Labor Day Weekend 2020 – Pandemic Edition

Normally we’d be spending Labor Day Weekend over at Disney, our end-of-summer family tradition. But (no) thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic we cancelled our annual passes last month and for the first time since 2012 we’re spending the holiday weekend at home. I’ll be barbecuing on Monday, though, so there’ll be some semblance of normalcy.

At least sports are back! I haven’t been watching the NBA bubble since the Cavs aren’t in it, but on the baseball side the Rays are solidly in first place in the AL East (5 games ahead of the Yankees) and the Indians are currently tied for first in the AL Central with the White Sox. It’s a little weird that we’re halfway through the abbreviated season that started back at the end of July. I actually went ahead and purchased an MLB.tv subscription (through Amazon Prime) so I can watch more of the Tribe.

Even weirder, though, is Stanley Cup Playoff hockey in September!! 😮 The Lightning (in the Toronto bubble) started as the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference and after a record-setting 5OT Game #1 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, went on to win the first round in 5 games (revenge for being swept out of the first round round by the Blue Jackets last season!). In the second round the Bolts faced another familiar foe, the Boston Bruins. Boston was in first place in the Eastern Conference when play was suspended back in March but went 0-3 in the preliminary round and was seeded 4th. I almost think that might have been on purpose to get the other teams to underestimate them, and you should never underestimate Boston. It was tough, but the Lightning came out victorious, winning the round in a double overtime Game 5 thriller. On to the Eastern Conference Finals in Edmonton … go Bolts!! (they’re still awaiting their opponent, Game 7 between the Flyers and Islanders is tonight)

Fitbit Charge 4

For an early Father’s Day gift this year my wife and daughter got me a Fitbit Charge 4 to replace my Fitbit Charge 2 (my third Fitbit device over six years). Other than a cracked screen (which I’ve been living with for a while) there was nothing wrong with my Charge 2, but we’re going to be running our first 5K at Disney (pandemic-permitting) in January and I guess this is a way to encourage me to start training! 😀

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Canon PIXMA TS9120

Canon Pixma TS9120

I went to print a color document on my Epson XP-410 printer the other day and, despite non-empty ink cartridges, got a print that was missing several colors. I ran the print head cleaning procedure multiple times, replaced ink cartridges, even manually cleaned the inside of the printer and could not get it to print cyan or magenta anymore. Epson support said I could send the seven year-old unit in for repair, and offered me a discount code for a newer model, but I decided it was time for a change. After my requisite online research, I selected the Canon PIXMA TS9120.

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iRobot Roomba i7

Roomba i7We purchased our first “robotic” vacuum cleaner back in 2005 (the Roomba Red) and since then we’ve owned two more, the last being the 589 Core (which was a warranty replacement for our 530 in February 2014). I had replaced the battery a few times already in the 589, so when it stopped holding a charge again we decided to get a whole new unit and bought the iRobot Roomba i7+ with Clean Base.

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Facing the Focal Fossa

Time for the spring sports update! Oh, wait … there aren’t any spring sports (or any sports) right now! 🙁 I’m glad I at least got out to Arizona to see some spring training baseball before everything shut down due to COVID-19. And there’s always the NFL Draft tonight which ought to be interesting with everyone staying safe-at-home.

At least, despite all the other craziness going on in the world right now, we can still depend on April having a new Ubuntu release: 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa was released today!

The do-release-upgrade was going smoothly until, after I selected “d” to perform a diff on an affected configuration file, the screen process terminated, leaving the dpkg upgrade process orphaned! I had to kill the dpkg process and then issue a dpkg --configure -a to finish it. After re-applying my changes to the necessary configuration files and rebooting, I only had two minor post-upgrade issues, thanks to the new version of PHP, so:

  • I had to disable the php7.3 plugin for Apache and enable php7.4
  • I had to install the php-xml package for php7.4

Other than those hiccups, everything else went fine.

Oddly, I can’t find what the code name for 20.10 in October will be. I guess like the US economy, that’s on hold for now too. 😮 Hopefully by then the world is back to normal. I probably won’t be talking about playoff baseball, but I’ll take what I can get!

Working from home tech

Like a lot of other people in the world right now, I just finished my first week of working from home due to COVID-19. I’m a little luckier than most in that I’ve already had a lot of experience working from home, and my job as a systems administrator lends itself to working remotely easily. I also already had a home office area and relatively robust home network. Still, working from home every now and then is a lot different than doing it for (at least) three weeks straight during this time of “social distancing” and “sheltering in place.” I’m not supposed to return to the office until April 6, so what technology am I using to stay connected and keep doing my job?

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Spring Training 2020: Home and Recap

I groggily awoke as we landed at the CLT airport around 6:10am. As luck would have it, my connection was just two gates away so I grabbed breakfast at Starbucks and did a little walking to get my step count up before boarding the flight to Tampa. By 10:30am I was back home, Cactus League Spring Training Trip #10 in the books.

It’s March 1 and my annual spring training is just ending (that’s just not right!). The Indians come to Tampa early in the season too this year (April). So after that, unless I go to the odd Rays game, that’s the end of live baseball for me in 2020! And having seen all Indians losses this trip, I hope to see a victory over the Rays when I go next month.

Another weird thing about going early: no NCAA basketball. That’s usually a staple for us, watching tournament games while out in the desert. But I don’t care about that because my #4 Dayton Flyers are undefeated in the Atlantic 10 and no doubt will be dancing later this month! Go Flyers!!

The Vegas side trip was a lot of run. Sure, it was a 485mi drive from Phoenix, but getting to check off another spring training ballpark and doing some hiking was worth it, despite our run-in with the LVPD on Friday night! 😀

Looking forward to the regular season now …

Spring Training 2020: Day 3

Leap Day baseball!

We thought we would end up sleeping in this morning, with nothing to do until the baseball game at 1:05pm. But we were both up at 7:45am so I did some quick research and realized that Red Rock Canyon was only 20 minutes away. I had hiked in the canyon during my first trip to Vegas back in 2015 with college friends and since our annual spring training normally involves hiking and we hadn’t had a chance to do it back in Phoenix, we decided to drive out there before the game. We had breakfast at the hotel around 9:30am and checked on my brother’s progress in the Mississippi Blues Marathon (which is why he couldn’t come with us on the trip this year), and my niece’s solo and ensemble competition (which my other sister had flow back overnight for) before checking out of the hotel and getting back in the car.

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Spring Training 2020: Day 2

Normally Day 2 would start with a morning hike one on the valley’s mountain trails, but our traditional routine is a little compressed this year due to my one sister’s short stay with us. Instead, we got up early (around 7:30am), had breakfast at the hotel (including leftover cowboy frybread from dinner last night, yum!), checked out, and drove to Goodyear to see the Indians’ morning practice.

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Spring Training 2020: Day 1

It’s March February … time for baseball! After going to Arizona for my annual trip out to the Cactus League late in the spring training season for the past two years, this time I’m going early. The trip includes a Leap Day game in Las Vegas! New tech since my last trip includes a nice pair of noise-cancelling over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones and my Canon PowerShot SX740.

Despite growing fears around the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), including a case in Phoenix, I flew out to Sky Harbor airport early (5:30am) and lucked out that the only empty seat on the place was the middle seat next to me, nice! I landed at 9:45am MST and met my sisters who had both arrived earlier. This is my one sister’s first trip out with us so we’re looking forward to having her share in this annual tradition.

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