For gravity readings I am using a standard hydrometer. I broke my original one and purchased a new hydrometer just before starting this batch. Just FYI my OG was 54 at ~88F and today is 30 at 85F (has been stuck in the 30-32 range for over a week). Yes I should have re-pitched, but after raising the temp it took off again. My bad.
It could be aeration of the wort. I put the lid on the bucket and sloshed it back and forth. It appeared aerated with bubbles on the top of the wort.
I mashed in at 155-160F according to my notes. Recipe called for 152F mash temperature with a strike temp of 170F. I also did a mash out for ~15 mins a 170F.
And for FYI, I did not make a starter for the Hothead yeast. I let the yeast set at room temp for ~3-4 hours and pitched the slurry directly into the wort at 88F.
I'm going to let it sit in the secondary carboy for 7-10 days and then I'll check the gravity again. If it hasn't made any progress, I'll evaluate the taste and smell before making a decision to bottle. I'm concerned that once bottled I'll be dealing with bottle bombs if what yeast is left decides to wake up in the bottle.
As far as my next venture, I plan to start with a proven recipe - not one I made. Next, I'm going to complete a good cleaning/sanitization of my equipment. I'll need to review temperature control based upon the yeast used. Then I'll make a second pass at it. This should eliminate most everything except the process.