Category: Home Improvements

So I continued my investigation last night into why I no longer had internet out at the chicken coop.  I did some more physical inspection of the cable in the coop area as well as the path it takes in the yard. I could not find any signs of physical damage which was good.  I then grabbed my laptop and headed into the attic, where the outside cable connects to indoor wiring.

This was the first time I had been in the attic since the roof was replaced.  I was AMAZED at the temperature.  Granted the sun was not out at the time but even so, with our old shingle roof the attic was ALWAYS a sauna.  It felt absolutely fine up there, no hotter than the garage below which was great.  It was also weird seeing ambient light in the attic from the three large roof vents on the north side of the roof.  I’m used to the space normally being pitch dark.

I got busy with my trouble shooting.  I got excited when I unhooked the outdoor cable and plugged it into my laptop and got a link light, meaning the outdoor cable was working, a big relief.  The problem was in the run that goes from the attic to the office.  I did some trouble shooting of that line but wasn’t able to quickly determine the issue.  If I were to guess, probably one of the ethernet ends that I installed when the house was built was flaky and not making good connection anymore.  Instead of diving into figuring that out I took a much faster approach, using a CAT 5 line that was connected to the TV in the bedroom, which isn’t really necessary.  Once I connected that line to the coop wire everything was back to normal.  It felt good as I exited the attic knowing the problem was fixed without having to deal with the buried line, which would have been a huge headache.

I did find a little time to get out on my One Wheel, despite some light rain coming down.  I just stayed in the driveway practicing slow maneuvers and most importantly, stopping/disengaging the board which I have struggled with.   I successfully stopped at least a dozen times with no failures.  I didn’t fall or have to jump off the board the entire time.  I’m excited about my progress and am looking forward to Cindy feeling good enough to start getting back on the board to show me how it’s really done.

I started off Father’s Day weekend with a run at the track despite my lower body still dealing with aching knees and a few other pains.  The air was thick with humidity and I felt like just finishing the distance was the primary goal.  It reflected in my pace which was the slowest I have logged in a couple months, oh well. I was pretty wiped out by the end of it.

So since I got work done on Thursday that meant I didn’t have to do quite as much as normal this weekend. Of course that meant I still found other things to do as that list never ends.

Mid-morning we took the dogs on a ride to Tractor Supply to get chicken supplies.  On the way back we dropped Sadie off at Ali’s.  Her and Shugs just got back from a trip up to Sea Isle City New Jersey with Ali’s parents.  For around a half decade or so I used to go to SIC with my first wife’s family so I was very familiar with it.  It is a great little place and in some ways reminded me of Rehoboth.

Mid-afternoon Cindy and I did an impromptu ride to the swamp, me on my Msuper and Cindy on her mountain bike. It was a cool little trip.  I was excited to see that they have replaced roughly half of the decking for the rotting boardwalk with the trex style composite wood which should last forever.

So we made plans to go to The Warehouse to eat dinner for Father’s Day.  Shortly before we were ready to leave I let Elsa out to go to the bathroom while I closed up the chicken area.  As I walked back up to the house I called Elsa over and stopped dead in my tracks.  She was covered in dirt. But I realized it wasn’t dirt, it was actually sludge.

Earlier in the day I dumped one of the rain barrels that was dry rotting.  In the bottom of it was a collection of black disgusting sludge that I stupidly didn’t hose away.  Elsa evidently found the smell of this substance intoxicating and decided to roll around in it.  I couldn’t be mad at her, she looked so proud of herself.

So even though we were both all cleaned up and ready to leave we had to give Elsa a tag team bath by the side of the house, trying to not get ourselves too dirty in the process.  It was quite the funny situation.

So despite being open for nearly a year, Cindy and I have never frequented the Warehouse before.  It is the closest upscale restaurant in our area.  We had heard good things about the place from others.  We walked out of there echoing the same feelings.  The food was great, the design of the space was cool and modern, our waitress was extremely friendly and attentive, and the restaurant was immaculately clean.  Hell as I was sitting there somebody was walking around cleaning the baseboards.  We will definitely be back.

The movie we went to see was Ocean’s 8, something Cindy said she wanted to see.  I liked all the other movies in the Ocean series so I was fine to see this one.  For whatever reason I was really sleepy which did not help my enjoyment of the movie.  It was a good flick although I would not rate it as highly as the originals.  It definitely does not benefit from the theater experience and can be enjoyed just the same at home as a rental.  I’d give it a solid B.

Sunday morning I took off for another EUC ride, this time on the Monster.  The plan was for Cindy to meet me at Dunkin Donuts with Elsa and then she could walk Elsa around while I rode with them.  Well the first part of the plan went well, the ride to Dunkin Donuts flew by quickly.

I wore my new full face helmet for the ride.  I wanted to see how comfortable it would be now that the full effect of Florida summer heat is on us.  The answer was, not bad.  As long as I was rolling the airflow through the helmet kept me comfortable and the big long visor kept the sun off my face.  When I was sitting still waiting for Cindy to come out with coffee it got a little warm. I did discover one big drawback with the helmet, I can’t drink coffee while wearing it.  Almost every ride video you see of me will involve me drinking coffee during it so I will need to plan accordingly.

I talked to my dad during the afternoon.  He appreciated my Father’s Day gift, a pair of those wrap around sunglasses old people wear that go over your existing glasses.  Even though it was really a gag gift dad actually will wear them because they do serve a practical purpose and look a little ridiculous, a combo he can endorse.

Late Sunday afternoon I hooked up with Marty, an EUC buddy of mine who lives in the LA area.  We are going to be doing what equates to an Electric Unicycle podcast, at least testing it out.  We wanted to test out the logistics before we do the official launch next weekend.  I used Skype for us to do a two way video call and then broadcast that window out to YouTube.  There are a few bugs to work out but I think it will work out pretty well.

Even though I have known Marty via our EUC connection I never actually spoke to him, until yesterday.  We had no issue going back and forth about stuff.  I actually talked to him for around an hour on Skype BEFORE I started broadcasting.  He has some good ideas for the content of the show which I think I will more or less his thing while I concentrate on the technical aspects.  If you want to see how our test run went look below.  I streamed for almost two hours which is crazy.


So after working today I have the next two days off which will be dedicated to testing the Ninebot Z10 which is scheduled to be delivered to the house today.  It should be a fun and busy couple days which will involve me driving all over the place to test the wheel in various conditions/locations.  See you Thursday.

So I was supposed to be off today for the gutter install on the house.  However I got an email around 3:30 yesterday saying the work was being postponed to Thursday.  I thought the notice was rather late but at least they let me know instead of just no showing without notice which is how so many service businesses in SWFL operate.  Luckily I was able to move my day off to Thursday to accommodate the change.

So as I mentioned a couple days ago, this past weekend I tried to do an alternative power run to the RV so we could hopefully run the AC unit to keep temps/humidity down.  For almost a month we have had the blower fan in the RV running 24/7 to try to provide some temperature moderation but it didn’t seem to do much of anything besides blow hot outside air into the RV at a rapid pace.  Well to add insult to injury, I got the electric bill yesterday and it had jumped something like $45 from the round the clock ineffective use of the AC fan out there.  If I didn’t have the RV fan draw, I was hoping I would be able to see the first tangible benefits of having a reflective, heat repelling, metal roof on the house.

So anyway, after realizing having the AC running out there with my current electrical circuit configuration was a no go and that the having the fan on accomplishes nothing, we came up with a simpler plan.  We ordered a small dehumidifier which will pull a fraction of the power but keep moisture from accumulating inside the structure.  Cindy is also going to be trying to get out there more regularly to open up the RV so it can air out daily if possible.

I took the truck to work yesterday because I needed to pick up supplies afterward, dirty supplies.  Over the winter I have been dumping bags of top soil in the area directly behind the chicken coop.  My hope has been to create some additional high ground that the chickens can utilize when the unavoidable high standing water of Florida wet season returns.  I have probably dumped 60-70 bags of top soil back there in total.

Well the last part of this plan was to put sod on top to stabilize the dirt.  I had been waiting to do this part until consistent rain had returned.  I hoped to get the sod at the Home Depot 5 minutes from the office but they had none.  Luckily the bigger location 5 miles away still had a good amount of sod available.  I loaded up the truck with 10 more bags of top soil with a chaser of 30 pieces of St Augustine sod.

I was outside working straight up until Cindy got home close to 7:30PM.  It was tedious and dirty work but I like the end result.  The deck of grass sits a good 6-8 inches higher than the low spots back there so I hope it can be the chickens island of tranquility during the stormy days of summer.

I just got a ship notice for an EUC being sent my way.  For the first time ever it isn’t one I bought.  Instead I have been lucky enough, thanks to my YouTube EUC presence, to be selected as one of a handful of people in the United States to get to test a new electric unicycle called the Ninebot Z10.  This wheel was just up in NYC where it was tested by a BUNCH of local riders.  In my case the testing will be isolated to me, unless Cindy, Daniel or Katie want to try it out.  I am looking forward to getting the wheel to see if it lives up to the hype.  I am actually burning two vacation days next week to dedicate to testing the wheel before I have to ship it to it’s next location.


So I went into this weekend with a loose outline of things I wanted to do and accomplish.  I found that challenging to do.  Saturday morning I hit the track again after a two week hiatus.  I still have been having some persistent aching pain in my knees that I hoped some rest would fix.  It has not thus far so I decided to run anyway.  The first lap or two I could feel the pain but it subsided as I warmed up.  The warm and humid air made the 3.4 miles feel like a struggle.  My pace was slower than my recent best.  It took me about a minute longer to complete the distance.  Not having Cindy there definitely slows me down.

So when I got back I started on normal stuff.  Although the grass was probably high enough to mow again we decided to put it off until Wednesday since we are both off that day.  I am taking the day off for the gutters to be installed on the house.  So after getting the first round of chores done outside we hopped in the truck to run errands which included stops at DD,  Home Depot, JoAnn Fabric, Petco, Lowes and Costco.  Yea it was a bit much.

While we were at Home Depot I couldn’t find what I was looking for, an adjustable screen insert (more on that later), but we did wind up buying something spur of the moment, a raised patio garden box.  I have talked many times about how hard it is to grow things here successfully in the summer.  The biggest problem is insects destroying the plants.  We are hoping by setting this up on the lanai we can finally grow something to fruition in the summer.  I was considering building something along this same design but when the opportunity came to just buy it I took the easier option.

So the reason I was looking for a screen insert was because I was trying to come up with alternative power options for Cindy’s RV.  Currently we have it connected to the same outlet that is used to power the 110V water equipment as well as coop power.  The circuit does not have enough juice to run the RV air conditioner consistently.  I am concerned about moisture/heat causing issues inside the RV so I had been trying to come up with a way to get more power out there.  My idea was to tap an outlet inside the guest bedroom.

By using the screen insert and a lot of weatherproof tape to seal the rest of the screen, my plan was put into motion.  I meticulously prepared the insert and then connected four extension cords together to stretch out to the RV.  I plugged in the cord on both ends and excitedly told Cindy to flip on the AC.  Well the AC ran for a few seconds and then turned off.  Yep, it popped the breaker.  I tried a few more times, hoping it was a fluke.  Nope, the circuit popped every time.  It actually did worse than the line it was on before.

The line in the house is a 15 amp circuit, the other circuit for the well equipment is 20 amps.  I thought having a 15 amp circuit with less contention would be the winning combo but I was mistaken.  I dejectedly undid all of my work and swapped the RV back to it’s original power source.  I really thought I had a viable solution but things don’t always work out as planned.

During Saturday afternoon we got absolutely SMASHED with rain.  I estimate we got close to 3 inches of rain in roughly 90 minutes.  The end result was standing water quickly forming in it’s usual locations.  Luckily the ground was still able to absorb it and by the next morning the water was gone.  This will not be the case for much longer.

Saturday night we watched the latest Netflix disc, Valerian City of a 1000 Planets, a sci fi movie based on a popular book I never read.   It was a very odd, random movie with really incredible visuals.  They must have spent a ton in production costs but unfortunately the end result was a B level movie, at best.

Sunday morning my to do list was still unsatisfied.  We picked up Sadie during the morning for another extended stay which Elsa was thrilled with.  It’s funny how Ali’s place is the only other location where Elsa immediately relaxes and feels comfortable.  Within 60 seconds of arrival she is already up on the furniture snuggling with Ali and Shugs.  We headed to Rural King afterwards to grab some chicken supplies.

During the afternoon I tried to address some of my remaining to do’s.  One of them was trying to salvage a pull cart we bought from Home Depot no more than two years ago.  It’s frame was evidently constructed out of some very low grade steel and is badly rusted, so much so that the part that connected to the handle snapped off.  This happened a few weeks ago and I had been hoping to come up with someway to extend the life of the cart at least a few months.

I first used a paint/rust stripper attachment on my drill to peel away as much of the rust as possible.  I then sprayed the areas with a rust inhibiting primer/paint.  I then reconfigured the handle layout, mounting the bracket further back and in a 90 degree different orientation than it originally was.   I then cut off the rusty remains of the mount with my Sawzall.  The new setup is not perfect but functional.  The entire time I was doing the work I felt frustration that the $130 “Gorilla Cart” was built so poorly with cheap materials.  When my rig job finally fails I won’t be buying one of their products again.

Most of the afternoon it looked like it was ready to let loose with rain which sidelined my hopes of riding with Cindy.  However later in the afternoon I decided to venture out anyway solo, riding to the school on my Msuper.  It looked like it was going to downpour at any moment but somehow I escaped the rain and got in a fun little ride.

Cindy had been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning up in the latter part of the day, especially in the guest bedroom.  Later in the evening I helped her with some finishing touches including hanging a couple mirrored window frames and a picture to fill dead spots on the walls.  The room, which had become sort of a dumping ground, looks 100% better now.

As I mentioned earlier I have a weird split week with taking off on Wednesday.  I am sure I will spend a good portion of that day off getting done what needs to be done.


I figured since it was yet another rainy day I may as well get the blog written for the weekend.  The weather the last two weeks has been crazy.  We went from arid, dry conditions to wet season literally overnight.  It has been gray and raining the better part of two weeks, it’s nuts.  There have been a series of low pressure systems in the gulf causing the weather, the latest being tropical storm Alberto.

We got lucky and only had light rain falling on us when we went for our run early Saturday morning.  I had taken last weekend off from running due to some mild pain in both of my knees.  My legs didn’t feel great while covering the 13 laps but we finished with a pace almost identical to what we logged two weeks prior.

So I had a decent size list written up for the weekend, not a staycation size list but at least a half dozen items were on there.  All of the rain meant the grass was back into high gear growth mode.  I got the the weed whacking done before the sky let loose but that meant the tractor mowing would have to wait. I mean what sort of idiot mows grass in the rain?

Another item on the list was to take the old dryer to Cindy’s mom.  She was buying a new washer to go with the dryer we are giving her.  The weather was still looking terrible but I grabbed a blue tarp from the shed to cover it during it’s ride in the back of the Tacoma.  Getting the unit into the truck was an ordeal.  I had it on a hand truck and I was up in the bed trying to lift the dryer up with brute force while Cindy was on the ground trying to lift.  It didn’t go well as I didn’t account for the wheels of the hand truck getting stuck on the tailgate.  By the time I realized what was happening the tailgate was at a 45 degree angle.  We set it down and modified our strategy.  We transported the dryer face up with the tarp strapped around the unit to keep it dry.

It was a good thing we covered the dryer.  The closer we got to Cindy’s mom’s place the harder the rain came down.  We unloaded the dryer in a torrential downpour.  I was absolutely soaked.  So the laundry spot had an old shelf that was about an inch too low to accommodate the high profile of the dryer and pedestal stand.  We decided to just pull out the shelf as anything on it could either go on top of the new washer/dryer or into the slide out drawers in the pedestals below.

So in addition to pulling the shelf I pulled the old accordian style dryer vent tube which was filled with lint.  I had Cindy sweep out the outlet into the wall as well, it was pretty bad.  I replaced the old vent pipe with the newer style that we had with our dryer.  I was finally ready to try to slide the dryer into place when I discovered another issue.  The 220 plug on the wall was an older three prong style, the cord on our dryer was a 4 plug.  Luckily dryer cords are easily changeable.  I hopped in the truck to head to nearby Home Depot where I got a different cord and a few other things I needed for the chicken coop.

Once I returned I swapped the plug and then was finally able to slide the dryer into place so I could see one more pitfall.  The laundry nook had folding doors in front of it.  With the dryer pushed into place the edge of the door blocked the pull out drawer in the pedestal from opening.  Cindy’s mom said we could just pull the doors off, she didn’t like them anyway.  After doing so the clearance was just enough to allow everything to work as intended.  Cindy’s mom thanked us for our help and we were off.

We decided we were going to drive up to Lehigh Acres to take a look at my two pieces of “investment” real estate I own.  I put that in quotes because it actually has been the worst investment of my life.  As it sits I am probably down roughly 80%-90% of what I originally paid for the two parcels.  I had not been up to the lots in at least two years, maybe longer.

The one reason we went was to see if there was any viability to using the lots to to store Cindy’s RV on  during wet season. (it’s not viable)  The other reason was to just see what has changed in the area since I been there last.

The two lots are tiny compared to our land here.  One parcel is .24 acres and the other is .29 which is standard for Lehigh Acres.  I bought these during the real estate boom in 2003.  At one point I could have sold each lot for nearly double what I paid for them but I thought there was no ceiling so I just held on.  Once the bottom dropped out of the market the prices absolutely plummeted and I paid the price for greed, riding it all the way to the bottom.

The trip confirmed that both of the lots have some nice attributes for different reasons.  One of them is very close to the middle of Lehigh Acres with easy access to all amenities while being surrounded by nice homes and a nearby country club.  The other lot is more remote but again nice with a canal and orange grove behind it meaning you should never have to worry about encroachment from the rear.

During the ride Cindy threw out an idea that had some intrigue for me.  What if we built a house on one of these lots for either rent or resale?  It’s something that could possibly be one way for me to recoup that money that will otherwise be lost forever.  It’s something I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on until I get my HELOC paid off but it is an interesting idea.  It would be a lot simpler if the land prices in Lehigh started rebounding like land prices in Collier County have but it seems like that is an unlikely scenario.

My new full face helmet for EUC riding arrived Saturday.  I wasted little time before trying it on for comfort.  The XL helmet felt good and didn’t appear to affect my field of vision at all which is important.  On Sunday I got out in the driveway with it on briefly just to do a quick real world test.

Saturday night Cindy and I got out to see Solo, the latest Star Wars movie.  I have to be honest, with as disappointed as I was in the last Last Jedi combined with a lot of negative hype about Solo, I was less than excited to go see it.  However as a true Star Wars fan I felt obliged to see it in a theater, regardless.

My luke warm feeling about the movie was also self cultivated from seeing trailers that didn’t overly excite me.  I thought the actor they got to play a young Han Solo just didn’t look the part and I felt that would really overshadow the movie.  There were also all sorts of problems during the production of the film including reshooting large portions of it.

Well I have never been the type of person to be afraid to admit I was wrong about something and Solo is definitely an example of that.  I thought the movie was not good but GREAT.  Although the actor that played Han was not the visual depicition most fans would want, he did a great job of portraying the personality of Han Solo.  It didn’t take long for my initial apprehensions to melt away.  This felt like a true Star Wars movie and I enjoyed it from start to finish, you will too.  It gets an A.

Sunday morning I awoke to news that Florida was under a state of emergency from Alberto due to the potential for severe rain, forecast as much as 10 inches in some areas.  F that, even though it still was off and on raining outside I decided I HAD to get the grass mowed.  So while Cindy was out running errands mid-morning I fired up the Craftsman and got busy.  I was able to get almost the entire front of the yard mowed before the rain returned.  However it returned with a vengeance.

At one point I was mowing in the middle of an absolute deluge.  The canopy on the mower kept me sort of dry from the shoulders up and that’s it.  I didn’t care, I was going to finish, no matter what.  Cindy got back when I was almost done.  The tractor was encased in a wet, green organic blanket that I tried to rinse off afterward.  Even though I was soaked by the end of the task I felt relief to get it done before potentially horrid rain began. That rain never really came.  We had off and on periods of rain all day but it seems we missed the flood level precipitation that was predicted which I am certainly happy about.

We spent the rest of the day around the house attending to mostly indoor things.  I told Cindy late in the day that somehow, despite mowing in the rain for two hours earlier, I somehow felt lazy for not doing more.  It’s an odd ailment I suffer from.

Last night we watched our Netflix rental, Geostorm.  Wow, despite having the star of 300 in it, one of my favorite movies of all time, Gerard Butler, I found this movie to be utterly ridiculous.  Pretty much nothing made sense and when Gerard “saves” the planet it seems like it was already too late.  This was the opposite experience of Solo as I actually thought I would like this movie.  B-

Today we hoped to get out on the wheels for Memorial Day but it again was off an on rain all morning.  I may still get a shot to get out there later today but the the constant threat of rain makes it annoying and less than desirable to venture out only to get washed out later.  I have a lot of indoor things to keep me busy if need be until the world of work returns tomorrow.


On Saturday Cindy and I drug ourselves out of bed with a 6AM alarm to go run at the track.  I ran the track last week solo and wound up averaging a very pedestrian 10 min mile pace according to my Garmin 301 watch.  In the span of  a week that pace dropped to 9:10 according to the same watch, the only difference being that I had a running partner this time.

From all my years in the running club I guess I always knew that running with others makes a difference but this made that point crystal clear.  When you do endurance training with someone else you both push each other, without even trying.  I’ve talked several times about what being in a race does to me.  You almost feed off the energy of others around you and the end result is you perform better than you would by yourself.  It’s a simple truth.

When we got home I immediately rolled into chores, completing the weeding and weed whacking before eating the omelet Cindy had prepared for me.  We had to stick around the house during the morning so I could meet up with the project manager from the roofing company.  The finish mismatch on the one side of the roof I complained about had already pretty much disappeared .

There was another thing I complained about that I didn’t think they would resolve, the hump.  Ever since the house was built in 2001 there has been a hump on the front facing section of the roof.  It’s something I didn’t notice during construction but became apparent soon afterward.  It was just another example of the half assed way the builder constructed the house.

Well anyway, I assumed when the roof was redone the hump would be addressed although I did not explicitly point it out.  I thought it was rather obvious.  Well it wasn’t addressed as you can see in the picture.  However I did mention it to my PM, saying I assumed they would fix this during the reroof.  I said this figuring it was sort of pointless since the metal was already down in this section.

Well I only realized on Friday that the hump was gone.  The PM actually had them fix it which I assume meant removing the roof panel and underlayment in that section and fixing whatever was causing the hump.  All I know is the front of the roof of the house for the first time in 17 years no longer has an unsightly bulge in it.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

The only other item we were concerned with was a dirt/grease mark on the back of the roof.  Mark climbed up there with a rag and was easily able to wipe it off, he said it looked like a footprint.  Why the roofers wouldn’t have wiped that up themselves is a question mark but it looks good now which is all that matters.

Mark gave me some tips for the new roof that has a 5 year workmanship warranty and a 25 year warranty on the metal.  I was afraid I couldn’t walk on it without leaving dents in the metal.  He said walking on it is fine but you have to be extremely careful because if the roof is wet at all it will be like ice.  He said the way to walk on it is to step on the screws to keep your feet secure, which surprised me.  He also warned me about not letting the branches from the nearby oak tree touch the roof.  He said if that happens for any length of time the roof will turn black in that spot and it’s nearly impossible to reverse once it happens.  There were a few branches within a couple feet of the roof which lead to the afternoon’s most exciting project.

Before that project began we took Sadie and Elsa along with us to Tractor Supply.  We love Rural King but I actually prefer the chicken feed that TS sells.  It’s higher quality and organic.  We wound up buying a bunch of other stuff while we were there.  We had fun perusing.  We dropped Sadie back off at Ali’s place on the way home after a week long visit.  We hung and talked to Shug’s for a little while before departing.

One of the things I bought at Tractor Supply was another electrical switch.  My hope was the old switch for the pool light was defective since it no longer worked after I tried to install the WeMo replacement.  When I took the box back apart some of the guts of the old switch spilled out, confirming my hunch.  The new switch brought the pool light back to life, not that I ever get to use it.

So, Mark’s advice regarding branches not hitting the roof inspired me to take action.  I identified several oak tree branches that were either a short term or mid-term problem.  Of course the solution is to cut down the branches with the caveat being doing so in a manner that would not send them crashing on to our new $20,000 roof.

My plan required Cindy’s assistance.  I needed her on the ground manning a strap that was looped around each branch to pull them away as I cut from up in the tree.  This project required me to fall back on my expert tree climbing skills I honed as a child at our Gouglersville farm house.  I can not tell you how many hundreds of times I climbed trees on our property as a kid.  It was one of the main sources of outdoor entertainment we had.

So I did not dress appropriately for this work.  I had safety glasses and leather gloves on but I also was wearing shorts and Crocs which was rather moronic.  An oak tree branch system is a gnarled mess which left me with a couple dozen scratches and scrapes all over my exposed lower body.  My weapon of choice to drop the limbs was my cordless Sawzall.  I figured it was a much more manageable and safer tool to use 15 feet in the air than my gas powered chain saw.

Our tether to the branch was actually my gymnastic ring set up which has long woven straps.  The ring itself made for a good weighted object to throw over the branches.  Getting the three roof threatening branches down went pretty smoothly.  I would cut just until I saw some movement and then Cindy would pull away from the house so I could finish the cut.  The roof escaped impact although the fence below did not.  It got bent from the falling debris but I was able to straighten it out  most of the way afterward.  I put myself in a few precarious positions doing the work but my 40 year old tree climbing reflexes kicked in.

After dropping the branches I climbed down to chop up the branches for disposal in the fill pit.  I fired up my chainsaw while Cindy hacked away on the smaller sections with the Sawzall as you can see below.  It was tough work but we were both glad to get it down so the roof is not impacted down the road.

Sunday morning the skies were overcast, an indicator of the substantial rain that followed later in the day.  It was Mother’s Day so I wanted to make sure Cindy got to do whatever she wanted to do.  I tended to the chickens and offered to make her breakfast which she declined.  She just loves to cook.  Because of the rainy looking skies and other needs we didn’t do any EUC riding this weekend. Instead late in the morning we headed over to Cindy’s mom’s place to install the Ring doorbell she bought for Mother’s Day.  Her mom was at church so we had a window to install it secretly.  There was no existing hard wired doorbell so I dropped four holes into the stucco to mount it by the door.  The install went fine but there is a possibility the Ring is actually defective.  You can hear the audio of someone by the doorbell but the audio from your phone is not being heard back.

During the afternoon the rain started but I still had a project I wanted to start on.  With a brand new roof and brand new gutters arriving in about a month I felt like I needed to clean the gray/green eaves.   We have cleaned this using various techniques over the years, most of which involved pressure washing but I decided to take a very manual approach this time.  I used a cleaner/degreaser that I sprayed on generously one three foot section at a time and then wiped it down using a couple big microfiber cloths.

It is a slow and somewhat arduous process as I moved the ladder down the wall, working around various obstacles along the way.  The last third of the one side that I finished was done in a steady rain, adding to the misery.  I’m happy with the end result as it has been far too long since this had been done.  I hope to possibly knock out the other three sides of the house by the end of next weekend.

Around six we met back up with Cindy’s mom, Katie, and Daniel for dinner at a mexican restaurant.  The food was good but ridiculous in portion size.  I always feel like an absolute pig after eating mexican.  In addition to the huge portions you normally warm up by eating a ton of nachos as well.  Anyway, it was a fun time.  Cindy told me repeatedly she had a great day, which was the goal all along.

As the roof project has been progressing I have been trying to get my drone in the air after each day to see the progress from above.  Last night after work I did my final fly over of the completed project.  I am happy about the overall outcome and I am looking forward to reflecting tons of heat in the future compared to the heat absorbing dark shingles the house used to have.  It should make a BIG difference based on my experimentation in the chicken coop with a light roof versus dark.

Besides the new roof, the video also depicts just how dry and arid our property is right now.  Despite using the sprinklers regularly the grass is just dying everywhere.  It’s amazing that within three months the same property will look like a pond in spots from all the rain.

Last night Cindy surprised me with a project she has been working on in secrecy, a custom made Zima t-shirt.  At first glance you would think she found the Zima logo online, blew it up and ironed it on the shirt.   Well you would be mistaken.  She actually used a logo as a visual aid but she created this piece by piece, using various geometric shapes to create the visually impactful shirt.   I was quite surprised by the gift and appreciated the latest example of her creativity and thoughtfulness.  I wasted little time before posting the picture of the shirt on the #zimapermanent group on FB.

This weekend I have a pretty healthy list of things I’d like to get done.  One of the things I want to do is clean the flashing on the roof overhang before gutters get installed in a month.  They are gray and dingy.  My plan, at least initially, is to hit it with some good old elbow grease using a brush, soap and rags.  We’ll see how long that plan lasts.  I also need to figure out if I broke my pool light or not with my failed WeMo switch implementation.

So they finished up installing the metal roof yesterday, applying the panels to the front of the house and capping off all of the seams.  I feel less stress about the panel inconsistency I saw on the west side as after a day the contrast already seems to be lessening, making me think it was just some panels being directly exposed to the elements while others weren’t for three weeks.

I did not see the same variation in the panels across the front of the house which was good.  I think everything will be fine.  I am looking forward to the first decent rain to get a sense of how it will sound in the house.  I expect it to be a sound I will enjoy.

I had a long day of work yesterday, having to do some work down at our Marco Island office after business hours.  If things went well I would have been done in 15 minutes.  It took me 90 minutes so you can draw your own conclusions.

So as high tech as our chicken coop is a couple days ago I ordered something to make it even more cutting edge.  The chickens are early risers.  Usually when we get up in the morning we see the hens bunched up in the corner looking at the house for any movement.  They want to be let out of the run and into their fenced area.

The other day I got an idea in my head that I floated past Cindy.  When we built the coop we incorporated an automatic door to the coop itself, allowing the chickens to escape in the morning while closing automatically at night to keep them safe.  My idea was to buy a SECOND unit and build it into the fenced in run, allowing the chickens to go out into the yard as early as they want without any interaction from us.  Ditto for securing them at night.  It could allow us to not require as much help if we are away as the chickens could have secured access in and out of the coop without us lifting a finger.

The unit should arrive early next week, I look forward to the next step in building the most futuristic chicken coop in southwest Florida.



Yesterday I left work early to meet up with a rep from the company that did my neighbor’s gutters to get an estimate to have ours redone.  I had the roofers rip off the 4 inch gutters that I installed myself, poorly, a long, long time ago.  The replacement gutters will be the bigger 6 inch variety and seamless which will be a welcome change as the joints in my install were a constant source of leaks as they aged.

I was surprised the amount of downspouts I need are about half of what I have currently.  The guy said with 6 inch gutters you only need one downspout for every roughly 40 feet of gutter.  The price quote was good, a little less than I was braced for.  Their lead time is 4-5 weeks which isn’t horrible and should have gutters back on the house before rainy season arrives in force.

The work on the metal roof continued yesterday.  It looks like it is about 75% done at this point.  I have somewhat mixed feelings about the result so far.  It seems like the shingles that the house came with covered up a lot of warts with the decking below it. With the smooth metal panels on there you see every bump and undulation in the surface.  I also noticed last night when I was back a distance looking at the west side of the house the metal finish looked inconsistent.  It almost looked like three different types of metal were being used.

I sent a picture and a text message to the project manager, expressing my concern.  He said that all of the panels come from the same run of metal.  I couldn’t get him to acknowledge the mismatch on the phone but I plan to follow up again today.  I am dropping a lot of money on a new roof, I’m not going to be very agreeable to letting things slide although I realize it could possibly be a big undertaking to replace mismatched metal. The other issue is the silver metal is not a great match with the existing house color, which we already knew.  I can definitely see a house repaint down the road that is more complimentary to the metal roof but that won’t be happening this calendar year.

As I was typing this entry I came up with a possible reason for the apparent difference in the panels currently.  The metal has been sitting in multiple stacks in my front yard for over three weeks.  My theory is the panels that were on the top of the stacks are more dull in appearance due to exposure to the elements where as the panels below are untouched.  If that’s the case, I would hope natural weathering would even out the appearance rather quickly.

So I eat my lunch at my desk everyday.  That lunch is always the same, which Cindy lovingly packs for me each morning.  Part of that lunch is a pint of almond milk which I pour into a plastic cup. I normally pour the milk into the cup and sit it on the top portion of my stand up desk.

Another cog in lunch is my cottage cheese mix which has a foil lid. Yesterday after pouring my milk I turned my attention to taking the lid off the cottage cheese.  The adhesive was being a bit stubborn so I had to apply extra force to remove it.  As my strength finally overcame the glue the foil tore off suddenly, leaving the remaining force to send my hand flying towards the desk, and the full cup of milk.

I have very quick hands, perhaps a byproduct of juggling.  Without thinking I quickly grabbed at the cup to hopefully avoid disaster.  Unfortunately my hand grabbed low on the cup, the weight of the tipping milk had already set the disaster in motion.  I had a tsunami of almond milk spill all over my desk as well as my keyboard and phone which got knocked down in the flurry of movement. I also had milk soaked pants and shoes.

I sat there stunned for a few moments at the mess before I quickly started moving things out of the way of the almond milk waterfall.  I was most worried about the phone and keyboard as you can imagine.  As I tipped the keyboard upside down a steady stream of milk flowed out of it.  Clean up of the area consumed at least a half roll of paper towels, first to absorb the milk, then a second set soaked with water to do a preliminary cleaning, and then a final round, using Windex to make sure the residue was gone.

The keyboard also got blown out with compressed air as further remediation.  Surprisingly it still appears to work although the keys definitely have a bit more resistance in their feel than normal.  Rest assured I will be much more careful with my milk placement from here on out.

This morning walking up the steps to the back door of the office I had another case of the dropsies.  As I was fiddling with the key to the door somehow my lunch box fell out of my left hand and proceeded to roll down 5 stairs, losing it’s lid in the process.  Luckily all of the food and almond milk managed to stay sealed and intact.  Sure the spoon got ejected into the mulch but I picked it up before 5 seconds expired, meaning it is good to go.

Last night I finally successfully printed a phone case out of flexible filament, something I had been trying to do since very early in my 3D printing hobby.  The print turned out well.  I need to test fit it on my phone although I don’t plan to use it full time.  I paid a lot of money for the Mous case I have on my Iphone 6 and it does a great job.  However I still want to verify that what I printed actually works as I hope.

A buddy of mine from high school posted a picture of some farmland with real estate signs lined up in front of it.  Evidently the farm has been sold to a developer for houses.  When I looked at the picture further it looked very familiar.  Then it clicked, this was the farm on Hampshire Road, the road I grew up on.

I immediately felt a sense of remorse and nostalgia sweep over me.  This farm was something I rode my bike past countless times as a child during my endless rides to Gouglersville and Colonial Hills bowling alley.  It always looked old and somewhat dilapidated but there were always animals in the fenced in field.  Seeing that property destined to become another victim of suburban sprawl is sad but not unexpected.  The road I grew up on has transformed incredibly over the last four decades but I guess that can be said of just about anywhere. Still, it makes me sad to see this staple of my childhood fade away.

The metal started getting affixed to the roof yesterday.  Unlike the rip off which had more than dozen people involved, installing the metal is a much smaller crew of only a handful of guys.  They got maybe a third of the roof covered which I documented with a drone flight after work last night.  I am hoping to see a lot more covered tonight.