Category: Home Improvements

So I took off Friday to give me an extra day to get stuff done as my mental list was feeling too large for a conventional two day weekend.  I got a headstart on the list Thursday when I got home from work.  I dug into replacing all three internal fans on my CR-10 as they were extremely noisy and known to be of subpar quality.  As usual I ran into snags along the way and as usual I eventually found a way to circumvent them, although not necessarily in the best way.

A good portion of my Friday was consumed doing full grass maintenance.  I weeded, weed whacked, and mowed the yard for hopefully the last time before Christmas.  It felt odd that I was hot and sweaty in the 85 degree weather, knowing the drastic reversal in temperature that was forecast to blow in.  I brought Elsa along with me to go pick up the replacement lanai screen door at Home Depot.  You know, the door that a sixth of a price of what the screen contractor wanted to charge me?  On the way home I picked up Sadie for another weekend visit, something Elsa was beyond excited about.

So early Saturday morning Cindy and I were awakened by lightning, rain, and thunder from the cold front that was sweeping through the area.  The storms were approaching summer-like severity.  I had originally planned to get up and run Saturday morning but the cold rain killed that plan rather quickly.  I decided to substitute a 30 minute session on the rower which brings a different sort of pain than running.

Cindy was teaching classes Saturday morning so I kept myself busy around the house tending to more of my to do list.  Part of that list was having my 3D printers working overtime.  There are TONS of awesome 3D modeled Christmas items out there and I was printing a bunch of them, reindeer, Xmas trees, ornaments, you name it, I was trying to print it.  Later in the weekend Cindy hand painted a bunch of what I printed making it’s coolness level go up another few notches.

Once the rain slowed down mid-morning I took the dogs outside.  I saw Elsa shoot off behind the garden.  She was drawn to something moving on the ground.  I immediately called her off and went closer to investigate.  I stood there in amazement for a sec when I saw it was a catfish.  However a second later I remembered that this has happened several times since I have lived in Florida.

I remember the first time I saw this phenomenon I thought that somehow the fish got sucked up into the clouds and came down with the rain.  I later found out that these are “walking catfish”, a non-native species that has the ability to actually “walk” and breathe air for a short period of time as long as their gills stay wet.  They will leave water to relocate if they deem it necessary.

My quick thought was because of all the rain this catfish decided it was a good chance to pick up and move although I wondered where he was moving from since he was about 20 feet behind the garden when I spotted him.  Well of course I couldn’t let him flopping around out there so I went and grabbed a small plastic container and scooped him up, figuring I would put him in the fill pit in the rear of the property which has a ton of water still in it.

So as I walked towards the back fence line I spotted another catfish, and another, and another.  Evidently they all had the same idea.  By the time I was done, I had collected and transported about 20 of the fish back to water.  Most of them went in the fill pit but I also put a handful into the small pond near the house.  If you never have seen walking fish before, it should be on your bucket list.

On Saturday afternoon Cindy and I were back at Home Depot.  Last week on the way out we had spotted this nice pre-assembled wood workbench that we commented about how it might be a nice addition to the hobby room.  I measured a space on the wall I saw I had exactly six feet, the length of the bench.  After we got back I immediately dug into getting the room rearranged.  In the process I knocked the EUC shelf down which in turn broke one of my 3D printed stands.  Of course I simply reprinted the broken piece.

It took awhile to get things shuffled around but the end result was worth the effort.  The room feels much less crowded.  Everything has a space and the one hobby desk that used to be consumed by two printers now is clean and open to be used as needed.  Cindy was very happy with the end result as well.

On Sunday morning it was cold, very cold with temps in the mid 40’s.  Despite substituting a hard rower session for running on Saturday, my inner taskmaster said I still needed to get out and run.  I did not dress for the temps, adorning a short and t-shirt, just like any other day, figuring my internal engine would keep me warm.

Well the first mile or so was miserable.  Not only was it cold, it was windy making a half of each lap extra frigid as the cold air pushed against my exposed skin.  Even as I finished the 13th lap I was still yet to break a sweat.  It felt good to push through the weather and complete my second endurance training in as many days.  With my trip to PA this upcoming weekend I won’t get a run in so that was part of my motivation to get out there, no matter what.

So even though it was cold, I wanted to get a ride in.  I came up with the idea of doing a one way ride to Dunkin Donuts on my Msuper where I could meet Cindy so she could go run some errands.  When I left the thermometer at the house read 49 degrees which I believe is the coldest air I have ever one wheeled in.  I was bundled up with three layers up top although I still had on my trusted camo shorts.  At first it didn’t feel too bad but by the time I pulled into DD it felt like rigamortis was settling in, I was frozen.  I’m not sure if Dunkin Donuts coffee every tasted better as it helped thaw me from the inside.

Cold was the word of the day.  The temp never got out of the 50’s which is highly unusual.  I kept those same three layers on all day long, indoors and out, and still felt chilled.  Despite the temps I had one last major to do on my mental list, installing the new screen door.

Installation took longer than expected.  I had to make a run to the hardware store midway to buy a new set of hinges as well since the old pair was bent from the force of Irma, which was causing the door to not close properly.  The frame of the cage surrounding the door has a lean to it as well which I really can’t do much about but the door at least closes and latches securely, something that has not been the case for the last three months.

I finished up just as the Eagles came started up.  It was a great and exciting game with a favorable Eagles outcome on the scoreboard but not in the big picture.  Carson Wentz went out in the second half with a potentially serious knee injury.  Nick Foles came in and was competent in running the team which doesn’t surprise me.  I always liked Nick and he has that one MONSTER year in Philly so I know he has the ability to play well.  However losing Wentz for the rest of the season would still be a huge blow to the Eagles long term chances during a year where it seemed like they just may have what it takes to finally bring home the ultimate prize.

I can only hope it isn’t the ACL tear that many news outlets are speculating this morning.  When I saw the hit that caused the injury real time I immediately winced as it looked like Carson went from full speed to zero when he hit the defender.  It almost looked like his body hit a brick wall.

So the rest of my 2017 is going to be abbreviated as I won’t have a full work week until 2018 rolls around.  There will be much to attend to, to celebrate, and reflect upon for sure.

 

 

 

This time of year it is normal for every evening to be accompanied with a pile of boxes at the door, either gifts we bought for others or something that was sent for us.  Last night was no different except one box didn’t have anything present related it was projects for me to work on.

One of the annoying things about the CR-10 is it is extremely noisy.  One big contributor to that noise are the fans in the control box.  One in particular sounds like it has spun it’s bearing and is about to blow apart. In total there are three fans in the case so I plan to replace all three of them while I am in there as it is well documented the fans in the CR-10 are very low quality.

I also received a replacement battery kit for an iPhone 6. I ordered it when Cindy’s phone apparently died over the weekend as a possible solution.  Her phone has since resuscitated itself but I am considering just doing the replacement on my 2-3 year old iPhone 6.  The battery life on my phone has gone down significantly in recent months so I figured replacing mine would be a way to address it and practice on my phone so if I need to do something on Cindy’s the bumps in the road should be identified and smoothed out.  I’ve watched a video on the process and read the included directions.  It’s delicate work but but not significantly harder than the many laptops I have ripped into during my hardware repair career.

Yesterday I took a big chunk out of my Xmas shopping requirements which is always a good feeling, until I start totaling up my spending during my weekly bill reconciliation session.  The one thing that makes Xmas spending more tolerable is years ago when Ali and I were still married, we implemented a “Gifts” budget column which gets contributed to every pay period.  The end result is when the holidays come around I have a decent chunk of change already set aside to help offset Xmas spending.

So my mental list of things I want to work on this weekend is pretty swollen.  Since I will be gone the following weekend, in my mind it adds to the priority of getting shit done.  On top of the normal chores which will include full grass maintenance, I want to do things like get the fans installed, the replacement screen door from Home Depot, more pool cage fastener/bracket replacement, and maybe take a whack at iPhone battery replacement.  Instead of trying to wedge all that into a normal weekend I am planning to take tomorrow off to give myself a nice head start on the list. Should be fun.

 

 

Saturday morning I got up before my 5:45 alarm to get out and get my run in.  The air again was pleasantly cool which made for a more tolerable running experience.  The 13 laps went by fine and as has been the case for the last few months it was just me and the crickets out there on the track.

Cindy was teaching classes Saturday morning which meant I was left to my own taskmaster vices.  I buzzed around the house, inside and out tending to various things on my mental to do list.  When Cindy got home we piled into the Tacoma with Sadie and Elsa to head to Home Depot.  One of the things I wanted to look at there was screen doors, the type used on our pool cage.  I was unsure if Home Depot would carry them or not.

Well I may have mentioned, the screen contractor that I terminated my relationship with quoted a price of $500 to replace the door on the east side of the cage that was bent and twisted from Irma.  Of course I thought this was high but I did not get a true appreciation for just how outrageous it was until Saturday. A brand new door was less than $80.  I knew I didn’t have the time to install the door this past weekend so I didn’t grab it right away but you can be assured I will be doing so shortly.  I likely may replace the other door as well so I have a new matching set.  Even with replacing two I’ll still be miles ahead of the quote for a single door replacement.  I feel badly for people that don’t do any legwork to confirm if a contractor is being straight up with you or just feeding you a mountain of bullshit to justify overpriced goods and services.

Late Saturday afternoon I decided to take my Mten over to the school, the perfect place to practice and experiment with the little, yet powerful wheel.  I had a lot of fun attempting and being successful with tricks/moves that I wouldn’t even dare to try with my larger conventional EUC’s.  I was glad I got to ride Saturday because we didn’t have time on Sunday to get out.

During the day I had the 3D printers working hard.  I printed another geometric Xmas tree, in a more festive green.  I also printed a bunch of gifts for Cindy’s nephew Owen including Harry Potter glasses, a wand, Minecraft keychains, and a cool target for Nerf guns.

Saturday night Cindy and I watched King Arthur, our latest Netflix rental.  The movie put a hip, modern spin on a very old story.  I found it entertaining but not mind blowing.  It was a solid B rental for me.

So Sunday was going to be a very busy day.  We were going to the Miami area to attend Owen’s birthday party.  Cindy had a mini-emergency when her Iphone 6 appeared to go DOA, only showing the red battery indicator and little else, despite being on the charger all night.  We tried a number of tricks found on the internet to revive it, including heating the back of the phone with a hair dryer, which worked briefly.  However we were unsuccessful.  Oddly when we returned from the east coast the phone magically started working again but it clearly has some sort of battery related issue.

I did my weekly bill paying session and then we quickly ran to the pool store and Dunkin Donuts before we had to get ready to leave.  We picked up Cindy’s niece Taylor on the way whom we don’t get to see that much of.  It was nice to have her along to keep us company.  Taylor is extremely intelligent and should have a very bright future in front of her.

The drive across state took a little less than two hours and was uneventful.  The most challenging part of it was staying awake as I had a very poor night of sleep on Saturday.  When we approached Cindy’s sister-in-law and brother’s place we were astonished that the street in front of their house was barricaded off because a HUGE inflatable obstacle course that was in middle of the road.  Both Cindy and I wondered if they had to get a permit for that or if the rental company just does it first and begs for forgiveness later.

I really had no idea of what to expect of the party.  It turned out to be quite large with a couple dozen kids running around like crazy.  The obstacle course got used heavily.  I hadn’t eaten lunch so I quickly started chowing down on chips and caramel corn, not my normal diet.  I soon felt gross for consuming so much fat, salt, and sugar in a short period of time.

I didn’t know 90% of the people there but I still did an ok job being somewhat social.  I was talking to one guy who seemed very nice but I had to do my best to conceal my inner cringe and disapproval of how much he loved duck and quail hunting.  He said his son loves it too.

I understand that people are a product of their environment.  If you were brought up in a family where hunting is just another activity I understand why the act of killing an animal may seem insignificant to you.  However the same applies to someone like me who never hunted, and never even fired a real gun.  To me, the act of willingly ending the life of an animal in a first person manner is pretty horrible.  However, the reasonable adult in me realizes that the right/wrong gauge for everyone is personalized and I do my best to let “to each its own” be the motto I generally try to live by.

I had a good time at the party watching all the young energy running rampant among us.  Owen seemed to really like the 3D stuff we made for him as he is currently a huge Harry Potter fan.  We left shortly after the pinata smashing festivities concluded with Owen’s half brother Ryan exploding the pinata with one hard swing.

On the ride back to the west coast we picked up another passenger, Cindy’s other niece Stephanie.  The girls kept the roughly 100 mile ride home entertaining.  We rolled back into the driveway about 6:30 or so.

My poor night of sleep combined with going to one side of the state to the other and back again in a little more than six hours was going to make watching the Eagles game challenging.  I actually fell asleep on the couch from early in the second quarter until about 11 minutes left in the third quarter.

If you read the scores today you see the 24-10 loss posted by the Birds.  It was a disappointing effort for sure but really from what I saw, there were a few key things that could have easily changed that outcome.  The Eagles were called on a TON of penalties, many of which came at the worst time, allowing the Seahawks to extend drives, drives that eventually lead to scores, instead of punting the ball away. Carson made some great plays but also some bad ones.  He continued his rather worrisome trait of randomly overthrowing wide open receivers and committed a soul crushing fumble at the 10 inch line, robbing the Eagles of another scoring opportunity.   The coaching staff seemed asleep at the wheel as well at times, failing to throw a red flag on an attempted lateral that clearly was a forward pass, once again allowing the Seahawks to drive down the field and score.  It seemed to be an equal opportunity case of sloppiness.

To the Seahawks credit, Russell Wilson had an outstanding game.  The Eagles got pressure on the pocket consistently most of the night but his elusiveness made it very difficult to pin him down.  Seattle also seemed very adept at running pick plays that had the Eagles d-backs running into each other all night long. In the big picture it might be a good thing for the Birds to have an ugly game at this point in the season.  The hope is it will wake them up a bit and bring the type of focus that is needed to really do something big this year.

Elsa is still cute, in case you were wondering.

 

So yesterday I finally started moving forward with hurricane repairs after being in a circling pattern for two and a half months trying to get a check in my hand from my homeowner’s insurance.  I contacted the roofing company and officially booked the work which likely won’t happen until June. I now have the joy of sending them a $5000 deposit for the work.

I also had a back and forth email discussion/argument with the contractor that gave me the estimate for pool cage work.  I asked if the quote he gave included replacing the pool fasteners since an article on his website said the job normally would be about $3400, including the fasteners.  He said the $4600 quote did not include that, to do the fasteners would be an additional $2400.  I lol’d at my screen when I saw that.  The guys argument is their costs have escalated dramatically since the storm for materials and labor hence the dramatic price increases.

I do realize the costs of screening has gone up just based on what I have seen in my efforts to temporarily fix our screen.  But to expect me to pay double the going rate 8 months ago just doesn’t fly with me.  I told the guy thanks but no thanks.  The bottom line is I have the lanai area more or less sealed in from my efforts.  I am going to try to find a replacement screen door on my own.  As far as the screen repair/replacement goes I have several ideas.

I can simply wait it out so the prices can eventually normalize.  I can have some less established outfit rescreen the cage for less money or I can replace just the damaged panels myself.  The majority of the four year old screen is ok albeit a bit stretched.  I could just repair the 10 or less sections that were gone/damaged and let the rest ride as is.  I’m not sure what route I will wind up taking but I don’t feel any time crunch to get it done asap.

So as much of the country, I was shocked to see the firing of Matt Lauer yesterday, an iconic figurehead in NBC’s morning news team.  Like most people, to me Matt always had a pretty squeaky clean persona.  It is becoming clear that that was more of a facade.  Off camera he apparently was a horny, aggressive, and inappropriate hound with women.

This phenomenon of EVERYONE stepping forward to out inappropriate/unwanted sexual behavior has a little too much “me too-ism” in it.  There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder why this behavior was not flagged when it happened if it was truly seen as offensive by the accuser.  Only stepping out under this umbrella of literally dozens of high profile accusations that in some cases points back to something decades ago just strikes me as more opportunistic than oppression in some examples.

Don’t misunderstand my skepticism regarding the intention of certain accusers as condoning anything these men have been accused of.  It’s never acceptable for “locker room talk” to be carried out in execution nor is it cool for a person in a position of power to use it to coerce the opposite sex into sexual situations or assuming they will tolerate sexual  advances/statements.

It will be interesting to see who is next on the hit list.  I bet Bill Cosby is smiling ear to ear nowadays.

So I left a little early from work so I could get to the credit union before it closed.  I wanted to try to get my check from the insurance company deposited.  I went in there ready for battle based on my experience in 2005 when the bank refused to let me deposit the check into my account and instead would only authorize cutting another check in the contractor’s name.  I did not like that arrangement at all as I felt like I was the one paying the mortgage, I was the one paying for homeowners insurance, I should be the one to control how those funds are dispersed.

The credit union was standing room only, all of the chairs were filled by other people waiting for bank services.  I took up residence in a corner until a chair came open.  My name was called maybe 15 minutes later by a nice young woman.  I already was imagining how it would be difficult for me to flip on “dick mode” on someone with such a pleasant disposition.  I explained to her what I wanted to do, just deposit the check in my account.  I was surprised when I was not presented with an immediate red flag.  Instead she asked me a few questions like if I had the work done yet and when I told her no, she asked if I picked out contractors yet.  I answered her questions but was worrying they were going to lead up to the “sorry the checks have to go in the contractors name” response.

Instead several more questions were asked and it seemed like I was in the clear.  She said all she had to do was to get her manager’s ok and I should be good to go.  I held my breath one last time, hoping she would not return with her manager in tow to tell me, “Sorry you can’t just deposit the check”.  Instead the clerk returned with a smile on her face and asked which account I wanted the funds deposited to, sweet! I’m not sure why I didn’t have the same issues as before, my best guess is because I paid off my main mortgage already the bank exposure is now significantly less than 12 years ago.

I left there relieved that the battle I prepared for never came to be.  Having the funds in my account will allow me to disperse them as needed.  I may actually be using a different contractor to do the pool screen work as it has become obvious the place that quoted me is price gouging the f out of me based on their own website.  On that site it talks about how the average cost to recreen AND replace all the fasteners on a 20′ x 40′ pool enclosure (about my size) is roughly $3400.  They quoted me $4600 to replace one door and just rescreen with no fastener replacement.  So I emailed this contractor this morning to verify the quote included full fastener replacement as well.  If the answer is no then they can go f themselves instead of trying to f me.

I also reached out to the roofing contractor this morning and sent in a signed contract.  Unfortunately right now it looks like the earliest roof work can begin is June, which does not surprise me.  Our neighbor has opted to have one of the out of town roofers that have been flooding our area do their roof.  They are scheduled to start very soon on their house. I just would not feel warm and fuzzy about handing that amount of money over to an out of state business who will likely be invisible/unreachable once the work is complete.  Their quote was cheap, cheaper than any I have seen but when it comes to core components of my house I am willing to pay a little extra for piece of mind.

I fell asleep like a rock last night but unfortunately awoke like a feather at roughly 4AM this morning.  I rolled around a bit trying to force myself back to sleep but gave up about 4:45.  I got up and played some WoW, luckily no matter what time of day there is always someone in there from around the world, ready to engage.

So as Cindy and I were watching this week’s episode of the Walking Dead on X1 the house suddenly went black.  When it stayed that way for more than 10 seconds I knew it meant there was something more than the occasional power burp going on.  We sat tight and actually finished watching Walking Dead as the power in the UPS was enough to drive the AV set up for about 45 minutes.  Normally I would have stopped the show and turned everything off but X1 has this annoying glitch, without internet connection you can basically do nothing on the box, not even pause a recorded show.  I shit you not.

So we verified our entire surrounding area was dark.  After a half hour of darkness we decided to take some action.  I told Cindy I could easily set up the generator to power the RV.  I was due to run the generator for a period of time anyway as preventative maintenance so it was an easy decision.  With Cindy handling a flashlight so I could see I gassed up the tank maybe a quarter of the way and started it up, on the first pull no less.

The RV makes for a very comfortable no house power retreat since it is easily powered by a single extension cord.  With the cool air no AC was needed and everything else in there worked, including TV.  While Cindy got situated in the RV I grabbed my Mten to ride around out front a bit to survey the situation.  I verified our entire road looked dark.  I rode down to Immokalee and saw the street lights were on which is right about where FPL service picks up, we have LCEC.

When I joined Cindy in the RV I went on the LCEC outage map and saw a HUGE area in red.  I read later that somewhere around 90,000 homes were affected.  We chilled out in the RV for probably another half hour until I saw our Xmas lights click back on by the house indicating utility power had returned.  I was totally comfortable hanging out there, with the slide out living room combined with the copious amount of windows in the RV, you never get the feel of being confined. I headed back towards the house and undid all of the temporary provisions, glad the 90 minute outage didn’t turn into something longer that would have required additional power wrangling.

Yesterday in the mail I finally received my second check from my insurance company which was for the revised amount I had been fighting for.  I was glad that what they originally told me, that I would be getting three checks with two of them having contractor names as co-signers was not the case.  It’s just one check for the entire amount with my name and my credit union’s name on it.  I am glad because I am leaning towards not using the contractor that gave the screen estimate as it appears that they have more than doubled what they would normally charge for the job based on my research.

I have one more potential hassle to deal with.  When I got the check for damages after Hurricane Wilma in 2005 again the check was made out to my name and the banks name.  When I took it in to get it deposited/endorsed the bank gave me a big hassle and would not let me deposit the funds, they would only allow a new check to be cut in the contractors name that was rebuilding the pool cage.  I suppose it was their way of ensuring the work was done, protecting THEIR investment.  Of course this strong arm tactic didn’t sit well with me then.

Well this time it is more complicated since I have two contractors involved and the way it works is you pay them a percentage of the overall work when the job is contracted, partially done and then the balance on completion.  If the bank thinks I am going to go to them to cut a check for each time this is necessary they are going to have a big fight on their hands.  I understand their intent but as a customer who has already satisfied the primary mortgage on the property, has a stellar credit score, and has done nothing but exhibit responsible home owner behavior over the last 16 years, I am going to push that a little common sense is applied on their part and they just sign the check, let me deposit the funds and draw from it as I need to fund the repairs.  The fact that I am actually going to be upgrading the roof beyond it’s original construction hopefully will be another chip in my favor.

This morning when I let Elsa out she made a bee line towards the back of the shed which was unusual.  Once she got there she froze and was  staring at the fence line.  I had no idea what she was doing.  All of a sudden she bolted towards the fence and I heard a noise.  As I focused I saw a large racoon scurrying up one of the palm trees on the other side of the fence, apparently scared of Elsa even though she was on the other side of the four foot fence.  When I walked towards the tree the racoon scurried down and disappeared into the brush.  I was surprised a raccoon, the killer of three of our chickens, would be out and about as daylight broke.  Elsa seemed quite proud of her guard dog abilities afterward.

My weekend was busy, very busy, but it had a fulfilling mix of work and play with a cherry on top ending with the Eagles dominating win over the Cowboys.  It didn’t start out that well as I had a horrible night of sleep Friday night.  I awoke somewhere before 3AM and did not fall back asleep until at least 5.  I then awoke again, on my own at 6:05 and decided, F it, I’ll go get my run out of the way.  Despite the lack of sleep the run went ok, certainly fueled by the cool air in the lower 60’s.

When I got home I spent very little time inside before heading out to get started on a long list of things I wanted to accomplish.  First  up was weeding which always begins in the garden area.  The greens that we planted a few weeks ago are all looking fantastic so far.  We have kale, three types of lettuce, eggplant, and spinach in there.

After I got done weeding I got ready to weed whack.  Not just a normal 60-90 minute session of the unfun activity, I wanted to do EVERYTHING, meaning the entire fence line, both sides.   Doing the fence line is an awful job.  This time was probably the worst ever as I have been negligent in doing the task on a more regular basis, resulting in thick, high, tough grass integrating with the galvanized fencing.  In certain spots I had to go ridiculously slow, chopping at the thick growth one level at a time.

Weed whacking against a wire fence consumes trimmer line by the mile.  I was on my third spool refill when the trimmer head broke.  The bottom of it was wearing thin and the fence line was enough to wear it out for good.  I was only about 2/3 of the way around the inside fence line when it broke.  I decided to use the DeWalt electric whacker to get the rest of the conventional trimming around the house done with the intent of getting a new trimmer head for the gas whacker to finish later.

During the afternoon I dug into additional projects like redoing the runs on the ladder for the chickens perch, installing my two new mods on my Tacoma and installing a swing arm mount in Cindy’s RV for a small tv.  All three projects went well but only one of them was documented on video.

Late afternoon I finally received a package I have been waiting for for almost a month and a half, my new Gotway Mten3 EUC.  I ordered/paid for the wheel in early October but have been patiently waiting for it to make it’s way across the Pacific Ocean on a boat.  This wheel is the exact opposite of the last wheel I bought, the Gotway Monster which is a 22 inch, 60 pound behemoth. The Mten3 is a tiny 10 inch wheel that weights roughly 20 pounds.  What makes it unique is despite it’s small form factor it is equipped with a very strong power train, allowing the wheel a top speed of around 25 mph which is nuts.

I didn’t have much time on Saturday to do much more than unbox the wheel and take it out on the driveway for a couple minutes.  Those couple minutes were rough.  The wheel felt incredibly unstable and foreign to me, I could hardly do even basic turning.  This was not unexpected, I knew it would feel weird, just not that weird.

Saturday night Cindy and I went to see Justice League.  I again opted for the VIP theater at Prado, guaranteeing us good seats despite it being opening weekend.  I found the movie to be entertaining, even with trying to cram in origin stories for the previously never shown heroes of Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg.  Of the three I thought Aquaman was the most out of place.  He did very little Aquaman-esque stuff with the vast majority of his action being on dry land. It was a Zak Snyder movie so of course there was going to become ridiculous stuff but I found Justice League to have less of that than Batman vs Superman did.  I was entertained from start to end, enough to give the movie an A- rating.

On Sunday morning I wanted to get in some extensive acclimation time with the Mten3.  Cindy needed to do some grocery shopping so we combined the two activities for efficiency.  She dropped me off at North Naples Park so I could ride while she got the groceries. So my initial 15 minutes of riding my new wheel had me wondering if I made a mistake.  I felt so unstable.  My feet were as big if not bigger than the case of the EUC.  I wobbled around the paths hoping my body would soon adapt to the different physics of the tiny wheel.

It took awhile but it slowly started happening.  The wobbles started to fade and I started to get a feel for just how responsive the little wheel could be.  Thanks to it’s small diameter, ample power and low pedals I was able to do incredibly tight and slow turns, unlike anything I have been able to do on any EUC.  By the end of the ride I was excited about the wheel and the potential fun it has in store for me.

After eating lunch we headed back out, this time with Elsa in tow to hit Rural King and Home Depot.  I was frustrated that Home Depot sold no conventional universal bump feed trimmer heads.  All they had were the type where you insert individual blades or line into the head which always turned me off as it seemed to be a set up with very high cost consumables.  With a conventional bump feed with trimmer line I can buy a spool of line and be good to go for a year.  Well my desire to get the fence trimming done pushed me into buying a head that used plastic “blades” which seemed like a good choice with the thick vegetation I was dealing with.

Just getting the new head  installed was a struggle, just because I didn’t see something obvious in removing the old beat up head.  Once I got the new bladed replacement in place I headed back out to the fence line to do battle.  I had no idea how these blades would hold up to the beating of a wire fence.  I bought an extra pack of blades just in case.

I have to say I was very surprised by the results.  Despite being subjected to extremely brutal conditions, the three original blades held up to around two hours of abuse.  I wish I could say the same about my hands and forearms.  My hands were tingling and numb from running the whacker that much over two days.  I am pretty sure in total I put in at least four hours of weed whacking over the weekend.  Now that I have the fence line knocked down I want to follow up by spraying RoundUp as well to retard the growth of new vegetation along the fence.  This is something I used to do but stopped when we had the chickens free ranging the entire yard.  Now that they are more restricted it’s time to do it again.

Late in the afternoon I got to turn my attention to my problematic CR-10.  I tried another solution for my filament feed problem, once again choosing a simpler solution involving installing a higher quality collet fitting to hold the feed tube in place.  I was very happy that this seemed to fix my issue for real this time.  I am in the middle of a 20 hour print that ran all night without a problem.

My weekend wrapped up with a fantastic Eagles win against the hated Cowboys, in Dallas no less.  The first half of the game was very tightly contested with the Birds looking a bit rusty coming off their bye week.  However once the second half started things totally went the Eagles way.  They simply steamrolled the Cowboys and it felt great.

I am looking forward to a quick three day week followed by a four day weekend.

 

 

Last night after work I again spent most of my time messing around with two of my three 3D printers.  My CR-10 once again is problematic.  I tried a pretty simple solution that appeared to have actually worked.  I even shot a video documenting my success.  Of course a few minutes after I finished the video the problem returned.  I suppose I will need to dedicate more time over the weekend trying to fix the problem, again.

I also did some more testing of my new Dagoma Neva.  The printer definitely has some shortcomings.  I tried to print some flexible filament last night and couldn’t even get the print to start.  However later I was able to print a very nice version of the ornate cross model.  It actually might have been the cleanest version yet.  For the money, I think the Neva is a nice printer as long as you are able to work within it’s confines.

This weekend I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.  I have a couple Tacoma projects, mowing, weeding, whacking, 3D printer work, and other normal chores.  On the fun side of the to do list we hopefully will get out to see Justice League and the Gotway Mten3 EUC I ordered like a month and a half ago is supposed to finally show up.  It should be an action packed two days.

 

 

So just like last year, I spent my observed Veterans Day holiday working myself into the ground, ironically doing so at the top of a 20 foot ladder.  It was once again time for my once a year trimming of pretty much all of the trees on the property, consisting mostly of cabbage palms.  Last year I thought I would be smart and rent a longer ladder from Home Depot to do the work so I could safely get higher into the trees.  However the ladder weighed so much that I soon said f it and went back to my lightweight aluminum 20 footer.  This year I didn’t waste the money on a rental.

That is not to say that I couldn’t have used a longer ladder.  There were a handful of trees where I was perilously close to the top rung.  In those situations I “anchored” myself by either grabbing onto an uncut branch or literally hugging the tree with one arm while I cut branches with the sawz-all with the other..  With as many years as I have been doing this chore I really am surprised there has not been a serious fall.  I have been tempting fate regularly.

So trimming all of the trees took all morning.  After a refueling lunch I headed back out for phase two which involves picking up the hundreds of branches/fronds and assorted debris and hauling it back to the fill pit one full truck load at a time.  When I had the 99 Tacoma I used to be able to take back more with each load since I would overload the bed to the point where stuff was spilling out over the roof since the paint was already a mess.  With my 2016 I try to keep everything touching the plastic in the composite bed and no painted surfaces.

So I finally dumped my last load around 4 PM.  It was a grueling day but I had already ideas about one thing I wanted to get done before the sun went down.  I hopped on the tractor and mowed the EXTREMELY high grass/brush (4-5 feet in some spots) beyond the perimeters of the fence.  My property actually extends a good 100 feet beyond the rear fence line.  Dumping all the debris in the pit gave me a first hand look of how jungle like the grass out in that area was.  Mowing it on the tractor was an excruciatingly slow process, requiring me to go at a sub-turtle pace and going back over the same spot multiple times.

As I was doing this the chute cover on the mower deck broke off.  Not having the cover actually helped make mowing more efficient as grass was able to shoot out of the deck unencumbered.  However it also turned into an organic matter shower.  My exposed sweaty skin quickly became corn dogged in dirt, sand, and grass.  When I finally went inside as the sun was setting I had absolutely no doubt that I made the most of the day.

When I awoke on Saturday I assumed my body would just be destroyed, as it normally is after tree trimming day.  I had some soreness but nothing close to what I expected.  My only explanation has been my recent regimen of taking CBD oil which is basically hemp oil.  A gym buddy of mine said he and his girlfriend started taking it a little while ago and it has made a dramatic difference in how they both feel on a day to day basis, especially aches and pains.  I have been taking three drops in the morning and at night under my tongue.  Google it, so far I highly recommend it and no, it doesn’t get you high.  There is no THC in the oil but if you look at the benefits the list is pretty staggering.

So Saturday morning I again was on the tractor, this time for a couple hours mowing down the rear half of the property, something I should not have to do again for awhile thanks to wet season being behind us.  The lack of a deck chute cover again made the grass cut very well but again I was entombed in organic matter by the time I was finished.

After I changed shirts and got cleaned up a bit Cindy and I headed out to somewhere I never expected to be going, to a RV dealer.  For almost as long as I have known Cindy she has had this thing where she wants her own space or as popularly referred to nowadays, a “she shed”.  She at one point tried converting our smaller shed into such a space but it was too small to be of much practical use.

So for awhile her idea was to buy a true shed and then customize it.  It was not all that practical of an idea for several reasons.  I really didn’t want to do the labor that would be required to convert an empty shell to a livable space.  Plus any shed that would be big enough for such use would be a minimum of 10 feet wide would likely not fit through any openings I have in my fencing.  So a week or two ago Cindy came up with an alternative, buying a RV trailer.

I have no idea how much time she spent online looking at endless options, it had to be well into the double digits.  She looked at new/used trailers of various lengths.  After all that research she finally narrowed it down to looking at a new trailer because of the better financing options and she wanted to look at Campers World, a national chain that had all of the models she wanted to see in person.

We dealt with a nice woman named Allison who just moved to Florida from New Hampshire.  She sold cars for six years up north and had only been selling RV’s for less than a month.  She didn’t have an extensive knowledge of the RVs but it didn’t really matter since Cindy had written down exactly what she wanted to see ahead of time.

I was sort of an innocent bystander through most of the process.  This was entirely a Cindy thing.  I threw out my opinion here and there.  My main concern was size, the 30 foot plus models on her list were too heavy to be towed by my Tacoma and too expensive for Cindy’s budget.

There was a cool Coleman unit we went into pretty early in the process.  It was a 26 footer that was light enough to tow, spacious, loaded with tech, and at a number that could be worked with.   Once I saw that one my interest in others waned.  Cindy and the salesgirl went in and out of a dozen more models but I got pretty burned out on it, they all blurred together.  Cindy really liked the Coleman as well and decided she would work numbers on it.  She already had a preapproved loan from USAA for an amount way higher than she was willing to spend so it was just a matter of getting the numbers nailed down.

The negotiation process was nearly identical to a car dealership with more egregious add ons.  When we were out on the lot the girl quoted us the list price for the trailer.  When she brought us the sales order she said the actual normal price was 10K more and it was DISCOUNTED to what she told us in the lot.   In addition there was nearly another $3000 added in for “freight” and “prep” things that were not mentioned prior.  All of a sudden the trailer costs several thousand more than we had both already established in our head.

So of course we would not roll over and accept that silliness.  We basically negotiated almost all of those additional charges back off the deal.  Cindy was happy with the final number we got but I think we probably still left some money on the table, oh well.  So we went through the paperwork and set some tentative dates.  I don’t have a trailer hitch on the Tacoma (it has the tow package however) and we both preferred if the trailer was delivered initially by a pro.   If things work out as planned the Coleman 2605RL should be parked in the back yard behind the chicken coop by the end of the week.

Cindy of course was very excited.  When we got home we checked out the best route to get the trailer on the property.  The rarely used front corner gate will allow almost a straight shot into the rear yard.  The side gate we normally use has too many turns to be able to get there more than likely.  Of course Cindy has a million ideas in her head about what she wants do with the trailer.  I was excited for her although a week ago I had absolutely no inclination we would be setting up a RV at the house.

When we got back I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to make an unconventional EUC ride, to the grocery store.  Since our new Publix is only three miles from the house it was a very easy ride.  Once I arrived I lifted the heavy wheel into the shopping cart and grabbed the couple boxes of Pop Tarts I was looking for along with a small chocolate milk.  Of course I got a lot of WTF looks but it was fun getting there and back one a single wheel.

 

Saturday night we relaxed while watching John Wick : Chapter 2.  The movie overloaded on up close and personal kill shots.  There are so many bad guys mowed down it seemed they ran out of ways to have them killed creatively.  The movie seemed about 45 minutes longer than it needed to be but it kept me entertained for the most part.  I’ll give it a B.

As further testament to CBD oil, I was able to get out and run Sunday morning without any major difficulty.  I put in another 13 laps around the track with the idea that I need the mileage in case we decide to do the Thanksgiving run again this year.  The run Sunday went fine, feeling slow and steady.

We went out for a PTV ride mid-morning to the Greenway, a place we haven’t ridden since well before the hurricane.  We met up with Katie and Daniel there.  I could see a number of snapped off trees but the pathway and boardwalks seemed to be in tip top shape.  While we were there we got to witness an unexpected spectacle of a bunch of young kids flipping off the bridge into the river some 15 feet below.  We filmed a bunch of it.  They seemed to be looking to get some traction in social media with the stunts, having someone film it for them as well.

Over the weekend I was firing off prints on both of my 3D printers, taking advantage of my getting the CR-10 back online.  I printed a large, intricate 3D skull for Katie on the CR-10 and a cool Eagles coaster for me on the Finder.   I am in the middle of a another 24hour + long print on the CR-10 that appears to be going well.

It’s satisfying to be able to get my issues resolved with the printer.  It’s ironic that in order to do so I have uninstalled several of the “improvements” that I thought I needed.  Sometimes the “K.I.S.S.” approach to things just makes more sense.

The majority of my Sunday was pretty laid back.  I figured I earned the leisure time with the energy and effort I had expended thus far.  Since the Eagles were off this week I put some of that time into WoW and enjoyed it as always.

 

So a week or so ago my dad reached out to me pitching the idea of my coming up there for my birthday next month.  The reason was this will be my 50th year on the planet, something I would honestly be fine let pass by like any other day.  Anyone that knows me knows that aging is something I typically have no interest in celebrating. However in this case it was more about the appeal of getting to hang out with my family and the animals for a couple days.  It’s also fun to expose myself to true winter-like weather for brief periods of time.

I was amazed at how cheaply I was able to secure a flight via Spirit Airlines who evidently recently started flying Fort Myers to Pittsburgh.  My TOTAL fare was something like $98.  Not only is it cheap but it’s a direct flight with no layovers.  Now of course there is a catch.  Spirit nails you heavily for luggage fees, even for carry on items so it is likely my total cost will be more than double the base fare, but even so, it’s still affordable.

I also seem to be making some headway into getting my insurance claim upped to more closely match the estimates I have received.  The adjuster I talked to on Tuesday said they would agree to pay the difference in their initial offer and my estimates but I had to send them signed contracts for the work on the roof and the pool cage.  It was another annoying hoop to jump through.  I was further annoyed when they said the supplemental checks would have both my name and the contractors name on them meaning in total there would be three different checks with each check requiring a secondary co-signer.

I guess I can understand why this practice exists.  Putting both names on a check is a way to cut down on fraud from individuals that would otherwise cash the check and never do the repairs or do them in a half ass way to save money.  On the other hand I feel it is my home, my insurance policy that I pay the premiums for.  I would rather be cut a check that I deposit in my account which I dole out funds from as I see fit.

I am off tomorrow for Veterans Day.  Just like last year I am going to consume that day high up in the trees, doing my hated annual chore of branch trimming.  The task takes a greater physical toll on me each and every year. I feel both dread for the work but anticipation for it’s completion.  If there is one bright spot about Hurricane Irma was it did some of the branch trimming for me ahead of time and even removed several trees from the equation altogether.

I ordered another 3D printer, a Dagoma Neva.  It is a delta 3D printer, a different type than either the FlashForge Finder and CR-10 I already own.  After fighting with my CR-10 for over a month the Neva, which I just happened to stumble across on a 3D printing YouTube video, was very appealing.

It makes 3D printing extremely simple with a single button on the unit.   The circular build area is larger than the Finder with a 7 inch by 8 inch capacity.  The print platform is stationary so there is none of the bed leveling hassle that plagues many 3D printers.

I initially will of course play with it at home but I have ideas of bringing it to the office so I can be extra productive, creating 3D objects as I do my normal 8-5 duties, we’ll see.