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As the 300 is clawing it's way to 300k miles (at 294k as of this post), repairs/maintenance costs are starting to add up. Outside of the 100k mile service (spark plugs, transmission/diff service), I'm about due for new shocks/struts, and the A/C system is starting to act up. By act up, I mean it was actually blowing snow inside my car the other day. It doesn't help that I have the A/C turned on year round, so it shouldn't be a surprise after 13 years it's time for some attention. After some research, I decided to try to tackle this myself. If I only have to replace the compressor, it should be fairly painless. If the problem is system wide, requiring the dashboard to be pulled, it gets painful real quick. By most accounts, pulling the dashboard takes approx 4 hours to pull and 4 hours to put back in. Anyways, I borrowed a gauge set from a buddy and picked up a vacuum pump from Harbor Freight. I'll do some initial diagnostics before having the refrigerant evacuated. This should be an interesting learning experience to say the least.

Happy Alien Day! In remembrance for the crew of the Nostromo's fateful visit to LV-426 and the launch of one my all time favorite movie series. This year is also the 40th anniversary for the original 1979 Alien release.

It's been pretty slow around these parts since our trip. My current project at the house is purging a growing collection of just parts, pieces, and other various stuff accumulating over the years. I'm also patching the drywall on the staircase for the basement. I had to cut some drywall to run cable for a wall mounted TV on the other side of the (shared) wall. This wall is unique, as it used to be the outside wall (pre addition) and I didn't factor in the fire blocks in the wall. If anything came out of this, It was the creation of a bigger dustless collector for the wet/dry vac. The one I bought years ago for the addition was a half-gallon bucket using 1/2in corrugated tubing that worked fairly well, but its small size was a hindrance. The one I made is a 5 gallon bucket using 1.5in PVC. The idea came from this Instructable.

At work, I've been playing with a software stack known as ELK, for ElasticSearch, LogStash, and Kibana. Specifically using this stack for analyzing network traffic flows (Netflow). Initially started this on an Ubuntu 18.04 server, but have since moved things over to FreeBSD for familiarity. With the exception of LogStash, it's all JAVA based. Our edge routers send netflow streams to LogStash collectors, which are then stored on the ElasticSearch storage system. Kibana is then used for data visualization and reporting. Pretty slick stuff.

Despite telling ourselves that we would be holding off vacations for the next couple of years so we could afford to send our daughter to college, we ended up going on vacation for Spring Break. This years destination was Texas. We took an early bird flight to Dallas, grabbed a rental car and drove down to Houston to see Space City. Took a tour to see Mission Control (at the least the backup/training one). We honestly thought we'd only be there for a couple of hours, but honestly, we could have spent the entire day there.

From there, we spent two nights at a hotel on the river walk in San Antonio and saw the Alamo. We spent most of our time in San Antonio on the river walk. We even managed to catch a Spurs basketball game one night.

From San Antonio, we drove back up to Dallas for two nights. Visited the book depository and the JFK 6th Floor museum which was very well done. We had a chance to meet up with my wife's uncle and he took us to the Re-Union tower and then we had dinner at their place. Overall, we had a pretty good time, though I did manage to catch a hellacious cold that started to manifest the last night in San Antonio. By the time we got back home, I was a full blown mess.

Two things I regretted not doing on the trip: Lime Scooters and I never got a steak dinner (because I was feeling kinda crappy). I think if we ever do go back to Texas, we will definitely be going back to San Antonio. For the record, I drove just over 1200 miles on this trip.

Happy PI Day!

I spent the bulk of last month fighting a cold and trying to figure out my nephew's car issue regarding the TPMS, ABS, and stability control errors. I picked up yet another tool, a Foxwell NT630 OBD/ESP/ABS scanner. I'll admit this was a risky purchase as I wasn't exactly sure if I could reset the ABS with it, but since my wife and daughter both drive KIA's I figured what the heck. At least I could diagnose those cars. All in all, the unit paid off, as it diagnosed the problem as an issue with the rear speed sensors. I had replaced them twice to no avail. On the other hand, I got nothing accomplished other than knowing what the problem is.

I also had been working on the MAME arcade cabinet over the past couple of weeks. I replaced the monitor surround to accommodate a different monitor, replaced the joysticks with servo-controlled 4/8 way restrictor plates, and illuminated buttons to select the mode. Hoping to have everything documented in the next couple of weeks.

Finished up my nephew's car (for the most part) this past weekend. As I was replacing a section of the brake line, I noticed a small puddle of fluid dripping from the front end of the car. I pulled the belly pan and tracked the leak down to a corroded transmission pan. The pan is mounted vertically and does not have a drain plug. Fortunately, the new Capri Tools Vacuum brake bleeder I got from Amazon really bailed me out. This is more so since the entire brake system had been drained dry due to the leak. The car is back together and runs great, but it seems that disconnecting/reconnecting the battery has triggered some ECM issues as the ABS, Airbag, ESC (stability control), and TPMS lights are stuck on, but no CEL light or errors?

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