Elementary Alternative

Our daughter has been driving our 2003 Honda Element on her own since August 2019 when she got her N. She may not have always sounded happy that she got to drive the car because it wasn’t newer like mine or her mother’s. But she still calls it “her car”.

Recently she mentioned that the Check Engine Light came on. Naturally we asked when she needed her next oil change. She was unsure because she didn’t ever watch her mileage. Turns out she was within a few hundred kilometers of needing it done. So she planned on going in sometime soon. No big deal.

The other day however, her Battery Light came on. That was interesting since we had bought a brand new battery days before she got her N. Turns out that today the car just would not start. My wife drive out to where she was and gave her a “jump”. As our daughter arrived at home, the car died and she coasted into the driveway. Seems like the alternator is shot.

After looking online, it appears to be a nuisance to get this replaced, although rather simple. So now I have to decide if I want to attempt it on my own, or pay someone else to do it for me. I’m leaning towards getting somebody else to do it. Mostly because it’s cold and wet outside and we do not have a heated garage. If it was summer- I’d sure give it the ol’ college try.

So all things considered, it’s only may that this added expense would happen right before Christmas, and right after we have spent a butt-ton of money on gifts. Le Sigh. It needs to get done. Oh well. Time to call a mechanic.

Pre-Christmas Online Fulfillments

Holy smokes have we been hitting the online purchases a bit heavy this year. My wife and I were a bit skeptical about the gifts arriving on time for Christmas. So we ordered in advance with plenty of time to spare.

This is the “condensed” version of what we have received so far. Amazon ships far too many packages with one or two items inside. It’s good in a way because we know that we are getting 90% of our stuff in time for the holidays. There’s a couple items set to arrive by December 22nd still. Which feels crazy in a world where we came accustomed to instant gratification.

I can’t really complain because we always choose the “Free Shipping” option. Sometimes it’s the next day, other times it could take a couple of weeks. Plus Amazon is great when you need to return an item or the item does a “no-show”.

All I need to do now is keep the kids out of the boxes and “Archive” the purchases so they don’t “accidentally” see an item that has been ordered. We all know how sneaky kids can be when it comes to finding out their Christmas gifts. I know I was pretty bad at spoiling the surprises for myself when I was younger.

Are you done shopping? Have you even started? Any horror stories of online shopping? Still looking for that perfect gift for your family members? Let me know in the comments.

Prepping For An Interview

Our oldest is currently in post secondary school studying media broadcasting and film making. One of her projects is an interview where the interviewee essentially monologues about something. Then she will show what they are talking about with some voice over work.

So she brought home her equipment as has decided to interview me. I get to talk about 3D Printing and how I got into it. As well she wants me to show how the machine works. Of course I jumped at the chance to help her out. And I get to talk about 3D printing- my latest hobby/obsession.

It’s not very often that my daughter wants me around. Naturally I am going to be there for her. Tomorrow I’ll continue to share about the experience. As it seems that for 3 minutes of footage it may take us all night to film. Right now she is setting up the lighting and camera. I expect to be sitting on the stool for an extended period.

Wish us luck for getting through this. I have to remember to step back and let her have full control. It is her project and her career path.

If You Can’t Find It- Make It

For a couple of years I have been searching out a specific type of clip to hold my outdoor Christmas lights. I always remember to look for them when the season starts at the various stores. But I haven’t seen them in almost three decades. It was when we first moved in that I had used the few we had left over as well as a clip that was close in shape. That clip was far more flimsy, almost intentional so I would need to replace them more often.

The Christmas light clip a simple design. The wires go through the zigzag and hold in place. I like how sturdy these clips are. Unlike the other ones I picked up that have snapped over the years, leaving my lights dangling down. This design was one my father had picked up back in the 90’s.

Because I was unable to find the clips in the store or online, my wife suggested I 3D print them. Brilliant! I went on Thingiverse and someone had uploaded exactly what I needed! I was so happy! So many exclamation marks!!! But in order to make them sturdy, I couldn’t speed up the print. 33 minutes it takes to print one. I need close to twenty replacement pieces. Good thing Christmas is a few weeks away.

As I searched online for the clips, I was in the middle of printing off another great item that will make life easier. I also didn’t know I needed it until I saw it…

I printed a battery dispenser for all my loose “AA” batteries. It holds 12 batteries in the lower part, and has a separate extension to hold more. Now instead of searching the junk drawer the batteries will have a happy little home and I can see when we get low..

Having a 3D printer is fun and has become very versatile in my day to day use. I wonder what else I should print?

BB-R2

I finally did it! I built an R2-D2 on my own. Sort of. I mean, it sure looks like an astromech droid. Only on a smaller scale. For ages, I wanted a 3D printer in order to build a life size R2-D2. But I needed to start smaller so as not to get discouraged.

I found a group on Facebook that creates droids for the 3D printers. They also offer plenty of advice for electronics, sound and lights to one another. You can join the group on Facebook and support the Patreon at Mr. Baddeley’s Printed Droid if you are interested.

I printed the parts over the past month in between all the other projects I had. My little droid was starting to come together.

Last week, I finished painting the droid. I used some acrylic paints that I had on hand. The metallic blue and silver completed the look and made it obvious that it is a droid. After my painstakingly careful paint job, I gave it a clear coat to seal the paint.

After weeks of waiting for parts off Amazon, I was finally able to assemble the droid over the weekend. I’m proud to say that my BB-R2 is completed. I added a remote control to it and he now moves and spins his head. Check out the short video below:

I’m extremely happy with the results. The files for this droid were top notch! I’ve learned a few things from this assembly… like patience, time and money are required… In January I plan on starting my full size droid. We shall see how long that takes. And whether my wife’s patience wears thin.

Forgotten Songs of My Teenage Years

This morning I spent a considerable amount of time putting together an eclectic playlist on Spotify. Find it Here. Creating this playlist sent me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia.

Many of the songs remind me of old friendships and fun times. Driving around town, sitting in my bedroom, even hanging out in class, buying albums through Columbia House, and overplayed songs on repeat. Using one headphone as you shared with a friend of the opposite sex and not hearing the stereo sound. But willing to sacrifice that for a chance to sit closer.

I still have many of my cds. But they are stored away in a steamer trunk as I don’t have a way to play them except in my car. And even then- using Bluetooth to play different playlists is the new normal. So much more convenient than the large booklets of cds we once carried around.

Enjoy the musical trip down my memory lane. A couple songs are NSFW but fun nonetheless.

Edit: An old friend asked to make this “Collaborative”. Anyone who knew me from my teenage years and can think of a song that reminds them of me- add away!

Staycation- All I Ever Wanted…

Today I am starting my 11 day vacation. I booked this time off in January as a “back-up” trip to Disneyland when I realized that July’s trip may get affected. And July’s trip did get affected. But so did my back-up dates. So now I am having a Staycation.

Today will be an ever increasing lazy day of sleeping and napping. Over the next few days the rest of my family still has school, online courses and work. I will have the freedom to do whatever I want. You know what that means…

That means time to get really invested in my 3D printing! Download files, prepare the files, print the files, curse that there is a failure, reprint the files, sand the print, paint the print, sand the print, paint, assemble the print, print another file, fail at that and reprint it… the list goes on. But I will have all the time in the world (or at least daylight hours) to work on my prints.

Since I am a Star Wars fan- I actually intend to print a life size droid. This week will give me a good jumpstart on my first one. I suspect it will take me the better half of the year to really get an R2 unit put together. So I may start with something smaller or easier. Yes- I plan on having a few droids built. Don’t tell my wife.

Having time for me is going to be nice. It’s been a very long time since I’ve really focused on what I want. Usually I put the family first and enjoy the ride. We will still hang out this weekend together, but during the week- that will be my time. Or rather, my 3D printer’s time.

Re-Learning How To Use An Apple Computer

Back in elementary school during the early 80’s I learned how to use an Apple IIe. A large floppy disk drive with a single button mouse and a black and green monitor. At home I was learning DOS on an Adam computer with magnetic tape drives.

In high school during the early 90’s I used a Macintosh. There was a computer lab- called the Mac Lab. My school also had two IBM labs. I enjoyed the shareware from the IBMs and programming, but my passion to create pixel art- was done on a Mac.

At home I’ve never owned an Apple computer. I always ran Windows based computers. But I still enjoyed using an iPod followed by an iPhone. A few years ago I picked up some iPad minis for the kids. Three years ago my wife got a MacBook for her work. Recently they updated her to a Google Pixelbook. So she had the opportunity to buy her MacBook Air, and she did.

So now I’m re-learning how to use an Apple computer. So far, a few hours have been spent. A few headaches, but I’m getting back into understanding once more how Apple operating systems work. It will be a family laptop for school mostly. But I look forward to being creative with Apple once more.

Friday’s Sideline

I can’t believe there is only 14 Fridays left in the year. There’s even a Friday the 13th coming up in November. But during all of what has gone on thus far in 2020- Friday happens to be just another day. No big plans ever get made anymore.

My Friday began earlier than normal. The smoke and hazy has been doing a number on my breathing. I feel like I did when I was a smoker- having to wake up with a “Smoker’s Cough” in order to start my day. Once I was awake, I just decided to get on with my day. Mostly obsessing over the 3D printer. (I did make chili at one point for dinner, but that was the extent of my other activities)

I like my new hobby. In a few days I’ll share with everyone the finished projects that I have been working on. I can also understand now why people own more than one printer- I have a slew of files saved and ready to be created. However, my big project- I plan on starting that in the new year.

Until then, I will be creating a few gifts for the family. Some will be sanded and painted, others shall remain unfinished and rough. Having a day to myself has been rather pleasant.

More 3D Printing

Yes folks, I am obsessed with this 3D printer. Sorry as well that I’m so excited about the stuff I’ve made. To be honest, the first few things weren’t for me.

After the First Fails and Finished mask straps, I went on to do a longer print. This next print took a little over 9 hours to do. It used 95 grams of plastic- about $3 to create. It is a cotton swab holder for my wife’s make up use.

Next I printed a couple of items for my coworker’s Tesla. This took about three hours to create. Now it is on to more important prints!

Having a 3D printer seems a bit extravagant. So naturally I went with a Bruce Wayne idea: a couple of Batarangs for my first movie prop. Fairly easy file to print. I’m in the process of doing the sanding, followed by primer, then more sanding, followed by primer, etc… until it is finally completed.

I’m not just a nerd anymore.

I’m Batman.

3D Printer Part 3: Wanting More

My list of possible 3D builds keeps growing. My family and a few friends have some requests that I plan on making. I also plan to do some 3D prints for donating to people’s betterment.

For me- I mostly want to do movie prop replicas. There’s something profound about building and owning a piece from a film. To me it feels as if I am a part of something bigger.

It also hits the nostalgia feels. I mean, honestly- who wouldn’t want a Proton Pack to fight ghosts back in the 80’s? Or open a can of shaving cream to find dinosaur embryos? Or find out who really shot first when you hold a Han Solo blaster?

I worry that it’ll be a rabbit hole of unfinished projects and a desire to own bigger and better printers. From the forums I am on, it seems that is the way of the 3D modeler. I have already been obsessing about getting another print going. I just need to wait for my spools of plastic to arrive.

I always love creating and making things to display and show off for fun. I shall accept my fate for my new found hobby. I only hope my wife and family also accept this burden I have bestowed upon myself.

You have been warned! When I obsess about something, I beat it into the ground. Just like a new song that I like. It falls into repeat for weeks on end. Or perhaps this will be similar to my love of disco. A variety of fun dance moves and love songs.

From Fails to Finished

Yesterday I set up a workspace for the 3D Printer I received the other day. Actually, my wife allowed me to use a small corner of her studio where she makes her wonderful hats. Check out her website- Ningen Headwear for some great winter hats!

I spent a good couple of hours leveling the bed, installing software on our computer, and getting a couple of designs ready to print. The first test design was a thank you to my wife for use of her space. She had made some face masks and wanted one of these to try out. It was technically “Headwear” related- Surgical Mask Strap. I figured it was an easy print and wouldn’t take very long.

Boy was I wrong.

After about half a dozen failed attempts just starting, I eventually got a print that was not at all what it was meant to be. It was missing some layers. Back to the Internet and YouTube to figure out my issue. Turns out I hadn’t set the proper parameters for my brand of printer.

A couple tweaks and we had a successful first print! Followed by two more successes! I could really get addicted to this feeling of accomplishment. But now I am out of my spool of plastic. Time to wait for the Amazon order to arrive. During that time, I plan on getting some more files downloaded and ready to print.

I see how this could become a love/hate relationship with a 3D printer.

Spotty Wifi

Today it seemed that our wifi suddenly went spotty. No reason at all. It just decided to crap out and reconnect. I love being connected to the world, so those three minutes were really tough. There were also tough because they happened a few times.

Since getting Google Nest wifi we have rarely had issues. We also upgraded our internet plan a couple of weeks back in order to get us faster speeds and connect more devices. So it was strange that our wifi was choosing not to connect.

Restarts all around! All devices and routers. Seems like our problem was just as simple as Turning it off and on again.

Yay! Time to stream more shows!

It Wouldn’t Keep Still

Today was one of those really busy days off. To quote Mrs. Premise: “Busy? I just spent four hours burying the cat.” It feels like all I’ve been doing is hardly making a dent on my projects. Just making more of a mess. Like trying to bury a cat that won’t keep still.

But I’m done for the day. Time to finish up making dinner and vegetate in front of the big screen and watch some shows. It’ll be some relaxing family time tonight in the theater room. Although I’m sure our oldest will be preoccupied with her new iPhone 11.

But some days I’ll take what I can get. Especially as the kids get older.

3D Printer Part 2: Building On The Obsession

Back in May 2018, I wrote about wanting a 3D Printer. 3D Printer Part 1: The Obsession It really did become an obsession. Where I joined numerous Facebook groups, watched tons of videos reviewing 3D printers, even got so far as putting one in my Amazon Cart. But I could never get myself to own one.

Until Now.

A few weeks back I was talking with my friend, Matt Harding about how I still want a 3D printer. Turned out he has a coworker that was also enjoying 3D printing. So much so that he owns numerous printers. His coworker also had one that he was kind enough to donate to me in order to fulfill my obsession.

I cannot thank my friend enough for his help in getting me a 3D Printer. I look forward to getting it running and attempting my first 3D Printing of… pretty much anything. Which will probably be a test print to level the bed.

But who cares? I now possess a 3D printer! Let’s get this thing making stuff!

Two Bar Island

About three years ago my daughter and I used the rubber dinghies and paddled to the island that we could see from the campgrounds. It took us an exorbitant amount of time to get there… and back. The next day, my son and I went. Still just as tough. More so because I was sore from the day before.

Last year we got our kayaks. It cut the trip down to about twenty five minutes. So we came every day to the island. This year is no different. Except that last year I discovered a sweet spot that I can get two bars of service on my cellphone.

I don’t think the island has a name. So my wife and I were trying to come up with one.

Cell Island

20 Mile Island

Two Bar Island

Signal Island

Any suggestions?

4,3,2,1 Amico!

A few months ago I mentioned how I put a deposit down on a “Founder’s Edition” of the upcoming Intellivision Amico: Mio Amico. I was excited for the chance to play some original“Couch Co-Op” games once more with my family. The system had a launch date of 10/10/2020…

Right in the middle of a console war between XBox and PlayStation for their newest systems. Probably not the best plan for a relatively unknown competitor in the video game market. The Intellivision Amico is not designed to be their competition though.

“At Intellivision, our mission is to use technology to bring family and friends back together by delivering simple, affordable, family-focused entertainment to everyone.”

Tommy Tallarico, CEO

The Amico is designed for simplicity. I like the idea of the system and the affordability of the games. To me this is like buying a cellphone and some apps that can be shared amongst family and friends on the tv. The graphics and gameplay demos for the games look great. Playing games in a group was always a favorite of mine.

As of late, with the pandemic and lock downs, we have been playing more games of this style on the Nintendo Switch. If you have kids or like the idea of games you can play and stop at your leisure- I do recommend the Switch.

Time For A Tech Break

Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.

It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.

I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.

Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.

Vehicle Milestone

It’s always fun to see your vehicle hit certain milestones. I was on my way to work this morning when a numerical one hit my odometer.

Yes, I’m a dork and stopped to get a photo of it. Good thing it was 5am on a Sunday and no one was on the roads.

I get pleasure from the simple things. Like seeing my odometer hit 123,456km. Yup, I also reset my Trip counter to add in the 7.8! I’d been planning this moment for a few days. Now to figure out what the next fun milestone will be. I can’t believe I’ve owned this car for three and a half years already.

Do you get little pleasures from numbers and sequences like I do?

Mr. Canoehead

My buddy at work and I were talking about weekend plans. I said I usually go into the weekend without much in the way of plans. He pointed out that I build something almost every weekend. Looking back at the past few weeks, he isn’t wrong.

This weekend I Upcycled A Greenhouse

Two weeks ago I Built a Front Porch and Porch Swing

I’ve done numerous things around the house as well, finishing off floors, painting rooms, building an Axe Throwing Pitch, and trying out various baking. I’m always busy even without planning it. I hadn’t really noticed. I just like to make stuff.

My buddy was laughing and we talked about how if a tree fell in my yard, I’d end up carving out a canoe. What would be more Canadian than carving out a canoe? It got me thinking about an old Canadian TV show- The Frantics and their character, Mr. Canoehead.

The Frantics starred four Canadian comedians, one of which was Rick Green, who many know as the duct tape guy from the Red Green show. But I also remember he did a talk show in the early nineties called, Prisoners of Gravity. This show was like the early days of video podcasts. His character was stuck in a space station, as an escapee of Earth exploring the issues examined in science fiction/fantasy literature and comics.

One of my favorite episodes was when he talked to the creators of The Watchmen comics. That really got me into the idea that comics are an art form that can be enjoyed by adults. This show was before ComicCons and superhero movies really took over our lives.

But I digress. I don’t have the talent to carve out a canoe. No matter what you might think. I’ll just continue to tinker and build stuff for fun and share my stories. And be a nerd along the way.

Fortnite: Father/Son Gaming

My son and I were busy building a front porch the past couple of days. It gave me a great opportunity to share some knowledge about building and power tools. By the end of the build, our son had a blister from using the drill too much. That’s the sign of a hard worker!

While we were building, we talked. Me explaining the build, him telling me all about Fortnite and how to play. I promised him that I’d play some video games once this deck was completed. Originally I was hoping for some MarioKart or something simple that I can press a couple of buttons for. Not a PS4 controller with over a dozen possibilities.

We played Fortnite for a little over an hour. Time really flies when you play video games. I can see why he gets sucked in for hours on end. But he taught me to play and was very patient with my Noob skills. He has been playing this game for A Couple of Years Now. He walked me through the basics and “Protected” my lack of skills from the enemies. We did alright in one match, coming in second place.

If I want to continue with our bonding, I’ll definitely need to get more practice in for games like this. It just sucks that in a house of five, we all play video games and the PS4/Nintendo Switch are on the big screen. We have the old PS3/Wii hooked up in my bedroom. Unfortunately neither of those are capable of playing Fortnite.

I like that he can teach me stuff and I can teach him. In the end I have created a fantastic father/son bond that I shall hold onto for the rest of my life.

Pac-Man Turns 40!

Ghost munching madness! Pacman is effing 40! I remember seeing the arcade game for the first time in a convenience store when I was like 5.

Since then I have bought numerous reiterations of the game on numerous video game consoles. From Atari to PlayStation 4, Gameboy to 1st Gen Video IPod: Pac-Man is my “Go-To” game. I will play it for hours on end.

Scott Pilgrim

Ten years ago I was excited that the Google Doodle was a playable version of Pac-Man for the 30th anniversary. And just think, In ten years it’ll be the 50th Anniversary of the game! Crazy.

But those 8bit sounds and simplistic graphics paved the way for generations of games and players.

Yes, Pac-Man is a great game. I’d love to own an original upright cabinet or cocktail table version of the game. Until that day comes, I’ll just play it on our big screen. I really enjoy playing Pac-Man Championship.

Did I tell you that I like Pac-Man?

Houston Trail

On Friday, the family and I went off to hike another local trail. This one was much busier than Aldergrove Regional Park. But everyone on the trails were respecting the idea of Physical Distancing. Way to go people! The 3.3 km hike around Houston Trail took us around 45 minutes.

We stopped a few time to really admire nature and it’s wonders. The natural way the cohesive balance of life intertwines still amazes me. My family and I somehow got on the topic of “The Matrix” and how the corona virus is almost like a reset of humanity . Giving us pause to reflect on the simple things in life that we take for granted. Such as these walks that we can saunter through without feeling rushed to get to the next big event.

I’m glad the BC has kept the parks open for people to wander. The fresh air and natural beauty helps to clear the mind. Even if we were plugged into the Matrix, the computers are doing a decent job at randomizing life.

Calendar of Events

Our kids are doing the “at home school” stuff these days. These days they’re doing well keeping up with the assignments as well as joining their online classes.

Our kids are great at putting up their unique school schedule up on our calendar. The planning started off slow as the teachers and students tried to navigate this new world they are learning in. But now there is plenty of action going on. As well as emails and online learning at their own leisure.

This new process is working for our kids. Mostly. There’s a few snags, like making sure they are putting in 100% effort in the homework. Or lack of socializing with peers to discuss ideas. But this is uncharted territory for learning. It could become the new normal. And as a human race, we adapt and overcome.

Even though the days are passing by, and the kids have been stuck inside, our calendar is getting filled.

WordPress Issues

Recently WordPress wasn’t posting to my Facebook. I contacted them for help and they offered a solution. Removing and re-adding the Facebook page. Seems pretty simple.

So this is my test blog to repair the fix. Considering it took me a week to discover the flaw on Facebook shows how often I go on it.

Hopefully the solution WordPress offered up works. Facebook followers, let me know if you read this. Or don’t let me know and let me worry about the linkage not working some more.