I have a good chunk of vacation time to use up before my annual rollover in mid-August.  I also have a bunch of small projects on my mental to do list that would benefit from taking a few long weekends.  I actually had hoped to either take today or Monday off to facilitate just that but can’t because of various work commitments both days.  Don’t get me wrong, having to find ways to jam in vacation time is a good problem to have but it is a problem nonetheless.

Last night in addition to cranking out more 3D prints I recorded a video about a recent safety issue with newly produced Gotway wheels.  Well actually I recorded the video twice.  The first time I neglected to remember that I had the camcorder set to time lapse mode so my 10 minute video got compressed into 10 seconds of footage.  The video talks about the very dangerous problem where going over a very minor bump can cause a Gotway wheel to oscillate violently back and forth, throwing the rider to the ground.

Marty, one of my online EUC buddies had just received a brand new Gotway Msuper and was filming as he took it out for it’s first real test ride.  As he crossed a small bump between the road and sidewalk ramp his wheel shook rapidly and tossed him hard onto the sidewalk.  He screwed up his wrist pretty bad as well as his shoulder.  Anyway my video outlines my thoughts about the whole ordeal and why I plan to get a Kingsong 16S for my next wheel instead of dipping back into the Gotway world.  I have plenty of ways to hurt myself already, I don’t need a wheel failure to do it for me.

This weekend has a lot of 3D printing and a lot of sweaty work ahead of it. Yay.

So Cindy and I have been 3D printing day and night, printing parts for her Widowmaker gun.  Yesterday a flaw in our set up was revealed when one of our frequent summer power blips killed a print that was over halfway done.  I immediately ordered a small UPS that should prevent this scenario from repeating.  I also ordered another Night Owl camera to add to the house security DVR that will be focused on the 3D printer so jobs can be monitored remotely. Otherwise we seem to have a good system in place.

 

We are pumping out parts pretty regularly, at least two per day.  My main job is getting the 3D models configured and printing.  Cindy has been doing the post print work which includes cleaning up the pieces after removing the support material and eventually assembling it all together. The printed parts look really sharp, I’m hoping for an equally sharp outcome.  At this point I have almost entirely consumed my one kilogram reel of silver PLA filament.  It’s a good thing I have another one on the way.

So once again there were some downpours yesterday at the house, retarding my battle against standing water in the coop yard.  The pump I have back there seems to be very good quality.  It has been running around the clock for close to a week without issue.  The forecast calls for roughly a three day break from precipitation which would be fantastic.  The combo of bright hot/sun combined with pumping water elsewhere should be able to empty out the water in that period of time. hopefully.

Of course the long term solution to this problem is to raise the ground level in that area.  Trying to do it one 40 pound bag of topsoil at a time would be rather brutal but might be the eventual route I have to take.

 

So I have been doing better the last 48 hours or so with not dwelling as much on Tuki’s demise. However that changed after work.  We gave Tuki’s cage to Cindy’s ex-sister-in-law and niece since they have birds.    Having the cage out of my field view removed one large glaring reminder in the living space but at the same time it’s absence was also like a black hole in some ways.  Well tonight I was unloading the dishwasher and had the emotions kick back in which may seem like odd timing to most, unless you knew one of Tuki’s many quirks.

For some reason that will remain a mystery Tuki found the act of someone emptying the dishwasher extremely entertaining and enjoyable.  As you unload dishes he would say his name repeatedly in one of the many variations he could say (Tuk, Tuki, Tuki-Tuk, Tuk-Tuk).  He also would make some of his pleasant sounds instead of the bone chilling screech he was so fond of.  His absolute favorite part of the process was when the silverware went back in the drawers.  Perhaps the clinking noise was something he just liked for his own bird reasons.

Like I mentioned the other day, his contributions to the house environment were so established that it felt like they were woven into the very fabric of my day to day living experience.  I don’t want to overly embellish the relationship Tuki and I had personally because it was not great although we both learned to get along, more or less.

We used to have a hard time getting Tuki to go back into his cage at night but discovered that if I was the one to refill his water and food dishes he almost always would go back into his cage because he saw it as an opportunity to try to bite me as I pulled and reinserted his food crocks.  Most of the time it seemed like he was just acting like he wanted to attack me to establish dominance but a couple times he actually did bite me hard which I never reacted well to. He was always very fond of Alison and Cindy, letting them handle and pet him with far less consequence than if I would have tried it.  Hell he was more fond of pretty much every visitor we had to the house than he was of me.

I swear Tuki lived in a time vacuum.  He never seemed to look or act much differently from year one to year seventeen. He never had any health problems and likely would have lived for decades to come if not for my terrible judgement call which I will regret for a long time to come.

So due to a mechanical issue my buddy’s flight was postponed till today instead of yesterday so we had Lucky in the house for an extra night which Elsa definitely was happy about.  The contrast between how Elsa was when Lucky first came in the house till now is hilarious.  She now wrestles and plays with Lucky constantly and he has clearly been accepted into Elsa’s elite inner circle of trust.

Don will be coming to pick up Lucky around mid-day while Cindy is home so I said my goodbye’s to him before I left for work.  He is such a good and loving dog, it breaks my heart that he has to be associated with such a painful event like what happened Friday.  However I didn’t blame him then and I don’t blame him now.

So there again was a lot of 3d printing work last night.  Cindy and I are learning as we go.  With the gun I am trying to make for Cindy’s costume I came against a piece that was far too big to print at 100% size.  It was even too big to print at 80% scale like I did with the other parts I have made so far.  I found if I shrunk it to 67% it would just fit.

I started the print job but then realized it was sort of dumb for two reasons.  All of the pieces need to be printed at the same scale so if I print this piece at 67% it would mean I would need to reprint the other pieces I already completed as well to the same scale which would be a pain. Plus reducing the model size that much would make the gun look too tiny I think.

So I instead did my first slicing job.  I reset the big part to 80% scale which put a good portion of the model outside the printable range.  I then did a slice on the Z axis, lopping off about 25% of the top.  I then broke the bottom and top sections into their own print file.

I printed the larger section over night.  It took close to nine hours to complete but turned out well.  I am now printing the chopped off section which Cindy will clean up and glue to the first part to make it whole again.

I also figured out a way to finally print some parts that I failed at a half dozen times before.  I was able to separate the four parts and print them on their ends instead of flat.  Sure it used extra support material but the end product was pretty good.  I am happy that I am slowly understanding some of the basics so I can come up with ways to get around obstacles as they pop up. Since we have never done this before we are hoping it all turns out half decent.  The quality of the printed parts so far has been really good for a $500 device.

So after the awful tragedy of Friday night I spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep myself as distracted as possible to avoid focusing on the loss of Tuki and my role in it.  During the day I got on the tractor and did my best to mow the yard.  After two weeks of torrential rain it looked like hell.  I got more cut than I expected at first which at least made things look a little less chaotic.

I was glad that the submersible pump that I ordered showed up.   I wasted little time before hooking it up behind the chicken coop.  There was a small hole that was dug out by the chickens by their playground which is where some of the deepest water resides.  I took an unused pot and placed it in the hole, it fit pretty much perfectly.

The reason I used this set up was I wanted the pump to be slightly below ground level so it pumps out as much water as possible.  I ran two extension cords from the shed and 150 feet of hose to the large drainage ditch in between our property and the one to our east.

I plugged in the pump and it started humming along.  The other end of the hose was so far away I couldn’t verify it was working until I walked over to the ditch.  I was glad to see/hear a strong flow of water dumping out the end.  The pump has been running constantly since about 3PM Saturday and has dropped the water level back there by several inches.  The problem is there is SO much water, I bet it is easily 15-20 thousand gallons, that even with the 1/3 hp pump going full speed it is going to take a long time to get the water out of there.  By yesterday afternoon there was an appreciable difference, enough that the chickens started to venture further back.  I have a feeling the pump is going to be a permanent fixture in the chicken yard during wet season.

I spent a lot of time getting my feet wet with 3D printing.  I had two big issues, oozing and some prints lifting from the print platform.  I addressed the lifting print by using a trick others posted with this model printer.  It involved flipping the print bed upside down so the glass side is up.  After doing that I applied blue painter’s tape to the glass.  The prints appeared to adhere consistently after that.

The oozing was a pain.  Basically before a print begins the extruder (print nozzle) is brought up to operating temperature, somewhere between 200 and 220 degree celsius (400 degrees!).  As it hit that temp some of the plastic filament starts to melt and run out of the extruder.  Depending on how much, it can screw up the print as the unwanted plastic gets in the way.

To fix this I used multiple remedies.  I set the printer to run at a slightly lower temperature which slowed down the oozing but didn’t totally eliminate it.  I also would babysit the start of the print job.  Just as the extruder got to temp but before it actually starts printing I quickly grabbed the stuff that oozed out and cut it off.  Finally, I started putting “brims” on the pieces which creates a thin outline around the base of the model.  During the brim creation any junk that was on the nozzle normally will come off and should not affect the model building itself.

The printer has been working pretty much non-stop all weekend.  I printed a mudguard for the Msuper, an external spool holder for the printer which allows larger filament spools to be used and five pieces for a gun model that Cindy is making for her Supercon costume.  I have quickly seen why 3D printing can become a rather addicting hobby.  Watching the printer build a model is somewhat mesmerizing.

Saturday night we watched Assassin’s Creed, our latest Netflix rental.  I never played the video game the movie is based on so I really had no frame of reference.  I thought even without that background the movie stood alone pretty well as decent B+ entertainment.

Sunday morning instead of running I again put in time on the rower, 30 minutes to simulate roughly what my 5k runs consume.  Rowing is a different kind of uncomfortable compared to running.  The lack of impact is nice and the overall body benefit is surely higher.  However I don’t get quite the sense of accomplishment rowing 30 minutes compared to running the same amount of time.  I’m not sure why.

Cindy and I got out for a hot but fun ride on our electric unicycles mid-morning.  It was the fastest sustained riding Cindy has done to date.  She really is getting to the point where she can concentrate more on just enjoying the ride experience instead of having to constantly fear losing control.

I got to talk to my dad yesterday to catch up.  As in most of our conversations there are portions where dad grumbles about various things in the world that just piss him off.  I am excited that he appears to be still moving forward with his plans to install a large scale solar array on his property.

Sunday afternoon was pretty chill.  Katie came over to visit for a little while and I spent time working on more 3D printing, paying my bills, and playing a little WoW.  Cindy worked hard to make my Father’s Day as pleasant as it could be which I appreciated.

I took Sadie back this morning to Ali’s place.  We spoke only briefly about the Tuki incident.  If I would have talked about it more I am pretty sure both of us would have started crying.  Lucky goes home this evening so all of a sudden the household gets a lot less crazy and quieter.  The lack of Tuki’s steady contribution to the sound environment in the house is something that is going to feel very strange for a long time…

We lost Tuki last night which is of course tragic.  The worst part of it was his demise was entirely my fault.  Early on during Lucky’s visit he had shown interest in Tuki but the second I called Lucky off he forgot about it.  Since then we had Tuki out each night and I totally forgot about the potential danger of having a dog that is not used to having a bird in the house.

Well last night Cindy and I were both in the hobby room messing around with the 3D printer.  I came out after Cindy had just been out there a few minutes prior and saw the awful site of Tuki, who was already dead in Lucky’s mouth.  Of course I was in utter shock for a moment but then yelled at Lucky to drop him, which he did immediately.  I had heard no noises that would have indicated anything happened.

I called out Cindy who was equally shocked by what she saw.  Oddly at no moment did I feel anger at Lucky.  I immediately placed all blame squarely on my shoulders.  I should have never let Lucky alone with Tuki and better yet should have just left Tuki in his cage during Lucky’s visit.  The crushing guilt combined with remorse put me in a catatonic-like state for several minutes as I just sat on the couch in disbelief.    The reality that my pet that has been with me for roughly 17 years was now dead, due to my negligence was just an awful feeling.  Sure I have gone through the loss of pets in my lifetime but never has one met it’s demise because of poor judgement by myself.

Cindy and I took turns crying last night and this morning.  Despite the cantankerous relationship Tuki and I had I always loved him like any pet and appreciated the big attitude he always carried around in his little body.  He made us laugh with his mimicking of sounds and words along with his various weird quirks.  Even after going through the near nightly ritual of him trying to attack me when I refilled his food and water bowl, more often than not, after I turned off the lights and walked back towards bed, he would say “Night Tuk”.  I became so accustomed to his little sound additions to the household, having them suddenly silenced is going to be very weird and sad for a long time.

I had to make the very difficult call to Alison to let her know what happened.  Tuki and her always had a special bond and the news hit her hard as I expected.

This morning Cindy and I buried Tuki along with one of his favorite toys by the large coconut palm he could see when we placed his cage by the window.  The tears streamed down our faces as we petted his head one final time before we placed him in the ground.  I’m not quite sure how long it will take for to get out of the tremendous weight of guilt I feel.  I deserve to feel terrible.  It’s all my fault.

So we have not really gotten any appreciable break from the rain this week which means that our property has remained a miserable marshland.  I have always hated when this happens since I have lived here but since we have adopted chickens I really hate it.  The back area behind their coop has basically been underwater for around a week.

Last night after work, despite having the Prius, I stopped at Home Depot to pick up another 500 pounds of sand to further raise the ground level in the coop run so the birds at least had a spot to hang out that was not submerged.  The process for getting the ten bags of sand to the coop was rather inefficient, requiring me to pick up and move each bag five times. (shelf to flatbed, flatbed to Prius, Prius to truck, truck to coop yard, coop yard to coop run)  By the time I dumped the new sand the run at least had no more standing water visible.

Later I decided to do something more drastic and ordered a high volume submersible pump.  My plan is to plop the pump in the middle of the back yard, connect a long hose to it leading to the ditch at the edge of the property and pump all the damn water out of there.  In theory this should work, we will see how it turns out in reality.

Today our new 3D printer is scheduled to arrive.  I have wanted a 3D printer for quite awhile but never pulled the trigger.  I had a nice pile of Amazon spiff points saved up so I used them to almost entirely cover the cost.  I opted for a PLA only model which is more suited for beginners.

Everything I read about 3D printing is there is a LOT to learn in order to get good at making consistently good prints.  Cindy is excited to learn it as well and will likely be using the printer as much if not more than I will at least at first.  She is hoping to be able to create some parts for the costume she is creating for SuperCon.

The good thing about being late to the 3D printing game is the community is very mature at this point and there are TONS of resources out there both for education and plans to print countless numbers of objects.  I look forward to seeing what we can create.  It also will be another avenue the YouTube channel can expand into.

Having the three dogs in the house has been lots of fun.  Lucky is just such a sweet, sweet, dog.  We can tell Elsa is a little bit jealous of the attention Lucky has been receiving.  She peed on his dog bed the first day we left them alone.  She does seem to be warming up to him a bit and has played with him several times.  Sadie of course just goes with the flow, putting up with Elsa’s annoying habit of face and leg biting.

The weekend has multiple potential projects available.  We will have to see which way the wind takes us.

 

After work last night my buddy Don from work brought out his dog Lucky for an extended dog sitting visit while he visits family out of state.  We had watched Lucky twice before but the last time was probably close to four years ago.  Once we got chickens Don was hesitant to have Lucky out at our place because of the potential interaction.  Now that the hens are behind a four foot fence full time he felt better about it.

So even though I only see Lucky rarely, he always seems to remember me.  He also seemed to remember Cindy despite not seeing her for years.  He is such a calm, friendly and well mannered dog.  Of course Elsa was freaked out but Lucky more or less ignored her and let Elsa be the one to come to him.  By the end of the night Elsa was cautiously interacting/playing with Lucky.  I am hoping by the end of the day today she will fully accept him into the inner circle.

To make things even more interesting we are picking up Sadie today for an extended visit so we will have three dogs in the house through the weekend.  Sadie just goes with the flow as well so I am sure all three will get along just fine.  Really our only concern is restricting Lucky’s activity.  He had his back leg in a cast for over two months due to an injury.  He LOVES to run and play but the last thing we want is for him to re-injure himself in our care so we need to either have him outside on leash or constantly monitored to keep him from going nuts.  Lucky is very well disciplined and responds to voice commands reliably.

I wish we could say the same about Jeff Sessions. I’m not sure if you could get a more typical example of what a stereotypical dirt bag politician is than Sessions.  His testimony yesterday was nothing short of a joke.

I just ordered a 3D printer, I am excited to see what sort of creations Cindy and I can come up with.

So Cindy came up with a good idea for our Saturday morning run.  She suggested since I had to go to the office to do some server work, we get up early and run at nearby Sugden Park.  It sounded like a good idea to me.

When we woke up it was very dreary outside with steady rain. The rain we had Friday had already placed some mild standing water on the property.  Well I had to go to the office regardless so we still dressed to run with the hopes that there was a break in the rain by the time we would get to the park.   On the drive there we went through bands of rain of varying intensity.  By the time we got to the intersection by the park entrance it was once again raining steadily so we bailed on the run portion of the trip.

I headed to the office and migrated a server used for routing and ftp access from ancient Windows Server 2003 to new hardware running server 2012 R2.  I had done much of the legwork ahead of time so I was only in there for roughly an hour to move some wires around and add some routes. So when we got home both Cindy and I felt we needed to still get our cardio work in.  I plopped myself on the rower in the bedroom for a half hour session while Cindy put in the same amount of time on the treadmill.  It felt good to at least get some work in.

So in the couple hours we were gone in the morning there must have been near apocalyptic rain at the house.  The property had as much water in the yard as I had ever seen, including hurricanes.  When I looked at the security cameras in the chicken coop it was amazing and terrible.  The entire fenced in area behind the coop was underwater.

Cindy and I tag teamed the coop work.  I moved stuff like the chicken tractor to the front of the coop where there was still some high ground remaining.  The chickens of course were drenched but they don’t seem to care all that much.  What I cared about is the chickens lack of caring about drinking the disgusting standing water.  I yelled at them to stop drinking the dirty water, like it was going to matter.  Their run was half underwater as well, turning the surface into a mucky cesspool.  The chickens spent the majority of the day huddling on high ground as well as spending much more time than normal on the perches in the coop run.

With the crappy weather Cindy and I were content to just hang at the house during the rest of the day.  Cindy has started prep for her new SuperCon costume so she was happy to start digging into it hardcore.  I was happy to dig into WoW, doing whatever I felt like virtually accomplishing.

Saturday night we watched Patriot’s Day, the Marky Mark film about the Boston Marathon bombings.  It was powerful and emotional at times as you can imagine.  It seemed like they modified the events somewhat unless I totally missed some parts of the news coverage.  B+

Sunday morning it once again looked overcast but at least it wasn’t raining.  We threw the wheels in the truck and headed to the Greenway.  Cindy did some more work on her seated riding on the Monster and did quite well.  At the end of the ride I again attempted seated riding and did better than the week before.  I hope to get over to the school this week to work on it some more.

After riding we stopped at Home Depot to grab ten 50 pound bags of sand which I immediately spread in the run when we got home.  I filled in the low spots that were puddles to hopefully give the chickens at least a small area they can stay dry if they want to.

Our Sunday afternoon followed much the same course as Saturday with both of us doing our recreational activity of our choosing, Cindy doing costume work and me back in WoW.  We avoided rain on Sunday which was nice although we need at least three our four rain free days for the water to seep back into the ground.  The weather forecast does not seem amenable to that plan.

This will be an interesting week.  Not only will we be getting Sadie for an extended visit, we also will be getting my buddy’s dog Lucky at the same time, meaning several days of triple dog shenanigans.  It should be entertaining.

 

 

 

So I saw/heard a good chunk of the James Comey testimony yesterday.  To me it seemed pretty clear that he is an honest, experienced and intelligent man.  When an individual of his character testifies that he started documenting his conversations with the president because of a “gut feeling” regarding the type of person he was dealing with, that says a lot.  How Trump could hear all of the Comey testimony and spin it into some sort of vindication for him because he was not officially under investigation, while ignoring the mountain of other damning details is typical of how he operates.  It’s just insane that things are to the point where I would prefer that a guy that thinks you can “ungay” people through therapy would make a better President than the man-child who is occupying that chair right now.

Today we dropped off Cindy’s car to get it’s windows tinted.  Coincidentally my boss/buddy had decided to have work done on his car at the same place on the same day.  Cindy drove the Ioniq while I drove the Prius with Elsa riding shotgun.  We then all met there so we could carpool to work in the Prius.

It was the first time Don met Elsa.  She was cautiously friendly towards him which is rare.  We actually are going to be dog sitting Don’s dog Lucky next week so Elsa will have fun.  We had watched Lucky a couple times before we got chickens.  Now that the birds are fenced in Lucky should not be a threat to them, something Don was worried about. We are going to have Lucky for almost a week so he and Elsa will have plenty of time to become dog buddies.

This weekend I need to run into the office briefly to do some server work to be backed up by work around the house as always.  Hopefully we can have more normal levels of precipitation compared to the deluge of last weekend.