Category: Movie Reviews

Friday I was really hoping to not have the after hours work take a lot of after hours time since it was only a small office that was being worked on.  Unfortunately we once again ran into a problem that stretched things out longer than it should have,  I wound up not getting out of there until after 7.

On Saturday morning I was outside shortly after 8am with the weed whacker in hand.  The yard had not been whacked in at least 3 weeks and was looking shaggy.  With the return of more regular rain I am going to have to get out there more often.  The heat and humidity knob has been turned back into the uncomfortable area where it will likely stay until October, yay. After whacking I jumped in the pool for a splashy splash session for Sadie which she greatly appreciated.

We then headed out for errands including a stop at Rural King and Sam’s.  At Rural King we say the running club equipment manager Bill.  It was the first time I saw him since I timed my last race.  Bill might be the hardest working human being I know.  Even though I don’t miss most aspects of timing events for the running club, being able to work with guys like Bill is one of the things I do miss.

We hit Sam’s on the way back.  With the sale of the Tacoma I was now seriously looking to pull the trigger on a replacement 4K tv.  During the week I was doing research and had established if I wanted to continue my upward growth of screen real estate I was going to have to pay in the neighborhood of $3400-$3500 which would be the most I ever paid for a set although when you adjust for inflation it might be in the same ball park as my 61 inch Sony projection set we bought when the house was new.

That was a lot of money for a tv but I had almost mentally committed myself to that just being the way it was, like I had no choice in the matter.  I had a 73 inch screen now so I HAD to go bigger.  Well Sam’s didn’t have a lot of 75 inch models but we did see a 70 inch LG 4K set that we looked at.  The picture looked sweet, even if it was 3 inches shorter diagonally.  We have had a LG set in the bedroom for over a couple years and have been very happy with it.  However the thing that really got my wheels turning was the price differential.  The LG was an $1800 set, almost half the price of a 75 inch Samsung or Sony (Samsung doesnt appear to make 4K 70 inch sets).  To pay $1700 for an extra 5 inches of screen area jolted me out of my MUST HAVE BIGGER trance.  I did not act at that point but it planted a seed.

We also went to the jewelry counter.  Cindy and I had been talking loosely about marriage for a long time and as a result Cindy has been looking at rings here and there.  One of the places she has been looking is at Sam’s who actually has a pretty substantial jewelry section, much bigger than Costco.  Randomly Cindy had sent me pictures of various rings she saw there she liked over the last couple months. We had even looked at rings online at places like Amazon but the idea of buying a ring sight unseen seemed risky.

Now my initial reaction when she told me she was looking at rings at Sam’s was negative.  I assumed they were not good rings as though they were a Wal-mart item even though Sam’s sells a lot more high end, high quality stuff.  Well when Cindy showed me the rings in person the stigma faded.  Not only were they good looking rings, they were certified diamonds and I could add an extended seven year warranty for a very reasonable price.  The buying power of a warehouse chain results in better pricing of all things, including jewelry.

Cindy showed me several she had liked.  Of course she wanted a beautiful ring but it was most important to her it was comfortable.  After putting on 4-5 rings she liked we finally agreed on one.  We took an unconventional but practical approach and just bought the ring on the spot.  Cindy did say that she wouldn’t wear the ring until I asked her in a more conventional manner.  So the ring remained in it’s box and bag on the drive home despite Cindy’s excitement to wear it.  I told her repeatedly she can just wear it but she was adamant that I needed to propose officially which I guess I could understand.  After two previous marriages my sense of formality about the process was not a priority for me.

When we got home I did some more quick research and thinking about my TV options.  I quick search on Amazon showed the LG set I saw at Sam’s had a 4+ stars rating which I put a lot of weight into.  Costco has the same set which would mean I would get a free 2nd year of warranty coverage but I would have to pay for it with my Costco American Express card instead of my Amazon Rewards Visa that I wanted to pay with for points.  Although I wouldn’t get a free year of warranty coverage Sam’s has very inexpensive extended warranties, I could tack on five years of coverage for a crazy cheap 99 bucks.  As comparison a place like Best Buy or HH Gregg will charge you 400 bucks or more for equivalent coverage.

So I made a decision I was going to just go with the LG set.  The savings versus size loss equation was just too heavy on the savings side.  I told Cindy I wanted to go back to Sam’s and get it.  We piled back in the Tacoma and headed out.  I brought the GoPro with and mounted it in the Tacoma, I told Cindy I wanted to vlog about the tv purchase.  Unbeknownst to her I also had the ring in the center console.

My plan was to officially propose to her on the way. Now most people would think this was a dumb idea but we aren’t most people.  Cindy actually had joked about the idea on the drive home earlier.   Her joke was about to become our reality.  So we started talking about the new tv purchase along with other random topics, none of which had to do with the ring.  I then finally made an awkward transition into the proposal as I was driving 55mph+ on Immokalee Road.

 

Despite us talking about it earlier Cindy seemed surprised by my actions.  The proposal was definitely the farthest thing from textbook as you could imagine since I made sure my eyes stayed on the road most of the time.  However I think somehow the sentiment and genuine feelings still were evident despite the unconventional delivery method.   Despite the lack of secrecy regarding the ring Cindy was still very excited and happy to be able to wear it officially.

It’s funny how the whole thing sort of organically happened.  I did not go into the weekend with any specific thoughts or plans about buying rings or getting engaged.  The circumstances just seemed to align themselves.  We have more or less lived as a married couple for more than a couple years so making it official just wasn’t as stressful as you would normally think.

So now the tv purchase took on a more celebratory aura.  We wasted no time grabbing a flat bed and loading the big LG set onto it as well as one of the extended warranty cardboard placeholders.  Checking out with my wallet being an extra $1500 heavier felt satisfying.  I was glad I reexamined my tv priorities.  The enormous box actually fit cleanly on it’s side in between the wheel wells of the Tacoma.  I think the bed of the truck is slightly larger than what I was accustomed to in the 99 as well.

Of course when I got home I dug straight into tv set up.  Cindy helped me set the 73 inch Mitsubishi in the dining room and place the slightly smaller LG set in it’s place.  Despite it’s reduced dimensions it fit the entertainment nook well, I only had maybe an inch or so extra space on either side.  Setting up the set went fine until it came time to connect it to my Yamaha surround sound.  I first tried to do so with a spare optical audio cable I had sitting around for awhile.  When I couldn’t get that to work I tried using the ARC HDMI port and had limited success.

13227817_10154530005162841_2132554124549672047_oThe most straightforward way was to use the optical audio cable.  The cable I had did not seem to fit well on either the tv or Yamaha side.  I wondered if the cable was just bad so I headed back out one final time to grab a new optical cable at Wal-mart.  When I got it home I realized the only thing wrong with the old cable was my stupidity.  The optical cables have a small protective boot on either end.  I was trying to insert the cable with that boot still in place.  Once I pulled the boots off the cable snapped in place perfectly and sound started flowing from the speakers, sigh….

We watched a movie on the new set Saturday night and the picture looked great.  The movie was called Knock Knock, starring Keanu Reeves sporting quite the dad bod.  It was one of the more bizarre movies I have seen recently and had me laughing out loud during some scenes that I think were supposed to be dramatic.  Keanu meets up with two chicks that take crazy to an entirely new level.  If you like your movies to have you saying “What the fck?” a lot, be sure to rent it.  Overall I can only give it a B rating but really, on pure entertainment it could be rated higher.

On Sunday morning Cindy and I wanted to beat the now increasingly oppressive heat by getting out for our run earlier.  We left the house around 7:15.  We put in another 5k+ at the nearby track.  The pace according to Cindy’s gps was 15 seconds a mile slower than last week but it didn’t feel that way, perhaps from the heat.

When we got back I made arrangements to take Sadie back to Ali’s later in the morning with the 73 inch Mitsubishi in tow.  I had asked Ali awhile back that if/when I got around to getting a new TV if she wanted the 73 incher.  She said sure since her 48 inch or so LCD tv is really not big enough for the room she has.  They sit a good 15 feet away from the tv location.

13165951_1198186750194577_8226151026115900193_nSo the Tacoma got it’s first real world use as we loaded the large tv into the bed and I secured it with my ratchet straps.  We covered it with the mylar looking bag the new tv came in.  In addition I had the empty chlorine jugs in the bed which needed to be refilled.  The new rubber bed mat really is awesome, eliminating the ice rink sliding that goes on if stuff is just on the composite plastic bed.

Ali’s boyfriend helped me carefully carry the tv into her place.  Set up had a couple hiccups but nothing serious.  The 73 inch of screen fit that space so much better and made viewing from across the room much, much easier.  Ali and her boyfriend thanked us for the tv.  I was happy that it would be repurposed and continue to entertain them for the foreseeable future.  It has been a great set for me.

Before heading home we made stops at Costco and Dick’s Sporting Goods.  At Costco we scored two sets of seat covers that wrapped the seat instead of just laying on top of them.  I had seen them when I shopped earlier in the week.  In normal Costco fashion, the check out experience was backlogged and miserable.

13247795_1198319240181328_5642878138400456658_oAt Dick’s we picked up an olympic style curl bar that Cindy intends to use for a lot more than curling.  It’s shorter length makes it much more practical in her small “shed gym” she has laid out.

On Sunday afternoon I undertook my monitor repair project.  My hope was to somehow take parts out of a damaged monitor I bought on Ebay for 50 bucks to get my just out of warranty monitor working again.  I had never dug into a monitor before so I figured if nothing else it would be a learning experience. It was.

I was surprised just how little was inside the monitor as far as circuit boards go.  I first tried swapping out the small circuit board that power and video connections connect to.  When that made no difference the surgery became much more expansive.

If you want the full play by play feel free to watch the video I shot during the process.  In the end I basically pulled the cracked screen out of the Ebay monitor and inserted the uncracked screen from my monitor in it’s place.  The way I got to that point was a twisting path of confusion but all I know is it works.  My Frankensteined monitor works well. The only flaw is the top right corner has a bright spot that I hardly even notice since I assigned it as my secondary screen.

Sunday night we had our last regular season Tarpons game to attend.  Cindy thought it would be appropriate to make the official social media declaration about the proposal then since it all started there when Cindy went with me to a Tarpons game more than 3 years ago.  We took a selfie in our empty section of the arena to celebrate.

The game was yet another boring blow out as every home game has been this year with the Tarpons winning 70-6.  There will be at least one home play off game although the disorganized league doesn’t really know who they will play at this point.  All I hope is we get to see at least one competitive game this year.

 

 

So I had a big agenda already for the weekend, hoping to get a number of new Tacoma accessories installed as well as completing the garage reorganization.  When Cindy reported starting problems with the 99 Tacoma late in the week I asked her to watch the video I did regarding starter replacement back in 2012, asking her if it sounded like that.  Basically she turned the key a couple times and got clicks but then the truck started normally.  That was the same behavior I had when the starter died in 2012.

I thought I should be proactive and just replace the starter, hopefully for nothing since the Autozone starter I installed had a limited lifetime warranty.  I would feel badly if I sold the truck and then had the starter let the new owner sitting in the near future.  Some people may view that as a stupid thing to care about.  After going through what I did as a result, I may agree with them.

So I got out there bright and early Saturday morning, hoping to finish up in the driveway before the heat of the day rolled in.  I assumed removal of the starter would go pretty easily since I did it before.  Predictably I had some struggles.  I used a different technique to remove the top starter bolt this time.  It required less socket extensions but more patience as I could only turn the socket 90 degrees at a time.  With a little more effort than expected I dropped the starter out of the engine compartment.

Installing the new starter went better.  After I tightened the bolts and reconnected the electrical stuff I leaned in the cab to do a test start, expecting it to be a mere formality.  Instead I was rewarded with a click.  WTF.  I turned again, hoping it was a weird anomaly.  Click, click, click…  How can this be, is it possible that Autozone sold me a DOA starter???  I was so pissed off as I imagined the hassle of having to pull the starter I just installed in order to get it checked.  I screamed a few obscenities into the wind as I walked back around to the front of the truck.

I double checked my connections and again tried the key, only to be greeted by more clicking.   I realized I had no choice but to remove my second starter of the day.  Luckily by this time I had become rather adept at it, I had the starter out in 10 minutes.  I loaded both starters AND my battery from the Tacoma into the new Tacoma in the remote chance the battery was bad as well.  The parts went into the bed.  I threw my seat cover over the driver seat since my clothes were covered with automotive fluid/dirt/grease/lubricants.

So as I pulled into Autozone I was not in a good mood.  The idea that they sold me a dead starter annoyed the piss out of me.  As I walked in from the lot my annoyance got ratcheted up a couple more clicks.  In front of the store was a pop up shelter with some kids and women that were obviously fundraising.  I was carrying the new starter in it’s box along with the old starter piled on top of it.  I was covered in dirt and surely had a sour look on my face.  Despite these obvious clues that I would not be a good solicitation target, one of the woman approaches me as I am approaching and tells me they are fundraising so some kids can go to judo camp.  I was amazed that this woman was so oblivious.   I had this immediate impulse to snap back with something like “are you blind, do I look like I am in a position to donate?”, but managed to submerge the impulse.  Instead I just gave her look of disbelief and disgust with a side order of head shaking.

So I plopped both starters on the counter and explained the situation.  The manager took both starters back to their tester.  He first hooked up the old starter.  After power was applied it fired up and passed the test.  Since the problem seemed intermittent I was not surprised.  However I expected the new starter to be dead as a door nail.  Instead the new starter fired right up as well, son of a …..

So I went into further detail about why I assumed the new starter was bad.  The manager said perhaps I have a grounding problem which he said I could check by using jumper cables to create a new temporary ground.  I told the manager I had my battery out in the truck as well.  I asked him if we could test it.  The judo woman was smart enough to not ask me for money again as I lugged the battery back in the door.  The guy slapped his tester on the battery and after 30 seconds or so showed me the result on the lcd screen, BAD BATTERY.

I was dumbfounded.  The behavior Cindy described just did not sound like a bad battery.  However the battery was around four years old which is about as long as they last in Florida conditions.  The idea that all of this bullshit and labor could have been avoided with a simple battery swap was frustrating.  I told the guy to get me a battery and that I would keep the new starter anyway. I turned in the old one to get my core charge refunded.  I returned home annoyed but relieved the solution to the problem was finally at hand.

By the time I got back Cindy had returned from the track meet she was coaching at.  I gave her the news that the starter replacement had not been going well.  I got busy installing the starter for the second time followed by installing my brand new battery.  This time I leaned into the cab and turned the key knowing it would start for sure.  CLICK.  You HAVE to be kidding me. I was in disbelief and angry.

So after verifying my connections I decided to test out the managers theory.  After disconnecting the negative battery lead I used the two black connections on my jumper cables, connecting one to the negative post on the battery and another to a grounding point on the engine. I turned the key and the truck roared to life.  Son of a bitch.  Could all of this bullshit really just be a flaky ground or bad battery cable?

I pulled out my Chilton’s manual and tried to find the battery ground location.  Unexplainably it did not seem to include that information.  I could not easily follow it visibly since it was encased in a wire loom that lead under the engine and out of view.  I then looked online for the ground location and again came up empty.  I walked back outside frustrated once again.

I decided to take a two step approach.  I took apart the negative battery terminal and cleaned it up best I could.  I also reconnected a secondary ground that was cut years ago that leads to the fender of the truck.  The combination of the two things finally seemed to do the trick, the truck fired up normally.  There is the very real possibility that I needlessly replaced the starter and the battery but at that point I didn’t care.  I’ll just add the items to the “features” list when I list the truck for sale.  The work that I hoped to have completed in 90 minutes instead wound up consuming the entire morning. If you want to see the video of the entire frustrating experience look here. I do have a sneaky suspicion that Tuffy may have knocked the ground loose during the water pump/timing belt install.  I may have to get under there one more time to check it out.

13112757_10154487567352841_3185785121287191682_oSo after eating lunch I headed right back to the garage to start installing my new Tacoma accessories.  Despite my frustrating morning the Tacoma upgrades were on my mental checklist and needed to get done.  In total Cindy and I installed 5 upgrades including mud flaps, black out tailgate letters, console organizer, chrome tailpipe extension and nerf bars, which happened to show up as we were finishing the other upgrades.  I made a video for most of the stuff which is linked above.  The installation for all of it was pretty straight forward and simple but they really helped add some visual appeal to the truck.

Even though it was getting later in the afternoon I wanted to get the garage reorganization done or as close to done a s possible.  Cindy, who is an organization junkie was all on board.  I set up one of our folding tables in the garage and used it as a staging area.  We then began the lengthy process of removing EVERYTHING from the existing pegboard and piling it on the table in a haphazard manner.

13131300_10154487566927841_6191871737938004010_oAs stuff was pulled off it was a good opportunity to throw out or curb items that were no longer of use.  Of course there were many things that fell into that category.  Once everything was removed we started the rebuild.  I was the one that did all of the pegboard population since that stuff is almost exclusively my domain.  Cindy worked a lot on organizing the endless surplus of screw, nuts, bolts, and washers that I had spread all over the place.  She also emptied out the area under my workbench.

It took a long time to get everything back in place.  We worked well into the evening but were driven by having the end in sight.  Cleaning up the garage was a long standing item on my winter project list.  Even though we are now far into spring it was exciting to have it finally nearing completion.

13063481_10154487566922841_8203531079143829814_oWhen we finally got the last thing put away we stood back to admire the fruit of our labor.  Not only did everything look better and have a spot, I had plenty of room for additional stuff, not that I am looking to fill in my pegboard space anytime soon.  Items I use frequently went in the workbench area, everything else got hung on the left in an orderly fashion.

After we were done we both felt beat up, really beat up.  All of the fighting with the truck in the morning backed up with a solid afternoon of nothing but additional work left me walking around with my ever more prevalent old man shuffle.  There wasn’t much on me that didn’t ache to some degree.  Cindy felt much the same.

I sometimes wonder what it is that drives me to fill many weekends with such an unbalanced work/relaxation formula.  I suppose it is a hereditary thing.  I just don’t feel at peace if my mental list for that time period remains incomplete.

On Saturday night we finally relaxed, watching Pawn Sacrifice, our most recent Netflix rental.  It was a movie about Bobby Fischer who I knew was a famous chess player but little else.  It seems he was equal parts genius and neurotic with a healthy dose of asshole thrown in there.  The movie was interesting enough for a solid B rating. I had no idea that later in life he lived in exile before he died in Iceland.  I guess brilliance comes with a price.

On Sunday I felt somewhat guilty for brushing off any endurance training, despite physically feeling not up to it.  I instead spent time getting the various video footage I shot the day before up on my YouTube channel.  Speaking of YouTube I hit a big milestone, gaining my 1000th subscriber to go along with my close to 900,000 channel views.   After I announced the milestone on Facebook, that number immediately decreased by a handful, dropping me back below the 4 digit mark.  I suspect some of my FB “friends” thought it would be funny to steal my thunder and unsubbed just to dick with me.  Luckily I picked up more subs to once again put me over the mark in the last 24 hours.

During the morning I also did some simple maintenance on the used Honda generator I got from my buddy John.  Instead of taking payment for the Immokalee race I timed for him he asked if I just wanted to keep the generator I borrowed since I needed one anyway.  I accepted his offer and figured it would be good to change the oil.  In addition to changing the oil I swapped out the air filter and spark plug.  None of the work was difficult but I took the time to document it anyway.  One thing I have found with YouTube videos is even procedures that may seem very simple to me can generate substantial views by others that don’t have my background.

13119766_10154489069087841_3692107452998857369_oWe took the new Tacoma for it’s first Rural King run.  We got to admire the result of our accessory installs the day before.  We both commented on just how much we love the new truck both inside and out.  After picking up several items we returned home for what we hoped would be an afternoon sans-labor.

I did my weekly bill paying/budget balancing session.  That was an opportunity to shine a light on all of the spending that has been going on since the sale of the SSR. Of course I knew it was all going on but seeing the cold hard numbers helped me apply a gentle tap on the mental spending brake so I can catch my breath a little.  Sure there are more big ticket items on the list but none of it is anything that can’t wait for a bit.

Later in the afternoon I just could not help myself and began another small project.  I had a wire shelf that was displaced from the garage during the reorganization project that was sitting in the back yard.  It was one of those strong industrial models so I wanted to put it to use.  I wound up ripping out a less useful, smaller wood shelf in the large shed and sticking the wire shelf in there.  In order to make it work I also had to cut in half some wall mounted shelving in there.  The end result was more usable storage space that worked better.

My work set off an unintended chain reaction when I asked Cindy if she wanted the old wood shelf for anything.  If she didn’t I was going to curb it.  She said she wanted to try to possibly do something with it.  I carried it over and stuck it in the corner of the smaller shed that Cindy had already spent extensive time reorganizing.  She then went on another mission, shuffling things around yet again to work with the shelf in there.  She wound up working in the shed until around 7.

She worked so late that I offered to take her out to dinner so she wouldn’t have to tack on food prep to her list as well.  We went to Pelican Larry’s that is in a relatively new shopping center I never frequented before.  It was a very nice place and worthy of our future patronage.  My grouper basket was quite tasty.

When we got back home later we were both in the office.  I was watching Casey Neistat videos on YouTube.  All of a sudden I saw movement by the office window.  At first I though it was just the sprinklers turning on.  I then focused on the window and realized I could not have been more wrong.  There was a large raccoon on the outside ledge looking in at me.  On the ground next to it was a smaller one looking at me as well.  When I told Cindy to look she couldn’t believe it.

When I turned on the porch light to take a peek out front they had taken off.  A little later I saw the motion detector in the chicken run had tripped.  I walked out there as well just to make sure the raccoons were not trying to harass the hens, despite there being multiple levels of defense in place.  I once again saw nothing but both Cindy and I felt a bit unsettled knowing these chicken predators were once again freely roaming the grounds.

 

 

12974267_10154441162237841_9191940374281276306_nI made a last minute decision to take last Friday off.  Of course as is often the case, the day was targeted as an opportunity to do more work around the house as opposed to relaxation.  There were two projects on the agenda for Friday,rebuilding the door to the chicken run and laying castle stones.

Before we got to work I drove Cindy to the fitness center where she has been teaching classes.  While she taught the half hour class I walked to the Pet Supermarket right up the street to grab some stuff for Tuki.  On the way home we stopped at Home Depot to grab another pallet of 60 castle stones.

The original door to the chicken run was built out of 2×4’s with hardware cloth.  In the year it has been in place the 2×4’s have started to warp which was making the door difficult to close and left uneven gaps around the opening.  A couple weeks ago Cindy and I bought a gate kit that is designed to fit a variety of openings.  It is basically a steel frame that you attach your own lumber to.  Having the core of the gate being steel should prevent the warping problem.

Assembly of the new door was not hard but it took me much longer than the one hour time listed on the box of course. The extra time was spent mostly coming up with the face board layout and adjusting the opening to allow for maximum swing.  We discovered that if you close the door while inside the run you were potentially locked in due to the new latch arrangement. Cindy came up with an emergency string set up that will allow us to open the latch from the inside, just in case.  We were both very pleased with the new door as it looked good and felt very sturdy.

12985623_10154441162297841_2459072465668050107_nWhile I was working on the door Cindy was busy doing the preliminary placement of another big load of castle stones.  Originally we were going to line the rock area with the smaller castle stones but I reconsidered when I stood out there and looked at the area again.  Visually I thought it would look better to use the same size/style of stone we had on the pool border. The larger size of the castle stone would also provide a better barrier to stones kicked around by the chickens. By the end late afternoon rolled around both Cindy and I were beat.

As we were cleaning up Cindy took notice of a bird circling over the back yard that at first looked like a hawk.  She said she saw it dive bombing something in the back yard.  It’s flying pattern looked very non-hawk-like to me.  We found out later it was probably a Cara Cara which is a type of falcon.

Cindy saw the small animal still moving in the yard so I said we should go out and see what it is.  I told Cindy I was worried it could be a baby bird as in the past there have been some ground nesting birds in the back yard.  My fear was confirmed when we saw a small baby bird struggling in the grass.  I didn’t see any blood but it seemed like the falcon damaged it’s wing.  It was a small turtle dove, a very common bird on our property.

As we got close the little bird jumped and carried on, afraid we were yet another predator.  Cindy and I had a very brief discussion about what to do.  Cindy asked if we should just let nature take it’s course.  I of course did not like that option and said we should try to do something.  Although the bird was injured it didn’t seem like a fatal injury.  Cindy carefully picked up and held the bird as I put some shavings in a rubbermaid bin to hold it temporarily.  The little guy carried on a little bit but seemed to settle down once he realized we weren’t trying to harm it.

Cindy called the local animal conservancy and found out she could still drop the bird off today.  We pulled out one of the small bird animal carriers in the shed to put the baby in.  Cindy drove the bird there while I finished clean up from the projects.  I really appreciated Cindy going out of her way to take the little bird in.  The good news was the people at the conservancy said they think he will recover from his injury.

Speaking of birds we had been noticing some weird behavior from one of our black hens, Cupcake.  She had been spending tons of time in the nesting box.  A couple times we found her in the nesting box at night even.  In addition Cindy noticed she was missing some feathers on her belly.  We were worried she had some sort of health problem so we looked up the symptoms online.  What we discovered was she was healthy but was exhibiting “broody” behavior.

When a hen becomes broody that means they are wanting to hatch baby chicks.  As a result they will sit on eggs, even unfertilized ones endlessly, hoping they will hatch.  We read that the hen will actually pull it’s own feathers off it’s belly to expose skin to facilitate more heat transfer to the eggs.  When chickens get broody they can become more ill tempered and will sometimes stop laying eggs.  Their broodiness can also become somewhat contagious, making other hens become broody as well.

Typically a broody chicken will snap out of it after 3 weeks.  You can try to shorten that time span by removing the hen from the nesting box which we have been doing when we see her camping out there.  In addition over the weekend we have been putting Cupcake in the old chicken tractor and run to isolate her from the other hens while giving her plenty of room to roam around if she chooses.  Even in the tractor she has been spending most of the time up top in the boxes, trying to hatch babies that will never come.  It is a bit sad in a way but hopefully she will snap out of it sooner rather than later.

12973172_10154443481722841_4596174579549153135_oOn Saturday we had our second day of mostly hard labor.  Cindy and I swapped places, she worked on doing the finish work on the new door, sanding and painting it.  I was on my knees leveling the castle stones.  After looking at how the stone was sitting currently, taking note of any forward or side lean I would pull it out and then throw down some paver base.  I would then use my level to make sure the front and back of the stone was more or less even with the previous stone.  It didn’t take real long for each stone but when you have to do it 60 times it added up to a nice tedious session of work.  When I was done Cindy and I both were glad we went with the same style stone we used for the pool area.  It just looked good.  Now that we have solid barriers in place we can get more rock/rubber mulch to even out the area the chickens have excavated.

On Saturday night we were both beat from two days of yard work.  We stayed home and watched our latest Netflix rental, “Burnt”.  It seemed like it was almost a Gordon Ramsey biography, complete with a a loud mouth chef that threw things and swears a lot.  It just had nothing all that interesting going on.  I’d give it a B- rating.  Cindy rated it lower.

On Sunday I was determined to not have the last day of my three day weekend be another labor intensive workfest.  The temperatures Sunday morning were surprisingly cool, in the mid-50’s to start.  Despite us both feeling sore, I pushed for us to do a bike ride, the shorter 20 mile back and forth to Dunkin Donuts.

I mounted my GoPro to the drops on my handlebar to capture the ride from a unique 1080P perspective.  When I reversed the camera direction for part of the return ride I got a lot more crotch and a lot less of Cindy than I intended.  As is normally the case with this route, on the way there we enjoyed getting pushed by a tailwind and on the way back we fought against the same wind in our face.  With the cool temperatures it made the ride more or less enjoyable overall, way better than the 30+ mile hot and humid Ave Maria ride when Randall visited a couple weeks ago.  Even with the modifications I made to my Trek, raising the handle bars and adding aero bars, my $300 Dawes still is more comfortable for me to log miles on, despite it’s much heavier weight.

During Sunday afternoon we did actually get to chill out a little bit.  I hung the hammock I bought Cindy for Christmas and pulled over a chair next to it.  I read a little bit while Cindy was on the iPad.  It was such a beautiful day.  A couple times Cindy and I looked upon the various fruits of our labor with pride.  We really have done a lot.

12961528_1170677522945500_6971186097694545738_nWe had our first Tarpons game of the year on Sunday.  The 5:30 start time was a bit odd but it worked out well as far as the chicken bedtime goes, we would be home shortly after they go into the coop for the night.   This is my 4th year as a Tarpons season ticket holder.  I was hoping that perhaps this was the year that fan attendance finally picked up.  When we sat down we quickly saw that was not the case.  We were literally the ONLY two people in our entire section.  If I were to estimate, maybe 300-400 people total were there.

Things really hadn’t changed much in other areas either.  They had the same silly contests, the same low rent small cheerleading squad, and a product on the field that was less than exciting.  The Tarpons did not really play that well.  Their QB Chris Wallace looked fatter than ever and made a bunch of bad throws, repeatedly missing open receivers.  Despite this they still crushed their opposition, 65-22.  Hopefully this isn’t another season of lopsided blowouts.  I find it to hard to believe that the team has made it to a 4th year.  They HAVE to be bleeding money at this point. Somehow after going to see the Tarpons for going on 4 years I still underdressed for the game.  I was frozen due to the ice rink being under the football field.  I will be wearing long pants from now on.

12968144_1170684766278109_4683889551014336977_oThe big highlight of the game for us came very early.  The Central Florida Jaguars QB overthrew his receiver, sending the ball into the floor area just over the wall.  One of the Tarpons DB had half flipped over the wall trying to defend the pass.  He stretched far to reach the ball and then flipped it to me since we were literally the only fans in the area which was cool.  I am now the owner of TWO game balls after catching another a couple years ago.  I am sure they will be collector items someday, not. We got home around 8:15, leaving mid 4th quarter when the game outcome was already decided.

It was obviously a very busy three day weekend.  Maybe sometime in the future I will actually feel caught up on home projects.  I just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon.

 

 

 

 

Although yesterday was the best day of the last three health wise it was still far from any semblance of normal.  If I did anything that included me being on my feet for more than a few minutes I felt like I needed a prolonged recovery period.  The coughing and hacking has replaced the chills and sweats as the primary symptoms on display.  My body still had pain in pretty much every area, making it uncomfortable to do much anything at all.  On the plus side I did spend most of the day awake and in the seated position.

Last night Cindy and I watched our latest Netflix rental, Selfless.  The premise of the movie was intriguing, science develops a way to shuffle minds between bodies.  Ben Kingsley plays a very thinly veiled Donald Trump in the film, they even shot scenes inside Donald’s gold plated everything Manhattan apartment.  Ben is old and rich but dying of cancer.  He gets his mind moved over to Ryan Reynolds body and the adventure begins.   The movie was much more of an action flick than I expected.  I also thought it was odd that when Ben’s mind got shoved into Ryan’s body that none of Ben’s personality, speaking patterns or mannerisms seemed to follow.  The movie was entertaining and different enough to squeak out a B+ rating in my book, despite some of it’s oddities.

So last night I was praying I would finally get that solid night of sleep I needed so desperately. Once again the sleep didn’t start until the wee hours of this morning.  Repeatedly I would be right on the edge of drifting off and a coughing fit would ensue which I tried to combat with drinks of water or additional shots of cough syrup.  This was in addition to the Nyquil night time tablets I took.  When the coughing finally subsided I did finally get a solid block of sleep until I crawled out of bed a little after 9am.

As of now I feel pretty similar to as I did yesterday.  I am still waiting for the Nyquil haze to clear.  Regardless tomorrow I plan to be back at work, I can’t take one more day of lethargy.

12733521_1128771257136127_3046871272718940145_nFriday night I said to Cindy repeatedly how weird it felt to be the night before a running club race and I have absolutely nothing to do.  No equipment to charge, sort or pack in the truck.  No registration lists to finalize and print. None of the normal stress and anxiety that would precede every single race was present and it felt odd but in a good way.

On Saturday morning I headed outside to do yard work right about the time the race was scheduled to kick off.  When I came back inside I had a voicemail and something around 10 missed calls from the club treasurer who was on site at the race.  Obviously they were having some sort of problem.

So even though I made no arrangement with the club to be the race timing support line after my tenure was complete, I called back.  The woman that has assumed timing responsibilities was dead in the water because she couldn’t get into the software that is used to pull times from the timing hardware.  Evidently in the two weeks since I turned all the stuff over after the last race she had not tried to go into this software.  Since she was logging into the race laptop under a different user profile the timing program did not have the authentication information that is required to launch it for the first time.  If the software would have been started at any point prior to the race this problem would have been able to be handled at that point instead of race day.

So luckily I had installed remote control on that race laptop before turning it over to the club.  I was able to remote into the system and figure out which password it was looking for as there were several that are associated with the clubs MyLaps account.  Once I got into the timing software I saw that the runners times were sitting on the boxes.  I quickly configured the race and exported the files needed for the scoring software.  I asked Laurie if she wanted to take it from there or wanted me to do the rest.  She chose the latter.

By this time the race was long over so I tried to work fast.  As soon as I tried to import the times I saw there were a couple of things in the race that were misconfigured, one of which would have prevented any times from  being posted.  I corrected these things and after a few clicks we had some results on screen that looked to be correct.  I asked her if she was good to go from there.  She said she was and thanked me for the help.  Nothing like timing a race from your house.

So later in the day I heard some very insulting talk was going around the race where certain board members were suggesting that perhaps I intentionally sabotaged things so there would be a problem at the race.  I could hardly believe that after almost 10 years of club involvement and my generous three month/ 8 event notice of my leaving that the very first race I am gone, people would question my integrity in such a manner.  Now of course I was furious but I only heard it from one person so I wanted to wait until I got further confirmation which I received last night.  Not only did the discussion go around the race site, it continued at party held Saturday afternoon that a number of club members attended.

Well that was all I could tolerate.  It’s very disappointing and offended me personally.  I did the only logical thing and notified a couple key people that I am permanently on the DO NOT CALL list for any future race support needs.  I am normally a pretty laid back person but if you spit in my face there are going to be consequences.

Cindy and I worked on repairing the coop surveillance system.  I discovered that I would not be able to reliably splice together the chewed apart cables because one of them is a coaxial set up.  So instead I ripped out the damaged wires and ran two new wires that I had laying around as spares.  I need a total of three wires so for now we just left the camera under the deck disconnected.  I also drove a piece of schedule 40 conduit pipe through the hole in the coop floor and ran the ethernet cable through it, hopefully protecting it from future assaults by sharp toothed rodents.

On Saturday afternoon I met up with Chris at a track meet he was timing.  I wanted to get some more familiarity with set up of the camera based timing system that is used for track meets.  I am going to be helping him out with a couple events so I need to learn the set up.  I was only there for a little more than an hour as Cindy and I were going out for an early Valentine’s Day dinner and movie.

We did not pick out the restaurant ahead of time and decided we would just wing it, a dangerous choice on a Saturday night in snowbird season.  The first few places we were thinking about looked stupidly full.  We wound up eating at a place called Rosedale Brick Oven.  It was full as well, requiring us to stand around for maybe 20 minutes until we were seated.  It was small and cozy.  Our waitress was very friendly and Cindy and I both enjoyed our meals.  I cleaned my plate and helped Cindy dust off most of hers.

We were going to see The Revenant but we decided to do so at the Paragon theater, a venue I never frequented since it was converted into an upscale theater a couple years ago.  We were quite surprised when we stepped in the theater and found it had power recliner seats, holy shit.   We both found the seating to be very cool.

So it seems like the last 6 or 7 times we have gone to the theater we have had issues with ignorant, rude individuals that for whatever reason have no consideration of other theater patrons.  We have been not going to to the movies nearly as much recently as doing so in snowbird season greatly increases your odds of being nearby such an idiot.  On Saturday night we went even further, seeing a movie that was out for several weeks already and not going until the late 9:20PM showing.  Surely we should have minimal problems. Nope.

We had two sources of irritation the entire movie.  To our left was a couple.  The woman apparently found the movie too boring to merit her attention.  Instead she spent a large part of the two and a half hours scrolling through her Facebook feed on her phone.  Behind us there was some hispanic woman in blue pants that was talking off and on at normal conversation volume most of the film as well as fcking around on her phone, including texting and taking a phone call early on.    Cindy handed out a generous dosage of head turning stink eye but it did nothing to abate the bad behavior.

I am always conflicted in these situations. Of course I want to strangle these individuals but I try to keep my cool because I know if it gets to the point where I get up and go over there it is impossible for me to be anything close to polite or nice in my request for them to shut the fck up.  I then weigh in my mind in the big picture if it is worth creating a scene or not.  Most of the times it is not but Saturday night was getting close.

Well the movie was pretty freaking crazy.  It was like a hybrid between Castaway and Rambo.  I do understand why Leonardo was acclaimed for his performance.  The movie was filled with some brutal and very raw violence, some of it involving animals which of course made me cringe more than once.  It was one of those movies you think about after you leave the theater which is why I give it an A rating.  After having yet another poor movie theater experience Cindy and I are still considering ways to go to the movies when next to no other human beings are present.

12718268_1129793777033875_6550756038589315256_nWe did not get home until after midnight.  On Sunday I felt like we never got out of first gear.  I was sleepy and generally unmotivated.  Later in the afternoon we decided to go over to the swamp with Sadie for a walk.  The weather on Sunday was perfect with temps in the 70’s with bright skies and low humidity.  The swamp is no longer a well kept secret, the parking lot was FULL.  The swamp itself was also full, of water, the most I ever saw.

Very early on in the path one section of the trail was cut by a 10 foot section of running water from the high levels.  Somebody threw a relatively small and shaky branch across the area to assist in crossing but it wasn’t very effective.  I made it most of the way across the branch but still wound up with one wet foot.  Cindy decided to just bite the bullet and walk through the water in her sneakers.

We had a very cool treat, coming across a group of four full sized otters on the path.  12744453_1129793940367192_7632392978912031726_n Sadie was EXTREMELY interested in them.  As we got closer they split with two going into the water on either side.  Once we got up to them they just stared at us from the water, making odd noises.  They were very cool.  As soon as we walked further up the trail they came back out of the water and started dancing around on the path.

By the time we got back it was almost 5:30.  Cindy made dinner for Sadie and then I took her back to Ali’s while Cindy made dinner for us.  Last night we just vegged and worked on plowing through our backlogged dvr content.  It wasn’t the most spectacular Valentine’s Day I’m sure for Cindy.  She did like the Garmin Vivo HR I bought her, a real time fitness tracker that includes a wrist based heart rate monitor. You can analyze yourself to death with the damn thing.

 

 

IMG_2537-768x1024Saturday morning after a very poor night of sleep Cindy and I drug ourselves out of bed at 4:30 for the last time for a running club event.  We got on site a little after 5:30 and started work on the start line mats immediately. Despite having cones and lights out we still had idiots that zoomed by us without even touching the brake pedal, unreal.  By the time we got back to the main registration area it was a little after 6.  One of the nice things about this race is it starts at 8AM, a half hour later than most of the club race start times.

So we got busy setting up the registration area and running power for various things that required it.  I had Chris helping me with paper registration entry.  Ever since we got the MyLaps equipment I can no longer do race day data entry due to the extra time requirements equipment set up now takes.

Laurie, who is slated to take over race timing responsibilities and myself hopped in the golf cart to get to the start line about 15 minutes ahead of the start time.  The start of this race is always problematic because of the dog involvement.  The congestion at the start leads to many tripping hazards as excited dogs inadvertently cut off people around them.  This year they tried to address it by lining up runners by expected race pace.  It didn’t seem to help much.

Because of the distance between the registration area and the start line there is always a huge number of people that don’t get to the start line on time.  As a result I am stuck at the start line waiting for as many as stragglers as possible to cross the timing mats so they get an accurate time.  The end result of all of this was me not getting back to the finish line until we were 8 minutes into the race, meaning I only had 8-10 minutes to make sure the finish line was up and running.

So runners started streaming across the finish and times were getting recorded.  I sat back and exhaled, the hard work was done and all that was left was to do a few result print outs and I was done, or so I thought.  At the finish line I normally have two timing boxes, one main box and a second one for back up, just in case.  The back up box is normally never needed because the MyLaps hardware is generally very reliable.  Well I noticed that I was accumulating more chip reads on the back up box than the main box which was odd.  At first I wrote this off as some runners that had already finished the race standing too close to the back up timing mats, causing them to get read again.  I asked those people to step back a few feet.

After printing out a set of finish results we started having some people coming up and telling us their times were wrong, off by a little more than 40 seconds.  We used the security dvr to watch footage as the first finisher crossed.  His time matched what we posted, as did the second finisher.  However when the third finisher crossed the video showed a time roughly 46 seconds faster than what was posted in the results.  WTF???

Over the years I have had situations where all runner times were off due to various issues.  This was the first time I ever just saw a few random people with a consistent time offset.  Through a hive mind collaboration between myself, Chris, and Laurie who were at the table with me we pieced together what happened.  I took a look at the raw data for one of the missed runners on each timing box.  It showed he had not been read on the main timing box but was read on the back up box.  Ok so it appears that any of the problem times were associated with runners that did not get read on the main box.

Laurie said it seemed like the time on the second box was off.  When I took a look at the box I saw we forgot to confirm the GPS time synch on it, meaning it’s internal clock was off by roughly 40 some seconds.  Now that I knew the issue I had to come up with a way to fix it.  The solution I came up with was to delete all of the race chip times and reimport the times, using only the back up box as a source.  In the timing software I was able to apply a 43 second time adjustment to all imported times which corrected all of the errors.  Whew, crisis averted, again.

This was a particularly challenging issue because it was two headed.  The problem with the main box, which after the race was determined to be a bad cable, was bad enough.  Having the time synch on the back up box wrong added another degree of complexity.  Nearly every race has some sort of hurdle that needs to be cleared, this just happened to be a pretty high one.  Having this occur on my last race timing for the club put a nice exclamation point on things.

It’s these sort of issues that are going to be particularly difficult for a novice race timer to address.  Not only do you have to be able to identify the source of the problem, you need to have the background knowledge to be able to logically arrive at a workaround for the issue, even if you have never seen it before, such as what happened Saturday.  I think there is a very bumpy road ahead for whomever assumes the timer responsibility.

The times problem put me into more of a focused haze than normal, meaning I really had no time to enjoy what makes the race so special, the dog participation.  I hardly saw or talked to anyone outside the people involved with the registration and timing parts of the race.  I heard later that everyone had a great time. It seems bizarre that I really couldn’t tell you much about the race outside of what was directly in front of me.

This race was special not only because it was the 10th year for the event but also because it was the first time the race has been held since Nicki died.  Evidently Ali said some touching words about Nicki on the PA which I unfortunately did not hear as I was in the midst of trouble shooting mode.  On the back of the event t-shirt there is a a line that dedicates the race to Nicki and will forever be in her memory.  It was both very touching and sad.

Our post race route was quite different than normal.  Instead of heading home we headed to a storage area for Laurie’s business where we dropped off all of the remaining club owned equipment.  It felt odd but refreshing at the same time to be passing the torch both figuratively and literally.  We have a whole lot more space in our spare bedroom now since I have housed running club equipment for close to a decade.

I did need to take the main timing laptop back home with me.  I used it to prepare and post my final set of results as the running club timer.  As you can imagine I have been asked a number of times how it feels to be stepping away from a role I have held for such a long time.  Of course the first reaction are words like relief and happiness.  When I announced that I was stepping away three months ago the eight events I had to plow through to get here seemed formidable.  Bearing this responsibility when your heart is no longer in it was not an easy thing.

Now that I punched my last time card I do feel that sense of relief I anticipated for so long.  Being free of the anxiety that surrounds this sort of gig is going to be very, very welcome.  Despite serving in the role that I did for so long I can’t totally get away from some feelings of guilt, as I know that in the end it is the race participants that could suffer from my absence.  They are devoid of responsibility for my decision so having them potentially be affected by it does not bring me good feelings.  All I can do is hope the club finds it’s way now that my hands have completely been pulled off the wheel.

Saturday afternoon we worked on a number of things that needed to be done.   Ali stopped by to pick up Sadie.  She actually hung around for a little bit and chatted with us which was very nice.  She was very happy about how the race went which was good to hear.

I had some ideas about going out to dinner and/or a movie Saturday night to celebrate timing my last club race.    Reality sunk in that we would be drop dead tired which would be counter to doing much celebrating.  We instead ordered a take out eggplant parm sub that we enjoyed as we watched Scorch Trials, my latest Netflix rental. I would describe the movie as long, confusing, and weird, only worthy of a B rating in my book.  Cindy rated it even lower.

On Sunday morning Cindy and I decided to do another track run, this time increasing our distance from 2 miles to 5K (3.12 miles)  The temps in the lower 60’s combined with overcast skies made for some good running weather.  I felt ok during the run however later in the day and to a degree this morning I am feeling some minor discomfort in the IT band area, the first I have felt in quite awhile.

We went straight from the run to running errands, stopping for coffee as well as Lowe’s and Costco.  At Lowe’s we got some more plants for the garden although my major intention was to get a dryer vent cover that I could re-purpose as a crude cover for the Ring doorbell I have mounted on the chicken coop run.  The vent cover will provide some degree of shade and precipitation protection for the device.

At Costco I picked up a LED garage light that was on sale.  The conventional florescent light I had in the garage had one bulb out, replacing it with an affordable and mercury free solution seemed like a good option.  I hung the new light which included cutting off the power plug and splicing it directly into the house wiring, a simple chore.  The new LED lights don’t have the warm up time the old bulbs suffered from and appear to be brighter overall.

Last night Cindy and I were passed out in bed at an incredibly early time of 8:30PM.  We both just felt exhausted.  Depsite the early bedtime I woke up this morning feeling not particularly rested due to restless sleep.  I can’t tell you the last time I fell asleep and the next thing I remembered was waking up with the alarm the next morning.  Instead my nights have been filled with sessions of waking up and then not being able to fall back asleep, sometimes for hours at a time.

I heard this morning that yet another Stern Show “whack packer” died recently, Crackhead Bob.  Bob (real name George), was a former crackhead that wound up suffering multiple strokes from his drug use.  The end result was an incredibly funny speech impediment that lead to many, many funny moments on the show.  Bob dropped off the show radar in 2007 when he moved to Texas.  He was only 56 when he died.  In the past year there have been a number of prominent whack packers that have kicked the bucket.  I suppose it is a sad reminder of the age of the show as well as a large segment of it’s loyal listener base.

 

 

12466181_10154236838182841_7434535693338582281_oSo with the bad forecast for the half marathon I came up with an idea on Friday to make timing in stormy weather more feasible, rent a box truck.  I secured a 16 foot truck for $35 a day and 99 cents per mile, far less than I expected.  With that size I would have plenty of room to set up two or three tables loaded up with the computer equipment used for race timing.  The only thing that would be left outside would be the timing boxes themselves which are able to be operated with their lids closed, making them pretty weather resistant.  I picked up the truck on Saturday after getting permission from the running club to do so.

When I rented the truck I had a funny interaction with the guy that ran the office.  When I walked in he had a gamer headset on and he appeared somewhat annoyed I interrupted him.  After I took a look at the monster PC he had on the desk which I immediately recognized as a gaming rig I asked him questions about it, letting him know my computer background.  Once he knew he was talking to a fellow computer geek the conversation flowed.  He told me about the specs of his big full tower box that he built himself which were impressive.

We exchanged stories of our gaming experience.  I found out he was an old WoW player and a quite high level one at that.  He played the game the first three years it was out.  I told him I have been plugging away for a solid 10 years.  In addition to completing the paperwork for the rental he took the time to show me some details of Fallout 4, which is what he was playing when I walked in the door.  It was a geeky interaction out of nowhere that I appreciated.

On Friday after work I went over to the running store where I stayed until packet pick up wound up at 7PM.  I worked on getting current with any entries that came in during the day. On Saturday afternoon I headed back down there to do the same.

Now of course the potential for bad weather was on everyone’s mind.  The weather forecast for Sunday was consistently bad but the time frame seemed to be shifting around.  Unfortunately it seemed like the worst weather was forecast to hit during the time everything would be set up.  The plan was to show up as normal and if the weather conditions were really bad we could slide the race start time back to accommodate it.  Cindy and I used the 16 foot truck to hold most of the stuff which was a good thing since I had the most equipment I ever used at a race with four timing systems and 24 one meter mats.  We went to bed early, hoping to compensate for the 3AM alarm I had set for Sunday morning. Unfortunately I wound up waking  up somewhere around 1AM and not really falling asleep afterward.  During my tossing and turning I heard several bursts of storm activity outside.

When we got up I immediately looked at the latest weather conditions.  I was not happy to see a tornado watch had been put in place that ran until 8AM.  I called the race director who was already in the process of setting up the course just to let him know about the watch and suggest we wait until that watch clears to start the race which was scheduled for a 7AM start. Cindy and I pulled out our race caravan with me leading in the box truck and Cindy following in the Tacoma.

On the way to the race I got a message that they were officially postponing the start until 8 to give the weather a chance to clear, a good move.  When we got there the roads were wet but it wasn’t raining and the wind was minimal.  However when I looked at the radar before leaving home I saw Naples looked to be on the tail end of a long line of storms that was moving northeast very rapidly.  It was not a matter of if the storm was going to hit but when.

Cindy and I started working on setting up stuff.  We dumped the timing gear at the start and finish lines.  I parked the big truck in position by the finish line and set up tables inside of it.  I looked at my temporary timing shelter with a weird sense of pride for coming up with a way to get the job done despite the very challenging weather conditions.  We started setting up the registration area over by the bank under a covered parking area that we hoped would provide shelter if the storm got really bad.  With the one hour delay we suddenly had a much longer window to get everything set up.

12573050_10205622586667196_4983391032435396285_nSo Chris, who was there to help me do data entry had his iPad along.  On it he had the live radar view on loop which showed the line of red was almost on us.  The wind started to pick up along with the rain so the group of us around the registration area took cover.  As the wind and rain picked up it started blowing in so we quickly pulled all the tables and computer equipment that I already had set up back as far as we could to minimize it’s exposure to the elements.

The storm was bad but didn’t seem like anything beyond a typical Florida summer thunderstorm, until it wasn’t.  All of a sudden there was a few minutes where the wind ratcheted up to an entirely new level.  The huge flag that hangs over Cambier Park sounded like it was ready to be ripped from the pole.  I stood up and leaned on the huge, heavy wood tables in front of me for fear they could actually be blown around.  The sound of the wind, which was reported to be 80+ mph,  was dangerous.

So we all huddled underneath the overhang for around 15-20 minutes while the worst of the storm blew through.  I honestly felt a bit exposed there and had my eyes scanning for any flying debris that could come our way.  We took a look at the race banner hanging over the start line in the street.  We saw a mangled mess as one of the tether lines snapped from the force.  When things started to die down we did a brief survey of our immediate area and things seemed more or less intact with just some palm fronds down at various spots.

Just as we were getting ready to start drying stuff off and resume preparations we got word from the volunteer coordinator that the race was now cancelled.  Evidently there was much more extensive damage on the course with not just branches but entire trees down, severe flooding and even power lines down.  There was no way the event could take place with those sort of hazards on the course.  Later we were told that this storm had the characteristics of something called a “meteotsunami”, which very quickly and dramatically pushed a wall of water from the gulf on shore which caused the flooding.  The hurricane force winds were just the icing on the cake.

After we were told of the cancellation I just sat there for a few moments, shell shocked.  There has never been a race cancellation due to weather conditions, for it to happen with the biggest event the club puts on just seemed unbelievable.  I immediately felt very badly for the race participants, many of whom travel from out of the area to be here for the half marathon. I thought of all the preparation that went into the event by both myself and others.  To have all of that nullified by a 15 minute storm seemed crazy.

With a race of this scope there is no rescheduling possible so basically people are just SOL as “acts of God” do not qualify runners for refunds.  While I was on site I remote controlled to my home computer so I could quickly get information posted to the official race website.  Luckily the majority of racers had been following the updates and did not show up on site.

So the undoing of the race prep began with the crew of volunteers and ourselves picking up everything that had just been laid out.  Luckily for me I had not fully set up all my stuff at that point.  We packed up the stuff we set up at the registration area and I then took down the tables in the back of the box truck.  We drove the truck back to the start line to pick up the timing equipment we set there.  I was surprised to see some of the very heavy rubber mats had gotten blown off the stack. As we were throwing the wet mats into the back of the truck a reporter from the Naples Daily News snapped a picture of Cindy and I as we were standing under the mangled half marathon start line banner.  That picture wound up on the front page of the sports section of Monday’s paper which was unexpected.

On the drive home we saw all sorts of damage with tons of branches on the roadways along with a ton of uprooted trees.  When I saw substantial wind damage at the developments near our house I was quite worried about damage at our house, especially to the chicken coop.  We both breathed a sigh of relief that other than some smaller things scattered around the yard our property escaped basically unscathed.

I’m sure the chickens were scared to death. Having the shed/run pull through such extreme weather intact made Cindy and I feel good about the extra work we put in to make sure both structures were built to be as storm resistant as possible.  The one nuisance we did have to deal with from the storm was a power outage which lasted around half the day.

12487172_10154238544747841_152089865652134710_oBy the time we got home the weather seemed almost nice.  I pulled out the 24 wet mats and laid them out to dry, one side at a time.  We had some other stuff that needed to dry out as well.  All day I couldn’t help but feel weird about doing all of that prep and not actually getting to time the race.  After the huge timing disaster we had at last year’s half marathon I was really looking to make things run like clockwork this year, despite the conditions.  Since this was also the last half marathon I was timing for the club, not getting the chance to get that redemption was a little depressing.

The rest of our day Sunday felt incredibly long, a byproduct of starting your day at 3AM.  After getting all of the race equipment dried out and put away I turned my attention to the Tacoma.  While we were driving to the race Cindy told me the truck was acting weird and shaking.  When she first mentioned it to me I thought she meant just a tire vibration which I wrote off as no big deal.  I then got a clarification that it was an engine related problem.  The truck was missing and Cindy said she really couldn’t go any faster than 50 mph.  The check engine light had come on as well.

I hooked up my car computer scanner and got a P300, P304 and P304 error code which meant that cylinder three and four were misfiring.  I cleared the codes and took the truck out for a very brief test drive.  The misfiring was still there and the CEL came on again, great.  So I did some research about the issue on my phone as Cindy drove us home after we dropped off the box truck at the Penske lot.

The easy causes of the problem are stuff like bad wires, coil, or plugs.  Tacomas have a different coil arrangement.  Instead of having one coil there are actually three of them, each one drives two of the plugs.  The recommendation was to swap coil packs around to see if the problem follows the coil.  I swapped the coil pack on cylinder three assuming it also drove cylinder four.  After clearing the codes and doing another test drive the misfire was still present although I only got a P304 error this time.  After feeding these test results into Google it seemed like a more likely cause of the misfire could be a failed fuel injector, something very much in the realm of possibility for a vehicle with 186,000 miles on the odometer.  Unfortunately changing one involves pretty extensive tear down, similar to what I had to do to change the valve cover gaskets.  I called it good for the day with the intention to resume diagnostics on Monday.

On Sunday night we watched True Story, our latest Netflix rental.  With no naps during the day I knew I risked nodding off during the movie, which I did several times.  The drowsiness was not because of the movie which was interesting, seeing Seth Rogen and James Franco play very serious roles in a true life story about a man that killed his family.  I had Cindy help fill in some of the blank spots while I nodded off laying on her lap.  It added up to a solid B+ film that is a quality rental title.

Having Monday off was quite welcome after the events of Sunday.  We headed out relatively early to go pick up some oil change supplies.  Both the Prius and Tacoma were overdue for oil changes.    We also dropped off the left over race bibs from the race at the running store where runners were able to pick up race shirts and medals since they would go to waste otherwise.

I dug into the oil changes early Monday afternoon, completing both oil changes in the span of 45 minutes.  I then resumed my diagnosis of the Tacoma.  One of the things I did not do on Sunday was pull the plug in cylinder four to take a look at it.  When I pulled the spark plug wire something didn’t feel right.  When I looked at the boot of the wire something didn’t look right, the attachment terminal was missing.  A look into the spark plug hole revealed it was still attached to the spark plug.

This scenario was good and bad news.  The good news was that possibly the misfiring could have simply been caused by a defective spark plug wire.  The bad news was I now had to figure out some way to get the broken terminal off the spark plug so I could remove the spark plug itself.   This turned out to be a VERY challenging task that tested the limits of my patience.

At first I tried using a simple needle nose pliers to grasp the broken terminal.  Because of the lack of space it was impossible to get a grasp on it.  I then began a long and arduous session with a long flat head screw driver.  I stuck it into the plug hole and tried to work the terminal back and forth so it would loosen up.  I then tried to pin it against the side of the hole so I could pry it upwards.  After a couple dozen attempts over the course of 45 minutes I got it to pop off the top of the spark plug.  I was able to fish the terminal out of the hole with my retractable magnet.

I then confidently stuck my spark plug socket in the hole, ready to finally remove the plug after all that futzing around.  Despite removing the terminal it still felt like my socket was just spinning around on nothing.  WTF?  I brought out my stick light so I could get a better view down the hole.  What I saw was a circle of rubber on top of the spark plug.  Not only did the terminal of the spark plug wire break off, the rubber boot that normally surrounds it was down there as well, awesome.

This discovery lead to another incredibly aggravating session of trying to get the rubber removed.  I was able to spin it around with my screwdriver but not remove it.  I alerted Cindy to my issue and said I needed a small wire hook to snag the rubber.  She found an old wire plant hanger in the shed.  I was able to snip off one  of the wires and then bend the end into a very small hook.  As I stuck the wire into the hole my eyes were watering as I tried to focus, it was very hard to see.  Finally, finally I snagged the rubber boot and managed to lift it out of the plug hole.  Instinctively I said “f you” out loud to the remains of the spark plug boot as I removed it.  It was the end result of close to two hours of digging around in a little hole with no clearance and the wrong tools for the job.  I finally was able to get a socket on the plug and remove it.  The plug itself looked ok but I ordered a complete new set of plugs and wires on Amazon.  My hope is the misfire was all wire related and I can avoid ripping off the entire intake of the truck to do injectors.

12615226_1115058618507391_534867812883020341_oAfter the Tacoma work I suggested to Cindy we take out the mountain bikes out for their first test ride of Bird Rookery swamp, something we had wanted to do for a little while.  The cool air in the low to mid-60’s left us both feeling quite chilled on the 3 mile ride to the trail head.  Once we got off road both of our bikes felt good on the mostly grass trail.  In total we went around 2.25 miles into the swamp before turning around.

Doing the trail on a mountain bike is different than doing the same by foot.  You obviously cover territory at a much faster clip.  I think you also get to see less since you need to concentrate more on the ground under you to avoid obstacles while riding.  We stopped several times so Cindy could take some pictures of especially scenic locations.

By the time we started the return ride out we were both feeling some aches and soreness.  Mountain bikes are double the weight or more of the road bikes we are used to riding,  Riding them over uneven terrain introduces a new sort of effort level which also carries a discomfort penalty for your rear end, back, and hands.  By the time we rode the 3 miles back to the house we were BEAT.    Our eventual goal is to do the entire 12 mile circuit in the swamp which when added to the ride to and from the house will be around 18 miles.  The way we felt doing the roughly 10 miles yesterday makes me only imagine how we will feel when we take on the whole deal. The rest of our Monday, the little that was left of it was more low key with us enjoying a nice dinner and dvr’d tv content to wind up the 3 day weekend.

Of course I saw the news that the Eagles hired a new head coach, Doug Pederson, who was the offensive coordinator for the KC Chiefs.  I wish I could say I liked this hire.  Eagles fans remember the name Doug Pederson.  He was the starting QB VERY briefly right before the Donovan McNabb era began.  I remember feeling very unexcited back then when we were told that Pederson, despite not having much actual NFL play time, had been a back up in good programs which somehow meant he should be decent by osmosis.  Well the reality was he was extremely unimpressive  in his Eagles stint.  His starting record as  a qb was something like 3-14.

usa-today-8773028.0[1]Well Andy Reid always liked Doug and eventually brought him on staff as a coach.  First as an “offensive consultant” and later as a QB coach for the Eagles.  When Andy was fired from the Eagles he took Doug with him to KC and named his as offensive coordinator.  During his three years there the Chiefs offense was ok, but certainly nothing dynamic.  Plus since Andy Reid is very much involved in the offensive play calling, being an OC on an Andy Reid team means you aren’t really calling the shots.

The overwhelming consensus is the Pederson hiring is underwhelming.  I read an ESPN article that said out of the 6 coaches hired this off season, Doug is the least impressive of them. I assume that Jeff Lurie is hoping that somehow Doug will be Andy Reid-esque since he has been in his company for a long time.  We saw how that “greatness by association with greatness” theory worked out in Pederson’s QB career.  I have a bad feeling his head coaching career could follow a similar story line.  Hopefully I am wrong.

 

Saturday morning Cindy helped me get started on the somber job of putting away the exterior Christmas decorations, an annual depressing project.  Cindy helped me get most off the lights off the trees out front before she had to go inside to get ready to leave for a seminar.  I moved to the entryway to the house where I had my “smart” app controlled icicles hanging.

I had my smaller ladder out so I could reach the lights that were maybe 10-11 feet high.  I had the ladder haphazardly placed unevenly.  One leg was on the concrete landing  and the other on the stone covered landscape strip.  The ladder was against the high wall of the house with only one leg touching as a result.  I figured I could just use my cat-like balance to quickly unclip the lights from the gutter.

So I have a long and dangerous history of ladder stunts.  During my adult life I have put myself in precarious positions on them repeatedly, often a couple stories up in the air.  Every single time I was able to survive the situation unscathed, since I was only a few feet off the ground I used even less caution than I normally do.

Well there was no warning this time. As I reached to unclip the farthest point the ladder was under me one moment and falling down the next.  I instinctively reached for something to break my fall, which happened to be the gutter.  In a quick symphony of banging, crashing and creaking I was back down on the ground with a nice contusion/gash across my left shin which of course immediately started to seep blood.  The one plant out front was a little smushed from the ladder and some stones were thrown out in the yard.  The gutter I grabbed was bent as well, luckily I was able to push it more or less back into shape.

I ignored my injury and kept working.  I couldn’t believe Cindy didn’t hear it.  When she came out and was ready to leave she was horrified to see my bloody shin.  She quickly cleaned and bandaged my gash.  She felt guilty, feeling like if she wasn’t inside I wouldn’t have hurt myself.  I assured her this was 100% due to my stupidity. I wished her a safe trip to Bradenton where the seminar was being held.

I later discovered there was an additional, much more concerning casualty to my ladder stupidity, my Ring smart doorbell.  Cindy had sent me a text saying I needed to wipe the camera lens off, she said it looked like it had condensation on it.  I poked my head out the door and saw the damage.  It looks like somehow one of the legs of the ladder smashed right into the doorbell, breaking a plastic casing above the camera and bending the metal casing around the button.  Although I did not see any visible damage to the camera itself obviously the impact somehow fcked it up as well.  I fruitlessly tried futzing with the Ring a bit, hoping a couple Fonzie like smacks would undo whatever damage was done.  I was so frustrated with myself that my leg injury wasn’t enough of a lesson to practice better ladder safety, I now had to pay a financial penalty as well as a new Ring was ordered that afternoon.

As I said, removing all of the holiday lights outside was depressing, but the set I hated removing the most was the big bulbed, colorful led lights we bought for the chicken coop.  I gave serious consideration to just leaving the those lights up but I decided I wouldn’t be the weird neighbor that leaves Xmas lights for months on end.  The chickens huddled around me as I removed the lights.  I don’t think they were happy about it either.

12540982_10154223899732841_8542666360077139431_nSo like I said, Cindy was gone for most of the day, leaving me a rare weekend day left to my own devices.  It seemed like I immediately flipped into my old routine when I was living solo.  Of course I buzzed around the house tending to a number of items but I also found the time to do a random physical challenge on video and even pose for a stupid selfie wearing the George Washinguns tank top Patrick sent me for Christmas.  For whatever reason this sort of behavior happens most frequently when I am alone.

Late in the afternoon I had another first, loading Sadie into the SSR for her first ever ride in the vehicle, despite me owning the truck for over four years.  I had an edict that no dogs were allowed in the SSR due to my wanting to keep it as pristine as possible.  For whatever reason, that edict expired and after putting a seat cover and towel over the passenger seat, I had Sadie jump in for her first convertible experience.

12440693_10154223607857841_3881359891663421593_oIt took awhile for Sadie to find her optimal position but once she did she seemed to enjoy having a total open air driving experience.  The SSR had not been driven by me for a bet closing in on two months.  The clutch still felt like it had some air in it, releasing closer to the floor than I was used to.  It still felt good to hear the exhaust note rumbling behind us as we did a coffee run to help me kill my appetite so I could wait until Cindy got home later to eat dinner.

Cindy’s drive home was treacherous, taking her through a severe storm that actually resulted in a tornado touching down in the Cape Coral area.  It was the sort of storm you get in the middle of summer, not January.  When she got home we ate dinner while watching our latest Netflix rental, Air, that starred Darryl from The Walking Dead.  The premise for the movie seemed interesting, the Earth’s atmosphere is toxic, forcing mankind to retreat underground, but both Cindy and I found the movie very hard to follow.  Darryl’s co-star was a black guy with an accent that I have seen in other films.  For some reason the director didn’t think it was important for the audience to be able to understand much of the dialogue.  Despite my having the volume up quite loud,  we found ourselves looking at each other saying “what did he say” repeatedly.  It was very annoying and detracted from what was already an average at best flick. I’d give it a B.

On Sunday morning we originally hoped to get out on our new mountain bikes but the rainy weather made us redirect those plans.  Instead we got shit done around the house and did our normal weekend run to Rural King and Home Depot.  The rainy, cool weather made the entire day feel sort of blah.

I found myself watching the final half of the Vikings/Seahawks playoff game.  It is a rare thing for me to watch NFL playoff football if the Eagles are not involved in it.  The one exception is if the game is played in bad weather, I LOVE bad weather games.  In this particular case the weather was clear but it was freeze your ass off cold.  At the start of the game the temperature was -6 degrees.  The artic cold made for an odd visual as the players lined up for each play.  You would see their breath freezing as it exited, making it look like there were 22 angry bulls on the field.    As you would expect the cold weather kept the score low.  The Vikings were in position to win the game with 30 seconds left when they drove down to chip shot field goal distance.  The Viking kicker, who already made three much longer field goals, choked hard, pulling the 27 yard field goal left, handing the Vikings a crushing defeat.  Wow I can only begin to imagine how low he feels today.

Cindy and I tended to various things throughout the day.  I began getting my ducks lined up for the half marathon that goes down this upcoming Sunday.  I have a pretty solid mental game plan of how it will all go down but two of the last three years I have run into some huge unexpected issues on race day.  I am taking more precautions this year to ensure my last year of timing this event goes as smoothly as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning we awoke to thoroughly overcast skies which actually was a good thing since we wanted to get a run in.  The last few times we ran it was under a bright sun with warm, humid temps and I was sick of it.  This was the first run I have done in 2-3 weeks because of race/work that took priority.  We again decided to utilize the water park for our run but we changed the route a bit.  Instead of doing two loops around the outside boundary of the park we cut onto the boardwalk on lap two which both gave us some different scenery and cut a 1/2 mile of the distance which looked to be about 3.55 miles.  The lack of direct sun kept the temperatures down which I am sure was the reason it was my most pleasant running experience of the last 3 months.

It’s been nice being able to do stuff like get out and run on a Saturday morning instead of having to dive right into chores.  Cindy has been trying to get most of them done during the week so we have less to do on the weekends.  She even has been doing household repairs/improvements where she can.  For example this week she pressure washed, fixed some cracks and repainted some sections of the deck where the paint had come off.  It’s a huge help to me to have somebody so willing to lend a hand wherever she can.

Last week I made a list of winter projects I want to get done.  I wasted no time getting one of those items crossed off the list, generator maintenance.  I bought my gas generator back in 2005 during the horrible hurricane season and have basically not had to use it since.  Despite it sitting idle I still need to maintain/run it periodically if I want it to be viable when the time comes.  Saturday I changed the oil on it and ran it for an hour or two.  The generator still started easily and ran ok although it didn’t want to stay running in the full RUN position, I had to keep it mid-way between wide open and the CHOKE position of the lever.   Hopefully I should be good to go if we have any extended electrical power disruptions in the near future.

During the afternoon the overcast skies turned into all out rainy skies which continued off and on for most of the day.  We turned our attention inside.  Cindy was busy doing stuff where as I played some WoW, a big theme of the weekend for me.

We planned to go see the final chapter in the Hunger Games movies Saturday night.  Since it was opening weekend we made an effort to try to get there a bit earlier than normal.  When we stepped in the theater we saw our concern wasn’t merited this time around with the seats being only sparsely populated.  We found seats high up right behind the railing for the wheelchair patrons which is ideal since you can use the rail for foot support without worry of someones head being in the same vicinity.  Cindy spotted a woman with children, including an infant in a CAR SEAT a couple rows up and to our left.  She flagged them as potential problems but I waved it off, silly me.

So as soon as the previews start the baby starts carrying on periodically.  Cindy started with the over the shoulder glances.  I assumed if the kid kept carrying on the woman would simply take it out of the theater.  After all, bringing an infant to a movie theater is an acutely selfish act.  Sure, I understand you want to see a movie but if you can’t get a baby sitter do not punish the rest of theater patrons with the noises from your child.  You had the baby, use common sense/courtesy when making your choices as to what public environments you bring the kid to.

During the previews a set of teenage girls snuggled into the seats in the row in front of us along the aisle.  Their big thing was talking, a lot.  They also had this weird trait of laughing during emotional parts of the film.  Then of course there were the various notification sounds peppered around the theater from fcking morons that are too lazy/inconsiderate to simply flip off the speaker on their phone.  Both Cindy and I found the crowd extremely annoying, more so than normal.

When we talked about it later I said perhaps we need to redesign our movie viewing habits.  Since I started seeing Cindy we more often than not go out to see a movie during it’s opening weekend, something I NEVER used to do during my adult life.  I was always fine waiting a week or two to see a flick in exchange for much less populated theaters.  I think the fact that Coconut Point is usually pretty lightly attended, even on opening weekends, changed that behavior.   I think if we go back to avoiding opening weekends and combine it with being more stringent on selecting seats as far away from potential inconsiderate assholes as possible we may be able to cut down on our level of theater side annoyance.

For what it’s worth I really liked the movie, I thought it was well done in most aspects.  Even without reading a single sentence from any of the books I was entertained and into it the entire time enough to give it an A-, despite the crowd around us providing regular distractions.

On Sunday we had loosely planned to back up our Saturday run with a bike ride.  I awoke to a pretty incredible visual for mid-late November, torrential rain.  The water level in the pool looked to have gone up 3-4 inches.  The ponds of standing water that are normally reserved for summer wet season had made a return appearance.  Wow it must have poured pretty much all night long. Obviously a bike ride was crossed off the list.

My day Sunday outside of having to pay my bills, was almost exclusively about leisure.  I played hours of WoW, cycling through my various virtual alter egos getting stuff done.  I was incredibly busy in my mind without moving my body outside of my hands and fingers.  It was just one of those days where I felt like withdrawing from the world and existing in another, despite the rain breaking up and giving way to sunny skies later.

I sandwiched in watching the Eagles/Bucs game which was three hours of my life I would have preferred to get back.  It was the worst game of the year with the Eagles making rookie Jameis Winston look like Dan Marino and allowing the the Tampa Bay running back to gain a disgusting 230 yards.  The Eagles offense was not up to the task of keeping up.  Outside of a couple drives they were ineffective most of the day.   I am not sure how many times I have used the word “embarrassing” to describe the Eagles game play this season but there was never a more appropriate use of the word than this game.  The team is rudderless and Chip Kelly is the captain, a captain that despite his obvious failings prefers to point fingers in every direction but his own.

It has gotten to the point where I literally feel immune to their poor play.  I no longer react to their bad plays in any visible manner.  I don’t yell at the tv.  I just have become indifferent to the team disappointing me.  I have come to expect it which is a pretty damning thing to say about the Chip Kelly regime which I am ready to see come to it’s end.  Oh, the Eagles get to play on Thanksgiving, it should be a great way to ensure the post meal sleepiness kicks in.

My DirecTV Sunday Ticket this year has never been more worthless.  Not only has the team sucked, I think I have only watched 3-4 games on the service this year.  The Birds have had a ton of either night or other national broadcast games that black them out on DirecTV.  Paying over 300 bucks to watch this mess just adds insult to injury.

This week will be hectic with the largest race of the year going down on Thanksgiving morning.  Most of my attention will be directed to making sure my part of this equation goes down correctly, one last time.

 

 

12065543_1075557429124177_2223371620054135402_nCindy and I got up a few minutes before 4AM for Saturday’s race.  Cindy wanted to transform us into zombies since it was Halloween.  She did a pretty incredible job for only 5-10 minutes of work.  My 25 year + old Grateful Dead concert shirt was the perfect accessory for the look.

When we got on site we had to get our bearings since this was a first year race.  There were several issues like power that was supposed to be run for us not being there and the onsite bathrooms being locked until 20 minutes before race time that were annoying but outside my realm of responsibility.

This race was unique because the start and finish line were at the same spot.  I timed the race with the same set of mats using one file for the start and another for the finish.  It worked out well from my perspective.

My timer buddy John and his family were at the race which was cool.  It’s not often that I get to talk timing with someone who actually knows how much of a pain in the ass it is.  He had let me borrow one of his timing clocks for the CC meets we did so I had it with to return to him.

My timing went fine with no hardware failures, the only errors coming from the human variety with runners switching bibs.  The awkward interactions I anticipated were not as prevalent as I expected which was good.  There were a couple people I could tell were off put by my decision to leave the team but for the most part it was business as usual which is fine by me.

I had a few brief conversations with some board members and although noone is happy about me leaving, they understand the reasons behind it. It felt weird in a good way knowing this was the first and last time I would be timing the event.  It seems surreal that in three months I will be able to abandon 4AM alarms and all of the work/stress that precedes each and every race day.

It was funny going into Dunkin Donuts in our zombie make up.  As you can imagine it merited more than few glances and smiles.

When we got home post race work took us up until lunch time.  After eating we both headed out into the heat of the day to get outdoor chores done.  We were joined out there once again by the sandhill cranes that are becoming more and more trusting of us.  We have gotten within 10-15 feet of them although the key is to act like you aren’t paying attention to them.

After finishing up the weeding and other stuff I decided to hop on the tractor and mow the back of the property.  I decided to go a step further and mow some of the property beyond the fence line which literally may only get done once or twice a year.  The lack of frequency means the area is almost jungle-like as I was mowing down grass that was three feet high or more at spots.  Mowing these spots is extremely time consuming.  Not only do you have to go at a snail’s pace, you have to mow each spot repeatedly, a minimum of two to three times until it is all knocked down to ground level.  Thank goodness I don’t suffer from allergies like I once did, there were bushels of organic material thrown into the air.  The mowing is a precursor to another horrible yard maintenance task that we have to do shortly, the annual tree trimming extravaganza.

Halloween night Cindy and I were both beat from the combo of getting up early to time the race combined with the work around the house.  We decided to skip going to the movies and instead watched our current Netflix rental, The Gambler, with Marky Mark.   The character he plays is not likable at all, a degenerate gambler that comes from a family of entitlement.  He plays the role well but this character was so unlikable overall that it pulled down my opinion of the movie to a B.

Sunday night Cindy and I finished watching Boogie Nights, another MM film which I never saw believe it or not.  The 70’s time period and copious porn simulation in the movie of course made for good entertainment but by the end things got pretty dark and depressing.  I’d still give it a B+ overall.

Oh, we kept our streak of zero trick or treaters for the last decade alive Saturday night.  Not a single soul appeared at the door.

The time change over the weekend allowed us a welcomed and needed extra hour of sleep on Sunday.  We decided to get out and do the same four mile run we did last week.  My expectation was it would feel slightly more comfortable than the week before since that is the natural course of things.  When we pulled into the park we saw cones and people running with race bibs on, evidently there was a race going on as well at that time.

We started out running against the direction the racers were going, seeing some familiar faces along the way.  We were surprised by the amount of people walking the “race” even though it was only a 5K distance.  Running among the racers had an undesired side effect of me running faster than I normally would during the first two mile lap.  By the time we started the second loop I was already feeling miserable.  The faster pace to that point combined with the annoyingly warm and humid weather considering it was November 1st was doing a number on me.

Lap two was pure drudgery, I had to declare it as a NTZ (no talk zone) about half way through it.  When I declare NTZ that means I would prefer Cindy did not speak but if she does she can expect no verbal response or acknowledgement from me.  When I am in the midst of feeling that shitty I just don’t want to communicate.  When the end of the second lap drew close I accelerated only slightly, I just had nothing in the tank.  I was very, very glad to be done.

After a DD stop we headed to Home Depot and Rural King, a near weekly occurrence.  We loaded up on a number of things including an electric pressure washer.  Regular blog readers know of my years of pressure washing hell with my gas powered pressure washer.  This electric model is much lighter and about the half the pressure of the gas washer.  We bought it so Cindy can easily use it for routine cleaning without the hassle of the gas washer and less chance of damaging surfaces with 3000 PSI.

We also bought stuff to provide some lighting in the chicken coop.  The chickens have been waiting till the very edge of darkness until putting themselves to bed.  As a result when they go into the coop it is very dark and they are unable to see well enough to get themselves situated on the perch.  Cindy and I have been going out and placing the stragglers which isn’t a good long term solution.  The plan is using a timer and an LED bulb to keep the inside of the coop lit shortly after dusk to the birds can get to bed normally.

When we got back home we went out before lunch and installed/deployed/spread the various things we purchased.  During the afternoon I had mostly indoor things to attend to, including paying my bills.  Later in the afternoon I spent close to a half hour just sitting in the yard watching the chickens and the cranes in the backyard.   It was peaceful.

While we filmed a video Sunday targeted to let people know where their eggs come from there was this funny moment caught on tape when Pumpkin decided she didn’t want to sit on Cindy’s lap.

I had a a few different times over the weekend where I was thinking about Nicki, picturing her walking around the pool deck or sleeping in one of her beds only a couple weeks ago.  The thoughts brought instant moisture to my eyes as I redirected my mind to some other subject.