Category: Fitness

So today for the first time in probably at least 20 years I grabbed a racquetball racquet to play over my lunch hour with my gym buddy.  We played at East Naples Community Park which I never visited before.  It was a beautiful park that evidently hosts the US Open of pickleball, neato.

I played some racquetball in my early 20’s but once I took up volleyball most other sports I played fell to the wayside as I was all about vball and nothing but vball.

I have talked in the past about the weird dichotomy of hand usage that goes on in my activities.  Nothing puts that more on display than racquet sports, which I predominantly play right handed even though almost all other sporting activities I will play left handed.

I think this came about when my mom took me for tennis lessons as a little kid.  I recall the instructor forcing me to play right handed, saying playing left handed was some sort of disadvantage.  That coaching decision still affects me today. Even though I am much weaker snapping my right arm to hit a ball quickly, it is the way I am most comfortable playing.

The really odd part is I still will play some shots left handed, mostly serves.  I can hit a serve or forehand MUCH harder with my left arm but I have poor control of direction.  So in sports like tennis and racquetball where you get two opportunities to serve my first attempt will almost always be with my left arm where I will just crush the ball and hope it stays in.  If not my second serve is with my right hand at a much lower velocity but more precise.

So anyway when I demonstrated to Derrick my odd skill set he was surprised.  This was my first ever time playing racquetball on a three wall outdoor court.  ALL of my previous play was indoors with four walls and a ceiling to play off of.  I very quickly learned that outdoor three wall is pretty much an entirely different sport.  With indoor the extra wall space and especially back wall worked to my favor since my long legs are not great at shuffling around quickly from spot to spot.  In outdoor ball you have to move your ass off and really pay attention to the angle your opponent is hitting.  If you don’t you have absolutely no shot to get to a lot of balls.  Once a ball gets past you there is no back wall to give you a second shot at it.

My offense against Derrick was pretty much one thing, hard serves with my left hand.  If I got them in bounds I scored a lot of points with it.  Unfortunately that probably only happened 30 or 40% of the time.  Derrick obviously was a much more skilled player than I am as he used to play a LOT.  He could hit the ball low, hard, and with good control.  The only shot he struggled with was a higher bounding ball which he often drove into the ground before it reached the wall.

We only had time to play one game as there was a lot of siding out.  I did my best to hang but was ultimately defeated by 5 points.  With temperatures approaching the upper 80’s we both were sweating like we spent a half hour on a treadmill.  It was a very different way to spend a lunch hour and a fun one at that.  We both agreed we need to do this more often to get away from the Planet Fitness madness.

 

If it was possible to create a blueprint for how I would like most weekends to be it would be like this past one.  The weather was perfect with cool mornings and pleasantly warm afternoons with an abundance of blue sky.

Saturday morning I got out and resumed my running program after a two week hiatus due to illness.  Although the act of running three and a half miles was difficult as expected, it was offset by the sense of accomplishment afterward.  The cool air temps in the mid-50’s definitely was beneficial.

When I got back Cindy let me know that I managed to catch another one of the palm rats, bringing my total to four.  As with the others I drove the little annoying bastard a couple miles away and let him loose into the undergrowth to fend for himself.  I know there is at least one more adult in the coop area.  If I can catch him I will finally feel ready to rerun the wires for the DVR system.

My new routine of making sure there are no mice in the coop when the door is closed seems to be a solid plan.  Before when I had the coop door on an analog timer I was never quite sure when it would close.  The end result was most of the time I put the chickens to bed the door was still open and would close later.  Well if a mouse entered during that interim it would spend the entire night chewing on whatever it could to get out.

A couple weeks ago, when I installed the new wi-fi router, to replace the mouse damaged one, I also installed a Wemo smart switch on the coop door.  I now know exactly when the door closes and I make sure to go out there after that happens.  When I tend to the chickens I now include probing all possible mouse hiding spots with the broom handle to make sure none are inside the coop.  That, paired with the ultrasonic rodent repellent we put in there seems to have kept the inside of the coop pest free.

Saturday after completing some chores Cindy, Elsa and I headed out for a long errand run, stopping at something like a half dozen places along the way.  One of those places was the office to swap out a failed hard drive.  Another was Tractor Supply, a place we only have been to a couple of times.  Despite being a lot smaller than Rural King, I liked their selection of several things more.  We finished up eating lunch outside a pizza place where Elsa chilled under the table while we enjoyed a good slice of pizza.

I got notice that Patrick’s birthday gift was delivered.  I sent him the Segway S1 that I bought at Christmas.  It was sort of my plan all along to give it to him.  It is a cool little wheel that will be good for Pat and his girlfriend to learn on.

Saturday night Cindy and I watched Dark Tower, our latest rental.  I remember when the movie came out a lot of people that read the book were not happy with the film adaptation.  Since I never read the book, I did not have that bar to measure it against.  To me it was entertaining although a bit strange to see Matthew McConaughey play the villain. I’d give it a solid B rating.

Sunday morning we slept in, for us, to almost quarter till 8.  Mid-morning Cindy and I headed out to the Naples Greenway with the big Segway I2 in the back of the truck.   I discovered that transporting the Segway is a two person job, at least when it comes to loading.  The unit is somewhere around 120 pounds which I normally could throw around pretty easily, the issue is the size and design of the I2 makes it damn near impossible to one man it as there is nothing to really grab on to.  I can manage to lower it from the truck myself but I utilized Cindy to help me load it at the Greenway.

Our objective for the ride was to locate the new bridge that connects the Greenway to downtown Naples.  It was Cindy’s first time riding the Segway I2 out in public.  She was conservative at first but soon got adept at leaning into turns with her entire body.  We found the new bridge and it was very impressive, a beautiful and long structure.  It spills out at what will be an awesome resident park in the near future called Baker Park.  It connects to the newly renovated Central Avenue.

Central now is very bike friendly with large and clearly marked bike lanes.  We decided to ride all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.  It felt great to be able to ride all the way to the beach using bike safe routes.  On the way back we ate lunch at The Bowl.  We both had all fruit concoctions that consisted of acacia berry, bananas, granola, honey, hemp seed hearts, blueberries, and a couple other things.  It was very good.

The ride was much longer than I expected and the used batteries on the I2 performed much better with Cindy at the controls.  The slower speed and her lighter weight only consumed three bars of battery life out of eight.  We both really enjoyed the ride and would like to maybe actually spend some time on the beach the next time we do the same route.

Late afternoon Sunday I got out and washed my Tacoma.  I finally got around to applying some paint sealant that was highly rated on Amazon.  On the bottle it claimed how you could do a complete vehicle in 10 minutes!  Well although it was less labor intensive than conventional wax, I still busted my ass for at least 45 minutes applying the sealant to the Tacoma.  You only work in small sections, first applying with a circular motion followed by back and forth to finish up.  Since it is a clear product, it is annoying to try to determine where you stopped and started since you have no wax haze to guide you.  I guess the first time the truck gets wet will determine how good the product is.

The rest of Sunday was spent editing video, creating 3D projects, and playing some WoW.  It really was a great couple days and was a reminder that I could seriously retire and never have to worry about being bored.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So my flight out of Pittsburgh wound up being delayed over two hours which was unfortunate.  I heard from airline staff that early dense fog in Florida caused a flight to have to land at a different airport.  The end result was cascading delays throughout the rest of the day, resulting in our snafu.  I didn’t mind all that much as I spent the time creating the next blog entry and just people watching. Unlike my flight to Pittsburgh that was only maybe 2/3 full, the flight to Florida was packed.  Even with an exit row seat I still found myself being uncomfortable, not due to leg room but shitty seats with minimal padding.  During the last half of the flight I felt like I was shifting around almost constantly. Other than the delay and discomfort, the flight was without incident.  Cindy was very happy to have me back in Florida as was I.

For most of the flight I kept myself occupied by reading part of my THIRD book, Volume III of Inside Out.  I think I mentioned this unique book series awhile ago.  A few years back my dad had the idea of turning my blog entries into a book.  Well I didn’t quite realize just how much content I have put out.  We are three books in and have only gotten up to 2007.  The first two books actually combined several years together (I started blogging in late 2003) but evidently in 2007 I was more verbose and that single year had enough for an entire book.

Reading the words of me minus 10 years was interesting and somewhat eye opening.  Without a doubt I was much less tactful back then, using words and descriptions that I would somewhat cringe at now.  I also seemed VERY angry most of the time which I am sure was a byproduct of some of the frustrations I was feeling at the time with my marriage and life in general.

Speaking of my marriage, without a doubt the way I chose to routinely write about things that Ali did or situations that arose during our marriage was clearly destructive looking at it back through a 10 year time machine.  At the time it felt like it was just a way to vent and didn’t really think about it much beyond that.  In retrospect what it really did was put my one view of the situation out for public display without much opportunity for Ali to offer her viewpoint which I am sure was hurtful.

I only came to realize the problem with this behavior after the marriage was well on it’s way to dissolution.  You will notice that once we became separated and to this day, I have pretty much kept any personal relationship issues out of the blog.  Of course there are still urges to vent now and then but the more mature, 10 year older version of myself now knows that in the big picture, it makes little sense and serves little purpose to go there.  I was reading the book for almost a solid two hours and only covered the first MONTH AND A HALF of 2017.  For someone who prefers to talk so little, I sure do type a lot.

When I finally got home Monday night we enjoyed dinner and the chocolate birthday cake Cindy made for me.  She had been a very busy baker making a ton of Christmas cookies in addition to the cake.  It felt so nice to finally sleep in my own bed after getting less than solid sleep for the entire trip.  As you can imagine Sadie and Elsa were quite excited to see me.

I took Tuesday off as a day of recovery.  Early in the morning I headed out to the barpark to fulfill a promise.  My buddy Max said for my 50th birthday I needed to do an exercise circuit that included 50 pull ups, 50 dips, and 50 push ups.  I have not done much circuit calisthenics in a long time so I knew it would be challenging, especially coming off a northern trip that included lots of eating and drinking.  I broke the movements into a decreasing pyramid of reps that went 15, 10, 10, 8, 7 to keep it manageable.  During my prime I may have been able to do the 150 reps in half the amount of sets but I am 50 now after all.

My activities during the rest of the day were mixed between work and play as I had some things to do after being away for four days but I also got to chill out later in the day and even get some WoW time in.  Last night Cindy and I threw the wheels in the back of the Prius to ride around the Victoria Park development to check out their incredibly ornate Xmas decorations.  Luckily a Tuesday night apparently was not a bad time to do it.  There was a still a lot of cars snaking around the neighborhood but nothing like the gridlock we experienced last year when we went on Christmas Eve.  I rode the new Segway S1 around to get more of a feel for it.  It’s a fun little wheel that is great for lower speed, shorter distance journeys.

I have a lightning quick two day work week followed by four days off for Christmas.  You can’t get much better than that.

 

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.

Due to a lack of time I am trying to jam in blog entries where I can and in some cases, combine some of my Dufisthenics content in here as well.

On Monday I finally got the combination I have been hoping for at Planet Fitness for chest day, a free Smith machine and the ab slant board being available.  The combination of the two would allow me to simulate a real decline bench press, the only real bench pressing I can do right now because of left shoulder pain.  I have been trying to do decline with a regular bench but it sucks as the downward slope requires you to try to grip awkwardly with your feet and legs to keep yourself from sliding.  With the decline ab bench I could lock my legs in place.

The combination of the two worked out well when combined with my being at a peak of my cyclical strength level.  I pushed up a fake 265 for one rep (240lbs actually) and did rep totals at lower weights far exceeding any recent PF efforts.  It really sucks that it is so hard at times to get access to the equipment you want to use.  It’s so frustrating to see people that have absolutely no clue what they are doing tying up a smith machine for 20 minutes doing movements that are dangerous or have minimal value due to horrible form/ROM.

To say that decline bench pressing is ok for my shoulder is sort of misleading, it just hurts less.  If I were to describe the sensation in my shoulder I would use this example.  Take a piece of lunch meat and lay it on a plate.  Now take a handful of small gravel and sprinkle it on the lunch meat.  Finally, take one more piece of lunch meat and place it on top.  Now run your hand back and forth over the lunch meat.  That is how it feels.

As I mentioned, my workload for the last few months and likely to the end of the year is pretty massive.  I am steering the ship of a ton of projects simultaneously, each one important in it’s own way, by far the most I have had to do/be responsible for, ever.  I’m not complaining, I’m up to the challenge but it will sure be nice when I can go back to my normal, mostly static environment where things just sort of work because I put in the effort to make it that way.

The changes we are making are definitely trying to future proof the office where we are moving a lot of functions and services to the cloud where ultra-availability and redundancy is the norm.  People often ask if I worry about job security as a result of cloud outsourcing.  Of course I don’t as there is still plenty of technical expertise needed in migration, implementation, and maintenance of these IT solutions.  By the time I actually worry about job security I will hopefully already have one foot on the retirement bus.

So I had a LOT of stuff I wanted to get done this weekend.  I gave Cindy my potential list and she busted ass on Friday getting a number of the indoor components of the list knocked out which I greatly appreciated.  Friday had been bright and sunny for the most part and the forecast was for Saturday to be much of the same. I was hoping to be able to get a pretty comprehensive mowing session in to take advantage of the receded water.

The weather forecast was accurate for the most part and the end result was a monster chore day on Saturday.  Not only did Cindy and I mow and weed whack the normal portions of the yard, I also took the tractor out back and cut everything back there as well.  There were a handful of other small projects we threw in the mix.  The end result was my not coming back inside until after 4PM.

When we ran to Home Depot earlier in the day we also stopped at Walmart for Cindy to grab some Zima, yes, Zima.  After around a decade hiatus Coors has decided to bring back Zima on a limited basis which was awesome news to me.  You see when I started drinking at 24 years of age Zima was my alcohol of choice.  I had not acquired a taste for beer as of yet and the smooth citrus taste of Zima made them go down very easily, possibly too easily as I had MANY Zima induced stupors in my mid-20s.

We had several bottles in the fridge getting cold during the afternoon.  After a long, hot, sweaty day of work I couldn’t imagine a better time to give Zima 2.0 a taste test.  I thought the moment was important enough to capture on video.  The ridged side bottle was exactly as I remembered 20 years ago.  When I cracked open the bottle my first taste was not a sip, it was a guzzle, I was so thirsty.

I immediately was in a taste time machine, transporting me back to the 90’s.  The clear beverage tasted exactly as I remembered and that means it was goooood.  Cindy somehow missed out on the Zima craze back then but she was more than willing to give it a try this time around.  She was quite pleasantly surprised, she really liked the taste as well.

About halfway into her bottle she added some chamborg to it. By the time she finished that she was full blown drunk.  I finished my first bottle before the video was over and followed up with three more bottles in short order.  It was the perfect reward for a day of hard labor.  I can only hope our hardcore patronage of Zima over the summer is enough to make Coors carry the magical drink on a permanent basis.

My Zima induced mild drunkenness helped me enjoy our Netflix rental, The Great Wall a little bit more.  Cindy said the movie had gotten awful reviews and it didn’t take me long to see why.  The story and plot was just silly and I was really surprised an accomplished actor like Matt Damon would have agreed to be a part of it after reading the script.  It had good action and visually cool cinematics at least to keep it in the C range.  Cindy stopped watching about halfway through and worked on her gun instead.

Speaking of her gun, at this point we have pretty much all of the individual parts 3D printed and they look cool.  However this was only the first and possibly easier portion of the gun creation.  Assembling the dozens of pieces in a clean way is not going to be easy at all but I am letting that part of the process completely in Cindy’s hands.  The gun is held together by a combination of glue, metal rods, and magnets.

Over the weekend I also downloaded and installed Fusion 360 which is software that allows you to make your own 3D objects from scratch.  I played around in it a little.  It seems very complex but powerful.  It will require a lot of time of mine just playing around in there to get the hang of things.

Sunday morning Cindy and I set the alarm to get in a run, hoping an earlier start time would help minimize the oppressive heat and humidity.  Despite taking our first stride around 6:45 it was still a miserable slog.  There were many times I felt like stopping during the 5K but I had designated the run as a psuedo tribute to Tuki in my mind.  Everytime I felt like stopping I just thought about Tuk and the anger I feel towards myself about it. The physical discomfort I was feeling was only a small portion of the punishment I felt I deserved.

Although we just ran a 5K I had another type of endurance activity in mind for the electric unicycles, the 20 mile round trip ride to Dunkin Donuts.  When I suggested it to Cindy I sort of expected a knee jerk negative reaction but instead she seemed sort of into it.  She had never ridden much more than 10 miles before and never in a sustained high speed commuting type of scenario on main roads.  We strapped on our safety gear and headed out into the steamy morning air.

At first I thought Cindy would demand we stayed on sidewalk for most of the ride however she actually suggested we use the Immokalee Road bike lane for most of it instead.  The idea of criss crossing the six lane road multiple times to stay on the sidewalk did not appeal to her.  She did quite well maintaining a steady 18+ mph pace on the Msuper once we go into the long straightaway portion of the ride.  Having the seat for the Monster also was a big plus as it allowed her to ride probably 8-9 miles of the 20 in the seated position which she is really getting adept at.

There were parts of the ride when she was on the Monster that she was riding quite fast, fast enough that my Msuper gave me a “hey, slow down” warning beep a couple times.  It was a fun ride and Cindy pulled back into the driveway now much more confident in her ability to ride the wheels longer distances.

We had a nice rest of the day at home outside a brief run to Rural King to grab a couple things.  It seemed like an almost perfectly balanced weekend where we worked very hard on Saturday but worked hard on Sunday doing what we wanted to do instead of what we tasked ourselves to do.  Cindy wound up the weekend with a good dinner and an even better homemade chocolate cake. A couple more Zima’s helped put a happy exclamation point on the two days.

 

So when I walked into the gym yesterday the eviction notice was on the door indicating as of Tuesday the gym would be officially closed.  It obviously was a depressing thing to see but not unexpected, despite my being told flat out by the gym manager that the gym would not be closing.  He claimed the gym was “transitioning” to being a corporate owned location which would be a good thing.  At the time when he told me that I hoped he wasn’t the type of person to lie to my face.  Evidently, he is.

So it felt strange going through my last workout with my bench press buddy.  Despite my various complaints about the gym over the years it still was probably my best gym experience since moving to Florida outside of the one year or so World Gym was around before Planet Fitness took it over.  I tried my best to make my last day at Retro memorable, attempting to decline bench press 250 pounds for the first time ever.  I got close but required a slight spot to get it up.

I talked to some of the remaining staff before I left, telling them I appreciated them sticking around to the end.  I had not seen the manager for the last three or four days.  I exited the building with a slim glimmer of hope that I may work out there again someday if the space is reopened under a new owner, something that has been talked about as a possibility.

So what went wrong?  What caused the gym to go out of business a second time under a different owner? Bad management would be my first guess.  Ironically the gym reopened with the same manager it closed with previously.  At the time the talk was the ownership was the problem, not letting the manger run things.  All that was supposed to be different the second time around.  It was different, the owner let the manager run things as much as I could tell.  The end result was the doors being locked, again.

Almost as soon as the gym reopened less than two years ago they began work on renovating an unoccupied adjacent space.  It was supposed to be a huge group class room as well as having offices for other wellness services like chiropractor and massage services.    Well for some reason, perhaps non-payment of contractors, just like their rent money, the renovation took FOREVER, only completing a couple months ago.  The gym also never did any marketing to announce their reopening, I never saw any advertising for the gym outside of a few Facebook ads.

They didn’t do a good job of upkeep, as I mentioned before, they had a LOT of broken equipment, however with their apparent dire financial situation I guess I can understand.  The one thing that I didn’t understand was a lack of simple maintenance and cleaning that doesn’t cost a dollar.  All it requires is someone giving a damn.  In the past month they actually hired a woman that was doing a good job of cleaning the place, finally.

Cindy was one of those employees that had been unpaid up until this point.  She got lucky and finally got paid last evening, in cash, as all bank accounts for the gym have been frozen.    I wish I had my phone with to take a picture of the sign apologizing for the lack of paper towels and toilet paper, they had no funds to buy any.

So my plan for today is to verify the doors at Retro are locked and if they are shoot over to Planet Fitness so I can join on a month to month basis.  I will be holding out hope that Retro reopens under some other name within a few months.  If not I will be forced to work out in the house the Lunk Alarm built for the foreseeable future.

Cindy and I watched the Walking Dead season finale.  Let’s just say it left me feeling unfulfilled.

I forgot to mention that I received my tax refund incredibly quick this year.  It took less than a week which I think is some sort of personal record.  Of course I already have the refund  spent in it’s entirety on the new whole house RO system that is supposed to be installed next week.

Yesterday at the gym I had this sudden increase in strength that came out of nowhere while doing decline bench press. I felt stronger than I had in months.  I have always had monthly strength fluctuations to some degree but this was the most noticeable week to week change I can ever recall.

I followed up my strange strength gains with an equally strange wrist sprain when waking up this morning.  I recall doing nothing that would have caused such an injury yet I now have pain in the right wrist that feels like I punched a wall.  Mystery aches and pains are something that seem to happen quite often as you get older.  For the most part I just ignore them and keep limping along.

Yesterday we received a SpotBot that I ordered.  When we first adopted Nicki years ago we got an older style SpotBot shortly afterward.  It became a valuable tool in the constant battle of pet excrement versus carpet.  When Ali and I separated the SpotBot went with her since she had the dogs primarily.

Well with two dogs in the house now and Elsa’s recent run of bathroom accidents a SpotBot once again made sense.  I saw they made some changes to the design over the years but it seems to still work well.  I sat through a cycle or two on the bed just watching it do it’s thing.

So it was cool to have my birthday on a Friday this year.  I went home after work and got changed so we could head back out to Carrabbas for a birthday dinner.  It seems that all of the sterilization of the Naples location over the years, most of which I have complained about repeatedly is evidently annoying other former patrons as well.  Katie and Daniel were able to get immediately seated at 7PM which would have been WTF crazy a few years ago.  A 90 minute wait on Friday night was not unusual.

Again some of the shortcomings of the chain were front and center during the meal.  The wait staff which used to be very interesting, good, and stable since they made good money, has now become a carousel of faces.  I never recognize anybody from one visit to the next.  The guy we had as a server was in training and had another woman helping him.  Even with tag teaming the table the service was sloppy and slow. The “glasses” the draft beer come in are ridiculously small, an obvious cost cutting/profit padding move.  The reason glasses was in quotes is they don’t even use real glasses anymore, they are plastic.  Plastic glasses break less = more $$$.

Our food at least was half decent and I was surprised they actually had staff sing happy birthday in Italian to me, another tradition that had been ditched a few years back.  It was another subpar experience at what used to be my favorite local restaurant.  That title clearly needs to be up for grabs.

So although the dinner was only so so we had a fun activity planned afterward.  I had all of the PTV’s loaded up in the back of the Prius.  We planned to go see the awesome Xmas light displays in the Victoria Park development on them.  Cindy and I had checked out the lights a couple years ago cruising top down in the SSR and at the time I thought that was an awesome way to experience the sights and sounds.  Well doing it on the EUC’s and MiniPros was way better.

We parked in a shopping center about a half mile or so from the development.  Cindy had brought some battery powered mini-Xmas lights that she wrapped around each one of us to add to the festive spirit.  Once we got into the development it was awesome.  The degree of decoration on nearly every house was just great.  People were really interested in us of course, wondering what the heck we were riding.  We looked like rolling UFO’s.

Riding around all that traffic was a bit challenging at times but we managed ok, mostly staying on sidewalks but even when we were on the road the pace of traffic snaking through the development was very slow so it wasnt a huge deal.  All four of us had a lot of fun.  I could hardly believe we were riding until 10PM.  Riding at night definitely is a different kind of cool.  It was so much fun that we are hoping to get out on the wheels one more time this week after work out at Ave Maria.

On Saturday morning Cindy and I were outside early attending to some normal yard chores.  We planned to have a pretty mundane day since we were supposed to do a nighttime Xmas 5k at 6PM.  We picked up Sadie mid-morning and then took both dogs to Rural King to grab a couple things.

While we were eating lunch at home we were watching something on the DVR.  I had saw Elsa go out the dog door early on in the show but didn’t give any thought to the fact I didn’t see her come back in.  After the show was over we were looking for Elsa in the house and could not find her.  I remembered I saw her go out on the lanai so I assumed she was still out there.  When I went out there and told Cindy I didn’t see her, things got serious.

Cindy went into full fledged freak out mode.  I had the far side door cracked as I was filling the pool with a hose.  I quickly surmised that she pushed the door open.  After calling her a couple times she came trotting up to the door, crisis averted, or so I thought until I looked at her face.

The left side of her snout looked like she was punched, it was visibly swollen.  My first guess is she got stung by a bee.  We have a certain weed in the grass that creates tons of tiny white flowers that the bees love.  Elsa was acting normal otherwise but Cindy was in panic mode.  My thought was we should ice her snout and give her Benadryl.  Cindy was worried the allergic reaction could be severe so she contacted an emergency vet and took Elsa there immediately.

There evidently was another bite or sting on her back as well.  The vet wound up giving her a couple shots.  By the time they got home the swelling had gone down and Elsa seemed back to normal.

There was an unfortunate casualty from the Elsa scare, our Xmas 5K.  The vet said we needed to observe Elsa for a few hours to make sure all was well.  We certainly couldn’t leave her home alone while we did the 5K.  I was really looking forward to the race and paid a pretty steep price for the entry fee.  I have NEVER not participated in a race I registered for so missing the event was very disappointing.  Cindy had picked up our bib and race shirt already the day before but we missed out on a pretty epic finisher medal by not being there.  Oh well, sometimes things just don’t work out even though I am not all that good at accepting that situation.  Instead of running we spent Saturday night eating pizza and watching DVR content.

Since we missed the 5K I absolutely had to get out running Sunday morning to atone for it.  I was not thrilled that although it was exactly one week before Christmas it was 70 degrees and humid at 6:30 in the morning.  It made for a much sweatier December run than normal.  I survived it, getting in with an average pace just under the 9 minute miles.

Katie and Daniel came over for our Sunday morning ride.  We didn’t do anything thrilling, using DD as a home base to explore two different nearby developments.  We wound up putting in over 7 miles on the ride.

Instead of watching the Eagles/Ravens game Cindy and I decided to go see the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One.  The 1:50 matinee was sparsely populated which was nice.  The movie itself was nice but not great.  The first half of it felt sort of slow.  The second half of the movie was more exciting for sure but I still felt much less excited overall than I did after seeing The Force Awakens.  There is some disturbing facial CGI going in the movie that will stand out like a sore thumb when you see it.  I’d give the movie a B+ which is lower than I hoped for going in.

When I got home I installed a new cabin filter in the Prius.  Most people don’t think about them but they do get pretty damn gross.

Even though I didn’t see the Eagles game, it followed a now familiar script, losing a game they could have won.  Unfortunately in pretty much every close game this year the Birds are the ones who ultimately choke at the end, a disturbing trait that needs to be shaken off via new personnel or coaching techniques.