Alan Porter's minimal net presence

January 2017

The girls and I have been watching “Sherlock” on NetFlix, so when the BBC planned to show the next episodes starting on New Year’s Day, Audrey invited a bunch of her friends over for a Sherlock-watching party.

We got about an inch of snow… not really much by yankee standards, but pretty much a blizzard here in NC. School was closed for three days.

I started working on a new project at work. We have a curated map of companies and their internet properties, and my group manages that database and the tools to maintain that data. It’s massive amount of data, and it all has to be backed up by evidence. I am learning a lot about the higher-level parts of the internet that most people take for granted.

Audrey was invited to sing at a chorus invitational at Wingate University.

Sydney started an acting and moving making class. It’s taught out of a woman’s home in the rural area near Durham and Chapel Hill. But it’s pretty well-equipped for a home studio… they have three separate studio buildings!

February 2017

February was dominated by a single event… replacing my old 2005 Mazda 3 with a new car.

Replacing my car had been on my radar for a while. Over Christmas, I did a preliminary survey of the market to see what I might be interested in. Since I mainly need a commuter car, I have been interested in electric vehicles.

Then on the way home one day, I heard a fast clicking noise that varied with engine speed. I tried to carefully drive it home, but just about 2 miles from my house, I heard a pop and the engine stopped abruptly. I simply pressed the clutch and coasted into a gas station parking lot and parked in a spot. Like a pro! When I opened the hood, I could see that the serpentine belt had snapped. That should not have been a big deal… it only powers the external stuff like the alternator, water pump and air conditioner.

But it WAS a big deal. When the engine abruptly stopped, it knocked the timing out of alignment and then caused some internal damage: most likely, bending the valves. This car would need an entirely new engine! I can’t believe such a minor problem like a snapped belt led to the total demise of the car!

So that simply accelerated my plan to replace it. I spend a few days researching electric cars, and I finally settled on a plug-in electric hybrid, the Chevy Volt. When most people hear “electric”, they think of Tesla. And when they hear “hybrid”, they think of Prius. The Volt is sort of the best of both… for the first 50 miles, it acts like a Tesla, driving completely on battery power. But if you need to go more than 50 miles, it switches to hybrid gas/electric drive like a Prius, getting about 40-45 miles per gallon of gas.

I shopped around a little, settled on a model that’s just loaded with gadgets and sensors, and drove it home on Presidents’ Day weekend. In the first week, I drove it 195 miles, but only used 1.2 gallons of gas!

I’m pretty sure other stuff happened in February… but it was eclipsed by my car adventures. In fact, I’m still working on getting rid of the Mazda (it still looks great, even though it does not run).

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