Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Newberry 2019 - Festival Report

I honestly wasn't sure I was going to make it to the Newberry Event. Boo and I heard about it a month or so earlier at 4Peaks 2019 (See 4Peaks 2019 - Festival Report) from one of the organizers. She described it as a super small benefit festival for a woman who has MS. First, Boo had a conflict, then Hapy wouldn't stay cool... it felt like the gods were against me. But, similar to the approach we took to get to ChinookFest (See Chinook Fest 2017 - Road Report), I just kept pointing in the right direction until I got there. Today's post covers the goings on at Newberry. This post got so long, you may not be sure you'll get to the end of it, but I'm not going to cut it into multiple posts.

view out front porch of RV zone
I arrived at 7:30, which in late July is still full daylight in Oregon. The turn-in off the road was marked with a small sign and a bearded guy wearing a "security" t-shirt sitting in a camping chair. He walked over, saw the parking pass for 4Peaks a month earlier and remembered Hapy. "I searched you at 4Peaks," he said. I welcomed him to look around again, and he just smiled, refused and instead told me to leave the bus right there and walk over to the ticket booth to get my wrist bands. "Here? In the entryway?". Yep. Well, moments later another security t-shirt wearing guy arrives in a golf cart none too pleased about Hapy blocking the entry so we agreed that maybe I could roll the bus down the hill a little bit. From there, I walked over to the ticket booth, gave my name and the woman looked puzzled. "Yeah, my partner couldn't make it so we'd like to donate her ticket to whoever needs it most," I explained. That brought out big smiles from the 3 folks behind the counter; they already knew who to give it to.

I asked about my "RV parking pass" and the woman told me to find Jeremy in a golf cart. He would know what to do. Ok... pretty casual outfit we've got here. I got my festival wrist band and an over-21 band for the bars inside and walked back over to Hapy. As usual, he fired right up, and we puttered over to where I could see the RV's parked. As I rolled past the RV parking gate, Jeremy pulled up in his golf cart. I explained I didn't want to take up too much room, he smiled and we quickly agreed on a level spot (the whole property, except the entrance, is flat) along the western edge backed into a grove of trees. I was parked, pop-top up and wrestling with the canopy by 7:50. 20 minutes from pulling in the entrance to having my will-call tickets and camping set up started. So far, I'm thrilled.

Set Up
I had the canopy up and was wrestling the lot couch out of the bus when a band started firing up. I had seen the schedule, and Thursday night was not on it. I had not expected to hear anyone. Still, the "Broken Down Guitars" started up promptly at 8:30. Shortly afterwards, as I was stringing the solar lights, they popped on, indicating that it was now "dark". I enjoyed the band while setting up the sleeping area, figuring I would get everything else sorted in the morning. The rest of the set-up was fairly straight-forward. I set the kitchen next to the front passenger wheel, left- to right: coolers stacked, the cube-table (see Hapy cub-inet) in it's "standing short" configuration with the stove on top of it and the milk crates set beneath/inside, and then the regular folding-camping table. This was a nice and tight configuration where I could prep meals on the folding table, cook and have extra counter space from the top of the top cooler. In order to get food, I had to pull the top cooler off, but this arrangement, with the cold cooler on the bottom, allowed me to last 4 days in the high desert in the summer with only one purchased bag of ice.

I only used our small square rug outside the bus. The grass was green and soft, so I didn't need to protect my bare feet from sharp owie grass like we often find at 4Peaks. This left me the grey carpet to put on the floor of the bus, covering the lot couch seat-rails. I set up the LED lights, pulled out the soundbar and MP3 player for music when the stages weren't blowing and set up my new extendable flag pole (Harbor Freight), with my new custom-made 4Peaks flag.

I didn't know anyone when I arrived, but by the time I left, I knew quite a few people. Since the canopy did not have tapestries hanging off of it, my front porch was much more open, and welcoming. As a result, I met lots of folks just wandering by. Unlike prior festivals, my name recollection was pretty poor. 3 or 4 people stopped by just because of Hapy. One of the Friday bands (Dodgy Mountain Men) chose to park and camp across the fire lane from me because "they were called by the bus". Love it. Down at the end of the row was a local couple in a classic pickup truck camper who hosted friends over the course of the weekend. They introduced me to Zamp Solar, a local Bend company who makes 25-year warranty portable solar panels. Once the money no longer needs to go into keeping Hapy running, I'll be getting one of their panels. He had their smallest one, but they mostly camp in central Oregon. I think I would probably need the next size up since we camp where there actually are clouds.

Friday afternoon, new neighbors (Tony and Alisa) arrived from Oakridge in a minivan. They brought 4 kids with them, all between 14 and 17 years old, who set up a cluster of tents up behind the cars in the longer grass. A better mannered group of teenagers I've never seen. I found myself hanging out with this family quite a bit over the next few days, sharing food and stories. On Saturday afternoon, I took a walk with a subset of them to a swimming hole about 1/2 a mile away. Unlike most of the rivers and streams I've seen in Oregon, this water was warm like a New England lake in August. I was expecting typical mountain run-off which gives you an ice cream headache if you get in too fast or deeper than your ankles.

The Scene
Pigs on the Wing at sunset
The RV camping zone was directly behind the stages, and the load-in / load-out zone for the bands. As a result, we would enter the music zone through the stage entrance, and rubbed elbows with the artists along the way. This created a level of intimacy that can't really be explained. For example, I got to talking with the drummer from Dead Horses, who played at 10AM on Sunday to find out they are on tour from Milwaukee, WI. I was a little stunned that even the 10AM Sunday band was a national touring act. You need to recognize that this was/is an incredibly small festival. I estimate there were maybe 200 people there at the peak with probably an overall weekend total of 300 between the coming and going.

Since this was held as a benefit, there were a few anomalies. For example, a long section of tables were set in the middle of the vendor area where there was a weekend-long silent auction. All of the items in the auction were donated by the vendors in exchange for the right to vend, rather than being charged a fee. This created an environment where there were LOTS of vendors, each with only a 10x10 space. This more egalitarian approach created a very different vibe. I hadn't realized how hard some folks drove for sales until Newberry where no one was really working that hard. There were some beautiful things, of course, but, seriously, the vendors almost seemed to prefer hanging out and talking about stuff instead of trying to sell anything. For example, there was a woman selling tie-dyes who talked to me about her ice technique for making the dye lines crispy and only indicated merchandise to illustrate the point.

There were 2 stages, with the stage entrance in between. Like most events, while one stage was performing, the other was breaking down and setting up. Once a performance finished, the new stage would quickly set sound levels and then there would be announcements. Every time. The announcements usually ran a similar format: thank the last performer, mention the silent auction, perhaps have a 50/50 raffle and then introduce the next performer. The 50/50 raffle was interesting. Every time I saw a ticket get pulled, it was for someone different, of course, but each time the winner would donate their winnings to the benefit. The last one, on Sunday, was for something like $2700US. That's pretty humbling, and showed where this festival's goers had their priorities. Maybe every winner didn't donate, but all of the tickets I saw called did.

Tal with dancing little girl
Jeez, this has gotten long and I haven't even talked about the music yet. Well, since the RV zone was directly behind the stages, you would think the sound was bad, so I spent time either not really hearing the music, or I was in the venue. Nope. The sound was actually incredibly clear on the front porch. I took notes on every band, and will try to see some of them again. So... here's the band reviews, in the order of appearance:

Broken Down Guitars - really good. very strong female vocal. Ended a 90 minute set with 2 Jefferson Airplane songs. Such a gutsy move, but she completely nailed it.

Newberry Family Band - okay bar band
Pete Kartsounes- voice sounded like Jorma
J Brothers - okay.  opened with a Doors cover; played Gregg Allman tunes. keyboard-driven, but vocals were really overdone
Rad Trads - lots of sound for 5 guys on the small stage but loud enough to drown out the RV generator across the way. middle-of-the-road horn-infused rock, but good at that.
Dodgy Mountain Men - banjo-less bluegrass, but add a harmonica. As the band finished, 3 deer ran past the edge of the campZone and settled down in a cluster of trees maybe 50 meters away from Hapy.
Indubious - took forever to set up. drone-y bass and keyboard with high energy drums and vocals. hard to pin down their genre but I was distracted by watching the deer.
Pigs on the Wing - wow. 20 minute version of Echoes. Incredible sound-match with improvisation. Main male vocalist shouted out his voice somehow, but the female vocal on "Great Gig in the Sky" brought tears. Literally. Their performance made all of the travel difficulties worthwhile. This group was simply incredible; I will go out of my way to see them again.

Natty Red - from the name I expected reggae, but got something like the Tree Frogs: rump-shaking hippie shuffle beat that could have used a more pre-funk'd crowd.
Pigs on the Wing again
Mission Blues - tight guitar-focused blues band with a strong drummer. Did BBKing and "I'm Going Down". Easy to listen to, especially from the front porch with a little home-made Kahlua in my coffee.
Pat Simmons, Jr - had a prom slow-dance or KINK-artist vibe. Kinda plain. Harmless, but meh.
Idle Poets - straight forward rock to start with, but then drifted into some 70's lounge stuff. Kinda odd. I missed 1/2 the set to hike to the swimming hole.
Vokab Kompany - very cool. horn infused modern dance/rap with live musicians and a rap artist. The kids next door loved them so much they got merch.
Belly Dancers - I think this was a local troupe. It was interesting.
Tal Wilkenfeld - beautiful voice and amazing bass work but had issues with the sound at first. Then, she changed basses between most songs and had to re-tune each time so the set wasn't very cohesive. She was really good though and would definitely see again... indoors where there aren't temperature changes messing with her tune. She pulled kids up on stage to dance with her, and her presence on stage was simply awesome. She would sing a nice song and appear all 'fitting into the female mold' and then do something harder and get face to face with the guitarist and head-bang all that curly hair while just going for it on that bass. Really so much fun to be part of; she was awesome.

Dead Horses - traditional (old skool) country with beautiful harmonies from a simple 3-piece.
Eric Leadbetter - heavy rock approaching metal. Great vocals, drums. Should have gotten a Saturday spot, IMHO.
Lounge on Fire - horn supported guitar-heavy funk.. ish. Really groovin; they would hit a pocket and just ride it. Left the festival before they finished, but not because of them.. I was concerned about my drive home.

Well, that's it for the festival report. Next, I'll post about the drive home. Yes, I split the drives into 2 because, well, there were adventures both ways. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Newberry 2019 - Getting There

We had heard about another festival, so today's post is about the getting there. Yes, that's right, it's just about the drive there. I'll have at least one about the festival itself and then another one about the drive home. Before I start, Hapy birthday Dad. We would love to bring you on one of these journeys with us, but in the meantime, here is another example of how getting there (and back) is the true adventure when it comes to going to festivals Hapy-style.

First, What's This Now?
So, when Boo and I were at 4Peaks in June, we uncharacteristically bought a couple of plates of tacos while Andy Frasco was playing the tent stage. We approached the small set of tables, and asked if we could share a table with a woman who had one to herself. Brenda, the woman at the table, introduced us to a smaller benefit festival just 30 minutes south being held around a month later (see the 4Peaks 2019 Festival Report). When we got home I got tickets, and shortly thereafter we discovered that Boo had a family obligation on festival-closing-Sunday that she couldn't move, nor cancel so it prevented her from going. She couldn't get Friday off work anyway, so she strongly encouraged me to go. After trying to get one of the kids to go with me, I decided to fly solo.

Off We Go
I worked from home on Thursday, thinking I could get a jump on traffic, after packing everything except the food the night before. Once the clock hit 2:PM, I had hit my 32 hours for the week (plus 8 time off the following day meant I hit my work obligation). So, I quick-packed up food into a cold and doesnt-have-to-be-cold coolers, loaded them into Hapy, and split. Now, in retrospect, my planning / packing could have been a little better managed. I failed to recognize that I did not have a washtub nor a pillow, but that became apparent once I'd arrived at Newberry.

I got ice at the corner market and cruised to OR217 south. Similar to our last drive to Central Oregon, Hapy dropped into limp mode a couple of times and I noticed some lethargy or what almost felt like engine misses. I made a mental note to consider causes and turned off the radio so I could monitor more closely. OR217 was not terribly heavy, but it was busy. By the time we hit I-5 south, it was busier, and it got heavier and heavier until it was a 20mph crawl past Tualatin and Wilsonville. Things got going by Aurora, and soon we were moving at 60mph*. Along the way, I noticed that my temperature climbed faster than I remember on it's way to normal, and then I had to play speed games to keep Hapy under 194*F. This persisted until I pulled over in Idanha. I discovered that only one fan was spinning. After a quick wiring service, and a couple of bee stings on the top of my foot for the trouble, we were on our way again. Yes, bee stings on my foot. I guess that's one of the unspoken hazards of driving in sandals. They hurt bad, and gave me all the more respect for Boo having gotten a tattoo on the top of her foot. That tattoo must have hurt so bad.

Anyway, Hapy got hot again (198*F) even after the fan wiring fix, so I found a shoulder and pulled over again. Hmm.. both fans are spinning, and hot air is blowing by.. So, I pulled back onto the road again... the temp climbed again and within 20 minutes I was on the roadside again. This time, I watched the temperature drop and concluded I was pushing him too hard. Maybe there was a headwind, or driving during the day really does influence his ability to shed heat. Either way, I would drive slower, and pull over periodically to let cars by if the passing lanes weren't coming along often enough.

This pattern continued all the way up the Cascades, the full length of OR-22 and up the US-20 to the Hoo Doo ski area, where I pulled over to let other drivers by. At this point, the drive shifted to downhill, and Hapy's temperatures settled. I was able to roll at 65mph* all the way to Black Butte Ranch without the temperature climbing above 185*F. So, I started to discard the headwind and daytime driving theories. This was an engine-under-load-cant-shed-heat-into-coolant-fast-enough problem.

So.. what did I change since the last drive? Well, I changed the oil. Did I not fill it all the way?
I also added the engine cover. Could that be trapping a bunch of heat?

I See Trees
Regardless of cause, I rolled through Sisters and Bend not needing to pull over because traffic was so slow that I wasn't stressing the engine enough to produce heat spikes. I wasn't stressing myself, either. I knew that on this trajectory, I would have at least an hour of daylight to set up. Feeling confident, I turned the stereo back on, and noticed that the rear speakers weren't making sound any more. "Whatever," I thought, "something to clown on in the campZone." Besides, the fronts were working fine and I was sitting in the front so who cares?

Shortly after leaving Bend on US-97 South, the number of trees increases. For those not from around these parts, west of the Cascades is the classic wet, rainy Oregon you've probably heard of. East of the Cascades is high desert: something like 4000 feet above sea level with little in terms of tree cover. This is especially true once you get east of Sisters and into Bend. I have been north of Bend, all the way to Madras, and it's all like that. So, I falsely assumed that I would see no change to the terrain when I went south. There be trees. It became much more forest-y the closer I got to my turn-off (north of La Pine). Now, it doesn't seem any less dry, so maybe this area just hasn't been cut down, or maybe there are underground water sources. I didn't know, but I was happy to see the trees because trees mean shade and when you're heading into 4 days of mid-summer sun in the high desert, natural shade changes everything. After a few quick lefts and rights, I arrived at the Newberry Event at 7:30. Total drive time of just under 5 hours.

Theories and More Theories
Friday morning, I went around to the back of Hapy to test a couple theories. First: did I short Hapy on oil during the last change? No. The oil was at full on the dipstick and he was parked level. Okay, Second: could the engine cover have been trapping heat? I removed the cover for the drive home to see. Last, I checked the fans again, and when I flipped the switch they both were spinning. Hmm.. Without meaningful internet connectivity, I couldn't really look for more ideas, but I was left thinking one or more of a few things could be going on:

1- when I had the wrong coolant in for a short time a couple years ago, it put a glaze or film in the coolant passages that is preventing the conduction of heat from the metal into the coolant. A chemical flush should fix that.

2- the engine isn't running right, producing more heat than it's supposed to because of something out of normal. I may need Justin to help diagnose that.

3- the radiator is too high, and if lowered, would help dump more heat faster. This is a bit of a stretch since we dump heat fast when we're stationary.

4- no amount of tuning on the cooling system is going to fix this because the real problem is the oil is getting hot and it is not getting temperature controlled sufficiently through the oil/coolant exchanger. This would drive to an aftermarket oil cooler add-on or a larger exchanger.

It was with these thoughts that I left the festival on Sunday, shortly after 1. Like so many of my posts lately, this one got long. Needless to say, the adventure continues, and I'll post about the trip home soon.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Making Hapy Sounds (Part 3)

continuing from the Part 2 post about getting music into Hapy the wonderbus. When we left off, we had front speakers installed and rear speakers floating around in their own little speakerboxes. The wiring for all speakers had been routed back behind the dash. For the front speakers, the work was mostly a finished product. The rear speakers, though, were still very much in an experimental phase. Today, we wire up the head unit and complete the work.

Head Unit Physical Mounting
You know how when you swap out a big car stereo (a double-din) for a smaller one (single-din) you usually install one of those plastic boxes in the extra hole? Well, I had one of those box/bin things in my garage, and it had been there for a few years. So, I figured I'd put it to use. Shortly before we left for 4Peaks, I stuffed it into the radio hole in Hapy. On the drive and while at 4Peaks, we loved the extra storage spot. On the drive, it was where we put our phones. While we slept, we put valuables there. So, I didn't want to remove it to put in a stereo. Honestly, it was jammed in there so hard, I'm not sure I could get it out without destroying it anyway. AND, there was nothing in that are to physically attach a stereo to anyway. The old DarkStar stereo was held on from the front. Modern stereos need something to attach a rectangular channel to, and there was nothing there in the bus to bolt it to. So, I popped it into the glovebox instead. It still needs a real mounting, but for version 1, it sits on top of the packing cardboard it shipped in. Will it bounce around? Maybe. Could I break the stereo because I didn't mount it properly? Absolutely. Blindly moving forward, I drilled a 3/4" hole into the driver-side of the box, near the back, to run wires. With the glove box closed, it looks like the bus doesn't have a stereo... like it hasn't for the 15 years I've owned it.

Head Unit Wiring
In retrospect, I could have started here. I am not going to Should on myself (see Don't Should on Yourself), but if I ever have a virgin stereo install to do again, I will. Consider: the 2 most important bits for a stereo install to be successful is for a solid ground and a reliable source of 12V power. One could just solve those 2 wires and confirm the stereo works and your power is good before you do anything else. Wise advice for a future me. Anyway, for a ground, I doubled-up on a o-ring-d ground that was screwed into the air vent box. I verified that ground was good with a continuity test back to the negative post on the battery. For power, I tapped into an always-on circuit but it did not have enough juice to power the stereo. The radio acted like it didn't have any power, though I could read 12V at the plug. So... let me back up and then I'll get back to this.

I wired ground first. Always do ground first. Then, I took the various speaker wires and mated them with their respective colored wires coming out of the stereo plug. I intend to swap these into something more like the plug in Oliver, but this is fine for version one. Last, I tapped into a 12V source, hiding the wire, etc. Then we test fire.... nothing. This is where ideally I would have run ground, and 12V to prove it will power up before doing anything else.

By now, it was getting late and I was getting tired and hungry. So, I ran a hot-lead from the luxury battery (our name for the deep cycle battery under the rock-n-roll bed that powers the lights and 12V sockets) to the back of the head unit strung across the lot couch, with a big coil bouncing between the front seats. It looked super-janky, but I needed to test whether the stereo would power up, and whether the speakers would respond. I plugged it in and heard the CD whir, so I knew I had power. So, I grabbed Boo and our copy of JGB's Don't Let Go CD for a test-listen before we both called it a day.

The smile produced by a JGB "Sugaree" is virtually a given, especially from the mid-70's era. That smile was compounded by hearing it coming from all around us in Hapy. "How loud does it get," Boo asked. She remembers our struggles to hear on the road as acutely as I do. Turning it louder and louder... it never distorted. Pure Jerry deliciousness pouring out of the speakers, hugging us with music until we were unable to talk over it. Yeah, that'll do.

12V Source Fixed
We shut things down, and I cleaned up my mess for the night. The following morning, I was back out there to run a 12V lead from the luxury fusebox to the stereo. This sounds simple, but it took quite some doing. I started at the glovebox, running a stiff 12ga wire through the hole and down behind the front "floor" vent. It runs below the TDI accelerator pedal (See Pedal on the Right) and under the rubber floor mat to the right edge of the driver seat pedestal. It runs along the right edge of that pedestal and under the old seat mounts for the 1972 Westy rear-facing seat, under slides for the lot-couch / middle-row seat and under the front edge of the rock-n-roll bed cabinet. It appears behind the cabinet near the corner by the refer-storage cabinet. I wired it into "fuse #12", protected with a 16amp fuse. I layered tape on top of the wire where it intersected with the lot couch slides to we don't accidentally catch that wire when putting the couch back in. That would be bad.

Once I had the new 12V supply line set, I re-tested. All good. I took the opportunity to tuck away some other errant wires up front. That's it for today. Version one is ready for some test drives and a festival or camping trip before we make any modifications or harden wiring to the rear. Thanks, as always, for following along-

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Making Hapy Sounds (Part 2)

Continuing on my post about putting some music into Hapy, today I will go through some if the fun of installing what I'm calling "version 1" of the fuller sound system into the microbus. At this point, I have a pile of components, a spool of speaker wire and a dream.

Front Speakers Physical Mounting
I really wanted to spare my door panels, but I could not figure out where the kick panels were supposed to go. So, I couldn't figure out how much space I had and where. I haven't had kick panels for years, and pictures on the interweb of them installed really didn't show how much backspace there was. Resigned, I went down the tried-and-true path of a door card installation. My cards were made of a thick MDF material rather than the waffle board that most cards are made of. I don't know if that's better or worse, it's just different. I believe the process would be the same regardless.

Since I am installing 5-1/4" speakers, the hole will be smaller than that. A quick look at the manufacturer's spec's tell me that I need a 4-1/2" diameter hole. We take a few measurements and determine that placing the center-point of the hole between 9 and 9-1/2 inches from the bottom of the door and 6 to 6-1/2 inches from the front. That would place the speaker entirely within the upside down trapezoid below the bottom of the window in the door. I picked 9-by-6 since that was easy to remember, and with a carpenters square marked the spot on the driver-side card. Then, I nabbed a compass from the kids school supplies, measured out a radius of 2-1/4" (radius = diameter/2) and marked the cut line on the card. Had I been less daring, I could have cut a piece of cardboard to match the shape of the lower door card and performed test-cuts on that until I had the location where I liked it. If you are using nice cards, I would encourage that.

I took the card, then, out of the bus, and tried to visualize how the hole would align with the trapezoid. It seemed right, so I set the card down, drilled a hole near the line and finished the hole cut-out with a hand drywall saw (it is straight and cuts as you push away rather than as you pull towards). Once cut, I cleaned the edge with a file. I have this knack of undercutting, leaving myself lots of edge cleaning, and this was another one of those. So, I had to file just to get the hole up to the line, and then clean it up. Once I was able to set the speaker in the hole, I test-fit the card. The hole was inside the trapezoid, but is was fairly front-ward as you can see in the picture to the right. I don't think it really matters so long as the hole is wholly inside the upside down trapezoid. I removed the card, set the speaker in and test fit again. Nothing speaker-related was touching anything other than the card. We had a winner. I transferred the hole placement onto the passenger door card, drilled, cut and shaped it until a speaker would fit and test fit the passenger side the same way.

They looked good. So, I checked to get the speaker top level, marked and started the mount holes. I set the speaker grill on and sent the screws through the grill and the speaker mount holes and on through the card until they were snug. I may swap out the screws for bolts with washers and locknuts (on the backside) in a future version. There's just something about depending upon the threads of a screw to hold speakers to a door card that just seems hinky.

Front Speaker Wiring
One of the reasons I didn't want to put speakers in the doors is the question of how to route the speaker wires. I've seen wiring jobs where the wires don't pass through the front edge of the door, rather they pass from between the card and the door, making a small loop of wire when the door shuts. I didn't want that. Fortunately, I had pulled the door light switches out of the A-pillars a few years ago to paint and never returned them (since they didn't do anything anyway). This put a square hole in the A-pillar. I didn't want to drill a hole in the door, and I didn't have to. There are vents along that edge. So, threading wire from the spool back from the front, the wires passed through the door light switch hole, up through a vent high in the front edge of the door, down the front channel in the door and below the support. I left myself about a foot of wire to which I attached the pigtail that came with the speakers. Then, it was a simple matter to plug the clips into the speakers and then re-install the door cards. The other end of the speaker wire was routed up over the air vents and dashboard supports, and routed over to the hole where the head unit usually would go, leaving them dangling.

Rear Speaker Physical Mounting
I loaded the 6x9 speaker boxes with 6x9 speakers, so the physical mounting was fairly routine, in that respect: wire the supplied wires in the box to the pigtails, plug the pigtails into the speakers, place the speakers in the hole, put on the grills, thread the screws through. Since the boxes are going to kind of float around for now, there isn't much else to do mounting-wise, though that may change as we drive around and discover what we need for locating them for sound as well as whether they need to be a-fixed for travel.

Rear Speaker Wiring
Back when I had run a bunch of wires from the rear of the bus, I bore a hole in the wall behind the drivers seat. I ran a pair of speaker wires through that hole back past the old fridge-turned-storage-cabinet (See From Fridge to Storage). From there, they ran along the floor with the other wires, up behind the air vents (and where the kick panels would be), over the dash supports to the general stereo area. I added some plugs to the wires leading to the speakers so they can be unplugged and the speakerbox can be plugged in. I set the speakers on the rock-n-roll bed and shifted to setting up the head unit.

As always seems to be the case, this got long again. To be fair, I was probably 4 or 5 hours into the work at this point, so it's not like I'm just spinning a big tale out of a tiny effort or anything. Anyway, I'll pick this up next week. Thanks as always, for following along-

Monday, August 5, 2019

Missed it by One Digit

Brief out-of-band post today. Normal post will appear tomorrow.

Spin the Wheel
I decided that after Comcast increased my bill again, that it was time to move to something else. When we first got Comcast, our bill was $99 a month for internet and television with some premium channels plus taxes and fees. I thought it was a good deal, and knew the price wouldn't last. It didn't. A year later, the bill was $160 a month. Last month, it bumped again, to $210 a month. Yikes.

I did some research and concluded that I was grossly oversold on my internet bandwidth. So, I did some competitive shopping and decided to go back to Frontier for FIOS (fiber optic). When I called Comcast, the loyalty guy sold me a package change where I got rid of the television part, but kept a smaller internet package. It was still $85 a month, but since there was no contract and it wasn't a promotion, that price wouldn't change.... until they changed their minds about it. The FIOS deal is $50 a month for 2 years.
Guaranteed price won't change for the 2 year period. And they threw in a $75 Visa gift card to offset the installation charge and they threw in one year of Amazon Prime. I'm sure I'll get to pay for all that multiple times over after the 2 years are up.

UnSolution Center
The FIOS installer came today, installed everything and we confirmed connectivity. I switched over my internal wireless to the new system and before the boys were even out of bed, things were now flowing through Frontier instead of Comcast. Awesomeness. So, all that's left is calling Comcast to close-out the internet part. So... hmm... where's that number again? Oh.. right... 1-800-xfinity. So, you translate that into real numbers it is 1-800-934-6489. Be very careful when you dial that. If your finger slips and you dial 1-800-934-6789 you will have the reached the DISH Network "solutions center".

This is a classic boiler-room style hard-sell call center. The person who answered the phone said it was "the solutions center", but did not clarify that it had anything to do with DISH network. She immediately launched into a hard-sell about internet safety, the dark web, identity theft and how my children would be left homeless and starving unless I bought their package of security measures. I started polite, but found that fruitless. I started interrupting her asking simply to help me cancel my Comcast. She pushed harder and I got louder and more forceful, asking her to please stop selling me stuff because I just wanted to cancel my Comcast. Seriously, a recording of this would be internet gold. I said I understood everything she was saying but I didn't want it and then she started to ask me questions like she didn't believe that I was really listening or whatever. I actually asked her if she was going to quiz me. Finally, she asked if she helped me close my Comcast would I be interested in the program. "No". She asked if there was anything she could help with so I would buy the program and I said no, so she put me on no-music-hold for 2-1/2 minutes before someone else picked up.

The new operator said that it was the DISH Network solutions center and since I was not willing to let them help me with anything there was nothing for them to do for me. Unlike his predecessor, he clearly said it was DISH. I asked him why the other lady didn't say that, and he said some bullshit about how she said it was the solutions center.

It was a complete mess. I said it was clear they never were able to help me from the start and they wasted 15 minutes of my day trying to hard sell me some garbage. And then hung up.

The Lessons
First, check and double check the number you dial. If the person on the end doesn't seem right, check the number again while you're on the phone... before you waste time and energy on it. I stayed on the call because I thought this was some crazy hold music up-sell replacement that Comcast had put in place. Had I double-checked the number I would have realized something was up.

Second, don't get DISH Network. This is super-important. Not just for me but for every single person who consumes media. DISH Network is paying those people to act that way. DISH Network wants to scare callers into getting some garbage "protection" which may just as well be another way your data actually gets stolen. DISH Network purposely picked a phone number that is one digit off (and a very close digit on the keypad) to purposely get accidental dialers. DISH Network has obviously instructed their operators to blur the identity of the call center, emphasizing "solutions center" and skipping the "DISH Network" part. DISH Network, you're scumbags. If DISH Network is the ONLY option for media access (which in the US is extremely unlikely since there are multiple national satellite options), read the paper. Or a book. Or your junk mail. Or stare at the stars. Or go to the local coffee shop and use their free WiFi. ANYTHING is better than giving those vultures your hard earned money, underwriting that call center.

The only upside to the time I spent on that call is that some elderly person, or someone who is otherwise afraid of having their identity stolen was not getting hard-sold by that lady for the 10 minutes she worked me over.

Hapy Ending
I am happy with the FIOS, though it has only been a day. When I realized my dialing error and then actually called Comcast, they were very nice. It was not hard to cancel my service at all. Before I got off the phone with them, I alerted them to the fact that the DISH Network hard-sell boiler-room was one digit off of their 1-800-xfinity number (1-800-934-6489) and that someone further up the management chain would probably want to know that. The operator was genuinely appreciative.

Rant over. We'll return to normal posts, as usual, on Tuesday (tomorrow) morning.