So today was my second attempt at commuting to work on an electric unicycle. I did the ride almost exactly a year ago on my Msuper. The Monster is much more suited for this type of ride with a bigger battery and larger tire. When I first started rolling about 6:20AM I felt a bit clunky with a backpack strapped on and full protective gear, including big knee pads. After a few miles I got more comfortable.
When I did this ride before I tried to go almost entirely via sidewalk which is safer but also slower because of the ramps and slowing down at every break in the sidewalk. This time I used a lot more bike lane which allowed me to keep a better pace with the trade off of being in potentially more dangerous proximity of vehicles with their distracted drivers.
The air temps in the lower 60’s felt a bit chilly when combined with the wind but with my long sleeve t-shirt I felt ok. My feet and calves also held up a little better since I had the seat on the Monster which would allow me to sit down for brief periods while riding to give my lower extremities a break.
I was not wearing a GPS on my wrist this time so I didn’t really know how fast I was going but I did have Strava running on my phone. It felt like I maintained good speed but I didn’t realize how good. According to the app I topped out at 28.6mph, the fastest speed I have ever logged on a wheel. I also spent a ton of time at 20+ mph, thanks to using bike lanes.
When I did this ride last year I was 15 minutes late getting to the office, mostly because I had to baby the wheel the last four miles because of a low battery. With the Monster I went as fast as I felt comfortable with the entire time and rolled into the office 5 minutes early with 40% battery remaining. The ride really went as well as it could. The wheel is on the charger now. I plan to ride it to the gym at lunch and then push off for home around 4:30. It’s a great way to start the weekend.
Speaking of the weekend, I am treated to another three day long hiatus thanks to Presidents Day. I have a fair amount of things in my head to get done but for the most part I am hoping to get plenty of chill time. Cindy and I are both looking forward to seeing Black Panther Saturday night.
So now that the personal things are out of the way I wanted to mention the latest case of mass gun violence, this time in our backyard on the other side of the state. As seems to be the case with any of the really horrific incidents, the shooter, an unstable 19 year old, used an AR-15 with plenty of spare clips to mow down almost three dozen students and school staff, killing half of them.
I am almost ashamed to admit that my initial reaction to these incidents is more a feeling of overwhelming frustration than horror. I just am stupefied that our country continues to “say prayers” but take no appreciable action to stop this insanity or at the very least make significant efforts so that this scenario much less likely to take place. Guns are ridiculously easy to obtain and the lack of controls and consistent screening regarding who obtains them is a joke, in my opinion.
I also have yet to hear a compelling argument why normal citizens need the ability to buy assault rifles. Yes, if you have concerns about your personal safety, own a hand gun, that will neutralize any immediate threat. However if you feel the need to own a weapon that has the ability to kill huge amounts of people in very little time I would say you need to take some time to evaluate why this is important to you.
Unfortunately I have seen this scenario repeat like a skipping record so many times that I already know what to expect when it comes to tangible change, nothing……
This weekend felt like one big blur of activity that never really stopped. I hit the track again first thing Saturday for a run that felt more like May than February. The temperature at 6AM was almost 70 degrees and it was humid. I get enough of those temps for 6-7 months out of the year, I wasn’t happy running in the soupy air in the middle of winter. The 13 laps felt like a struggle, just like it normally does.
Cindy did me a favor and knocked out the weeding for me on Friday. She also had the chicken coop clean by the time I got home from the run so it felt odd to not have my normal plate of work to attend to first thing. We instead spent a good portion of Saturday morning doing something fun. We took the MiniPro and my Msuper to the nearby school and parked there. We then road into the adjacent Waterways development to browse through the community yard sale they were holding. We did this last year as well and it was fun. It was again this year. We didn’t buy anything although Cindy did make a lowball offer on a used kayak that the seller didn’t quite bite on.
We stopped home to go grab Elsa and then went to walk a friend’s dog. By the time we got home the morning had been consumed. It was nice to not have work and more work be the start of my Saturday for once.
Saturday afternoon I dug into my automotive project, replacing the headlights on the Prius, again. Instead of throwing another set of halogens in there I spent big bucks and got some LED headlights because they are rated to last much, much longer. Because of the design of the LED bulbs I thought replacement was going to be significantly easier than what I normally have to do. Well as the video depicts, that was not the case but a lot of my pain and suffering was from not paying close enough attention to the directions.
After I uploaded the Prius video, I was finally able to upload another video, my 1000 video, something I actually had recorded over the last two weeks. Yes, believe it or not my YouTube channel actually has 1000 videos in it’s catalog. Like I said this video was a bit different as it was shot over multiple days which gives it a unique and interesting (if I do say so myself) feel. Take a peek at if you have 15 minutes and of course, don’t forget to like and subscribe!
I spent most of Saturday evening in the hobby room. First I rearranged all of my printers. The big CR-10 had to be moved because the workbench height was a potential problem with the shelves above it. On a high print the CR-10 print head would actually hit the shelf. I also wanted to make room for the new printer I was sent by GearBest. So after a lot of shuffling I got around to opening and setting up my AnyCubic I3 Mega.
Unlike my last printer, the Ender 2, which was a kit with dozens of parts whcih required 3-4 hours of assembly time, the AnyCubic printer was a dream. I had to attach two parts with 8 screws and I was basically done. Within a half hour I was ready to do my first test print which turned out perfectly. I really like the new printer for many reasons which I outline in the video.
So Sunday morning we “slept in” until 7:20 or so. As is often the case I put my clothes on and headed out to tend to the chickens. I opened the door to their run and they came scurrying out full of energy as normal. I then walked over to the coop itself and opened up the doors to begin the unfun job of daily clean up. I froze in my tracks when on the floor to the left of the perch I saw a motionless chicken. I felt a rush of emotion as I quickly realized it was Peaches. I looked closer to verify she was indeed dead which she clearly was.
Cindy came out to help me but I instead had to yell to her that Peaches was dead. She gasped in horror, feeling the same weight of shock that I was already bearing. I felt terrible sadness as I bent down to pick up her stiff body and carried it outside. I laid her on top of the chicken tractor run temporarily. “What the hell happened?” ran through my mind. I then realized that although the palm rats have knocked 7 of my 8 coop cams offline, the interior camera did still work. I knew I would be able to see what happened.
It just seemed surreal to me that the bird would be dead, she was acting 100% normal on Saturday, energetic, and looking to be first in line as always. However there had been one odd thing about Peaches in the last few weeks. For some reason she would not go up on the perch with the other birds on her own. Instead she would set up over on the nesting boxes. I never thought much of it more than just one of the weird quirks chickens have, they have a lot of them. Each night when I put them to bed I would simply pick Peaches up, put her on the perch and she would be fine.
After cleaning up the coop Cindy and I went through the somber and sad task of burying Peaches. As I dug a couple foot deep grave with tears in my eyes I thought about all the funny moments Peaches brought to us. Like I said she was always first in line when it came to food. She followed us around like a disciple. When Cindy would put down plates of yogurt and crushed shells Peaches would hop right into the middle of the plate to try to keep the other birds from getting at it.
She also was the first chicken that actually found the lawn mower as an opportunity instead of something to be feared. She would follow me around, closely, so close that at times I had to shoosh her away so I wouldn’t run into her. She learned that the freshly cut grass was an opportunity to harvest bugs by the bushel. She always made me smile. As we laid her still body, wrapped in burlap into the grave it was a very sad moment.
So after I returned inside we reviewed the coop footage. She was fine until right around 3AM. She started having issues balancing on the perch and then all of a sudden fell backwards. Once she hit the ground there was only a second or two of movement and then stillness. It was imagery that I didn’t enjoy seeing.
The video also brought immediate guilt. Seeing her lose balance made me wonder if the reason she was standing on the nesting boxes was because she felt unstable for awhile. I wondered that if I left her off the perch if she would still be alive. We also wonder if it wasn’t whatever was making her wobble that killed her but the fall itself. She could have very easily broken her neck depending on how she went down, which gave me yet another avenue of guilt. We had talked a bit in the past about making the perch lower to facilitate older birds. If the fall wasn’t so far she may have survived it. So yea, I felt and still feel pretty responsible for the whole thing.
Each time we have lost chickens there has been some sort of immediate response to hopefully avoid the scenario in the future. When the racoon broke into the chicken tractor and killed our first three hens I immediately double latched both side doors of the tractor so they were coon-proof. That attack also was the basis for us building the new coop to be as predator proof as it is. When Cocoa was taken by a coyote we installed a new security DVR system that gave full view of the coop perimeter so we would know of any weak spots. With Peaches demise we once again took action.
During the afternoon I cut a full foot of the height of the perch. The birds now are sitting at two feet or less off the ground which hopefully makes a fall less treacherous. It has the side effect of possibly making cleanup less of a mess as excrement has less time to accelerate before hitting the rubber mats below. I hope the changes help avoid this scenario playing out again. The image of Peaches still on the floor ran through my head all day long.
We tried to keep rolling along in the day instead of dwelling on the sadness. We hit Home Depot and Sam’s Club. I had been at Sam’s Saturday to grab a UPS for my hobby room shuffle. When I was there I saw they had huge 32 inch Samsung curved monitors for $219, super cheap. I joked to Cindy on Saturday that maybe once I get my tax refund I would grab a couple. Well when I did my bills Sunday morning I saw my tax refund was already in my account, which was amazing since it was only submitted a few days prior. So anyway, I grabbed two of these monster monitors.
During the afternoon in addition to reworking the perch I also drug out the gas pressure washer. Cindy had cleaned the lower areas of the pool cage but can’t reach the high stuff. Since the cage is due to be rescreened in the next week or two I wanted to make sure it got done before that happens. It was about an hour of less than fun work but the cage once again looks white instead of a greenish hue.
I finally got around to unboxing the first of my two monitors when I hit my first snag, the inputs were only HDMI and Display Port. Although my video card has a DP output I did not have the cable required. I immediately shot out to get one, striking out at Wal-mart and then having to drive another 5 miles to Best Buy to overpay for one. So when I got home I was anxious to get my new massive monitors set up. I opened up the second box and was in disbelief, the screen had a crack in it.
I was not pleased as you can imagine. I angrily reboxed the monitor and immediately retraced the route I just took 30 minutes prior, going back to Sam’s. I luckily just missed what could have been another incredibly frustrating scenario as I walked in the store at 5:55. I had no idea they closed at 6PM. If I was a few minutes later I can’t imagine what my blood pressure would have been. Anyway, my replacement monitor was undamaged and I got everything hooked up. The huge curved screens take some getting used to but damn it’s awesome.
Sunday evening both Cindy and I were busy with hobby stuff. Cindy has really been getting good with her Cameo and I had video footage for a couple different things that I needed to edit and get published. We ended our weekend late Sunday night watching our first curling match of the Olympics, it was glorious.
Saturday morning Cindy and I were up early to head out to the Run for the Paws, the race Ali started a dozen years ago mostly due to our experience with adopting Nicki. Cindy and Sadie came as well. We sadly left Elsa at home but she would have been absolutely terrified the entire time and it would have been miserable. Cindy and I both were wearing Eagles jerseys which drew more praise than negativity at the race.
We arrived close to an hour and a half before the 8Am start. It was nice to see a lot of the old familiar running club crew although some of the key roles are now being handled by other people. I primarily let Cindy tend to Sadie while I lent a hand here and there in a very minor way. It certainly felt odd to have so little responsibility in a situation where I used to have a ton of weight on my shoulders, but I’m certainly not complaining. I have not missed timing races at all with the only caveat being the positive interactions with race organizers and participants.
So the plan was for Cindy to walk Sadie with a friend of ours and I would just run it, my first chip timed 5K in years. With my weekly runs, a fast pace has dropped off the radar as one of the goals so I didn’t really know what to expect. I ran the race like I normally do, see people in front of me I identify as targets to pass, and then try to do so. For the most part I took down all targets but overall my pace was slower than I expected. My chip time just barely got into the 29’s. I knew I would be slow, I didn’t think I would be that slow. Oh well, good thing I’m not qualifying for the Olympics.
Once I finished I stood at the finish line with Ali for awhile waiting for Cindy and Sadie to finish. After waiting 10 minutes or so I started walking back out on the course to make sure everything was ok and to walk/run in with them. Everything was fine and Sadie seemed to be holding up well, much better than last year, to the 5K distance. We slowly jogged across the finish line where Sadie was greeted very enthusiastically.
Last year after the race I stuck around for the entire awards and even helped clean up some but I was there by myself. This year we had to let out a friend’s dog on the way home and we wanted to get back to Elsa who was likely very unhappy. We just stayed long enough for Ali to introduce Sadie at the start of the awards and then headed out. We didn’t go around to do a round of goodbyes but we will see a number of the people at our Super Bowl party so it’s all good.
So on the way home like I mentioned we had to stop to walk our friend’s dog but before that we wanted to do a DD pit stop. I was on Airport Road turning left onto Pine Ridge. I was behind a cargo van. As I approached the light the van partially blocked my view of the light but just as I started making the turn the turning arrow went from yellow to red. Oh well, I still cleared the intersection before opposing traffic got a green.
Well as I am sitting on Pine Ridge I see flashing red and blue lights in the mirror. I then realize the lights are directly behind me and not trying to get anywhere else. Yep, I was getting pulled over. I think the only other time I can recall being pulled over was early in my Florida residency when they had a speed trap out by my house. I got off that time with a warning. Well this certainly wasn’t what I needed for my post race celebration.
The deputy, who was probably a guy in his late 20’s, early 30’s was pleasant. He said I ran the light but it “wasn’t bad”. I had my registration and insurance in hand and apologized, saying the van partially obstructed my view. After running my plate he returned with a piece of paper, luckily it was only a warning. I thanked him for cutting me a break. If he was a Yellowstone Park Ranger he surely would have thrown the book at me.
So when we got home we dug right into chores with chicken clean up being first on the list. Earlier in the week Cindy had noticed all of the cameras but one in the coop were showing offline. I figured I just needed to reboot the DVR as this sometimes can happen. Well when I was out in the coop run I realized that no amount of reboots would fix the problem.
I had drilled a small hole in the side of the coop that I ran the camera wires through to the head unit inside. I filled the remaining gap with pipe foam insulation. Well when I glanced at that hole I saw it as empty with 7 sets of chewed through wires hanging there, the damn mice were at it again. They evidently destroyed the wires and insulation in order to give themselves free entry into the coop. I have already ordered new wire sets but I will need to modify my installation to make it mouse proof. I have been live trapping and relocating the pests. I have caught three so far but evidently more remain.
Despite the early rise and 5K I deemed Saturday afternoon as the time I would pressure wash the two sheds which were both various shades of green/black. I used the gas pressure washer which has much more crud blasting power than our electric model. It’s always a bit hairy standing on the wet roof of the big shed as I lean awkwardly over the edge to blast a few of the panels. But hey I haven’t fallen yet in 15 years of doing the task, I’m a pro at this point.
Saturday night we watched our latest Netflix dvd, the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Johnny Depp has been a bit of a joke recently with an embarrassing string of box office failures. I hoped one of his most iconic roles could reverse the trend. Well the best I could offer is, sort of. I thought the movie was ok. I once again dozed off a few times due to being up early for the race. My general feeling at the end of it was that hopefully I had seen the last of the series. It was a shrug my shoulders B flick, I guess. I just didn’t care.
Sunday I started off with chicken cleaning and bill paying. Mid-morning I hopped on the Monster to ride to Dunkin Donuts. I arranged with Cindy to meet me there with the dogs so we could go run errands afterward. I was carrying some major speed during the ride. I did not have a tracking app running but I am pretty sure most of the ride was at 20mph+. I got there faster than expected, so fast that I had an extra 10-15 minutes to roll around the side paths and roads until Cindy got there.
We then hit Pinch-a-Penny, Rural King and Home Depot to pick up several things. One of the things I grabbed were some longer weather proof roof panel screws to replace a few I saw that were loose and/or missing from the big shed. I replaced them later in the day.
The rest of Sunday was pretty chill. Cindy spent a lot of time working with her Cameo. She just loves creating things on the platform and I encourage her to do so. I too messed with my laser engraver as well as playing a nice chunk of WoW to wind down my weekend. All was well with the world…
And now with the plugs!
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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 this weekend felt like it flew by. There were so many things wedged into the two days I am unlikely to be able to recall all of it with much detail. On my way home from work on Friday I stopped at Costco to pick up a few items . I was sort of dreading the experience due to the normal mob scene I experience at the store. I was pleasantly surprised that the crowd was only moderate at worse.
Saturday morning the cool temperatures and low humidity felt incredible. Doing yard chores like weeding and weed whacking was almost pleasant because the air felt so refreshing. I only started to sweat a little bit after being out there a couple hours. Cindy and I had to head out late morning to get some stuff.
One of those things was a new cable modem. On Friday I called Comcast to ask why HBO magically disappeared from my channel line up. They said the promotional period had expired so the channel was removed. They said they would be happy to add it back in for $15 a month which is crazy. I told the rep as much, $15 for a single channel is just silly. I asked if they could do me a favor and either reduce the price of adding HBO or dropping something from my line up I don’t really need like Starz and swapping in HBO.
I was doing all of this through an online chat session. In total I spent over 45 minutes on this interaction and it accomplished absolutely nothing. The online rep said they were not authorized to give me any promotional pricing and if I wanted to pursue it further I needed to call their “customer retention department” who is able to give better deals. Of course this annoyed me and I shared my annoyance with the rep, asking if they understood why it is circle jerks like this that are responsible for Comcast having such a low customer satisfaction reputation? They had no answer for me.
So I jumped through the next hoop and called the number. I briefly reviewed my situation and expressed my displeasure with it. The end result of another long block of time was me being moved onto a “Triple Play” package which includes all the premium channels and internet phone service that I won’t be using, for roughly the price I am paying now. That price is locked in for two years. I still have a feeling when I get my first bill on the new package there will be more landmines waiting for me.
So anyway, one of the attractive things about this package was it included Blast EXTREME internet which is 150 mbps down and 25-35 up, almost double my current service level. The rep said the new speed should be immediately available. Well when I did a speed test, my speeds were identical as before, requiring yet another contact with Comcast. That interaction determined that if I want the new speeds I needed to upgrade my cable modem, the Surfboard modem that I only bought a couple years ago evidently is “end of life”. Of course when the package was sold to me a thorough representative would have looked at the modem on my account and identified it was an issue up front. So anyway, these few paragraphs established why I needed to make Best Buy one of my stops on Saturday to get a new modem. Once I got it installed my speeds were now as advertised.
One of the other things we bought was garden soil to amend the garden. We bought 11 two cubic foot bags of soil. These were the heaviest two cubic foot bags of dirt I ever lifted in my life. I guess the dirt had a ton of moisture in it. I have no doubt each bag weighed at least 75 pounds. They required a major effort to lug around. I had all of them stacked on one cart. I had to have my body nearly parallel to the ground as I slowly pushed the cart to the truck in order to have enough power to move it. It was really, really, heavy. One of the other things we bought was a blow up, animated, illuminated spider for Halloween. It looks awesome at night.
So I had yet another piece of tech “break” Saturday, my Iphone 6. During the afternoon I pulled it out for something and noticed it was locked up. Hmm that’s odd, I have had the phone lock up once or twice in the past but it is normally very reliable. No big deal, I’ll force it off by holding the power and home button and it will reboot, clearing whatever ailed it. Well for the first time ever, this did not work. Sure I got it to turn off but when I turned it back on it would be eternally stuck on the Apple logo and go no further, awesome…
So I did some online research and tried a number of solutions to no avail. I finally had to blow away the phone and do a fresh OS install on it which of course removed EVERYTHING on the phone. To get the stuff back I needed to restore my most recent back up. The bad news was my latest full back up lived on my workstation at the office. Well I didn’t want to go all weekend with a blank phone so I told Cindy I had to drive into the office to get the phone restored. She was surprised my back up was on my work pc. I probably should back it up occasionally at home as well to avoid this scenario in the future.
So I was in the office until almost 7PM getting the restore done. I then hustled home as Cindy, her brother, his kids, and Katie were all going to the “Haunted and Gross Walk” that is held at the fairgrounds right down the street. Even though this event has been going on every Halloween for six or seven years I never bothered to check it out.
When we approached the fairgrounds we weren’t sure if the event was going on or not. The driveway was dark with nobody directing vehicles. We found our way into a parking space and headed into the main area, a place we normally only visit during the annual county fair. We immediately got a low budget feel for the event which was not unexpected. Because of my being late to get home we hadn’t eaten dinner, forcing us to rely on the food vendors there. There was absolutely no vegetarian sandwiches so I dined on french fries with cheese while picking at some of Cindy’s baked beans and cole slaw. It was fine.
Despite the low budget feel of the event I was sort of surprised at the kind of high budget ticket pricing. To go through the haunted walk cost 15 bucks a head. Cindy’s brother and his young son decided to lay back and not do the walk as Owen was scared. Cindy, Katie, Taylor and myself entered into the rather long line waiting to get in.
Standing in line was not exactly an enjoyable experience. The air was quite chilly by Florida standards, in the low 60’s. The structure the walk was housed in is normally occupied by livestock in warm Florida conditions. It had a number of these monster ceiling fans to promote airflow. They were running at full speed creating a constant cold wind on the people standing in line which was not a great thing.
There were cast members patrolling the line trying to scare people the best they could. The one evil clown was nice enough to pose for a picture with the girls. The line moved rather slowly as they would insert six people at a time into the walk with several minutes in between groups. When we finally got let inside I sort of expected it to be kind of lame based on the experience up to that point.
The walk was surprisingly well done with cast members that did their best to scare you. I was also surprised just how long the walk was. For a good portion of it I lead our group so I could “protect” the girls. Most of the cast would sort of ignore me and concentrate on the girls, especially Cindy, who scares easily. Later in the walk I let the girls lead so they could get more of the experience. When we finally emerged I was surprised that I actually felt I almost got my money’s worth out of the experience. It was good enough that I will look to go back next year, I’ll just make sure to eat dinner first next time.
Sunday morning I got up early to get out and run in the gloriously cool weather. By the time I got to the track the Prius showed an air temperature of 55 degrees which is just about perfect for me. I had a very solid run for my current endurance level, breaking into the high 8 minute mile pace for only the second time this year, covering about four and a quarter miles along the way.
When I got home we were playing with the neighbors new puppy named Shadow. He is super cute but of course we are concerned with his interaction with the chickens. Later in the day Cindy had him in the yard with the chickens, he seemed scared of the chickens and the chickens weren’t too thrilled with him either.
I wanted to get the oil changed on Cindy’s Prius before Katie came over to ride Segways. I headed out to the newly opened AutoZone location that is now only 8 miles from the house. In addition to the oil/filter I grabbed a number of other things like new windshield wipers, shop towels, disposable gloves, and an oil catch basin that won’t leak. The price of oil seems to have sky rocketed lately. Adding those items pushed the bill right to the $100 mark which I had to pay with my Costco Visa since Chase has not been very urgent with getting a replacement card in my hand after last weeks fraud. I headed home and had the oil changed in the car with time to spare before Katie’s arrival.
I suggested that we take the wheels out to Ave Maria. I had ridden my Ninebot One out there a couple times already but Cindy and Katie never had. It was absolutely beautiful weather to be out and about. Katie is a real pro on riding the Minipro at this point. We had a very enjoyable six mile plus ride around the grounds. If I didn’t want to get home for the Eagles game at one I would have been happy to cruise around even longer.
Speaking of the Eagles, I did not think they had much of a shot going into the game. The Vikings were 5-0 and people were acting like Sam Bradford was now Joe Montana, not throwing an interception this season so far. Well the game that unfolded was quite interesting with BOTH teams committing an incredible amount of turnovers. The Eagles also still seemed to be mired in penalty purgatory, hurting themselves again and again.
Despite these set backs, the defense laid a whipping on Bradford, not only forcing him into his first interception of the year but also causing him to fumble two times. They were smacking him around the entire game. The game certainly pulled back the curtain on how good Bradford actually is. He is an average NFL QB playing on a team with a stellar defense.
The game left me even more unsure of if the Eagles are actually a good team or not. The 3-0 start had a team that seemed to have their shit together in all facets of the game. The Detroit and much more the Washington game made think opposing coaches had figured out whatever the Birds were doing early on to be successful and taken it away. Now, after beating the 5-0 Vikings I am hopeful the team has some confidence as they enter a BRUTAL portion of their schedule. Time will tell but it’s all gravy to me at this point. I’m just glad Wentz looks to be the type of QB we can actually build the team around going forward.
So while I was watching the game Cindy was busy in the back yard doing an unusual art project, spray painting TRUMP SUCKS in the yard behind the chicken coop. Her hope was the republican candidate might just catch a glympse of it as he flew in to his rally at the county fairgrounds on his personal helicopter. During the afternoon there were multiple copters circling the area. I’m not sure if it was media or security copters, possibly both. I am sure someone saw Cindy’s aerial message.
We decided to head out on the PTV’s around 5:30, a half hour before the 6PM rally. We hoped to witness what was sure to be a mob scene. We first went down 10th street that dead ends to the rear of the county fairgrounds. As we approached we could hear the PA system booming with somebody warming up the crowd. As we got closer we could see two sheriff deputies on the other side of the fence at the dead end street. As we stopped I waved to the one officer who was maybe 50 feet away and he waved back. Cindy I just hung there, trying to listen to what was being said. We got to do so for less than 30 seconds before the deputy said we couldn’t stay there.
Even though I anticipated we would get this response, we asked why we couldn’t stay there. We got the catch all “security reasons” response. Cindy explained that we lived near by and we were standing on a public road. The deputy didn’t care and reiterated we couldn’t stay there. Although it was not worth a constitutional argument I said to the deputy “So we aren’t allowed to be on this side of the fence because of security concerns but we are allowed to be on the other side of the fence?” “That’s right” he said. Cindy and I rode off laughing at the lack of common sense being applied, joking that perhaps we looked threatening in some manner.
We decided to ride down Immokalee Road to see what the crowd looked like trying to get into the event. As we approached we saw what we assume was Trump’s helicopter swooping in. Unfortunately it appeared their flight path did not include Cindy’s backyard welcome message. When we got to the fairgrounds entrance we saw a massive amount of vehicles lined up trying to get into the event, hoping to catch a glimpse of the most controversial, divisive and ill equipped presidential candidate in modern history.
We rode down the length of the traffic jam, it was just under a mile in length. The people stuck in line seemed to be interested in what the two weirdos were riding down the sidewalk. When we got back to the entrance we could hear Trump was starting his speech that I am sure he repeated a few hours earlier in another part of the state.
I was trying to understand the logic of why they would hold another Trump rally in SW Florida. The area is already heavily conservative, it’s not like he is going to win over any new voters in the area with the visit. However when I thought about it further and combined it with the visual from the speech that included 80% women in the field of view behind Trump, I realized it is just all about mental manipulation, a classic bi-partisan tactic. Filling the tv with women, the demographic that should be most disgusted with a Trump presidency is a transparent effort to manipulate the weak minded. The rally itself is another calculated move where the Trump campaign can broadcast clips of their BIG LEAGUE support in Florida, an important swing state in the election.
I am so tired of all of this mess. The name calling, the accusations, the ignorance, I just want it behind us. It seems like in the end Hilary will still prevail in the election which is not an ideal outcome in the majority of American’s minds but really the only viable choice to left to us since big money steered the democratic nomination into her lap. I hope to cast my early voting ballot this week so my participation in the election can come to an end. I can only hope that someway, somehow, the general populace realizes that American politics is truly all about smoke and mirrors where candidates are tasked with distracting voters and creating divisive, explosive environments that keeps their puppet masters, big money, safely behind the curtains, pulling all the strings.
I recorded some of our Trump rally experience as well.
I left work a little early to meet my dad and step mom since they were supposed to arrive mid to late afternoon. I actually got home shortly before they arrived, followed shortly after that by Cindy. I was first greeted my by their dogs, Maggie and Clara who both seemed to remember me. Once everyone was there I needed to come up with a game plan to go get the Prius, which had it’s wheel bearing replaced during the day. Once I got the Prius I wanted to go pick up Sadie.
Katie was also at the house and was heading out. I asked her if she could give me a ride to where she turns on Golden Gate Blvd, I could ride my EUC the remaining 5 or 6 miles. So that was the plan, I threw my wheel in her trunk and did my first ever riding on GG Blvd, all on the sidewalk. When I got down to Collier Blvd I was actually in the bike lane for around a mile which was a bit hairy with rush hour traffic but I survived. I arrived in one piece at Tuffy, threw the wheel in the trunk and went to pick up Sadie. I told her I had a very big surprise for her while we were driving.
When we got back it was funny seeing all three dogs reacclimate which didn’t take very long at all. They were happily running around the house. We spent the majority of the evening just hanging out. Dad, who did a poor job of bringing any Florida appropriate clothing (brought long pants only), made many, many comments about how hot and humid it was. Cindy made a great vegetable lasagna that we all enjoyed.
On Saturday morning I was outside early attending to a few things. Dad had asked me about any good oil change places nearby, their Outback was due for one. I told him I’ll just change it. We went to the nearby Autozone where I dumped my two containers of old oil and we bought the stuff for dad’s car. When we got back I wasted little time getting the Subaru up on ramps.
Of course I used the oil change as an opportunity to add to my already pretty extensive automotive section on my YouTube channel. Changing the oil on the Outback was not very difficult although turning the oil filter in/out was a bit challenging with the hot exhaust pipe surrounding it. I was done in less than 20 minutes. It was dad’s first ever appearance on YouTube.
Late morning we all piled into the Subaru to head to Rural King. Getting four people and three dogs in there was a bit of a challenge with all laps taken except mine as I was driving. The dogs had a lot of fun surveying the store. We needed a few supplies and dad wanted to pick up some shorts, realizing that jeans just were not going to be a comfortable way to spend the next week. On the way home from RK we had a nice lunch at Panera which allows dogs in their outdoor seating areas.
Later in the afternoon I got the itch to go get the grass mowed, the precipitation from Matthew had pretty much dried up and the grass was looking shaggy. As I was finishing up mowing the first of my four quadrants the tractor all of a sudden got VERY noisy. It was bad enough that I immediately stopped and got off to see what was going on. It was something related to the transmission drive. When I stepped on the brake the noise stopped, when I released it it sounded like something was ready to fly apart. I got back on and mowed a little bit more. Despite the noise, the tractor was cutting and moving ok so I said f it and finished up the mowing session, hoping it held together until I finished. It did.
I did some research afterward and found that defective idler pulleys were a common cause of this problem which makes sense. I ordered replacements online. I thought it was odd these pulleys were made of plastic. They hopefully will show up this week so I can get the tractor back in action before it is called upon for it’s next mowing duties.
Saturday night we decided to go see The Magnificent Seven at Silverspot. It was a movie that I would normally just rent but it was the consensus to be the best available option out right now. I am certainly not typically a western movie kind of guy. The theater was pretty full but with assigned seating it doesnt really matter. I thought the movie was entertaining and had a strong cast. I did not realize it was based on a prior movie that had Yule Brenner until after Cindy, my dad and Teresa told me afterward. Anyway, I thought it was a B+ flick.
On Sunday morning I drug myself out of bed with the alarm to get out and run. I was solo this time. I once again logged four miles in the humid early morning air. When I got back I wanted to remain productive so I pulled out the Tacoma and gave it a well needed bath. I was sort of stuck at home all morning because DirecTv was supposed to be sending out a tech to give me the new B band filter I needed. Their arrival window was 8-12. Of course the guy didn’t show up until the last 25 minutes of the window.
So it didn’t take me long to realize this guy was odd. He was eastern European with a heavy accent that was difficult to navigate. Before he walked in the door he had located my dish and was already telling me how the tree that is in front of it is a problem. I told him that actually all I need from him is a new b band filter. I tried to explainin to him the sequence of events leading up to now. He seemed to either not understand me or not care to listen. He was focused on the tree.
I became somewhat irritated and forceful, telling him the tree is not the problem as the old receiver was working just fine. I said all I needed was a new filter. He eventually relented and got a filter and hooked it up which allowed me to see the channels I could not see before. The only problem was when he went to the Sunday Ticket channels it said I was not authorized for them. The tech said I must not have the Sunday Ticket. I was really annoyed with this guy already. His lack of understanding, poor communication skills and an odor that was a mix of BO and cigarettes was just really aggravating me. I tried to calmly explain to him that I do have the Sunday Ticket and the new receiver just needs to be authorized for it.
So he pulls out his cell phone and calls in to Directv. Even though he tried to identify himself as a technician, the woman on the phone was acting like he was a customer because she couldn’t understand him either. Eventually he just handed me his cell phone I and worked with the woman to get my Sunday Ticket channels activated. I figured I was in the clear. I found the tech, who was out sitting in his vehicle. I told him it’s working now.
So instead of leaving he comes in and starts futzing with the remote control. He was trying to get it programmed to also control the tv which I didn’t need but fine, if he wants to do it… But then he was trying to get it to work with my surround sound and couldn’t get it to work. I told him more than once that I didn’t need that functionality and either didn’t hear me, didn’t understand me, or didn’t care. It was then that I got the definite feeling that this guy was just trying to intentionally waste time. I was not sure what the reason would be why he wouldn’t just pack up and head to his next call.
He then went out on the lanai and was talking on his phone to somebody for another 10 minutes or more. When he came back in he said he wanted to change the LNBs on my satellite dish (the receivers). I asked why since it was working. He just mumbled something about it should be done. I asked him how long it would take since the Eagles game was coming on in 20 minutes. He said 10 minutes so I said fine, go ahead.
He completes the unnecessary work and then comes back in to run another test on the receiver which shows it was getting no signal from the satellites at 103 degrees. He said unless he can verify signal on this satellite he cant close the call. I told him as long as I get the Sunday Ticket I don’t care. He said he then had no choice but to cancel the call which seemed odd. I said whatever and the guy finally left. It was a bizarre, unpleasant, and annoying experience. It annoyed me enough that I spent another 20 minutes on the phone later in the day waiting to get a hold of someone at Directv to tell them how bad the guy sucked.
So ironically I did not even need the Sunday Ticket to watch the Eagles/Lions game. It was being locally broadcast. The outcome of the game was disappointing with Ryan Matthews literally giving the game away with a crucial late game fumble. The officiating seemed to have a very heavy Detroit bias with multiple situations where questionable flags wiped out big plays for the Eagles. But whatever, the Eagles weren’t going to go undefeated and overall, I saw more positive than negative in the game so it isn’t worth ranting about. I still feel much better about the 2016 Eagles than I ever expected to.
Cindy and I rode our PTVs a little bit last night, running into a couple that Cindy knows from the gym which was ironic. When we got home we enjoyed some tofu sausage dogs with baked beans and sauerkraut, good stuff.
Of course we watched the debate and laughed and gasped our way through it. Seeing Donald come out in full deflection mode was funny as hell, using the term “locker room talk” repeatedly to explain his actions where he described some sex acts/situations that were very, um, unpresidential. As entertaining as the debate was, there is part of me that feels very sad that this is what American politics has now become where you literally have a three ring circus going on. It made me ill when Trump would repeatedly bring up Bernie Sanders name as if Sanders supporters would somehow think Trump was their best option. Anyone that knows Bernie knows Donald Trump is the last person he would want sitting in the White House.
Gladly there is only one debate to go. I can’t wait till this political nightmare is behind us so Americans can go back to doing what they do best, not knowing, not understanding, and not caring.
So I am now on the last day of my 7 day staycation. The weekend was similar to most other days on the last week outside of the tortuous Tuesday when I stripped the garage floor. Instead the weekend had a mix of work and fun which felt pretty in balance. On Saturday I went around the property spraying something called Wet and Forget. It is supposed to break down mildew and algae over time and supposedly does not require scrubbing or rinsing, hence it’s name. I hit a variety of surfaces including the gutters, driveway, pool cage, castle stones and even the fence posts, most of which have black mildew. The catch is the stuff works slowly, it can take months for stuff to completely disappear, supposedly. I will report back at Christmas if I see a difference. I tended to a number of other chores around the house Saturday but don’t recall all of the specifics.
We did our normal errand run in the afternoon, taking Sadie to Rural King and Home Depot, something she has come to love. She just loves exploring the aisles.
Saturday evening we watched another Netflix rental, Money Monster starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. The plot lost touch with reality towards the end in such a way that it drug the rating of the film to just a B in my book. Sure rent it, it’s ok.
Sunday morning Cindy joined me for an early run at the track. It was the first outdoor running Cindy has done in quite awhile. I cautioned her to take it easy but of course she wound up almost running the same four miles I did. ( She did 3.75) I felt decent during the run, tired but not obliterated.
We cleaned up and took Sadie to the Naples Greenway. I had my Ninebot One but Cindy stayed on foot with Sadie. It was getting quite hot so we didn’t stay very long. Sadie’s black fur gets her overheated very quickly in direct sun. I rode about four miles, spending some of it with them and the rest on my own.
When we got home there were a few things to do but I mostly chilled out playing some of my longest WoW Legion sessions to date. I am enjoying the new expansion a lot although it feels like I have mountains of virtual tasks to complete. The Eagles game came on at 4:30. I was not really sure what to expect but the general consensus was the Steelers are a significantly better team than the up and coming Eagles. Well that script got flipped in a big way. Instead the Eagles stepped on the Steelers and didn’t relent at all, crushing them 34-3. It was such a blowout that I didn’t get to see the last quarter when the local CBS affiliate flipped to another game.
I am really amazed at just how well the team has done so far. They have continued the formula of a balanced attack on offense with a punishing defense. I absolutely LOVE that when the team was up three scores the defense continued to be aggressive instead of deploying the hated prevent defense that I have ranted about for decades. This is the best I have felt about the team in more than decade. If you asked me a month ago I was in “this is a rebuilding year” mode. Now, it seems clear this team has the capability to do some real damage in the NFC this year. As ho hum as I felt about Doug Pederson as the head coach, somehow, someway it’s working.
For my last day off I plan to follow much the same formula as the past week. I was already outside hooking up a new pond pump. I’ll be tending to more to do’s as I mix in one last dose of fun and play.
RIP Arnold Palmer. Although I have never been more than a casual golfer, I appreciate the legend he has been in the game. He has always struck me as just being a good man, something we could use more of nowadays.
I was thinking about my latest interest in devices like the Segway Minipro and the Ninebot One and how they tied in with how my hobbies and interests have come and gone over the years.
Going way, way back I had two big interests as a kid, video games and baseball. My brother and I played the hell of out of the original console video games like Intellivison, Colecovision, and the NES. Even into my late teens and early 20’s I was borderline obsessed with console gaming. I also spent thousands of dollars in local arcades.
My obsession with baseball had a much shorter shelf life, starting around age 11 and running until I was 17-18 when an elbow injury dashed my dreams of being a major league pitcher.
In my 20’s in addition to gaming, my focus on cars and volleyball really picked up speed. My 1969 Firebird convertible was the highlight of my car hobby in my 20’s although I owned a LOT of other vehicles.
Later in my 20’s and into my early 30’s volleyball took center stage in a huge way. I used to play 3-4 times a week and during the summer playing in weekend tournaments was a very regular occurrence. The highlight of my volleyball days of course was the epic win of the BB division in the 1999 Pottstown Rumble with my buddy Rich. We beat out something ridiculous like 125 other teams that were in the division to win it all. My volleyball heyday was cut short by a meniscus right knee injury that I had operated on twice. When I moved to Florida I had a 2-3 year resurrection of my volleyball career with Randall but old age and just lack of interest eventually shut that down.
Since living in Florida I have had a number of things take on a large portion of my attention. Early on I had my first run as a RC plane enthusiast, building and flying a number of aircraft. My hobby was bolstered by my friend Mike who was into RC on a level far exceeding mine. We flew together quite a few times. Unfortunately once he moved to Colorado my interest in flying dropped off majorly. I had a resurrection in air based hobbies with the purchase of my various quadcopters, culminating with the awesome DJI Phantom Cindy bought me for Christmas a few years ago. I still have the Phantom but have flown it very little recently. The incident with the Yellowstone park ranger office prosecuting me for a drone flight via You Tube really left a bad taste in my mouth.
I also became involved in the MMORPG World of Warcraft in the beginning of 2005, my first time ever playing that type of game. There were periods of time that I was so into the game it was scary. At one point I was playing 30-40 hours PER WEEK. I still play the game to this day but in a much less addicted manner. Once I started playing WoW my days of gaming on a console like my Xbox 360 pretty much ended.
About halfway into my marriage with Ali we started doing a lot more running and triathlon training. I had done some running when I lived in PA in my late 20’s, early 30’s but nothing consistent. For a period of a few years Ali and I entered a TON of events, mostly 5K’s but also a few triathlons. I maxed out at the half marathon distance, which I completed three times. A series of annoying and somewhat chronic lower body injuries derailed that hobby although I am in the process of trying to reboot things right now.
Our running also lead to another huge area of focus for nearly the last decade, my involvement with the local running club. What started out with an email I sent to the club complaining about race results taking two weeks or more to be posted online eventually lead to me being the race timer for the club for almost 8 years. I really enjoyed the challenge of it all early on as I introduced all sorts of things to make club races more dynamic and runner friendly. Over time I took on more and more roles for the club, because I could. Eventually the weight of all of those responsibilities turned the role from fun to extremely frustrating, leading to me leaving that role early this year.
I also had a couple revivals in my hobby car interest since living in Florida, owning an 88 Corvette, a 71 Buick Skylark convertible, and most recently the 2005 Chevy SSR. The cycle for each purchase felt extremely similar. I felt that buying each vehicle was going to fill some sort of void I was feeling at the time for various reasons. Once I assumed ownership I would go through a pretty intense cycle of fixing/upgrading a number of things on each vehicle. Once those items were addressed, when it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor I simply didn’t do it as much as I envisioned I would have.
Now the Skylark actually burned up in a fire, but even so, once it was gone for a short period of time I felt a degree of relief. Since selling the SSR, a vehicle I almost attached a God-like importance to initially, I have not had a moment’s regret with getting rid of it. My new 2016 Tacoma will give me much, much more enjoyment long term than the SSR ever could have. At this point I don’t really see myself relapsing back into the car hobbyist role but never say never.
In my early 40’s I really became interested in calisthenics and the bar based exercise movement, lead by the Bar-barians. In addition to my focus on bodyweight based workouts which got me in arguably the best shape of my life, I also became involved with the Bar-barians group, first running their message board and later running monthly exercise challenges for message board users. I even designed, set up and maintained their web site for over a year. I virtually met hundreds of people from around the world through my involvement with the group which was really, really cool as well as a few in real life, which is even cooler. I still do a lot of calisthenics work in my exercise routine but nowhere near the same level as I did back then.
So that brings me to my most current focus, the Minipros and more so the Ninebot One E+, my first electric unicycle. The cycle of defeat followed by ultimate victory in learning to ride the single wheel vehicle was a feeling of accomplishment I have not matched in recent memory. It felt very close to the feeling you have as a kid when you are able to ride a bike without training wheels for the first time. Riding the wheel brings back many childhood feelings of doing something just because it is flat out fun and nothing else. When I ride the wheel cares melt away, hard feelings soften, and the noise of the world is drowned out by the pleasant hum of the brushless motor pushing you along mile after mile.
Why I decided to go off on this tangent I don’t really know. In some way while I was running at the gym I was thinking about people that make up their minds on certain things, whether they be hobbies, interests, religious beliefs or political views, and then never, ever take a moment to reconsider those options and do/think new things based on changing circumstances. I feel badly for these people. Somebody famous once said something to the effect of “If you are still doing and thinking about things the same way now as you did twenty years ago, you are doing something wrong” Flip the script, it’s not a bad thing.
Yesterday was the MRI of my head which is an attempt to give a clearer picture of exactly what is going on with my right ear. Once again they asked for payment up front which I find annoying. I had a conventional MRI a long time ago so I sort of knew what I was in for. Although I’m not claustrophobic, being in a space where you literally can not move is not pleasant. The MRI at this facility was actually housed in a truck trailer in the parking lot, weird.
My scan was going to consist of two parts, one regular scan and then another scan after they inject me with some sort of dye to provide additional contrast to the image. The tech stressed how I needed to keep my head as still as possible. If you move in the middle of an imaging run they have to redo it, meaning you are stuck in the tube even longer.
I normally am pretty itchy, especially on my head. Just watch any YouTube video I have and you will surely see me scratch my head or face more than once. Knowing I was more or less locked in place for 45-50 minutes gave me some anxiety as I laid down on the table. The tech put a pair of headphones on me that had a radio station playing and then put a plastic cage sort of thing over my head. He once again told me to stay as still as possible as my body started to get inserted into the machine.
The chamber was tight. My arms drug on the side of the tube as I moved, forcing me to pull them closer and hold them in a somewhat awkward position. Having the roof of the chamber a few inches from your face is not a good feeling. I almost immediately closed my eyes and left them that way for the entire session. Thankfully there was a steady flow of air going through the tube to keep me cool.
The sound an MRI makes is very loud. The imaging goes in solid spurts ranging from 2-4 minutes in length during which the rhythmic droning drowns out everything else. At times I could feel the electro-magnetic forces pulsating through my head, it was an odd sensation. Of course it didn’t take very long until I had an itch on my head which of course I could do nothing about except wait for it to subside, which it eventually did. I thought when I got pulled out of the tube to get the injection I might be able to scratch any itches but I had to keep my head glued in place the entire time, even during the injection.
The session after the injection felt slightly shorter than the first one although my sense of time became somewhat distorted inside the tube. Despite the itch urges the tech said I did an excellent job at staying still. When I finally got pulled from the tube it was a relief. After scratching my head thoroughly I gathered my things and was on my way. I am stopping back there at lunch to pick up my images on DVD. Although I don’t know what I will actually be looking at, I guess it’s a good thing to have images of my brain, just in case.
So a little less than two years ago I bought my own used timing box. It was the start of the idea I had to make my timing skills my own part time gig, outside of what I had been doing for the running club for many years. The idea of me calling the shots and being able to charge more for my services seemed appealing. Once I broke away as the club timer in January I assumed I would start actively timing more events on my own. I invested a good chunk of money in getting more equipment to help me in that regard. I bought some laptops, an inflatable arch, generator, race clock. shelter and several other things.
I did do a couple events, all small in size. They went ok but despite their size brought on similar amounts of stress as bigger races I used to time, partially because I was dealing with a different cast of people that I had no idea how competent or incompetent they were.
Then a weird thing happened. After not timing a race for a few months I started to realize just how little I missed it. I got a decent amount of inquiries about timing other events and most of them I turned away immediately. I did schedule two events, one in October and another in November, both of them involving friends of mine. I have since handed off the November event to another timer, leaving only the October race on my calendar. I was talking loosely with Ali about timing her race in January but again had no real enthusiasm for it.
So anyway I think I have decided that after the October commitment I will be closing the doors on Green Machine Timing. At this point in my life I just have very little tolerance for putting myself in situations I don’t enjoy. Life is too short. My cost of living salary bumps at my real job combined with YouTube money have already pretty much erased any income hit I took walking away from running club timing. Unloading all of my stuff will help me recoup some of that money and reclaim a lot of space in our third bedroom.
In a way I feel much the same I did regarding the SSR. Starting my own timing gig sounded like a great idea but the reality of it turned out to be different. Race timing has been part of my life for the greater part of the last decade but things change. Much like the SSR, I don’t think I am going to really miss it all that much when it’s gone.
I am picking up the DVD of my MRI results at lunch. Instead of going to the gym, I brought my Ninebot One in the Prius. After parking at the med center I plan to get a little bit of riding in around coastal Naples. Should be fun.