Category: Fitness

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.

 

 

 

Last night we finally got around to hanging decorations on our new Christmas tree which had been set up since Friday.  The tree looks sharp for sure.  We still have to get mom’s old tree set up in the great room which should complete the decorating for 2016.

Last night I had a miserable night of sleep.  I fell asleep early, tired from whatever form of illness I am dealing with. I wound up waking up suddenly about 11pm having to take a leak.  Afterward I was absolutely unable to fall back asleep, I rolled around for close to two hours before I said fck it and got out of bed. I plopped myself in front of the computer and fired up WoW.  The last time I was playing WoW at 1:30 in the morning was probably close to a decade ago.

That time of night is actually prime playing time for a lot of WoW players, there were more people online than I am used to from my normal 8-10 gaming hours.   Despite my eyes feeling like they were burning into my skull, I had some fun playing in the dead of night.  I don’t think it is sort of habit I want to be forming if I wish to maintain my sanity but I’ll try to treat the side effects of the sleepless night with extra caffeine today.

I strained something in my right elbow yesterday at the gym doing rep 7 of a planned 8 rep set.  There was a strong younger guy on the bench next to me so instead of stopping as soon as the pain hit I grimaced through rep 8 which was stupid, and surely put the icing on the cake.  Doing any sort of pushing movement with the arm is not going to be a pleasant experience until it heals up.

 

 

Saturday morning Cindy went in to work at her new gig at a new gym that is only 8 miles away.  I used that time to get out in the yard with the weed whacker.  I had not buzzed the yard in a few weeks.  The ground was quite soggy with some standing water so it was a messier than normal experience.  I also got a reminder of why I was supposed to wear long pants when performing this chore.  I inadvertently whacked a fire ant mound that sent a ton of them into my rubber boot where they immediately started lighting up my calf.  As I ripped the boot off and started whacking at my leg I vowed to never do the chore in shorts again.  I kept myself busy all morning doing stuff around the house until Cindy got home a little after noon.

14059975_1261800640499854_1562467272_oEarly in the afternoon Bill, our friend from the running club showed up with two Concept 2 Rowers in the back of his truck.  We were buying one of them.  Bill has been a long time rower.  He has amassed literally millions of meters of rowing over the years.  I had enjoyed rowing both at NCH and Planet Fitness.  Retro does not have any rowers.  Cindy and I thought a rower would make a nice addition to our fitness arsenal and we had a spot in our bedroom in front of the window where it would fit. The rower we actually bought was one Bill’s daughter used for awhile.  Despite being used a lot it was still in excellent condition, much better than any rower I used at the gym.

Bill is the equipment manager for the running club so we spent nearly a decade meeting up on race sites way before the crack of dawn to set up for events.  Bill has also helped me out on my property in the past, doing some grading work and also helping me transport and set up my smaller storage shed.  He may be the hardest working person I know.  We caught up a bit on the latest and greatest as he gave us a pretty thorough run down of the rower.  There aren’t many things I miss about my time as the running club timer but being able to work with good people like Bill is one of them.

After Bill left we did a run to Home Depot to get a few things.  We actually did not stop at Rural King this weekend, a rarity.  Going to Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot and Rural King just fits us like an old comfortable t-shirt.

Saturday night we opted to stay home and watch my Netflix Blu-ray, Gods of Egypt.  Yes I had heard the movie got bad reviews but how bad could a movie be that has the Kingslayer from Game of Thrones and King Leonidas from 300?  Well the answer is, really, really bad.  It was so bad that Cindy bailed watching it maybe half way through.  I was committed to see it through to the end.  A movie can be awful but sometimes it’s so dumb it can flip around to be entertaining in some bizarre way.  That is kind of how I felt as I endured to the end.  I was laughing out loud at just how dumb it was.  It also had a very weird musical score at times that did not seem to match up with the mood of the scene.  You really don’t need to ever see this movie but if you chose to do so I would advise downing a six pack first.  C-

14102371_10154752092197841_2661959509606927582_nSunday morning I once again had the alarm set for 6AM to get an early run in.  Cindy had planned to go with me but her back was bothering her so I wound up going solo.  I was surprised when I pulled up to the track around 6:45 and there was nobody there.  Normally there are one or two people walking the track very early.  I was also glad to see the sprinklers were not running so I wouldn’t have to dodge them this time around.

I had decided going in that I wanted to increase my lap count by one.  I had been doing 13 lappers up until then which worked out to be around 3.4 miles. 14 laps was my goal.  It was sort of peaceful having the track to myself as I circled the track as sunrise emerged.  As I got to lap 11-12 I was feeling ok so I entertained the idea of pushing for four miles of total distance.  I had not run 4 miles at all in 2016 and I if I did it in 2015 it was very early in the year.  As I rounded the final turn of lap 14 I glanced at my watch and saw one more lap would get me four miles.  I mentally committed and put in the 15th lap.  To be that close and bail would have been lame.  I ended the run as I began, alone, but feeling a mild sense of accomplishment as well.

Later in the morning Cindy and I loaded up the Minipros in the Prius and headed to North Collier Regional Park to get some riding in.  The park is large, beautiful and has paths all over the place that are perfect for two wheeled fun.  As we were zipping around we saw signs for early voting.  I knew early voting had opened up on Saturday but I did not know you could vote on Sunday too.  Cindy and I decided we should take advantage of our discovery.  We rode back to the car so Cindy could grab her ID.  We then took turns babysitting the Segways so the other could vote.  There were no lines and we finished in less than 5 minutes each.  We were both happy we inadvertently got a chance to fulfill our civic duty while joyriding.

As we rode around the park we got asked about the Minipros a few times by other park visitors.  To those that have never seen them in action it looks pretty crazy.  While I was waiting for Cindy to vote I was freaking a couple out by driving my Minipro around by remote control.  It was very warm, by the time we were done my shirt was soaked.  Even with the heat it was a beautiful and fun ride.  Cindy and I both really enjoy cruising on the Segways.

Cindy made arrangements to go to the movies with her daughter, niece and mom Sunday afternoon which again gave me time to do my own thing.  One of those things was to go back out on the road to ride my other personal transport device, the Ninebot One E+.

I had not ridden the wheel since Wednesday after work.  During that ride I felt stiff and uncomfortable.  I gave myself a few days to recover physically and mentally.  I drove through a pounding rainstorm a couple miles from the house to Dunkin Donuts where it was blue skies and nice.  I decided to take the wheel on the same route Cindy and I followed a couple weeks prior on the Minipros into a nearby development and golf course.

When we did that ride I remember thinking how it would be awesome if I was comfortable enough on the Ninebot One someday to be able to go this route.  I did not expect to be able to do it so soon.  I felt much more comfortable on the wheel than I did on Wednesday.  I actually rode back to the car three times with the intention of leaving.  Each time I decided I was having too much fun and headed out again.  In total I logged over 7 miles during the session which felt awesome.  Being able to navigate the sidewalks and walking/riding paths without feeling in mortal danger was a good thing.

Towards the end of the ride I came across another revelation in regards to foot position that was unknowingly causing me issues.  I had been having issues turning well to the left which is the side my foot is planted on the wheel when I mount.  I would normally have that left foot and ankle pressed firmly right against the side of the wheel, my thought process being less space meant less room for wobble.

I did a little test where I tried mounting the wheel with the opposite foot.  During this test I realized my turning problem had now reversed sides as well.  Well the light bulb clicked in my old brain.  It seemed like having a foot so tight against the bot makes it difficult to turn that direction due to lack of clearance.  I mounted the wheel with my foot and inch or so off the wheel and felt GREAT.  Not only could I turn both ways better, it also allowed for a more comfortable riding position.  It felt like moving the foot off the wheel a bit allowed the slight variations in wheel angle to be absorbed by my feet and ankles instead of transmitting all the way up my left leg.  I ended the riding session feeling very optimistic and anxious to get back on it again soon.

I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night which for the most part was much less interesting than the games itself.  I found the Brazillian music annoying as hell.  The costumes made me feel like I was watching one huge Mummer’s Parade.  The most interesting part of it was when Japan did their high tech routine promoting their hosting of the games in 2020.

Despite my initial thoughts about the raw sewage rivers and Zika outbreaks in Rio clouding the Olympics, I still found myself just watching the various events, many of which I NEVER witness outside of this four year cycle.  There are so many touching and meaningful moments that every Olympics provide, despite the never ending commercialization of the event.  I can still drown all that extraneous bullshit out and just enjoy the simplicity and joy of witnessing the best athletes from around the world trying to make their dreams come true.

I am now on my fifth day of prednisone and have stepped down from the three pill to two pill a day level.  Unfortunately I have noticed absolutely no change in my ear problem.  It still feels closed and has a low level ring.  I have a follow up appointment with the ear doctor today.  I will be sure to voice my opinion if he starts to suggest an extensive treatment plan, I will likely tap the brakes.  The bottom line is I can still hear and the ringing is only loud enough to be annoying but not debilitating.  I’m not going to get on the hamster wheel of expensive testing/treatment to just help pad their bottom line.  My gut tells me this is something that will either heal itself or not.  I don’t think they can “fix” it with a pill or a shot.

 

Yesterday at the gym I rebooted my more serious endurance training doing a running/riding brick.  I have been rewarded for my effort with a solid block of pain that starts in my lower right back and extends through the hip to my knee.  It’s not unexpected.

So I took a serious look at road trip options yesterday.  My original idea of going up the east coast all the way to Maine just was not going to be feasible due to a lack of days available.  We would have been sleeping somewhere different every night with limited time to enjoy much of anything.  Cindy came up with the idea of doing a much more abbreviated trip that only takes us as far north as Ashville, NC with additional stops at Myrtle Beach and Savannah.

I have never made any effort to see stuff in any of these states, they were just road real estate I had to travel through to get to my other destinations.  The total amount of driving we will be doing is a tiny fraction of what we covered last year.  It will be a different feeling type of trip for sure but it’s better than no road trip at all.

Yesterday I used an online service to create a snappy intro to front many of my YouTube videos.  It was something I had intended to do for quite awhile.  I was originally going to try to make something myself but dropping 5 bucks to have it looking more pro was worth it to me.

So Saturday will mark the two year anniversary of my mom passing away.  Although the 13th is the actual date, to me, yesterday the 10th of August was really the day I lost Mom.  The 13th was just the day the life support was removed.  In some ways it still seems impossible that my mom isn’t around although my mind has more or less adjusted to the reality after this much time.

10426194_10153143814382841_4865230077152776867_nI have a picture of her and I at her 50th birthday party in my office that Cindy framed and gave to me.  I look at it every morning when I come in.  It affects me differently from day to day.  It can make me smile or tear up randomly, I just never know.  It is also amazing to me that I am only a little more than a year away from being the same age as Mom was when that picture was taken.

As I was rummaging through my digital stuff I came across what I said about Mom at the remembrance we held at Lowdermilk Park.  I don’t remember if I ever shared it before but here it is.

As I stare here at a blank page, trying to figure out how you are supposed to represent the life of your mother in a few paragraphs, I am struggling.  How do you describe an entire lifetime of love and support that a mother provides for her children?

As her son I knew Mom as a loving parent who time and again would do the best that she could to ensure I was provided for.  She truly was my rock solid foundation.  No matter what situation or trouble I found myself in I could always count on my mom to support me when I needed it  and to tell me when I was acting dumb when I deserved it.

My mom’s hard work ethic, sense of responsibility, kindness, and humor are all qualities that she passed on to her children which I am eternally grateful for. 

I have many fond memories of mom growing up like our annual  vacations to Rehoboth Beach, countless afternoons spent at the Green Valley pool, and our Christmas Eve family dinners where mom did all of the work with little acclaim, while my grandfather complained that he didn’t like eating by candlelight because he couldn’t see his food.

When my parents divorced, mom was thrust from the role of a housewife into that of a family provider overnight.  She was able to build a long and successful career as a salesperson using nothing more than her honesty, friendliness and smile. 

I was proud of my mom when she took the brave step over 10 years ago of leaving Pennsylvania to join me here in Florida.  She loved Florida winters and having a surplus of sunshine year round.  She also was able to make a new circle of good friends here in Florida, many of which are here today.  I know my mom cherished these relationships.

Mom was lucky enough to see her children have children of their own.  I know my sister has relied on my mom time and again for advice as she raises her own two beautiful children.  My dogs, Nicki & Sadie loved their grandma.  As soon as Nicki would spot my mom she would grab a toy as a gift and rush towards her with her tail wagging uncontrollably.    

I was most recently proud of my mom after she decided to finally give up cigarettes cold turkey in January, something I had always wanted her to do since I was a young boy.  I used to hide or even throw her cigarettes out, until I got punished for doing it of course.  For her to finally quit smoking on her own was very special to me.

Anybody that knew my mom knows that despite her far too soon sudden passing, it is exactly the way she would have wanted it to be with no pain and no suffering. 

One time when I was discussing aspects of life with my mom she told me that she judged how successful her life was by the type of people her children grew up to be.  She told me she was content that she did a good job. 

Based on the outpouring of love, support and kindness I have witnessed the last several days for my mom I think she can rest peacefully, knowing she touched the lives of so many people in a positive way.     

Friday night after work a few people from work met up with my ex-boss Shirley who retired about a year and a half ago.  I had not seen her since then.  Cindy came out and joined us as well.  I downed five Shock Tops while we were there putting me beyond safe driving parameters.  We left the Prius there and Cindy drove us both home in the Tacoma.

1_1_5_category_mini_pro[1]Our new Segway miniPro arrived during the day.  I told Cindy she should open it up and put it together which she happily did.  She shot video of her unboxing which I combined with my first attempt to get on on the Segway, drunk, when we got home.  You can see both things here.

Trying to step on the miniPro for the first time drunk was not ideal.  The first couple times I tried the board rocked back and force violently.  It wasn’t because of a problem with the Segway, it was my alcohol impaired balance.  Even with drinking, I eventually got myself up on the board and was able to slowly maneuver around the great room without feeling like I was going to crash.

Cindy right away was more adept at riding than I was.  Even though it was pitch dark we took the board outside so Cindy could ride in the driveway.  There is a built in speed limiter on the miniPro where you can not unlock the top speed on it until you log about .6 miles of ride time.  After a few laps around our driveway Cindy had passed that distance so we unlocked the speed limiter, which allows the miniPro to get up to 11mph before the the automatic brake is applied.  The built in headlights made nighttime riding a piece of cake.  The configurable color LED tail lights are extremely cool as well.

Saturday morning I hopped back on the board inside and practiced sober.  I quickly gained confidence in my ability to control the Segway.  I had no issue riding around the hard surfaces in the house, easily steering around furniture and other obstacles.  I drove Cindy back to South Street to pick up the Prius which she used to get to the cycling class she was teaching.  When I returned home I wanted to get more miniPro time but I instead rode the tractor around the yard for a couple hours, the grass was getting high.

I didn’t have any major construction projects on the schedule but I did help Cindy assemble two wood pallets into a chair.  The bare pallets had been sitting around for awhile so I was happy to lend a hand to get them out of the yard.  I also ripped a couple boards off a third pallet so Cindy could turn it into a planter for a friend of hers.

Saturday night we stayed home and watched our current Netflix rental, The Big Short.  The film is based on a true story regarding the financial meltdown of 2007/2008 and the origin of the credit default swaps that pushed several financial institutions off the edge and required others to get billions of federal bailout money to remain afloat.  I thought the movie was extremely well done and did an excellent job at illustrating at just how greedy and disgusting the financial industry was and is.

Just imagine you bought a house and instead of buying one mortgage on it you instead bought 50 mortgages on it.  In simplistic terms that is sort of what these banks did, selling mortgage investment bundles, filled with horrible risky loans over and over and over again.  It is pretty incredible when you try to wrap your head around just how deep the fraud and irresponsibility went.  The scary thing is so many people act like it was ancient history while the financial industry received little more than a tap on the wrist for literally stealing TRILLIONS of dollars from the general populace.  People can’t be bothered with things like financial fraud and abuse when there are so many Pokemon pets yet to catch.  Anyway, I liked the movie a lot and every adult should see it, and pay attention.  It gets an A.

Sunday morning we had an interesting exercise session that included running, Segway riding, rollerskating, and rollerblading.  I put in about 3.5 miles on the track while Cindy rode around the school grounds.  We then drove to Dunkin Donuts where I rode the miniPro while drinking coffee while Cindy roller skated.  Cindy had told me she used to be a really good skater but I never saw her in action.  It didn’t take long for me to be impressed.  Despite her not skating for years she immediately seemed comfortable, skating backwards and doing spins like it was nothing.

We later switched, I put on my roller blades and Cindy rode the board.  I also had not rollerbladed in several years.  Unlike Cindy, I was never adept at it.  At best I could avoid falling down but I never was smooth or fast.  I managed to not fall on my face but if you watch the video you will see my awkward style.

After an active start the rest of my Sunday slowed down. Both Cindy and I felt very tired during the afternoon and actually laid down for a psuedo-nap.  The most productive thing I did during the day was to reroute an ethernet cable that used to be used for the Xbox 360, into the wall and back out behind the tv for hard wired internet speed.  I pulled the 360 out of the bedroom as it had no practical use with a smart TV and a Fire Stick residing there now.

This weekend the string of horrible events continued with more police shootings in Baton Rouge and a bloody, unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey.  Soon these atrocities will become so commonplace that they get as much news time as US soldiers dying unnecessarily in Iraq/Afghanistan.  It gets to the point where typical public response to these events just feels numb. Outrage, prayers, and cries it must stop are the typical blueprint.  To me the increased frequency of these events would indicate that whatever we think we are accomplishing with that response is obviously ineffective.