I started off Father’s Day weekend with a run at the track despite my lower body still dealing with aching knees and a few other pains.  The air was thick with humidity and I felt like just finishing the distance was the primary goal.  It reflected in my pace which was the slowest I have logged in a couple months, oh well. I was pretty wiped out by the end of it.

So since I got work done on Thursday that meant I didn’t have to do quite as much as normal this weekend. Of course that meant I still found other things to do as that list never ends.

Mid-morning we took the dogs on a ride to Tractor Supply to get chicken supplies.  On the way back we dropped Sadie off at Ali’s.  Her and Shugs just got back from a trip up to Sea Isle City New Jersey with Ali’s parents.  For around a half decade or so I used to go to SIC with my first wife’s family so I was very familiar with it.  It is a great little place and in some ways reminded me of Rehoboth.

Mid-afternoon Cindy and I did an impromptu ride to the swamp, me on my Msuper and Cindy on her mountain bike. It was a cool little trip.  I was excited to see that they have replaced roughly half of the decking for the rotting boardwalk with the trex style composite wood which should last forever.

So we made plans to go to The Warehouse to eat dinner for Father’s Day.  Shortly before we were ready to leave I let Elsa out to go to the bathroom while I closed up the chicken area.  As I walked back up to the house I called Elsa over and stopped dead in my tracks.  She was covered in dirt. But I realized it wasn’t dirt, it was actually sludge.

Earlier in the day I dumped one of the rain barrels that was dry rotting.  In the bottom of it was a collection of black disgusting sludge that I stupidly didn’t hose away.  Elsa evidently found the smell of this substance intoxicating and decided to roll around in it.  I couldn’t be mad at her, she looked so proud of herself.

So even though we were both all cleaned up and ready to leave we had to give Elsa a tag team bath by the side of the house, trying to not get ourselves too dirty in the process.  It was quite the funny situation.

So despite being open for nearly a year, Cindy and I have never frequented the Warehouse before.  It is the closest upscale restaurant in our area.  We had heard good things about the place from others.  We walked out of there echoing the same feelings.  The food was great, the design of the space was cool and modern, our waitress was extremely friendly and attentive, and the restaurant was immaculately clean.  Hell as I was sitting there somebody was walking around cleaning the baseboards.  We will definitely be back.

The movie we went to see was Ocean’s 8, something Cindy said she wanted to see.  I liked all the other movies in the Ocean series so I was fine to see this one.  For whatever reason I was really sleepy which did not help my enjoyment of the movie.  It was a good flick although I would not rate it as highly as the originals.  It definitely does not benefit from the theater experience and can be enjoyed just the same at home as a rental.  I’d give it a solid B.

Sunday morning I took off for another EUC ride, this time on the Monster.  The plan was for Cindy to meet me at Dunkin Donuts with Elsa and then she could walk Elsa around while I rode with them.  Well the first part of the plan went well, the ride to Dunkin Donuts flew by quickly.

I wore my new full face helmet for the ride.  I wanted to see how comfortable it would be now that the full effect of Florida summer heat is on us.  The answer was, not bad.  As long as I was rolling the airflow through the helmet kept me comfortable and the big long visor kept the sun off my face.  When I was sitting still waiting for Cindy to come out with coffee it got a little warm. I did discover one big drawback with the helmet, I can’t drink coffee while wearing it.  Almost every ride video you see of me will involve me drinking coffee during it so I will need to plan accordingly.

I talked to my dad during the afternoon.  He appreciated my Father’s Day gift, a pair of those wrap around sunglasses old people wear that go over your existing glasses.  Even though it was really a gag gift dad actually will wear them because they do serve a practical purpose and look a little ridiculous, a combo he can endorse.

Late Sunday afternoon I hooked up with Marty, an EUC buddy of mine who lives in the LA area.  We are going to be doing what equates to an Electric Unicycle podcast, at least testing it out.  We wanted to test out the logistics before we do the official launch next weekend.  I used Skype for us to do a two way video call and then broadcast that window out to YouTube.  There are a few bugs to work out but I think it will work out pretty well.

Even though I have known Marty via our EUC connection I never actually spoke to him, until yesterday.  We had no issue going back and forth about stuff.  I actually talked to him for around an hour on Skype BEFORE I started broadcasting.  He has some good ideas for the content of the show which I think I will more or less his thing while I concentrate on the technical aspects.  If you want to see how our test run went look below.  I streamed for almost two hours which is crazy.

 

So after working today I have the next two days off which will be dedicated to testing the Ninebot Z10 which is scheduled to be delivered to the house today.  It should be a fun and busy couple days which will involve me driving all over the place to test the wheel in various conditions/locations.  See you Thursday.

So I wasn’t thrilled when I got a second email late Wednesday from the gutter installers saying that they still planned to show up Thursday but now it wasn’t until between 12-1 instead of 8-9.  The reason was I could see the now typical afternoon thunderstorms causing a problem with the install.  I crossed my fingers that things worked out as I was not going to take Friday off as well for this.

So I treated my day off as I do most weekends, meaning I put myself to work.  I headed outside somewhere around 8AM and did not return indoors until roughly three hours later as I weed whacked the property and tended to a bunch of other outdoor tasks.  I was beat and refreshed myself by doing something I hadn’t done in quite awhile, jump in the pool.  Sadie was very happy about my decision as it meant she got “splashy splash” which involves her running around the pool deck as I splash her excessively.  She just loves it.

I took the dogs for a quick coffee run as I had just enough time to get there and back before the 12PM install window hit.  The two man crew showed up closer to 1PM but they were ready to roll.  They said the entire job should take roughly two hours.

While they got busy I kicked off phase two of my physical labor.  I wanted to use the pressure cleaner in the chicken area.  The exposed decking edge needs to be re-caulked and painted but doing so required that the green scuzz that has accumulated on it needed to be blasted away.   While I was out there I also cleaned other items including the old chicken tractor which had a coating of black filth from being left under the oak tree for too long.

While I was out there Cindy was taking pictures and measurements of her RV awning for her insurance company.  On Wednesday she had the awning out during the day.  Some bad weather came in very quickly that was preceded by very strong winds, strong enough that they bent/snapped part of the frame.  Cindy was very upset about it as you can imagine but it seems that the insurance company she is using is very responsive.  She is hoping it will all be covered with her just paying a manageable deductible.

So the gutter guys were very accurate with their estimate.  They finished up in a little more than two hours and the end results were great.  The single piece gutters should not suffer the endless leaks my installation  from years ago did when I installed conventional gutters.  These are also big 6 inch gutters compared with the 4 inch type I bought at Home Depot.  They should serve me well for many years to come.  This was the very last step in my hurricane repairs, well it was, until Sadie ripped the hole in the pool screen the other day.

Despite a lot of labor already being invested into my day off, I continued my tasks inside.  I received a replacement for the print bed in one of my 3D printers which had a bend in it, causing issues with prints.  I swapped it with the new bed and all was well again, after the normal amounts of trials and tribulations.

I have an odd schedule the next week.  After coming back for a single day today, I work Monday and then have next Tuesday and Wednesday off.  I took those two days off to allow me ample time to evaluate the Ninebot Z10 EUC that is on it’s way to me from the NYC E-Crew.  I am really looking forward to it.

Sunday is Father’s Day so I thought I would take a second to reflect on some memories of my dad that have stuck with me over the years, some funny, some sad.

I have no question where my “once started, the job must be done” disposition comes from.  I recall clearly a time when my dad was out on the tractor mowing grass, in the dark, in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm. The headlights of the tractor and his silhouette lit up by the flashes of lightning are an image that stuck with me.  I have actually repeated this scene on my much smaller lawn tractor several times as an adult.

One of the more memorable activities of my childhood was when my dad would play King of the Hill with my brother and my friend Pete.  We had a rather steep hill along the driveway that lead into a drainage ditch below.  The game was simple, you tried to pull the King off the hill.  Well back then dad seemed like a massive giant to the rest of us.  We would try to drag him off the hill as a tag team effort but were never successful that I can remember.  The end result of this game was all three of us literally getting tossed down the hill repeatedly, sometimes with a lot of air underneath us.  I’m pretty sure it would be classified as child abuse nowadays but we loved it.

When my parents got divorced it was a pretty dark time in our relationship.  There were weekends we would be at the dumpy apartment he was renting in Reading where he would just be crying and miserable.  Neither myself or my siblings really wanted to go there on the weekends, it almost felt like punishment.

One of my most poignant memories of that time was around the holidays.  We had just been with my dad and he was transferring us to mom.  As we were about ready to drive away he stopped us and handed us some additional presents that evidently were from his girlfriend. (I remember zero about this woman)  Well without hesitation my mom grabbed the presents and hurled them back into the street and sped away.  It was a very powerful moment in my childhood, the look on my dad’s face as we drove away stuck with me for a long time.

My dad and I had roughly a six month period where we stopped communicating at all.  It was when I decided that I was willing to walk away from my college education and partial baseball scholarship because I thought I needed to be with my girlfriend at the time instead.  He was infuriated by my decision and looking back, rightfully so, but at the time I thought I knew best.

Dad has helped me out repeatedly and was responsible for eventually getting the base education I needed to get into the IT field after I spent 5 years or so stumbling around figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.  He footed the bill for my Lincoln Tech computer repair program that got my foot in the door as an entry level grunt at a local PC reseller back in 1992.

Dad is famous or infamous for his rants where he takes a hard ass stance against a person, product, business, or situation.  One of the earliest I recall is his vow to never buy another Sears product when the Craftsman weed trimmer (the old hand held style that was like motorized scissors) broke despite not being very old.  I remember the vow being christened by dad taking the unit and smashing it to the sidewalk, violently.

Another crusade of his was refusing to patronize any bank that had a “teller rope system” .  Dad hated the idea of being directed around like cattle by a series of stanchions and velvet ropes.  If he was in a situation where he HAD to go into such a place he would refuse to use the rope system and would walk around it.  There are countless examples of seemingly minor inconveniences that dad has adamantly opposed in not just words but actions over the last five decades.  I certainly have moments where I react in a similar way to situations but I am a minor leaguer compared to dad.

I think I owe a great portion of my drive to be physically fit to what I saw my dad do growing up.  He used to run, do push ups, sit ups, lift weights, and swim pretty regularly during different portions of his life.  It helped me install similar habits into my adulthood which are still carrying on today.  It’s hard for me to see dad struggling as much as he does nowadays with various physical ailments when I once viewed him as almost invincible.  But even with all of his aches and pains he still will grind himself to a nub doing physical work if he is in the “once started, the job must be done” state of mind.  He will just pay for it dearly afterward.

So my roughly 30 or so years as an “adult” made me reevaluate some of my experiences and thoughts about my dad as a child.  I realize that just like everyone else on the planet, dad is a flawed individual that did the best he could do to take care of us with the various circumstances he was in during his lifetime.  Having no children of my own means I never got to see how I would do if thrust into the role of fatherhood but I certainly know it is not an easy line to walk.

I love and appreciate my dad. He has managed to set all five of his kids off into the world where we are all enjoying different successes as competent, contributing adults in society.  Dad has and always will walk to the beat of his own drum, even if it is a little out of tune now and then.

 

So I was supposed to be off today for the gutter install on the house.  However I got an email around 3:30 yesterday saying the work was being postponed to Thursday.  I thought the notice was rather late but at least they let me know instead of just no showing without notice which is how so many service businesses in SWFL operate.  Luckily I was able to move my day off to Thursday to accommodate the change.

So as I mentioned a couple days ago, this past weekend I tried to do an alternative power run to the RV so we could hopefully run the AC unit to keep temps/humidity down.  For almost a month we have had the blower fan in the RV running 24/7 to try to provide some temperature moderation but it didn’t seem to do much of anything besides blow hot outside air into the RV at a rapid pace.  Well to add insult to injury, I got the electric bill yesterday and it had jumped something like $45 from the round the clock ineffective use of the AC fan out there.  If I didn’t have the RV fan draw, I was hoping I would be able to see the first tangible benefits of having a reflective, heat repelling, metal roof on the house.

So anyway, after realizing having the AC running out there with my current electrical circuit configuration was a no go and that the having the fan on accomplishes nothing, we came up with a simpler plan.  We ordered a small dehumidifier which will pull a fraction of the power but keep moisture from accumulating inside the structure.  Cindy is also going to be trying to get out there more regularly to open up the RV so it can air out daily if possible.

I took the truck to work yesterday because I needed to pick up supplies afterward, dirty supplies.  Over the winter I have been dumping bags of top soil in the area directly behind the chicken coop.  My hope has been to create some additional high ground that the chickens can utilize when the unavoidable high standing water of Florida wet season returns.  I have probably dumped 60-70 bags of top soil back there in total.

Well the last part of this plan was to put sod on top to stabilize the dirt.  I had been waiting to do this part until consistent rain had returned.  I hoped to get the sod at the Home Depot 5 minutes from the office but they had none.  Luckily the bigger location 5 miles away still had a good amount of sod available.  I loaded up the truck with 10 more bags of top soil with a chaser of 30 pieces of St Augustine sod.

I was outside working straight up until Cindy got home close to 7:30PM.  It was tedious and dirty work but I like the end result.  The deck of grass sits a good 6-8 inches higher than the low spots back there so I hope it can be the chickens island of tranquility during the stormy days of summer.

I just got a ship notice for an EUC being sent my way.  For the first time ever it isn’t one I bought.  Instead I have been lucky enough, thanks to my YouTube EUC presence, to be selected as one of a handful of people in the United States to get to test a new electric unicycle called the Ninebot Z10.  This wheel was just up in NYC where it was tested by a BUNCH of local riders.  In my case the testing will be isolated to me, unless Cindy, Daniel or Katie want to try it out.  I am looking forward to getting the wheel to see if it lives up to the hype.  I am actually burning two vacation days next week to dedicate to testing the wheel before I have to ship it to it’s next location.

 

So last night as we were taking the dogs out just before dark I looked at the far side of the freshly rescreened pool cage and saw a dog size tear in it.  I instantly knew who the culprit was, Sadie. Sadie has a long history of creating her own exits.  When she was young I had to repair the drywall in the front of the house after she tried  digging through the wall to get to something she saw outside.  I have had her rip through screens on the lanai at least a half dozen times but this one was the most annoying of all since I just spent close to 4K getting the cage redone with high quality polyester screen.

We scolded Sadie loudly although at this point I doubt she knew what it was for.  We later confirmed Sadie’s guilt when we caught her on one of the coop cams prancing around the back yard while Cindy was at work.  Before bed I haphazardly covered the big tear with some tape to prevent a convenient critter entrance.  I contacted the company that did the work to see if they would be able to replace the single panel.  If they have no availability I will try to get my hands on some of the high grade screening that was used and do it myself.

Sadie has now lost her right to free access to the pool deck when we are not home, which is a shame since I know she loves to sit out there.  However I can’t have her tearing holes whenever she decides there is something in the yard she has to get a closer look at.

I had a 3D printing mishap overnight that resulted in a beach ball pile of filament scattered on the workbench.  It happens.

I heard Trumps summit with Kim Jong Un went fantastically terrific.  I mean really, really great.  I am terrifically, really, really excited that we have such a masterful negotiator handling the situation.  This is just fantastic, and great…..

So I went into this weekend with a loose outline of things I wanted to do and accomplish.  I found that challenging to do.  Saturday morning I hit the track again after a two week hiatus.  I still have been having some persistent aching pain in my knees that I hoped some rest would fix.  It has not thus far so I decided to run anyway.  The first lap or two I could feel the pain but it subsided as I warmed up.  The warm and humid air made the 3.4 miles feel like a struggle.  My pace was slower than my recent best.  It took me about a minute longer to complete the distance.  Not having Cindy there definitely slows me down.

So when I got back I started on normal stuff.  Although the grass was probably high enough to mow again we decided to put it off until Wednesday since we are both off that day.  I am taking the day off for the gutters to be installed on the house.  So after getting the first round of chores done outside we hopped in the truck to run errands which included stops at DD,  Home Depot, JoAnn Fabric, Petco, Lowes and Costco.  Yea it was a bit much.

While we were at Home Depot I couldn’t find what I was looking for, an adjustable screen insert (more on that later), but we did wind up buying something spur of the moment, a raised patio garden box.  I have talked many times about how hard it is to grow things here successfully in the summer.  The biggest problem is insects destroying the plants.  We are hoping by setting this up on the lanai we can finally grow something to fruition in the summer.  I was considering building something along this same design but when the opportunity came to just buy it I took the easier option.

So the reason I was looking for a screen insert was because I was trying to come up with alternative power options for Cindy’s RV.  Currently we have it connected to the same outlet that is used to power the 110V water equipment as well as coop power.  The circuit does not have enough juice to run the RV air conditioner consistently.  I am concerned about moisture/heat causing issues inside the RV so I had been trying to come up with a way to get more power out there.  My idea was to tap an outlet inside the guest bedroom.

By using the screen insert and a lot of weatherproof tape to seal the rest of the screen, my plan was put into motion.  I meticulously prepared the insert and then connected four extension cords together to stretch out to the RV.  I plugged in the cord on both ends and excitedly told Cindy to flip on the AC.  Well the AC ran for a few seconds and then turned off.  Yep, it popped the breaker.  I tried a few more times, hoping it was a fluke.  Nope, the circuit popped every time.  It actually did worse than the line it was on before.

The line in the house is a 15 amp circuit, the other circuit for the well equipment is 20 amps.  I thought having a 15 amp circuit with less contention would be the winning combo but I was mistaken.  I dejectedly undid all of my work and swapped the RV back to it’s original power source.  I really thought I had a viable solution but things don’t always work out as planned.

During Saturday afternoon we got absolutely SMASHED with rain.  I estimate we got close to 3 inches of rain in roughly 90 minutes.  The end result was standing water quickly forming in it’s usual locations.  Luckily the ground was still able to absorb it and by the next morning the water was gone.  This will not be the case for much longer.

Saturday night we watched the latest Netflix disc, Valerian City of a 1000 Planets, a sci fi movie based on a popular book I never read.   It was a very odd, random movie with really incredible visuals.  They must have spent a ton in production costs but unfortunately the end result was a B level movie, at best.

Sunday morning my to do list was still unsatisfied.  We picked up Sadie during the morning for another extended stay which Elsa was thrilled with.  It’s funny how Ali’s place is the only other location where Elsa immediately relaxes and feels comfortable.  Within 60 seconds of arrival she is already up on the furniture snuggling with Ali and Shugs.  We headed to Rural King afterwards to grab some chicken supplies.

During the afternoon I tried to address some of my remaining to do’s.  One of them was trying to salvage a pull cart we bought from Home Depot no more than two years ago.  It’s frame was evidently constructed out of some very low grade steel and is badly rusted, so much so that the part that connected to the handle snapped off.  This happened a few weeks ago and I had been hoping to come up with someway to extend the life of the cart at least a few months.

I first used a paint/rust stripper attachment on my drill to peel away as much of the rust as possible.  I then sprayed the areas with a rust inhibiting primer/paint.  I then reconfigured the handle layout, mounting the bracket further back and in a 90 degree different orientation than it originally was.   I then cut off the rusty remains of the mount with my Sawzall.  The new setup is not perfect but functional.  The entire time I was doing the work I felt frustration that the $130 “Gorilla Cart” was built so poorly with cheap materials.  When my rig job finally fails I won’t be buying one of their products again.

Most of the afternoon it looked like it was ready to let loose with rain which sidelined my hopes of riding with Cindy.  However later in the afternoon I decided to venture out anyway solo, riding to the school on my Msuper.  It looked like it was going to downpour at any moment but somehow I escaped the rain and got in a fun little ride.

Cindy had been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning up in the latter part of the day, especially in the guest bedroom.  Later in the evening I helped her with some finishing touches including hanging a couple mirrored window frames and a picture to fill dead spots on the walls.  The room, which had become sort of a dumping ground, looks 100% better now.

As I mentioned earlier I have a weird split week with taking off on Wednesday.  I am sure I will spend a good portion of that day off getting done what needs to be done.

 

It’s been a busy week of work so I am anticipating the weekend, where I will fill a good portion of it with more, work.  It’s the hamster wheel I willingly subject myself to.

I don’t have many words to entertain you today but I do have over 90 minutes of live streaming to keep you occupied if necessary.

So after I shot the aerial video for the Wear Orange event on Saturday I uploaded the edited footage to the groups Facebook page.  In order to make the video easier to share I also uploaded it to my YouTube page so the group could link from there.  Well within the first 20 minutes I got a comment on the video referring to “libtards”, so I disabled commenting on the video.  When I woke up the following morning I saw the video had a 3-1 dislike to like ratio which was sickening.  Do we really live in a world where people DISLIKE movements to curb gun violence?

The Wear Orange movement supports the second amendment.  Their goal is sensible gun laws that reduce the threat of gun violence in the US which is at insane levels compared to the rest of modern society across the world. (on average 96 people per day are killed in the US by guns) But all it took was anything with the word “gun” in it to flash trigger dislikes by gun zealots that see ANY attempt to enact reasonable gun laws to the government knocking on their door to take their aresnal.  It’s pure lunacy.

I was very disappointed and saddened by the reaction to the video and decided to make it a non-public listing that can still be shared but won’t be listed in the normal video list of my channel.  The last thing I have the energy for is circular debates with gun zealots that refuse to acknowledge that reasonable, common sense gun laws are something the majority of people in the US want and support.  Unfortunately the lobbyist dollars from organizations like the NRA drown that voice out.

There is a LOT of construction in southwest Florida over the last few years.  As you can imagine new housing is what you see the most of but a close second is something you might not realize, storage facilities.   There have been an INCREDIBLE amount of high end storage facilities built in the last decade.  We are talking air conditioned, indoor storage in structures that look like office buildings.  I have to ask myself the question, why?

To me, the main reason someone would need additional storage is if they were in between living situations.  Maybe they had a house and are temporarily living in a condo or an apartment.  For instance when I lived up north, we sold the townhouse almost a year before moving to Florida.  We spent that time living at my mom’s and all of our stuff went into a storage facility up there.

I have to wonder how so many people have such a need for additional storage in this area.  The first thing that comes to mind is it’s just a byproduct of rampant consumerism that plagues modern society.  People just have stuff, so much so that their living space can not accommodate it all.  To me the simple answer would be to have less things.  If the items can afford to be in storage for months or years at a time there is a good chance you don’t really need them.

You would be hard pressed to travel a mile and not run into a storage building. I doubt this trend will ever end but it’s fun to complain about regardless. That’s what old men do anyway, right?

So the Eagles are all over the headlines today but not for anything they are doing on the field.  As is tradition the Super Bowl winning team was invited to the White House to meet with Donald.  Well it appears that the President is not well liked by members of the team, so much so that I heard that less than 5 players planned to actually attend.  Rather than suffer the embarrassment of a skeleton crew, the president called off the ceremony and in typical fashion lashed out on Twitter, following his normal routine of throwing out half truths along with outright lies. The president wrongly made this about standing for the national anthem, which all Eagles players did last season.

“The Philadelphia Eagles are unable to come to the White House with their full team to be celebrated tomorrow. They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country,” Trump said in a statement.

So is Donald now saying Eagles players don’t respect and honor the military because they don’t want to shake a hand of a president they don’t respect?  As usual there is a disconnection of logic in Donald’s thinking where the number one priority is somehow spinning it into a positive for himself, regardless of how much mud he has rolled around in.

I think it is cool that the team for the most part is doing it different, just like they did all last season.  The easy choice would have been to just not make waves and put on a song and dance for the press and Don at the White House.  Instead they decided to stand by their morals and beliefs, choosing to not participate in the three ring circus which is now going on in Washington DC. Bravo.

 

Yes you saw nothing from me late last week because I was at the tax certificate sale. It was boring but ran efficiently.  There was something noteworthy on Friday that I will cover more below.

It was a weekend full of both worthwhile and frustrating moments.  On Saturday morning we set an early alarm but not to get up and run as we normally try to do.  This alarm was so we could go out and clean the chicken coop before heading down to Lowedermilk Beach for the Wear Orange event.

Wear Orange is a national movement whose goal is to actually do something about rampant gun violence outside of the meaningless “thoughts and prayers” that are dumped out on social media after each national gun related tragedy.  The movement is not about abolishing the second amendment.  It’s about enacting common sense gun laws that are actually enforced, a cause I definitely support.

So anyway, the Naples chapter includes Susan, a friend of mine from the running club.  She knew I flew drones and asked if I would be willing to use my drone to film a video of something they planned on the beach where the event participants would spell out GUN VIOLENCE.  She thought it would be cool to capture it from above.

We got on site a little after 8.  It wasn’t long before Cindy and I started helping Susan’s husband George, who I served on the running club board of directors with for years, lay out the letters on the beach.  George and Susan had put a lot of planning into this.  He had the a drawing sketched out ahead of time that we used as a template.  He brought a bunch of dixie cups that we used as human markers.  Basically wherever there was a cup, that was where we wanted a person to stand.  It was a good plan.  Laying out the template took more time than I expected.  Certain letters like G’s and S’s are especially challenging to get right from a ground perspective.

So we got back up to the pavilion in time to hear a couple of the speakers for the event.  They were compelling, touching and impactful stories of how gun violence affected their lives and what they are doing about it.  It was then time for the beach portion of the program.  As everyone headed toward the beach I tried to get my drone in the air.  I had some issues that had me worried for a bit.  The GPS in the drone flagged me as being in a “caution” area as I we were not that far from the Naples airport.  I had to acknowledge the potential risk of doing so and it took me several minutes to get through all of the prompts to finally allow me to take off.

By the time I got airborne the crowd was pretty much in place.  It took a bit of fine tuning for me to get the shot where I could see everything well.  Despite the considerable wind at the beach the Mavic Pro held position flawlessly.  Under Susan and Cindy’s direction the participants went through the routine and I think it turned out pretty well on video.  It certainly wasn’t marching band precision but for a first time I think everyone did great.

Image result for red triangle of death priusSo let me fill in the blanks with the Prius.  On Friday after stopping for coffee on my way in I turned the car back on and was immediately presented with the “red triangle of death”.   This is an error condition that typically means something very serious is wrong with the hybrid power system.  More often than not it means your battery has a problem.

I have sort of been waiting for this to happen.  The prior owner told me the battery had been replaced once right around the 100,000 mile mark.  Considering the Prius now has almost 215,000 miles I figured it was only a matter of time until the batteries went south.

The reason this is a dreaded occasion for a typical Prius owner is because of the potential repair expense it represents.  A dealer can easily charge you $4000 for a brand new battery pack.  Considering our Prius is probably not even worth $4000 that didn’t make any sense.  Thankfully over the years an alternative solution to this problem has evolved.  There are a number of companies that specialize in swapping out Prius batteries with rebuilt packs at a much lower cost than new.  Sure you won’t get the lifespan of a new pack but depending on your situation that may not be a big deal.  For me, I am looking at getting a Chevy Bolt in the next year or so, so I don’t need a 5 year solution.

So anyway a quick search online revealed a number of companies that do this.  I landed on battery4prius.com  This was a company started in California back in 2009 but have since opened another location in Homestead, just across the state from us.  In addition to installing rebuilt batteries, they offer door to door service where they come to you and do the swap which is super convenient.  The cost for this is not awful, only $145 to come to Naples.

So after work on Friday I contacted them.  The cost for a battery warrantied for one year or 20,000 miles was $750 plus the travel charge.  Resolving the issue for less than 25% of what a dealer would charge sounded good to me so I booked an appointment.  I was surprised when he said a guy could come out on Sunday, great.  Ok, let me get back to chronological order.

So when we got back on Saturday I wasted little time before jumping on the tractor after lunch.  The rain, which is FAR ahead of normal amounts for May has made weekly grass mowing a necessity once again.  The positive is at least the property looks green and healthy again instead of brown and dead.  After mowing we headed to Home Depot.

As I was mowing I was thinking about Cindy’s RV and how it is going to survive in the back yard during rainy season.  I came up with the idea of parking it up on some patio stones to keep it off the water soaked ground underneath.  At the store we found some very large 20 inch square pavers that I thought would work out well.  We also got some smaller pavers to put in front of the entrance to the RV as a landing.

When we got home we wasted little time before setting it up.  We hooked up the Tacoma to the 26 foot camper and first pulled it away so Cindy could mow down the grass it resides on.  I then did a loop around the back yard and returned to the parking spot so we could pull the RV up onto the pavers. The weight of the unit cracked a couple of the blocks as we drove across them but they were still functional.  It was weird, just adding the couple inches of height from the pavers made the entire RV seem significantly higher. This simple addition should make the RV  more stable during wet season and keep the tires from being in constant contact with the soggy ground below.

Later in the weekend I enjoyed a Zima in style.

So Sunday I found myself aggravated.  The Prius battery guy had originally said something about the installer being able to come earlier in the day which I said was ok, however the guy never followed up with me so I assumed we were back to original 12-2 time window.  I was hesitant to leave the house all day because I didn’t want to miss his arrival.

I had to do an impromptu tractor repair during the day.  Cindy agreed to mow the back section of the yard.  After I filled the tractor up and was working inside she came and got me, saying the tractor wouldn’t move.  WTF, I just backed it out and it was fine?

So after sitting on the Craftsman and verifying it was screwed I went back inside for a bit.  I was already frustrated about the Prius guy, diagnosing the tractor in the 90 degree heat was not something I felt like doing, but it had to be done.  So I went back outside and pulled off the deck, hoping to not see a shredded drive system above it.  I had already replaced the pulleys and drive belt once before.  I actually caught a break this time, the belt had just slipped off a pulley which I popped back on in 15 seconds.

While the deck was off Cindy gave it a thorough cleaning as it was encased in green organic material.  After she was done it revealed the mower deck is starting to fail, a byproduct of the cheap stamped metal they make them out of.  There were a couple holes in it, one almost golf ball sized.  I actually had this same problem with my old Cub Cadet mower.  The bigger the hole gets the more problem it creates as it allows grass clippings to fly up onto the pulley system, making a bigger mess.

I “fixed” it for now by cutting apart a section of aluminum gutter and then pop riveting it over the holes, creating a barrier.  Like I said, I have run into this before and I know my repair at best will only buy me some time before the entire deck would need to be replaced.  However by the time that happens I am hoping it might be time for a new tractor as well.  I’d love to find a somewhat affordable tractor with a welded deck but they don’t seem to exist.

Well 2PM came and went with nobody showing up.  I sent texts and left voicemails asking what the deal was and received no response.  I was very frustrated and around 5PM had given up on them showing and agreed to ride wheels to the grocery store with Cindy.  Wouldn’t you know it, literally 5 minutes after we left I get a call from the 305 area code.  It was the installer.

This was not the owner of the company I had been communicating with, this was one of the guys that does the work.  I asked him if he was the guy that was supposed to be on site by 2PM?  He said he was.  He said he told his boss that he was running behind schedule around noon but for whatever reason this was never relayed to me.  Well we immediately turned around and headed back to the house.  We literally passed the installer on the way out, he said he saw us on the wheels and thought it was bizarre.

The guys doing the work was a 24 year old kid and his dad.  Jonathan was also a full time HVAC student but also works at Wal-mart and installs Prius batteries on the weekends.  Just hearing that made me immediately soften the edge of the anger I was feeling about the situation.  I respect hard work.  He was very apologetic that I was not told about the delay.  He told me that they can actually get the battery replaced in less than an hour which was shocking.  When I looked online about the process of changing the battery it was described as a 3-4 hour job.  Jonathan said it took them longer when they first started but like anything in life, the more you do it the more proficient you become.

They backed up those words, the original battery was pulled out of the car in 25 minutes or less and in another 10 minutes they were doing some initial testing.  They had some issues with some connections that they had to address but after doing so they had me take the car on a solo test drive and all seemed well for the 10 miles or so that I tested it.  I returned, paid them and felt very fortunate to get the problem addressed quickly and without spending 4k.  Jonathan told me if I had any problem to let them know.  His good attitude totally turned what was a negative situation into a positive one.

Of course you know what happens next.  On my drive into work today the red triangle of death returned. The symptoms now are different however.  When the failure occurred on Friday the car drove horribly, only running on the anemic gas engine.  Today after the light popped back up it actually still drove normally and the battery itself appears to be functioning as it should.  I suspect this is a re-occurrence of the same connection problem they saw yesterday.  I have a message in asking for remediation.  I guess we’ll see how solid that warranty is.

If you have Netflix, check out Evil Genius.  It’s four episode story of one of the most bizarre crime stories I ever heard of.

It is still overcast and gray which is pretty amazing.  I am pretty sure this is the longest period of days where sunshine has not been the predominant weather situation since I have moved to Florida.  This has been over two weeks at this point.  Normal Florida wet season weather is 90% sun with brief but scary thunderstorms most days.  This prolonged PA-style gray weather pattern needs to go. Elsa is not a fan of this either.

So you heard how Roseanne basically got her popular rebooted sitcom cancelled with a few words on Twitter.  She made some sort of stupid and racist tweet regarding a woman that was in the Obama administration.  It’s bad enough when people derail themselves with ignorant tweets but in this case there was a litany of collateral damage, namely anyone else involved with the show. They all get to pay the price for Roseanne’s remarks, which she is now blaming on ambien.

Roseanne has a long history of doing/saying stupid things so this really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.  After all she did vote for and remains a vocal Trump supporter so that should tell you a lot.  Of course this does not mean ALL Trump supporters are racist, ignorant, thoughtless individuals, just a good chunk of them.