So after the awful tragedy of Friday night I spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep myself as distracted as possible to avoid focusing on the loss of Tuki and my role in it. During the day I got on the tractor and did my best to mow the yard. After two weeks of torrential rain it looked like hell. I got more cut than I expected at first which at least made things look a little less chaotic.
I was glad that the submersible pump that I ordered showed up. I wasted little time before hooking it up behind the chicken coop. There was a small hole that was dug out by the chickens by their playground which is where some of the deepest water resides. I took an unused pot and placed it in the hole, it fit pretty much perfectly.
The reason I used this set up was I wanted the pump to be slightly below ground level so it pumps out as much water as possible. I ran two extension cords from the shed and 150 feet of hose to the large drainage ditch in between our property and the one to our east.
I plugged in the pump and it started humming along. The other end of the hose was so far away I couldn’t verify it was working until I walked over to the ditch. I was glad to see/hear a strong flow of water dumping out the end. The pump has been running constantly since about 3PM Saturday and has dropped the water level back there by several inches. The problem is there is SO much water, I bet it is easily 15-20 thousand gallons, that even with the 1/3 hp pump going full speed it is going to take a long time to get the water out of there. By yesterday afternoon there was an appreciable difference, enough that the chickens started to venture further back. I have a feeling the pump is going to be a permanent fixture in the chicken yard during wet season.
I spent a lot of time getting my feet wet with 3D printing. I had two big issues, oozing and some prints lifting from the print platform. I addressed the lifting print by using a trick others posted with this model printer. It involved flipping the print bed upside down so the glass side is up. After doing that I applied blue painter’s tape to the glass. The prints appeared to adhere consistently after that.
The oozing was a pain. Basically before a print begins the extruder (print nozzle) is brought up to operating temperature, somewhere between 200 and 220 degree celsius (400 degrees!). As it hit that temp some of the plastic filament starts to melt and run out of the extruder. Depending on how much, it can screw up the print as the unwanted plastic gets in the way.
To fix this I used multiple remedies. I set the printer to run at a slightly lower temperature which slowed down the oozing but didn’t totally eliminate it. I also would babysit the start of the print job. Just as the extruder got to temp but before it actually starts printing I quickly grabbed the stuff that oozed out and cut it off. Finally, I started putting “brims” on the pieces which creates a thin outline around the base of the model. During the brim creation any junk that was on the nozzle normally will come off and should not affect the model building itself.
The printer has been working pretty much non-stop all weekend. I printed a mudguard for the Msuper, an external spool holder for the printer which allows larger filament spools to be used and five pieces for a gun model that Cindy is making for her Supercon costume. I have quickly seen why 3D printing can become a rather addicting hobby. Watching the printer build a model is somewhat mesmerizing.
Saturday night we watched Assassin’s Creed, our latest Netflix rental. I never played the video game the movie is based on so I really had no frame of reference. I thought even without that background the movie stood alone pretty well as decent B+ entertainment.
Sunday morning instead of running I again put in time on the rower, 30 minutes to simulate roughly what my 5k runs consume. Rowing is a different kind of uncomfortable compared to running. The lack of impact is nice and the overall body benefit is surely higher. However I don’t get quite the sense of accomplishment rowing 30 minutes compared to running the same amount of time. I’m not sure why.
Cindy and I got out for a hot but fun ride on our electric unicycles mid-morning. It was the fastest sustained riding Cindy has done to date. She really is getting to the point where she can concentrate more on just enjoying the ride experience instead of having to constantly fear losing control.
I got to talk to my dad yesterday to catch up. As in most of our conversations there are portions where dad grumbles about various things in the world that just piss him off. I am excited that he appears to be still moving forward with his plans to install a large scale solar array on his property.
Sunday afternoon was pretty chill. Katie came over to visit for a little while and I spent time working on more 3D printing, paying my bills, and playing a little WoW. Cindy worked hard to make my Father’s Day as pleasant as it could be which I appreciated.
I took Sadie back this morning to Ali’s place. We spoke only briefly about the Tuki incident. If I would have talked about it more I am pretty sure both of us would have started crying. Lucky goes home this evening so all of a sudden the household gets a lot less crazy and quieter. The lack of Tuki’s steady contribution to the sound environment in the house is something that is going to feel very strange for a long time…
So a couple weeks ago I had routine AC maintenance done on the house. During that work it was brought to my attention that the blower in my air handler was covered in mold. I am sure it is related to when the overflow kill switch was defective, allowing water to puddle in the bottom of the system last year. So anyway, it was recommended that the blower is pulled, completely disassembled, and cleaned thoroughly. They also mentioned that a UV light kit could prevent this scenario from happening in the future as it blasts the entire air handler with UV light which kills microorganisms like mold. The idea of mold existing in my AC system made the decision easy, even though it wouldn’t be cheap.
The work was done today so I just took the day off, giving me an odd 1-3 work week. The tech showed me the inside of the blower assembly before it was cleaned, it was totally black. To think that shit was getting circulated in the system is pretty gross and potentially hazardous to your health. They also showed me the same parts after the cleaning and it was night and day. In total the work took about two hours and even though I am out about $700 I feel better knowing my HVAC system is not a petri dish any longer.
After the tech left I loaded Sadie and Elsa up in the Prius to take Sadie home and return Ali’s computer to her which I finally got working again. Ali’s boyfriends dogs were excited for the unexpected visit. Elsa was scared, submissive, and excited all at the same time, it was very funny to watch. All four of them slept up in Ali’s office as I completed the work, it was very cute.
I plan to veg out most of the rest of the day, an appropriate course of action since we are mired in a several day rain event. I started leveling a new character in WoW so that can keep me entertained for as long as I need.
Last night after work I got inspired to take my Ninebot One on it’s longest ride so far. I went down our road to the first cross street which has very minimal traffic. Heading down to the side street made me a bit nervous as I passed a couple vehicles going to opposite direction as I was riding on a single wheel, which sounds a bit crazy.
Once I got on the side street I was less nervous. The long, straight stretches of asphalt were good for practice. I did pretty well although I still had issues with wobbling which would kick in during the ride. I wanted to try to do some turn practice. A couple times I managed to complete a turn within the radius of the width of the road but it was VERY shaky and much more difficult than it should be. After coming out of one of those shaky turns I developed a bad wobble that turned into a pretty bad crash where I came down hard on my wrist. I had my lifting gloves with wrist wraps on but that crash convinced me I need to get full fledged wrist guards. The last thing I need is a broken wrist. Both of my wrists now are hurting.
There are weird mind games that go on while I am riding. I will be cruising along more or less smoothly and I will start thinking about losing control and crashing. Many times these thoughts are followed with feeling unstable with wobbles returning. I also got nervous a few times where I was going fast enough to initiate the automatic tilt back which kicks in at 12-13 mph. I was surprised I was going that fast (first time) but once I was, I again thought about the implications of falling at that speed.
I find my lower body fatigues when I ride, probably because I have so much tension in my legs. It seems like the deeper I go into a ride the more shaky I get. My longest single ride last night was probably over a half mile in length. In total I put in somewhere around three miles, obliterating any prior distance totals from other sessions. The one fall I had however was a reminder that I am still far from ready to be riding in environments with a lot of people, vehicles or other obstacles. This weekend I want to get more wheel time, hopefully practicing a lot with turning. I watched a video last night that made me realize a few things I was fundamentally doing wrong that makes turning harder than it needs to be.
When I got back Cindy was a bit freaked out. I had not told her I planned to ride down the road so she had no idea where I was or if I was upright or on a stretcher. I told her she didn’t need to worry since my life insurance premium is up to date. 🙂
Even though last week I suggested that perhaps the idea of the Olympic games may have run it’s course, I still have found myself watching the games quite a bit and enjoying it. Michael Phelps has been nothing short of amazing. To perform at such a high level across four Olympics spanning 16 years is unprecedented and unlikely to be repeated anytime soon. It really doesn’t matter which sport is on, I’ll watch it, unless it’s soccer.
This weekend should be pretty normal with work around the house, a Sadie visit, some endurance training, Segway riding and whatever else sounds fun. With the new WoW release some virtual relaxation will be on the docket as well I am sure.
I made a last minute vacation request to take Monday off. My work anniversary date is approaching in mid-August and I have a week of vacation I need to use up before then. I used the day to mostly chill, only helping Cindy do a few chores around the house and little else. The rest of the day I mostly did whatever I felt like doing which included watching YouTube videos, playing Overwatch/Hearthstone, and reading a few more chapters of my third Warcraft novel. I felt a bit uncomfortable not accomplishing more during the day but I survived.
Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard about the latest craze, Pokemon Go, a game for your smartphone. It basically uses your phone’s GPS and camera to superimpose a Pokemon universe onto your surroundings. The end result is people wandering around the streets, staring at their screens trying to capture virtual “pets” and discover other stuff. I have heard proponents of the game say it is great because it gets an increasingly sedentary society to get off their ass and walk around outdoors, delivering an exercise benefit to the end user. The caveat is the person is experiencing the outdoors while staring at their phone which seems contradictory and dangerous as people ignore their surroundings.
I can say with 100% certainty that I will not install the game out of principal alone. I hear it is “fun”, I hear it is “addicting”, but that does nothing to influence my decision. Anything that requires me to walk the streets staring at my phone like a screen zombie just is not the sort of entertainment I will ever be looking for. If I see you walking down the sidewalk flicking Pokemon balls at virtual beings just know that a little part of me is hoping you walk face first into a pole.
I got a very sad email last night from my dad that one of his three dogs, Charlie, had died yesterday. Charlie was found by my dad and Teresa a little less than 4 years ago wandering around. He was in rough shape and Dad assumed he had a pretty difficult life up until that point, more than likely living outside full time. He also had a bit of a mean streak that would come out unexpectedly.
When we met him during our last winter PA trip he was a little sketchy when he first met us but by the time we left he was much better, letting me pet him as much as I wanted. Sadie and he got along as well, playing a bunch along with Dad and Teresa’s other dogs, Maggie and Clara.
Well in recent conversations I had with dad he said that Charlie was having some mobility problems with his back legs, something I was very familiar with because of what Nicki went through. In the last few months dad had taken Charlie to the vet a number of times. Yesterday while dad was outside doing stuff Charlie was out there hanging around, trying to be part of stuff like he normally did. He got tired and was cooling off in the shed. A little later my step mom found Charlie dead in the yard.
I know how much dad loves his dogs so I knew he was crushed by Charlie’s demise. I waited until this morning to call him although I knew not nearly enough time had passed to soften the blow. As I expected Dad was in rough shape. I tried the best I could to make him know I understood how he felt based on what we went through with Nicki. I said Charlie was lucky to find a loving home like he and my step mom provided, even later in Charlie’s life. Most of the conversation I spent just listening, allowing dad to get out some of the painful emotions that surround the death of a loved one, it’s all you can really do.
The only other thing I could offer was that with time the pain will slowly subside although the sense of loss will always be a part of you. I still think of Nicki and my mom quite often. When I do it still will glass over my eyes with tears in a matter of seconds. Death, pain, and loss is all a part of life. The older you get the more frequently you are reminded of it. R.I.P Charlie, you will be missed. I am glad he got a chance to give and receive love the last few years of his life.
I figured a long 5 day weekend needed to be recapped now instead of later to conserve brain cells. The main reason I took Thursday and Friday off was Cindy needed a ride to the Cape Coral VA hospital because she was having a MRI done. She was going to take a valium to ease some of the anxiety the MRI process can cause so with me being there we could head home without first waiting for the valium to wear off.
I brought my Warcraft book and also had a Kindle version of Lenny Dykstra’s book I could read. Instead I wound up playing Hearthstone the couple hours I was waiting while watching the Buzzr channel which is nothing but old game shows. I forgot just how much I enjoyed shows like Match Game and Family Feud in my younger days.
Cindy emerged from her procedure intact and only a little fuzzy from the valium. By the time we got home it was mid-afternoon. Cindy was really tired and tried to nap. I putzed around the house doing a few things, including removing the dealer emblem from the back of my Tacoma.
I designated Friday as the day to get the rain shelter built on the side of the house over the water equipment. I have had most of the raw materials to do the project in the shed for a couple of weeks and I was ready to get it out of the way. I got outside relatively early. I had some grand delusion that I would have most of the shelter done before the heat of the day set in. Yea, right.
It quickly became an all day affair with me laboring away in 90+ degree/ 90% humidity which is just pure misery. Of course I had to go to Home Depot to grab some extra stuff I hadn’t anticipated which is nearly always the case with my home improvement projects. At least it gave me a reason to take Sadie with. Home Depot has quickly become one of her favorite places since we discovered it was dog friendly.
I was working on the shelter until almost 5PM and by the time clean up began my ass was dragging big time. Despite drinking throughout the day I felt majorly dehydrated and exhausted. Thanks to Cindy’s help I got the frame in place and stained. The only thing that remained was attaching the roof panels but I needed some additional parts to make that happen so it was going to have to wait until Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.
Cindy had spent a good portion of Thursday evening and Friday working on her costume for Supercon. She had decided late in the week she was going to go as Tracer, one of the heroes from Overwatch. Of course the easiest thing to do when it comes to costumes is to simply buy one. The problem with that is then you look just like everyone else that just bought one.
Cindy has always been good, very good actually at making costumes by hand. She has an uncanny knack to just be able to take a bunch of raw materials and make very cool costumes out of it. She uses a similar process in costume making as I do with home projects, start with a general idea and tweak it as you go.
She was stressing out late Friday, not thinking she was going to be able to get t all done. She actually did not get it all done Friday, she did the finishing work Saturday morning, right up until the time we were heading out for Florida Supercon in Miami. I opted to not do any special costume, declaring my Under Armour Spiderman shirt as festive enough.
We took the Prius across state opting for gas savings over the more comfortable cruising the 2016 Tacoma offers. The drive went relatively smooth until we ran into some pretty serious traffic coming into Miami which is normal. Our plan was to park in a garage that was in between our hotel and the convention center, both within walking distance. The walk to Supercon was a few blocks which didn’t feel great in the heat and humidity. We could tell we were getting close as we saw more and more people in costume going the same direction.
Cindy had planned for us to go to Supercon for a bit and then go back to the hotel for her to do her costume, hair and make up in the afternoon. Once we saw so many people already dressed up and the long security line we realized it may have been better for us to be in full costume from the start instead of having to come, go and come back again. It was our first time at an event like this so we had much to learn.
Like I mentioned the security line to get in was very long but luckily they had a lot of staff there so the line moved quick. The time went quickly since everywhere you turned there was someone in an interesting or funny costume to look at. It didn’t take long till I regretted not doing any sort of more formal costume.
I had never been inside the Miami Convention Center before. I was impressed at how big it was. Once we got inside the main show floor it was just wall to wall exhibits and people. It was a nerd’s fantasy without a doubt. We met up with our friend Kim and her two kids who also were over from Naples, we spent a good chunk of our time at the con with them.
Walking around was just amazing with one amazing visual after another. It sort of reminded me of how I feel when I go to Vegas but in a different way. If you wanted to, you could easily spend a few paychecks on merchandise. They had anything and everything you could imagine. Luckily I am not much of a collector so I didn’t buy anything.
You could also easily spend a small fortune if you were interested in getting an autograph or a photo with the diverse cast of B and C list celebrities that were there. It seemed like the absolute minimum you would spend to get anyone’s autograph was $25 and another $10 if you wanted to throw a picture of you with the person as well. The whole thing was a bit of a turn off to me although you were allowed to at least walk up and say hi to any of them without opening up your wallet.
They had two levels of celebrities there. The upper tier was against one of the walls where each person had a roped off waiting area. The not so famous people were plopped behind normal tables where you could just walk up to them. I thought it was funny that even though this was “Supercon”, the array of celebrities were definitely not just from the super hero/comic book realm. There were WWE Wrestlers and even cast members of Sesame Street signing autographs.
Ironically the one autograph we actually paid for was for Emilio Delgado from Sesame Street. He was extremely friendly and down to earth. He seemed to be a genuinely nice man. It was amazing that the guy has been on Sesame Street his entire adult life. I clearly recall watching him on the show as a kid helping me learn my abc’s and 123’s.
The most interesting celebrity sighting for me was Henry Winkler, aka. The Fonz from Happy Days, one of my favorite shows growing up. Henry looked about as far away from his famous character as you could imagine. He is old, overweight and was wearing plaid pants with a pink untucked oxford. I don’t think Henry has ever come out as being openly gay for whatever reason but it seemed pretty obvious to me that is the case. He was nice enough to come out and greet people waiting in line and allowing people to take his picture without paying for it.
Cindy had a funny conversation with Bruce Boxleitner who she evidently met randomly when she was in high school. Cindy thought he was the bomb and evidently gave him a flower way back when. Cindy got red in the face as she told the story and Bruce laughed out loud as she told it. It was pretty funny. He is old now too.
So we decided it was time for Cindy to put her costume on. We walked first to the parking garage to grab our stuff and then a few more blocks to get to our hotel. It was admittedly a pain in the ass to walk there and we had to take a detour into a back alley due to construction that made Cindy nervous.
During check in I found it annoying that even though our room was supposed to be “paid in full” already, they tack on another 20 buck resort fee. WTF, since when does PAID IN FULL not mean paid in full. Our reward for the resort fee was two vouchers, one for a complimentary drink that we never used and another for the continental breakfast, yippee.
The room was nothing spectacular but fine for our needs. While I laid on the bed and chilled out Cindy began the long process of doing her hair and make up for her Tracer costume. Even though she estimated earlier it would take her 30 minutes to get ready I knew it would take much longer based on experience. It wound up taking close to 3 times that. We thought it would be interesting to have the GoPro rolling to document the transformation. I took the 75-80 minutes of video and condensed it down to around 14 minutes through the magic of editing. Check it out if you have time.
The combo of the make up and outfit really made for a convincing visual. The fact that we saw no other Tracer’s earlier made me think Cindy was going to get a lot of picture requests. My prediction turned out to be very true. To get back to the convention center we decided to dip our toe into the world of Uber, something we never tried before. We figured walking 6 or 7 blocks with Cindy in full make up and costume would have sort of sucked. Plus we were handed a card at the center to get an Uber ride for free so it made sense.
Being an Uber virgin I had no idea just how efficient it was. After installing the app and requesting a ride we literally had a car waiting for us outside in a couple minutes. We didn’t expect it to be quite so fast and had to haul ass downstairs to the lobby. Just as we were walking out my phone rang with a call from the driver letting us know she was there, wow. Now one of the big perks you hear about Uber is you don’t tip. Even though I knew that, old habits die hard and I pulled the few singles I had in my wallet and gave it to the driver. I was amazed at just how smooth, efficient and clean the service is. It was so impressive that I suggested to Cindy she should look into doing part time Uber back home. Her personality and schedule would be a great fit for it.
So once we got to the convention center it took absolutely no time until the fruit of Cindy’s labor became apparent with people asking to take their picture with her. Her costume was pretty damn spectacular. We didn’t keep official count but I estimate she had no fewer than 50-75 people that asked to take their picture with her. There were some other people dressed up as Overwatch characters that made for some good photo ops as well.
I was mostly a passive part of the experience and was happy to be so. This was Cindy in her element, with a smile and happy words to share with anyone that wanted a picture. She said her face literally hurt from smiling so much by the end of the night. It was pretty crazy but in a good way.
We had an unfortunate incident during the afternoon when they evacuated the building. Evidently a smoke alarm was tripped from something other than a fire. It did give us a chance for Cindy to get a funny picture with a guy dressed as one of the crazy guys from Mad Max. We were only outside for maybe 15 minutes before the all clear was sounded and were allowed back inside.
Cindy posed for a 3d rendering of herself that was set up. They basically take your picture from something like 40 cameras simultaneously and can stitch it into a 3d model that you actually have produced into a statue. Cindy got the GIF version of it for free.
A short young girl approached Cindy and asked if she could take her picture as she was apparently a Tracer/Overwatch fan. Cindy quickly realized it was Briana Hildebrand who was in Deadpool. She was one of the celebrities at the show. We thought it was kind of awesome she asked to take a pic of Cindy.
We spent the majority of the rest of the afternoon and evening just walking around and taking everything in between picture requests of Cindy. It was just fun and the entire building was filled with a very positive energy.
The only formal thing we did was attend the costume contest (that Cindy should have entered) It was not as much fun as I had hoped. The theater was packed and I was seated next to a guy that had a definite creepy vibe. He was easily in his 50’s but had his Nintendo 3DS in hand and was playing some stupid looking game that seemed targeted at 5 year olds for a good portion of the show. He also seemed to clap the loudest for the costume contest participants dressed as or played by young girls. I felt an repeated urge to deliver a sharp blow with my left elbow to his nose.
The contest was too long, running over two hours. The majority of the participants were dressed as characters from games, shows, or comics that Cindy and I had no familiarity with. Plus we were too far away from the stage to get a great view of anything. I had a much better time checking out the costumes as we walked around the con.
By the time we got out of the costume show it was late, after 9:30. The main exhibit area was closed at that point but we went upstairs were the video games were set up to hang out a little bit with the diehards before heading out. We met so many great people during the Supercon that it actually made me eager to experience it again. Like I said, just seeing Cindy so happy was worth the price of admission to me. We said goodbye to Kim and her kids before hailing yet another Uber to get us back to the hotel. We were exhausted but glad we made the effort to get there. It was something neither of us experienced before.
On Sunday morning we headed out after our decent continental breakfast. We hailed our third Uber in two days to run us back to the parking garage instead of us lugging the stuff. I felt a bit lazy doing it this time but it had rained earlier and we didn’t want to get caught in the rain again while hauling our stuff. After fueling up with some DD coffee we headed back across Alligator Alley towards home. The drive was without incident. Our Sunday once we got home was filled with mostly chores associated with returning from vacation, even short ones. We always have anxiety about the chickens well being when we aren’t home. I also worked on getting the long video of Cindy’s Tracer transformation ripped which took quite awhile.
Sunday night we watched my latest Netflix dvd, Creed, a movie we wanted to see in the theater. I thought it was good but was curious why it wasn’t called Rocky 6. Sure Stallone isn’t the fighter in this movie but I think the film totally revolved around him. I thought he did a really good job and I liked the movie overall, regardless of how improbable the outcomes were. A-
This morning I knew I had the rain shelter project foremost on my plate. Once again I hoped to be able to knock it out early and again I ran into complications that made that not happen. I underestimated the amount of roofing screws I would need to attach the panels and had to go back to Home Depot for the third time during my extended weekend to get what I needed. I finally got the project finished up around lunch time and had a nice hard downpour to test it with later in the afternoon. Just as I hoped, the shelter kept the equipment dry. When the sun came back out I verified the temperature under there felt a ton more bearable than when the bare sun is beating on you.
If you would like to see the rain shelter install process chopped down to a 24 minute time capsule, look below.
I also had a small side repair that was annoying me. The pool filter has had a small leak for quite awhile. In an attempt to stop it I bought a new lock ring and O ring for it. When I installed both I was rewarded with a leak that was worse than before. I then got some O ring lubricant, hoping that would stop the leak. It slowed it down somewhat but it was still dripping. I decided I would attach the top of the canister filter with it turned about 90 degrees from it’s normal front facing orientation. That simple change addressed the drip. Water no longer was running down the side. It’s an unexpected simple fix but a fix is a fix in my book.
The rest of my day has been consumed with editing the rain shelter video you see above as well as writing this blog entry which has been fueled by three Miller Lites. Yea sure I wish I had a couple more days where I had less to do but that always seems to be the case. It was the first time in close to a decade that my 4th of July didn’t start off with timing a very hectic, hot, and humid 5K for the running club. I can’t say I missed the experience even a little bit.
I had my skin cancer surgery yesterday starting bright and early at 8:30AM. This was to be another “mohs” procedure, something I have had a couple times before. The doctor cuts a perimeter out around the cancerous area and then tests the cells on the edge to make sure he got it all. If not you get cut on again until the test is clear. It’s not a fun procedure and can take awhile since it takes 30-60 minutes to get the test results each time.
Ironically the most painful part of the surgery is normally the injection of the local pain numbing which burns pretty intensely as it goes in. It didn’t take long into the procedure until my embarrassing, excessive sweating reflex kicked in. This is something that happens to me pretty consistently in a medical scenario that involves me getting poked or cut on. It only took a few minutes until I could feel the beads of sweat building on my back and few minutes longer until it started to drip off me. The nurse asked me a couple times if I was ok. I assured her I was and this was normal reaction for me.
The numbing solution did it’s job as I couldn’t feel the cuts being made on my shoulder but I certainly could hear them. At times it almost sounded like a box cutter going through cardboard. I dared not look at the wound as it was being worked on. Seeing a bloody hole in my skin would have probably kicked my adverse reaction to near pass out level.
So after round one of the cutting I was sent back to the waiting room to wait for results. I brought my Warcraft book to read to help me pass the time. After around a half hour the nurse gave me the bad news that more cutting was necessary. I returned to the cutting floor and had another sweaty session under the knife. By the time the doctor was done this time I had a circle bigger than the size of a half dollar cut out of my deltoid, thankfully the test came back clear this time around.
They said they would be able to stitch me up around 11, some 90 minutes away. I used the time to go drive to a near by Dunkin Donuts and read a couple more chapters of my book. When I returned I had a short wait before they called me in to close up the wound. More numbing was injected before the fun began. I literally felt like a human football getting it’s laces installed. I could feel the skin being pulled tight by the thick thread. The sound of it was even more unsettling. Again I kept my gaze firmly directed at the wall, I had no interest in seeing the visual that accompanied the sound.
Finally the stitching was complete. The nurse applied a pressure bandage and I was sent on my way. The doctor said I should limit my upper body exercise until a week after the stitches are removed to be safe which means a total of three weeks, a long time but I expected it based on past experience.
At first the surgical area didn’t feel like much thanks to the numbing effect lingering on. As it faded the weird feelings of tightness, stinging, and burning came rolling in, again, as expected based on my prior experiences. I tried to find arm positions that minimized the pulling on the stitches, letting my arm hang in a normal position actually was not ideal. I felt rather tired most of the day and even took a brief nap after reading some of my book. I did make sure I got something productive done, replacing the battery on my Neato and documenting it for the world.
I have had Cindy playing a little bit of Overwatch on my account. You may recall awhile ago she was playing Diablo with me. Well I was surprised that she really liked playing Overwatch. Last night I set her up with the game on her own pc so we could play simultaneously in a group together. We played a bunch of games and she did well for somebody new to the game. There is a TON of stuff going on simultaneously in the game so it takes some time and practice to get acclimated. I’m hoping she wants to play more with me in the future.
We are still dog sitting Tank. He seems to be quite content hanging with us although I am sure he misses his normal surroundings and playmate Bowser. Tank seems 100% fine at this point but the concern is roughhouse play could damage the stitches in his nose, so I don’t know how long he will be hanging around. I know Cindy likes having him there so I know she is in no hurry to give him back. He certainly is a cute little fella.
I have had no blogging the last couple days due to working at the tax certificate sale. The sale process for us tech guys is rather boring as we are there in the off chance that something goes wrong which it rarely does. The good thing is it meant our days ended a little earlier than normal. I took advantage of that extra time yesterday by getting my new Rachio intelligent sprinkler controller installed.
I had to first remove the Orbit sprinkler box which I got last year to replace my original controller which died. I felt a little bad that there was a tree frog that had claimed the inside of the box as it’s daytime shelter. He is the star of the video I shot of the install.
Installation of the new hi-tech controller went pretty well. I had turned it on and connected it to the app the day before inside. Once I got it mounted on the wall and wired up it connected to the house wi-fi immediately which is cool. I then went through the set up of each of my 6 zones. In the app you describe each area including the amount of sun it gets, soil type, vegetation, slope, and type of sprinklers used. It then uses this information if you decide to use the smart scheduler. The Rachio will use the information you enter combined with the local weather information it pulls from the internet to water your property as needed. Last night the system was scheduled to run but it cancelled the watering because it knew our area got substantial rain during the night.
The biggest reason I went with the Rachio is it can interact with our Amazon Echo. Last night I turned the sprinklers on and off via voice control which is very cool. Cindy likes that she can now easily turn on the sprinklers around the house easily to dissuade the chickens from digging excessively in the landscaped areas. I can also use the app to turn sprinklers on and off from anywhere in the world where I have internet connectivity.
I like the Rachio a lot. My only concern is it’s ability to survive outdoors. I bought the outdoor box for the Rachio which should protect it from the elements but it still has to deal with the extreme humidity and heat Florida brings daily. I may try to put a small “roof” over the box in a similar manner as I did with the Ring that is on the chicken coop to offer a little bit of additional protection.
Today I had my 6 month dermatologist check up. I have had a spot on the trap area of of my shoulder that has been a problem for awhile. It would cycle between just being red to actually bleeding from time to time. I pointed the spot out to the doctor. When he looked at my chart he saw he had done work in a nearby area several years ago. He scraped the suspect area and sent it out to be biopsied. If it again comes back as skin cancer I will likely be once again going under the knife to have the spot cut out. When a scalpel is involved it is never much fun.
I have been playing some Overwatch since it came out officially last week. The game is incredibly polished and well done, what I expect from any Blizzard title. Even though I last played a first person shooter seriously probably a decade ago I have been having fun in Overwatch. I have fun even though I really don’t know the maps or characters in the game well at all.
I also have fun even though I am not good at the game at all. I have messed with a number of the possible heroes and found the only ones that I do half decent with are the type where I can lay back strategically and attack from afar. Any hero that requires in your face fast twitch reaction or precise mouse control I fail pretty miserably with. So yea, dying a lot does absorb some of the fun factor for me but I still have a good time. I don’t see Overwatch taking over the number one or two spot in my gaming hierarchy which is occupied by WoW and Hearthstone but it is a fun change of pace for sure. Cindy thinks it’s funny watching my mannerisms while playing the game. My facial contortions and weird breathing is uncontrollable and odd looking for sure.
Tonight we have an oddly timed Tarpons football game. It is the first round of the playoffs and I guess it was the only date that worked for all parties involved. I expect the attendance to be worse than normal because of it being the middle of the week which means I may be able to count the bodies in the seats in a couple minutes. The other negative is the Tarpons are playing the team from Savannah who we just saw during the final regular season game which was a ridiculous 70-6 blow out. I expect tonight to be another yawner but at least we will be one of the few there to support the team.
So even though we had some torrential rain during the afternoon yesterday I wanted to take advantage of a small break in the precipitation to look at the ground on the old Tacoma. The driveway was still wet so I already accepted my back was going to get wet. When it started to rain rather heavily 10 minutes into the work the rest of me got equally wet.
So in order to find the ground I had to remove the two piece skid plate from beneath the engine compartment. Of course these parts were quite dirty/oily and that dirt quickly spread to various parts of my upper body. Once the plates were off it was easy to locate the negative ground, it was right next to the oil filter. This seemed like a less than ideal place for it since filter changes always resulted in oil sort of coating that area. As you would imagine there was a lot of sludge and grime on the grounding bolt.
I unbolted the ground and cleaned the bolt, the wire terminal, and the grounding point on the engine block with degreaser and wiped them off with shop towels. Putting everything back together was a bit of a pain in the ass and made more annoying by the rain pelting the portion of my body hanging out from under the truck. A quick turn of the key verified the truck still started. I now feel I fulfilled my self put responsibility to make sure the issue is taken care of as much as I could.
I hopped in for an early shower to get the grime off. After dinner I had a bunch of things going on simultaneously. I received two new computers that are for my accountants that live in Fort Myers. I am going to be installing the systems for them but wanted to do some prep work at home before I go to their home to do the migration. They have been having big problems with one of their systems for the last few months which is terrible timing since it has been the heart of their busy tax season. Somehow I need to find the time to get up there to swap out the systems soon.
Warning, tech talk to follow. In addition I was doing remote work at the office, upgrading our internal instant message platform and upgrading the operating system on our main domain controller from Windows Server 2008R2 to Windows Server 2012R2. I initiated the upgrade via a Teamviewer session to my workstation at work that in turn was connected to the server initially by a remote desktop session. When I tried to start the upgrade it would not continue via RDP since it saw the console session as being active. I had to disconnect and connect to the console via VNC and restarted the upgrade.
So during the upgrade I lost connectivity to the server since the upgrade requires a couple reboots. I also was unable to connect via RDP. I was worried that the upgrade was stuck on a screen that required some sort of question to be answered. I had one other way to connect, our multi-system keyboard monitor switch that is connected to the network. I first tried using the APC application to view the screen but it would not connect. I then tried to connect via browser. It began to start to launch the Java viewing app but would not complete when Java security settings killed it. The switch is probably at least 10 years old at this point so the java applet does not meet the minimum requirements modern day browsers require. Even if I added the site to the security exception list in Java it would not allow it to run. Mother F…
I am certainly far from a technical genius. I don’t have an encyclopedic memory or a comprehensive understanding of all things IT. What I do possess are good trouble shooting skills and resourcefulness. So when I hit what at first seemed like a java dead end I came up with one more path to get to my goal. I remembered I had Virtual PC with an XP mode virtual machine set up. I found it and started it up. It had not been fired up literally in years. Once I got it up and running I opened the IE8 browser and tried to connect to the KVM switch. It complained no version of Java was installed.
I then had to find an old version of java to install that did not have the same stringent security requirements modern java does. After some searching, being careful to avoid the various trap web sites, I found a 3 year old version of java which I downloaded and installed onto my virtual XP machine. After doing so I finally was able to successfully connect to my KVM switch over the network and gain access to the domain controller. It took a long and twisting route to get there but I finally navigated the way.
For the first time this week I brought my new Tacoma to work. I had the GoPro along which I used to shoot another vlog entry which I’ll post later tonight. In the vlog’s I try to speak about subjects not necessarily in step with whatever my blog topic of the day is. I don’t know how good/bad these videos are and to be honest it isn’t a big concern of mine. It helps me work on my off the cuff speaking which without a doubt is a big weakness of mine so I will keep throwing them out there.
I downloaded the latest game from Blizzard, the company that has entertained me for over two decades with games like Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. The latest title is called Overwatch and is a first person shooter, something new for Blizzard. I used to be a HUGE FPS guy. I cut my adult gaming teeth on games like Doom, Quake, Unreal Tournament, and Call of Duty on the PC. I was never great at the games, my twitch reaction just was never quick enough to compete against high level players but I enjoyed the genre nonetheless.
Eventually that type of game faded from the forefront of my gaming tastes with World of Warcraft dominating most of my allocated gaming time the last 10 years or so. Well Overwatch might be a reason for me to jump back into the FPS world. Up until yesterday the game was in closed beta with access only being given to a limited pool of players. They now have a brief open beta period where anyone can play for free till the retail game is released later this month.
A couple of the podcasts I listen to have hosts that have played extensively in the beta and they have been saying how fantastic the game was. So although I was quite busy last night I took the time to download the game and play briefly through the tutorial. The visuals and fluidity of the game are impressive as hell. I didn’t have time to do more than scratch the surface otherwise, only playing through a brief tutorial. I hope to get a chance to dig in deeper before the open beta expires so I can decide if I want to lay out 60 bucks for the final game.
This morning Cindy left very early to drive cross state to attend a fitness certification seminar. Of course she was worried about the chickens, I assured her I would take care of it. In order for me to clean their coop and still leave the house on time I had to head outside before sunrise, around 6:35. Even with turning on the coop light, only a few chickens were brave enough to get off the perch. They have very poor vision in low light conditions. I wound up picking up several of them and placing them on the ground which they seemed to appreciate.
Since the motor for the chicken door was sent out for replacement we have to manually open and close the door each day, securing it with a spring clamp for now. After dropping down the feeders which we hang high at night to keep them out of field mouse range I went inside to begin the coop cleaning which I do via mouth breathing the entire time to avoid the smell.
We used to have shavings on the ground that we would have to pick through and refresh daily after pushing down any poop that is on the roost into the shavings as well. It was tedious, time consuming, and you never got all of the poop no matter how much you tried. A few months ago we instead bought rubber mats that Cindy cut to fit the dimensions of the floor under the perch. We now simply pull the mats out of the coop each morning and blast them clean with our fire hose nozzle. Sure the mats look absolutely disgusting each morning after 11 chickens pooping on them all night but clean up is very, very simple. The mess dissolves almost instantly under water pressure.
I was able to get the coop cleaned, birds fed and mats hung out to dry in the span of 15 minutes. Hell I had enough time to even fill up the Tacoma with gas on my way to work and still arrive on time.
Last night I finished reading the first of a long series of Warcraft books, a Christmas gift I received from Cindy. Although as an adult, I have never been a consistent reader, the times where I have plowed into books I always find it enjoyable. The Warcraft books paint a huge and detailed back story to the game I have been playing for over a decade. Even if you could give two shits about the game, if you are into Lord of the Rings type stories I am pretty sure you would find these books very interesting as well.
The first book was published somewhere around 2004/2005. I just tracked down the second and third installment in the series on Amazon for less than 10 bucks each. Sure I love watching TV but the quiet solitude of reading a good book is something I should be doing more often to help balance things out. After all moderation is the key when it comes to most things in life.
I figured I better gather the fragments of my memory before they are lost. Friday was my first day of my impromptu 5 day staycation. Cindy and I started it with a DD bike ride. It was the first time I was taking my freshly modified Trek 2.1 on the road. Earlier in the week I added a stem extension and aero bars to enhance my riding position comfort. Despite being a much better/lighter bike, the Trek has spent most of the last two years hanging upside down in my storage shed because it just was uncomfortable to ride. Instead my 300 dollar Dawes bike was getting all of the road time. My alterations to the Trek had the effect I was hoping for. It felt good on the road and the higher quality and lower weight of the bike felt noticeable. The 20 mile ride went by without incident.
After we got home I headed outside to get the weeding done while Cindy attended to the chickens and some other things. After a quick dip in the pool we were ready to head out to Costco. We wound up getting over $200 in groceries there which is some sort of record. Hopefully we will be well stocked for awhile. The grocery slice of my monthly expenditure pie chart in Quicken has been getting quite large lately.
Friday my new megaphone that I ordered for Green Machine Timing showed up. It’s smaller than the others I have for the running club, only 40 watts max power, but that is part of it’s appeal, it’s easier to carry around. However the biggest plus for me was it uses a rechargeable lithium battery pack that is encased inside of a built in charger. The bigger megaphones use 8 C batteries that are a pain in the ass to maintain. Plus the housing for the batteries is very imprecise so when you have the lid closed you may not get any sound until you jiggle things around. It’s annoying. I no longer will have that issue. Cindy and I used it to film a funny Periscope video that she posted on FB.
Friday night was a normal pizza night. It felt great knowing I had another four days off remaining.
On Saturday morning Cindy and I were up early to go volunteer at the kids triathlon the local triathlete group puts on. Cindy and my primary responsibility was in the bike transition area where we helped the kids ranging in age from 7-13 stage their bikes and help them as needed during transition. I also brought my GoPro with to film the event. I was frustrated that I missed a lot of the little kids with a malfunction early that I got figured out later on. You can see the kids in action here. By the time the event was over at 9:30 it felt sweltering hot.
During the afternoon the it became quite rainy and stayed that way for most of the day. Cindy and I kept ourselves entertained indoors. There were no movies that came out this week that interested us enough to spend movie theater money for. Instead we just kept things simple and enjoyed a nice meal while watching my latest Netflix rental, Tracers. The film was basically one long parkour video but I found it entertaining enough to give an average B rating to the flick.
Sunday we did our second DD ride in three days, something I don’t think I ever did before. It also meant that in 8 days I rode a total of 70 miles, again new territory for me. Cindy actually cracked the century mark for those same 8 days since she did an additional 30 mile ride during the week with a friend of hers. I strapped the GoPro on to my right handlebar for the ride. It gives an interesting perspective/visual when combined with a soundtrack and ample captioning to fight off the boredom.
After another pool bath we were back in the car to go pick up Nicki and Sadie. After grabbing them we made a couple stops on the way home. Sunday afternoon Cindy was quite busy cooking. She recorded her efforts for her YouTube channel. I did a lot of video editing, gaming (now have 7 level 100 WoW characters) and paid my bills.
One of the things I wanted to address was the failure email I got from my DD perks account saying the automatic reload of my coffee card failed. When I logged into my account I saw that the credit card I had associated had the wrong expiration date. Ok, no problem, I will go in and edit the credit card information. Well after 10 minutes of futzing around I realized that there is absolutely no way to change the CC info. Ok, I guess I will just delete the credit card and reenter it with the correct info. Nope, it won’t let you do that either. The ONLY way you fix this is with a phone call to them which I made on Monday. The call required 20-25 minutes of wait time to speak to a person. After explaining the issue the phone rep says it will take TWO DAYS to clear the card from the system. I asked her in disbelief “Are you serious?”. She said it is a limitation of their current set up for credit cards and they are looking to change things in the future. It seems so odd because in many ways Dunkin Donuts seems very modern and tech savy in their business practices. To have such a ridiculously inefficient set up to manage credit cards seems very odd.
Monday morning Cindy and I took Nicki (and Sadie) to the vet. I made an appointment for Nicki to have some large masses on her belly looked at further. She has had them for awhile but they seem to be really growing and I wanted to get an updated opinion from the vet about them to see if he thought anything needed to be done at this point. This was the same vet that did the eyelid surgery that drastically helped Nicki’s vision.
He agreed the lumps were getting pretty big but said that labs are prone to growing fatty masses as they age. The general advice is if they are not causing the dog pain or discomfort the best course of action is to just let them be as the risk of surgery on an old dog could outweigh the benefit of removal. I mentioned how Nicki’s bark has been sounding progressively weaker. He said it is likely due to another old lab trait where the tissue that covers the larynx (forget medical term), becomes partially paralyzed. The end result is difficulty in breathing. (Nicki also pants all the time)
The vet did aspirate one of the masses to send it out for testing to be sure. (a $200 gotcha) However we basically just confirmed that Nicki is old and is having old dog issues. I wish I could wave a wand and make it go away. While we were there both dogs got their nails trimmed which was very needed.
When we got home I got a bug in my head to pressure wash the pool deck and cage. I HATE this house maintenance chore but a glance at the pure green scuzz on some sections of the cage combined with my extra time off made it seem like I would be an idiot for not doing it now. The end result was several hours shoulder/forearm burning labor as I directed the 3000 psi wand overhead with sometimes as much as an 9 foot extension hanging off of it. It is miserable. Doing it during the crushing heat of the afternoon added to the misery.
I wasn’t happy that at a few spots on the pool deck which we carefully prepped and double coated with pool deck stain lifted off under pressure. It was in areas where the deck is especially smooth. Maybe it needs to be roughed up a bit before we touch it up. Anyway, the pool area looked tremendously better by the time I was done. Hopefully it will be the holidays before I have to think about it again.
After I took the dogs back to Ali’s place Cindy and I chilled most of the night catching up on a backlog of dvr’d content. For my final day of my staycation I have no major plans other than some type of workout and whatever other minor things come to mind. We already had excitement this morning, the unwelcomed type. There was a hawk no more than 25 feet away from the pond area the chickens were hanging under. It was sitting in the palm tree. It was oddly unafraid of me. I was able to walk right up to the tree with my bb gun in hand without it moving. I yelled at it to get lost but he only retreated a short distance away. I then used my weapon to fire a few warning shots and again they were ineffective. I kept walking and firing until the hawk was a 100 yards off in a tree behind the back fence line.
Yes it makes both Cindy and I nervous to have hawks scouting out the chickens. The good thing is the property has a bunch of hiding spots for our birds and all of them are healthy, decent sized and fast. Hopefully this and our continued warning shots makes the hawks realize there are easier targets elsewhere.