Story 5Aug2022: Day Off

Susie is improving, and I have no symptoms of Covid-19. Therefore, I continue with the second long weekend I have scheduled for August. I will get a four-day break this time, taking off Friday and Monday. I still cannot visit Susie as she is locked down in her room at hummingbird house.

The morning started with waking and getting started before my 7AM alarm. I was up and making breakfast when the alarm went off. I took the blueberries I bought at the farmer’s market on Thursday and made pancakes with them. I made buckwheat pancakes remembering back to Laingsburg, Michigan, in the 1970s and the Pancake Breakfast put on by the Lions. I was always surprised that it was this flavor, but Mr. Hurst or Tom Mahoney insisted (I never learned why). So I fried hot cakes with huge berries, and they were so good I ate three fry cakes.

Aside: Pancakes, fry cakes, and hot cakes are all the same thing.

I then wrote the blog and managed to finish it before 10AM. After that, I put away my work laptop to help me have a break from the shoe company.

I then showered and dressed. Next, I grabbed the ladder and more tools and went after the light fixture in the hallway. It is a sealed LED fixture and matches two others in the hallway and entrance way but is blinking. This is the second time I have had to replace one in the exact location. I discovered that I had purchased a mismatching fixture after I opened the box (it looked right on the box), and this new one uses LED lightbulbs.

Frustrated that I could not match the fixture. I got on the ladder and took down the failing fixture. I saw this fixture is the first in the series of hallway lights and that the twisted wires looked old. I thought maybe the connections failed as the wires are over forty years old. I cut off the ends of the wires, after turning off the lights, and retwisted them (not as neatly as an electrician but good enough, got new twist-on wire connectors (I have a jar of them I had to then find in the garage), reconnected the old fixture, and put it back. I was now tired and reached my limit for ladder work, and the blinking did return. I will have to replace it after all of that.

I put the ladder in the spare bedroom and then heard the doorbell. My network repeater had come from Amazon. It was expensive ($90) and uses the house wiring to connect to the network and then broadcasts WIFI. I want to use Corwin’s room as an office, so I need fast Internet. I managed to plug in the new hardware and start new WIFI access.

I tested it, and it was slow; I was disappointed. Next, I tested my normal network from Xfinity (Comcast); it was slow. I reset my modem using Xfinity’s website–still slow. I called Xfinity after trying to get the bots on the website to do something. The phone bot then insisted on resetting my modem and texting me back. I consented. I had also looked at replacing the Xfinity cable connection with a new fiber network apparently available in my area for fifty bucks less a month.

Ziply Fiber is a new, less than a few years old Internet provider that bought out another company in the area. It does not provide cable service but can provide phone service. It is about $100 a month and provides 3x the speed offered by Xfinity. Tempting.

After more back and force and a call from the bots of Xfinity, a human finally decided to help me when I asked for additional help, “Cancel my service.” I was still not talking to a tech person but a sales person trying to “save” the account. On Monday, a service truck will be coming to look at the issues at the house. I suspect the cable connectors outside the house have started to fail; that was wrong last time. I have coverage of all the cables, including those in my house, for a few bucks a month.

This started to become a big issue, as I am often online. Zoom meetings at Nike are reporting that I am garbled, and I don’t want to be “that guy” with the cheap Internet connection. It is vital with us working from home that the Internet connection is excellent and fast.

I will switch to Ziply if this continues ending my twenty-year with Comcast. I was one of the original fiber customers–they had to run a wire from the switch down my street (we are still on poles here) to bring me their service. So I had unusually clear and fast service for years in the early days of the Internet.

I called Susie at hummingbird house in the late morning and talked to her for a bit. Susie is feeling better, and I spoke to her for a bit on the phone. Jennifer, the nurse aide, puts it on speaker for her. Susie is bored and tired of being locked down in her room. They did get the cable working on her TV in her room, according to Jennifer. Susie sounds better.

After talking to Susie and dealing with Comcast, I was ready to board Air Volvo. I flew Air Volvo into the Friday morning traffic to reach Portland. I headed to the Northwest area near Good Samaritan Hospital (a place I know well) and parked at the synagogue, which allows paid parking at any time except Saturday morning and early afternoon. I paid $5 for an all-day pass and walked down the hill after helping a gal to understand how to pay for parking with the machine (you supply your car’s license plate number, the time of your stay, and pay money–paying for up to two hours or all day).

I headed to the Red Onion Thai restaurant. I had last been there when Susie was in the hospital, and Leta and Barb (Susie’s mother and sister) came to see Susie around Easter. I wanted to try it without all the worries that distracted me before.

The food was terrific, and the service friendly. I discovered about 10% of the folks are still masked in Portland, with those who deal with the public more often masked for all the obvious reasons. I wear my mask when in buildings or when it gets crowded.

Next, I went to Paxton Gate, a store specializing in old skeletons, taxidermy animals, and other dead things, including insect boxes. The store is not creepy and not dusty, and the staff is all good-looking young people (all masked, and the store has a sign that “Masks are Preferred”), creating a friendly feeling amongst all the dead things, very Harry Potter.

I purchased an anthology: The Weiser Book of Horror and The Occult. The book includes Crowley, Poe, Lovecraft, Smith, and other well-known spooky storytellers. The store has other esoteric for sale and did I pass on the little vials containing tiny rattlesnake fangs. Definitely, a place to purchase party favors for a wicked Halloween get-together.

They provide a mystery box service. You give some money, at least $40, and some suggestions that will help them select appropriate items from their stock, and they will create a curated gift for you. A store that I think an Addam’s character would love.

After that, I tried to get the ice cream from Salt and Straw, but the place was packed. So I headed to Function Hospitality‘s basement bar. They had a focus on beer from North Dakota. Got to try a bar that uses a math function as its logo!

They were playing newish rock and serving very fresh beer. I got a table and started to do some writing. The place was busy, and I was the only gray-hair person. While there, I finally got my groove back and started on a Dungeons and Dragon 5E adventure I have tried to create a few times. I wrote most of one encounter while drinking beer. I wrote for an hour or more.

It was now 3ish, so I decided to try for the ice cream again. I went into a madhouse that services ice cream. Every inch was a person in line, eating or paying for ice cream. No-go for me.

Disappointed but unwilling to be infected with whatever version of Covid-19 goes best with ice cream, I walked back up the hill. I took Air Volvo across Portland; I love driving through the town (now that the protesting is mostly over) to Guardian Games. There I grabbed a table; I had the colossal gaming hall all to myself–I was allowed to play until 6PM as they had an event at 6:30, set up the board game Pax Parmir for solo play, and enjoyed trying to remember how to play. The game is lovely and is not intuitive or easy to follow. You play on a small cloth map printed to look like a carpet with a map of Afghanistan. Cards in the board game represent the events, personalities, and opportunities of the Great Game in the 1800s and early 1900s. The game includes a deck of cards to run a special artificial player that represents not a faction but an idea, the Wakhan. And as you can imagine, an idea is a hard thing to defeat–and it is.

Pax Parmir is a political simulation game where you align to Britain, Russia, or the tribes of Afghanistan and then collect a court of supporters represented by cards you purchase. A player is aligned to a faction and has a wheel to express your current alignment, which, as the wheel suggests, is a temporary direction. The solo device, Wakhan, is aligned to all factions, making it easier for it to score and can keep supporters from other factions in its court. You, as a player, can add another faction supporter to your court, but you must then drop any factional supporters you have and change to your wheel to show your new alignment. Thus players can add neutral supporters without change. Sudden alignment changes are a feature of the gameplay.

Points are scored when dominance is determined. Armies and bridges are counted by faction; if one faction (Britain, Russia, or Afghanistan) had four more, they dominate. Supporters of that faction and the Wakhan score points by how strong their support is for the faction. If there is no dominance, the player with the most spies and tribes they have in the game scores. So scoring can be surprising in Pax Parmir.

This is just the setting for a solo game! I have metal coins made for the game that is hard to find. You can usually only get this game as a Kickstarter.

After 6PM, I packed up and walked through Guardian Games. I did buy the newest book for the Role Playing Game (RPG), Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu Cults, and promise M@ that I will not read the adventures at the back of the book so M@ can use them. Guardian Games will supply a link to a free PDF version of the book, so I like to buy RPG books from them.

I saw the store had four copies of the Arc Nova board game–a hard game to find, but I decided I could play Richard’s copy for a bit longer ($75). I did have the game in my hands for a while, then regretted the price and put it back. I drove home, recrossing Portland again, and saw that the bronze elk was not yet back on its stand.

Air Volvo reached home at about 7:30ish, and I made a salad for dinner. Next, I made a pot of tea and wrote more Dungeons and Dragon 5E encounters. I regretted the tea later as it was hard to sleep when I went to bed at 10:45ish.

It was a good day off, and I was happy to finally sleep after 1ish.

Thanks for reading!

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