The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 85-91)
Day 85. (TFC Talking Technology For Most Of The Morning & Setting Up A Cellular Signal Repeater To No Avail)
Today started off rather sunny but throughout the morning the wind picked up a good bit and it felt much chillier outside than it actually was and I wound up spending much of it talking technology (mostly stuff about Steemit and cryptocurrency) with several of my fellow homesteaders. Even though the morning was not all that productive I at least found the conversations to be engaging, educational and enjoyable.
Later in the day I finally got all of the stuff together to install my cellular signal repeater. As handy as such devices have proven to be in the past they have been rather useless here due to not just the terrain but also because of how far away the closest cellular tower is and how it is positioned in a low lying area. If the tower was located a mere half mile from where it is and atop a hill instead of down in a valley perhaps it would service the area better!
As far as cellular connectivity goes I can actually get a pretty decent signal (with the cellular repeater) but I cannot get it to get an actual data connection. I was really hoping that this time of year with all the leaves falling off the trees that I would be able to get a good data connection but so far that just has not panned out. I will assuredly keep trying to aim the repeater in different directions and also try my other 4G repeater as well but I am not all that optimistic that it will work any better.
There is supposedly another cellular service provider that works better in this area but I am entirely loathe to purchase another phone (or even a 3G or 4G device like a router) and setup an account on the 'chance' that it would work better. I should probably just be content with using the WiFi here but it is on a satellite connection and given the number of users and the delay (from it having to travel to space and back) it gets a bit frustrating at times to do stuff online with it. Besides all of that I just like having my own internet connection and being self-sufficient in that regard.
Well I have rambled on enough here and am going to wrap this up, get it edited and posted and call it a day. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
Day 86. (TFC Configuring A LAN For Gaming & Playing My Favorite Video Game With A Fellow Homesteader)
Well today was by far not a very productive day as far as physical labor goes but hey I am rapidly sliding towards my winter downtime without much guilt or regret.
Seriously it has been a pretty whacky year thus far and one that has wore me down in so many ways and made me really push myself to get to where I am now...which is to the point where I just really need to take an extended break.
If you need a little recap here it is: In early spring I found out that my 'forever home' was my 'you have to move home' and I had to not only kiss nearly three years of hard work (building a homestead) goodbye but I also had to dismantle said homestead, find a suitable place to move me and the dogs to, burn up all my resources on moving to the place I found, camp in a tent for nearly two months while I cleared a site and built a little shelter in the woods (along with doing a bunch of other stuff) and then finally get the shelter 'finished' enough to winter in.
I know it doesn't sound all that bad when I sum it up like that but ugh it was one hell of a process and one that I somehow managed not to let crush me along the way and a process that I assuredly had some help with from other folks which is probably why I came through it all feeling rather sane and more or less on an even keel through it all.
Everything being rather pleasant at the new place has done me well but at some point I am going to have to de-compartmentalize everything that I experienced with my last journey and sort through how I really feel about it because at this point I feel like I have some stuff to resolve before I can truly 'let it go' and move forward.
On a different note one of my fellow homesteaders recently expressed interest in playing my favorite video game with me so I helped to get it setup on a computer of theirs and then had to reconfigure a bunch of stuff on the LAN (local area network) to make it so that we could play it together.
The way that I get the WiFi here via those three routers that I purchased explicitly for extending the existing WiFi network it was a bit tricky but eventually I got it to work even though it took me most of the day to figure out a solution. It is still not a 'perfect' setup because the other person has to host the games for it to work and I have to join the games which works and all but my Linux computer would make a way better host. I have not given up on getting the configuration right (so that I can host games) and tomorrow I am going to try a few more things and see what happens.
Anyway late in the day (once I got everything 'working enough') we actually got to play for several hours and although it wasn't exactly super fun (because they are a total noob and have a lot to learn) it was nonetheless quite enjoyable.
Well that is about it for now and it is once again late at night and I am going to just plan on getting this edited and posted in the morning. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
Day 87. (TFC An Early Morning Dog Chase, More Router Configuring & Taking A Much Needed Nap)
Today started off rather whacky because after staying up really late reading a bunch of technology stuff about setting up various types of servers along with further research concerning router configurations I was really slow to (and rather uninclined) to actually wake up and get out of bed.
At almost eight o'clock this morning I awoke to my boy dog pawing at the door to be let out so I groggily obliged him (as well as the other dogs) and in the process I got a bit of a chill from the cold morning air so I crawled under the blankets while the dogs were outside and told myself not to fall asleep because I would need to let the dogs back inside after a few minutes which I totally failed to do because I immediately fell fast asleep.
About an hour later I was awoken by a few of my fellow homesteaders outside the shelter informing me that the dogs were running lose. My sleepy mind could not put all the pieces together and I asked one of the folks whether they had accidentally let the dogs out when they opened the gate to the dog yard but they said they did not and pointed my attention to a section of the dog yard fence that had been pulled down by the dogs where they went over it. The fence being temporarily installed has one particular spot that is not all that taut and the ground being uneven makes the top of the fence lean inward where the dogs (especially my long legged boy dog) can easily reach the top of it.
Thankfully the dogs all came running back when I called them and all of them except my big momma dog ran back inside the dog yard immediately. The big dog came trailing behind the others and was not quite as cooperative and ran off down the main trail. Knowing that she has a tendency to wander rather far (given the chance) I took off running in pursuit of her which was undoubtedly a comical sight because I lacked a shirt of any kind, was in my house slippers and was wearing a pair of pants that are not just too large in the waist for me but also lack a button/clasp at the top of the fly and thus were falling down as I ran. To put it mildly it was an absolute cluster fuck and once I caught up to the dog she turned around, ran past me (back towards the way I had come from) and right as I caught up to her she veered off the path and leaped over a stone wall that borders the property. Somehow I managed to hold my pants up, scale the wall, catch her on the other side and walk her back to the dog yard hunched over holding her collar in one hand and my pants in the other.
It being a chilly morning and not having had my coffee before all the excitement I should probably have been quite irritated by it all but instead I just shrugged it off as my own damn fault for having fallen asleep after letting them outside to do their morning business in the dog yard.
The dogs being cooped up these last many weeks (because it is hunting season) have done remarkably well so I can't be too upset with them for wanting to run around a bit and like I said at least they all came running back immediately upon me calling for them.
Anyway I decided after all that to just 'take it easy' once again today and besides tinkering with the configurations of the routers here and updating the firmware on the one at the homestead proper I did not really do anything other than eat some food and take a really long nap at the end of the day.
Honestly I feel pretty fucked up for not relentlessly pushing myself each day to do a bunch of physical activity but perhaps I have done enough of that for one year and should just let myself fucking relax and slip into my winter downtime mode and start planning my activities for the coming springtime.
Well that is about it for now. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
Day 88. (TFC A Rainy Day Spent Mostly Indoors, Walking Around In The Rain With A Heavy Machinery Operator Looking At Projects To Be Done & Totally Busting My Ass On The Shelter Entrance Ramp)
Although I got up early and was planning to work on installing more fence posts for the dog yard the weather just did not cooperate. There was a few hours very early in the day when I probably could have gotten the fence posts in but I spent that time chatting with some of my fellow homesteaders and eating a rather yummy breakfast of french toast. It was definitely a bit of a weird morning because it was really warm and almost got rather sunny before the sky abruptly darkened and the rain started.
I wound up just staying inside with the dogs and passing the time by reading a bunch of Steemit related stuff and trying to troubleshoot some bugs I have encountered in that custom Linux distribution that I have been testing for the last few weeks. As for the Steemit stuff I love learning new things about the mechanics of the blockchain and all things related thereto but as far as the Linux thing goes I really opened a can of worms by fiddling with various Wine versions and inadvertently breaking it's usage of my soundcard.
It turned out to be one long dreary rainy day but it was quite nice to just hang out with the dogs in the cozy warm shelter and piddle around on the computer.
Late in the day a local fellow came by the homestead to look at some projects here that will require some heavy machinery work so he and I (everyone else was gone on errands) walked around the place and got to discuss the projects themselves as well as some of the logistical challenges involved in accomplishing them. We of course got rained on the entire time but thankfully he brought an umbrella with him and we were both able to discuss things in great detail without feeling the desire to get the hell out of the rain. All in all it seems like he can do the projects and is willing to do them rather inexpensively compared to other heavy machinery operators that I have worked with in the past. The fellow also has a really good understanding (and many years of experience) doing site development so as you could imagine I had an enjoyable time talking with him and I even learned some new stuff to boot.
Just as it was getting dark the rain slacked up a bit and it got a bit chillier outside. I admittedly was in a bit of a hurry as I was walking down the shelter's entrance ramp with an open bag of dog food in my hands and I should have been being more cautious (because I had slipped numerous times on one of the muddy rugs on the ramp throughout the day) but accidents happen and this time when I slipped on the ramp my feet shot out from under me and I failed to either catch myself, cushion my fall or anything like that and came crashing down on my backside. Somehow I managed not to spill a single kibble of the dog food but damn I sure felt stupid (and injured) laying there half on the ramp and halfway in the mud at the foot of the ramp. Thankfully I managed not to break anything or get more than a few bruises but I really need to come up with a better solution than the ramp soon!
Well that is about it for now. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
Day 89. (TFC Lots Of Rain, Being Cooped Up All Day & Solving My 64-Bit Software Problems)
Well like the title says it rained a lot and it was the heaviest and most prolonged downpour that has occurred during my entire stay here. Although I was thinking of walking around the homestead and seeing what the surface water was actually doing (pooling, running, causing erosion etcetera) I was still feeling rather sore from the fall I took the other day and decided to forego tromping around in the rain and traversing the mucky terrain.
What I did do was dive further down the rabbit warren of looking for solutions to those bugs/glitches that I have encountered in my customized Linux distribution. I generally try to spare folks the technical details but here is a bit of a summary of what I have been trying to iron out the kinks of.
For many years I have stuck with using 32-bit operating systems even though 64-bit systems have been out for quite some time. Part of doing things that way has been that the hardware I have had available has been 32-bit devices but the major reason is because of the inherent 'stability' of 32-bit systems. Although the 64-bit stuff has come a long way (especially in the last few years) it is still rather buggy and nowhere near as refined as what is available on 32-bit systems.
I made the switch to 64-bit mainly because most of the software that I have found for interacting with the Steem blockchain is only available in 64-bit versions and the Brave web browser is only available in 64-bit as well. Basically the first few versions of my customized Linux distribution were 32-bit and although I could get some things to work on it...it also severely limited my options on what software I could use so I changed to 64-bit which made a lot more possible but also opened up a massive can of worms in regards to being able to play the games that I want to play which are also (you guessed it) 32-bit games.
The games themselves are not designed for Linux so I use a combination of PlayOnLinux and Wine to run them which has worked superbly well for many years on pretty much every 32-bit system that I have built. Hell the whole reason that I learned as much about Linux as I have is because nearly fifteen years ago I ditched using other operating systems and began exclusively using Linux just so I could play my favorite video game without having to deal with an inherently unstable system.
Anyway when I got my latest version of my customized Linux (I call it Steeminit Alpha2) installed I quickly realized that my games were not performing all that well and I was also having a lot of issues with my soundcard failing to function and everything I did within PlayOnLinux and Wine just seemed to 'break' things further. I have now purged both of them and all their dependencies three times from my system and started from scratch to no avail because basically fixing one thing would inadvertently break something else.
It was all super frustrating and I have spent an incredible amount of time the last few weeks so deep in the technical rabbit warren that I often found myself wondering if I should just ditch the entire 64-bit approach and return to the more familiar territory of a 32-bit system.
When I was first designing Steeminit I had tried to install a program called Lutris which is a pretty awesome piece of software that is designed to run games from many platforms on a Linux system including native Linux games. It is kind of like a mashup of PlayOnLinux, Wine and various emulators on steroids with lots of possibilities as far as customizations go to bring stability and work around various bugs to deliver an awesome gaming experience.
My description does not do it much justice so I highly recommend checking It out for yourself if you are into that kind of stuff. Anyway I wanted to install Lutris in Steeminit during the build process but alas their site was down at the time (so getting the software wasn't an option) and I just made a mental note to try to get it at a later date and also try again when I compile Steeminit Alpha3.
Well I could have spared myself hours and hours of frustration trying to get my gaming stuff working if I had started with using Lutris on my 64-bit system because I finally got it all installed and after a minor learning curve I got my favorite game running rather smoothly and without the random crashes and soundcard issues that I was previously experiencing which is absolutely fucking awesome in my perspective!
Well that is about it for now. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
Day 90. (TFC Reaching My Ninety Day Adjustment Period, Noticing A Few Large Bald Face Hornet Nests, Staying Warm On A Chilly Day & Totally Scrapping/Re-Thinking My Customized Linux Distribution)
I finally made it to my initial ninety day adjustment period at the new place and am feeling pretty good about not only the way things have gone but also about the way things are going as well as how the future is looking. It is always an odd (and albeit lengthy) process for me to settle in to a new place with new routines but somehow I have managed to do it here at Fantastica without much in the way of hiccups, snafus or too many mishaps along the way.
Sure staying in a tent for the first fifty days was not all that enjoyable but it wasn't all that bad either. The way that I initially had the dog yard setup around the tent worked pretty damn well and the dogs adjusted to the new scenario rather rapidly which assuredly eased the transition on my part as well. It is always a tricky prospect moving to a new place with dogs and no shelter other than a tent but fortunately my dogs are well accustomed to 'making do' at a new place as I get things setup and do not really make things all that much more difficult for me along the way and in fact they do quite the opposite!
All in all I think that both me and the dogs did magnificently well making ourselves at home here and considering how rapidly I was able to get a site prepared and build a pleasantly warm/dry/cozy shelter without completely wearing myself out...speaks volumes in and of itself.
Anyway it was a chilly day and I spent the majority of it trying to iron out those bugs that I mentioned yesterday (aka 64-bit hell) and although Lutris ran my favorite game marvelously well offline...It repeatedly crashed while trying to play online (which is where I mostly play the few times a year that I actually do play) so I wound up sort of back where I had started which was trying to iron out the bugs and get things working. I eventually did get things working by using another piece of software called Q4wine but the results (as far as performance and stability goes) were not to my satisfaction.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that I needed to just scrap the gaming aspect of my customized Linux distribution because I initially set out to create an operating system that was centered around dApps, blockchain technology and most of all...all things Steem related!
In this instance the building of a gaming system totally sidetracked me from the original goal and I have now spent several weeks banging my head against the proverbial wall at every turn in that regard. The funny thing is that along the way I did accomplish the primary goal of building a customized distribution that absolutely meets my Steem needs so now I just need to start from a clean slate and focus on constructing a Linux distribution without all the gaming frills.
For anyone interested in how I solved the gaming stuff I partitioned my hard drive and installed a lightweight 32-bit gaming Linux distribution on one partition and the 64-bit distribution I am working on for the Steem stuff on another partition. Maybe at some point in the future I will attempt to merge those two things (gaming and blockchain) but for now I am entirely content to divorce the two projects from each other and spare myself any further headache.
All that jazz aside when I was walking around taking pictures I noticed a few rather large bald face (some folks call them white-faced) hornet nests really high up in some trees here. They are both somewhere around sixty-odd feet up in the air and one of them in particular is the largest one that I have ever found myself and is quite near my little shelter. With nests that large around I am going to have to be vigilant during the warmer months for them building nests under all the dry area I have created in the woods at my shelter site.
Well that is about it for now. Cheers to ninety days! I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
Day 91. (TFC Operating On Too Little Sleep, Modifying A Cellular Repeater Antenna & Getting Lost In The Decentralized App Rabbit Warren)
I didn't get much sleep last night because I stayed up so late tinkering with the way that I have that 64-bit laptop setup. Somehow I still managed to get up at around seven a.m. (after only roughly two hours of sleep) and have a rather productive day.
Immediately upon waking I was surprised to see that during my 'technology binge' I had consumed nearly all my coffee so I scrounged around the camper that I have been using for storage and found an old (probably several years old) partial bag of coffee beans that was in the camper's pantry and with some assistance from one of my fellow homesteaders I got the beans ground up. I generally just get pre-ground coffee for the sake of convenience (and price) and since I am currently loaning my hand crank coffee grinder to some of my fellow homesteaders and my electric powered ones are stored away I had to use an electric grinder at the homestead proper and needed assistance with it because the switch on it falls off and admittedly I was operating in a bit of a fog and a fellow homesteader was kind enough to assist me with getting my precious beans ground up.
As far as the coffee goes I had been trying to make it last and stretch it as far as possible until after the first of next month when I will do my shopping for dog food but I did not quite make it stretch far enough.
My shopping routine has been pretty skewed ever since moving here and instead of doing what I like doing which is to only go shopping once a month I have been getting things as I run out of them which I don't like at all because it means that I am actually running out of things at several intervals throughout the month. I will undoubtedly get my supply runs dialed in to once a month again and for now there just is not much I can do about it except to keep squirreling money away so that I can eventually afford getting everything that I need for the month in one trip.
Basically I have never quite recovered from the expense of moving nor gained enough 'extra' income here to get me 'ahead' again because the 'extra' income that I did generate doing those odd jobs I spent on finishing my shelter. I am assuredly thankful for having a warm and cozy shelter and that the folks here feed me and eventually I feel confident that everything regarding funds and supplies will work out one way or another.
On a different note I have been thinking a lot about getting my own internet service here but it seems like either satellite or perhaps cellular broadband are the only options. The satellite solution just seems all too pricey (and inconsistent) and although the cellular broadband might work I have serious doubts as to whether it could get enough signal here to be worthwhile. I decided to try to get my own cellphone working. That particular phone is the one that I have used as a WiFi hotspot in the past and have nearly always managed to get some sort of signal with it with the aid of a repeater and now that I have both my large repeaters setup here I figured that I would do some further testing.
When I setup the repeaters the other week and tested them I would get an intermittent signal that would last a few seconds and then evaporate again so I decided to modify my smaller antenna by placing it inside an aluminum tube (the same one I used for a WiFi antenna a few months ago) which has worked really well in the past to focus the antenna to reach a distant cellular tower. After lots of slowly rotating the antenna pole I finally found a place where I get the best reception and although I can get a rather consistent signal and even gain a data connection it isn't enough to actually do anything with.
Basically the phone makes a data connection but it won't actually transfer any data over it because the signal is just too weak to negotiate the transfer protocols. I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do next because more powerful antennas are rather pricey and even with a stronger antenna I am unsure that it would help given the surrounding terrain here and the distance to the cellular tower.
Anyway after giving up on the cellphone stuff I dove into researching various dApps (decentralized apps) that I might be able to include in my customized Linux distribution and whoa is there a lot of them out there that do so many different things (and many that do the same things) and after hours and hours of reading, researching and in some cases test piloting I think that I have begun to narrow it down a bit. A lot of the stuff I was looking at is website based so as a sort of solution to including those I began testing some of them with a piece of software called Ice SSB which basically turns a website into a standalone app by launching it in it's own browser instance which is pretty damn handy!
Well that is about it for now and I am going to wrap this up. I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 8-14)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 15-21)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 22-28)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 29-35)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 36-42)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 43-49)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 50-56)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 57-63)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 64-70)
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 71-77
The Fantastica Chronicles (Day 78-84