So as part of my Saturday morning chores I wanted ot get the grass mowed and weed whacked. The standing water had dried up so I knew in wet season you need to take advantage of these dry opportunities. Cindy and I busted ass and got everything looking good, just in time for it to absolutely pour a couple hours later, submerging the grounds once again. It’s so frustrating. When I walked back in the chicken area to turn the pump back on the water was only three to four inches from the top of my boots.
When I was doing stuff around the yard I was feeling some moderate discomfort from my right side. It was the left over pain I had from doing dragon flags on Friday. I was a little concerned that the pain, which seems to be right around where a liver is supposed to me, was still hurting. The pain also erased running from the activity list for the weekend. When I was crossing the Home Depot parking lot with Elsa and tried to transition into a light jog to avoid burning her feet I felt significant discomfort. As the weekend progressed the pain has lessened so hopefully just avoiding dragon flags in the future will be the long term remedy.
Saturday night we got out to see the new Spiderman movie. I found it interesting that Marvel basically decided to tweak the Spiderman origin story most of us know. Despite this it somehow all worked which isn’t surprising. Everything Marvel touches just works. Both Cindy and I really enjoyed the movie, earning a shiny A+ in my book.
Sunday morning Katie joined us for our EUC ride around some of the beautiful nearby developments. She had my old Ninebot One that I gave to Daniel in her truck which Cindy hopped on and rode at the end of the ride. It was sort of a symbolic triumph for Cindy since it was her fall off the Ninebot One in the driveway that scared her from learning for months and months. For her to be able to step up and do a few circles on the 9B1 like it was no big deal was a testament to how far she has come. Cindy said she actually liked the way the 16 inch wheel felt.
I did some more 3D printing over the weekend, printing a cool clamp style headset holder for Cindy, a small skull ring, a new phone case and a few other items. I also got to do my first “fixing” of the FlashForge Finder. When I was changing filament a piece seemed to get stuck in the extruder. I had to do some minor disassembly to get access to the filament tube. I then was able to use the included tools to clear the path and load in some fresh spool.
It’s a good thing that I get some practice digging into the printer. With the CR-10 large format printer I have on order there is probably going to be a lot of tweaking, improving, and fixing going on.
I recorded a second video during the afternoon recapping my experiences thus far with 3D printing. For being complete novices, I think Cindy and I have created some pretty amazing objects.
Sunday afternoon was chill with Cindy working more on her costume designs while I worked more in WoW. Since I unlocked the ability to fly in game it has made leveling characters significantly easier. I now have six or seven of my 11 toons at max level and keep working on the what is left.
We watched 50 Shades Darker last night, a movie I rented because Cindy expressed interest. I saw the first one with her and was not very impressed although it was some low level soft porn. I thought the sequel suffered from a disjointed plot which I found a hard time caring much about. Of course it was filled with large amounts of more soft porn once again so I can give it a B on entertainment value I guess.
I once again have not been sleeping well. Lately it seems I wake up an hour or two before the alarm goes off and just fade in and out of consciousness until the bell sounds.
Cindy and I started off the weekend with a track 5K. I forced myself to do it even though as recently as Friday night I was walking around gingerly due to hamstrings still sore from deadlifting on Tuesday. Much like the week prior, the run felt like a struggle pretty much the entire time. The temp almost being 80 degrees with high humidity at 7AM didn’t help matters.
I wanted to get all weekend labor out of the way on Saturday and I worked diligently to make that happen. Weeding was a particularly large pain in the ass. The frequent rain combined with steaming temperatures provides the perfect conditions for weeds to pop up everywhere.
It was bright and sunny for most of the day Saturday, so much so that once again the dreaded standing water had dried up. Around 3 o’clock I decided I should take advantage of this and jumped on the tractor as I saw a few gray clouds starting to form. Well as I was about half way into mowing the first front section when it started to rain lightly. Since the tractor has a sun canopy it also does a decent job as a rain canopy so I pressed on. By the time I called it quits after finishing the front of the house I was mowing in the middle of a monsoon. Of course the recently dried up sections of the yard were now back under several inches of water…..sigh.
Another thing I got out of the way on Saturday was my weekly bill paying session. I actually had very few bills to pay this week so a wave of inspiration hit me. My primary 15 year mortgage was real close to being paid off. I had planned to pay it off in a couple months but I decided I would dip into one of my other budget columns and pay the sucker off now. I have been overpaying a little bit each month ever since the house was refinanced which has allowed me to get to this point roughly a year ahead of schedule.
A looong time ago I had set a goal of having the house paid off before I was 50 so it feels good to accomplish that. However when I initially set that goal it was the intent for the house to be COMPLETELY paid off which it is not. I still have my home equity loan which was opened almost as long ago which was used to pay for things like the pool, the two terrible land investments in Lehigh Acres, divorce settlement funds, and home improvements. Now that the primary mortgage is cleared out I can attack the HELOC as well as having some extra funds to both save and do some other things with. I would like to open up a Roth IRA to give me a third retirement account to lean on when I am old, gray, and feeble. (if I make it that long) So anyway, yes, it feels good to have the primary mortgage satisfied, it’s something a lot of people never get a chance to do in their lifetimes.
Saturday night we stayed home and watched Aftermath, a recent movie I never heard of with Arnold starring in it based on a true story. I was somewhat surprised that the movie was missing pretty much any of the classic Arnold physicality even though there is a weird, twisted, revenge plot going on. I thought it was well done although extremely sad and tragic. It gets a solid B but don’t expect to be jumping for joy afterward. I think this movie never hit theaters and went direct to Blu-ray.
Sunday morning Cindy and I got out on the wheels, riding directly from the house over to the high school roughly three miles away. The wide open and traffic free roads are great for practicing. I did more seated riding on the Monster and Cindy worked on a number of skills as well. Her comfort level on the wheel is approaching mine.
It felt like I was wasting time not having my 3D printer building something so over the weekend I printed Arthas the Lich King, a big character from World of Warcaft lore. It was a very complex model and I was skeptical of how it would turn out. When it was done printing it was encased in support material but after a lot of careful clean up by Cindy this was the end result. Cindy will also be the one to take on the very intricate task of painting the model when she has time.
The reason Cindy’s time has been taxed is her relentless work on her cosplay costume and props. She has been spending a ton of time assembling the 3D gun that we printed the parts for. Putting all the parts together and making it look pretty is a far greater task than the printing of the parts. It’s exciting seeing the gun come to life bit by bit. Hopefully by the end of this week it will be more or less done.
While she was plugging away on her stuff I was plugging away in WoW having a good time rotating through my various characters and getting stuff done in a virtual manner. I always feel somewhat guilty after prolonged gaming sessions but I enjoy them all the same.
I have a weird week where after a day at the office I am treated with another day off. Cindy and I have no definitive plans for the 4th but I am sure EUC riding, gun building, and WoW will be part of the itinerary.
So with a new Nvidia card in hand I stopped back at Ali’s on my way home Friday to hopefully fix her video/monitor issue for good. I was 80% sure a different chipset video card would solve my problem. It didn’t. Instead I fought with her system for another hour or so. Not only did the new card show the exact same behavior (driver crashing) I eventually lost IP connectivity as well. I was pissed.
Thankfully I came up with a temporary remediation plan. Ali still had her old pc I replaced in her office. It was left online in case there were any files on it that she still might need. I hooked it up to the monitors and it still worked fine. I just had to update a few settings and refresh her Dropbox so she was able to work again. I took the computer I was fighting with me so I could continue battle in the comfort of my own home.
I f’d with it for a couple more hours until I gave up and just did a Windows 10 “reset” where it reinstalls the OS but leaves the user files alone. It meant I had to reinstall some applications but overall it was not bad to recover from. I wished I chose that option earlier. After completion the video driver finally loaded normally and the IP/internet connectivity had been restored. It was a huge pain in the ass overall which I think all began with the installation of the Windows 10 “Creators” update which never installed correctly.
Saturday morning we again went out for a run first thing. The temps in the low 70’s with HIGH humidity were not comfortable to run in at all. Cindy and I hardly said a word during the run. Afterwards I told her that it felt like I was uncomfortable from the first stride to the last stride. Sure it’s nice to endure one of those types of runs but I sure wouldn’t mind one that felt psuedo-enjoyable once in awhile.
When we got home I jumped right into an all morning yard session that started with weeding and ended with mowing. I was very thorough in my efforts and the yard looked great at the end of it but man, I was pooped. Adding the secondary chicken fence definitely has tacked some time onto my normal yard maintenance schedule.
Saturday afternoon we took Sadie and Elsa to Rural King for a few things. Elsa was back to acting very skittish for some reason as we walked the aisles. You just never know what is going to freak her out. After we got back the skies absolutely opened up. Torrential rain came down for hours. I did not see an official total but I bet we got at least 3″ of it dumped on us. Saturday night we stayed home and watched the most recent Huntsman movie which was pretty good, B+ in my book.
Sunday morning despite the skies still being overcast Cindy and I headed to North Collier Park to ride. I brought the new seat for the Monster I was sent by Jason from ewheels.com
We had a fun conventional ride first before we got out the seat. I wanted Cindy to try seated riding first as she messed around with it the week prior without a seat and did half decent. After a pretty brief acclimation period Cindy was zipping around the park on the Monster in the seated position like a pro.
Cindy’s biggest complaint about EUC riding is the foot pain she experiences. Riding on the seat totally alleviates that pain. She said the feeling of seated riding was weird. It reminded her of the same position she had on her motorcycle and scooter, without handlebars or a second wheel of course. I was really impressed with how well she did seated. I later tried myself and had only minimal success. Feel free to check out the fun below.
Sunday afternoon we went to a rare matinee showing of Wonder Woman. The movie looked pretty epic from the trailers and I was looking forward to seeing it. Like all DC super hero movies, I liked the movie but didn’t love it. (Cindy loved it) I thought the first half of the movie was particularly slow and that was exaggerated by the overall length of the film, something like 2:20. Some of the stuff that was revealed in this origin story was news to me so I am not sure if it is all true to comic book story lines or not. By the end of it Wonder Woman seemed to have basically transformed into Supergirl. Anyway, it was enjoyable overall but reaffirmed when it comes to super hero movies, nobody does it like Marvel. B+
It was a good way to close out another fun weekend.
Yep I am not overlooking the latest terror attack in the UK but really, what I have said before is all I would say again. Who wants to be a broken record….
I was outside Saturday morning bright and early. I had a ton of things I wanted to get done, small things that added up to a larger block of time. I placed a new set of solar pathway lights to replace the 4-5 year old lamps that were mostly dead. Cindy asked that I place a couple by the entrance to the driveway for better visibility. Or course no more than 30 minutes after I placed them Katie hit one backing out her truck, breaking the mounting stake. I actually had lights by the end of the driveway before and they got pulled after repeated vehicle strikes.
I also used the steam mop and went over the tiled living area. There has been a constant feeling of grime on the floor since the house has become a psuedo dog kennel. I hoped the steam mop would help alleviate that. I inherited this mop when my mom passed away. I actually bought it for her as a Christmas present a few years before that. Well it seems like for some reason it does not pump steam like it once did. I was not happy with the end result.
Later in the day I bought a new and improved floor steam mop and got dramatically better results. For the first time in weeks the floor actually felt clean to bare feet. Of course with the dogs constantly bringing in dirt and sand, unless I allocate a couple days a week to steam cleaning, the floors will be back to their gritty state in no time.
I volunteered to help Cindy do some work at her mom’s condo. Cindy was doing a lot of painting which I wanted no part of but there were also some shelving that needed to be installed which I have experience with. I first dropped Cindy off at her mom’s place so I could get a look at what would be needed supply wise. We took a few measurements and I headed to the the closest Home Depot.
I bought that white wire shelving that is used everywhere. I bought six foot sections that I had a HD employee cut to length using his hydraulic snips, saving me a lot of sawing. I also bought a DeWalt hack saw. I have an old shitty one at home that I didn’t bring. I figured I needed to have a saw in case the cuts the clerk made were not good enough. It turned out that was a good decision as I had to saw a fraction of an inch off of three sections.
Hanging shelving is never fun and of course the most important aspect is that they are spaced correctly and level. After hanging the first shelf which I used Cindy extensively to hold things I developed a better system that allowed me to hang everything else solo with good results. Cindy and her mom thanked me for the work.
I actually had thrown my electric unicycle in the truck. Even though Cindy planned to leave in a few minutes, I told her she should just take the truck, I would ride my EUC the 13-14 miles home. The weather was beautiful and I wanted to get a ride in. She passed me while I was approaching Collier Blvd, waving as she saw me.
On Saturday night we, well mostly I, watched the latest Bourne Identity movie. I was glad to see Matt Damon reclaim the role. I thought the movie was very entertaining, a high energy action flick with a strong revenge plot. I really liked it, enough to give it an A- rating.
I started my Sunday off with a 5K run at the track. I did not have the strong IT band pain this week as I did last Sunday. I completed all laps sans-limp although according to the GPS my pace was slower than it felt. It was pitch dark for most of the run. The only source of light was the moon which was filtered by thin clouds.
I again had a “go” attitude when I got home. I headed directly outside to attend to the chicken duties. I was finishing up by the time Cindy brought Elsa outside. Cindy had several things she needed to do on Sunday but she agreed to go ride with me for a bit which was cool. We went to North Collier Park since it is closer. Cindy continued her excellent riding progress and is demonstrating natural abilities that I don’t possess. At the end of the ride I told her to try my Msuper a little bit, my theory being since it is bigger and more stable she would feel more steady on it. She promptly rode the wheel the distance of the parking lot and did a six or seven foot backwards ride at the end of it. It was easy for her.
During the afternoon Cindy was out. I had some more videos I wanted to shoot. The first one was something that I had in my head for awhile. I wanted to see if I could still flip the 500 pound double stack of tires, a feat I did roughly four years ago, back when I was doing a lot of power training. I wanted to see if I could still pull it off on the doorstep of 50 years of age.
It was windy outside so I thought I would be smart and use my external mic rig that has a wind screen. Well I wasn’t smart enough to test the functionality of the rig ahead of time. The end result was the audio was a mess which I replaced with a music bed and captions. Elsa was out there cheering me on as I got the tire stack flipped not once but twice. My experience at Stone Park with IronLoo was a huge help as I now knew that getting my feet away from the tires and pushing into them low with my shoulder was a key factor in the start of the lift. The side of my face, hands, and forearms were black from the old dirty rubber.
I then had MORE EUC videos I wanted to shoot. I went to the school to first shoot an intermediate rider tips tutorial where I talk about some of the skills to practice once you are able to more or less stay on the wheel.
I then wanted to shoot footage of me trying to learn to ride backwards. Another guy I know, Marty that is a few years older than me recently started seriously to try to learn backwards riding. I felt if he could try, so should I. I have tried riding backwards a little bit in the past but had very poor results. As comfortable as I feel going forwards at this point, it doesn’t seem possible that going backwards should feel so foreign, but it does.
So anyway the video shows my dozens of frustrating attempts. I was actually getting a bit fatigued from all of the awkward stumbling dismounts. Shortly after I commented how I mentally was done, I had a nasty face plant fall where the wheel shot out from under me. My hands/wrists took the initial impact followed by my elbows. Of course I neglected to wear my elbow pads yesterday which would have helped.
Despite having on the wrist guards, both wrists hurt considerably. Both elbows were scraped/bruised and although I didn’t realize it at the time, I sprained my right big toe as well. Despite the crash, I refused to let that be my last experience as I am a firm believer that ending on a positive note is a very important thing. I did a few more attempts and stopped after I had maybe a 10 foot backwards ride. Watching back the video is actually helpful to me as I can see some clear mistakes I am making.
My Msuper took some nasty falls along with me. I added a bunch of new scratches to the case. Later last evening I added some foam bumper material to key impact points to hopefully minimize additional damage as long as I am trying to learn the skill. I awoke this morning feeling all sorts of aches and pains from the running, tire flipping, face planting activities of the weekend.
So Friday night Cindy and I went to the Tarpons opening game of the season. Like I mentioned I did not buy season tickets so we had to wait in a surprisingly long line to buy tickets on site. We managed to get seats in the same section and same row as our old season tickets, ironically. Even though the parking lot seemed fuller than I was accustomed to the arena itself only seemed a little more full as a result.
We were wondering if things would be any better or worse this season since the team is once again in a different league, an annual occurrence. There was one big change this year, fans are no longer allowed to keep footballs that go into the stands, something that ALWAYS was a cool perk, dating back to my days as a Florida Firecats season ticket holder. I laughed when I heard the announcement about not keeping balls, a further testament to just how strapped for cash the team must be.
The game itself was closer than any game we saw last year (Tarpons won), but I think it was more because the Tarpons aren’t as good this year, not because the team they were playing was very good. The team from Alabama had generic uniforms with absolutely no logo or branding anywhere. They also had noone on the roster that knew how to kick a football. Each kickoff after a score was a hilarious spinning top that would go a few feet in the air.
We loaded up on shitty stadium food that included beer, pizza, nachos and ice cream. The combination left me feeling gross afterward. So I found this years Tarpons much like any other season, mildly entertaining at times but a little sad as well. I’m not sure if I will be attending any more games this year or not at this point.
On Saturday I kept myself busy in the morning with to do’s. One particularly frustrating task was replacing the screen in the pool chlorinator. There is a small plastic screen at the bottom that is used to keep the 3 inch chlorine tablets slightly elevated above the outlet that connects back to the water line. The old screen broke a long time ago and since then I noticed it takes forever for the chlorinator tablets to dissolve. I theorized that because there is no screen anymore the tablet itself was blocking the hole, not allowing the tablets to dissolve.
So the problem was I had to remove the three tablets that were already in the tube. This proved to be VERY difficult. I spent around 20 minutes with two long screw drivers shoved into the tube trying to carefully lift the tablets out one by one. It almost felt like I was playing a game of Operation, one slight move and the tablet would go tumbling back to the bottom. I refused to give up and eventually fished all three out and was able to install the new screen. After all that effort I certainly hope it fixes the issue. I was buzzing around the property pretty much all day attending to things both inside and out as Cindy was gone the majority of the day.
At one point during the day I had the wheel in the truck with the intent of going on a ride. For the first time ever I did not follow through on that intent. I just did not feel like riding as my mood was very poor. You can get a good sense of my state of mind from this fail video I posted.
I also worked shaving my head into the mix, something I last did around Thanksgiving. It was long overdue. I was running out of ideas for head shaving videos so I totally flipped the script, doing it outside with the chickens. It was logistically difficult but it was nice to not have to worry about cleaning up. The chickens seemed confused.
Saturday night we watched Sully on DVD. I was very surprised by some aspects of the movie. I never knew that Sully was actually criticized at first for the decisions leading up to him putting the plane into the Hudson River and was being investigated for negligence. The movie had me putting myself in that plane and imagining the absolute terror that everyone was feeling when they knew they were going down. To have every single person survive is truly incredible. It was a good B+ true life story.
Despite daylight savings kicking in, obliterating an hour of sleep, I got up without an alarm a little after 6 and headed to the track to run. The full moon was bright in the sky as I started running. Things did not start out well. My right IT band was hurting, a lot. After two limp filled laps running counter clockwise I was actually considering bagging it, something I despise doing. Once I mentally commit to accomplishing something, quitting is just not an option.
Instead of bagging it I decided to reverse direction after completing lap two. Running clockwise makes the corners less painful on my right leg. I was still limping more than a mile into the run but eventually the pain subsided and I was able to finish up the roughly 5K run. I was glad I endured but hope this won’t translate into another round of chronic IT band problems.
When I got home I headed immediately out to the chickens to do their daily maintenance. While I was out there I attended to a few minor repairs/upgrades to the chicken accessories. I redid their ladder that is used to get on the perch, tightening up the rungs, many of which were spinning freely which is dangerous. I also built a small stand for their large 5 gallon water container that is kept behind the coop, keeping it off the ground enough to minimize the amount of dirt and debris that gets into it. The chickens seemed thankful for my efforts. I enjoy being out there with the birds, it’s relaxing and simple.
I went out on a long solo ride on my wheel. I decided to go somewhere totally different and parked about a half mile from the beach. I had a great time exploring the coastal area and I think it reflects in the video. I told Cindy I could even see a scenario where we park off the beach and then ride the wheels there to chill for awhile. It could be fun.
I spent a good portion of the rest of the day multi-tasking, playing WoW and watching Man in the High Castle episodes. My current goal in WoW revolves completing a long, boring grind involving fishing. Yes, you can fish in WoW. So anyway on one screen I had WoW up while the other had my Amazon Prime Video playing. It made the mind numbing task of leveling fishing much less arduous for sure.
In the last decade of my life there have been a lot of lessons learned and knowledge gained. Those lessons never stop being taught. Life rarely goes in the direction intended, no matter how tightly you grasp onto the wheel.
So Friday afternoon I received an email from YouTube which both took me by surprise and angered me instantly. The email stated that the “brand channel” I created a few months ago dedicated to electric unicycle videos, EUC Army, was suspended. It said the reason had something to do with “spam, scams or commercially deceptive content” which made no sense whatsoever.
Since I went through something similar years ago with my original YouTube channel I knew how frustrating it is trying to get it corrected. Basically your only option is to appeal the claim and wait anywhere from 2-4 weeks for someone to get back to you. For a company built on the cutting edge of the internet to be so ridiculously slow addressing issues like that seems idiotic to me.
I also immediately sent a tweet to the YouTube support Twitter account. While I was there I saw a number of other people complaining of the exact same thing, sudden, unexpected termination of their channel. Back in December there was some sort of “bug” that caused a number of channels to be suspended without cause. I asked if possibly this was something similar. I received no response to any of my questions, thanks @TeamYouTube!
So now I just have to sit back and wait, having no idea what on the channel would have triggered the suspension. I think it is absolutely ridiculous the way YT handles these things, especially suspending a channel with no prior warning of any sort of problem. Surely a lot of people abuse the system but I don’t think that justifies not giving people the courtesy of a detailed explanation of what the actual problem is instead of vague categories of abuse. If there is one thing to be thankful for is that they didn’t hit my main channel that I have invested so much time and effort into. I am however paranoid that the same lunacy could strike at any time.
So after riding my EUC into work Friday I at first was up in the air regarding if I wanted to ride it home or just have Cindy pick me up. By mid-afternoon I decided I was going to make it a round trip and ride home on one wheel as well. The ride home was different as I didn’t have a time crunch on me. As a result I did not try to push my speed as much. The combination of lower speed and less headwind resulted in much better battery efficiency. I arrived home with 30-40% battery reserve instead of the 10% I had left in the morning. My feet and calves were totally numb, the end result of spending more than double the amount of time on a wheel than I ever had previously in one day. It was a cool experience that I might do again if the conditions are right.
On Saturday I attended to outside chores for awhile before heading to Home Depot for another load of mulch. I have been slowly refreshing the landscaped beds that had been ravaged by the chickens for a couple years. It has been very nice to have the beds continue to look nice afterwards instead of being dug apart within an hour.
Later in the afternoon, despite putting over 50 miles on one wheel Friday, I went back out solo. I took Cindy’s wheel just for something different. Her 14 inch Inmotion EUC feels so small and jittery compared to my Msuper. I eventually got more used to it and put almost 10 miles on the odometer. Saturday night Cindy and I watched our latest DVD, Eddie the Eagle. I really enjoyed the true life story. Of course I remembered Eddie from his 15 minutes of fame during the 88 Olympics but the movie filled in the backstory in a way that you couldn’t help but feel good about. A-
Sunday morning I got up early for week two of my running comeback. I added two laps to the distance from last week, hoping a slow build up in distance will yield the most injury free results long term. Unlike last week I wore my Garmin for the run. I was very surprised by the numbers it showed at the end with an average pace of 8:37 which is faster than any run I have posted in years. My Garmin however is old and sometimes doesn’t do well with accuracy so I am skeptical that those numbers are legit. Regardless I felt decent about my effort.
I wanted to get out on our EUC ride earlier this week. We have been getting out late morning which winds up eating up the heart of the day which is a pain in the ass. We managed to get out the door at a decent time, headed back to the Greenway so Cindy could continue her electric unicycle progress. For whatever reason she prefers learning there to anywhere else.
Last week Cindy made great progress, doing long rides alongside the handrail without touching it. I was a bit worried that since she didn’t do any practice since she may have had to take a step or two back before moving forward again. Instead she continued her rapid improvement. Not only was she able to do extended riding without touching the rail, she did extended riding with no rail at all, out on the asphalt path part of the trail! In addition she got much better at getting on and off the wheel without holding onto something, doing it at least a couple dozen times.
I felt excitement by proxy from her smiles as she rode by me repeatedly. It obviously has taken her a long time to get over the fear from falling on the Ninebot One months ago but in a way I think it has made the satisfaction of being able to ride even greater for her. She still has a lot of practice to go until she will feel confident and comfortable but she has the basic skill set now and based on my experience, once you have that things get even better quickly. I knew for sure she finally felt good about riding as she allowed me to film her for the first time.
The weather on Sunday was just about perfect with temps around 80 with low humidity. The rest of the day had a chill out vibe. Cindy was quite tired from the riding, something I recall clearly when I was learning. Your body feels like it is constant tension when you are unsure of your ability to stay on the wheel. As she gets more and more comfortable it should get less draining.
Ali and her boyfriend dropped off Sadie late in the afternoon. Ali is having some work done on her place that will last around three weeks so we will be watching Sadie during those weeks and returning her for the weekends, the reverse of the norm. Elsa and Bowser were very excited by Sadie’s arrival although I can tell Sadie can only take so much of the other dog’s off the charts excitement level.
I didn’t watch the Oscars but heard about the f up regarding the best picture winner where inexplicably the wrong winner was announced, handed the award and then had to be whisked off stage when the real winner was discovered. Crazy shit.
I have a short week due to the RO system that is scheduled to be installed on Thursday. Three day weeks are something I can fully support.
On Friday evening I hopped on my latest electric unicycle, a cheap $200 unit whose only purpose was to give Cindy something safer to learn on. The wheel is small and slow which is a good thing when learning. It also comes with detachable training wheels that you bolt to the foot pedals to keep the bot upright while you get a feel for the balance point. Cindy did not react favorably to my surprise purchase which I already expected. However through a careful negotiation she agreed to try once again to learn.
She has a big advantage now that neither of us had when the Ninebot One arrived. First she has someone in the household that has absorbed a lot of bumps and bruises so I can help guide her on ways to avoid them. Second, this cheap wheel is better suited to learning. In addition to the training wheels it also has a strap that can be used to further assist keeping the wheel upright. I of course had to take the wheel out for a test ride myself. It felt like a child’s toy compared to what I was used to but the basic functionality was all there. You can see my test ride below.
Saturday morning I was outside bright and early to get the basic chores done, taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and lower humidity. I wanted to get done early because Cindy had indicated she wanted to cruise two nearby community yard sales on the PTV’s. We drove to the gas station and used it as a launching point since it split the difference between the two developments. We spent nearly two hours cruising around in the beautiful weather. We got TONS of comments about the wheels, everyone was curious and interested in them.
I was very interested in an absolutely beautiful 1970 Chevelle we saw that had a 502 engine in it, something I had never seen but evidently is a popular aftermarket choice. He actually had TWO of these motors, one in the car and another he built to sell which was on display in his garage. It was awesome.
While we were riding around I spotted a large black bird that at first almost looked like a chicken walking near the sidewalk. As I got closer I realized it was a buzzard. As I got even closer I realized the reason he was walking was his left wing was injured, it was hanging low awkwardly. Of course my initial instinct was I wanted to help the bird but being on an electric unicycle far from the car made that trying to capture/aid the bird not logistically possible, buzzards are very large birds. As we rode away from the bird I felt very guilty. The guilt continues as I recall it now.
Later in the afternoon Cindy and I headed to Home Depot. The primary intent was I wanted to scope out the price of new extension ladders. The 20 footer I have just is not long enough to safely reach the top of several of the trees on the property. Since I plan to tackle that project Friday I wanted to be prepared. Well when I saw I would have to spend around $300 to upgrade to a ladder that won’t easily fit in my storage sheds I shit canned that idea but Cindy came up with a better one. She recalled that ladders were among the tools you can rent from Home Depot. We went into the tool rental department and saw I can rent a monster 32 foot ladder for 24 hours for $50. It was a perfect solution. I plan to pick one one up on my way home from work Thursday.
Later in the afternoon Cindy and I erected the inflatable arch for the last time. I wanted to take measurements so I could list the arch for sale. I felt a bit bittersweet about it but still confident that it was a good move for me to let race timing behind. I was surprised I got some immediate interest int the arch and sold it for my asking price. I dropped the two large boxes off at FedEx this morning.
Saturday night Cindy and I went to see Dr Strange. My knowledge of Dr Strange was very, very slim. I knew of the character and that was about it, I never read any Dr Strange comics. The movie is an origin story which I thought was well done. We saw the 3D version of the film and this was actually a situation where it was merited. The crazy visuals associated with the mystical world was well served with an extra dimension.I have liked pretty much every Marvel movie of the last 10 years and Dr Strange did not break that streak however I would rate it in the bottom third of those films. I’d give it a strong B+. Don’t forget to stay till the end. The ending bonus content got me excited about what is to come.
Saturday night was the clock switch meaning my Sunday run was no longer starting in utter darkness. Instead when I pulled into the parking lot at 6:45 the sun was already rising which felt a bit weird. The temps weren’t bad and I completed the four plus miles at a pace within a few seconds of the previous week although it did not feel like it during the run, which was a bit of a struggle.
Katie and her boyfriend Daniel joined us for our Sunday morning ride. I brought my training EUC with for Cindy to start learning on. Not only did Cindy try it (and did well), so did Katie and Daniel. Daniel’s progress was the most amazing. He went from not ever riding an electric unicycle to being able to roll without training wheels down the sidewalk within an hour. To be young again, sheesh. Like I mentioned, Cindy did well, I am hoping we can keep her moving forward in her progress. Once it clicks for her I am pretty sure she will be better than I am.
So I got to watch the Eagles for the fourth time this year go down, continuing their winless streak in the NFC east. Carson Wentz, despite putting up the most passing yeards of his young career, did not play great, throwing two consecutive bad interceptions in the first quarter that put the Eagles in a quick 14 point hole. As positive as I am about Wentz he definitely does not seem good at touch passes. I don’t think I have seen him hit a receiver in stride on a long pass all season and his endzone post pattern throws just do not have the trajectory or accuracy that is required. Hopefully he can clean up that part of his game eventually.
The decision by Doug Pederson to twice go for it on 4th down when the team was in easy field goal range will be questioned. I do like the aggressiveness but you have to have the personnel to pull it off. Both failed 4th down attempts not only failed but failed miserably. Of course those 6 lost points were exactly the margin that would have secured a one point win for the team. If there is a bright side to losing three of the last four games, I would say every loss, except the Washington game, the team played well enough to win. My expectations for the rest of the season have shifted back down closer to where they were week one. If we split wins and losses the rest of the way it will still be a more successful year than what I first thought.
Last night we watched our latest Netflix rental, Neighbors 2. It was much like the first iteration with a few spots of laugh out loud laughter back filled by a lot of silly shit. I think I gave the first one a B. I will stick with that rating for 2.0
So I mentioned on my Dufisthenics blog how my right ear popped while I was reversing out of a skin the cat, a difficult calisthenics move that has you upside down and inside out. When it happened it felt similar to what happens on an airplane although I also started with an immediate low volume ring in that ear. I assumed the exertion from the move caused the ear to close and it would open up shortly.
Well it’s now Monday and it hasn’t opened at all. I am worried I did something more serious. I found some blood on my pillowcase over the weekend which I am afraid could have come from the ear. I have tried various fixes, like yawning widely, the valsalva maneuver, cleaning out the ear with peroxide, and lots of nose blowing. None of it has worked. I am hoping to get an appointment at the on site employee clinic here so someone can take a look inside to see what is going on.
When I came home Friday there was a pretty incredible storm blowing through with sideways, torrential rain. In the time I had the garage door open to pull the Tacoma inside the front half of the floor had a pond form. It was crazy rain that of course once again left the property a mucky mess.
On Saturday Cindy and I had a full errand circuit, hitting Pinch-a-Penny, Dunkin Donuts, Rural King, Racetrac, and Home Depot. By the time we got home the back of the Tacoma was fully loaded down with gas for the mowers, chlorine for the pool, sod, mulch, a 50 lbs bag of chicken food, and a few other items.
After eating lunch we headed outside to get busy. Cindy worked on installing the sod in areas the chickens have destroyed, a task we have to repeat on a regular basis. I worked on getting the 20 bags of mulch laid down. Once again the chickens were the impetus behind the work as their tireless work kicking mulch out of several landscaped areas left nothing but muddy dirt in a lot of spots.
While we were working Ali and her boyfriend stopped by to drop off Sadie which was nice. We gave them a quick introduction to the chickens. It was the first time Ali had been in the back yard in a looong time so she was surprised how much things have grown/changed.
After I finished with chores I got out on my Ninebot One. I had seen a video that made me realize what I was doing wrong when it comes to turning so I wanted to test out the tips.
I was successful doing some simple turns along with a few fails. I was able to ride a circuit down our driveway, onto the street, into the neighbors half circle driveway, back on the road and into our driveway without falling. The key was realizing I needed to control the lean of the bot on slower turns from the knees down instead of leaning my entire body. I felt good about the progress.
Saturday night we stayed home and watched our Netflix rental, 10 Cloverfield Lane. We both liked the original Cloverfield which was a very odd but scary movie. 10 Cloverfield will have you scratching your head as you try to figure out what exactly is going on. Of course I can’t give away the plot but I’ll tell you the movie had both Cindy I and yelling out loud, more than once. It’s a solid B+ film.
On Sunday morning I set the alarm for 6AM which Cindy wasn’t thrilled about. I actually was awake a couple hours previous to the alarm for whatever reason so when the alarm went off I felt like death. I set the alarm so we could accomplish a goal we talk about often but never accomplish, getting out to run before the sun is up in the sky.
We got to the track around 6:45 and started our roughly three and a half mile training run. We have hopes to compete as a relay in a 10 mile race at the end of October. This was our first step towards that goal. The run was challenging, even without having the sun in the sky baking us. The air was still very humid and we also had to dodge the poorly adjusted water sprinklers that in some cases shot out 15 feet across the running surface. The run was not easy but we completed it, averaging about 9:30 per mile which was fine. I am pretty confident that in the span of two and a half months Cindy and I can tack another mile and a half onto that distance for the race.
When we got home we went for a coffee run with Sadie in the back seat. When we got home Sadie acted like she was disaapointed and did not want to get out of the car. We made an illogical decision to grab her leash and head right back in the direction we just returned from to go to Home Depot even though we had no real reason to go other than we knew Sadie would like walking around. We did wind up buying a few things while we were there, there is ALWAYS something we need for a home repair/project if we think hard enough.
Early afternoon Cindy and I took the Segways out for some more dual riding fun. We rode around another development area. Once again the Minipro’s delivered easy, quick, low stress fun. I found that my Ninebot One riding actually made riding the Segway feel a but weird for a few minutes as it is a much different experience. In total we put in a little less than 5 miles on the ride.
Later in the afternoon I got in some extensive Ninebot One training. I wanted to build on the turning progress I made the day before. I figured the school parking lot would be a much more beneficial location to do it.
I bet a spent over an hour at the school grounds. During this time I felt that finally the elusive IT clicked in my head, I just could ride. During the session I put in excess of six miles on the wheel, traversing a variety of surfaces including the parking lot, sidewalks, speed bumps, road, the running track and even a 100 yard section of open grass. Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy for me and I still had moments where it felt like I was close to falling off but I stayed on the wheel. It felt sort of awesome.
The closest thing I can compare it to is when I taught myself to juggle as a young man working as a meat cutter at Weis Markets. It had a similar feel where it felt nearly impossible at first but through practice and determination it became another reflex reaction. Riding a EUC was similar from the mental standpoint with the addition of a physical toll that is paid in bumps and bruises. I was proud for forcing myself to continue to get on the wheel time and time again, knowing the end result was going to be me falling off and/or hurting myself. 48 years of age is definitely not ideal for learning a new balancing skill.
After getting home and announcing my accomplishments to Cindy I was anxious to build upon it more. I threw the wheel on the charger for an hour or so and headed back out. I came up with the goal of running the complete length of 8th street, something I did the other day in multiple segments, as one continuous ride. As I approached the dead end side near the county fairgrounds I came up on a family that was out in their driveway. I could tell they were all looking at me with confusion. When I got closer the father said to me, “What are you, some sort of wizard??” I laughed as I kept rolling and told him there were a ton of falls before I got to this point. I was able to complete the roughly three mile circuit without falling or getting off once.
That wasn’t enough for me, I went out once more a little later as the sun was setting. I wanted to get some FPV of me riding, something I was far too unstable to consider doing previously. The LED light rings on the Ninebot One are really cool and I wanted to get a good shot of them, something you can’t do very well in bright sunshine. The end result was the video below where I again ran an uninterrupted but shorter circuit. Once again, it felt awesome.
I still am not nearly as smooth or stable as I would like to be. I still have regular wobbling that kicks in but for whatever reason my body can just deal with it and keep rolling. My turning is not fantastic but I was able to maneuver a lot of sidewalk angles successfully when I was at the school. I honestly feel at this point I could go on a ride with Cindy on a bike path or slightly populated sidewalk and be ok. I need to be much more focused when riding the wheel than on the Minipro but as time passes I am expecting single wheel riding to become more and more a reflex instead of conscious thought.
This newfound ability has me wanting to be on the wheel more and more. I wouldn’t be surprised if it finds it’s way into my trunk for some lunch break riding now and then. 🙂 In total three weeks have passed since I received the wheel. If you factor in I did no riding the week prior to Comic Con my learning curve has been roughly two weeks.
So I ordered a replacement canopy for the yard tractor back on July 17th online at sears.com. When I ordered it I opted for local store pick up to save shipping charges. When the order was placed there was no mention of any sort of delay. When I heard nothing for 10 days I called Sears and was forwarded to what appears to be an India based called center. I struggled through the communication barrier to discover that the canopy would not show up in store until August 6th, some three weeks after my order date. WTF?? Well I had no choice but to wait it out. While we were at Comic Con I got a text message and an email indicating that my order had arrived and I could pick it up. I figured I would get it yesterday morning.
So I pulled up to Sears, which is part of our local mall around 10:20. I was lucky to spot the door used to pick up online orders, near the auto center. The pick up area had two doors, one automatic, which didn’t appear to be working and a manual door which was unlocked. I step inside and a young girl behind sliding glass said “We are still closed!” I pause for a second and say to her, “What do you mean you are closed?” as I just walked in the unlocked door which apparently happens to also be an employee entrance. The girl tells me the store does not open until 11AM. Again with a confused look on my face I said “You are closed until 11AM on a Monday??” She again confirmed the store does not open until 11 which apparently was a recent cost savings move made necessary by Sears dismal fiscal situation.
Well my emotion shifted from confusion and surprise to anger. I did not want to twiddle my thumbs for 40 minutes until the store officially opened. I went on a bit of a rant, telling the girl I have been waiting for this item to show up for three weeks and I just drove close to 25 miles to pick it up. I told her the notifications I got about my item being available made no mention of the restrictive store hours. I was dug in and ready for a fight because this transaction had already been a pain in the ass.
The girl must have sensed I was not going to take no for an answer very easily. She said the guy in the department that handles online orders just came in and “once the printer warms up” he will try to help me. As I was waiting an old lady that worked at Sears came out to the lobby and was telling me the woes of Sears/K-mart from an employees perspective. I told her how my transaction was an example of why customers don’t want to deal with Sears anymore. She sort of agreed with me.
So the order guy came out and asked my name. He disappeared a couple minutes and then emerged with my box. I thanked both him and the girl that originally told me NO for accommodating me. It was a small redemption of an overall negative transaction and indicative of why the old retail behemoth is circling the drain. It seems like the great anti-Sears crusade my dad started in the 70’s might finally be coming to fruition.
Yesterday the box I was praying would show up last week before departing for Comic Con arrived. It was the Soldier 76 mask I had ordered three weeks ago, almost at the same time as the tractor canopy. The Ebay listing had a huge delivery window range, saying the item could arrive anywhere from July 28th to Aug 12th. I ordered the mask hoping the China based seller would be under promising and over delivering. Well it didn’t work out that way.
Luckily Cindy hand crafted me a mask to use in case this exact scenario occurred and she did a great job on it. Both of us were complemented repeatedly at the Con about the quality of our attire. If I had this mask it would have been off the charts. Not only is the mask pretty much an exact replica of the in game mask, it even has a LED light across the visor to complete the visual. It is extremely cool. The good news is the jacket and visor aren’t going anywhere so whenever Cindy and I decide to jump back into another cosplay event I will be ready to roll.
The mask and the whole cosplay experience have started Cindy and I talking about some of the things that could be done if we had a 3D printer. Once I have some more Amazon points accumulated it might be another mid-summer Xmas present to ourselves.
We had hoped to get out on the Segways on Monday afternoon however prolonged rain washed those plans away. We spur of the moment decided to go out to a matinee of Suicide Squad. I knew the movie had big opening weekend numbers. I heard of Suicide Squad once or twice but never had any tangible comic book knowledge of them. There were so many characters involved it was tough to get a good feel for a lot of them. Some of the “heroes” seemed pretty lame, especially the boomerang dude. I came away with much the same feeling I did with Batman vs Superman, the movie was entertaining enough for a B+ grade but it wasn’t better than any Marvel super hero movie I have seen in the last 5 years. DC so far just is not in Marvel’s league when it comes to big screen productions.
Last evening I got back on my Ninebot One for the first time in a week. Earlier I had wrapped it in some packing foam to help protect both myself and the bot from falls. My goal was to work on getting off the wheel in a calm fashion instead of the “reach down, grab the wheel and then hop off awkwardly” thing I have been doing so far.
The intent is to slow to a stop and then simply step off with one foot, keeping the other foot on the bot, like you would do with a bike. In theory it should not be too hard. I tried repeatedly and just could not get it. Each time I tried to step off with one foot and no hand assist the bot would wind up laying on it’s side.
It became apparent that the foam I used was not going to be up to the task. Even those gentle layovers started to rip it in various spots. So although I was unsuccessful with proper dismounting, the good news was I went up and down the driveway around 10 times with no falls. I still had some wobbling and still felt only loosely in control but any session that doesn’t involve me or the Ninebot barrel rolling on the cement is a win at this point.
I recently installed Snapchat on my phone, an app that I have avoided since it came out branded as primarily a sexting application. It of course has turned into much more than that. One of the cool features is it’s ability to overlay faces onto a person which can result in some pretty hilarious video clips. My initial efforts were LOL funny, if I do say so myself.
So I spent a good portion of the morning so far getting the blog content back online. When I logged in I immediately noticed the screens looked odd. Some further investigation showed that my 13 years of posts were gone, the database appeared to be empty. I had no idea what happened. It could have been a malicious hack or just some sort of file/data issue. Thankfully GoDaddy has a robust and reliable backup schedule for their hosted WP customers. The bad news is I had to go back to Thursdays back up until got one that appeared intact. Once I got the data back the first thing I did was change my account password just in case it was compromised. All appears well once again. This isn’t the first time I have had my blog get corrupted since migrating to GoDaddy however recovery when it happens is much, much easier than when it was living on IX Webhosting, where backups were kept for a couple days, were only accessible by the net admins and didn’t work half the time.
After I got my chores done Saturday morning I headed back to the school parking lot for some more Ninebot One practice. After the improvements I made during the week riding in the driveway I was looking forward to seeing how I did in the large unobstructed area.
The session started out badly. I had some minor spills followed by a pretty major one where I was quite glad I had protective gear on. Starting off that way was pretty discouraging. Part of the problem is this phantom wobble that kicks in randomly on my rides. All of a sudden the wheel will start wobbling (you can see it in the video) which immediately throws off my balance. Most of the times I can get it back under control but sometimes it winds up throwing me off the wheel.
From what I read online this is a pretty normal occurrence with new riders and can come from shaky balance and a lack of strength in the muscles used to balance a wheel between your legs. Despite these problems I did have some long rides, a couple inside the smaller loop in the lot and one successful loop around the large outer loop, a distance of damn close to a 1/4 mile if I were to guess. I wished that riding that distance felt better. The truth is it feels like I am walking a high wire most of the time. I will be cruising pretty easily with my hands at my side and all of a sudden a wobble will come in where I am flapping my arms like a chicken to recover from. I had several near spills during the big loop ride. Feeling like you are one small movement away from a wipeout onto the hard asphalt gets stressful. I also struggle doing any sort of turn that is not a huge semi-circle.
Part of being a good rider is wiping those negative thoughts from your head. It seemed like most times I had a wobble or shaky moment I was just thinking “I hope I don’t fall” a few moments prior. I came out of the session with two extremely raw ankles and more bumps and bruises. I still am determined to conquer the wheel but damn, it is one of more difficult things I have undertaken in recent memory. Later at home I did a few tweaks to the wheel that I am hoping will cut down on the wobble issue. I did a quick test in the driveway which felt better but my ankles were too painful to do much beyond an up and back run.
Saturday night Cindy and I got out to see the new Star Trek movie. I hadn’t really heard positive or negative about the film but I always have seen the Star Trek movies in a theater so I wanted to keep the streak alive. We saw the 3D version of the film which adds zero to the experience for me except costing more. The film featured awesome visuals with lots of explosions to keep you distracted from the dumb dialogue and utterly ridiculous resolutions to perilous situations. There were two climactic scenes that come to mind on the stupid list. I don’t want to be a spoiler so jump to the next paragraph if you intend to see the film. Let’s just say I never thought the Beastie Boys would save the day. The movie was just ok. It gets a, “Fine to wait for Netflix release” B from me.
On Sunday morning I was tired and beat up from the Ninebot One riding the day before. Despite this I felt the need to drag my ass to the track and get a run in. Cindy smartly opted to take a pass. The first few laps were not very comfortable at all with pain in my ankle from both a slight sprain and the brush burn. I also had some pain in the knees and hips. Eventually those pains got fuzzy and were just replaced with the misery of running in South Florida in the summer once the sun is in the sky. Even though I started well before 8AM I was soaked after my 13 lap sweat-fest. I was glad I had the mental endurance to get out there and complete something I really did not want to do.
When I got home I jumped in the pool to cool off. All weekend I had been looking forward to Cindy and I taking out our dual Segway Minipros for a ride. After changing we drove to Dunkin Donuts and parked there. After grabbing coffee we headed east towards a nearby development on our electric two wheel personal transporters.
Riding the Minipro is such a relaxing experience compared to the russian roulette feeling I get on the Ninebot One. Riding while drinking coffee is a breeze. I discovered that riding while drinking coffee AND shooting GoPro video is nearly as easy as I recorded portions of the ride.
Cindy and I found us hitting the 11mph speed limit on the bots quite often, it feels very easy to do so because of how stable the ride is. The pace feels pretty leisurely in the first person however when I watched the video back it seemed like we were going pretty fast. In total we rode right around 6 miles and to be honest I could have gone longer. Cindy was having some discomfort in her feet riding that long. I had some as well but it bothered her more. I really liked riding around on the Minipros as did Cindy, it allows you to appreciate longer stretches of scenery in a much shorter time period.
I liked it so much that I actually went back out solo later in the day after I topped off the charge. I wanted to try riding from the house to the school where we do the track running which is about 3 miles each way. The ride required me to be on roads for the first half mile or so before I had a sidewalk to ride safely on. Riding on the road went fine, again the stability of the Minipro made it a very low stress thing to do.
Riding through the development behind the school was much more scenic and peaceful. I got a few strange looks from people that saw me wheeling by. I again had issues with setting off the speed limiter a lot. The bot just wants to go faster, the governor is definitely just a safety precaution and not a hardware limitation. If it would allow you to go just a couple mph faster I think it would hit the sweet spot.
On the way back I looped around more so it took longer on the return trip. When I got back to the front door of the house I saw I had a total of a little more than 30 miles on the odometer. Supposedly with the Ninebot Mini, the non-US version of the bot, once you hit the 50KM mark (31 miles) it unlocks slightly more speed. This prospect excited me so I headed back out on the road for a couple more miles to cross that mark. Unfortunately I still seemed to have the same 11mph speed limit but the battery level was about halfway so I’m holding out hope that with a full charge it will let me squeeze out just a little more MPH. In total I put in 15 miles on my Minibot Sunday and really felt no ill side effects from it.
Last night we watched London has Fallen, the second in the series starring Gerard Butler as a secret service stud. The movie was entertaining although it portrays Butler to be basically invincible. It felt like he killed more people than Rambo did in all of his movies combined. He also set the bar very high in the brutality scale with dozens of headshots peppered with up close and personal kills. If you are the type that is offended by violence in movies you will want to steer a wide circle around the film. If you are able to detach yourself from reality for a couple hours and just enjoy an old fashioned blowing em up ass kicking, you’ll enjoy the flick. B+