Category: 3D Printing

I picked up Sadie on my way home from work on Friday.  When we got home Elsa went absolutely bat shit crazy to see Sadie emerge from the Prius.  She loves having Sadie around.

On Saturday morning I started out once again with my 13 lap run around the track.  During the last half of the run some kids were getting dropped off presumably for some athletic event.  About a dozen of them joined me on the track, doing one high speed lap, easily blowing past me.  Some of the kids were wearing flip flops and still left me eating their dust.

 

My chore load for Saturday was pretty light with weeding being the primary must do.  We headed out to Rural King and Home Depot with the dogs mid-morning.  I grabbed 15 more bags of top soil to continue my primitive ground level elevation project behind the coop.

My 3D printers were working hard on Saturday finishing up another colorful EUC stand.  I also printed a blue version of my knife model to use at work. On Sunday I put my rudimentary Fusion 360 skills to work to design a little clip I could put on my pool vacuum hoses to keep them from falling off the holder I have on the wall.

Late last week I passed another milestone on my main YouTube channel, crossing the 3000 subscriber mark.  I thought I would celebrate the occasion by making a short montage video that touched on the core subject matter my channel is about.

Saturday night Cindy and I headed out to see 12 Strong, once again opting for the VIP theater experience at The Prado.  We decided to eat dinner there as well since we had a good experience eating there with Randall a few weeks ago.  Cindy and I ordered the exact same items off the menu and had the same praise for the end result.  The only negative was the super slow service at the bar where they had one woman back there that didn’t seem to know what she was doing.  Eventually we just bailed on the idea of getting a beer after waiting for more than 5 minutes with no movement in the line.

The movie was about a seemingly crazy true story at the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict. A small US team was sent in to work with a local Afghan faction to overtake a Taliban controlled area.  The soldiers literally at some points were fighting Taliban in tanks and truck mounted rocket launchers on horseback.  Yes it seemed sort of insane.  Their original intent was to serve as a cross hairs for US targeted airstrikes but it morphed into horses versus tanks in the end.  I am not sure how much of the scenario was exaggerated for the movie, but if it went down pretty much as depicted, it’s an amazing example of heroism and bravery. It’s a solid A flick.

After the movie we stopped at the cute little ice cream shoppe next door and enjoyed small cups of ice cream as we sat by the cool fire/water feature.  We both really enjoy watching movies at Prado.

On Sunday morning Cindy and I went out for an EUC ride, parking in the Super Target lot since Cindy had a few things she wanted to pick up there.  We brought the Msuper and Mten3 for the ride.  It was a fun ride and the longest distance I have taken the Mten3 as we looped all the way to North Collier Park and back.

So on the way back we came in behind Target like we did on the way out, to avoid the busy parking lot traffic.  As we were wheeling along a white SUV was approaching us from the other direction.  As it got closer instead of following the curve in the road it kept going straight in our general direction.  The driver of the vehicle had his face in his phone, of course, and was not paying attention.

Cindy yelled out and gestured at the guy who then immediately jerked the wheel to change direction.  We had plenty of room to avoid an impact but the guy was clearly not paying attention.  Well after we passed I saw the reverse lights on the SUV light up in my rear view mirror.  Cindy looked back and saw it as well and was worried he was going to try to hit us which I assured her he would not do.  Instead he sped past us in an adjacent lane and then gave us the finger as he drove by, what an idiot.

It would have been interesting if he would have stopped and gotten out of the vehicle.  I am normally not the type of person to overreact to a situation or go looking for conflict.  However if someone brings it to my doorstep then things can get a little scary. So anyway, the dumb ass drove away and we had a funny ending to the ride video as I had the camera rolling, just in case.

Sunday afternoon we did our own thing.  Cindy did a lot of crafting over the weekend.  She is getting really good with her Cameo and made a very pro looking t-shirt decal that she applied with her new heat press machine.  I edited the ride video  and then watched a good portion of the Patriots/Jaguar game.

Man although I have no love for the Patriots it is impossible to not respect how much they have accomplished.  Once again they came back from a double digit deficit to beat the Jaguars.  The fact that Tom Brady accomplished this without Gronkowski, who was knocked out with a head injury late in the first half, made it even more impressive.  Brady’s list of accomplishments are simply staggering.  To me, there is not a doubt that he is the best QB of my lifetime.

I of course was more interested in the next game.  Once again, despite having the best record in the league, for the second time in as many weeks the Eagles were an underdog, at home, which is almost unheard of.  Most people, myself included thought that once Carson Wentz got hurt the Eagles chances of success dropped way down.  However the team has managed to use that as a rallying cry, using the underdog role to fuel their efforts.

The way the game started did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  The Vikings marched straight down the field and scored a TD with little resistance.  The sick feeling in my stomach was amplified by the stat that they flashed on the screen stating that no team with an indoor stadium has ever played an outdoor game in the championship game and won, their record is 0-12.  In the past the Eagles have had a bad habit of bucking these trends so I was worried that we were again headed in that direction.

If you would have told me that the Birds would turn things around to score 38 unanswered points at that time I would have called you crazy however that is what happened.  I was so used to Eagle teams in the past collapsing with big leads that I was still not confident when the score was 31-7.  Only once they got the final touchdown did I know for sure they were going to the Superbowl.  What an amazing game.

I was so happy for Nick Foles, he had  a superb game.  I always liked the guy when he was with the Eagles.  From the start he struck me as a quality human being and for him to succeed at this level after struggling when he was traded was heart warming. He played like his amazing year under Chip Kelly when he threw 27 TDs with only two interceptions.  He was calm and in control.

The Eagles defense came up big after looking like a doormat on the first drive.  The Vikings did move the ball somewhat but some big takeaways kept them from scoring again which was huge.  This game will go down as one of the all timers in my book as far as satisfaction and level of play goes.

The Super Bowl party we are hosting once again after a one year hiatus suddenly has taken on a whole new level of excitement.  To have the team I have lived and died with my entire life in the big game will be special indeed.  I can only hope somehow they are able to keep the magic going just one more time…

E-A-G-L-E-S

EAGLES!!!!!!!

 

 

So my week long series of mostly day long meetings have wrapped up but it is only the start of a very long and involved process that will be taking place on the next 6-7 months.  We are ripping out our old Cobol legacy back end systems and replacing them with a cloud based vendor.  It is MASSIVE undertaking that will be very difficult but should hold a lot of back end benefits including greater productivity, efficiency, and flexibility in many areas of our office.  I am very much looking forward to this time next year when all of these large resource projects will be in the rear view mirror.

Overnight my massive two day print of one of my WoW characters finally concluded.  This was the model I was in the middle of printing when a shelf collapsed on my printer last week.  It looks pretty odd right now but once Cindy is done working on it I am sure it will be one of my most prized 3D prints.

I am picking up Sadie on the way home to make Elsa’s weekend a lot more fun.  Luckily we seem to be through the worst of our most current cold snap.  It’s still very cold by SW Florida standards but at least we are out of the landscape danger zones and we have avoided frost which really kills stuff off.

This weekend has standard fare included, highlighted by the NFC championship game on Sunday which includes the Eagles, the first time it has happened since 2009.  The Eagles have a pretty bad track record in this game, who could forget when they lost three consecutive NFC championships in the mid 2000’s?  I am hoping the unexpected success and magic of the 17/18 season continues on.  To have this team get all the way to the Super Bowl would be an incredible belated Christmas present.

So I went into my four day weekend with a desire to accomplish certain things so I went back to my reliable paper motivator, writing these items down on a list.  The plan was to start things off Friday by changing the pads on the front brakes of the Prius.  Well that project got sidetracked a bit when I woke up to a mess in the hobby room.

I had glanced in the room to check on the progress of a roughly two day long print of one of my WoW characters.  I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw pure chaos instead.  One of the shelves that was above two of my 3D printers, including the CR-10 in the middle of the two day print had collapsed, falling on top of the printers and spilling the contents of the shelf all over the room.  Of course my print was ruined as the shelf obstructed the CR-10.  I actually felt lucky that the printer didn’t seem to be all that screwed up.  Both Cindy and I were amazed that we did not hear the shelf break and crash during the night.  Based on my security DVR camera it went down around 3:30AM.

I looked at the shelf to see what happened.  I didn’t think I had that much weight on it.  It appeared that the clips that secure it to the wall had failed.  When I looked at the shelf above the failed one I saw one of those two wall clips was starting to pull out as well so I obviously had some work to do.  After I cleaned up the considerable mess I made note of what I would need to redo/strengthen the shelves.  I bought the parts later which included metal clips instead of plastic and I increased the amount of supports and clips by a factor of two.

So I finally got to turn my attention to the Prius mid-morning.  I had changed the pads and rotors on a number of vehicles in the last 10 years so I wasn’t too worried about the technical aspect of it.  I had no pulsation or pulling so I just got the pads, assuming the rotors were fine. (they were)  I went a different route with the pads, paying more than double the price of third party prices to get a hold of a pair of OEM Toyota brake pads.  I am hoping the 200,000+ mile Prius lasts me a another few years so I made the extra investment in parts.

The new pads ironically were the reason for my only real hiccup during the work.  With aftermarket pads you just take them out of the box and slap them in.  With the OEM pads you have to move the metal shields on the back of the pads from the old set to the new, something I did not realize until I already had one side done.  Other than that the job went well although to be honest, the old pads still had about half of their life left.  I’m not sure if it is the regenerative braking a hybrid does or what, but brakes seem to last forever on them.

So the rest of Friday was spent mostly dealing with more aftermath from the shelf collapse.  I ran to Home Depot not once but twice in total.  The first time to get shelf hardware, the second was to pick up ANOTHER six foot workbench.  After talking with Cindy, who had suggested another bench already, we came up with a plan that involved adding a bench to the hobby room and re-utilizing the desk in there for Cindy for her Cameo work.  It a domino affect that had her old smaller desk relocated to the master bedroom where it will be used as a sewing station.  It was funny how the collapse of the shelf lead to this series of events but Cindy and I really like the end result.

Saturday morning I got up and got my run in.  There was another cold front approaching but the temps in the upper 50’s felt comfortable to run in.  After I returned I didn’t waste much time before digging into more of my list, targeting the weeding, weedwhacking, and mowing portion of it.  I had an interruption as I kept fighting with the weed whacker, it would only run in the choke position, which is too fast.  If I used normal throttle it would sputter and die.  I gave up on it and switched to my DeWalt battery powered whacker which is ok but doesn’t have nearly the same power and speed.  I later discovered that one of the fuel lines had a crack in it, giving me something else to add to the list.

I kept busy right up until kickoff time of the Eagles playoff game. I was worried that the Eagles, who posted their best season in a decade or more was going to fall into a one and done scenario, despite being the number one seed in the NFC.  The Falcons actually came into the Linc being the favorites, despite being the number six seed.  Unlike the Eagles that sort of sputtered towards the finish of the year, the Falcons were improving.

The game was very frustrating as turnovers and mistakes were coming at a steady pace.  It felt like the Falcons were more in control for a good portion of the game but even so, the score remained close.  The Eagles slowly clawed their way back from a small deficit but found themselves up by 5 with time running out but the Falcons having the ball.  When the Eagles allowed the Falcons to get a first down on a 4th and 6 I thought to myself, “Here we go again, another year of having our hearts ripped out with a playoff collapse”  It felt that way all the way till the very end when the Falcons were 1st and goal with plenty of time on the clock.  However somehow the Birds managed to keep them out of the endzone, capped off by a dramatic fourth down when Julio Jones, who was killing the Eagles time and again could not come down with a high pass after he had slipped down a moment before.  I clapped my hands and yelled loudly, scaring Elsa whom came over for comfort and to help me celebrate.  It was the most emotion I have felt from football in a long, long time, dating back to the Andy Reid era.

It was a great win and a very exciting way to end my Saturday.  The Vikings, who had an even more dramatic win will be coming into town next week.  I can only hope the Eagles keep finding a way to grind out a win despite less than ideal circumstances.

So Sunday came and I only had one item left on my to do list, “Test Tow”.  For quite awhile I wanted to hook Cindy’s RV up to the Tacoma and tow it around to make sure it was viable.  When Cindy bought the RV I spent $1000 to get a 10,000 pound stabilizing hitch installed on the truck but I had not used it yet, the RV was delivered by the dealership.

During the morning I attended to a few small things around the house like replacing the fuel lines in the weed whacker, a first time thing for me.  It was a bit challenging feeding tube from the inside of the gas tank up to the carb but I figured it out.  The whacker fired up and ran like a champ afterward, better than it has for awhile so I have a feeling the crack was there for awhile.

So after lunch we turned our attention to the RV.  Cindy was obviously nervous about towing her trailer since we have not done so with the Tacoma.  I too had anxiety about the process, not only because I knew that Cindy was worried about her RV but I was worried about my truck and how it would do towing something close to 6000 pounds.  I also had never hooked up the hitch myself, I only watched it being done at the dealership for the test fit.

Cindy headed out before me and made sure the RV was tow ready, putting away loose items and securing other things.  We also figured it would be smart to drain the gray and fresh water tanks as much as possible to cut down on weight.  I then pulled the Tacoma into the yard and backed towards the hitch on the the trailer.  It took a couple tries to get the ball of the hitch lined up with the receiver but it wasn’t quite as precise as I thought it may have had to be.  Because of the design of the receiver, close is normally good enough as it will slide down over the ball once weight is applied.

So after getting the ball secured we had to get the stabilizer bars locked in.  The joints for the bars were very stiff, so stiff that I asked Cindy to go grab some WD-40.  Even with using it I had to use all of my weight to push the bars on either side into place.  The last parts of the process was hooking up the safety chains and then cranking the handle of the receiver jack so that all of the weight of the front of the trailer was supported by the Tacoma.  The back end of the truck dropped a little but not horribly from the load.

So we decided we first would do some test laps around the back of the yard.  I pulled ahead slowly and heard a lot of noise behind me.  Cindy was really concerned but it was just normal noises of the hitch dealing with the very uneven terrain in the yard.  I did a big slow loop and then let Cindy take the truck around as well for a lap.  The Tacoma seemed up to the task so now it was time for stage two, a road test.

This was one of the things I was most nervous about.  The path out of the back yard is tight and the opening in the gate is even tighter.   With Cindy acting as a spotter I slowly pulled the truck and 26 foot trailer out of the backyard with literally an inch or two to spare.  With Elsa in the back seat the three of us headed out onto open road with Cindy’s RV.  She was VERY nervous.

So I had never towed anything nearly this substantial before.  It felt strange as I could feel the truck dealing with the weight of the trailer and the back and forth physics of it.  It also required a realignment of your normal driving position on the road as the trailer is much wider than my Tacoma.  However as the miles passed I got more and more accustomed to the feeling.  We did a big square that included getting up onto the interstate for approximately 5 miles.  That was the only time the truck was not very happy, keeping a pretty steady 4500 RPM to maintain roughly 65 mph.  Even so, it felt capable and pretty stable.

On the way back I surprised Cindy by offering to let her drive the truck.  I actually was surprised as well but my time driving was uneventful enough that I felt Cindy would be fine as well.  She went through much of the same early adjustment weirdness that I did but she drove us all the way home and even drove it back into the driveway and into the backyard.  It was a much more stressful process at the beginning than the end.  We both felt good to know that the mid-size Tacoma, a truck you will hardly ever see towing something that big, is up to the task.  We also felt happy that we were able to complete a 30 mile trip without incident.

Last night we watched the latest Transformers movie.  I’m not sure why I keep hoping that the next Transformer movie will be something different than all the prior sequels, dumb.  Yea there are cool visuals but they only get you so far.  The dialogue, plot, and overall feel of the series just is lame.  I drifted in and out somewhat so maybe that was part of my lack of understanding but I doubt it.  It was one of those movies that I tell Cindy I am glad we didn’t pay $30 to see in a theater to see a B at best flick.

Today is my last day of my extended weekend.  I am hoping to finally overdose on fun things I want to do instead of things I feel I need to do.  3D printing, WoW, and EUCing all should be in the picture in some degree.

 

So yesterday I discovered a new, very cool thing I can print on my 3D printers, my actual characters from World of Warcraft.  Using a couple different software packages I am able to extract the 3D model for any of my characters and then use another piece of software to create an STL file that I can feed to my 3D printer.

Over the decade plus I have been playing the game I have invested months of time in some of these virtual representations of myself, to be able to pull them out of the computer and into the physical world would be really cool.  Right now I have two of the models printing.  They are long, complex prints so I am crossing my fingers that nothing goes wrong.  If the prints complete successfully that is only the first part of the project.  I then hope to turn the models over to Cindy where she hopefully will be able to apply some of her painting skills to make the models really look accurate.

Last night I did another YouTube Live session, with Cindy pitching in this time.  We set a new simultaneous viewer record, having 11 people on the stream at one point, whoopee.  Even with the small audience we had a good session.  One of the guys in chat we found out was a video editor that has worked on a ton of shows and major movies.  He found my channel via the Tacoma route since he has 2017 he recently bought.  There were a number of interesting people in chat.  Before I knew it I had been streaming for over an hour and a half.  I shut it down since I was setting an extra early alarm for today to get some stuff done at work.

Today I am on the eve of another extended weekend which I am excited about.  Of course I already have a healthy mental checklist of things I’d like to accomplish during that time including doing the front brake pads on the Prius, yard maintenance, carpet cleaning, and more.  The nice thing about having a block of four days off is I can get all these things done and still have plenty of time to spare.

So I finally have secured a company to rescreen our pool cage. This is after I told the first place no thanks after the owner tried to justify pricing more than double the going rate 8 months ago.  The quote I got from this other company would have been $1600 less if I went with normal screen.  I decided to upgrade to the high quality polyester screen with a 10 year warranty and still came in $600 less than the first quote with regular fiberglass screen..  If I wanted the polyester screen with the original contractor they would have charged me an additional $2500.  So yea, I am happy I was able to wait and find someone not quite so eager to profit heavily off of storm remediation.  The wait time isn’t as bad as I expected, they should be able to do the work in around a month.

Yesterday Cindy put her artistic ability to good use, painting the “porg” from Star Wars that I 3D printed.  Not only did she do a nice job with the painting, she also fixed the print which had several defects in the model, including one arm that fell off.   Cindy also glued together my first 3D printed knife.  Of course it isn’t designed for heavy duty use but it will get the job done if need be.

 

Friday night I finally decided to dig into my Creality Ender 2 3D printer kit.  I already own three 3D printers but none of them were a kit, where you are assembling most components yourself.  I was both excited and apprehensive about the project.

As far as kits go, the Ender 2 is on the easier end of the spectrum but even so I had a lot of challenges to overcome, most due to just my unfamiliarity with the process. This was not helped by the woefully inadequate instructions which consisted of seven pictures.  I supplemented with a couple videos I saw on YouTube to help me through.

I did have some conventional problems like a stripped out screw that I had to drill out and replace and some binding of the Z axis screw.  I managed to address these problems and complete the build.  I actually did not complete everything on Friday night, I burned another hour or so Saturday morning until I had the printer actually spitting out it’s first object.  I gave myself a nice virtual pat on the back for being able to turn a box of parts into something functional at the end.

I was going to run Saturday morning but I decided to postpone it till Sunday because my lower body was still very sore from Wednesday dead lifts and it was still very cold, with temps in the lower 40’s once again.  I instead opted to stay home and headed outside to do the must do’s around the yard.  Jeans and a sweatshirt were required apparel.

Cindy and I took Elsa for a mid-morning ride to Rural King and Home Depot.  I picked up some mulch to finish off the two landscaped areas I neglected to refresh several weeks ago.  I also got my second load of 15 bags of topsoil in as many weeks to dump in the back of the chicken coop.  My hope is that if I keep dumping dirt back there slowly over the winter, when wet season arrives I will have a ground level in some spots that is a few inches higher, hopefully giving the hens a little more dry ground this summer.

Katie’s birthday was Friday but Cindy was doing a surprise party for her on Saturday.  She rented a spot in a make your own pottery store.  Not only did Cindy invite her side of the family but also her ex-husband and his family who live on the east coast.  Katie was blown away that so many people showed up to celebrate her birthday.  I only showed up for the last 30 minutes or so since I didn’t really care to make an art project.  It was nice to be able to finally meet Katie’s extended family which includes two brothers and a little sister.

After dinner we went to Outback for dinner.  The theme of the experience was sloooow.  They were slow to seat us, slow to take our order and slow to serve our food.  Despite this everyone had a fun time with lots of laughs and smiles passed around the table.  My $50 Outback gift card I received for my birthday came in handy when it came time to settle up.  I do like the 22 ounce draft beers at Outback, I must say.

Sunday morning, despite it still being quite cold I got my 13 laps in around the track.  I wore shorts but did decide to sport a long sleeve t-shirt to give me at least a little protection against the cold air.  It took around a mile of running until my internal heater had cranked up enough for me to not feel frozen solid.  Even when I finished my last lap I didn’t have a drop of sweat on me.

It was too cold to ride in the morning so we spent most of the morning indoors working on stuff.  We went out for a coffee run and then stopped at Michael’s so Cindy could grab more supplies for her Cameo crafting, something she is really enjoying.  Elsa and I went into the pet store next door briefly to kill some time.  We did several laps around the store as Elsa nervously examined her surroundings.  She is funny to observe as she hops back and forth between scared and excited and then back again.

We didn’t get out on the wheels until mid-afternoon once it warmed up and when we did it was only briefly around the school parking lot.  Cindy was still a bit cold and tweaked her knee a bit.  Plus we both had things we wanted to futz around with back at home.

Sunday evening we watched my latest Netflix rental, Baywatch.  The movie was unapologetically silly and it’s R rating meant there was some very adult humor and visuals.   That being said, it was funny, making both Cindy and I laugh out loud throughout the flick.  As long as you aren’t a prude, it’s a solid B level rental all day long.

I am taking this upcoming Friday off to give me ANOTHER four day week.  The best news is it will also be a four day long weekend as our office closes for MLK day on Monday.  I hope to accomplish several things during those four days highlighted by my first ever attempt at changing the front brake pads on a Prius.

I have printed a lot of items on my 3D printers since I got them.  One of the things I have printed the most of are electric unicycle stands. I bet in total I have printed close to 10 of them. I just gave Katie one of my stands for her new Mten3 so it was time for me to print another.

This print takes a lot of plastic and time.  In total for all of the parts I bet it takes a full 24 hours of print time.  I try to do each new stand in a different color.  For Christmas I got hooked up with a TON of new filament so I decided to make the new stand out of orange PLA, one of my favorite colors.

Despite making a ton of these stands I really have never documented the process of putting it together and what hardware I use.  I decided to remedy that last night when I saw the print had finished during the day.  If you are just dying to know how it all goes together, click above.

I’m in holiday recovery mode, mentally, physically, and verbally.

The four day holiday weekend truly rolled by in a flash, filled with lots of good times.  It was a near perfect conclusion to what may be some of my most memorable 10 day spans as an adult.    Friday morning my goal was to try to attend to most of the must do’s so the majority of the weekend was clear.  I weeded the yard, repaired the automatic chicken coop door, and replaced the section of screen on the one lanai door that Sadie tore through a few days prior.

Randall was also due to arrive Friday around 5 for a brief visit. The main focus of his visit was for us to finally get out to see Star Wars which I bought reserved seats for at Prado, our new favorite theater.  We decided to eat dinner there as well since they have a pretty robust menu.  Cindy and I never took the time to eat there but we were pleasantly surprised, the food was pretty outstanding.  I also was pretty surprised when the bartender said the tab for Randall and my beer was $20.  My Miller Lite was $5 but they evidently yank you for $15 for a draft IPA, geezus.

This was the first time we took Randall to this theater and it seemed like he approved.  The good food combined with the reclining leather seats are a hard combo to beat.  SPOILER, skip ahead a couple paragraphs if you don’t want any Star Wars commentary.  So anyway Randall approved of the theater but I wouldn’t say he approved of the movie, a sentiment all three of us shared.  It just was dumb in so many ways.  Visually of course it was superb and one of my favorite parts of the movie were the alien wildlife that was injected into the film.  Of course if that is a highlight of a movie, that isn’t saying a lot about the plot, dialogue, and acting.

I really don’t get it.  It’s my understanding that they shot all three of the movies from the reboot at the same time.  I thought The Force Awakens was GREAT and did a fine job of capturing the essence of the original three Star Wars movies from the 70’s-80’s.  I thought Rogue One stepped down a few notches and unfortunately The Last Jedi drops all the way down to a B level movie for me.  I just don’t understand how a similar group of people could produce movies that to me, vary drastically in quality.  If I was only allowed one word to describe The Last Jedi it would be, disappointing.

Even with the less than fulfilling movie we all had fun going out.  When we got home we made Randall open his gifts from us which included a national sarcasm society t-shirt, a funny coffee connoisseur mug (Randall is The Coffee Avenger), and an EUC stand that I 3D printed for him.  Cindy had to teach class on Saturday morning so Randall and I laid out a tentative game plan where I would get up early and run and then he and I could push out for Ave Maria with he on two wheels while I made due with only one.

The Saturday run went fine.  The temps in the low 60’s were nice but because of the thick fog I still was soaked from condensation by the time I was finished.  When I got home I tended to the chickens before Randall had emerged from the bedroom.  Some of the chickens have been acting odd recently.  Each night we always have to place a few of them up on the perch.  Some of them instead decide to stand on the nesting box area while some have even been on the floor.

I’m not sure what is going on but my first guess is maybe the effort to get up on the perch is starting to be too much for some.  Lucy, our oldest chicken has been on the floor the last few days.  To hopefully address the problem I modified the ladder position so there is less of a final jump required for them to get onto the main perch.  If certain hens keep struggling we may have to do further alterations. I was really worried about Peaches over the weekend because she was acting very low energy.  She seemed to rebound somewhat yesterday but with chickens you just never know, they can go downhill suddenly and quickly.

So anyway, it was still quite foggy when Randall came out.  We decided we should go grab some DD coffee with the dogs to allow the fog to burn off.  Elsa and Sadie were quite excited by our choice.  Our plan worked out well, by the time we got back it was sunny and clear.

I had once before done an EUC/Road Bike thing when Randall and I did the 20 mile DD ride.  At that time I used my Msuper to tackle the distance.  The Ave Maria ride is a full 10 miles farther so my only viable option was the big 22″ Monster that sports a 1600wh battery.  For the first 5 miles of the ride Randall was in the lead of our two vehicle pelaton however there was a pretty nasty headwind.  I suggested to Randall that I pull in front since being the wind breaker only consumed battery power for me instead of calories.  He welcomed the switch.

The Monster did surprisingly well, Randall said for a good portion of the ride out we were pacing 20+ mph INTO the wind, something I could never do on a road bike.  My upright body on the wheel also made for a nice air pocket Randall could draft inside of, making his ride more tolerable.  We made good time out to Ave Maria and enjoyed a drink at the local coffee shop.  On the way back that headwind transformed into a tail wind which helped us keep up the speed.  During the last couple miles Randall dropped the hammer to finish the strong.  No matter how hard he pushed I was able to keep up on the Monster.  He showed his top speed as being over 23mph.

Cindy picked up Publix subs that we enjoyed for lunch.  Mid-afternoon Randall and I headed out again, this time with HIS Ninebot EUC to go ride at the greenway.  My feet and calves were extremely sore from running followed by the Ave Maria ride but I would had to be crippled to not go out again.  I brought my Mten3 this time.  Randall and I had a good time cruising around there, a spot I never took him to before.  At the end of the ride I suggested a small change he could make in his riding style to give him better agility and control.  He practiced in the parking lot and by the end of the ride was doing much better.

When we got home the three of us had a rather funny photo shoot out by Cindy’s RV.  Randall had his redneck costume in the car that he used for my birthday video and suggested we utilize it.  Cindy loves to dress up and I threw on my camo t-shirt from 7th grade to go along with camo shorts and Crocs.  We took several very funny shots that became instant classics.  Randall headed out shortly after the photo shoot as we had a holiday party to attend held by Cindy’s work.  It was a short visit but jam packed with memories which is all you can want.

So Christmas Eve once again was pretty busy, well more so for Cindy than for me as she had a lot of meal prep to do.  I had just a couple of loose ends to tie up for my holiday shopping needs which I did in the morning.  Later in the afternoon Cindy dropped me off at Vineyards Park to ride the Mten while she dropped some stuff off at her mom’s place.

I spent over an hour tooling around the park practicing various skills on the small but powerful wheel.  My lower body was still hurting from all the riding the day before but I didn’t care.  It’s such a fun wheel to ride.

Another thing I spent considerable time on over the weekend was extracting the video Cindy produced and getting them on YouTube.  It was hard for people to pay much attention to or hear the video at the party itself.  I made two versions, one is the original version from the party and the second is shorter with some cleaned up audio and some footage from the party itself.

We spent Christmas Eve watching the live broadcast of A Christmas Story, the broadway adaptation of the popular Christmas movie.  I normally cringe at musicals but I found the show fun, entertaining and a nice way to spend the last few hours before the big day.

I have never been good at sleeping in on Christmas Day and despite now being a half century old, that tradition continued on.  I was up and out of bed by 5:30.  By the time Cindy got up at 7 I had already done some more video editing and played some WoW.  Before we started opening presents I got the chicken coop cleaning out of the way.  I gave the hens Xmas gifts they always appreciate, greens from the garden, cracked corn, and some dried mealworms.

As is the case every year, the Christmas tree was decked out with ample presents, although the presents only appeared the night before.  Because of Elsa potentially digging into things the presents have been living in the hobby room and the tree has spent most of the season encased in a chair barrier which I have not been thrilled about.  It was nice to finally see the tree as it should be.

Cindy and I had good time opening presents to each other and from my family.  I made out well scoring clothing, power tools, gadgets, books and 3D printer filament and lots of it.  I think in total I now have 7 or 8 fresh rolls which will keep my printers chugging along for the foreseeable future.

Cindy was happy and surprised by her gifts, the biggest of which was a Silhouette Cameo 3, a craft “printer” that will allow Cindy to do some extremely cool things once she learns how to use it.  Another noteworthy item was an Amazon Echo Show that adds a video screen to the already impressive Echo features.  I wasted little time before configuring it.  We both noticed immediately that the speaker in the Show sounded noticeable better than the original Echo.

Once the opening extravaganza was done Cindy had to dive back into meal prep while I started working on post Xmas clean up duties.  It can be a lengthy process that includes finding a home for all the new items as well as disposing of all the wrapping paper and cardboard.  By the time I was done the dining room was pretty clear.

Cindy’s daughter and her boyfriend showed up late in the morning to open gifts.  Once again this year I went a little crazy and bought Katie her second EUC as in many years, a Mten3.  She has loved mine since I first let her try it and I knew she would get so much enjoyment bang for the buck from the gift.  It made me happy to see the big smile on her face as she unwrapped it.

Cindy and I did some rearranging of the great room for the family meal.  Instead of eating at the big dining table like years past we ate in the great room and sort of arranged things like we do for the fantasy football draft party.  Cindy’s family started showing up around 2:30.  It was her brother, sister-in-law, two nieces, nephew, mom and Katie that showed up in total.  There was a TON of food as you would expect and everything was delicious although I of course ate more than my recommended caloric intake.

Everyone seemed to have a good time, the house felt warm and “Christmasy”, a feeling I always hope for.  After the meal gifts were exchanged and we even had everyone outside riding around on the Segways while Katie, Cindy, and I rode our EUCs.  There were smiles and laughter throughout the entire get together which is all you can hope for.

Most of the crew left by 6.  Cindy’s other neice Taylor wasn’t able to get out there until closer to 7-7:30 but we had a nice time with her as well.  She is one of the most put together 17 year olds I have known.  She has a bright future ahead of her for sure.

Cindy and I both worked diligently on clean up, striving to get the house somewhat close to normal before heading to bed.  I took a shower and flipped on the bedroom tv to watch the Eagles game.  Starting out in bed was a mistake, I began dozing off before the second quarter started and I was out like a light before the end of the first half.  I was glad to see the Eagles pulled off what seemed to be an ugly win in the end, securing a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.  I can only hope they take advantage of it in the end.

I awoke today feeling a bit of my normal post Christmas sadness.  It happens every year but felt a bit stronger this time around.  Not only did today mark the end of Christmas but it also was the culmination of a very special period of time that started with my birthday trip north and the incredible surprise party that I was treated to.  This holiday season has been the best one I have experienced in a long time and to see it pass is a bummer.  I will do my best to keep the Christmas good energy going all year around.

 

 

 

So my crazy short two day work week concludes today.  This time of year not a whole lot of work gets done so being in the office is not much of a chore.  The way Christmas falls this year we wind up having to go back to work the day after Christmas which is a bit of a bummer.  I always like having the day after Christmas off to clean up and play with my new toys. 🙂

So slowly but surely I have been building my YouTube channel which is creeping towards a 1000 video library.  In addition to getting paid ad revenue directly via YouTube I have been working other revenue streams that content creators can utilize.  One of those has been my becoming an Amazon Affiliate which is basically a referral program.  What I do is if a video has items I bought from Amazon I mention it in the video and include a special link directly to the item in the video description.  If a viewer uses that link to go to the product and buys it I get a small spiff.  Well evidently a LOT of people have used those links recently.  My last spiff from Amazon was over $180 for the last 30 days, wow.

I also was recently contacted by a very large Chinese electronics retailer, GearBest.  They are the company I bought my CR-10 from.  They offered me to be an affiliate as well which can result in more dollars if people buy from their links.  In addition, they often send content creators items to review on video.  They are sending me a couple things to review already and yes, you get to keep them.  The direct and indirect money flowing in from my YouTube channel has grown drastically in the last year, more than doubling.  I can hardly wait to see what I can do in 2018.

I’m looking forward to an enjoyable four day weekend.  Randall is shooting over for a quick visit tomorrow where we will finally get out to see Star Wars.  The rest of the weekend should be conventional family holiday activity with smiles, fun, and food.  Of course there will be chores to be done, headlined by fixing the screen panel that Sadie decided to turn into a door yesterday.  Merry Christmas everyone.

 

Last night I made a video outlining some of the extensive amount of holiday related 3D stuff that we have created this year.  I also put the new room layout on display.  It is a much better setup that should help keep things organized and tidy.

I quite honestly was surprised to wake up this morning to see that Roy Moore lost the Alabama senate seat election, despite the allegations of him having sexual relations with underage teens when he was in his 30’s.  In today’s political climate where common sense seems to be viewed negatively and where bad behavior often does not have consequences, I sort of assumed that Moore would get elected, especially in Alabama, a state that is typically a very deep red in politics.

To have a democrat elected, albeit by a razor thin margin in the state is a huge FU to Donald, who decided to double down on his support of Moore despite the allegations, solely because of partisanship. I for the most case have numbed myself to politics since Trump was elected, conceding that stupidity now is the ruling class in America and I need to just keep my head down and worry about things I can actually control. The election result gives me a slim glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, America is slowly waking up.

Tomorrow I take my first ever flight on Spirit Airlines, a discount carrier that has direct flights from Fort Myers to Pittsburgh.  The fare was an incredibly cheap $98.  However Spirit uses a strategy employed by several airlines, they sell you a rock bottom fare and then hit you on the back end with charges which bring your overall price inline with conventional airlines.

So in theory I could only spend $98 as long as I had no checked baggage and no carry on luggage over 18″ x 14″ x 8″.  Of course the reality is very few people are able to travel with no baggage.  So to add one checked bag adds $40 easy way to the flight ($55 if you check it at the airport) .  When I went to pick my seat, 90% of the seats had an additional cost over the base fare.  I decided to reduce my misery and picked an exit row for my long legs.  That luxury costs and additional $26 each way.  So when you add it all up my total fare is over double what I started at.  The bottom line number still isn’t bad but it’s just an odd way of doing business to me.

My trip up north will be brief with me flying back on Monday.  It will still be nice to see my family and experience what true winter feels like, briefly.  This time next week I will be a few days past the half century mark, an accomplishment that I’d be fine never recognizing publicly. I am perfectly content just printing 3D deathstars instead.