it up with all of my favorites from when I was a kid. It does have 64 licensed games built in, but most people are like me and get it so they’ll have the closest thing to an actual C64 – but with HDMI output – for the best looking Commodore 8-bit computer ever. 😊

I suppose everyone has a “thing” from their generation that they loved when they were younger, and therefore want to have again once they’re old. 😏 Classic video games and Commodore computing are definitely my thing, the same way that HAM radio is Dad’s thing… and like me, he’s still got a few toys as well that he plays with to this day.Β πŸ€“ I’m even learning how to take a C64 disk image, open it on a Windows 10 laptop, add or remove C64 programs as I see fit, and then export the new C64 disk image for use on this thing. 😯 That’s how it is with me though… give me something I’m genuinely passionate about, and my brain will start absorbing everything that it needs to know about it.

Okay, gotta keep this entry short-ish. 🀨 Maven is almost completely done with her home-grooming, which means my bathroom and living room carpet areΒ covered with poofed hair for now. 😟 I’m lucky that she’s so cooperative though. In fact, for the most part she loves the process. Bri came for a visit right before Halloween, not only to hang out (she drew the face on the pumpkin and I carved it upΒ πŸŽƒπŸ˜) but to also distract from her mom’s deteriorating health. She’s actually had a couple of good days, so it was nice to see her have a little more energy. However, my friend Greg, his mother passed away this past week. 😒 She was having a rough time, so it’s one of those deals where you’re almost relieved.

Cassi came down to spend the night on one of her days off. Her life is so hectic, between all of the hours that she’s been putting in lately and then having her, her mom, and her (very opinionated) 17 year-old sister all there at her house, making noise at each other. 😏 So coming here, even if half of her time is spent sleeping… it really is like a teeny mental vacation for her.Β πŸ™‚ Plus she helped me out with some chores, including the whole de-flea-ing process with the sprays and the carpet powder, etc. (Plus the most important and helpful thing… getting Maven to swallow that damn Capstar flea killin’ pill.)

As we sat in the living room watching the new “Charmed” show, we also each had our notebooks and were fastidiously jotting down the things that we intend to work on in the next few days. It’s strange how just having her here “working” in the same way that I was, how it helps to settle my brain and let me get down to business without getting as easily distracted by Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. 😡

So there ya go… just so you don’t think my entire existence is grumping and bitching. 😐 There’s always some good sprinkled in there – and even when it isn’t “good” in general, I’m thankful that I have the right kind of friends to help me through those times, and vice versa.Β πŸ™‚Β Okay, carry on…

3am Check-In

I’m having one of those nights where I find myself wide awake at 3am, so I came over here to barf out a blog entry… but now that I’ve done so, I realize that I don’t really have anything to talk about. πŸ˜’ Hmm… the night before last, I heard an incident on the police scanner where someone’s couch was set on fire and they were stabbed, and they even had to have a medical helicopter airlift them to a hospital in Columbus. 😳 And that was about all the info that they gave – which was sort of a tease… but of course I hope the d00d is okay.

I dunno… today was just kinda shitty, and this up-all-night crap isn’t going to help me in regards to tomorrow. I’m not going to count on tomorrow sucking though… but I am preparing myself just in case it does. I think that whenever I wake up, I should be able to shake it off and hit the reset button for the beginning of the week. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈΒ We’ll see…

Alright… gonna go time-lapse the night sky again and see how that goes. πŸ€“

EDIT: I think what I need to do, is to just go ahead and say “Okay, you fucked up… tomorrow’s probably gonna be a write off.” and not stress myself out too much about trying to make tomorrow “count” – if I know that it’s just not gonna take. So, if I’m able to be productive or do the things I want tomorrow? Great. If not, then I’ll just cross my fingers, take some Tylenol PMs at a “normal” bedtime hour, and just try again the next day.

The Future Is Now

It’s been a long time coming, but all of the public service agencies in my area have finally switched out their radios, and are now using digital transmitting/receiving rather than the old analog systems that had been in place and unchanged ever since I was a teenager. πŸ‘΄πŸ» So the old police scanners that nearly everyone in Lancaster has… they’re essentially worthless now, at least when it comes to monitoring all of the action in town.

I’m not sure if it was a financial or transparency-based decision, but while they’ve upgraded to a fully digital system, they’ve decided against using encryption. The easiest thing to compare it to is the way that television broadcasts have changed over the past 10 or 20 years. No more analog signals, but if you have a digital cable box or digital tuner you can easily pick up the new transmissions. It’s the same thing with the public service radios… it’s just a different means of broadcasting. πŸ€“ If they went with encrypted systems though, it would be similar to how wireless phones use digital signals, but they’re also encrypted so that nobody but the caller and recipient are able to hear what’s being said. 🀨

The bad news? While you used to be able to buy a $40 scanner to listen to police, fire, and rescue… digital scanners are significantly more expensive. So much so that many people can’t or won’t want to make the upgrade to continue following the activity. πŸ™ And, at least here in Lancaster, an always-running police scanner has been about as common in homes as a stove, fridge, or washing machine. 😏

I had actually been considering getting a new scanner myself, going so far as to have “shopped them out” online so that I knew what I would get if the cost didn’t make me cringe so hard… and while I made the decision then that it was too expensive, hitting that little jackpot at Hollywood the other day has changed my tune. πŸ€— Oh, I still cringed when I loaded up the page of the one I wanted, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

The Homepatrol-1 units are basically “Digital Scanners for Dummies.” Where most other next-gen scanners are more computer than radio (with endless programming options and tweaks accordingly) the Homepatrol-1 is more about an easy listening/monitoring experience. It has built-in memory with a database that covers the entire United States, and it is updated weekly by the manufacturer – based off of frequency information provided by the users and staff at RadioReference.com

So, with the way our local departments are still going through changes, as the current frequency information is discovered and updated on the site – all I’ll have to do (in theory) is punch up my zip code in the scanner… and all of the agencies and radio options will automagically appear before my eyes. πŸ˜€ So, along with it being one of the cheaper scanners,Β that’sΒ what actually sold me on it. The ability to start using it as soon as I get it, without having to spend hours figuring it out and programming it. It does have many advanced options though, especially through the included Sentinel software that is used for easier/quicker programming… so yeah, it’ll still be something to challenge my nerd brain as well.

I’m sure it probably seems like a frivolous purchase to a lot of people… but living by myself, outside of the city limits, away from the humans… having a scanner running gives me the sense of “staying connected” with a community that I still consider to be home, even if I’m not in the heart of it. (Plus there’s all kinds of other stuff to search for and listen to on top of that…)

180 Minutes

As usual, knowing that I have things that I want to do today, my brain decided to screw my sleep last night. πŸ˜’πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Strangely enough, even after getting only three hours of sleep this morning, I actually woke up without much pain and feeling pretty good. πŸ˜§πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Perhaps it was a positive product of not being in pain when I went toΒ sleep as well… and the early rising was likely due to my subconscious thoughts being all “BLARGHARRGGH STUFF TO DO TOMORROW ARGGHHBLAHH” thanks to the plans floating around in my head.

I’m not mad though… I mean, there’s not much I can do about it anyway. 🀨 I’m not even feeling stressed, so I don’t know why my brain decided to cut my sleep short, but I’m actually glad that it did. Because, first,Β I plan to spend all of this morning and some of the afternoon just being lazy, while also working on some bills – and second, it should work wonders for getting me on the right schedule for my upcoming appointment with my neck doctor. β˜ΊπŸ‘πŸ» I’m sure I’d feel differently if I hadn’t been gifted this inexplicable yet reasonably good mood upon opening my eyes.

While I’ve been sitting here at the laptop, I used the time to download several different RTL-SDR programs for use with the NESDR SMArt USB tuner that arrived the other day. πŸ€“ I’m still amazed that it, along with a handful of antennas, only sets a buyer back twenty-five bucks shipped. 😯 The build on this thing feels solid, too… with them having spent the extra money to put these things into brushed aluminumΒ housingsΒ rather than using cheap plastic. The drivers installed without issue when I plugged it up to the laptop, so as soon as I’ve got an hour or so of uninterrupted time ahead of me I’m gonna start figuring out what all she can do. 😎

Now, if I was smart I would use this extra “awake time” to stop by my doctor’s office and make an appointment regarding my thyroid. But, at least for today, I’m not claiming to be smart. πŸ˜” I’m already planning to stop by and see Mom and Dad late in the afternoon, and I don’t really wanna drop the “unknown” of scheduling an appointment to find out what’s wrong. πŸ€• I know, making an appointment todayΒ wouldn’t mean I’d be seen any sooner than in a couple of weeks, but I’d rather just not plop it in with today’s events – especially when I’m feeling better than average at the moment. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Okay, I better get my ass off of here and get busy chilling. (And bills. Don’t forget the bills. 😏)

I Vaguely Remember Hobbies

Accidentally allowed myself to feel a little too good yesterday. 😏 As a result I spent a good chunk of the afternoon and evening talking at length with Jim, Amy, Genesee, Ric… and here it is almost 7am the next day and I’m still wide awake. πŸ˜’ Not a big deal, I guess, since I already dealt with the pressing phone calls yesterday. I suppose I’ll just see how long I can stay up, take a nap for a couple of hours, and then hopefully get myself back onto a normal sleep schedule tonight. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ If not… meh.

I ran into Ric (online) as I was watching the Logan Police Department’s live stream. We were catching up with each others’ hobbies, or lack thereof, when he asked me if I had looked into software based radio devices. πŸ€”πŸ€“ I remember Dad talking about being able to buy cards or external devices for amateur radio use, which could be controlled by a GUI on a PC… but I realized that I never looked into it any further than that.

Well, I guess the current “big thing” is police scanners that operate in that same fashion. A few years ago, when many of the LEOs and EMTs started going to trunked or digital systems, the only real games in town were Radio Shack or Uniden police scanners that could easily run in the $300 to $400 range. 😬 But as Hong Kong has a habit of doing, there are now $25 devices (USB? Other?) that you can hook up to a PC that can do the same thing as those scanners (and more) once you find the appropriate software. πŸ˜ƒ

So yeah, that definitely perked my ears… and after I get some rest today I’ll probably get back on the laptop and start doing a little research on those things. The info comes at just the right time too, as my portable scanner is starting to show its age. I’ll update further if I end up pulling the trigger.