Last night Katie stopped by to pick up her mail and some packages that were sent to the house. She brought her two dogs with so it quickly became a crazy scene in the back yard when Elsa joined them. Bowser and Elsa were running around like maniacs. When I came out to see them Bowser charged me excitedly at full speed. If I did not quickly spread my legs apart he would have taken me out at the knees, he is a big moose.
After they ran themselves tired we hung on the pool deck catching up with Katie. She is showing some interest in living a healthier lifestyle which of course Cindy embraced enthusiastically. I found for myself that actually thinking more about my health and wellness was a very gradual thing that started kicking in my mid to late 20’s. Over time I just slowly started changing my eating habits. Did you know that up until my late 30’s I used to have apple sauce with every meal? I used it as a condiment, mixing it with every food imaginable. One day I realized it was basically just pure sugar and little else and I phased it out. I have repeated this process many times since, eliminating formal staples of my diet as I became more conscious of my eating.
Of course the biggest change was when I decided to become pescatarian shortly after Ali and I separated. But even that change wasn’t all that awful. Once you get past the initial feeling of missing that food you really adjust quickly to not having it, at least I did.
Cindy busted ass on Friday trying to get a lot of chores done so us being gone Saturday wouldn’t be a big deal. I set the alarm for Saturday morning so we could get up and get the chicken clean up done before rolling out. We dropped Elsa off at Ali’s so she could spend the day with Sadie. Since Elsa stayed with them during our last road trip she is very comfortable there and we feel good knowing she will be well taken care of.
The drive across state in the Ioniq was easy. The smart cruise control the car has makes highway travel simple and safe. You set the desired speed and the cushion you want behind other vehicles. If you encounter another vehicle the Ioniq will slow down as needed to maintain that distance. If you swing out in the passing lane it automatically will accelerate once it sees the path is clear. The only unpleasant portion of the journey was the last 10-20 miles where we were engulfed in typical stop and go traffic on I-95. I still don’t see how people can deal with that day in and day out.
We found the college where Maker Faire was being held without issue. We swung into a nearby parking garage with flat rate $5 parking which is reasonable. For some reason I assumed the Maker Fare was indoors, it was not. Only a couple of exhibits were indoors which was fine, although I was glad I dressed temperature appropriate, it was 86 degrees when we left.
One of the things that actually got me interested in going to the event was I saw Prusa 3D printers was going to be there, including the founder, Joe Prusa. Well the Prusa tent was right near the one entrance. They had two MK3’s (the next printer I want) printing models as well as a bunch of other examples of things that it printed sitting on the tables. We talked to the guy working the stand for awhile and I said I that I thought Joe was supposed to be there?
The guy pointed behind me and there he was. Joe is really a big deal in the 3D printing world. His Prusa i3 design has been knocked off by many Chinese companies. Even though he is from the Czech Republic you would think English is his first language. Cindy and I talked with him for awhile and even showed him the big 3D Widowmaker rifle we made. I told him I hoped they would have a couple MK3’s available for sale but sadly that was not the case. Joe did say that the backlog for them is less than it was. It was taking 3 months to get one, it’s now down to a month and a half. 🙂
That was a great way to start the event and the good vibe continued throughout our time there. The people working the booths were really friendly and engaging. They seemed very excited to share information about the stuff they are so passionate in creating. We saw creativity in many different ways, it was great. We finished up with a good lunch at one of the food trucks parked outside the venue. Cindy and I both really liked the event and I would be happy to go back again in the future.
So we still had some time left and had thrown the EUC’s in the back of the car, just in case. We walked back to the garage and suited up for a quick ride down to the Bayside area, a very happening shopping/food district by the water. It was part of the Port of Miami so we got a good view of several massive cruise ships get ready to depart. We only rode for maybe a half hour. It was Cindy’s first time back on one wheel in a couple months so we didn’t want to push it too far.
The drive back was front loaded with traffic, this time getting out of Miami. Once we got back onto Alligator Alley it was smooth sailing. Elsa had a great time at Ali’s and didn’t seem in a rush to leave. We actually wound up taking Sadie back with us since Ali was going out Saturday night and was planning to be gone a good portion of Sunday. We got home before 6PM, it was a testament to just how much you can experience in a span of 10 hours.
On Saturday night we watched Atomic Blonde, one of those movies that was interesting to me but not enough to lay out theater level pricing to see. If you are looking for a good splattering of nudity, action, plot twists, and just high energy, this film will do nicely. The ending just nudged into A- territory for me.
So my Saturday run got transplanted to Sunday. Once again the temps in the low 70’s with humidity made the session feel uncomfortable very early. I may as well get used to it as there are another 7 months of such weather ahead of me.
Cindy’s big vinyl cutter showed up late last week and she has been testing it out, trying to learn the ins and outs of it. Although it is without a doubt not a high end cutter in fit and finish, it does work. In some ways it works better than the Cameo 3, it cuts fast and it’s simplicity is in some ways more appealing. The software that is included also isn’t as bad as I first thought it could be. It makes certain types of projects really easy to do.
My 3D EUC store got off to a nice little start, selling three stands in the first 24 hours. One of them is going all the way to Belgium. The customer is paying as much to ship the stand there as the stand costs. It will be interesting to see if demand will continue.
Yesterday afternoon I dedicated a couple hours to sprinkler replacement. In total I pulled out nine Rain Bird sprinklers that had stopped oscillating. It was pretty easy to tell which ones weren’t working as there was a narrow swath of green surrounded by brown. The Hunter sprinklers I replaced them with are supposed to be some of the best so I hope I get many years of trouble free performance out of them. Despite it only being April 8th it was quite warm in the yard mid-afternoon.
After returning inside I didn’t feel guilty just geeking out in WoW for a few hours. It’s hard to describe exactly why the virtual second universe I exist in is so appealing to my brain but it’s been my escape for 12 years and counting.
So yesterday a huge box arrived. It was the large format vinyl cutter that we ordered last week for Cindy. It has a 34 inch width capability and looks like a plotter that is used to make blue prints. The price of the unit was not a ton more than the Cameo that Cindy has been having so much fun with.
So last night Cindy and I worked on putting the unit together which basically meant assembling the stand and attaching the cutter to it. It became very apparent that this was a made in China product with sparse directions that are written in poor English. It took some time to interpret them correctly but eventually we got everything together and feeling solid although it’s reliance on self tapping metal screws is a bit odd.
So once it was together we attached it to the computer and I installed the software. The installation went smoothly but getting the cutter recognized in the software did not. It just wouldn’t work. When I went online to look for answers I instead found other people complaining of a similar problem, they never could get the cutter to talk to the software and many of them wound up returning the cutter for that reason, great….
I went as far as to install the software a second time on Cindy’s laptop and had identical failures. I was about ready to bag it for the night but decided to dig around a little more. In the connection properties for the cutter I had selected USB which seemed logical since it was hooked up via, USB. However when you would try to detect the cutter it would just throw a cryptic error. Well just for the heck of it I decided to set it to serial and picked the COM port the driver created. Bam, it worked. Cindy and I were relieved that we got basic communication established before going to bed. It’s no wonder so many people returned it. If it took me an hour or more of futzing to find the undocumented resolution, the likelihood of the average person doing the same are very slim. I look forward to see what Cindy is able to do on this monster machine.
We have an unexpected road trip that popped up a couple days ago. I just happened to get a notice on Facebook that the Miami Maker Faire was this weekend. Maker Fair was started by Make Magazine, which I get, several years ago. It is all about creators that do so in various ways including robotics, 3d printing, fabrication, RC, and much more. I threw out the idea to Cindy and she was all in.
So we are making a day trip of it, pulling out tomorrow morning relatively early and returning in the evening. Ali and Shuggs agreed to watch Elsa for the day so it should work out perfectly. As much as I enjoy my normal weekend routines it’s nice to abandon them here and there.
So from being just an idea on my head Tuesday evening, 36 hours later my 3D EUC store is pretty much ready to open. In that amount of time I have installed/bought the Pro Version of the WordPress store plug in, bought, installed, and configured a SSL certificate on the site, created a Stamps.com account to make shipping easy, and have had four of my five printers spitting out parts. Of course all of this is on the assumption that people want to buy the stuff we are producing, hopefully that assumption is correct. If you want to see the store you can go here.
For payment options, I have two. People can either use Paypal or a credit card directly which is sort of cool. I was able to set up the credit card processing using my Square account which I already had. So this will be an interesting experiment to see how it all works out. Obviously this needs to be a positive cash flow operation. I’ve already got to sell probably 20 stands just to break even on what I spent to get it all set up.
Last night I installed the cargo bars for the Segway I2 that I ordered last week. The bars are extremely light weight yet feel very strong at the same time. Installation of them required removal of three screws, replaced with three longer screws and a washer. It should make transporting the transporter much more doable for a single person. Of course I documented it.
Ever since I started 3D printing stands that Mathias designed for my electric unicycles I have gotten positive comments about them from the community online, including interest in possibly purchasing them. I have been printing out some updated designs, replacing some of the originals I made. At this point I have almost a half dozen spares.
Well last night out of the blue I decided to look at store plug ins for WordPress, which is what I use for eucarmy.com. I quickly landed on something named WP Easy Cart. Even the free version had everything I would need. The software seems to be the right mix of simple to set up for basic needs while being able to add features if you are building a real storefront. I was quickly able to add a few listings and allow customers to pay for the items with Paypal.
One of the trickiest things to deal with is shipping costs. For that reason I am only shipping to the continental US for now. Based on how things go, and demand, if any, I may ship elsewhere if I can find a way to do it with reasonable cost.
Like I said this is entirely experimental. Cindy thinks there are a number of things that I have 3D printed that could be sold and she has been making a ton of sellable items with her Cameo 3. I guess we’ll see how it goes. As I left the house this morning I had three of my five printers cranking out EUC stand parts.
When I was driving back from the gym yesterday I found myself getting annoyed, as I often do with moronic behavior by other drivers. I randomly started singing an obscenity filled song in tune with what was playing on the radio. Once I got back I remembered how my dash cam records audio. Last night I ripped off those segments of the footage to hopefully add to a dash cam compilation in the future. I played the clips for Cindy, it made her laugh out loud, hard.
So my three day weekend flew by as is often the case. I was off Friday to take Cindy for her colonoscopy. I felt badly for her having to undergo the same disgusting prep I had only a few weeks prior. She did better getting the Suprep down. She refrigerated it and drank it through a straw, two tricks I did not try. Of course it’s disgusting no matter what you do but it seems those two changes allowed her to get the stuff down faster than I could.
Her procedure was two hours later than mine so we had most of the morning at home. I tried to be proactive and got out to do the chicken chores and the weeding around the house to give me one less thing to worry about over the weekend. On the way to the endoscopy center I grabbed a coffee to help tide me over since we were going to eat lunch after Cindy’s appointment. I spent most of the time in the waiting room playing Hearthstone on the iPad while it was getting done. It helped the time pass by quickly.
When they said Cindy was out and in the recovery room I went back and hung with her. She was crying which is not an unusual reaction when coming out of anesthesia. There were no polyps removed but a couple biopsies were done to hopefully nail down the source of some long standing issues Cindy has had. We got out of there about 2:30 and headed straight to BurgerFi, the same place we ate after my colonoscopy. They have some amazing quinoa burgers.
While we were sitting there we got quickly annoyed by a bunch of young guys that were getting ready to leave. Well it was one in particular that annoyed me, the idiot kid with a shitty old BMW that apparently has no exhaust on the car. It was RIDICULOUSLY loud and not in a cool way, it sounded horrible. He was rev’ing it in the parking lot repeatedly. I gave them some stink eye and was a couple more revs away from confronting them about it directly. I already had my speech made up in my head where I would inform them I was going to ask them to knock it off nicely, once. After that it wasn’t going to be very nice. Thankfully they left but you could hear the car that sounded like a lawn mower on nitrous from a mile away.
When we got home Cindy was wiped out and took a nap. I continued my pro-active mindset and hopped on the tractor to mow. It was an ab-lib mowing session that did not follow the conventional and systematic path around the property. Because of the arid conditions there was only growth in certain patches of the yard so I just zig zagged around trying to knock them down so an overall uniform look was returned to the property.
After I did that I finally decided to take a serious look at the sprinklers. From the looks of the grass it was clear some were not operating correctly. I ran each zone for a few minutes to observe their performance. A bunch of them were jammed and no longer oscillating. I made the mental commitment to address it sooner rather than later. What is the point of having a sprinkler system that is ineffective?
Saturday morning I headed to the track to get my run in. There was a dramatic difference in the temperature compared to only one week prior. Last week it was a brisk 45 degrees, on Saturday it was 70 and humid. The higher temps definitely made the 30 minute session feel longer.
So doing the work around the house Friday cleared the slate for me to do, you guessed it, more work on Saturday. Much like the decision to finally address the sprinkler issues I also decided it was time to reapply the white paint to the coop roof, an annual effort to make the coop not absorb as much heat.
From ground level I could tell a lot of paint was stripped off by Irma but I couldn’t tell just how bad until I got up on the ladder. It looked terrible which I was surprised by because last year I went all out and applied a full coat of primer followed by a couple brushed on layers of paint versus spray paint. My extra work seemed to make no difference whatsoever, there was paint peeling up everywhere. At first I was knocking loose the big chips with my hand but that immediately caused another issue. The chickens thought paint chips were snacks. I had to chase them away and then had Cindy help clean up what we could and rinse the rest into the dirt.
The old paint still had lots of loose spots but I just said hell with it and slapped the primer on heavy. Next year I’ll have to do better surface prep with my Shop-Vac on the roof with me. Although it has not rained in several weeks, right on cue it started to rain about 20 minutes after I finished the primer. Luckily the rain did not appear to cause much damage. During the afternoon I also went around and marked each problem sprinkler with a flag. Right now I have a total of eight that seem problematic. I bought Hunter sprinkler heads to replace the Rain Birds that are in the ground right now. Hunter has a good reputation, the Rain Bird’s I installed originally just jam up far too often in our environment.
Saturday afternoon I also got around to doing an updated tour of our chicken coop set up. It has now been around three years since we built the coop. There have been a lot of changes and modifications since that time as we addressed problems and learned what worked best for us. If you have a spare 20 minutes to chill out, check it out.
Saturday night we watched a Netflix rental that Cindy wanted, Megan Leavey. It is a true life story of a woman who served as a Marine dog handler. She was deployed over in Iraq/Afghanistan and was responsible along with her dog Rex for sniffing out many bombs and munition stockpiles. She was injured over there and received a Purple Heart. Anyway the movie is touching and pulled at my emotions as most any animal related story will do. I’d give it a wet eyed A-.
I did a mod to my CR-10 over the weekend, adding a 12 inch LED light to the top of the frame to provide great lighting for the printer. When I relocated the CR-10 to that side of the room my lighting was pretty weak, now the light that is normally used for under cabinet illumination, lights up the base of the printer like a baseball stadium.
Sunday was Easter and April Fool’s day at the same time. I don’t recall the two ever aligning in the past. Easter has always been the minor league of holidays for me. Hell you don’t even get a day off for it.
We got out on the wheels mid-morning, combining it with my need to drop off used oil at AutoZone. The ride included long boring straightaways on sidewalk combined with some fun bike path wheeling along with some off roading as well.
Cindy is really getting adept at controlling the big I2 Segway. The wheel is quite capable on and off road. During one part of the ride she swung down into a low area with high grass and the machine didn’t miss a beat. It has a ton of power.
Before our Easter dinner I was again out with a ladder at the coop, applying six cans of plastic compatible spray paint to the roof. Just like the primer, I laid it on thick. It will be interesting to see how it holds up.
Our official Easter celebration was very small. Cindy made a nice dinner but only her mom could join us so we only took up a small portion of the dining room table. Cindy’s mom is very socially active so we got up to speed on the in’s and outs of the local senior singles scene. There is no way I could imagine myself being anywhere close to as social as her mom is at that age but she seems to really enjoy it. It’s all about finding and doing things that make you happy, regardless of your age.
So I have a short week, taking off tomorrow to take Cindy for a colonoscopy. Getting the procedure seems to be in vogue right now as I also have a couple friends that recently had it done as well. The experience of the procedure is still fresh in my mind so I know Cindy has two unfun days ahead of her starting with today’s all liquid diet prep. Her procedure is a couple hours later in the day than mine was so she will be starving by tomorrow afternoon.
As I mentioned yesterday, the grass around the house is really drying out and I had mentioned that I was considering relocating some of the back yard sprinklers to better reach the chicken area. Well I walked around last night with my phone firing off the various zones on my Rachio wi-fi sprinkler controller. I found that the two sprinklers I was thinking of moving actually were in a good spot already, just outside the chicken fence line. The issue is the sprinklers themselves.
As I walked around setting off each zone one at a time (each zone has 6-8 sprinklers), I noticed a bunch of them were not oscillating back and forth as they should. I have had this problem a lot over the years and have replaced a number of the Rain Bird sprinkler heads as a result, only to have them do the same thing later. This weekend I am going to look to get a bunch of replacement heads and I won’t be getting the same model this time.
So I have been surprised that I have not gotten anything from AARP since turning 50. Hell many times they start sending you stuff before you even hit the old fart milestone. Well yesterday the wait was over, I received my official AARP card in the mail. Despite what it represents I will still join to take advantage of some of the “senior” discounts. It still seems surreal that I am old enough to qualify for such a thing.
If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would have a chicken coop in the back yard I would have laughed out loud. However today the chickens are an integrated part of our daily lives. Most nights when I get home I go out back to “say hi” to them. Saying hi means checking/cleaning their water, giving them some scratch grains, and their most favorite treat of all, dried meal worms. I just find the way they interact with us to be so funny. It’s endearing to have farm animals trust you to the degree our birds do. Out of our nine birds, only one, Lucy, is skittish around us. All the others we can pet and hold pretty easily.
Speaking of the chickens, the grass in their area is really starting to brown due to winter dry season. I am considering relocating two of the sprinklers that are closer to the house into the the chicken area to prevent it all from dying. I spent a ton of time, effort and money over last summer adding sod to help raise the ground level. I don’t want it all turning to dust. Non-Floridians are normally surprised by just how arid our winters can be, contrasted with the daily rain we receive during wet season.
So yesterday I was at one of our larger remote branches and suddenly heard someone say “Do you have a YouTube channel?” With a surprised look on my face I looked up and saw the question was coming from the security guard. He went on to tell me he is a 3D printer hobbyist like me and has seen a number of my 3d printing videos. He said he heard my voice and recognized it immediately.
We talked a little bit, he has five printers as I do so he is as deep if not deeper into it than I am. It was the first time I have been recognized out in public by a stranger solely from my channel, it was an odd but cool experience at the same time. The channel has now added another 10% to it’s subscriber base in the last couple months and the channel is closing in on 2.5 million views.
So last night when I put the chickens to bed I immediately noticed that Pumpkin was out of place. For some reason she was under the nesting boxes on the floor, in a corner. I picked her up and placed her on the perch but she looked uncomfortable. Cindy just happened to come in the coop while I was doing this. I told her where Pumpkin was and how she looked a bit odd to me.
When we looked at her more it sort of looked like she might need to lay an egg. It is not unusual for the hens to sometimes drop an egg during the night although it doesn’t happen often. Well, with Peaches fall and ultimate death several weeks back I didn’t want to take any chances. I pulled back the netting we cover the nesting boxes with at night and placed Pumpkin in there so she could lay an egg if she needed to and that she would not be at risk of falling if something else was wrong.
This morning when I woke up I looked at the coop camera and saw she was in the box with her head down. I didn’t see any movement so I was concerned. I then used my phone to turn on the light in the coop remotely to see if she moved. I still didn’t see anything however after the coop door opened up automatically at 6:30 I saw she was up and about which brought out a literal sigh of relief. I don’t need any more abrupt chicken deaths in my life.
I made this last night. Katie still has her mail delivered to our house so it can pile up in between her pick ups. The 3D printed mail/key holder should be just the ticket to keep it safe and organized moving forward.
Saturday morning I got up to do my run. I knew it was supposed to be cool but I didn’t expect it to be cold. Well the thermometer in the car read 45 degrees on the way to the track. I was glad I chose a long sleeve t-shirt to run in. It took me at least three laps until my internal body temperature started to regulate against the cold air. The run went as most do, thoughts of quitting early to thoughts of relief as I finish up.
After finishing up chicken chores and weeding we headed out with Elsa to run some errands. One of the things we picked up was a new strainer basket for the pool pump as well as a new hose for the inline chlorinator. It is a hose that connects the chlorinator to the return water feed. I have futzed with this hose several times over the years. It is installed at an odd angle and has a tendency to want to collapse on itself, making it useless. I have replaced it already a few times only to have it collapse shortly thereafter. After some careful manipulation of the support spring and hose I think I finally have it as it should be. Even though it was a very minor repair, I was able to skim some satisfaction from finally getting it installed right.
Cindy and I made plans to go to Seasons 52 to celebrate our five year anniversary. I had tried early in the week to get reservations but the time block between 3:45 and 8:15 was booked solid. We decided we would just go there and hang at the bar to wait for a table.
When we got there at 5:30 the lot was already quite full. We went inside fully prepared to wait, awhile. We did not realize that Seasons 52 had a similar layout to Carrabas. The right side of the house is the formal dining room where the reservations are held. However around the bar on the left there are a booths that are first come first serve. They were all full but there was only one couple waiting for one ahead of us. We wound up sitting down after 10 minutes or less, an unexpected outcome.
Our dinner was very good. Cindy and I both cleaned our plates and the little miniature desert shot glasses we ordered. It was probably one of the more expensive dinners for two but it was a special occasion worthy of the effort. We both left amazed that we somehow managed to complete the dinner in roughly two hours, travel included. Saturday night we watched the Tom Cruise version of The Mummy. It was entertaining enough and had an ending that I definitely did not expect. It was a notch below what I normally get out of Tom’s movies but I’d still go B+ overall.
Sunday was a beautiful morning. Cindy and I went to North Collier Park to ride around, her on the big Segway I2, me on the tiny Mten3. Not far into the ride I heard a loud beep come from my wheel. I looked down and saw the battery indicator was not full, which it normally would be. I quickly realized that I must have forgotten to recharge the wheel after I rode it to Dunkin Donuts a couple weeks ago. The battery level indicator showed about half full so I thought I would be fine for our ride. I babied the wheel for another two or three miles but the beeping soon became incessant so we had to cut the ride short. Even with the abbreviated ride we had fun.
The rest of our Sunday was laid back. I had a number of 3D prints cooking and Cindy was hard core into her crafting. I also got several hours of time in WoW which was fun since the week prior had little time for such activity. We emerged from the weekend happy with how it flowed and looking forward to the next.