Early voting started in Florida on Monday.  I was originally going to try to vote then at the early voting location on our government campus but every time I looked the line was longer than I was willing to stand in.  I guess since it was the first day I should have expected it.  Of course 90% of the people in line were already of government entitlement collecting age.

Yesterday afternoon I saw only a few people in line so I decided to get it over with.  In a general election the ballot is quite long, taking up both sides of two huge pieces of paper.  As a tech person I still find it sort of amazing and sad that in 2016 we are still voting with paper and pen although they do scan the paper ballots at the end so the results are electronically tracked.

The voting process took me maybe 5 minutes to get through darkening in all of the appropriate circles, a lot of which I had no opinion on like if a long list of judges should be retained or not.  Of course I happily darkened the circle for medical marijuana, I can only hope big pharm’s brainwashing attempt against medical marijuana is unsuccessful this time around.  I don’t need to even waste time talking about my presidential choice other than saying it did not rhyme with Dump.  At this point I just want this election season to be over.  It has been the most corrosive, most depressing, and most ignorant campaign I can recall in my lifetime.  I can only hope that I never see anything close to resembling it in the future.

Last night I went out on my wheel for a short ride.  I once again crossed Immokalee Road and headed to the sparsely populated side streets on the other side.  I had two separate dog incidents during the ride.   The first one was some small dog, not much more than chihuahua size.  I heard it’s annoying bark as I approached.  As soon as it saw me it came sprinting down the driveway and out into the road in hot pursuit.  I pushed the wheel to it’s top speed of about 14 mph.  Despite doing so I could still hear the little dog keeping up a short distance behind me.  Eventually it got tired and gave up but I bet it chased me for a couple hundred yards.

The second dog encounter had much more danger potential.  This dog was in the front yard with two of it’s owners which looked like a father/son.  As I approached they must have known there was a potential problem as they started squeaking the dog’s toy to try to get it’s attention off me.  They were unsuccessful in doing so and the boxer mix was after me and closing quickly.  I quickly realized I was not going to be able to out run this guy.  Within a few seconds he was by my side which was very dangerous for both the dog and myself.  If he decided to dart my direction all sorts of bad things could happen.

I could tell the dog wasn’t ferocious so I decided to just slow down and grab a nearby stop sign.  I stayed there until one of the owners ran up and apologized.  Once I stopped the dog wasn’t even interested in me and instead took a dump by the side of the road.  I told the guy it was no problem and that I have a dog as well.  So although I do like riding on the mostly empty streets in that area, the amount of people that don’t seem to care about restraining their dogs because of the remote geography  makes me think I need to cross it off my normal riding list.  Well cross it off until I get the Msuper which has the ability to go 20+ mph which should make it very difficult for most dogs to track me down.

14720456_10154945517802841_7304017139728127579_nOn my return trip down our street I realized I had a very easy way to see if there is any traffic sneaking up on me instead of awkwardly trying to look over my shoulder which can affect my balance.  I instead just used the camera on my phone in selfie mode. It worked great.  I know a fellow rider that has a small rear view mirror attached to his helmet for even more safety which is a good idea as well.


I took yesterday off to drive Cindy all the way up to St Petersburg to go to the VA facility there.  Although it is nice the VA offers free health care to veterans, it is definitely not convenient or fast.  We had to go up there to talk to a specialist that was not available anywhere closer.  We pulled out before 7:30 for the long drive.  In total we spent over 6 hours on the road, it almost felt like a driving day we would put in during one of our road trips.

The doctor we spoke to was a stark contrast to the last one who had terrible bed side manner and was just plain rude.  This guy was older and really gave Cindy an opportunity to try to express the variety of symptoms she has been dealing with for quite awhile.  The biggest problem is the symptoms  have many, many possible sources.  The doctor listened to everything but still was unable to give Cindy the clear cut diagnosis she was hoping for.  However he did lay out several courses of action that Cindy will be following up on.

On the drive home we stopped at an undeniably low rent lunch shack called Salem’s Gyro.  The inside was dirty and run down but it was the only food place I saw before getting back on 275.    Their menu was interesting with fried chicken gizzards being a feature item.  The shrimp platter Cindy got and the fish sandwich I picked was actually quite good although being very “heavy”.

So Monday night Cindy and I dropped off the Tacoma at the dealer.  Cindy had been telling me about some weird sensation she was getting while braking.  During the day Monday she actually had an ABS error flash on the screen as well as an error regarding the blind spot detection system.  Well I didn’t want to mess around with any potential braking problem so we got it in there right away. The truck was in there all day Tuesday, my hope was we could pick it up on the way home.  Around two o’clock we had not heard anything so I had Cindy contact them.  The service rep said they were still working on it so I decided to stop on the way home since it was on the way.

teaser-pro1x-facdade21So I found my service rep and he told me the shop foreman took the truck out and did notice some odd behavior when braking and the error came up on the instrument panel.  At that time in the conversation I recalled that I had seen an odd airbag error a couple weeks ago that fixed itself as well so I shared that as well.  So anyway after reproducing the error the foreman went to hook up to the vehicle diagnostic connector to see if he could pull more information.  When he did he saw I had my Automatic adapter attached, the cloud trip logger I got for Christmas last year.  I had it in my 99 Tacoma and put it in my 2016 Tacoma during my first week or two of ownership. The guy pulled the Automatic out of the diag port and was unable to get the error to reappear, odd.

So the troubleshooter in me immediately suggested to my service rep the next logical step would be to run the truck without the Automatic adapter attached.  Even though it has been fine for all these months, logic dictated that this simple solution should be the first one tried.  We agreed I would take the truck and report back if I see any errors reoccur.

Later at home when I was documenting my problem for my YouTube channel I noticed something very interesting.  The Automatic adapter was rattling when I shook it.  The rattle to me indicated the possibility that some electronic component inside failed which absolutely could have unpredictable behavior when connected to the vehicle computer.  So far on the drive home last night and the drive to work today I have seen no reoccurrence of the ghost in the machine. It would be great if the problem was that simple although speaks poorly of the quality control of the Automatic adapter.

I was very excited to get a ship notice on my new Msuper wheel this morning from SpeedyFeet, located in the UK.  I am being hopeful that somehow it gets to my door by Saturday although I am probably being overly optimistic.

I would love to talk in depth about episode 1 of this season of Walking Dead but won’t because of spoiler potential.  Let me just say it set Cindy off in a near hysterical crying, screaming fit which I don’t think is the reaction the show producers should be aiming for.

So this weekend felt like it flew by.  There were so many things wedged into the two days I am unlikely to be able to recall all of it with much detail.  On my way home from work on Friday I stopped at Costco to pick up a few items .  I was sort of dreading the experience due to the normal mob scene I experience at the store.   I was pleasantly surprised that the  crowd was only moderate at worse.

Saturday morning the cool temperatures and low humidity felt incredible.  Doing yard chores like weeding and weed whacking was almost pleasant because the air felt so refreshing.  I only started to sweat a little bit after being out there a couple hours.  Cindy and I had to head out late morning to get some stuff.

One of those things was a new cable modem.  On Friday I called Comcast to ask why HBO magically disappeared from my channel line up.  They said the promotional period had expired so the channel was removed. They said they would be happy to add it back in for $15 a month which is crazy.  I told the rep as much, $15 for a single channel is just silly.  I asked if they could do me a favor and either reduce the price of adding HBO or dropping something from my line up I don’t really need like Starz and swapping in HBO.

I was doing all of this through an online chat session.  In total I spent over 45 minutes on this interaction and it accomplished absolutely nothing.  The online rep said they were not authorized to give me any promotional pricing and if I wanted to pursue it further I needed to call their “customer retention department” who is able to give better deals.  Of course this annoyed me and I shared my annoyance with the rep, asking if they understood why it is circle jerks like this that are responsible for Comcast having such a low customer satisfaction reputation? They had no answer for me.

So I jumped through the next hoop and called the number.  I briefly reviewed my situation and expressed my displeasure with it.  The end result of another long block of time was me being moved onto a “Triple Play” package which includes all the premium channels and internet phone service that I won’t be using, for roughly the price I am paying now.  That price is locked in for two years.  I still have a feeling when I get my first bill on the new package there will be more landmines waiting for me.

14657440_10154933449302841_1554771784235703234_nSo anyway, one of the attractive things about this package was it included Blast EXTREME internet which is 150 mbps down and 25-35 up, almost double my current service level.  The rep said the new speed should be immediately available.  Well when I did a speed test, my speeds were identical as before, requiring yet another contact with Comcast.  That interaction determined that if I want the new speeds I needed to upgrade my cable modem, the Surfboard modem that I only bought a couple years ago evidently is “end of life”.  Of course when the package was sold to me a thorough representative would have looked at the modem on my account and identified it was an issue up front.  So anyway, these few paragraphs established why I needed to make Best Buy one of my stops on Saturday to get a new modem.  Once I got it installed my speeds were now as advertised.

14642335_10154934323657841_5045348505800959350_nOne of the other things we bought was garden soil to amend the garden.  We bought 11 two cubic foot bags of soil.  These were the heaviest two cubic foot bags of dirt I ever lifted in my life.  I guess the dirt had a ton of moisture in it.  I have no doubt each bag weighed at least 75 pounds.  They required a major effort to lug around.  I had all of them stacked on one cart.  I had to have my body nearly parallel to the ground as I slowly pushed the cart to the truck in order to have enough power to move it.  It was really, really, heavy. One of the other things we bought was a blow up, animated, illuminated spider for Halloween.  It looks awesome at night.

So I had yet another piece of tech “break” Saturday, my Iphone 6.  During the afternoon I pulled it out for something and noticed it was locked up.  Hmm that’s odd, I have had the phone lock up once or twice in the past but it is normally very reliable.  No big deal, I’ll force it off by holding the power and home button and it will reboot, clearing whatever ailed it.  Well for the first time ever, this did not work.  Sure I got it to turn off but when I turned it back on it would be eternally stuck on the Apple logo and go no further, awesome…

So I did some online research and tried a number of solutions to no avail.  I finally had to blow away the phone and do a fresh OS install on it which of course removed EVERYTHING on the phone.  To get the stuff back I needed to restore my most recent back up.  The bad news was my latest full back up lived on my workstation at the office.  Well I didn’t want to go all weekend with a blank phone so I told Cindy I had to drive into the office to get the phone restored.  She was surprised my back up was on my work pc.  I probably should back it up occasionally at home as well to avoid this scenario in the future.

So I was in the office until almost 7PM getting the restore done.  I then hustled home as Cindy, her brother, his kids, and Katie were all going to the “Haunted and Gross Walk” that is held at the fairgrounds right down the street.  Even though this event has been going on every Halloween for six or seven years I never bothered to check it out.

When we approached the fairgrounds we weren’t sure if the event was going on or not.  The driveway was dark with nobody directing vehicles.  We found our way into a parking space and headed into the main area, a place we normally only visit during the annual county fair.  We immediately got a low budget feel for the event which was not unexpected.  Because of my being late to get home we hadn’t eaten dinner, forcing us to rely on the food vendors there.  There was absolutely no vegetarian sandwiches so I dined on french fries with cheese while picking at some of Cindy’s baked beans and cole slaw.  It was fine.

14713688_10154934323477841_8375106572934086592_nDespite the low budget feel of the event I was sort of surprised at the kind of high budget ticket pricing.  To go through the haunted walk cost 15 bucks a head.  Cindy’s brother and his young son decided to lay back and not do the walk as Owen was scared.  Cindy, Katie, Taylor and myself entered into the rather long line waiting to get in.

Standing in line was not exactly an enjoyable experience.  The air was quite chilly by Florida standards, in the low 60’s.  The structure the walk was housed in is normally occupied by livestock in warm Florida conditions.  It had a number of these monster ceiling fans to promote airflow.  They were running at full speed creating a constant cold wind on the people standing in line which was not a great thing.

There were cast members patrolling the line trying to scare people the best they could.  The one evil clown was nice enough to pose for a picture with the girls.  The line moved rather slowly as they would insert six people at a time into the walk with several minutes in between groups.  When we finally got let inside I sort of expected it to be kind of lame based on the experience up to that point.

The walk was surprisingly well done with cast members that did their best to scare you.  I was also surprised just how long the walk was.  For a good portion of it I lead our group so I could “protect” the girls.   Most of the cast would sort of ignore me and concentrate on the girls, especially Cindy, who scares easily.  Later in the walk I let the girls lead so they could get more of the experience.  When we finally emerged I was surprised that I actually felt I almost got my money’s worth out of the experience.  It was good enough that I will look to go back next year, I’ll just make sure to eat dinner first next time.

Sunday morning I got up early to get out and run in the gloriously cool weather.  By the time I got to the track the Prius showed an air temperature of 55 degrees which is just about perfect for me.  I had a very solid run for my current endurance level, breaking into the high 8 minute mile pace for only the second time this year, covering about four and a quarter miles along the way.

When I got home we were playing with the neighbors new puppy named Shadow.  He is super cute but of course we are concerned with his interaction with the chickens.  Later in the day Cindy had him in the yard with the chickens, he seemed scared of the chickens and the chickens weren’t too thrilled with him either.

I wanted to get the oil changed on Cindy’s Prius before Katie came over to ride Segways.  I headed out to the newly opened AutoZone location that is now only 8 miles from the house.  In addition to the oil/filter I grabbed a number of other things like new windshield wipers, shop towels, disposable gloves, and an oil catch basin that won’t leak. The price of oil seems to have sky rocketed lately.  Adding those items pushed the bill right to the $100 mark which I had to pay with my Costco Visa since Chase has not been very urgent with getting a replacement card in my hand after last weeks fraud.  I headed home and had the oil changed in the car with time to spare before Katie’s arrival.


I suggested that we take the wheels out to Ave Maria.  I had ridden my Ninebot One out there a couple times already but Cindy and Katie never had.  It was absolutely beautiful weather to be out and about.  Katie is a real pro on riding the Minipro at this point.  We had a very enjoyable six mile plus ride around the grounds.  If I didn’t want to get home for the Eagles game at one I would have been happy to cruise around even longer.

Speaking of the Eagles, I did not think they had much of a shot going into the game.  The Vikings were 5-0 and people were acting like Sam Bradford was now Joe Montana, not throwing an interception this season so far.  Well the game that unfolded was quite interesting with BOTH teams committing an incredible amount of turnovers.  The Eagles also still seemed to be mired in penalty purgatory, hurting themselves again and again.

Despite these set backs, the defense laid a whipping on Bradford, not only forcing him into his first interception of the year but also causing him to fumble two times.  They were smacking him around the entire game.  The game certainly pulled back the curtain on how good Bradford actually is.  He is an average NFL QB playing on a team with a stellar defense.

The game left me even more unsure of if the Eagles are actually a good team or not.  The 3-0 start had a team that seemed to have their shit together in all facets of the game.  The Detroit and much more the Washington game made think opposing coaches had figured out whatever the Birds were doing early on to be successful and taken it away.  Now, after beating the 5-0 Vikings I am hopeful the team has some confidence as they enter a BRUTAL portion of their schedule.  Time will tell but it’s all gravy to me at this point.  I’m just glad Wentz looks to be the type of QB we can actually build the team around going forward.

So while I was watching the game Cindy was busy in the back yard doing an unusual art project, spray painting TRUMP SUCKS in the yard behind the chicken coop.  Her hope was the republican candidate might just catch a glympse of it as he flew in to his rally at the county fairgrounds on his personal helicopter.  During the afternoon there were multiple copters circling the area.  I’m not sure if it was media or security copters, possibly both.  I am sure someone saw Cindy’s aerial message.

We decided to head out on the PTV’s around 5:30, a half hour before the 6PM rally.  We hoped to witness what was sure to be a mob scene.  We first went down 10th street that dead ends to the rear of the county fairgrounds.  As we approached we could hear the PA system booming with somebody warming up the crowd.  As we got closer we could see two sheriff deputies on the other side of the fence at the dead end street.  As we stopped I waved to the one officer who was maybe 50 feet away and he waved back.  Cindy I just hung there, trying to listen to what was being said.  We got to do so for less than 30 seconds before the deputy said we couldn’t stay there.

Even though I anticipated we would get this response, we asked why we couldn’t stay there.  We got the catch all “security reasons” response.  Cindy explained that we lived near by and we were standing on a public road.  The deputy didn’t care and reiterated we couldn’t stay there.  Although it was not worth a constitutional argument I said to the deputy “So we aren’t allowed to be on this side of the fence because of security concerns but we are allowed to be on the other side of the fence?” “That’s right” he said.  Cindy and I rode off laughing at the lack of common sense being applied, joking that perhaps we looked threatening in some manner.

We decided to ride down Immokalee Road to see what the crowd looked like trying to get into the event.  As we approached we saw what we assume was Trump’s helicopter swooping in.  Unfortunately it appeared their flight path did not include Cindy’s backyard welcome message.  When we got to the fairgrounds entrance we saw a massive amount of vehicles lined up trying to get into the event, hoping to catch a glimpse of the most controversial, divisive and ill equipped presidential candidate in modern history.

We rode down the length of the traffic jam, it was just under a mile in length.  The people stuck in line seemed to be interested in what the two weirdos were riding down the sidewalk.  When we got back to the entrance we could hear Trump was starting his speech that I am sure he repeated a few hours earlier in another part of the state.

I was trying to understand the logic of why they would hold another Trump rally in SW Florida.  The area is already heavily conservative, it’s not like he is going to win over any new voters in the area with the visit.  However when I thought about it further and combined it with the visual from the speech that included 80% women in the field of view behind Trump, I realized it is just all about mental manipulation, a classic bi-partisan tactic.  Filling the tv with women, the demographic that should be most disgusted with a Trump presidency is a transparent effort to manipulate the weak minded.  The rally itself is another calculated move where the Trump campaign can broadcast clips of their BIG LEAGUE support in Florida, an important swing state in the election.

I am so tired of all of this mess. The name calling, the accusations, the ignorance, I just want it behind us.  It seems like in the end Hilary will still prevail in the election which is not an ideal outcome in the majority of American’s minds but really the only viable choice to left to us since big money steered the democratic nomination into her lap.  I hope to cast my early voting ballot this week so my participation in the election can come to an end.  I can only hope that someway, somehow, the general populace realizes that American politics is truly all about smoke and mirrors where candidates are tasked with distracting voters and creating divisive, explosive environments that keeps their puppet masters, big money, safely behind the curtains, pulling all the strings.

I recorded some of our Trump rally experience as well.


So Cindy told me during the day that she couldn’t get the tractor started.  It sounded like she cranked it to the point where the battery was too weak to turn the motor.  When I got home I figured I had to drive the Tacoma around back to jump start the tractor which is a pain in the ass.  I then realized I had a much easier option.  I bought a portable power center for race timing.  It is battery powered but has an inverter in it that allows it to provide AC power.  It also can charge USB devices, has a light, AND has integrated jumper cables.  I pulled it out of the closet and carried it to the shed where the tractor was housed.  The motor fired right up and Cindy was off and mowing.  When I sell my race equipment I think I will probably keep the power center, it’s a good insurance policy.

So I took my Ninebot out on the road and again ventured on the far side of Immokalee Road where the streets are very sparsely populated.  I wound up on a long limestone road.  The rough surface added for some additional challenge.  However the biggest challenge was when I drove by a large house that had two VERY large, unrestrained dogs in the front yard.  As soon as they saw me they started charging and barking like mad.  I remained calm and accelerated the wheel without looking back, even though I could hear them in close pursuit.  Luckily they gave up pretty quickly.  They may have been totally fine if I would have stopped but I didn’t really want to find out.  Even if you live in a mostly deserted road, having dogs of that size loose is pretty irresponsible.  You can see them briefly in the video after I put some distance between them and me.

new-echo-dot-product-photos-31Yesterday we got the Amazon Echo Dot that we ordered close to a month ago.  The Dot is the much smaller cousin of the Amazon Echo.  The amazing thing is it has almost all of the functionality of the Echo at less than third of the price.  The biggest difference is the Dot does not have a high quality integrated speaker like the Echo does.  The small integrated speaker has much more basic sound quality but is fine.  It has a headphone jack that you can use to connect it to a higher quality speaker as well as the ability to pair to a bluetooth speaker.

To be honest the only other difference I noticed was that to change the volume by hand you use two buttons on top of the unit instead of the slick integrated volume ring the Echo has.  Other than those two things, it seems to have all of the abilities of the Echo in a hockey puck sized form factor.  You do not have to have an Echo first to use a Dot, it will stand alone as it’s own smart home hub.

Hooking it up took all of 5 minutes.  The Dot and the Echo actually are aware of each other and will defer to whichever device hears you better so if I issue a command in the bedroom only the Dot will respond and not the Echo, which is in the main living space.  Cindy and I liked having the Dot available to serve our needs in the bedroom without having to scream out to the great room.  We like it enough that I may get one more to put in the office, the other space in the house where we spend most of our time.

This will be my first sort of normal weekend in awhile.  The weather should be AWESOME as our first real cool front is supposed to blow through, knocking our night time lows into the low 60’s.  Sure I have work to get done but  I hope to have relaxing and fun much more heavily mixed into the equation.

041909-008-boa-atm-skimmer-front-2nd-angle1So yesterday I continued working on the aftermath of the credit card fraud from the last several days.  It seemed clear that either Cindy’s or my card got “skimmed” at some point.  I did some investigation on what skimmers look like and was very surprised that if you weren’t looking for them you likely would not even realize it’s there.  In a lot of cases they slip right on top of the CC slot and can literally be slapped on in seconds.  I did not realize that a skimmer can even be quickly installed onto a reader that is sitting on a counter in a store.

Cindy actually stopped at the gas station that we suspected skimmed us to let them know.  She said the guy was very defensive and said they check the pumps every night and have cameras.  She also stopped at the two local grocery stores where the card was used to let them know but their mostly spanish speaking staff didn’t seem to really give a fck.  So now I hope to get my new card asap so I can start updating the multitude of places where I use it regularly. I did figure out that the two online transactions I saw were actually legitimate so at least the card number stayed off the internet.

14713726_10154924139217841_7986669380089821163_nLast night after work Cindy and I went out for a short ride on our PTVs, parking at the middle school.  We then rode up to the high school that had a lot of activity going on.  We rode around the back of the school and saw what appeared to be youth football practice going on.  We were surprised to see a Cuban lunch truck parked in the lot as well, evidently hoping to grab some business from the parents watching their children.

Cindy and I decided to throw some business their way, buying a couple small chocolate empanadas and a bottle of water.  We enjoyed them in a nearby school stairway.  These unique experiences are something that riding the wheel encourages as we randomly explore areas we normally would never venture into.

So I watched the final presidential debate (thankfully).  It built upon the lunacy of the first two debates culminating in a crescendo of insults with Trump welding his coffin shut, just in case the nails were not enough.  I have said early on that I think deep down Donald really does not want to win the election.  Hell I don’t think he wanted to win the Republican nomination, he just wanted some additional adulation.  I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how easy it was to prey upon the dark, negative, discriminatory feelings of our white population.   So anyway, I feel no need to regurgitate all the ridiculous things that happened last night however Donald declaring he would not accept the results of the election seemed to alienate even more of the GOP that was still half heartedly trying to support him.

572ef7ecc66a2_msuper3atthemall-jpg-03a480851f61ff3bdb7cf5855a8dc4821When I got home last night I decided to put together one of the presents I got for Cindy for her birthday, a glider/rocker chair.  Cindy had said she would put it together herself but I figured I would do it for her while she was teaching a class so she could jump straight to enjoying it.  The assembly looked worse up front than what it turned out to be in reality, despite pretty sparse instructions.  It made me smile when I came back from my EUC ride and saw Cindy out on the lanai rocking in her new chair while watching the chickens.

So last night I finally decided to pull the trigger on buying my touring electric unicycle, a Msuper V3.  The wheel has a large 18 inch tire with power, speed and range capability that is damn close to double what my Ninebot One E+ has under the hood.  It is a beast.  I decided to buy the wheel from SpeedyFeet, a company over in the UK run by a guy that I really like from his YouTube videos.

So I hop on his site and place the order.  As soon as I try to complete the order I get a payment error.  I waited a few minutes and tried again, same deal.  I immediately assumed it was my CC company flagging the transaction as suspicious since it is overseas. I logged into my Chase account to see if I could authorize the transaction easily but didn’t see a way to do so.  I decided to just use Paypal instead to complete the order.  The wheel probably won’t show up for a couple weeks so I will have a lot of time to build up anticipation.

So this morning I wake up and see an email from Chase regarding card activity as I expected.  I figured I would just call them when I got to work and say false alarm, it was me.  So I make the call and am surprised the transaction they first ask me about is not SpeedyFeet, it is Sunshine Grocery Store for $275.  Huh, excuse me?  I had never heard of the store.  When the rep looked at the transaction he said it was in Naples.  I quickly looked online and saw the store was the shitty market about five miles from me at the corner of Wilson and Golden Gate Blvd.

After confirming with Cindy she didn’t for some reason go on a wild spending spree there, I logged into my account to look at all the recent activity.  I was not pleased.  There was a second visit to Sunshine as well as another local small supermarket as well as over $400 of charges at two local gas stations.  To round things out there were two Amazon transactions that I did not make.  In total, somewhere around $700 had been thrown on my card fraudulently since Friday.

So I started going over the transactions with the Chase rep, indicating what I did and did not charge.  I told him that it looked like most of these were in person transactions.  I said I have my card on me, how would they be doing over the counter transactions.  He said all of these transactions were via magnetic swipes, not using the chip that is part of the EMV cards.  The roll out of EMV tech seems totally half baked if so many retailers, including ALL gas stations still only accept the magnetic strip swipe for payment.  My assumption is that either Cindy or I swiped our card at a gas station that has a card skimmer.  Cindy did get gas at one station she never normally uses in the past week so that is the number one suspect on the list.

So after identifying the fraudulent transactions the rep said my card was frozen/cancelled and that I would be getting a brand new one with a new account in the mail shortly which will end this asshole’s joy ride.  Of course my frustration ride is just beginning as I now have to update the dozens of places that I regularly use that card as a payment source for.  The most frustrating thing is these skimmer criminals basically get a free pass.  If they are able to install the skimmer without being detected they are free to steal card info as they see fit since credit card companies make zero effort to prosecute them.

Nailing these people would take nothing more than a basic investigation in many cases.  You have the exact time the transaction came across the counter.  Pretty much any retailer has a security camera pointed at the counter.  Match the transaction to the video and BAM, there is your bad guy/girl. Because of the scale of credit card fraud banks have decided this is basically just a cost of doing business and write it off.  As long as that environment exists the scammers will continue to run rampant.

Even if EMV chips were fully implemented, RFID readers would be able to accomplish the same sort of deception.  It just doesn’t seem right that the guy shoplifting a few steaks will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law but the credit card thief that steals thousands of dollars of merchandise from countless individuals is not even pursued.


So ever since my dad and step mom left I have been up to my ears in work, both the office variety (Office 365 to be exact) and the home variety.  I went into work Friday around 9AM and did not leave until close to 8:30 that night.   Friday was the day I picked to actually pull the trigger on our Office 365 migration, meaning our mail would start directing to Microsoft’s cloud servers.  During the day I checked and rechecked that my plan of action was sound.  It seemed to be.  Shortly before 4PM I made the change to our DNS MX record and waited for it to propagate.  A little after 5PM mail started flowing in it’s new direction and the fun began.

So we decided to not worry about rolling new versions of the Office applications until after we got the mail conversion done.  This meant we were doing the switch on mostly Office 2007 clients.  We quickly discovered that not all of our installations were Office 365 ready.  We had to apply SP3 and then one additional patch to allow 2007 to interact with the cloud based email correctly.  Once we got that figured out the rest of the time was spent updating all 50+ systems at our main office.  All in all it went pretty smooth.

On Saturday I spent over half the day continuing to work on the project albeit remotely.  The nice thing about a cloud based product is you can work on it pretty much anywhere you have an internet connection.  None of the work was all that difficult, it was mostly me trying to figure out how to do certain things we were already doing in Exchange 2010.  One of the bigger challenges was figuring out how to allow some of our internal applications and devices to send email via Office 365.  I accomplished this by configuring an IP restricted port 25 SMTP relay in Office 365, something I was not aware you could do.

During the remote work on Saturday I did take a short break to get outside and weed the yard.  It was nice to get away from a screen for a short while.  During the afternoon I decided to tackle the tractor repair.  My replacement idler pulleys had arrived on Friday.

I did a little research ahead of time on what I needed to do to replace the pulleys.  Of course I still had challenges along the way.  I could not believe how badly the pulleys were damaged.  Their plastic construction made them seen woefully ill equipped for their role.  One of them was particularly bad with most of the pulley surface destroyed.  No wonder the tractor was making such a horrible noise.

So after some struggles I had all three pulleys replaced.  The belt was not in good shape either but I hoped it would still serve it’s purpose to drive the transmission.  Well it did not.  Because of wear and stretching, the belt would simply fall off the pulleys when you engaged the brake.  I realized I was going to have to get another belt as well.

I had two options.  Order the belt at the same place online that I bought the pulleys from.  I may save a few bucks but I would be waiting another 3-4 days to get it.  Option two was to call Sears, see if they had the belt and possibly pay a little bit more for the convenience of getting it right away.  I called to verify they had the part, they did.  I hopped in the truck and headed right there, anxious to get my tractor woes behind me before the weekend was over.

I grabbed the new belt and on the way home stopped to pick up dinner at Tijuana Flats.  Cindy was really wanting Mexican food for some reason.  We enjoyed our meal while working to catch up on our huge backlog of X1 dvr’d content.  I was pooped from my non-stop day of stuff.

Despite a very busy previous 48 hours I still drug myself out of bed at 6AM Sunday morning to get out for a run at the track.  Cindy joined me this time.  We wound up putting in the most mileage of 2016, just under four and three quarter miles.  It feels good to get some more distance into my “long” run although the actual act of running still feels nowhere near good.

After getting home and tending to the chickens Cindy and I were happy that Katie agreed to go riding with us on the Segways.  Her and Cindy rode the Minipro’s while I rolled around on my single wheel.  Having Katie along made Cindy push to a new distance record on her bot of almost 7.5 miles.  Cindy and I both hope Katie joins us more often in the future.

During the morning I also headed back outside to install my replacement drive belt in the tractor.  Since I just ripped the tractor apart the day before, doing it a second time was much more time efficient.  The new belt fixed my issue, I was finally able to have the tractor move backward and forward under it’s own power.

So I tuned into the Eagles-Redskins game hoping that the sloppy performance against Detroit was just a bump in the road.  Well unfortunately the bump became a big nasty pothole.  There were some very glaring problems.  First of all, for the second game in a row the Eagles committed more than a dozen penalties which is inexcusable.  I saw some ridiculous stat that the eagles have not had this much penalty yardage in two consecutive games since 1952.

The defense, which had been very solid in the first three games was porous, getting beat equally by the run and the pass.  They basically did not stop the Redskins the entire game.  The offense was pretty awful as well, not scoring any touchdowns.  The biggest problem was the rookie they threw in there to replace Lane Johnson.  He got demolished, resulting in Carson Wentz getting smacked around all game long.  The Eagles wide receivers just are not impressive, they drop catchable balls routinely and don’t seem to scare anyone.

The game was not nearly as close as the final score.  The only reason it seemed competitive was the touchdown scored on an intercepted pass and kick off return.   All of a sudden that rising tide of enthusiasm has been subdued by two increasingly poor performances.  In the big picture my expectations were low to start the season so I can’t get too bent out of shape about it.  There is still no doubt that Carson Wentz has some very special qualities, they just need to get some better people to protect him and to throw to.

My Monday at work was still very much Office 365 consumed but it was all small minor details and problems that had to be ironed out.  I was very excited that FINALLY my 70 inch LG tv was scheduled to be fixed, two weeks plus from when I called it in.  The tech showed up an hour later than his original arrival window although he did call Cindy to let her know.   Cindy said he reeked of cigarettes and he left greasy finger prints all over the screen but at least the set worked.  When I got home I wasted no time getting my AV nook back to the way it was.

Yesterday was also Cindy’s birthday.  We went out to a birthday dinner with her family on Sunday night but Monday was the official date so I wanted to make sure we did something.  I sort of prepared dinner, Cindy pre-made some ravioli that I heated up and then I added garlic bread to the mix and made salad.  A birthday isn’t a birthday without a cake so I picked up a half of a chocolate cake at Publix on the way home.  Cindy’s daughter stopped by as well to make the celebration complete.  It was a simple but fun evening.

We discovered that our Amazon Echo has another amazing ability on top of it’s thousands of other existing ones, it can sing you happy birthday.  See for yourself.


14610955_1309904019022849_4634427452754950937_nLast night my dad and step mom took Cindy, myself and Katie out to dinner at the Watermark Grille, a place that I had not been to since I went with my mom on our last Mother’s Day together. It felt a little weird/sad as I walked inside.  The feelings passed and all five of us had an enjoyable meal with good food, laughs, and flowing conversations.  Cindy and Teresa had a lot to talk about from their two day adventure down in Key West.  They saw a ton of cool things and got to experience the “unique” culture quite a bit.

After dinner we headed home and just hung out for awhile.  Of course it was sad that dad and Teresa’s visit was coming to an end.  Of course we also were sad to be losing the company of Maggie and Clara who provided all of us with tons of smiles along the way.  The dog/chicken issue was never a big deal.  We mostly walked the dogs in the front yard and allowed them in the back yard a few times while the chickens were in their coop.

Despite all of us not being late night people I found that pretty much every night of their visit I was up later than normal, hence why I feel rather sleepy today.  This morning the Outback was loaded up so they could get an early start on the first leg of their journey home.  They are planning to get to Brunswick Georgia.

14590315_10154898975577841_8384213929028082936_nEveryone handed out the hugs and well wishes.  Clara really did not seem to want to hit the road.  After she had been loaded in the car once she hopped back out to me and stood between my legs where I gave her one more pet and kiss on the head.  It was very sweet.  As they backed out of the driveway and slowly pulled away I had a small tear in my eye as I saw Maggie looking back at me from the back window and Clara doing the same perched on Teresa’s lap.

Since our family became geographically diverse years ago this scenario has played out many times so I should be used to it by now but it never feels good.  I spent much more time chilling during their visit than I did my first staycation three weeks ago so I guess that’s a good thing.

Of course I have not wasted any time placing my nose back to the grindstone.  I showered and headed into work to do prep for our Office 365 migration that I will be tackling over the weekend.  I am hoping that most of the in office work can be handled this evening with doing more remotely over the remainder of the weekend.  It’s a tricky process but I am hoping I have all my ducks lined up in a row.

I am hoping to have enough free time over the weekend to fix the tractor which appears to have one or more defective idler pulleys in the transmission drive assembly.  It is also Cindy’s birthday weekend so I am sure she would rather have me be around if at all possible.

Last night my dad and I went to Pelican Larry’s to grab dinner.  It seemed like there were a lot of people there for a Wednesday night but luckily since they have a ton of seating we had no problem.  We sat at the bar and ate there.  Our bartender was a young girl that seemed a bit distracted but bartending while taking food orders I guess lends itself to that.  The couple beers and food I ordered went down easy.

Last night Dad and I watched  a movie he recommended I rent from Netflix, The Lobster.  It was definitely one of the strangest movies I ever saw.  I told dad it seemed like it was one long Monty Python skit.  My eyes closed a few times, making an already confusing experience, more so.  I think this movie would be fantastic to watch if you were really drunk or high.  Unfortunately I was neither so I can only give it a C.

Today was dad’s last full one in Naples.  My step mom and Cindy were still down in Key West.  The reports we got from last night were they were having a lot of fun so far.  During the early morning I cleaned the coop and started to do more trouble shooting on the coop dvr.  I had received a replacement for the dead unit, another likely casualty of the lightning strike last week.  However when I hooked up the new unit, 3 of the 8 cameras were not working.  Through some troubleshooting I determined it wasn’t the new dvr or the cables, the actual cameras had stopped working.  Of course I assume this is more shrapnel from the power hit.  Later in the day I was able to replace 2 of the 3 dead cameras with lower resolution models I had laying around.  Yea the feed from them won’t be HD quality but they don’t really need to be.

14650357_10154901513987841_6399532201519563946_nI told dad we should go walk the dogs at North Collier Park, a place he had never visited.  Dad was very impressed with how nice the place was.  We had fun watching the collection of old retired RC sail boaters maneuver their ships around the lake as we started the walk.  Most of the walk was on the elevated, mostly shaded boardwalk which was perfect for the dogs.  We had a great couple miles.

After the park we headed to Pet Supermarket to grab some food and other stuff for the dogs.  Maggie and Clara had fun exploring the store and observing the small animals they had for sale.  We then made one final stop at Naples Cyclery.  Dad was interested in looking at some hybrid bikes as he has some ideas about doing more biking back home which would be good.  Dad isn’t all that mobile at this point so anything that gets him moving more is a good thing.

Later in the afternoon I headed out for a EUC ride.  The nearly 7 mile ride was good but tough because of strong wind.  It included a funny and unexpected political message when I rode past an intersection that somebody spray painted in large letters FCK TRUMP.  It seemed like an odd place to express those feelings but it will certainly get the point across to any oncoming motorists.

Tonight we are going out to a farewell dinner.  Cindy and Teresa pulled in less than an hour ago after a very fun two days in the Keys.  It has been a relaxing visit.  It’s a shame that geography dictates we don’t get together more often but when we do it always leaves positive memories.

14671143_10154898975882841_6434966570223495630_nLast night we again chilled at the house.  I rented The Infiltrator starring Bryan Cranston.  I am now of the belief that any movie he has a major role in will be a good film.  Infiltrator proved my theory correct, unlike Logan’s Run, it was a quality flick from start to end.  I think my dad actually liked it, a rare thing. I’d give it an A-.

Cindy and my step mom were up early and out the door around 7 for their quick two day visit to Key West.  Cindy was toying with the idea of taking the Segways to cover a lot more ground with but decided against it.  I got a text around lunch that they had arrived safely.  I am sure they are having a lot of fun exploring.

I was out the door relatively early as well, meeting up with my timer buddy John to drop off my timing hardware that he will be using for a few events.  I was happy to let him borrow it as it gives me a preview of the extra space in the house I will reclaim once all of the timing related stuff has been sold.  On the way home I stopped at the county recycling center to drop off my AV equipment that was fried from the surge.

Dad and I decided it would be fun to take Maggie and Clara to the dog beach.  On the way there we stopped at Tijuana Flats for lunch, enjoying it at their small outside seating area.  I had not been to the dog beach in a couple years, I was surprised by how much the shoreline had changed since my last visit.  The beach during low tide used to be relatively wide.  It has almost become entirely consumed by mangrove growth.  To get to the main beach area you have to walk through a narrow path in the middle of a mangrove clump.  It’s sort of nuts.

The dogs wasted little time before heading into the water.  Clara, who normally is not a fan of water had no problems getting wet, she was running around having a great time.  Dad found a stick for Maggie that she retrieved time and time again as dad threw it into progressively deeper water, loving every second of it.  There were a lot of people and dogs there, I was surprised that there were no real fights between the dogs. Everyone just got along.

Eventually we had to chill out with the stick throwing, Maggie would literally go until she dropped if you let her.  We sat on the shore and chilled out for a little while and tried to get the dogs to drink some water which we were only mildly successful at.  We packed up after maybe a little more than an hour at the beach, it was definitely long enough.  The funniest moment of the trip came after we had just finished hosing down Maggie.  Dad wasn’t paying close attention to her.  In the span of a few seconds she managed to roll around in the sand, turning herself into a corn dog.  We gave her a second hosing, making sure to keep her upright the second time around.  I was quite glad we took dad’s Subaru instead of my truck as the inside of it resembles a wet sand box right about now.

Tonight we plan to go to a nearby sports bar for dinner and to chill.  I feel somewhat bad that there has been no extensive touring of southwest Florida during the visit but it seems like dad really is content getting more relaxing time over on the go sight seeing.  He has been here enough that he has seen most of the typical tourist destinations in our immediate area. It’s all good with me as I can use some down time as well.