Saturday, November 30, 2013

Technically Frustrating Weekend

Frustrating weekend from a technological standpoint.  I started to extend my WiFi signal as my AT&T Uverse modem (the HGV3800) has such a shitty WiFI range that it won't reach to the front of the house.  It also won't reach back to the guest house.  So Thursday I installed an additional Netgear WNDR4500v2 in the office to extend 2.4Ghz and add 5Ghz to the guest house and yard.  Then, it was thanksgiving and cooking the turkey called.  Next day - Friday, it was raining but I decided to complete the installation of my Sonos system.  I was getting extremely frustrated as the controller (my ipad) kept wanting to upgrade the components but the upgrade kept failing. Also, the components at the front of the house wouldn't pair up even though I installed a wired bridge up there.  Little did I know that all of this was because I was losing tons of packets on my Uverse connection.  I only figured it out Friday night when the TV kept freezing and then the DVR wouldn't reboot properly.  Continuous ping tests show big gaps of packet loss and high latency.

I called uVerse, got cut off 5 times (this is why I have a land can't do online tech support if your internet is down and you can't call them if you have VoIP, because your internet is down - which is how VoIP works.  Also, I have Sprint wireless which means that cell connectivity in my house sucks.)   After a frustrating experience just trying to reach somebody in India I was able
to get through and they are sending a tech for Saturday morning.  I finally had to force Dena to go to bed because she was getting mad because she couldn't do her homework.  No internet, hello!

Saturday morning arrives - The guy arrives at 9:15 am.  It's 11am now - he's still here.  I now have a new modem, all the connection wiring under the house is new, still dropping packets.  He just moved it from Coax to twisted pair - dropping packets. 

12:30p AT&T guy leaves - he's out of ideas.  We still have packet loss and pixelating on the TV.  So irritating.  I'm going for a hike to walk off my frustration and anger.

Update: came home tonight after a Hannukah party and tried to print something and it wouldn't work.  I pinged my router and my printer and was experiencing the same latency inside my own network!  I started unplugging things to find the culprit and discovered it was my Sonos Bridge.  Now, how do I fix that?  At least the internet and TV are fixed.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pre ThanksGiving 2013

This year we are breaking tradition and we are having Thanksgiving at our house.  We are making it kind of a pot luck where guests are bringing most of the side dishes, Dena is doing desserts and I'm the turkey and gravy gal.  I've always wanted to deep fry a turkey but after some research that seemed like it was going to be a pain in the arse from a clean up perspective.  What would I do with 3 gallons of used peanut oil?  Hot peanut oil.

So I decided to invest (not a great investment $99) in the CharBroil Oil Less Turkey Fryer.  This little beauty doesn't use oil - it uses infrared heat to cook the bird and frankly anything else that takes a long time to cook.  The one I bought holds up to a 16 pound bird and cooks it in 2.5 hours.  I brought it home from Lowes about a week ago and just forgot about it until Tuesday before Thanksgiving when I figured I'd better open the box and make sure it was all there.  Good thing I did because some assembly is required.  It took me about 35 minutes to put the legs on, put the lighting mechanism on and then the handles. Of course, there was a screw missing for one of the handles.

I actually read the directions and it tells you to season it several times (you can do it only once before the first cook if you want) just like you would grandma's frying pan.  This turns the inside chamber a kind of bronze color and allows even heating.  I have to admit, the people on the CharBroil website and customer service are quite nice.  I called Wednesday about the missing screw - they are sending me a replacement.  On the website they have lots of videos on how to cook your bird, mount it, stuff it, carve it, rub it, etc.  The actual cooking part, according to the video, is very, very easy.

To get creative I decided to do a rub on the bird.  A dry rub makes a nice crispy skin.  The rub I dreamed up has paprika, black pepper, sea salt, nutmeg, thyme and a couple other things in it.  I oiled up the bird, then rubbed it all over with my seasonings the afternoon before.  I also stuffed the inside with garlic, shallots, thyme and sage.  This all sat and "marinated" until 2pm Thanksgiving day when I took it out of the fridge, emptied the cavity (so as not to mess up my cooker), popped the bird in the basket and threw it in the "fryer".  If it turns out I'm going to be SO stoked.  You don't put a lid (the provided one) on it unless its windy and debris will get in or unless it 30 degrees outside.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Geocaching and Poison Oak

I had a chance to go out Geocaching today with the Geo Dog.  We were up in Franklin Canyon, an area I'd never been to before.  I was going for a newly published geo cache as the FTF (First to Find).  Not that it's a competition or anything, and not that I'm competitive, but you know....I had to do it!  Fortunately we were first to find and bonus - the cache was highlighting the unofficial geographic center of Los Angeles. 
  After that I couldn't resist picking up a few others in the neighborhood.  The last one I got was in a wooded area and shaded.  Geppetto and I went tromping around and came up with the cache without too much trouble.  We got home and I got on the computer to log the caches.  I had a few pictures I wanted to share.  I by chance decided to read the previous logs from the shady wooded cache (GoldenMonkey).  I was shocked at my stupidity.  I usually read the logs before but I was confident I could find it without any issues.  Every log said "be careful of the poison oak, it is everywhere".  I quickly got on google to see what it looked like.  I'm sorry to say I walked over and through all of it! 
Geppetto promptly went into the bath tub after I stripped off all my clothes.  I am highly allergic to poison oak, ivy et al.  I gave him a big old hug in the car on the way home.  I'm probably screwed.