So Monday was the last day of my extended weekend and I needed every hour of it. There was still some residual party clean up items scattered around believe it or not. Hosting a party for close to 50 people is not something I will be looking to do again anytime soon. I spent a good portion of the day attending to smaller tasks, some of which will lead to larger tasks.
One of those tasks was measuring the border around the orchard. When I initially planned to rebuild the dog deck I purchased four 8 foot 2 x 6’s for the work. Since the deck is no longer in existence I had them available for other projects. The border of the orchard is constructed of 2 x 6’s as well, which are probably more rotted than the dog deck was. The 8 footers I have will replace half of the border, I will need four 12 footers to complete the job which I will tackle sometime soon.
I also took my Kill-A-Watt and hooked it up to the coop to see exactly how much power is drawn to run the electronics and fan out there. The answer is not much. I saw about a one amp draw and around 120 watts. You may ask why I would be doing this? Because I want to try to run the coop entirely off of solar power.
I want to use a solar generator to make this happen. I currently have my sights set on a Yeti 1400 which is probably overkill for the job. It incorporates a battery bank, solar charge controller, and an inverter all in one package. It can be charged with conventional power but my intent is to hook up 200-300 watts of solar panels to the box. If it works as I expect, this package would allow me to pull the plug to the coop and run things completely via the sun.
During the day the panels would pull enough power to both charge the batteries and run the equipment. At night the beefy 1400WH battery is more than sufficient to keep the juice flowing. I think it would be an awesome project that I am excited about digging into. Of course as is the case with most things, it isn’t cheap so I am going to save my Amazon spiff bucks for a little while to help defer some of the expense.
Yesterday I installed a new CPU cooler into my HP Omen. You may ask why would I need a new CPU cooler in my brand new computer? I don’t. However this cooler incorporates cool RGB lighting that compliments the RGB lighting that is already prevalent throughout my PC set up. The case, my mouse, mousepad, and keyboard all have RGB lighting already. Installing the cooler was very straightforward. I really liked the visual afterward, it was $25 well spent.
I also got to work on my KingSong 18L. I bought an upgraded battery for it which should increase my range significantly. Installation of the big pack was pretty easy. I look forward to taking an Ave Maria ride soon to test it out. I tried the ride on the 18L with my original battery and ran out of juice with about a mile to go.
Cindy’s Aunt Cecilia flies back home to Illinois this evening. I gave her a hug before leaving for work this morning. It has been a lot of fun having her visit. Cindy and her have a very special relationship. It was cool seeing the interaction between them. I’m sure we will see her again.
With all of the recap I was posting in yesterday’s blog entry I totally forgot to mention that Sunday was Cindy and my sixth anniversary. Who knew an innocent invite to an arena football game would result in six years filled with adventures, smiles, laughter, and fun? I am lucky to have her in my life and hopefully she feels the same.
Wow, this has been quite the three day time warp. I took off Friday so I would be able to get stuff done in advance of Katie’s baby shower which was being held at the house Saturday. The first order of business was I wanted to get the grass cleaned up so I did a quick mowing session and weed whacked just around the immediate house area.
As I was mowing I kept looking at the front of the roof which has been dirty for a long time from shit dropping off the oak tree which is right by the house. I decided I would address that quickly with the pressure washer. Well it wasn’t quick. Once I got the ladder on the roof I got a good look at the gutters. I was not pleased when I saw the front gutter was totally packed with debris. I first tried just grabbing handfuls of the mess and pulling it out but I soon decided that was far too slow. I climbed up on the roof with the pressure washer in hand and started blasting the shit out of the gutters, sending brown debris everywhere.
I quickly discovered just how dangerous pressure washing a metal roof can be. You have to be extremely precise with your footing. The only place you should step are on one of the screw heads on the ridges. If you step on the flat section while it is wet you may as well be stepping on an ice rink, an ice rink with a 30 degree pitch. There were several times I caught myself while I was just on the edge of losing my balance.
The pressure washer did a good job of blasting the dirt off the roof itself as well as out of the gutters. However once the gutters were clear I was observing the way water flowed in them. In several sections the water did not flow or flowed extremely slowly towards the downspout. In some sections there was so much adhesive around the seams at the downspout that it created a small ridge around the hole which again restricts water flow. Since I paid $1500 for these seamless gutters to be installed I was not very pleased. I called up the company and asked if they could come out to adjust the gutters so water flows consistently out them. I also asked about possibly having gutter guards installed in the area of the roof impacted by the oak tree as it drops ridiculous amounts of organic debris.
So I was tired from my roof adventure but I came up with another on the spot task that I worked on while Cindy went to the airport to pick up her Aunt Cecelia. The dog deck, which was one of the very early outdoor construction projects I ever tackled after building the house, was rotting away after being in the yard for close probably at least 15 years. The one side frame support was collapsing.
So my initial plan was to pull the decking off and just replace the outer frame 2×6’s. The decking was expensive composite lumber that still was in decent shape. Removing it was a hassle as there were 17 boards that each had 12 screws in them, you can do the math.
So as I started pulling deck boards off the picture was getting less rosy. Not only were the outer pieces rotting but a lot of the support 2×4’s underneath were going bad as well. So then the plan in my head morphed again to me rebuilding the entire frame and just connect it to the 4×4’s that were cemented into the ground. Somehow in my head I thought I could possibly get this all done before the party at 2PM on Saturday.
So now I also had to rip off the old frame which was not fun. I decided to take the sawzall and cut it into smaller sections to make the job easier and make the pieces fit in the bed of the Tacoma easier. Well as I was pulling apart one section I hear a snap, one of the 4×4 posts snapped off which revealed it was chewed up from termite damage. Great, now I have to make a new anchor for that corner as well. However a few moments after that happened a revelation hit me.
I sat there and asked myself why I was even rebuilding this deck at all. It literally NEVER gets used. It was built originally for us to have a place to sit in the small elevated dog run we made prior to fencing in the yard. Since the yard has been fenced the dog deck has just been a place to sit a picnic table that never gets used either. It was like the clouds had cleared and the skies were blue, I didn’t need to rebuild the deck.
My remediation now became much simpler. I simply cut the remaining 4×4’s down to ground level and covered the deck area with sod which will eventually blend into the landscape. In comparison to the prospect of rebuilding a deck we will never use, it was a much more sane plan of action. Cindy agreed.
So Cindy returned with her aunt, whom she only discovered existed in the past year thanks to Ancestery.com. Aunt Cecelia is full of energy and gave me a big hug when she saw me. She already has familiarity with my world thanks to Facebook, YouTube, and my blog. It was very cool seeing her and Cindy getting to interact in person. Elsa was scared of Cecelia but that is pretty normal for anyone new stepping in the door.
Saturday was the culmination of literally two months of work for Cindy. She has been planning the baby shower and working her ass off making decorations, food, and games for weeks and weeks. It has basically consumed the majority of her free time. This party was going to be big, the biggest event ever held at the house by far. It was so big that she rented three additional folding tables and 20 chairs to go along with the large collection of stuff we already had. There was somewhere between 40 and 50 people in attendance.
We had stuff set up indoors, on the lanai and out in the yard, it was a very impressive spread. My role was primarily grunt work, moving and setting up larger items as needed. Cindy was running around non-stop all morning trying to get everything in place. Before she knew it 2PM had arrived and the food prep wasn’t completely done. There were plenty of other snacks and drinks to keep the guests busy while the food prep was being finished.
Once people started showing up I started drinking the Miller Lites to help keep my social interactions flowing despite my general dislike for party environments. I had the Backfire Ranger and Cindy’s Minipro in the backyard for people to ride on. Cindy’s ex-husband and his family were at the party.
I found myself hanging with his kids quite a bit, showing them the PEVs and my 3d printer set up. The one boy Evan is a big time gamer, one of those games being WoW. We talked shop quite a bit and I showed him my virtual set up.
I felt somewhat badly for Cindy. It seemed once Katie and Daniel opened up their presents the vast majority of people took off without sticking around to participate in the games that Cindy worked so hard in planning and creating. Luckily the people that hung around, including her ex-husband’s family did eventually get to play some of the games and it was actually fun doing it with a smaller group of people anyway.
Originally the thought was the majority of the crowd would be out in the yard which is what we planned for. However it turned out that almost everyone stayed around the house or pool. I said to Cindy how it was funny how most of the 40 and over crowd were sitting somewhere where as all of the “kids” were mostly standing in groups that migrated around the property, it was an odd visual dichotomy.
Two of Cindy’s ex’s kids were having a lot of fun on the Minipro. I came up with the idea of giving them the other one we have which is never used anymore. After getting the ok from Mike and his wife we told the kids they could have the Minipro. It felt good to give it away to a situation where it will get more use. We got a text the following day saying they rode the Minipro all day at home which is awesome.
Clean up from the party was a massive task that covered Saturday night and Sunday morning. Cindy worked tirelessly. As is always the case, we had way too much food and drink left over. We gave away what we could but most of it got tossed which makes me feel guilty. Our trash and two recycle bins were insufficient to hold all of the party byproduct we generated.
Finally Sunday mid-afternoon we were able to take a breather from party clean up. Cindy, Cecelia, and I drove into town. I dropped myself off at the Greenway to ride my 18L with the plan to meet up with them later after they did some sight seeing. They finally reopened the greenway path to connect to Naples so I was able to ride all the way down to the beach once again. It was very nice to just ride and be clear of the party madness that consumed the prior two days.
I wound up the crazy weekend with a two hour live stream that talked a lot about the rash of high speed EUC crashes lately and why they could jeopardize the hobby we all love.
So I have today off as well. I have a long list of things I could be doing but I would really not consume all four days of my weekend with tasks. We will see if I can find a happy medium somehow.
Christmas Eve this year didn’t require really any last minute shopping from me which was nice. Cindy was the one that had so much to do because of her family coming over for Xmas eve dinner. She also had to teach two classes in the morning. I grabbed my One Wheel late morning and headed to the park to go take a very enjoyable casual ride in near perfect weather. I was worried I might struggle to ride with the mysterious, out of nowhere, pretty severe left hip pain I developed on Sunday but it wasn’t too bad. Riding an EUC is actually much tougher for me right now because I normally use my left leg as the “anchor” when mounting and dismounting.
I did make a stop at CVS and Publix on the way home. I returned to my truck to see some lazy asshole left me an early present, their shopping cart against the side of my truck. Luckily the angle of impact did not dent the truck but I was instantly aggravated with the lack of responsibility and pure laziness of individuals that cant take the time to put their used carts in an area designed for them. The me first, fck everyone else attitude is something that makes my blood boil.
During the afternoon I helped Cindy with whatever she needed help with, which wasn’t much. She made a ridiculous amount of food and baked goods, enough to probably feed 20 even though we were only forecast to have seven or eight people show up. We wound up having a couple less than that. Cindy’s mom and niece showed up about six with Katie showing up after work. Katie had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas, one of the reasons I never considered food service as a career option.
Despite the light turnout we had a good time. Katie and Daniel’s “big” gift from me showed up about 7:30 that night, wow talk about going down to the wire. I told Katie to stay in the great room while I quickly wrapped the electric skateboard in the dining room. The get together broke up somewhere around 9:30. The massive amount of food meant there was a massive amount of clean up to be done which I did my best to help with. There were so many leftovers that we had to utilize the fridge in the RV to store some of them. When we finally got to bed we were both thoroughly exhausted.
I must have been tired because my normal early internal alarm clock which used to be extra early on Christmas was turned off. We didn’t get out of bed until after 7:15 which is a couple hours later than it used to be. There were a lot of years where the presents were already opened by that time. After getting up my first task was to go out and clean up the chicken coop where I wished the hens Merry Christmas although they clucked at me just like it was any other day. I did give them some extra treats which they appreciated.
So maybe an hour after we woke up we finally got to sit down and start unwrapping. Cindy always complains that I get her more than she gets me. Well this year she seemed determined to settle the score. She bought me way too many things. Like I have said, during the last decade or so I really get more enjoyment from giving rather than receiving. At this point in my life Christmas can be any day of the year for me as I buy what I want most of the time. Repeatedly I told Cindy she bought too much.
Although it was too much, the things she got me I liked for sure. It was the most “toy” heavy Christmas I have had for quite awhile with a number of tech and gadgets for me to play with. Some of the highlights were a led lighted gaming pad, a new G-Shock watch, Fire TV Cube, a GoPro 7, and more. It was a crazy amount of stuff. Cindy seemed to like the stuff I got her as well which was all I hoped for.
After the opening ceremonies were done we ate breakfast and then started digging into opening, configuring and putting away the dozens of gifts. It was a very long process that consumed a good portion of the day. Late in the afternoon I wanted to take a quick ride to test out the new GoPro 7 and see how it worked in it’s stock form for my EUC videos. The answer was good and bad.
The 60 FPS video quality was quite good and the new “hypersmooth” tech does indeed deliver near gimbal level of stability to footage which is very cool. The bad part was the audio. The default automatic noise reduction on the camera steps all over my voice while it is active. I immediately ordered a foam wind breaker case similar to what I have for my GoPro 3 to address the problem. It was also strange that the default video setting was 4:3 format instead of 16:9, something I didn’t realize until I was processing the footage. Overall I am happy with the camera and I think it will be a nice upgrade to the video quality of my stuff.
Katie and Daniel showed up a few minutes after we returned from the ride. Cindy gave them their presents and then the grand finale was the Meepo skateboard that arrived the night before. They were both excited but Daniel was especially since he has more of a skateboarding background. I went outside with him to test it out. Even though the battery was only about half charged he was able to rip up and down our street at 20+ mph pretty easily. They both thanked me repeatedly which was sweet. They couldn’t stick around very long as they had presents still to open at Daniels dad’s place.
During the day I got my calls in with my family, talking to my dad, brother and sister. It sounded like a pretty gray Christmas in western PA. Evidently this is the first year that at least one of the kids was not at my dad/stepmom’s place for Christmas which had my stepmom understandably sad. Combined with my dad’s very Grinch-like attitude towards the holiday, I don’t think my stepmom had a good Christmas whatsoever. My brother and sister are supposed to be there this weekend however so hopefully some belated holiday cheer can come Teresa’s way.
I was telling Cindy that it is odd to me that somehow I wound up embracing Christmas the way that I do. I have absolutely no religious connection to the holiday, my Dad has always disliked it, and my mom seemed lukewarm about it most years. I’m not quite sure why at 51 years of age and no children why I put so much energy and anticipation into the day. It will likely just be one of the many unanswered mysteries of life.
Our Christmas evening wound down rather peacefully. I felt both good and sad at the same time. I was happy that my efforts were well received and all the actions, money and planning we both put into this year’s celebration went as we hoped. Even with that good outcome I had the same feeling of post-Christmas letdown which I have had more or less my entire life. I don’t feel there is anything in particular I can do about it except just move forward and focus on what’s ahead.
It doesn’t help that I have to work the next day. I’m not sure how many years it has been since I worked the day after Christmas. We have either had it off or I took it off for at least the last five years if not more. The upside is at least I can resume my normal routine which includes the gym to combat the grossness I feel from eating way too much delicious but calorically dense food for multiple days.
Last night the first REAL cold front of the year arrived, the couple we have had previously pushed night time temps into the mid 60’s but this morning the thermometer in the Prius read 55 degrees. It was glorious feeling the crisp air against my skin instead of sweat. I wished I could have started my weekend at that very moment.
Speaking of the weekend, I hope to start mine off with a return to running this evening after work. Tomorrow I hope to complete the weed whacking in the cool weather and finish any other significant chores during the morning while it is still beautifully pleasant outside. I look forward to trying to spend more time enjoying this weekend that I normally do. I think Cindy and I earned the right after the punishing workload last week.
Today would have been my mom’s 71st birthday. She was always the middle cog of the uncanny birthday string shared with my sister and myself. Torrin’s birthday is October 16th, Mom November 16th, and mine is December 16th. My entire life I have been trying to figure out the cosmic meaning of the three of us having our birthdays on the same day of three consecutive months. My grandmother almost continued that streak as her birthday was September 17th, only one day off.
I still think about my mom a lot. It comes and goes at completely random moments where some sound, song, sight, or scenery makes a connection with some memory of mom. Those times almost always bring waves of emotion with them but I have become adept at mentally shifting focus immediately to not let the hurt sink in too deeply. It’s the way I manage to get through life and keep focusing on what’s ahead instead of behind.
So for some reason I have failed to mention a project that we started a few weeks ago when we ordered a new vanity online from Costco. For a long time Cindy has asked about putting a double vanity in the bathroom (and Ali before her). I had resisted all this time for a very logical reason, the amount of times that our schedules coincide that we need to use the sink at the same time are very, very small. I didn’t see the need to undergo the hassle and expense of replacing a solution that worked fine 99.5% of the time.
Well I finally relented but I gave Cindy some financial parameters I was willing to work inside of and I wanted her to find someone to do the work inside of those parameters. I just did not have the time or motivation to take on ANOTHER task at this point. So we ordered the vanity and it arrived via a freight carrier yesterday, which also happened to be Cindy’s birthday.
So the understanding I had was Cindy’s neice’s boyfriend, who works for a plumbing company was doing the work, all of the work. Well it turned out he only agreed to do the plumbing and vanity install but not all of the associated work that was required, like making the physical space available. You see, when the builders did the house, for some stupid reason they made the opening 59 inches, instead of the 60 inches typically required for a double vanity. So in order to make this work, a small section of the more or less useless “box” behind the tub was going to have to be demo’d and redone.
So Cindy looked into the prices of having another contractor do this part of the project but got some ridiculous quotes to do so. Without my knowledge, she decided to try to do the work herself. When I came home last night it was to a demo’d bathroom. She did an impressive job, exposing the top surface, removing the problem drywall, relocating the metal framing, and buying the supplies needed to rebuild it.
She was extremely proud of what she accomplished courtesy of watching videos online and some direction she got from one of the contractors she talked to. After work Ray and his friend Doug showed up to complete the removal of the old vanity and start on redoing the plumbing to support two sinks.
My biggest contribution last night was getting the old mirror popped off the wall, in one piece no less, and prepping a small section of the floor where I will need to insert a small piece of ceramic tile. The problem is Ray is coming back Saturday to finish the vanity install so all of the prep work we have to do needs to be done by then. The fact that I have to work late tonight at a branch office makes Friday evening my only window to accomplish this as on Saturday I have to work once again at another branch office for a good portion of the day.
The new vanity is really nice and should make a great addition to the bathroom. I just feel a lot of anxiety having so many balls up in the air between this project and my work commitments. As I said a few days prior, hopefully this time next week the crunch should be over and I can get back to business as usual.
This project reemphasized the corners that were cut during the home’s construction. The corner we are working on is not square and the drywall behind the mirror has a HUGE bow in it. We never realized that the old mirror on one side was about a half inch off the wall from the wall curve. There is a lump behind the mirror drywall that Cindy is going to cut into to see what it is. I guess when they were building houses in three months back in the early 2000’s, quality took a back seat to speed.
So part of the plumbing work required turning off all water to the house for a period of time. While I was out there I wanted to show Ray the reverse osmosis equipment that is housed in a storage box. When I pulled open the lid I was stunned as I was attacked by wasps, instantly I felt a burn on my finger and neck. There was a sizeable nest being built on the underside of the box lid. The neck sting was particularly painful as it swelled and red discoloration extended down my chest.
Last night after Ray and Doug left I took Cindy for a late dinner for her birthday at The Warehouse which is only 9 miles from the house. Katie, who was working joined us for the tail end of meal which was nice. I felt like a zombie by the end of it. I am running on fumes this week. I hope the next 72 hours passes by quickly.
So this was a different sort of weekend. Cindy had two of her girlfriends she used to hang with in the early 2000’s staying at the house for a girl’s weekend. I decided to give myself a break and not mow grass. It looked only mildly shaggy at this point so I decided to leave well enough alone. After going to get coffee mid-morning I returned home to find her friends had arrived, Carrie and Pida. They both seemed very nice but I had stuff to attend to so I kept out of their hair.
One of those things was replacing the bushings on the front wheels of the tractor with bearings. I had replaced the bushings a few months ago and one of them had failed already. Supposedly these bearings were a better long term solution that didn’t require steady reapplication of grease to keep functioning. The first side I replaced went very smoothly. The second side did not. The inner bearing was getting hung up on the spindle and would not slide all the way on, despite my hammering the shit out of the wheel via a 2×4 and hammer.
When I pulled the wheel off the bearing remained on the spindle and it was jammed on there tight, I couldn’t get it off. After about 20 minutes of hammering and prying with various objects I finally got that bearing off but the process wrecked it so I put one of the old bushings back on the inside and a bearing on the outside. It will be interesting to see how that combo works out.
The girls left for most of the day to go cruise around Naples, Carrie and Pida moved out of the Naples area a long time ago so they wanted to see how things changed. While they were gone I worked on various things. One of those things was really frustrating me, the generator. All three of the girls planned to stay out in the RV over night. I hooked up the big generator to the RV late morning so it could power the AC to cool things down in there. It was working as it should.
Well when I went out there later in the day to check on things the generator was still running but when I went inside the RV it was hot, meaning it popped the 20A circuit breaker on the generator. I reset it a few times only to have it pop within 60 seconds. Damn it. So later in the day I came up with an alternative plan to try to power the RV AC via home power, using the 110V well equipment circuit which is beefier than the other home circuits. To do so I had to do all sorts of makeshift extension cord runs to other locations to power the well equipment and the chicken coop.
So after I was done I hooked up the RV and it seemed like it was working, however by the time I walked out to there to verify, the breaker had popped already. I was getting really frustrated as I felt like I HAD to get this working so the girls had a comfortable place to sleep that night. I then did some more thinking about why it was popping as I have successfully run the RV on generator and house power before. I then realized that when I hooked up water to the RV via 250 feet of garden hose I also turned on the electric water heater. That had to be the difference.
So after turning off the heater I once again reset the house circuit breaker. This time when I walked out to the RV the AC was still blowing strong, I had finally got it working. But, I was still not sure why the generator was not doing the same job. So during my trouble shooting of the generator I wound up bringing out my volt meter, I was curious what numbers it was putting out. When I hooked up to one of the 110 outlets I was reading between 150 and 160 volts! WTF??
Back during the hurricane last year when I tried hooking up the generator to the coop circuit it smoked the UPS out there. I never gave it much thought as to why but now it was coming together. I think the generator has been outputting this type of voltage for a long time and I have just been lucky that the devices connected to it could tolerate it. When I checked the 220V side of the generator it was reading 300 volt+, geez. Ok so this is a problem.
So my knee jerk reaction was to just say f it and I bought a higher capacity Westinghouse generator that can support 7500 continuous watts, a full 2000 more than my old Troybilt. My thought is with my new Generlink interface to the house bigger is better. Plus this model has a bunch of cool features not found on 13 year old units.
Despite buying the new unit I was still interested in finding out how to adjust the voltage of my Troybilt down in case I wanted to sell or give it away. I found it has no voltage regulator like some units do, instead the output is solely controlled by engine speed. Later in the weekend I ripped it apart and through some repositioning of a tension spring and adjustment on a set screw I was able to get the output right around 120 volts. Basically the generator was just running too fast but as I said, I think it has been that way for a long time. One of the nice things about the new unit is it has an output meter display built right into it.
I did get some time on Saturday to go out for a ride. It was a fun time on my little Mten3 that concluded with me following a car around the park that was exhibiting odd behavior. However the end result of what looked like shady behavior at first, circling the park repeatedly with intermittent stops, I think was actually two lazy people playing Pokemon Go.
On Saturday night Cindy made a nice dinner that we all enjoyed. I split my time between hanging with the women and my computer, consuming four Zima’s along the way to help my social interactions. Somewhere around 10:30 I headed back to bead while the girls headed to the RV. I felt a sense of calm that they were able to sleep in a climate controlled environment.
On Sunday morning I headed out for another ride, this time from home on the 18L. I wanted to take my new wheel into the swamp, which is always a tough test. I knew the swamp would still be pretty wet but we had not had consistent hard rain for awhile so i thought it wouldn’t be too bad. Wow was I wrong. The swamp was a wet, muddy, and overgrown mess. I only ventured maybe a mile in before four foot high grass and thick patches of mud made me turn around.
During the morning Cindy and her girlfriends had fun in the backyard doing an impromptu workout. I later put the video clips together for a video that is on Cindy’s channel.
The girls headed out early afternoon. Cindy and I did a quick run to Rural King to add some semblance of normalcy to the weekend. The rest of the day I kept myself busy until our 8PM EUC live stream that was without audio/video problems for the first time in a month.
On my way home from work Friday my dad called me to check in on my health status, which there was no real news to speak of. While I had dad on the phone I asked him about the state of them trying to sell their house in Marienville. I did not get a real rosy report card. It seems like the shine from the prospect of getting out from under the load of isolation and seclusion of north western PA is proving to be pretty daunting although that is not a surprise to him. They just got done putting a new roof on the house which was advised by their realtor to make it more appealing. There is actually a lawyer that may be interested enough to make an offer but dad did not sound upbeat about it.
At the same time as they have been trying to prepare their current house to be sold they have been prospecting new places in SE PA, near my sister Meghan. It sounds like so far it has been a Catch 22 because of the current requirement dad has to move with all of barnyard animals. Any property that is more or less ready to move in, with all the animals, is well above what they are looking to spend. The properties that are in their range generally would require a lot of work (and money) to fit that need, which is something that just does not work for dad at this point in his life.
My entire life I have witnessed dad go into homes where he spent countless amounts of money, time, and effort to make the property fit him and his needs to a tee. He did it with the house in Gouglersville, the house in New Mexico, and now the Marienville home. The unfortunate thing is the Marienville house probably has the most invested with the smallest chance of getting the money out of it, because of the area, which is just not going to be attractive to a lot of potential buyers. But my point is it just is not realistic for him to get into another fixer upper scenario at this point. Both he and my stepmom deserve to enjoy life more and not be pulling a heavy weighted sled of work and responsibilities 24/7.
So to the casual observer the answer is pretty simple, they need to find a good home for the barnyard animals and move towards a more conservative property that does not require all of that work and upkeep. Moving while keeping all the animals just relocates all of that work, albeit it would be closer to my sister. If anyone understands a deep attachment to animals it’s me. Hell one of the big reasons we have done less road tripping in recent years is I worry about the care of the chickens in our absence. But, if the ultimate goal is enjoying your golden years I think some hard choices are going to have to be made.
Regardless of the outcome I am not envious of the situation. Staying put is just going to become more and more stressful, as a person’s physical capabilities generally do not increase as they age. Moving will be a task of monumental proportions although I thought the same thing when they moved from New Mexico back east. They had a TON of shit then as well although sheep and llamas were not part of that equation. I hung up with dad feeling somewhat sad for their dilemma. It’s a situation that has big barriers and challenges no matter which direction they turn.
Based on the convo I thought it was funny/ironic that the parting advice dad gave me was to relax this weekend FIRST and then do whatever work I can. If it doesn’t get done, oh well. Well obviously that isn’t the way I am wired. I ALWAYS want to get tasks out of the way first and then relax, if there is any time left over for that. Doing it any other way just leaves me unsettled and anxious.
So as you could predict, I totally ignored my dad’s advice. I spent over 6 hours on the tractor Saturday mowing grass. The reason it took so long was I decided to knock down areas of the property outside the fence line, some of which that have not been mowed in years. Mowing three to four foot tall grass is a very slow process requiring you to go back and forth over each area multiple times. It’s also a very dirty process. I had the chute held open to allow debris to get out easier. The side effect was that debris blowing all over me. Any exposed skin areas had a coating of organic matter on them when I was done.
On Saturday night Cindy and I got out to see Venom, a movie I had been looking forward to for awhile. Although it was a Marvel affiliated movie it was not a Marvel production, and I could tell. It was entertaining and I liked the movie but it definitely was not up to par with what I expect from a Marvel film. There was lots of funny moments in the movie and many a few too many of them to be honest. For an origin story, I felt like there should have been more serious plot and substance. But like I said, I liked it overall but just don’t expect it to live up to any of the Marvel stand alone character movies of the last 10 years. I’d give it a B to weak B+.
So before we left for the movies I had to close the garage door on the big shed. This task has been becoming more hazardous over the last month or two because of my refusal to eliminate a wasp nest that has been constructed in the door frame. My compassion for living creatures has governed that decision. It felt like the wasps and I had a mutual understanding. They knew I had to open and close the door, which would bump their nest each time and I did not want to destroy their home they have been working on for weeks on end. Each time I accessed the door the nest would get jostled which would send some of the wasps off the nest but they never were aggressive towards me, they simply landed right back on the nest.
Like I said this nest has been growing and as of this weekend it had close to 20 wasps actively working on it. It had gotten to the point where Cindy was afraid to go in the shed. Despite the growing size I continued to let the nest be as I would do my best to keep the door disturbance minimal and the wasps continued to ignore me, until Saturday evening.
So when I went to close the door this time a bunch of wasps came off the nest and I could instantly tell they were aggressive. It looked like the smaller, younger wasps were actually the aggressive ones, perhaps they didn’t get the memo that I was a good guy. So as I see the small wasps looking for a target I hunched down as I was closing the door. As I did I felt the distinctive burn on the top of my head as one of the little bastards stung me. Instead of anger, my initial overwhelming feeling was one of sadness, as this meant the wasps had officially broken their peace treaty with me. I could not have them stinging me or Cindy.
I did not address the situation immediately. Instead during the night I felt sad that I was going to have to take the nest down. Sunday morning I did the deed however I tried to do so in a non-lethal way. I stretched a hose over there and blasted the nest with water to knock it down and off to the side. I figured water wouldn’t kill the wasps and possibly allow them to rebuild their nest elsewhere. When I saw one wasp later trying to initiate a build at the same spot I hit him with some insecticidal soap that should annoy him but again not be lethal. I’m not sure exactly when in life I developed this seemingly at times strange compassion for even the littlest of creatures but it is ingrained in my personality for sure at this point. Pretty much the only things that die without remorse at my hand are fire ants or mosquitoes, once they bite me.
Sunday morning I did not go out riding. Instead I hopped back on the tractor to mow the back yard that is inside the fence, consuming another couple hours. I figured I had the time to ride in the afternoon since the Eagles game was late. After we ran errands late morning I didn’t get out to ride until around 3. I drove out to Ave Maria with the Meepo and One Wheel. In the video I talk about a lot of things I mentioned here, just because I felt like it.
I got home to watch the Eagles game, which in retrospect was not a great thing. The team again played very sloppy ball and for the second consecutive week lost to a team they shouldn’t have. I see several differences from last year that seem to be impacting the outcome of the games. First off the secondary, outside of Malcom Jenkins is pretty awful. Last year the front four of the D-line was able to get pretty consistent pressure on opposing QB’s, allowing the secondary, which still was not great last year, to make some plays. This year the pressure does not seem to be there, exposing the poor secondary play even more.
I also hate the soft zone the DB’s seem to play the majority of the time, lining 8-10 yard off the ball most plays. Doing this allows receivers to get a full head of steam to either blow by you as you are back pedaling or cut in front of your back pedal for easy yardage. I much prefer a bump and run coverage where DB’s challenge the receivers during the first 5 yards to slow down their routes while playing man coverage. I guess Schwartz just doesn’t like that play style or thinks he doesn’t have the talent in the secondary to do that.
The offense has been very inconsistent as well and a lot of that has to do with a lack of solid pass protection. The O-line has been pretty awful with keeping Wentz upright since he returned. The end result has been a lot of sacks and knockdowns as well as Carson making some poor decisions and not protecting the ball, resulting in big turnovers.
I don’t know that there is any magic formula to get the team back on track. They just are not making big plays this year when they need to. Last year they had an uncanny ability to do exactly that as well as getting just plain lucky at times when they needed to. So far this year, the luck has run out.
On Friday evening I started the biggest print I ever attempted. It was estimated to take two days and a few hours. As of this morning it was only 66% complete. If the print is successful it will be pretty epic. If it fails this late into the print it will be pretty damn depressing.
Hey Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed! What an incredible, unifying and progressive move. It’s a hugely, very, very, fantastic win for Trump and the republicans. It was just the latest of a string of never ending examples of just how f’d up the political system is in this country and why we continue to accelerate towards the bottom of the bowl where winning an argument has now become paramount to acting for the greater good. It’s not a #metoo world, it’s a #mefirst kind of thing. Please register to vote for the mid-term elections and do your part to try to end the insanity.
So it seems that since our huge deluge over two days late last week I lost internet connection to the chicken coop. It isn’t a crucial thing but I would like to get it working to be able to do things like monitor the 8 camera DVR out there. After work last night I went out there with my laptop to try to determine what sort of problem I was looking at.
I plugged directly into the wifi router out there and verified it was up and running. I then turned my attention to the ethernet cable that feeds the coop. This is a very long, bury rated, roughly 150 foot wire that is directly connected to the side of the house. Getting it installed was not fun. Well I was not showing a link light on that wire. That wire connects in the attic of the house which I did not feel like crawling around in last night. The next step will be trying to determine where the problem lies, in the cable or on the other side of the connection in the attic. I can hardly wait.
I took on yet another project last night, replacing the heated print bed on one of my 3D printers. This printer is my workhorse and used the most of the six. The other day I noticed it stopped heating the bed. I later discovered this was a common problem after extended use. The wires used to connect it have a history of fatiguing and eventually snapping. I bought an entire new print bed, complete with new wires. The install took awhile but had no major snafus. The printer is back up and printing away this morning.
So yesterday I got an email from the wife of the husband/wife team that are my accountants and have done my taxes for somewhere around 20 years. I met them when I lived in PA and was summoned to do some computer work for the company I worked for at the time. Several years ago they actually relocated to SW Florida as well, in the Fort Myers area.
Yesterday she just asked if I could give her a call which is not unusual as I try to help them out with computer issues as they arise. When I called I got some very shocking and unexpected news that her husband had suddenly passed away late last week. He was not a real old guy, younger then my mom when she passed away at 67.
Hearing the overwhelming sadness and despair in her voice instantly brought all the feelings of unexpected loss I experienced with my mom rushing to the surface. I felt horrible for her. I’m not sure how many times I expressed my sorrow for her loss during the call. I assured her that I would help her out with her current need and anything else she may need. He was and she is just good, kind people. They have been married forever. I can only imagine just how lost she must feel right now.
The call was a somber reminder of how fragile, fleeting, and delicate life can really be, despite all of our efforts to insulate ourselves from that reality. When my mom died it made me more eager to cut out things in my life that I didn’t really want to be doing. Do things that make you happy, distance yourself from things that don’t. You never know how many more ticks are left on your personal clock.
So I wasn’t thrilled when I got a second email late Wednesday from the gutter installers saying that they still planned to show up Thursday but now it wasn’t until between 12-1 instead of 8-9. The reason was I could see the now typical afternoon thunderstorms causing a problem with the install. I crossed my fingers that things worked out as I was not going to take Friday off as well for this.
So I treated my day off as I do most weekends, meaning I put myself to work. I headed outside somewhere around 8AM and did not return indoors until roughly three hours later as I weed whacked the property and tended to a bunch of other outdoor tasks. I was beat and refreshed myself by doing something I hadn’t done in quite awhile, jump in the pool. Sadie was very happy about my decision as it meant she got “splashy splash” which involves her running around the pool deck as I splash her excessively. She just loves it.
I took the dogs for a quick coffee run as I had just enough time to get there and back before the 12PM install window hit. The two man crew showed up closer to 1PM but they were ready to roll. They said the entire job should take roughly two hours.
While they got busy I kicked off phase two of my physical labor. I wanted to use the pressure cleaner in the chicken area. The exposed decking edge needs to be re-caulked and painted but doing so required that the green scuzz that has accumulated on it needed to be blasted away. While I was out there I also cleaned other items including the old chicken tractor which had a coating of black filth from being left under the oak tree for too long.
While I was out there Cindy was taking pictures and measurements of her RV awning for her insurance company. On Wednesday she had the awning out during the day. Some bad weather came in very quickly that was preceded by very strong winds, strong enough that they bent/snapped part of the frame. Cindy was very upset about it as you can imagine but it seems that the insurance company she is using is very responsive. She is hoping it will all be covered with her just paying a manageable deductible.
So the gutter guys were very accurate with their estimate. They finished up in a little more than two hours and the end results were great. The single piece gutters should not suffer the endless leaks my installation from years ago did when I installed conventional gutters. These are also big 6 inch gutters compared with the 4 inch type I bought at Home Depot. They should serve me well for many years to come. This was the very last step in my hurricane repairs, well it was, until Sadie ripped the hole in the pool screen the other day.
Despite a lot of labor already being invested into my day off, I continued my tasks inside. I received a replacement for the print bed in one of my 3D printers which had a bend in it, causing issues with prints. I swapped it with the new bed and all was well again, after the normal amounts of trials and tribulations.
I have an odd schedule the next week. After coming back for a single day today, I work Monday and then have next Tuesday and Wednesday off. I took those two days off to allow me ample time to evaluate the Ninebot Z10 EUC that is on it’s way to me from the NYC E-Crew. I am really looking forward to it.
Sunday is Father’s Day so I thought I would take a second to reflect on some memories of my dad that have stuck with me over the years, some funny, some sad.
I have no question where my “once started, the job must be done” disposition comes from. I recall clearly a time when my dad was out on the tractor mowing grass, in the dark, in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm. The headlights of the tractor and his silhouette lit up by the flashes of lightning are an image that stuck with me. I have actually repeated this scene on my much smaller lawn tractor several times as an adult.
One of the more memorable activities of my childhood was when my dad would play King of the Hill with my brother and my friend Pete. We had a rather steep hill along the driveway that lead into a drainage ditch below. The game was simple, you tried to pull the King off the hill. Well back then dad seemed like a massive giant to the rest of us. We would try to drag him off the hill as a tag team effort but were never successful that I can remember. The end result of this game was all three of us literally getting tossed down the hill repeatedly, sometimes with a lot of air underneath us. I’m pretty sure it would be classified as child abuse nowadays but we loved it.
When my parents got divorced it was a pretty dark time in our relationship. There were weekends we would be at the dumpy apartment he was renting in Reading where he would just be crying and miserable. Neither myself or my siblings really wanted to go there on the weekends, it almost felt like punishment.
One of my most poignant memories of that time was around the holidays. We had just been with my dad and he was transferring us to mom. As we were about ready to drive away he stopped us and handed us some additional presents that evidently were from his girlfriend. (I remember zero about this woman) Well without hesitation my mom grabbed the presents and hurled them back into the street and sped away. It was a very powerful moment in my childhood, the look on my dad’s face as we drove away stuck with me for a long time.
My dad and I had roughly a six month period where we stopped communicating at all. It was when I decided that I was willing to walk away from my college education and partial baseball scholarship because I thought I needed to be with my girlfriend at the time instead. He was infuriated by my decision and looking back, rightfully so, but at the time I thought I knew best.
Dad has helped me out repeatedly and was responsible for eventually getting the base education I needed to get into the IT field after I spent 5 years or so stumbling around figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. He footed the bill for my Lincoln Tech computer repair program that got my foot in the door as an entry level grunt at a local PC reseller back in 1992.
Dad is famous or infamous for his rants where he takes a hard ass stance against a person, product, business, or situation. One of the earliest I recall is his vow to never buy another Sears product when the Craftsman weed trimmer (the old hand held style that was like motorized scissors) broke despite not being very old. I remember the vow being christened by dad taking the unit and smashing it to the sidewalk, violently.
Another crusade of his was refusing to patronize any bank that had a “teller rope system” . Dad hated the idea of being directed around like cattle by a series of stanchions and velvet ropes. If he was in a situation where he HAD to go into such a place he would refuse to use the rope system and would walk around it. There are countless examples of seemingly minor inconveniences that dad has adamantly opposed in not just words but actions over the last five decades. I certainly have moments where I react in a similar way to situations but I am a minor leaguer compared to dad.
I think I owe a great portion of my drive to be physically fit to what I saw my dad do growing up. He used to run, do push ups, sit ups, lift weights, and swim pretty regularly during different portions of his life. It helped me install similar habits into my adulthood which are still carrying on today. It’s hard for me to see dad struggling as much as he does nowadays with various physical ailments when I once viewed him as almost invincible. But even with all of his aches and pains he still will grind himself to a nub doing physical work if he is in the “once started, the job must be done” state of mind. He will just pay for it dearly afterward.
So my roughly 30 or so years as an “adult” made me reevaluate some of my experiences and thoughts about my dad as a child. I realize that just like everyone else on the planet, dad is a flawed individual that did the best he could do to take care of us with the various circumstances he was in during his lifetime. Having no children of my own means I never got to see how I would do if thrust into the role of fatherhood but I certainly know it is not an easy line to walk.
I love and appreciate my dad. He has managed to set all five of his kids off into the world where we are all enjoying different successes as competent, contributing adults in society. Dad has and always will walk to the beat of his own drum, even if it is a little out of tune now and then.
The delivery of the new washer and dryer happened first thing yesterday morning. The lower height of the new units combined with the other organizing and rearranging Cindy did has made the bowling alley width laundry room feel almost spacious. Cindy did our first load of clothing yesterday. What used to pretty much fill our front loader only went barely halfway up the tub of the Samsung.
We had them take the washer with the failing bearing but leave it’s pedestal behind. The pedestals that are often sold with front loaders are VERY expensive. When we bought the LG set in 2010 they were something like $250 EACH. I am hoping to be able to sell the pedestals online to recoup some of the expense of the new appliances. We are still planning on taking the dryer to Cindy’s mom this weekend as an upgrade for her.
I talked to my dad yesterday and he ironically had recently had to replace his front loading set which happened to be almost the same age as mine. We talked about the design of modern front loading washers and how it almost seemed that they were meant to fail in less than 10 years to help keep the demand for new units flowing. Dad talked about the good old days when he had a washer that lasted for 25 years.
I hadn’t talked to dad in awhile so we caught up on the latest and greatest news. Most of dad’s news had to do with his physical challenges that seem to be accumulating. Right now he could use work on his knees, eyes, and ears. In the past he had been reluctant to take action to address the problems but I guess it is getting to the point where it really is affecting his quality of life. I’m glad he is more willing to do something about it now. I don’t have a problem understanding his procrastination however. It evidently is a gene I share as I put off getting my eyes checked for around six years from the point where I first started having issues and in general I am very reluctant to seek medical treatment for anything.
I stayed up late watching Netflix content. My sleep deficit then was multiplied when Elsa had some stomach issue about 2AM. Luckily Cindy shot out of bed and got Elsa out onto the tile floor before she puked. After all of that excitement I had a very hard time falling back asleep. As I was trying to drift off I do recall doing a virtual tour of our old Gouglersville house, likely spurred on by conversation my dad and I had about that house, which has been completely transmogrified by the current owners, after my dad and step mom did their own transformation when they lived there. Dad told me the house has been for sale for a pretty long time. I knew it was listed awhile ago but didn’t know it had not sold yet.
When it first listed I always wondered if dad would consider buying back the place that had so much history for both chapters of his life as a father. The idea was not one dad shared as the house price was around double what it was sold for. Plus my dad harbors some resentment towards the current owners as he feels they deliberately misrepresented their financial status and feigned fiscal hardship to negotiate a lower price on the property. So to turn around and reward them for their efforts is something dad just would never be able to stomach. It would have been cool though, the ultimate completion of a large arcing circle that started back in late 60’s.
Oh so the point of this was I’m tired, really tired.