Category: Home Improvements

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.

 

I apologize for going dark for the latter half of last week. We finally completed the second half of our renovation at the office and I worked my ass off getting our department moved from our temporary building back to our renovated space.  There were movers scheduled to come on Friday to move our furniture but I didn’t want to wait.  So starting on Wednesday I used my Tacoma and hand trucks to move tons of heavy metal desks and tables.

I worked straight through each day with no gym/lunch break.  I had no need for supplemental exercise as I got plenty of it hauling everything around.  My body was beat to a pulp by the end of it.  Both of my arms are heavily bruised from having the furniture wedged against them.  My lower back was one big knot of pain as well.   To me the pain and soreness was worth it as by the close of business on Friday I was more or less situated back into my original office.

I used the final move as an opportunity to rearrange my office.  I turned my desks into an L configuration and lost a couple pieces of furniture to give me more space.  The end result was the window in my office is now in my field of view all day long instead of to my back.  I like the configuration much more.

On Saturday I was busy buzzing around the house.  After weeding the yard I had to get out the ladder to address a couple things.  The rig job I did on the OTA antenna finally failed.  The partially snapped center extension broke all the way and was laying on the roof of the shed.  I went up there and undid the dog leash and wash line that held it together after the hurricane.  I hoped what remained would still get us some TV.  We do still get channels albeit fewer than we did when the antenna was in one piece.  It will do in an emergency which is all it is for at this point.

I also had to put the spline back in for my haphazard temporary roof screening repair.  The wind had managed to partially pull it out.  I am looking forward to having the cage rescreen professionally, whenever that may be.  I am hoping to complete one piece of the puzzle to make that happen this week.  I am supposed to close on reopening my home equity line this week which allows me to more conveniently fund whatever part of the repairs that won’t be covered by insurance.  Of course coming to an amicable agreement with my insurance is an entirely different issue which I am still in the middle of fighting.

During the afternoon I spent a bunch of time replacing pool cage screws with the new ones that I bought that are designed to look much better and last much longer.  Specifically I was replacing the big concrete screws that are used to attach the cage to the deck.  Each support had a minimum of four screws attaching it to the cement.  In every support but a couple, half of those screws were corroded to the point where the head snapped off.  The screws that went through an L bracket directly into the cement remained intact but pretty much every screw that went through an L bracket and then through the 1″ x 2″ piece of cage frame into the cement were destroyed.  In those situations roughly an inch of the bolt was left exposed to the air/elements.  Evidently the bolts were not designed to hold up in that situation.

So now I have to either drill out the roughly four inches of snapped off screws in each hole (probably at least 20 of them) or install another L bracket which allows me to relocate that hole elsewhere.  Either way it’s going to be a pain in the ass.  The screws that I did manage to replace look great.  They install on top of a nylon washer and have a weatherproof cap that snaps into place on top.  The combination looks clean and seals off the fastener from the elements.

Saturday night Cindy and I went to see the new Thor movie.  We again saw it at the Prado theater which I think has now become our theater of choice since Coconut Point  inexplicably remains closed.  This time we paid extra to see the movie in their VIP theaters which have reserved seating in beautiful and comfortable power reclining chairs.

When I bought the tickets I thought I bought seats in the top row in the middle.  It turns out the theater diagram was the reverse of what I expected and we wound up being in the first row.  It was disconcerting at first but with the way the seats reclined it made viewing the film less than ideal but bearable.

The movie was not what I expected.  If I were to describe it, I would say it was a comedy first and a conventional Marvel superhero action movie second.  Don’t get me wrong, it succeeded in this role, I laughed out loud a lot.  The film still gets a shiny A rating from me, it just got there in a manner I didn’t expect.

So despite going to the movies AND this being a daylight savings weekend where you lose an hour of time, I set my alarm for 5:30 to go compete in my first race of 2017.  The race was an unheard of  FREE four miler held by a group that is trying to get a foothold into putting on events in our area.  The race was held at North Collier Park, a spot we ride the wheels at quite a bit and the place where Cindy and I did a lot of our tri-style training the first year or two we were together.

I arrived about 40 minutes before the 7Am start time.  I could not believe that our free entry to the race also included a free, high quality dri-fit t-shirt as well.  Hell they even had finisher medals at the end.  As far as how the actual running part of the event went, I struggled.  It was the only the second time this year I ran four miles so I was not in a position to try to push pace, I just wanted to complete the distance.

Early on I had some of the old familiar struggles where I saw people that shouldn’t be ahead of me, ahead of me.  However as is often the case, a lot of those people slowed down or stopped to walk, allowing me to take the spot in front of them.  For the last half of the race I was the one doing the passing, except for once case where a teenager girl whom I passed was able to return the favor as she had more gas in the tank than I did as she pushed towards the finish.  My finish time of 38:30 was about 45-60 seconds per mile slower than what I could do comfortably 4-5 years ago but to be honest I really didn’t care.  It just felt good to get out there and still prove to myself I could endure.

Mid-morning Cindy and I pushed off to ride EUCs with a twist.  Cindy saw they had a food truck/autoshow event going on on Vanderbilt Beach Road.  We parked the Prius and rode the roughly mile to the event.  We did a good job of maneuvering our wheels through the crowd which was pretty dense at spots.  We got TONS of comments and double takes as we rolled around the event.  We saw a lot of sweet cars and enjoyed a nice lunch from a food truck that wheeled over all the way from Miami.  It was a good idea by Cindy.

We got home shortly after the Eagles game started.  The game quickly turned into a blowout, so much so that much of the second half was not televised locally.  The big win left the Eagles sitting at an unbelievable 8-1, going into a bye week.  Maybe, just maybe, I am starting to think the team has the chance to go deep into the playoffs.  Their recent acquisition of Ajayi from the Dolphins paid immediate dividends after he had a long TD run and ran hard.

I have a short four day week thanks to Veterans Day falling on Friday.  I have a lot to do in those four days but look forward to the three day respite.

 

Once again on Friday night I got out and did the weeding when I got home to give me one less to do for the weekend. The first thing that got done on Saturday was another run.  The temps in the upper 60’s definitely helped make the session feel less miserable than normal.  I again opted for 13 laps as I am actually doing a four mile “race” this upcoming Sunday so I figured more distance made sense.

I spent most of the rest of the morning mowing the grass.  As I did I clearly recall thinking how nice it was that everything was now totally dry and the miserable days of standing water were behind us for awhile.  Six hours later, it was back.

There was a fast moving tropical storm that buzzed by Florida that had no serious wind on our coast but dropped a shitload of rain.  I am sure we got at least four inches.  Neither Cindy or I were happy to see things underwater yet again, reenforcing that 2017 has been the worst rainy season since either of us have lived in the Naples area.

We watched XXX the Return of Xander Cage on dvd on Friday in bed.  It has been sitting in it’s Netflix envelope for weeks and weeks.  We just have not been motivated to watch it.  That lack of excitement was merited, it was a C+ flick at best, oh well.

Saturday night we went to the Prado movie theater in Bonita, a theater I had been to once or twice but Cindy had not.  Coconut Pointe was STILL closed and I did not feel like dealing with the crowds we had at Silverspot.  The Prado is quite nice and less expensive than any other theater in the area, we will be going there more often I think.  We saw “Thank You for Your Service”, a movie about the terrible toll many soldiers that come back from Afghanistan/Iraq wars are forced to pay.  It was certainly a very sobering look at the reality of war and why the people that profit massively from international conflict should perhaps spend some time with their own boots on the ground.  It just might change their perspective on things.  It was an A movie.

Sunday morning after tending to the chickens and paying my bills we went to Veterans Park.  Our plan was for Cindy and Elsa to walk while I rode my Msuper around a bit.  Veterans has a dog park but we were bummed to see it was closed due to hurricane damage.  A lot f trees went down and in the process damaged a lot of the perimeter fencing.

I never rode my wheel there so it was cool to travel the outer perimeter to see what was what.  We didn’t spend much time there but it was nice to at least get out for a short while.

So in the past a game like the Eagles had on Sunday against the winless 49ers would be a trap game.  There have been so many times over my decades as a fan where the Eagles would play down to the level of their competition and in many cases lose to team that they just should never lose to.  For the first half of the game it looked like that may once again be the case with the score being only 3-0 as the teams approached halftime.  However in the second half the Eagles really asserted themselves and imposed their will, pulling away to an easy win, moving their record to a much unexpected 7-1.

As a lifelong Birds fan I just never feel comfortable truly believing this could be the year the team actually goes all the way.  They have been close so many times only to squash my hopes in the end.  I still assume the wheels will come off at some point but it still has been great to have this sort of a start to a season, something that has not occurred since the Donovan McNabb heyday.

After the game I once again dug into my CR-10 trying to get it to print an ornate cross for Cindy.  It has been desire to get this cross printed for her that has driven my many, many hours of frustration trying to get several printing issues corrected.  Overnight that effort was finally rewarded when I woke up to a very clean print that more or less duplicated the cross Cindy had that broke when it was dropped.

The design work was done by my buddy Mathias in Norway.  I sent him an overhead picture of the broken cross.  Since the cross is symmetrical he was able to flip and reverse the unbroken portion to correct where it was broken and turn it into a 3D model.  Cindy was very happy with the outcome and is looking forward to us trying to print it several times in different colors/filament styles.

At this point next week we should all be moved back to our renovated space in the office, ending what has been a nearly six month headache with a major hurricane thrown in just for fun.  That’s good news but the bad news this project ends just in time for us to start getting very deep into another project where we are outsourcing the majority of our backend systems to a cloud provider.

 

So I finally got a call back from my insurance company, well to be clear, I got a call back from the company my insurance company sub-contracts out their claim handling to.  I am less and less impressed with the way Tower Hill does business now that both the adjusters that did my assessment and the people cutting checks both are not actual Tower Hill employees.

So anyway, I tell this woman how the number they came up with was much lower than the estimates I have received from contractors. (roughly 5-6k)  I told her I had emailed those estimates in earlier in the day.  The conversation was very difficult to hear, she sounded like she was talking inside a box and there was a lot of background noise.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was intentional, making a call annoying makes you want to end it sooner.

She said that after looking at the estimates the only way she could authorize paying out additional funds was if she contacted these contractors to see why their quotes were more than the insurance company estimate.  I laughed out loud at this as I knew it was utterly ridiculous.  To think a contractor, who is already buried in work is going to sit there and waste their time on the phone justifying their quote to some insurance company call center minion is laughable.  I indicated that this didn’t seem to make any sense but she repeated that was the course of action to follow.  I gave her permission to contact them but I don’t expect her to get anywhere with it, but she already knows that.

The interaction to me was just very transparent.  The entire goal here is to delay and frustrate the homeowner to the point where he just wants to get stuff fixed so they accept the initial offer.  However in my situation I have the house and pool cage temporarily fixed enough that I can play a long game if need be.  I plan to consult the public adjuster I spoke to initially and see what she thinks my best course of action is at this point.

I tried to give myself extra time on Saturday to work on the pool cage by getting the weeding out of the way on Friday evening.  In a way it was sort of nice as the temps were in the low 80’s and dropping.

Saturday morning Cindy was helping out a friend with a 5K walk that supports cancer research. She suggested I get my run out of the way on Saturday so we could sleep in on Sunday.  I took that advice and started running even earlier than normal since Cindy had a 5AM alarm.  I took my first strides a little after 6.  Since I pushed my run to 16 laps when Cindy showed up last week so I felt obligated to run more than my normal 12 times around the track so I added a 13th lap.  I didn’t feel too bad.

After getting back and tending to the chickens I wasted little time before I started working on the pool cage screen.  I first did my amateur seamstress impersonation, sewing up the sections of screen that had a gap.  The end result is far from visually pleasing but I think it will do a half decent job of keeping unwanted critters and bugs out of the pool area.

I then grabbed my bag of 2″ Nylotec pool cage screws and replaced all of the screws in the 1″x 2″ header piece, most of which were completely rusted.  These nylon head screws will basically never rust and make the cage look much better.  I replaced about 30 screws and have a lot more to go.  I have a kit to replace the smaller screws along the bottom and I need to get one more size to replace the real big cement screws which are the worst looking of all.  Installation of the new screws is easy, back out the old screw and insert the new one, which has a slightly larger diameter, allowing you to use the existing hole.

Cindy was gone longer than I anticipated but when she got home I asked her to help me with the last and most difficult screen fix I had left to do, a roof section.  I had a similar issue as I did with the sides, since I could not get screen rolls that were wide enough to cover it completely I was going to use a long four foot roll, overlapping two pieces.

Getting the strip of screen stretched across the opening was a difficult task in itself.  I had the roll up on the roof with me while Cindy had the other end, trying to get it over the edge of the cage so it could be pulled over top.  The gusting wind turned the screen into a sail, making the work even more frustrating.  Eventually we got the first piece in place.  I splined it in along the roof gutter and then came down and did my best to pull it tight and attach it on the other side.  My best was not good enough as the wind ripped it out.  I had to reattach it a couple times.

Getting the second piece on was equally if not more frustrating.  Eventually we got it into place enough that I told Cindy I could take it from there.  I was not pleased with the way things were.  The one strip of screening had a fold along the edge that I could not reach.  With the long strip only being secured at either edge I knew there was a good chance it would come loose quickly so I felt that somehow I needed to secure it more on top.

At first I entertained the idea of simply scaling the pool frame like a circus act however thankfully visions of me getting blown off balance by the wind and crashing through the screen to the concrete below made me reconsider the plan.  I did come up with a plan B however.  After I climbed back on the roof with the Gorilla ladder I proceeded to pull the ladder up on the roof with me.  I then put one end of the ladder on the roof and rested the other end on a roof beam of the pool cage, creating a shaky scaffolding.  I then carefully crawled out across it, some 15-20 feet in the air, hoping that my demise would not come from the ladder suddenly breaking in half from using it in an unintended way.  I somehow managed to get some spline in a couple spots on top of the cage that hopefully will keep the screen in place for now.  I was glad Cindy was not outside to witness this act of daring. (stupidity)

Saturday night Cindy and I went to see the Kingsman sequel at Silverspot.  Unfortunately our favorite theater at Coconut Point is STILL closed due to hurricane damage.  The parking garage was a bit of a mess coming in but a cluster fck getting out, reminding me why I prefer seeing films elsewhere. The movie was very entertaining in a different and bizarre kind of way at times, much like the original.    It was entertaining enough for me to push into A- range.

On Sunday morning I had the idea to try to ride my Gotway Monster all the way to Ave Maria and back, a roughly 30 mile trek.  It was much further than Cindy would have wanted to ride so she stayed home while I shoved off solo.  I thought I would have absolutely no problems having the battery capacity to do it.  I figured my 1600WH battery would be good for around 50 miles of riding.  Well for almost the entire ride there I was going into a heavy headwind.  When I stopped in town and looked at my battery indicator I was a bit shocked to see it was down to 50% after only going 15 miles. I had visions of running out of juice before I could get back home.

Luckily for me that headwind turned into a tailwind on the ride back, plus I tried to keep my speed down a bit.  If you watch the video you will see I ramble about a number of different topics along the way.  My calves and feet were completely numb by the time I pulled back in the driveway.

Cindy and I ran out to Home Depot and Rural King when I got back, taking the dogs along.  They love to be in the car.  Sadie loved going into stores too.  Elsa gets more freaked out being around strangers but we keep trying to expose her to the environment to help her settle down.

I spent the majority of the rest of the day doing video production and again clubbing away at my CR-10 problem.  I wound up buying a new hot end assembly but in order to install it I had to utilize my very poor soldering skills to splice the new end into place.  I am worried that my connection will not hold up to the endless back and forth movements the printer makes but time will tell.

I put everything back together and my clogging problem seems to be fixed but I still need to do a recalibration of the printer to get it printing correctly with the new stuff in there.  I shot some video of the process and then somehow proceeded to lose the SD card the footage was on.  I must have set it down somewhere while cleaning up the mess I had on the desk but I spent a good 20-30 minutes looking everywhere for it to no avail.  When combined with the frustration I was already feeling with the printer shit it was not a good time. If this latest round of attempted repairs does not work out I think I am just about ready to say F it and just wait to get a Prusa i3 MK3 which has similar print capacity with a whole less frustration.

 

 

So to my surprise I saw that Tower Hill did the initial processing of my claim.  Since I have electronic document delivery I was able to see it instantly instead of waiting 5-7 days.  I wish I was happier with what I saw.  They accessed my total damage at just under $15,600 which is less than the lowest quote I received to redo the roof in three tab shingles.  I also have an additional $4500 quote to repair the pool cage damage and rescreen it so to me, we are about 5k apart from what I would be satisfied with.  When you factor in the $5100 plus hurricane deductible my policy has, the actual check I would be getting would be for around $10,500.

My plans to upgrade the roof as part of this process to metal make it even more important to get fair value in the claim to reduce how much is coming out of my pocket.  I get to begin a new round of frustration today when I call them up to dispute their numbers.

Even though my knee jerk response was to go metal with the replacement roof the visit by the Home Depot estimator added some more fuzziness to that view.  The prospect of architectural shingles seemed interesting as a stronger, better looking alternative to the three tab shingles that were on the house.  Supposedly they have a version of these shingles designed to reflect heat much better than normal shingles.   Architectural shingles are also far less expensive than metal roofing.

The sky high price of the standing seam metal roof quote by HD ($31k) makes me doubt the wisdom of going with the 5V crimp exposed fastener metal roof that I was quoted for about $19k from another place.  There is a reason there is such a huge price difference between the two with the main reason being exposed fasteners over time have the potential to break down and allow moisture in.  But at the same time does it even matter what the roof is even like in 30 years, I’ll likely be dead before that and if not, probably living elsewhere.

So I have a lot of things rolling through my head and a lot of issues to resolve.  I can hardly wait till this time next year where all of the hurricane remediation and work related headaches will be behind me.

Forecast for the weekend, pool screen sewing, pool screen stretching, and hopefully some time for fun.

 

So as I expected, trying to trudge through hurricane remediation has been a pain in the ass.  I have been patiently waiting for my insurance company to contact me with a settlement offer after they told me I needed to wait up to 14 business days for them to receive the information from the adjuster company.  The adjuster was at my house on September 26th so this past Monday marked the end of those 14 days.  So I still had not heard anything so I called.

The representative checked my case and said they still had not received back the information from the adjuster which seemed crazy.  When the guy was at the house he told us to expect about a week until the stuff was sent in.  They gave me a direct number to call the adjusters although I questioned why Tower Hill doesn’t do this themselves?  Why is the customer responsible for making sure the claim is processed correctly….

So I call up the adjuster and tell them that I was told they had not submitted their information yet.  She looked in their system and verified that it indeed was still not completed, it was waiting for review by their “desk adjuster”.  I went on a bit of a rant asking why was I told a week and we are now three weeks out and it wasn’t done.  The woman apologized and said they would get it processed that day and sent in.  I asked for someone to call me back to verify it was done.

So the day passed and by late afternoon I still had not received a call back so I called again.  A different woman told me that the system now shows the information as being submitted and I should hear something back from Tower Hill in 24-48 hours.   I didn’t bother asking why no one called me to tell me this, I was just glad it was finally done.

So I waited another two days as instructed, hoping for a call but expecting to not get one.  I pick up the phone and call back yesterday, 48 hours later to Tower Hill, once again asking what’s up.  Imagine my delight when they tell me they STILL do not have the information from the adjusters.  I told the rep she must be mistaken as the adjuster confirmed on Monday it had been sent.  She didn’t know what to tell me but forwarded me to some “escalation” number that nobody answered and went straight to voicemail.  I supposedly was escalated on Monday as well and received no follow up.

So, I call back the adjuster company again, telling them that for some reason the insurance company says they still don’t have the information.  The woman on the other side sheepishly tells me that the info actually had not been sent yet.  There was one more part of the process that had not been completed.  I unleashed a barrage of anger at their incompetence, asking why they would tell me it was sent when it wasn’t, how can that be a hard thing to get right?  I reminded her that their continued delays make my efforts to remediate my issues more and more difficult.  Of course this woman just answered the phones but I had no one else to aim this frustration at.  She assured me it would be transmitted today and promised a call when it was, to confirm it.  Later in the day I did have a voicemail on my cell phone stating it was sent which I will be keeping for verbal proof.  Now I need to wait another day or two to allow Tower Hill to digest it. I am already anticipating this escalation when after all of this delay, Tower Hill comes back with a lowball offer that won’t be acceptable.  I can only hope I am wrong.

Last night after work I put my plan to “sew” together portions of the temp pool cage screen together.  I threaded some fishing line into a big hook needle I bought and worked on the vertical seam near the one door.  I stitched it every 5-6 inches which seemed to close it sufficiently to keep unwanted animals/objects out.  It turned out well and I plan to use the same strategy to connect the half dozen or so horizontal seams as well.

This weekend I hope to tackle the open roof section using two 4 foot wide strips.  It will be a two person job as I need someone to toss me screen while I secure one edge along the roof line.

 

So I used a vacation day yesterday primarily so I could make the famous chocolate birthday cake for Cindy.  Although I had already bought a birthday present for Cindy I thought I would give her another gift of effort.  Since Irma the pool cage area has been wide open to organic debris, bugs, and frogs thanks to the numerous missing screen panels.  Cindy had commented repeatedly how she didn’t like the situation.  I thought I would surprise her and make the situation better.

I left in the morning to Home Depot.  I told Cindy where I was going but not why, just that it was a birthday present.  For some reason I just assumed that by now pool cage screening would once again be readily available.  That assumption was defective.  Home Depot had very little screening and none of the wide rolls that are normally needed for pool cages.  I didn’t want to give up on my plan so I headed to Lowe’s which was about 7 or 8 miles away.

Lowe’s didn’t have the real wide rolls either, the widest they had was five feet which I did not think was enough to cover the sections completely but I figured it would be better than nothing.  I grabbed three 25 foot rolls of the stuff and headed back home.  As soon as I got home I got busy.  First I had to clean out any channels that had any old spline or screen in them which can be a pain in the ass to varying degrees.

I then used the small bit of wide enough screen I had left over to cover the two sections missing by the main door we use.  I figured those two would be the best to be covered completely.  I did not worry about making sure the screens were tight as a drum as it was all temporary.  As long as they keep out debris, frogs, and bugs for the most part my goal would be attained.  So as I expected the rolls I bought were about 6 inches too narrow.  What I wound up doing was securing the top edge and then just get as much tension as I could on the sides which left a two three inch gap at the bottom.  I then went back and cut smaller strips of screening that I affixed to the bottom to create an overlap.  My plan is to loosely secure the two pieces together on the seam using a hook needle and fishing line, far from an elegant solution but hopefully effective.

Hanging screen by yourself is never much fun.  I was pretty beat by the end of it but managed to get all of the side sections covered. The only remaining opening is a strip across the roof of the cage which I hope to cover by the end of the weekend.  Mid-afternoon I mixed in cake prep with screen repair, alternating between the two as time allowed.

My day off was pretty much totally filled with work which I didn’t mind as the goal was to make it a good day for Cindy.  She was surprised by the GoPro Session camera I got her as a main gift which should be fun to experiment with.  I even made dinner to go along with the cake which Katie stopped by to enjoy.