So last year I decided to spin off a second YouTube channel, EUC Army, which I only upload my electric unicycle videos to. Based on my own personal YouTube experience I have found that in some cases people like channels with a more narrow focus.
My main YouTube channel is a dumping ground for ANYTHING I do. Believe it or not it has almost 1000 videos in there. My hope is by breaking my two main hobbies into their own dedicated realms it will give me opportunities to increase exposure of the content.
My main channel has resumed it’s slow and steady upward growth curve after getting smacked off the rails during the YouTube ad-apocalypse several months back. I now am generating over $200 a month in ad revenue from the main channel which has over two million views and close to 3000 subscribers. My EUCARMY channel has over 150 subscribers and I hope D3D can start growing as well. 3D printing has a MUCH larger market penetration than electric unicycles so it will be interesting to see how it goes. If you want to help me get things rolling go here and hit that SUBSCRIBE button! 🙂
Saturday morning I got up before my 5:45 alarm to get out and get my run in. The air again was pleasantly cool which made for a more tolerable running experience. The 13 laps went by fine and as has been the case for the last few months it was just me and the crickets out there on the track.
Cindy was teaching classes Saturday morning which meant I was left to my own taskmaster vices. I buzzed around the house, inside and out tending to various things on my mental to do list. When Cindy got home we piled into the Tacoma with Sadie and Elsa to head to Home Depot. One of the things I wanted to look at there was screen doors, the type used on our pool cage. I was unsure if Home Depot would carry them or not.
Well I may have mentioned, the screen contractor that I terminated my relationship with quoted a price of $500 to replace the door on the east side of the cage that was bent and twisted from Irma. Of course I thought this was high but I did not get a true appreciation for just how outrageous it was until Saturday. A brand new door was less than $80. I knew I didn’t have the time to install the door this past weekend so I didn’t grab it right away but you can be assured I will be doing so shortly. I likely may replace the other door as well so I have a new matching set. Even with replacing two I’ll still be miles ahead of the quote for a single door replacement. I feel badly for people that don’t do any legwork to confirm if a contractor is being straight up with you or just feeding you a mountain of bullshit to justify overpriced goods and services.
Late Saturday afternoon I decided to take my Mten over to the school, the perfect place to practice and experiment with the little, yet powerful wheel. I had a lot of fun attempting and being successful with tricks/moves that I wouldn’t even dare to try with my larger conventional EUC’s. I was glad I got to ride Saturday because we didn’t have time on Sunday to get out.
During the day I had the 3D printers working hard. I printed another geometric Xmas tree, in a more festive green. I also printed a bunch of gifts for Cindy’s nephew Owen including Harry Potter glasses, a wand, Minecraft keychains, and a cool target for Nerf guns.
Saturday night Cindy and I watched King Arthur, our latest Netflix rental. The movie put a hip, modern spin on a very old story. I found it entertaining but not mind blowing. It was a solid B rental for me.
So Sunday was going to be a very busy day. We were going to the Miami area to attend Owen’s birthday party. Cindy had a mini-emergency when her Iphone 6 appeared to go DOA, only showing the red battery indicator and little else, despite being on the charger all night. We tried a number of tricks found on the internet to revive it, including heating the back of the phone with a hair dryer, which worked briefly. However we were unsuccessful. Oddly when we returned from the east coast the phone magically started working again but it clearly has some sort of battery related issue.
I did my weekly bill paying session and then we quickly ran to the pool store and Dunkin Donuts before we had to get ready to leave. We picked up Cindy’s niece Taylor on the way whom we don’t get to see that much of. It was nice to have her along to keep us company. Taylor is extremely intelligent and should have a very bright future in front of her.
The drive across state took a little less than two hours and was uneventful. The most challenging part of it was staying awake as I had a very poor night of sleep on Saturday. When we approached Cindy’s sister-in-law and brother’s place we were astonished that the street in front of their house was barricaded off because a HUGE inflatable obstacle course that was in middle of the road. Both Cindy and I wondered if they had to get a permit for that or if the rental company just does it first and begs for forgiveness later.
I really had no idea of what to expect of the party. It turned out to be quite large with a couple dozen kids running around like crazy. The obstacle course got used heavily. I hadn’t eaten lunch so I quickly started chowing down on chips and caramel corn, not my normal diet. I soon felt gross for consuming so much fat, salt, and sugar in a short period of time.
I didn’t know 90% of the people there but I still did an ok job being somewhat social. I was talking to one guy who seemed very nice but I had to do my best to conceal my inner cringe and disapproval of how much he loved duck and quail hunting. He said his son loves it too.
I understand that people are a product of their environment. If you were brought up in a family where hunting is just another activity I understand why the act of killing an animal may seem insignificant to you. However the same applies to someone like me who never hunted, and never even fired a real gun. To me, the act of willingly ending the life of an animal in a first person manner is pretty horrible. However, the reasonable adult in me realizes that the right/wrong gauge for everyone is personalized and I do my best to let “to each its own” be the motto I generally try to live by.
I had a good time at the party watching all the young energy running rampant among us. Owen seemed to really like the 3D stuff we made for him as he is currently a huge Harry Potter fan. We left shortly after the pinata smashing festivities concluded with Owen’s half brother Ryan exploding the pinata with one hard swing.
On the ride back to the west coast we picked up another passenger, Cindy’s other niece Stephanie. The girls kept the roughly 100 mile ride home entertaining. We rolled back into the driveway about 6:30 or so.
My poor night of sleep combined with going to one side of the state to the other and back again in a little more than six hours was going to make watching the Eagles game challenging. I actually fell asleep on the couch from early in the second quarter until about 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
If you read the scores today you see the 24-10 loss posted by the Birds. It was a disappointing effort for sure but really from what I saw, there were a few key things that could have easily changed that outcome. The Eagles were called on a TON of penalties, many of which came at the worst time, allowing the Seahawks to extend drives, drives that eventually lead to scores, instead of punting the ball away. Carson made some great plays but also some bad ones. He continued his rather worrisome trait of randomly overthrowing wide open receivers and committed a soul crushing fumble at the 10 inch line, robbing the Eagles of another scoring opportunity. The coaching staff seemed asleep at the wheel as well at times, failing to throw a red flag on an attempted lateral that clearly was a forward pass, once again allowing the Seahawks to drive down the field and score. It seemed to be an equal opportunity case of sloppiness.
To the Seahawks credit, Russell Wilson had an outstanding game. The Eagles got pressure on the pocket consistently most of the night but his elusiveness made it very difficult to pin him down. Seattle also seemed very adept at running pick plays that had the Eagles d-backs running into each other all night long. In the big picture it might be a good thing for the Birds to have an ugly game at this point in the season. The hope is it will wake them up a bit and bring the type of focus that is needed to really do something big this year.
I decided to do the four day blog recap before the four days are over for better retention and future time constraints. Our Thanksgiving started bright and early since I was running the four mile Gobbler Gobbler. We packed both Cindy’s Minipro and my new Mten3 in the car. Cindy was going to help marshal the race while riding her Segway and I hoped to ride the EUC around pre/post race. That’s exactly what happened.
The race itself went smoothly. The run for me was tough but I put minimal pressure on myself since I opted for the fun run event this year instead of the chip timed race. Early on I felt like I was on the verge of a hamstring pull. My lower body still had some soreness/stiffness from the lower body work I did at the gym on Tuesday. Eventually the sensation lessened and I was able to run more or less normally, for me. I followed my normal pattern of getting passed early during the race but then almost be exclusively the one doing the passing during the latter stages of the race. I have no idea exactly how long it took me since I didn’t wear a GPS. All I know it was somewhere less than 40 minutes.
After the race Cindy and I hung around for awhile. I spent most of my time hanging with my timer buddy John who was once again timing the race this year. Even though I haven’t timed a race in over two years, the bond between race timers never fades. Cindy must have showed at least 10 people how easy the Minipro is to ride. She just loves to do that.
Once we got home I went out and tended to chicken clean up so Cindy could turn her attention to Thanksgiving meal prep. She had already done a lot of work on Wednesday. Her mom, mom’s friend, Katie and Cindy’s niece came to join us for the meal. Katie came a little early and I let her try out the new tiny Mten3. She instantly loved the way the wheel felt and reacted. Before she was done she was able to do back and forth pendulums without much issue.
The meal itself was great. Cindy catered to everyone’s dietary preferences, preparing a Tofurkey for me while preparing conventional turkey for everyone else. The feedback on the meal was universally positive. Cindy’s mom’s friend was funny as she told funny stories about her previous husbands and asked matter of the fact and awkward questions of others that seemed to come out of left field. Between four and five o’clock everyone had headed out with very full bellies.
In some ways my Thanksgiving was very unconventional. I basically watched none of the Macy’s parade and did not see a single snap of the three football games that took place. I just had other things that had my attention including YouTube, 3D printing and riding around my Mten.
On Black Friday the unconventional feel continued as I did absolutely no shopping in a brick and mortar or cyber fashion. Instead I dug into a work heavy day where I tried to do most of my conventional chores, hopefully clearing the deck for the weekend. I also picked up Sadie for a long weekend visit, something Elsa was very excited about. During the afternoon Cindy helped me get the exterior Christmas decorations up.
I actually scaled back the extent of the lights outside. We only wrapped the front two palm trees in lights instead of including the other set of four in the front. We took those extra lights and extended them both down each fence lines which looked nice and was a lot less difficult. I wrapped up the work adorning the roof line of the coop/run with the big LED bulbs as I have the last couple years. On Sunday we added a large 16 foot inflatable Saanta sled to the mix. Hopefully this inflatable lasts longer than most. We have yet to have an Xmas inflatable that actually lasted more than one year.
On Saturday, despite my efforts up to that point there was still plenty to keep me busy. Cindy taught a class in the morning. While she was gone I again cleaned up the chicken mess and then did some more work in rusty pool cage screw replacement. This is a long term job that is proving to be more of a pain in the ass than I anticipated. So many of the existing screws are in such poor condition that as soon as I try to back one out the head snaps off. It’s really annoying.
We also took on part two of the long Xmas decorating process, doing all of the inside work Saturday afternoon. Once again we set up my mom’s tree in the great room. Once again the top set of lights did not want to illuminate after showing a few flashes. Instead of fighting with it like I did last year I decided to just bring in a couple sets of spare white LED lights from the shed and using those instead. The LEDs looked better and use less power than the pre-strung incandescent lights the tree came with me. I was happy with the decision as it extends my ability to keep mom’s tree in service indefinitely, not that I would ever dispose of it.
Last night we watched my Netflix blu-ray Kong Skull Island. The movie had more graphic representations of people getting eaten/killed by horrific monsters than anything I can recall seeing. It made Jurassic Park look like Sesame Street. Despite this unsettling/graphic violence we both found the movie entertaining and good overall. I’d give it a B+, Cindy actually said it was an A in her opinion.
Today I woke up to the hope of having a clean slate, devoid of must do’s. I pretty much have it outside of my doing the chicken and pool maintenance early on. Cindy and I went to North Collier Park to ride a little bit and I am in the process of watching the Eagles put a hurting on the Bears.
It seems odd that as much effort as I put into getting stuff done, it just never really feels done, ever. Of course this is no surprise as it is the way it always has been. This feeling is both my curse and my advantage, it just depends on the situation. Even as I punch in these last few words I have thought of double digit things that need my attention, effort, or energy, at some point.
So as I have mentioned here several times, my experience with my insurance company regarding my Hurricane Irma claim has been very frustrating. The experience has been filled with unreturned phone calls, lack of follow through, and finger pointing. Yesterday I made about my 6th or 7th call to the “escalation department” , asking why the woman I last spoke to over two weeks ago and whom I had left four messages for has never responded to me. I told them I had enough and if I did not hear anything back I was going to be raising a major mess with Tower Hill, since the adjusters in charge of settling the claim are actually subbed out.
The hurricane clarified how Tower Hill sort of sucks. Throughout this remediation process I have not been dealing with any real Tower Hill employees, they all have been sub-contracted. My house was inspected by some company named Integrity Adjusters and the claim remediation is by another company named EA Renfro. Tower Hill seems to just like to cash my checks but doesn’t really have an active role in problem resolution.
So anyway last night I get an email that there is a new electronic document in my account. I quickly pulled it up and saw that apparently my persistence finally has paid off. The document stated my claim has been revised upward roughly $5000 based on the estimates that I provided. Two months plus is a long time to wait but at least the steps we took with both the roof and the pool screen allowed us the time to be patient with navigating these very muddy waters.
Last night I apparently resolved my latest 3D printing issue, this time with my newest printer, the Neva. The clogging problem got resolved by once again using some cleaning filament, the same stuff I used on the CR-10 a few days prior. I also got out on my Mten3 for a little more practice. I am hooking and reversing pretty consistently, able to stay on the wheel more than I need to step off.
This four day weekend hopefully will be fun. Cindy and I are once again going to the Gobble Gobble race tomorrow morning. I am going to run in the untimed four mile fun run. Cindy is going to use her Segway to be a race marshal which should be fun for her. Cindy again is going to have some of her family over in the afternoon for what surely will be another impressive holiday meal.
Over the rest of the four day weekend I have some loose plans which include Christmas decorations, more pool cage screw replacement, and assorted house chores. Of course I want to mix in plenty of Mten3 time, WoW, and whatever else sounds fun at the time.
So last night I was messing with both of my two major hobbies, 3D printing and EUC’s. On the 3D front at one point I had all three printers going at once. The CR-10 was finishing up printing another EUC stand, the FlashForge Finder was printing lithophane holders and my new Neva was trying to print a Christmas ornament. I say “try” because the week old printer developed it’s first problem, a filament clog.
One of the Neva’s appeals is it’s simplicity. Unfortunately it is also one of it’s weaknesses. The documentation on the printer is extremely sparse. There is no real user manual to speak of. The only option is a very limited support section of their website. I followed the instructions I found to unclog the printhead but only had limited success. When I tried to print the model it was underextruding and looked terrible. So now I have another printer to “fix”, yay.
I also affixed some automotive door protection strips to my new Gotway Mten3 along the edges of the wheel. My hope is if the bot takes a tumble the strips will absorb the impact instead of the potentially brittle plastic. After I finished up I took the wheel out in the driveway for some night time testing. Not only did I do my first backwards riding on the tiny wheel I also did my first four point turns on an EUC, ever. I was able to curve into a spot, stop, reverse direction while curling the other direction and then reverse once again to head back the way I came from. It felt awesome. I can’t wait to build on my new found skills with my tiny one wheel fun machine.
My weekend was busy, very busy, but it had a fulfilling mix of work and play with a cherry on top ending with the Eagles dominating win over the Cowboys. It didn’t start out that well as I had a horrible night of sleep Friday night. I awoke somewhere before 3AM and did not fall back asleep until at least 5. I then awoke again, on my own at 6:05 and decided, F it, I’ll go get my run out of the way. Despite the lack of sleep the run went ok, certainly fueled by the cool air in the lower 60’s.
When I got home I spent very little time inside before heading out to get started on a long list of things I wanted to accomplish. First up was weeding which always begins in the garden area. The greens that we planted a few weeks ago are all looking fantastic so far. We have kale, three types of lettuce, eggplant, and spinach in there.
After I got done weeding I got ready to weed whack. Not just a normal 60-90 minute session of the unfun activity, I wanted to do EVERYTHING, meaning the entire fence line, both sides. Doing the fence line is an awful job. This time was probably the worst ever as I have been negligent in doing the task on a more regular basis, resulting in thick, high, tough grass integrating with the galvanized fencing. In certain spots I had to go ridiculously slow, chopping at the thick growth one level at a time.
Weed whacking against a wire fence consumes trimmer line by the mile. I was on my third spool refill when the trimmer head broke. The bottom of it was wearing thin and the fence line was enough to wear it out for good. I was only about 2/3 of the way around the inside fence line when it broke. I decided to use the DeWalt electric whacker to get the rest of the conventional trimming around the house done with the intent of getting a new trimmer head for the gas whacker to finish later.
During the afternoon I dug into additional projects like redoing the runs on the ladder for the chickens perch, installing my two new mods on my Tacoma and installing a swing arm mount in Cindy’s RV for a small tv. All three projects went well but only one of them was documented on video.
Late afternoon I finally received a package I have been waiting for for almost a month and a half, my new Gotway Mten3 EUC. I ordered/paid for the wheel in early October but have been patiently waiting for it to make it’s way across the Pacific Ocean on a boat. This wheel is the exact opposite of the last wheel I bought, the Gotway Monster which is a 22 inch, 60 pound behemoth. The Mten3 is a tiny 10 inch wheel that weights roughly 20 pounds. What makes it unique is despite it’s small form factor it is equipped with a very strong power train, allowing the wheel a top speed of around 25 mph which is nuts.
I didn’t have much time on Saturday to do much more than unbox the wheel and take it out on the driveway for a couple minutes. Those couple minutes were rough. The wheel felt incredibly unstable and foreign to me, I could hardly do even basic turning. This was not unexpected, I knew it would feel weird, just not that weird.
Saturday night Cindy and I went to see Justice League. I again opted for the VIP theater at Prado, guaranteeing us good seats despite it being opening weekend. I found the movie to be entertaining, even with trying to cram in origin stories for the previously never shown heroes of Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Of the three I thought Aquaman was the most out of place. He did very little Aquaman-esque stuff with the vast majority of his action being on dry land. It was a Zak Snyder movie so of course there was going to become ridiculous stuff but I found Justice League to have less of that than Batman vs Superman did. I was entertained from start to end, enough to give the movie an A- rating.
On Sunday morning I wanted to get in some extensive acclimation time with the Mten3. Cindy needed to do some grocery shopping so we combined the two activities for efficiency. She dropped me off at North Naples Park so I could ride while she got the groceries. So my initial 15 minutes of riding my new wheel had me wondering if I made a mistake. I felt so unstable. My feet were as big if not bigger than the case of the EUC. I wobbled around the paths hoping my body would soon adapt to the different physics of the tiny wheel.
It took awhile but it slowly started happening. The wobbles started to fade and I started to get a feel for just how responsive the little wheel could be. Thanks to it’s small diameter, ample power and low pedals I was able to do incredibly tight and slow turns, unlike anything I have been able to do on any EUC. By the end of the ride I was excited about the wheel and the potential fun it has in store for me.
After eating lunch we headed back out, this time with Elsa in tow to hit Rural King and Home Depot. I was frustrated that Home Depot sold no conventional universal bump feed trimmer heads. All they had were the type where you insert individual blades or line into the head which always turned me off as it seemed to be a set up with very high cost consumables. With a conventional bump feed with trimmer line I can buy a spool of line and be good to go for a year. Well my desire to get the fence trimming done pushed me into buying a head that used plastic “blades” which seemed like a good choice with the thick vegetation I was dealing with.
Just getting the new head installed was a struggle, just because I didn’t see something obvious in removing the old beat up head. Once I got the new bladed replacement in place I headed back out to the fence line to do battle. I had no idea how these blades would hold up to the beating of a wire fence. I bought an extra pack of blades just in case.
I have to say I was very surprised by the results. Despite being subjected to extremely brutal conditions, the three original blades held up to around two hours of abuse. I wish I could say the same about my hands and forearms. My hands were tingling and numb from running the whacker that much over two days. I am pretty sure in total I put in at least four hours of weed whacking over the weekend. Now that I have the fence line knocked down I want to follow up by spraying RoundUp as well to retard the growth of new vegetation along the fence. This is something I used to do but stopped when we had the chickens free ranging the entire yard. Now that they are more restricted it’s time to do it again.
Late in the afternoon I got to turn my attention to my problematic CR-10. I tried another solution for my filament feed problem, once again choosing a simpler solution involving installing a higher quality collet fitting to hold the feed tube in place. I was very happy that this seemed to fix my issue for real this time. I am in the middle of a 20 hour print that ran all night without a problem.
My weekend wrapped up with a fantastic Eagles win against the hated Cowboys, in Dallas no less. The first half of the game was very tightly contested with the Birds looking a bit rusty coming off their bye week. However once the second half started things totally went the Eagles way. They simply steamrolled the Cowboys and it felt great.
I am looking forward to a quick three day week followed by a four day weekend.
Last night after work I again spent most of my time messing around with two of my three 3D printers. My CR-10 once again is problematic. I tried a pretty simple solution that appeared to have actually worked. I even shot a video documenting my success. Of course a few minutes after I finished the video the problem returned. I suppose I will need to dedicate more time over the weekend trying to fix the problem, again.
I also did some more testing of my new Dagoma Neva. The printer definitely has some shortcomings. I tried to print some flexible filament last night and couldn’t even get the print to start. However later I was able to print a very nice version of the ornate cross model. It actually might have been the cleanest version yet. For the money, I think the Neva is a nice printer as long as you are able to work within it’s confines.
This weekend I have a lot of things I want to accomplish. I have a couple Tacoma projects, mowing, weeding, whacking, 3D printer work, and other normal chores. On the fun side of the to do list we hopefully will get out to see Justice League and the Gotway Mten3 EUC I ordered like a month and a half ago is supposed to finally show up. It should be an action packed two days.
Yesterday was quite a busy day as we were scheduled to go pick up the Coleman trailer Cindy bought on Saturday. When we got there we got a full orientation from a nice guy named Tony. During that walk through Cindy spotted a few more minor issues that they addressed immediately which was great.
So during the paperwork signing portion of the deal where Cindy was pitched the merits of a $5000 plus extended warranty (which she declined), I decided I wanted to look in their store for information about what type of hitch I would need for the Tacoma. My truck has the factory tow package so I figured I would just need to slap a ball into the hitch receiver, buy a wiring harness and I would be good to go. Boy, was I wrong.
I had their parts guy go out to my truck to see what I had to determine what I need to tow the 26 foot, 5600 pound Coleman trailer. It was determined I needed a lot more than I expected. I needed an electric brake controller to interface with the trailer brakes, something I stupidly assumed would come with the factory towing package. However the big expense was the hitch itself. I was told I would need a weight distribution style hitch based on the size of the truck. Evidently these things are expensive, over $600 just for the part, not to mention the labor to install them. The grand total for the quote was just over $1000 which was way more than I first imagined.
The thing was, even though I was not going to be the one towing the trailer to the house I felt like I HAD to get the hitch installed immediately. The reason for that is when installing this type of hitch it has to matched/adjusted to work with the trailer it is being used to tow so the truck/trailer need to be at the same location. If the trailer was towed to the house prior to me getting the hitch installed it would be a logistical nightmare to get it installed at a later date requiring someone else to tow the trailer back to the RV place to do the work. So the short story was I decided to just bite the bullet and get it done.
Getting the hitch done wound up consuming close to two hours of additional time but at least the work got done. I felt bad as the guy that was towing the trailer for us had to sit tight until we were ready. We beat him to the house by a few minutes and then helped guide him into the backyard. Getting through the front gate was pretty tight but he managed to get it done without incident. Cindy helped guide the trailer to it’s preferred spot that has the highest elevation in the back yard.
So I had to leave almost immediately afterward to go to my credit union to reopen my home equity line for withdrawals. I had a 2:30 appointment, or so I thought. About 2PM my cell phone rang. It was from the closer assigned to do my paperwork. She said I had a 1:30 appointment and was wondering where I was. I told her I was told it was 2:30. Well evidently somebody got their signals crossed. I apologized and told her I would get there asap. Signing the papers literally took all of five minutes. I hopped back in the car and hurried home to help Cindy with her initial trailer prep.
Cindy was cleaning/decorating. My main concern was the technical/logistical aspects like power and internet. At first I thought we might have to use one of the generators to supply power to the trailer. The trailer comes with a 50amp service plug/cable. At the RV store I was given one 30amp to 50amp adapter and bought a 15amp to 50amp adapter as well. I decided I should try the most convenient option first which was extending house power from the small shed out to the RV.
I used two of my heavy duty extension cords and the 15a to 50a adapter to connect to the cable included with the RV. Instantly Cindy said the AC in the RV kicked on but I told her to turn it off for now, unsure if the overall draw would be too high for the circuit.
We used the house power to do the less power intensive things like open the slide out and extend the awning. After awhile I was ready to see if we could run the rooftop AC unit as well, the biggest power hungry device in the RV. We were both happy when the cool air started blowing out at a high velocity and the power stayed on. I went out and felt both extension cords to verify that they were not even slightly warm to the touch. The RV ran all evening with the AC on without issue which was great.
I also brought out one of my monitor/tv’s from the house to test out the built in omnidirectional antenna in the Coleman. It worked immediately with no adjustment, pulling in over 15 channels over the air which was cool. Wi-fi reception in the trailer was surprisingly strong. I could connect to both the coop and house wifi routers without problem. I even set up one of the Amazon Echo Dots in the RV and it worked just fine.
With the slide out extended the interior of the RV is really impressive. It just feels comfortable, modern, and clean. Elsa really seemed content out there for some reason. She loved sleeping on one of the couches. The unobstructed view from the backyard of the east and west is actually quite pretty at both sunrise and sunset. I spent a lot of time out there with Cindy just chilling but she also spent some time out there by herself, enjoying her new personal space. It was a very long day but a memorable one all the same.
Today would have been my mom’s 70th birthday. I am sure she would have felt the same way about it as I do my upcoming 50th, only 20 years more perturbed about it.
So just like last year, I spent my observed Veterans Day holiday working myself into the ground, ironically doing so at the top of a 20 foot ladder. It was once again time for my once a year trimming of pretty much all of the trees on the property, consisting mostly of cabbage palms. Last year I thought I would be smart and rent a longer ladder from Home Depot to do the work so I could safely get higher into the trees. However the ladder weighed so much that I soon said f it and went back to my lightweight aluminum 20 footer. This year I didn’t waste the money on a rental.
That is not to say that I couldn’t have used a longer ladder. There were a handful of trees where I was perilously close to the top rung. In those situations I “anchored” myself by either grabbing onto an uncut branch or literally hugging the tree with one arm while I cut branches with the sawz-all with the other.. With as many years as I have been doing this chore I really am surprised there has not been a serious fall. I have been tempting fate regularly.
So trimming all of the trees took all morning. After a refueling lunch I headed back out for phase two which involves picking up the hundreds of branches/fronds and assorted debris and hauling it back to the fill pit one full truck load at a time. When I had the 99 Tacoma I used to be able to take back more with each load since I would overload the bed to the point where stuff was spilling out over the roof since the paint was already a mess. With my 2016 I try to keep everything touching the plastic in the composite bed and no painted surfaces.
So I finally dumped my last load around 4 PM. It was a grueling day but I had already ideas about one thing I wanted to get done before the sun went down. I hopped on the tractor and mowed the EXTREMELY high grass/brush (4-5 feet in some spots) beyond the perimeters of the fence. My property actually extends a good 100 feet beyond the rear fence line. Dumping all the debris in the pit gave me a first hand look of how jungle like the grass out in that area was. Mowing it on the tractor was an excruciatingly slow process, requiring me to go at a sub-turtle pace and going back over the same spot multiple times.
As I was doing this the chute cover on the mower deck broke off. Not having the cover actually helped make mowing more efficient as grass was able to shoot out of the deck unencumbered. However it also turned into an organic matter shower. My exposed sweaty skin quickly became corn dogged in dirt, sand, and grass. When I finally went inside as the sun was setting I had absolutely no doubt that I made the most of the day.
When I awoke on Saturday I assumed my body would just be destroyed, as it normally is after tree trimming day. I had some soreness but nothing close to what I expected. My only explanation has been my recent regimen of taking CBD oil which is basically hemp oil. A gym buddy of mine said he and his girlfriend started taking it a little while ago and it has made a dramatic difference in how they both feel on a day to day basis, especially aches and pains. I have been taking three drops in the morning and at night under my tongue. Google it, so far I highly recommend it and no, it doesn’t get you high. There is no THC in the oil but if you look at the benefits the list is pretty staggering.
So Saturday morning I again was on the tractor, this time for a couple hours mowing down the rear half of the property, something I should not have to do again for awhile thanks to wet season being behind us. The lack of a deck chute cover again made the grass cut very well but again I was entombed in organic matter by the time I was finished.
After I changed shirts and got cleaned up a bit Cindy and I headed out to somewhere I never expected to be going, to a RV dealer. For almost as long as I have known Cindy she has had this thing where she wants her own space or as popularly referred to nowadays, a “she shed”. She at one point tried converting our smaller shed into such a space but it was too small to be of much practical use.
So for awhile her idea was to buy a true shed and then customize it. It was not all that practical of an idea for several reasons. I really didn’t want to do the labor that would be required to convert an empty shell to a livable space. Plus any shed that would be big enough for such use would be a minimum of 10 feet wide would likely not fit through any openings I have in my fencing. So a week or two ago Cindy came up with an alternative, buying a RV trailer.
I have no idea how much time she spent online looking at endless options, it had to be well into the double digits. She looked at new/used trailers of various lengths. After all that research she finally narrowed it down to looking at a new trailer because of the better financing options and she wanted to look at Campers World, a national chain that had all of the models she wanted to see in person.
We dealt with a nice woman named Allison who just moved to Florida from New Hampshire. She sold cars for six years up north and had only been selling RV’s for less than a month. She didn’t have an extensive knowledge of the RVs but it didn’t really matter since Cindy had written down exactly what she wanted to see ahead of time.
I was sort of an innocent bystander through most of the process. This was entirely a Cindy thing. I threw out my opinion here and there. My main concern was size, the 30 foot plus models on her list were too heavy to be towed by my Tacoma and too expensive for Cindy’s budget.
There was a cool Coleman unit we went into pretty early in the process. It was a 26 footer that was light enough to tow, spacious, loaded with tech, and at a number that could be worked with. Once I saw that one my interest in others waned. Cindy and the salesgirl went in and out of a dozen more models but I got pretty burned out on it, they all blurred together. Cindy really liked the Coleman as well and decided she would work numbers on it. She already had a preapproved loan from USAA for an amount way higher than she was willing to spend so it was just a matter of getting the numbers nailed down.
The negotiation process was nearly identical to a car dealership with more egregious add ons. When we were out on the lot the girl quoted us the list price for the trailer. When she brought us the sales order she said the actual normal price was 10K more and it was DISCOUNTED to what she told us in the lot. In addition there was nearly another $3000 added in for “freight” and “prep” things that were not mentioned prior. All of a sudden the trailer costs several thousand more than we had both already established in our head.
So of course we would not roll over and accept that silliness. We basically negotiated almost all of those additional charges back off the deal. Cindy was happy with the final number we got but I think we probably still left some money on the table, oh well. So we went through the paperwork and set some tentative dates. I don’t have a trailer hitch on the Tacoma (it has the tow package however) and we both preferred if the trailer was delivered initially by a pro. If things work out as planned the Coleman 2605RL should be parked in the back yard behind the chicken coop by the end of the week.
Cindy of course was very excited. When we got home we checked out the best route to get the trailer on the property. The rarely used front corner gate will allow almost a straight shot into the rear yard. The side gate we normally use has too many turns to be able to get there more than likely. Of course Cindy has a million ideas in her head about what she wants do with the trailer. I was excited for her although a week ago I had absolutely no inclination we would be setting up a RV at the house.
When we got back I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to make an unconventional EUC ride, to the grocery store. Since our new Publix is only three miles from the house it was a very easy ride. Once I arrived I lifted the heavy wheel into the shopping cart and grabbed the couple boxes of Pop Tarts I was looking for along with a small chocolate milk. Of course I got a lot of WTF looks but it was fun getting there and back one a single wheel.
Saturday night we relaxed while watching John Wick : Chapter 2. The movie overloaded on up close and personal kill shots. There are so many bad guys mowed down it seemed they ran out of ways to have them killed creatively. The movie seemed about 45 minutes longer than it needed to be but it kept me entertained for the most part. I’ll give it a B.
As further testament to CBD oil, I was able to get out and run Sunday morning without any major difficulty. I put in another 13 laps around the track with the idea that I need the mileage in case we decide to do the Thanksgiving run again this year. The run Sunday went fine, feeling slow and steady.
We went out for a PTV ride mid-morning to the Greenway, a place we haven’t ridden since well before the hurricane. We met up with Katie and Daniel there. I could see a number of snapped off trees but the pathway and boardwalks seemed to be in tip top shape. While we were there we got to witness an unexpected spectacle of a bunch of young kids flipping off the bridge into the river some 15 feet below. We filmed a bunch of it. They seemed to be looking to get some traction in social media with the stunts, having someone film it for them as well.
Over the weekend I was firing off prints on both of my 3D printers, taking advantage of my getting the CR-10 back online. I printed a large, intricate 3D skull for Katie on the CR-10 and a cool Eagles coaster for me on the Finder. I am in the middle of a another 24hour + long print on the CR-10 that appears to be going well.
It’s satisfying to be able to get my issues resolved with the printer. It’s ironic that in order to do so I have uninstalled several of the “improvements” that I thought I needed. Sometimes the “K.I.S.S.” approach to things just makes more sense.
The majority of my Sunday was pretty laid back. I figured I earned the leisure time with the energy and effort I had expended thus far. Since the Eagles were off this week I put some of that time into WoW and enjoyed it as always.
So a week or so ago my dad reached out to me pitching the idea of my coming up there for my birthday next month. The reason was this will be my 50th year on the planet, something I would honestly be fine let pass by like any other day. Anyone that knows me knows that aging is something I typically have no interest in celebrating. However in this case it was more about the appeal of getting to hang out with my family and the animals for a couple days. It’s also fun to expose myself to true winter-like weather for brief periods of time.
I was amazed at how cheaply I was able to secure a flight via Spirit Airlines who evidently recently started flying Fort Myers to Pittsburgh. My TOTAL fare was something like $98. Not only is it cheap but it’s a direct flight with no layovers. Now of course there is a catch. Spirit nails you heavily for luggage fees, even for carry on items so it is likely my total cost will be more than double the base fare, but even so, it’s still affordable.
I also seem to be making some headway into getting my insurance claim upped to more closely match the estimates I have received. The adjuster I talked to on Tuesday said they would agree to pay the difference in their initial offer and my estimates but I had to send them signed contracts for the work on the roof and the pool cage. It was another annoying hoop to jump through. I was further annoyed when they said the supplemental checks would have both my name and the contractors name on them meaning in total there would be three different checks with each check requiring a secondary co-signer.
I guess I can understand why this practice exists. Putting both names on a check is a way to cut down on fraud from individuals that would otherwise cash the check and never do the repairs or do them in a half ass way to save money. On the other hand I feel it is my home, my insurance policy that I pay the premiums for. I would rather be cut a check that I deposit in my account which I dole out funds from as I see fit.
I am off tomorrow for Veterans Day. Just like last year I am going to consume that day high up in the trees, doing my hated annual chore of branch trimming. The task takes a greater physical toll on me each and every year. I feel both dread for the work but anticipation for it’s completion. If there is one bright spot about Hurricane Irma was it did some of the branch trimming for me ahead of time and even removed several trees from the equation altogether.
I ordered another 3D printer, a Dagoma Neva. It is a delta 3D printer, a different type than either the FlashForge Finder and CR-10 I already own. After fighting with my CR-10 for over a month the Neva, which I just happened to stumble across on a 3D printing YouTube video, was very appealing.
It makes 3D printing extremely simple with a single button on the unit. The circular build area is larger than the Finder with a 7 inch by 8 inch capacity. The print platform is stationary so there is none of the bed leveling hassle that plagues many 3D printers.
I initially will of course play with it at home but I have ideas of bringing it to the office so I can be extra productive, creating 3D objects as I do my normal 8-5 duties, we’ll see.