So my new Xfi gateway is already paying dividends.  When you have the app enabled on your phone any security alerts pop up on your screen to notify you of a problem.  Almost immediately after I configured the gateway I started getting alerts about the two port forwards I had set up, one for each of the Night Owl security dvr’s I have in the house.  One of the alerts was just from me trying to access the device from work but the others were definitely malicious, originating from places like Russia and China.  My first thought was it must have just been a port scan and the Xfi did a nice job of proactively blocking the attempt.

So today I got more alerts on the dvr’s so I decided to do a little more digging.  A Google search revealed that last year there was an exploit released that worked on a number of DVR boxes, including Night Owl.  It allows the attacker to access the DVR without credentials.  Once in there they are able to access video feeds and even screw with configuration.  Wow, well that is a little scary.  I immediately went in and disabled remote access to the DVR’s until I can see if there is any remediation available out there via updated software for the boxes.  You really just can not ever leave your guard down.

Yesterday my new 3D printer arrived, my third Anycubic I3 Mega.  I am so familiar with this printer that I had the new one set up and printing in less than 30 minutes.  For whatever reason there has been a LOT of demand for the 3D printed EUC stands recently.  I currently have one left in stock.  In addition to the new printer I have a few rolls of filament on the way to fire up an extended production run.

I have a very unconventional couple weeks coming up.  Next week I am only in the office Monday and Friday.  In the middle of the week I am attending a conference in Orlando.  The following week I am using up my last week of vacation before my rollover date.  I will have a lot of time to get shit done.

 

 

So Cindy’s 50th birthday rolls around in a few months.  Considering the effort she put into my 50th I certainly needed to make efforts to make her birthday special as well.  I asked her if she would prefer a large party like was done for me or going somewhere.  I already was pretty confident I knew the answer, she liked the idea of going somewhere.  I did some scouting out on Costco travel of some of the places she has mentioned like Ireland and Greece.  The numbers I got for a 7 day trip were pretty steep.

I also threw out the idea of a cruise, something I have only done once in my life.  Cindy has gone on a number of cruises and loves them.  When I got home we talked more about the options.  The more we talked the more it seemed like a cruise would make the most sense right now.  It’s a lesser cost option that we can just drive to Miami for.  I told Cindy I didn’t have a problem looking at oversea destinations in the future.  However right now until we are able to get the trailer sold, it would be much better for me to look at a more scaled back option.

The idea of a birthday trip of course excited Cindy.  She began looking at a bunch of options.  She also realized her passport was expired so she would need to get rolling asap on getting it renewed.  My passport which I needed for the grand Ireland trip my dad took us on years back is still good for another year or so.  I tasked Cindy with picking out a cruise that sounded good to her, I don’t have any real preference other than it not being more than a week.

Taking time away from the house has been a real problem since we adopted chickens.  Elsa is no problem as she loves staying at Ali’s place.  The birds need daily cleaning/care and it has not been easy to find someone able/willing to do it.  For Cindy and I, cleaning the coop is so commonplace that we think nothing of cleaning up chicken poop covered mats everyday, however for a newcomer I am sure it could seem pretty nasty.    The amount of time required each day is maybe 30 minutes, probably less.  Of course I am willing to pay someone to do the work but it is not easy to even come up with people to ask.

I need to be able to trust the birds will be ok while we are gone.  So sometime between now and October we need to find an answer to our chicken sitting needs.  It would be awesome to have a rock solid option like we have with Elsa, it would make potential vacations/road trips much less stressful to plan.

I left work early yesterday to meet up with the Comcast installer who was actually a few minutes EARLY for the three o’clock appointment, something that I don’t believe ever happened before.  The installer was great guy by the name of Clinton who was very friendly and had good energy, again, something I am not used to when dealing with Comcast.  The install of my new gig internet with an Xfi gateway went smoothly.

Clinton asked me the SSID and passcode for my old WIFI and configured Xfi with the same.  He claimed that by doing this I would not need to reconfigure my existing wifi devices.  I told him that has not been my experience in the past.  He assured me it should work.  Of course, it didn’t.  Cindy and I spent about a half hour going around the house reconnecting about a dozen different wifi devices.

I had to do other stuff as well to make the Xfi box play nice with my local network.  The speed of the new set up is indeed awesome.  I got 950+ mb per sec on a download test and over 40 mb per sec going up.  The fatter download pipe is nice but to be honest I am more excited about the fatter upload stream which is nearly four times more than previously.  It should help dramatically cut down on the time it takes to upload YouTube content.

The WIFi performance and range was better than my old ASUS set up as well.  Really the only negative is Xfi dumbs down your configuration options, significantly limiting customization for stuff like port forwarding.  I don’t have nearly the options that I would with a conventional wifi router but I think I can get by with what options I have available.  I look forward to life in the fast lane from here on out, with no data cap.

Yesterday I posted on FB a thought that has run through my head countless times, how impossible it seems to be for people of the millennial generation to go to the bathroom without a smartphone in their hand.  I see this at work on a regular basis where I walk in the mens room and encounter the sounds of someone playing a music track to accompany their shitting or they are texting at a urinal or watching an Instagram video while washing their hands.  It just all seems so ridiculous to me.  Now of course I know this behavior is not exclusive to the millennial generation, they just suffer from it the most.

Obviously I love technology, f I am paying a small mortgage for a Tesla for cripes sake.  I do not love what aspects of technology has done to human beings, especially the kids that were raised when the internet was already well established.   The sight of public environments where the majority of people have their heads down, mindlessly thumbing through screens on their smart devices bothers me every single time which may seem hypocritical based on my field of employment.  So many young people seem to just have little to no sense of the basic formula for success where hard work + time = success.  Nope, they instead have been conditioned for instant gratification with minimal effort for most of their lives.  The end result is these kids drifting into adulthood rudderless, unmotivated, and ill equipped to deal with the realities of life.

The irony of me sounding like the adults during my childhood is not lost on me.  Back then the corrupting influences were too much tv, reading comic books, and the advent of video games, as basic and simplistic as they were back then.  I think every generation looks at the following generations as softer and less able to cope with the world and I don’t think they are incorrect.  Even though as a child I didn’t enjoy physical punishment when I acted badly, I look back it now as something that served a purpose.  I learned that bad behavior has consequences.  I think today the exact opposite is being ingrained into the youth of today.

Yesterday was the first day of Amazon Prime day.  I have not been blown away by the deals the last year or two but I still poked my head in.  I did find a couple things I decided to indulge myself in, a dirt cheap Android phone to run some Android only EUC apps on and a third AnyCubic I3 Mega 3D printer.  The other two are my workhorse printers which create the majority of my 3D printed EUC stands.  It was on sale yesterday for almost 30% off what I paid for the other two so I jumped in.

I called Comcast yesterday to address the insane $240 bill I got last month.  I needed to get on a promo rate.  I looked at plans online and was surprised, they must have just recently opened up gig speed internet in our area.  The cap for me is currently 150mbs.  Well of course this peaked my interest.  I also saw just how insane the cost of premium channels has gotten.  Almost $50 of the bill was for these channels, many of which I cared nothing about.  After looking online I called in to speak to a person about my changes.

I wound up investing in the internet side of my package and slashing the TV side of things, dropping all premium channels like HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, etc…  I not only signed up for the 1000 mbs speed but also the new Xfi service which includes a new gateway/router.  Normally I prefer to use my own modem however the reason I went this route was for $15 a month I rent the gateway but also get the data cap waived, which normally costs $50 a month.  The final benefit is more upstream bandwidth, something I really have been wanting due to uploading YouTube videos.  My old plan had a 10mb upstream cap, the new plan is 35mb, a big difference.

So the subtraction of the tv items and the addition of the improved internet plan resulted in a net savings of roughly $50 per month which isn’t a huge but it’s something.  I was surprised they had appointments available today to do the work, which will happen late this afternoon.  This upgrade is going to result in a LOT of additional work for me to configure the new wifi gateway for my home network including changing EVERY wifi connected device, which there are at least a couple dozen of.

This weekend was pretty textbook by most measures.  I did the weeding Friday night to make Saturday slightly less laborious.  On Saturday my main chore was mowing the grass.  This was the first time mowing since I replaced the blades and defective blade spindle so I was hopeful there would be no issues.  The new parts seemed to hold up well to almost two hours of mowing, I noticed the new blades made a visible difference in the quality of the cut, as they should.

Image result for chevy ev1Saturday night we watched “Who Killed the Electric Car” , a documentary from years ago regarding the Chevrolet EV1 and how it was cut at the knees from various angles.  The sources of attack ranged from oil/gas companies, hydrogen fuel cell companies, and the federal government itself.   The EV1 era was in the late 90’s to early 2000’s.  The most ridiculous piece of information that I got out of the film, which tells you all you need to know is this.  Back then the federal government offered you a $4000 tax break for an electric car.  If you bought a Hummer which was acquired by GM, you could get upwards of a $100000 tax break.  Now that is not a typo.  The federal government was incentivizing people to buy Hummers to an incredulous degree.

I found the documentary interesting.  It also made perfect sense why a brand new car company like Tesla was the fulcrum needed to launch a real electric car demand.  All of the traditional car manufacturers were content to wander along with ancient ICE power plants because it was the most financially expedient thing to do.  Only once Tesla started rattling chains did the rest of the auto industry decide to start moving towards EVs in a serious manner. Thank goodness for Elon.

Sunday morning Cindy and I went for a ride at the Greenway.  It was a fun time as usual but also melt your sneakers hot.  The second you stopped moving it felt like your skin was melting.  I was testing a new set up for audio where I have an external lavalier microphone attached to the GoPro.  It definitely does a better job of delivering clean audio but the downside is being hardwired to the camera is a bit clumsy and inconvenient.

Sunday afternoon we went over to Katie and Daniel’s new place to help unload a new tractor they bought.  Daniel push mowed the yard one time before deciding it was too much work which was funny.  I have a pair of ramps we used to get the tractor off the back of the Ram.  I gave Daniel, who never used a lawn tractor before a brief how to lesson.  The Craftsman mower they bought is a manual transmission, as compared to the automatic hydrostatic transmission I have in my tractor.  My first tractor I ever bought was a manual transmission and I didn’t like it all.  It didn’t take long for me to upgrade.  However for the kids this should get the job done.  Daniel also bought a weed whacker which I helped him assemble but he didn’t have any gas/oil mixture on hand to fire it up.

Late afternoon I worked on washing the Tesla and Tacoma.  As I was drying the Tesla it started to rain so I quickly pulled it into the garage and dried it a second time.  Car washing has become a much more regular thing since I acquired the Tesla.  It’s such a good looking and fun car that I just want to try to keep it clean as much as possible.

As I did my bills on Sunday I went through my credit card statement.  During that process I saw that Comcast AGAIN has raised it’s monthly charges, something it seems to do without notification on nearly a monthly basis.  The new bill was $239 which is utterly ridiculous.  I plan on calling them today to get my plan changed and to be put on a promo rate.  How in the world can Comcast complain about it’s eroding customer base when it insists on charging insane amounts for services that can be streamed elsewhere for much less.  Idiots.

Unfortunately the red triangle of death reappeared on the Prius yesterday.  This time it was accompanied by the battery cooling fan kicking into high gear which from my experience is a sure sign that the refurbished pack has once again failed, making it the fourth time it has occurred in a little more than a year.  When I bought the replacement pack from battery4prius.com it was with the knowledge that I planned to migrate into an EV as my daily driver, although at that time I did not think that EV would be a Tesla.

The replacement battery experience has been rocky at best.  In the first three months I had them come out twice more to swap out the battery as the replacements shit the bed as well.  The battery in the car has been good for about 8 months but that now has also hit a wall.  When I went the refurbished battery route I had no idea I would be giving the Prius to Katie in the future.  If I did, I may have made a different decision, especially considering the poor showing the refurb batteries have had.

A Prius battery is comprised of 28 individual cell packs.  What these companies do is crack open failed batteries and identify the cells that are bad and just replace those, leaving the rest intact.  This approach will normally get the battery functional again.  Unfortunately this approach also leads to poor reliability as the cells are not properly balanced or matched, hence why I have had four packs with this formula fail so quickly.

So anyway, this was bad news but my initial thought was Katie would need to spend another $900 to get another pack with a one year warranty.  I contacted the company that did the work and was told they are not currently doing installs in Florida.  Hmm well that sucks.  A quick internet search revealed there are a bunch of people selling refurb Prius batteries so if she wants to go that route again it is an option.  However the research revealed a more expensive, much more labor intensive, but much longer lasting DIY solution.

 

newpriusbatteries.com sells a kit that replaces the guts of the battery pack with fewer, brand new, better cells.  Instead of  28 cells this only uses 14.  The batteries have a two year warranty but realistically you should get a lifespan that rivals what a brand new OEM pack offers.  The kit costs $1600 so it is almost double the cost of what the one year refurb cost but as is always the case, you get what you pay for.

Going this route comes with a big labor penalty, not only would I need to pull the battery pack out of the car, I would also have to perform the transplant operation of the batteries themselves.  I have investigated what is involved, it has a lot of steps but it is nothing I couldn’t do, given I set enough time aside to do so.

I talked to Katie about it last night.  It’s a tough call.  She really likes the Prius but the reality is the car is only worth maybe 3k WITH a functioning battery pack.  I told her it really comes down to how long she plans to drive the car.  If she thinks she will keep with it for a couple years at least then the new batteries make sense to me.  I told Cindy I would be willing to take on the job, it would be a nice challenge and good YouTube content after all.  Since Katie has not gone back to work yet she is going to just sit tight for now.  She has her truck for emergency transport if needed and she also can borrow Cindy’s car as needed.

Last night I tried to cut into my weekend work needs by weed whacking the property.  I didn’t get back inside until about 7:30.  The fact that my lower back has been hurting all week made the task less fun that it already is.

I feel pretty exhausted this morning.  I was up after 11 (late for me).  I then was awakened for a prolonged period of time in the middle of the night by an intense storm.  Actually, I think Elsa may have been the one that woke me up.  She typically likes to sleep with her body pressed up against me.  She is also terrified of thunder and the sound of intense rain, so much so that she will shake with fear.  It was her shaking that I think awoke me.

I did my best to comfort her as I pulled the blanket on top of her and laid my hand on her back.  It took awhile for the storm to pass but she eventually settled down.  I awoke this morning groggy and saw our first backyard standing water of the season out the window.  Hopefully it absorbs quickly into the ground to allow me a dry mowing experience this weekend.

I decided yesterday I wanted to try to address the slow leak I have had in my passenger side rear tire for a couple weeks.  I got on a support chat with Tesla to ask what their recommended course of action was.  I sort of hoped they would offer to have a remote tech get the tire fixed for me.   Instead their official recommendation was to take the car to the closest service center for them to look at it.  I told them that it was over 100 miles away so that wasn’t a realistic option.  The suggestion they left me with was I could call emergency roadside assistance and see what they say.  Well I didn’t take that suggestion.

I chatted with my buddy and fellow Model 3 owner Matt about it.  He said he knew of a garage that supposedly was familiar with Tesla tire work.  Tesla’s are a bit weird in a couple ways.  First, you have to be very careful with how you jack the car.  There are very precise lift points under the car.  If you just throw it on a lift without observing these points there is risk of damaging the battery.  The second thing is the tires themselves.  The tires on a Tesla have a thick layer of “acoustic foam” inside of them to supposedly reduce road noise.  A section of the foam has to be cut away to do any repair.

When I called this garage they said that because of this foam, they don’t repair Tesla tires, they only replace them.  The explanation they gave me was once some foam was cut out it makes the tire too hard to balance, which seemed sort of odd to me, a small section of foam should not make a huge weight difference.  Well I told the guy I obviously wasn’t going to spend a few hundred dollars to replace a tire with 3000 miles on it with a small puncture.

I then called up our local Tesla store, hoping for some other direction.  I asked them who they recommend locally for Tesla tire repairs.  The answer I got was a bit surprising, Costco.  The guy said he has had a number of people go there for repairs and it has been fine.  Good enough, I hung up with them and called out local Costco auto center to arrange an appointment after work.

When I dropped off the car I was a bit surprised at the time estimate of 90 minutes to do the work since it wasn’t that busy.  I handed over my key card and planned to just walk around the store for a bit to waste time.  Before I walked in I looked back at the lot to my car and saw one of the young guys that works there trying to figure out how to get in.  I laughed as I jogged over to him before demonstrating proper card placement to get access.

So after walking around Costco for maybe 20-30 minutes I returned to the waiting area of the tire shop.  One of the installers came out and told me there was an issue.  The brand new rim guards that I installed do not play well with the machine used to remove tires.  He said the machine was going to damage the guard.  I asked him if it was possible to simply flip the wheel over and remove the tire from the back of the wheel instead of the front.  He looked surprised by my suggestion but he hadn’t considered it.  He said they would give that try. I didn’t get to bask in the brilliance of my idea for long, they came back out and said even with it upside down it was going to damage the rim guard.  Oh well, I told them to go ahead, I would just have to replace it.  The timing of me getting a puncture no more than a week after installing the guards annoyed me.

I took turns sitting and pacing the area, waiting for the work to be complete.  It wound up taking almost the full 90 minutes they predicted.  The good news was the hole was plugged and it only cost $12 to do so.  The bad news is I will have to buy another $80 set of rim blades if I want the car to once again look uniform.  I made an impromptu video about the process utilizing my Iphone, not ideal but passable.

 

Yesterday followed a similar path to the rest of my staycation, getting stuff done.  I was out the door early to get to Home Depot and pick up Sadie before the AC guy got to the house for a supposed 9 AM appointment.  When 10:30 rolled by and no one was there I called in to ask what was up.  Juli, the company owner, whom I set the appointment up with the day before answered.  I told her that nobody had shown up yet.  She told me she had no appointment in the book for me.  I reminded her I just talked to her the day before and we set it up.  She then remembered but said she forgot to put it in her appointment book.  The good news was she had a guy that could still stop by in an hour or so.

The AC maintenance went ok.  I realized that it has been almost 10 years since my system was replaced which is significant since I believe the warranty expires after that point.  The tech mentioned some services I may want to look into for my next service like duct cleaning which costs a good chunk of change.  I also am going to need to replace my UV bulb sooner rather than later.

Later in the day Cindy and I followed Katie back to their house.  I had redone the computer I got from my accountant which included putting more memory, a SSD hard drive, and a different video card into the box.  The PC will be used by Katie.  We brought Elsa and Sadie along.  As usual Elsa spent most of the time hiding while Sadie was all over the house exploring every corner she could.

The Red Triangle of Death has popped back up on the Prius which is not great news.  I checked my paperwork and the battery was first replaced at the beginning of June last year so the one year warranty has expired.  I used my code reader to clear the error.  I told her if the light stays off it could be good for awhile but if it comes back on in a day or two the pack is likely going to need to be replaced again, which cost me about $900.

Late in the afternoon I got out on an EUC for only the second time during the staycation.  I was testing a new mount for my GoPro.  I expected the sound to be shit with this configuration, and it was.  I am going to be trying out an external microphone set up in the future to see if it is a good alternative.

I still have two weeks of vacation on the books and my roll over date is mid-August.  It looks like just as I did last year, I will be “selling” one of those two weeks to get some extra bucks.  My preference would be to actually use the time conventionally but since we have been unable to work in a road trip the last couple years, which is what big chunks of time off normally go towards, I have a surplus instead.  I could use the money anyway to help knock down some expenses.

 

Man it is just incredible how quickly this staycation have evaporated.  What is also insane is just how little of it I spent doing any sort of relaxing.  Outside of the Saturday Supercon trip every single day has just been filled with getting stuff handled.  Another slightly negative has been the weather, the last three days have had a bunch of rain which is good for the sod I laid on Wednesday but bad for doing much else.  The only PEV riding I have done this entire time is the 10-12 mile ride to Katie and Daniel’s place to install the TV which is ridiculous.

Yesterday the work continued. In the morning I went to my accountant’s house in Fort Myers.  The husband/wife team had done my taxes for the last 20 years almost.  Well roughly a year ago the husband had a massive heart attack and died which was a shock to me.  This was the first time I saw the wife since then.  She asked if I could come up to help determine what computer equipment she needed now that the business has been moved out of their home office.  I spent most of the morning there trying to sort through it and wiping the hard drives of the stuff that was going to be given away or donated.  I actually took one of their old systems to refurbish and give to Katie to use at her new house.  During the work we talked about the tragedy which made her tear up multiple times which was hard to see.  It was a reminder that anyone’s world can be turned upside down in an instant. We all live inside of a false reality that can be shattered without notice.

During the afternoon my main focus was getting the tractor working again.  I pulled it into the garage to do the work since it once again looked like it was going to rain.  I pulled the deck off to get a better look.  What I saw pissed me off.  The blades were not seated correctly on the spindles.  The keyed fitting on the spindle has rounded half circles, the key on the new blades was more of a star formation.  WTF, the package specifically said the blades fit Craftsman mowers as well as some other brands.  Since I threw out the packaging and had already mounted these blades I figured I was f’d as far as getting my money back from Home Depot.

I instead headed to Lowe’s and got a set of blades with the correct key pattern.  When I got home I installed them and reattached the deck, hoping my issues were over.  Well when I fired up the mower deck it still sounded terrible.  I immediately shut it down, assuming the right spindle, which I suspected was bad, needed to be replaced.  When I took the deck back off and turned off the main securing nut on top of the spindle the guts of it spilled out onto the garage floor, yep it is bad.

Now the one stroke of good fortune I had was I actually had a replacement spindle in hand.  The other spindle failed a year or two ago, I bought two of them at that time, just in case.  All I had to do was remove the old shitty unit so I grabbed my impact wrench and started backing out the old bolts.  In the process I snapped three of the four bolts.  Little did I know how lucky I was to at least have one intact.

I went to the local hardware store with my one good bolt to find replacements.  The bolts I bought matched in thread and size but were a little different in design.  The old bolt had a small section at the bottom with no threads, I didn’t know why.  When I got home and tried to test fit the new bolts into the new spindle I discovered the reason.  The spindle bolt holes are not threaded, the special bolts are actually designed to cut threads as you turn it in.  The new bolts were not designed to do this.

What I wound up doing was putting the spindle into my vice and turning my one lone original bolt into and out of each hole to thread it.  I was quite nervous that the bolt would snap as well during this process but it held up.  After doing this the new hardware turned in as you would expect.  After mounting the spindle to the deck and putting everything back together I pulled the tractor out into the rain and engaged the blades.  Finally things sounded normal.  Hopefully I should be good to go for the rest of the summer/fall.  I still have my eyes on a Husqrvana tractor with a fabricated deck but I need to take a financial breath before considering it.

During the tractor work I managed to rip a couple layers of skin off my lower right shin.  I was not dressed appropriately and was wearing flip flops.  I had the deck propped up haphazardly on a tire as I tightened the spindle bolts.  At one point the deck slipped off the tire and slid down my shin.  Despite it only being a skin wound it bled badly as there is a few square inches of skin removed.

Last night I still found myself busy doing things, despite the sun being down.  I had finished up reloading my buddy Lou’s laptop that he sent down from NYC.  I also had a number of things to get ready to go with some more 3D store sales as well as doing the initial legwork in assessing the computer I inherited from my accountant.  I only got to play WoW for maybe an hour after that was all done.  It blows my mind that I only have only fired up the game briefly twice during my time off.

This morning I was again up and running early.  After chicken duties I loaded Elsa up in the truck with me to go to Home Depot, Ali’s place to pick up Sadie and the recycling center to drop off some stuff that has been sitting around for weeks.  I am waiting for an AC guy to show up for maintenance on the unit.  He is already 90 minutes late.  I hope that by early afternoon I can stop doing chore/projects and just not care anymore.

 

When I left last you it was July 4th night when the annoying sounds of backyard pyrotechnic wannabes was all I heard, terrifying Elsa in the process.  Friday was less physical labor but still way too busy nonetheless.  After doing chicken chores and weeding I went out in the truck to make stops at Home Depot and Costco.  The biggest purchase at HD was a proper wheelbarrow, something believe it or not I did not own.  The closest thing I had was a small and definitely not heavy duty plastic yard cart that somehow has lasted at least a dozen years.

I figured the wheelbarrow would come in handy for future sod pallet deliveries as well as countless other home chores.  At Costco, along with groceries I dropped another $100 on a replacement UPS since the one I bought not so long ago for my main workstation shit the bed.

During the morning I was doing everything I could to get Kristen the chicken to eat and/or drink.  She has been going downhill for at least a couple weeks.  By now we are quite familiar with the signs, withdrawal from the other hens, lack of energy, and not showing normal interest in food.

We gave her a dose of dewormer earlyish on to see if it would help.  We also have been giving her probiotics mixed in with food that she loved so much that she would still eat like yogurt, berries, and watermelon.  Kristen has had rounds of feeling off before, in fact she laid a lash egg around a year ago which is normally a death sentence, however she has always managed to bounce back. We hoped this would be another example of it.

So up until Friday she was still eating and drinking albeit not as she should.  She even was up on the perch Friday morning, which she got onto herself without assistance Thursday night.  But as I was doing the chicken chores I could see she was really weak.  When I walked up to her and picked her up without her even trying to struggle I knew it was bad news.  I accepted that she was unlikely to pull out of this nosedive.

Birds try to keep up a good face right until the very end and Kristen was a fighter.  However later in the afternoon I saw she was motionless in the same spot I had placed her earlier to get her out of the rain.  She was gone.  As is always the case, I cried when I realized she was dead.  I always have an emotional reaction to one of our birds dying but Kristen was special in a lot of ways.

She was one of the chickens that without a doubt knew her name.  When we would say it, even if we were a few feet away she would often squat down, expecting some sort of interaction from us.  When her sister Stephie mysteriously disappeared she took Stephie’s place as the outcast in many situations.  Ironically when Daelin the rooster was running wild attacking any hen he could get his beak on, Kristen was the last one that would go toe to toe with him and fight him.  I’ll never forget when she stared him down, flared out her neck feathers and then tried to jump on his back.  Eventually she stopped fighting and ran away from Daelin as well.  It was actually Daelin chasing Kristen that was the straw that broke the camel’s back and moved us to re-home him asap.  We simply could not tolerate him trying to harm our little angel, Kristen.

I buried Kristen in the back of the property with the other birds, about half of which got dug by predators.  In order to hopefully avoid that I dug a grave approaching three feet deep and we wrapped her body in burlap and a plastic bag.  As one final counter measure I grabbed a dozen palm fronds from the fill pit and covered the grave with them.  I was very sad that we lost her but in some ways glad it happened when we were home instead of Saturday when we were gone all day long.  My feelings about animals in general make chicken ownership a much more emotionally wrenching experience than it would be for most.

Later in the afternoon I tasked myself with replacing the mower blades.  When I was finishing up the mowing on Thursday I noticed the deck was sounding loud.  I figured the badly beat up blades were out of balance.  When I replaced the bad blades with new blades I fired them up and expected everything to be great, it wasn’t.  The one side wasn’t spinning normally and I even heard them making contact with one another so I turned it off immediately.  My current theory is the blade spindle on that side is bad.  I just happen to have an extra one laying around somewhere so I am hoping to get a chance to try swapping that out tomorrow.  Having the tractor down for any prolonged period of time during summer is not a manageable situation.

Late in the afternoon I dropped off Elsa at Ali’s place.  Shugs was there.  They agreed to watch Elsa for us until Saturday night while we went to Supercon in Miami.  There are five human beings in the world that Elsa trusts, myself, Cindy, Katie, Ali, and Shugs, that’s it.  Anyone else sends her running to a corner to hide.  I felt badly leaving her there of course but she had the three other dogs to entertain her and I knew she was in good hands.

Friday night we did our final prep for Supercon which is a shadow of what is required when you are going there in full cosplay mode.  Instead I just picked out the shorts and World of Warcraft shirt I was going to wear and made sure the Tesla was charged to full.  I set a 6:15 alarm for Saturday so I could go out and clean up the chicken coop before we left.  We pulled out somewhere close to 7:45 as we wanted to try to arrive as close to the show opening of 10AM as possible.

The drive across state in the Tesla went pretty flawlessly.  I utilized auto pilot for the vast majority of it.  The feature makes highway driving nearly stress free as the car does a great job of transporting you quickly with a large, automatic safety barrier in place.  I had nightmare ideas about parking for the venue but we wound up finding a lot that was no more than a 10 minute walk from the convention center which cost $20 to park all day.

Cindy and I have been to a number of “cons” at this point and my initial impression of this one was that they had their shit together.  We moved through the check in process very quickly and before we knew it we were walking into the main exhibition areas.  Getting there early meant we got to have a couple hours where you weren’t elbow to elbow with human beings at every turn.  As the day wore on the crowds got much more dense.

Even so the convention center is absolutely humongous so even though the inner cris cross rows got maddeningly busy, you could always escape to the outer perimeter which had room to breathe.

I originally thought we would be going to a few specific events that were on the schedule.  One of the coolest was a Hearthstone tournament that unfortunately was cancelled for some unknown reason.  We did sit in on a panel of some voice actors for a bit but the majority of our time was split between walking around while doing people watching and checking out the exhibits.

In years past we bought very little, if anything at all from the cons.  When we were in costume it seemed like every 30 seconds we were being asked to pose for another picture, thanks to the incredible job Cindy did with the costume creation.  This year with no picture requests we spent a lot more time looking at stuff.  I actually bought about a dozen old comic books, just to read and have.

There was a point in my life that comic books brought such anticipation and excitement as a child.  I had a TON of comic books that I think got unceremoniously sold at a yard sale eons ago in PA.  I am looking forward to thumbing through the pages of my new collection.

The celebrity list this year was not as impressive as some other cons we have attended.  Cindy was excited to meet Jon Cusack who was originally supposed to be there but later bowed out.  Cindy did go up and say hi to one of the actors from The Office.  While she was talking to him I was within spitting distance of George Takei, who surprisingly had next to no one in his line.  I should have just walked up to him and said hi, but since he was selling autographs for $70 a pop I felt like I would have been somewhat of a dick to try to get some free interaction with him.  I think in reality George would not have cared at all and would have been fine with the gesture.  Of course I know him from Star Trek but I really did not really start liking him until he became a regular on the Stern show.  He is responsible for some historic funny moments.

We headed out of the convention center around four.  The plan was to find a supercharger, eat dinner as the car charged and then head home.  Well this sounded simple but turned out to be very frustrating, from a lack of information.  Cindy and I navigated to two spots designated as super chargers in the app.  However both times the only thing we saw were parking garages that you had to pay to enter, well that can’t be it, right?

Well when the third location once again took us to a parking garage I said f it, I guess we will go in.  I grabbed my parking ticket and started to ascend the garage.  On the third level we found the chargers, finally.  It seemed crazy to me that I had to pay to enter a parking garage to supercharge but as I thought about it more, I was in Miami, free parking does not exist.  We hooked up the car and walked to the street to look for something to eat.  We were in the Miami Art district.

The car said it would only take 45 minutes to charge back to 90%, we were in the high 20’s when I plugged in.  We found a decent place to eat but literally had to throw down our food, the car charged that fast, so fast that I upped it to charge to 100% to buy us more time.  We got back a couple minutes after the car had finished, supercharging is pretty amazing.

The drive back across the state went smoothly as well.  We picked up Elsa from Ali’s.  It sounded like she had a great time.  Elsa got her first ride ever in the back of the Tesla.  I have a dog cover I bought for the car awhile ago but this was our first chance to use it.  It was a very fun but exhausting day.

This morning after chicken duty and paying my bills I wanted to get an EUC ride in.  However Katie and Daniel had asked if I could help them wall mount a second tv, this time in their bedroom.  I decided to combine the two things together.  I told Cindy we could load up the truck with the tools I need but then I can ride on the Monster to their house while Cindy takes the truck to get coffee and meet us there.  She wasn’t thrilled with the plan but it killed two birds with one stone.

The less than great part of the plan was it required me to go on a section of Everglades Blvd that doesn’t even have an appreciable shoulder on the road to ride in.  I had to ride that section for a few miles.  Luckily since it was Sunday morning the traffic was light and I didn’t have major issues.  Hanging the tv went well, I think that is the last thing they will need from me, at least for now.

This afternoon we got out to see a matinee showing of the new Spiderman movie, something I had been looking forward to ever since seeing Avengers Endgame.  Unfortunately I was disappointed with the effort.  I don’t want to spoil things for others but there was just a lot of things that were dumb in the movie to me.  I am never a fan of scenarios where the viewer is tasked with constantly determining what is real and what is fake.  It wasn’t a horrible movie but it definitely was in the bottom third of the Marvel movies I have seen.  I’d give it a B.  You know the movie isn’t great when the post credit scene is the thing you found most interesting about the entire experience.

We have gotten a ton of rain the last few days.  We were pretty dry before this wet onslaught and my freshly laid sod appreciates it but I am hoping my last two days of staycation have enough good weather where I can get some outdoor stuff wrapped up and maybe have a chance to get some more PEV riding in.