So when we first got Elsa it took awhile until she started to trust us. There seemed to be something in her past that obviously made her skittish and untrusting of people. However over time we have been able to melt away those barriers and now Elsa is just a bundle of fun and love, although still filled with plenty of quirks.
When I get home at night she is just so ecstatic to see me. Usually I will try to immediately sit down on the couch so she can jump up for a thorough petting session. Her excitement level is off the charts. It seems like she is most happy when Cindy and I are both home, when one of us is missing it’s just not the same. Even though I had some trepidation about signing on to getting another dog, I’m now glad we jumped in as she is a bright source of fun and love in our lives.
So our slimy governor, Rick Scott, who was in opposition to medical marijuana which was passed in the state during last years election, is playing games to try to make the implementation of legal medical cannabis problematic. You see Tricky Rick has deep ties to Big Pharm and the medicine for profit industries. His lobbyist friends are not interested in a simple, natural product elbowing in to their extremely fat bottom line.
Late last month Scott signed a bill regarding how medical marijuana dispensaries are supposed to be managed by individual counties. Basically it says a county has only two options, they either have to ban medical marijuana completely or they have to allow it anywhere with no middle ground. So in a very image conscious place like Collier County, despite their desire for legal marijuana dispensaries inside county lines, the idea of having no control over the number of them or locations is not realistic so this law would force them into banning it completely, which is not what anybody really wants.
Of course the Trickster knows that a lot of counties are not going to be comfortable with having no control but he can put on a false face and say “Hey, the law says the counties can have medical marijuana anywhere they want!!” with that slimy, disingenuous grin of his. It’s so transparent.
Luckily, there is a good chance that Rick’s shenanigans will not stand up in court. It is likely the legislation will be challenged in court and be overturned but in the meantime many Florida residents just continue to wait for something that have voted to implement for over 5 years.
Cindy and I started off the weekend with a track 5K. I forced myself to do it even though as recently as Friday night I was walking around gingerly due to hamstrings still sore from deadlifting on Tuesday. Much like the week prior, the run felt like a struggle pretty much the entire time. The temp almost being 80 degrees with high humidity at 7AM didn’t help matters.
I wanted to get all weekend labor out of the way on Saturday and I worked diligently to make that happen. Weeding was a particularly large pain in the ass. The frequent rain combined with steaming temperatures provides the perfect conditions for weeds to pop up everywhere.
It was bright and sunny for most of the day Saturday, so much so that once again the dreaded standing water had dried up. Around 3 o’clock I decided I should take advantage of this and jumped on the tractor as I saw a few gray clouds starting to form. Well as I was about half way into mowing the first front section when it started to rain lightly. Since the tractor has a sun canopy it also does a decent job as a rain canopy so I pressed on. By the time I called it quits after finishing the front of the house I was mowing in the middle of a monsoon. Of course the recently dried up sections of the yard were now back under several inches of water…..sigh.
Another thing I got out of the way on Saturday was my weekly bill paying session. I actually had very few bills to pay this week so a wave of inspiration hit me. My primary 15 year mortgage was real close to being paid off. I had planned to pay it off in a couple months but I decided I would dip into one of my other budget columns and pay the sucker off now. I have been overpaying a little bit each month ever since the house was refinanced which has allowed me to get to this point roughly a year ahead of schedule.
A looong time ago I had set a goal of having the house paid off before I was 50 so it feels good to accomplish that. However when I initially set that goal it was the intent for the house to be COMPLETELY paid off which it is not. I still have my home equity loan which was opened almost as long ago which was used to pay for things like the pool, the two terrible land investments in Lehigh Acres, divorce settlement funds, and home improvements. Now that the primary mortgage is cleared out I can attack the HELOC as well as having some extra funds to both save and do some other things with. I would like to open up a Roth IRA to give me a third retirement account to lean on when I am old, gray, and feeble. (if I make it that long) So anyway, yes, it feels good to have the primary mortgage satisfied, it’s something a lot of people never get a chance to do in their lifetimes.
Saturday night we stayed home and watched Aftermath, a recent movie I never heard of with Arnold starring in it based on a true story. I was somewhat surprised that the movie was missing pretty much any of the classic Arnold physicality even though there is a weird, twisted, revenge plot going on. I thought it was well done although extremely sad and tragic. It gets a solid B but don’t expect to be jumping for joy afterward. I think this movie never hit theaters and went direct to Blu-ray.
Sunday morning Cindy and I got out on the wheels, riding directly from the house over to the high school roughly three miles away. The wide open and traffic free roads are great for practicing. I did more seated riding on the Monster and Cindy worked on a number of skills as well. Her comfort level on the wheel is approaching mine.
It felt like I was wasting time not having my 3D printer building something so over the weekend I printed Arthas the Lich King, a big character from World of Warcaft lore. It was a very complex model and I was skeptical of how it would turn out. When it was done printing it was encased in support material but after a lot of careful clean up by Cindy this was the end result. Cindy will also be the one to take on the very intricate task of painting the model when she has time.
The reason Cindy’s time has been taxed is her relentless work on her cosplay costume and props. She has been spending a ton of time assembling the 3D gun that we printed the parts for. Putting all the parts together and making it look pretty is a far greater task than the printing of the parts. It’s exciting seeing the gun come to life bit by bit. Hopefully by the end of this week it will be more or less done.
While she was plugging away on her stuff I was plugging away in WoW having a good time rotating through my various characters and getting stuff done in a virtual manner. I always feel somewhat guilty after prolonged gaming sessions but I enjoy them all the same.
I have a weird week where after a day at the office I am treated with another day off. Cindy and I have no definitive plans for the 4th but I am sure EUC riding, gun building, and WoW will be part of the itinerary.
So I have been doing better the last 48 hours or so with not dwelling as much on Tuki’s demise. However that changed after work. We gave Tuki’s cage to Cindy’s ex-sister-in-law and niece since they have birds. Having the cage out of my field view removed one large glaring reminder in the living space but at the same time it’s absence was also like a black hole in some ways. Well tonight I was unloading the dishwasher and had the emotions kick back in which may seem like odd timing to most, unless you knew one of Tuki’s many quirks.
For some reason that will remain a mystery Tuki found the act of someone emptying the dishwasher extremely entertaining and enjoyable. As you unload dishes he would say his name repeatedly in one of the many variations he could say (Tuk, Tuki, Tuki-Tuk, Tuk-Tuk). He also would make some of his pleasant sounds instead of the bone chilling screech he was so fond of. His absolute favorite part of the process was when the silverware went back in the drawers. Perhaps the clinking noise was something he just liked for his own bird reasons.
Like I mentioned the other day, his contributions to the house environment were so established that it felt like they were woven into the very fabric of my day to day living experience. I don’t want to overly embellish the relationship Tuki and I had personally because it was not great although we both learned to get along, more or less.
We used to have a hard time getting Tuki to go back into his cage at night but discovered that if I was the one to refill his water and food dishes he almost always would go back into his cage because he saw it as an opportunity to try to bite me as I pulled and reinserted his food crocks. Most of the time it seemed like he was just acting like he wanted to attack me to establish dominance but a couple times he actually did bite me hard which I never reacted well to. He was always very fond of Alison and Cindy, letting them handle and pet him with far less consequence than if I would have tried it. Hell he was more fond of pretty much every visitor we had to the house than he was of me.
I swear Tuki lived in a time vacuum. He never seemed to look or act much differently from year one to year seventeen. He never had any health problems and likely would have lived for decades to come if not for my terrible judgement call which I will regret for a long time to come.
So due to a mechanical issue my buddy’s flight was postponed till today instead of yesterday so we had Lucky in the house for an extra night which Elsa definitely was happy about. The contrast between how Elsa was when Lucky first came in the house till now is hilarious. She now wrestles and plays with Lucky constantly and he has clearly been accepted into Elsa’s elite inner circle of trust.
Don will be coming to pick up Lucky around mid-day while Cindy is home so I said my goodbye’s to him before I left for work. He is such a good and loving dog, it breaks my heart that he has to be associated with such a painful event like what happened Friday. However I didn’t blame him then and I don’t blame him now.
So there again was a lot of 3d printing work last night. Cindy and I are learning as we go. With the gun I am trying to make for Cindy’s costume I came against a piece that was far too big to print at 100% size. It was even too big to print at 80% scale like I did with the other parts I have made so far. I found if I shrunk it to 67% it would just fit.
I started the print job but then realized it was sort of dumb for two reasons. All of the pieces need to be printed at the same scale so if I print this piece at 67% it would mean I would need to reprint the other pieces I already completed as well to the same scale which would be a pain. Plus reducing the model size that much would make the gun look too tiny I think.
So I instead did my first slicing job. I reset the big part to 80% scale which put a good portion of the model outside the printable range. I then did a slice on the Z axis, lopping off about 25% of the top. I then broke the bottom and top sections into their own print file.
I printed the larger section over night. It took close to nine hours to complete but turned out well. I am now printing the chopped off section which Cindy will clean up and glue to the first part to make it whole again.
I also figured out a way to finally print some parts that I failed at a half dozen times before. I was able to separate the four parts and print them on their ends instead of flat. Sure it used extra support material but the end product was pretty good. I am happy that I am slowly understanding some of the basics so I can come up with ways to get around obstacles as they pop up. Since we have never done this before we are hoping it all turns out half decent. The quality of the printed parts so far has been really good for a $500 device.
So after the awful tragedy of Friday night I spent the rest of the weekend trying to keep myself as distracted as possible to avoid focusing on the loss of Tuki and my role in it. During the day I got on the tractor and did my best to mow the yard. After two weeks of torrential rain it looked like hell. I got more cut than I expected at first which at least made things look a little less chaotic.
I was glad that the submersible pump that I ordered showed up. I wasted little time before hooking it up behind the chicken coop. There was a small hole that was dug out by the chickens by their playground which is where some of the deepest water resides. I took an unused pot and placed it in the hole, it fit pretty much perfectly.
The reason I used this set up was I wanted the pump to be slightly below ground level so it pumps out as much water as possible. I ran two extension cords from the shed and 150 feet of hose to the large drainage ditch in between our property and the one to our east.
I plugged in the pump and it started humming along. The other end of the hose was so far away I couldn’t verify it was working until I walked over to the ditch. I was glad to see/hear a strong flow of water dumping out the end. The pump has been running constantly since about 3PM Saturday and has dropped the water level back there by several inches. The problem is there is SO much water, I bet it is easily 15-20 thousand gallons, that even with the 1/3 hp pump going full speed it is going to take a long time to get the water out of there. By yesterday afternoon there was an appreciable difference, enough that the chickens started to venture further back. I have a feeling the pump is going to be a permanent fixture in the chicken yard during wet season.
I spent a lot of time getting my feet wet with 3D printing. I had two big issues, oozing and some prints lifting from the print platform. I addressed the lifting print by using a trick others posted with this model printer. It involved flipping the print bed upside down so the glass side is up. After doing that I applied blue painter’s tape to the glass. The prints appeared to adhere consistently after that.
The oozing was a pain. Basically before a print begins the extruder (print nozzle) is brought up to operating temperature, somewhere between 200 and 220 degree celsius (400 degrees!). As it hit that temp some of the plastic filament starts to melt and run out of the extruder. Depending on how much, it can screw up the print as the unwanted plastic gets in the way.
To fix this I used multiple remedies. I set the printer to run at a slightly lower temperature which slowed down the oozing but didn’t totally eliminate it. I also would babysit the start of the print job. Just as the extruder got to temp but before it actually starts printing I quickly grabbed the stuff that oozed out and cut it off. Finally, I started putting “brims” on the pieces which creates a thin outline around the base of the model. During the brim creation any junk that was on the nozzle normally will come off and should not affect the model building itself.
The printer has been working pretty much non-stop all weekend. I printed a mudguard for the Msuper, an external spool holder for the printer which allows larger filament spools to be used and five pieces for a gun model that Cindy is making for her Supercon costume. I have quickly seen why 3D printing can become a rather addicting hobby. Watching the printer build a model is somewhat mesmerizing.
Saturday night we watched Assassin’s Creed, our latest Netflix rental. I never played the video game the movie is based on so I really had no frame of reference. I thought even without that background the movie stood alone pretty well as decent B+ entertainment.
Sunday morning instead of running I again put in time on the rower, 30 minutes to simulate roughly what my 5k runs consume. Rowing is a different kind of uncomfortable compared to running. The lack of impact is nice and the overall body benefit is surely higher. However I don’t get quite the sense of accomplishment rowing 30 minutes compared to running the same amount of time. I’m not sure why.
Cindy and I got out for a hot but fun ride on our electric unicycles mid-morning. It was the fastest sustained riding Cindy has done to date. She really is getting to the point where she can concentrate more on just enjoying the ride experience instead of having to constantly fear losing control.
I got to talk to my dad yesterday to catch up. As in most of our conversations there are portions where dad grumbles about various things in the world that just piss him off. I am excited that he appears to be still moving forward with his plans to install a large scale solar array on his property.
Sunday afternoon was pretty chill. Katie came over to visit for a little while and I spent time working on more 3D printing, paying my bills, and playing a little WoW. Cindy worked hard to make my Father’s Day as pleasant as it could be which I appreciated.
I took Sadie back this morning to Ali’s place. We spoke only briefly about the Tuki incident. If I would have talked about it more I am pretty sure both of us would have started crying. Lucky goes home this evening so all of a sudden the household gets a lot less crazy and quieter. The lack of Tuki’s steady contribution to the sound environment in the house is something that is going to feel very strange for a long time…
We lost Tuki last night which is of course tragic. The worst part of it was his demise was entirely my fault. Early on during Lucky’s visit he had shown interest in Tuki but the second I called Lucky off he forgot about it. Since then we had Tuki out each night and I totally forgot about the potential danger of having a dog that is not used to having a bird in the house.
Well last night Cindy and I were both in the hobby room messing around with the 3D printer. I came out after Cindy had just been out there a few minutes prior and saw the awful site of Tuki, who was already dead in Lucky’s mouth. Of course I was in utter shock for a moment but then yelled at Lucky to drop him, which he did immediately. I had heard no noises that would have indicated anything happened.
I called out Cindy who was equally shocked by what she saw. Oddly at no moment did I feel anger at Lucky. I immediately placed all blame squarely on my shoulders. I should have never let Lucky alone with Tuki and better yet should have just left Tuki in his cage during Lucky’s visit. The crushing guilt combined with remorse put me in a catatonic-like state for several minutes as I just sat on the couch in disbelief. The reality that my pet that has been with me for roughly 17 years was now dead, due to my negligence was just an awful feeling. Sure I have gone through the loss of pets in my lifetime but never has one met it’s demise because of poor judgement by myself.
Cindy and I took turns crying last night and this morning. Despite the cantankerous relationship Tuki and I had I always loved him like any pet and appreciated the big attitude he always carried around in his little body. He made us laugh with his mimicking of sounds and words along with his various weird quirks. Even after going through the near nightly ritual of him trying to attack me when I refilled his food and water bowl, more often than not, after I turned off the lights and walked back towards bed, he would say “Night Tuk”. I became so accustomed to his little sound additions to the household, having them suddenly silenced is going to be very weird and sad for a long time.
I had to make the very difficult call to Alison to let her know what happened. Tuki and her always had a special bond and the news hit her hard as I expected.
This morning Cindy and I buried Tuki along with one of his favorite toys by the large coconut palm he could see when we placed his cage by the window. The tears streamed down our faces as we petted his head one final time before we placed him in the ground. I’m not quite sure how long it will take for to get out of the tremendous weight of guilt I feel. I deserve to feel terrible. It’s all my fault.
After work last night my buddy Don from work brought out his dog Lucky for an extended dog sitting visit while he visits family out of state. We had watched Lucky twice before but the last time was probably close to four years ago. Once we got chickens Don was hesitant to have Lucky out at our place because of the potential interaction. Now that the hens are behind a four foot fence full time he felt better about it.
So even though I only see Lucky rarely, he always seems to remember me. He also seemed to remember Cindy despite not seeing her for years. He is such a calm, friendly and well mannered dog. Of course Elsa was freaked out but Lucky more or less ignored her and let Elsa be the one to come to him. By the end of the night Elsa was cautiously interacting/playing with Lucky. I am hoping by the end of the day today she will fully accept him into the inner circle.
To make things even more interesting we are picking up Sadie today for an extended visit so we will have three dogs in the house through the weekend. Sadie just goes with the flow as well so I am sure all three will get along just fine. Really our only concern is restricting Lucky’s activity. He had his back leg in a cast for over two months due to an injury. He LOVES to run and play but the last thing we want is for him to re-injure himself in our care so we need to either have him outside on leash or constantly monitored to keep him from going nuts. Lucky is very well disciplined and responds to voice commands reliably.
I wish we could say the same about Jeff Sessions. I’m not sure if you could get a more typical example of what a stereotypical dirt bag politician is than Sessions. His testimony yesterday was nothing short of a joke.
I just ordered a 3D printer, I am excited to see what sort of creations Cindy and I can come up with.
On my way home last night I stopped at Ali’s to work on a computer problem. Seemingly ever since a recent Windows update her video card stopped working correctly. So I futzed around with it awhile. As Windows booted you could see it start to load the driver as the other two screens would flash momentarily but then it died and only one screen came up using the generic display driver. I tried all the normal tricks like removing and reinstalling the driver and ensuring I was using the latest and greatest AMD had available on their website, reseating the card, and just swearing at the computer several times. Nothing worked. The Radeon 6350 card in the system was older but did have drivers for Windows 10.
So I decided that perhaps the card itself had gone bad, a rare thing but it does happen. Walmart was nearby so I figured I would just grab a cheap card, I thought I recalled them selling a few PC components like video cards and hard drives. Well perhaps my memory was incorrect because they had no cards, instead I had to fight through shitty rush hour traffic to get to Staples a mile or two up the road. I almost struck out there as well, they officially stopped carrying video cards but had a couple old Radeon 6450 cards on the shelf. I really wanted to get a Nvidia chipset card as that is what I always use but they had none. I grabbed the card and headed back.
Well you can imagine my delight when I put the new card in and had the same symptoms. The card used the same driver as the old one which I wasn’t thrilled with, another reason I wanted a Nvidia model, to use a different driver. So I needed to get home to feed Elsa so I had to raise the white flag for now. I am returning the card I bought and ordered a Nvidia chipset card which I will receive in a couple days.
Speaking of Elsa, she has picked up another weird behavior about eating. Cindy and I have to practically beg her to start eating. Once she starts to eat she gobbles it down quickly but for some reason she acts like something is suspicious about the act of us filling her food dish. She often will just hide under my desk until we convince her it is ok to come out. It’s very strange.
She also acts very strange when I come home. Even though you can tell she is excited to see me she will run off and hide like she did something wrong and was going to be punished. It took me over 5 minutes of coaxing when I got home last night to get her out from under my desk to go outside. Once she realizes she isn’t in trouble she is fine but I don’t really understand why she acts this way in the first place. We have been giving her more freedom when we are away, allowing her to roam the hard flooring areas of the house instead of being crated. Surprisingly this added freedom appears to have made her more paranoid.
So the motor in the automatic chicken coop door has been intermittently failing during cool mornings, not firing off to open the door. When the temperatures rise the motor will kick back in so there is something thermally wrong with the motor. The annoying thing is this exact thing happened before and I got a motor under warranty, now this motor is doing the same thing. The replacement motor they sent me definitely seemed used so I just bought a brand new motor this time off Amazon, hoping they have since engineered out whatever issue was causing the cold temp failures.
Installation of the motor went smoothly although I had a chicken audience for most of it which looked and sounded funny on the video I shot. I am hoping unattended chicken door operations can now continue normally for the foreseeable future.
Sean Spicer may be the biggest moron ever appointed the role of press secretary, just saying.
So last night after work I was out in the chicken yard doing some maintenance. One of those things was watering the sod we placed in the area as well as the four small palms we have around the chicken “playground”. They were looking water stressed so I soaked them all pretty well.
I then dumped and refilled the two water containers we have behind the coop. As I was bringing them back in I heard a strange squeaking noise. I saw Kristen and Peaches sort of squatted down and still. My first thought was one of the chickens were making this noise, something I never heard them do before.
I then saw movement on the ground a few inches in front of the chickens. I realize it is some sort of baby animal. I swooped in and scared back the chickens as I am pretty sure they were getting ready to kill it, chickens will kill small animals. We have seen them kill frogs and even a small mouse. The last thing I wanted was a front row seat to another murder.
First I looked to make sure the baby wasn’t injured. I was worried the birds had already started pecking at it. It seemed ok. My first idea was it was a baby mouse but after closer inspection I realized it was a baby rabbit. Great…. So I had no idea what I was going to do but I scooped the baby up and held it inside my t-shirt, like a kangaroo pouch. I figured my body heat would be good for it. I carried the baby inside with me and kept it tucked inside my shirt as I got on the computer to look for information.
What I found was rabbits don’t spend a lot of time with their young. They dig small holes often in plain site and leave their babies in there most of the day. The mother typically only returns at night to feed them. I was still confused how the baby rabbit would be in the middle of the chicken area but I figured the nest HAD to be nearby. I put some towels in a box and carefully placed the bunny in there while I went back outside to try to find the nest.
So it didn’t take long for me to spot a small hole dug out a few inches from one of the palm trees. I realized what had happened. When I was soaking the trees I inadvertently flooded out the nest. The baby probably either floated or swam out to avoid drowning. I of course felt terrible that I caused this chain of events that could have potentially killed the rabbit. When I got on my knees and looked into the hole I saw ANOTHER baby in there. I was glad when I saw it moving around.
So I had a problem. I planned to put the baby back in the hole but I was worried that as time goes on they are going to draw more attention from the chickens which could be dangerous. I went and grabbed a leftover piece of composite lumber and screwed it to the wood that the hole was dug under. This left enough space for the mother rabbit to get in while hopefully keeping the chickens out. Of course the best option would be for the nest to be moved but that is something we couldn’t do.
I didn’t place the baby rabbit back until Cindy got home so she could see it. It was very cute as it would interrupt sleeping with brief periods of stretching and moving around. When Cindy placed the baby back with it’s sibling they both seemed excited. For a brief period of time they were crawling out of the nest which was not good. I hung around standing guard until both babies returned to the bottom of the hole.
During the entire ordeal I tried to minimize my contact with the baby, only picking it up with my bare hands briefly to scoop it out of the chickens reach. No other skin contact occurred so hopefully the mom doesn’t freak out. I can only hope the rabbits manage to mature safely in their hostile home. We’ll be checking on them. This is just another chapter of my long history of animal interventions. I’m crossing my fingers it has a happy ending.