Category: Stupid People

I picked up Sadie on my way home from work on Friday.  When we got home Elsa went absolutely bat shit crazy to see Sadie emerge from the Prius.  She loves having Sadie around.

On Saturday morning I started out once again with my 13 lap run around the track.  During the last half of the run some kids were getting dropped off presumably for some athletic event.  About a dozen of them joined me on the track, doing one high speed lap, easily blowing past me.  Some of the kids were wearing flip flops and still left me eating their dust.

 

My chore load for Saturday was pretty light with weeding being the primary must do.  We headed out to Rural King and Home Depot with the dogs mid-morning.  I grabbed 15 more bags of top soil to continue my primitive ground level elevation project behind the coop.

My 3D printers were working hard on Saturday finishing up another colorful EUC stand.  I also printed a blue version of my knife model to use at work. On Sunday I put my rudimentary Fusion 360 skills to work to design a little clip I could put on my pool vacuum hoses to keep them from falling off the holder I have on the wall.

Late last week I passed another milestone on my main YouTube channel, crossing the 3000 subscriber mark.  I thought I would celebrate the occasion by making a short montage video that touched on the core subject matter my channel is about.

Saturday night Cindy and I headed out to see 12 Strong, once again opting for the VIP theater experience at The Prado.  We decided to eat dinner there as well since we had a good experience eating there with Randall a few weeks ago.  Cindy and I ordered the exact same items off the menu and had the same praise for the end result.  The only negative was the super slow service at the bar where they had one woman back there that didn’t seem to know what she was doing.  Eventually we just bailed on the idea of getting a beer after waiting for more than 5 minutes with no movement in the line.

The movie was about a seemingly crazy true story at the beginning of the Afghanistan conflict. A small US team was sent in to work with a local Afghan faction to overtake a Taliban controlled area.  The soldiers literally at some points were fighting Taliban in tanks and truck mounted rocket launchers on horseback.  Yes it seemed sort of insane.  Their original intent was to serve as a cross hairs for US targeted airstrikes but it morphed into horses versus tanks in the end.  I am not sure how much of the scenario was exaggerated for the movie, but if it went down pretty much as depicted, it’s an amazing example of heroism and bravery. It’s a solid A flick.

After the movie we stopped at the cute little ice cream shoppe next door and enjoyed small cups of ice cream as we sat by the cool fire/water feature.  We both really enjoy watching movies at Prado.

On Sunday morning Cindy and I went out for an EUC ride, parking in the Super Target lot since Cindy had a few things she wanted to pick up there.  We brought the Msuper and Mten3 for the ride.  It was a fun ride and the longest distance I have taken the Mten3 as we looped all the way to North Collier Park and back.

So on the way back we came in behind Target like we did on the way out, to avoid the busy parking lot traffic.  As we were wheeling along a white SUV was approaching us from the other direction.  As it got closer instead of following the curve in the road it kept going straight in our general direction.  The driver of the vehicle had his face in his phone, of course, and was not paying attention.

Cindy yelled out and gestured at the guy who then immediately jerked the wheel to change direction.  We had plenty of room to avoid an impact but the guy was clearly not paying attention.  Well after we passed I saw the reverse lights on the SUV light up in my rear view mirror.  Cindy looked back and saw it as well and was worried he was going to try to hit us which I assured her he would not do.  Instead he sped past us in an adjacent lane and then gave us the finger as he drove by, what an idiot.

It would have been interesting if he would have stopped and gotten out of the vehicle.  I am normally not the type of person to overreact to a situation or go looking for conflict.  However if someone brings it to my doorstep then things can get a little scary. So anyway, the dumb ass drove away and we had a funny ending to the ride video as I had the camera rolling, just in case.

Sunday afternoon we did our own thing.  Cindy did a lot of crafting over the weekend.  She is getting really good with her Cameo and made a very pro looking t-shirt decal that she applied with her new heat press machine.  I edited the ride video  and then watched a good portion of the Patriots/Jaguar game.

Man although I have no love for the Patriots it is impossible to not respect how much they have accomplished.  Once again they came back from a double digit deficit to beat the Jaguars.  The fact that Tom Brady accomplished this without Gronkowski, who was knocked out with a head injury late in the first half, made it even more impressive.  Brady’s list of accomplishments are simply staggering.  To me, there is not a doubt that he is the best QB of my lifetime.

I of course was more interested in the next game.  Once again, despite having the best record in the league, for the second time in as many weeks the Eagles were an underdog, at home, which is almost unheard of.  Most people, myself included thought that once Carson Wentz got hurt the Eagles chances of success dropped way down.  However the team has managed to use that as a rallying cry, using the underdog role to fuel their efforts.

The way the game started did not give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.  The Vikings marched straight down the field and scored a TD with little resistance.  The sick feeling in my stomach was amplified by the stat that they flashed on the screen stating that no team with an indoor stadium has ever played an outdoor game in the championship game and won, their record is 0-12.  In the past the Eagles have had a bad habit of bucking these trends so I was worried that we were again headed in that direction.

If you would have told me that the Birds would turn things around to score 38 unanswered points at that time I would have called you crazy however that is what happened.  I was so used to Eagle teams in the past collapsing with big leads that I was still not confident when the score was 31-7.  Only once they got the final touchdown did I know for sure they were going to the Superbowl.  What an amazing game.

I was so happy for Nick Foles, he had  a superb game.  I always liked the guy when he was with the Eagles.  From the start he struck me as a quality human being and for him to succeed at this level after struggling when he was traded was heart warming. He played like his amazing year under Chip Kelly when he threw 27 TDs with only two interceptions.  He was calm and in control.

The Eagles defense came up big after looking like a doormat on the first drive.  The Vikings did move the ball somewhat but some big takeaways kept them from scoring again which was huge.  This game will go down as one of the all timers in my book as far as satisfaction and level of play goes.

The Super Bowl party we are hosting once again after a one year hiatus suddenly has taken on a whole new level of excitement.  To have the team I have lived and died with my entire life in the big game will be special indeed.  I can only hope somehow they are able to keep the magic going just one more time…

E-A-G-L-E-S

EAGLES!!!!!!!

 

 

15134600_1350134178333166_1180302084294928777_nSo Cindy and I officially transitioned from fostering to adopting Elsa, even though that was pretty much determined from day one.  The girl that runs the rescue was at our house when I got home verifying Elsa was in a good situation which did not take long to do.  We had a good day from a housebreaking perspective with no accidents in the house all day yesterday.  Elsa made up for it this morning.

So as soon as we wake up Cindy takes her outside.  Elsa immediately pee’d and came immediately back inside. The routine we have gotten into is after Elsa eats breakfast Cindy takes her back out for a number two.  Well as I was on my computer catching up on email while eating my breakfast I heard a scratching noise in the dining room.  I look over and see that Elsa had just finished up taking a dump in front of the two unicycles that charge there.  I immediately yelled and Cindy came scrambling up in disbelief since she hadn’t even fed Elsa breakfast yet.

So it was disappointing that we still do not seem to be able to make her understand this is not acceptable behavior.  Well as I was putting on my shoes to leave for work I saw Elsa put an exclamation point on the problem.  There was a big puddle of urine right near the area rug in the great room.  Wow.  I was under the impression that she was more or less house broken already.  It looks like we have to start the process all over again.

I mentioned the other day how much different my Thanksgiving holiday is this year, not having to worry about timing a 3,000 plus participant holiday race.  That feeling has continued to grow as we get closer to the big day.  In the past the day before Thanksgiving meant me leaving work early in the afternoon to go to packet pickup where I started to work on the reams of paper entries I had to get into the system.  The work would extend well into the night where I also had to get the truck fully loaded with equipment so we could pull out of the driveway at something crazy like 4AM.  When I would try to fall asleep the night before I would struggle as multiple mental checklists were floating around in my head that I couldn’t turn off.

The morning of the race was always one big blur where the scene goes from quiet to a mob scene in the span of 20 minutes.  The ever present sense of chaos was always just under the surface, only loosely controlled at best.  Of course a good chunk of this sense of chaos and disorganization came from areas that I did not have responsibility for or control of which added frustration into the whirling tub of emotions.  When the race was finally over the sigh of relief was prolonged but was quickly followed by the dread of knowing I would be repeating the process, on a smaller scale, over the next few months.

To say I am relieved this scenario is no longer the case would be a severe understatement.  I look back at that hamster wheel I was on and wonder how I did it for so long.  I guess the answer lies in my people pleasing personality and my sense of responsibility to the runners that participated in the races.  I took executing my part of their race experience seriously, always trying to act as I would want someone else to if I was the one running the race.  It feels great to now be able to look out over the horizon and not see the dark clouds of future races always hanging low in the skies.

My Thanksgiving is actually still going to involve a race but as a participant, not a timer.  Ironically Cindy and I will be running in the holiday race that the running club broke away from four years ago, The Gobble Gobble.  That split, which involved some Iraq WMD level deception was the turning point in my time with the club.  It was definitely where things started to go downhill, accelerating on the way down.  It will be nice to get face to face again with some of the local running crowd, most of which I have not seen at all since my exit from the club race scene at the end of January.

I am looking forward to a fun four day weekend.

13076711_10154468811402841_2376137100947329191_nEven though I have only been off for four days it feels like longer due to just how jammed pack those days have been.  On Wednesday night we did some prep for the arrival of the appliances that was scheduled for Thursday.  We got the microwave off the wall after a lot of hassle.  My brief internet research said the wall bracket for the microwave is basically just a lip the back end sits on.  Once the top two bolts are removed it should lift off easily.

Well after removing the bolts I was able to get the microwave to tip down but not pull free from the bracket.  Evidently Maytag for some reason has some additional thin side arms that slide into the microwave that were preventing me from pulling it free.  After a lot of grunting and awkwardly holding the unit by both Cindy and myself I finally got it off the wall. After that frustrating episode we deemed our appliance removal as good enough for the night.

The appliance installers had an install window between 9:30 and 1:30, a wide window.  We were hoping they would arrive early which would allow us to be able to still drive to the east coast in the evening to pick up the new Tacoma.  Cindy left early for her middle school track coaching gig so I got busy doing more appliance removal.  Our purchase at Home Depot supposedly included free installation of the stove and fridge.  The dishwasher and microwave had an extra charge.  I paid to have the dishwasher installed but not for the microwave.  Regardless the delivery/installer services should include pulling the old appliances out.  Well to expedite things I wanted to get the removal out of the way ahead of time.

13076683_10154468811407841_8822783767542809817_nI was able to get the old stove and dishwasher out to the garage with the help of my handtruck.  I removed the front handles on the fridge but waited for Cindy to get home to get it moved outside due to it’s heavy weight and tight clearance with the front door.  I had already put all of the freezer items in our coolers.  All of the fridge stuff was on the counter.  Once we got the fridge back in the garage we plugged it right back in and put the food back in there for safekeeping until the new Samsung refrigerator was in place.

Just as we were finishing up moving the food to the garage the installers showed, close to the start of their installation window which was awesome.  Both of the guys were very nice and surprised we did the prep work that normally falls on their shoulders.  They wasted no time getting busy.

The install went smoothly.  It was my time to be pleasantly surprised that they installed the new microwave as well, despite me not paying the extra money for the installation.  When we pulled the fridge out it revealed the plastic outlet cover was broken from overly aggressive fridge pushing over the years.  I ran out to the nearby hardware store and got a metal replacement.  By the time I got back home everything but the new fridge was in place.

13072848_10154469140927841_1658563873648871359_oThe installers said in order to get the new fridge in it would be best to pop the hinges on the front door which was easier said than done.  The top two pins came out easily but the bottom pin was tough for them since you can’t get a good swing of a hammer on it.  Some determination and WD-40 eventually broke it loose.  I helped the one guy cart the new fridge although he did most of the grunt work.  My primary role was to make sure the doors stay closed.  Before long they had the fridge up and running.  Both of the guys were really friendly, helpful, and professional.  We gave them whatever cash we had as a tip.

After they left Cindy and I spent a lot of time just admiring our new kitchen hardware.  We liked the contrast with the white cabinets as well as the way it complemented the granite which has a lot of black.  The fridge was especially cool.  Over the weekend Cindy did several reworks of the layout trying to figure out the best way to utilize the large amount of additional space it has.  I had a big pile of manuals on the counter to look through so I had a basic understanding of how all the bells and whistles work.

So I contacted the Delray Toyota dealer and let them know that I indeed would be able to pick up the new truck that evening.  We set a tentative time of 6PM, plenty of time for them to get it all prepped and ready to go.  However before we left Cindy had a dentist appointment in the afternoon.  The plan was for me to take her there so we could leave immediately afterward to save time.  While Cindy was in the chair I ran to the credit union to pull some cash and stopped at Walmart to grab some safety pins for the race I was timing Saturday.

When we left Naples I figured we had plenty of time to get to Delray which according to the GPS should take about 2 hours.  What I didn’t give any thought to was the time of day we were making the trip.  We got onto I-95 right in the heart of rush hour which was miserable.  We had no choice but to sit in stop and go traffic for long periods of time which made the drive 30-45 minutes longer than expected.

Our GPS got us right to the door of the dealership which was visually impressive and huge.  We walked inside the massive showroom and soon met up with Owen, the sales guy assigned to delivering the vehicle.  Up until that point I had dealt with a guy named Tony on the phone and via email as he is the guy assigned to all internet/Costco leads.  Owen was an older, relaxed man with a pleasant demeanor, certainly not the prototypical car salesman template.

13043320_1178028805543705_6487252264930395765_nAfter a much needed bathroom break I asked Owen if we could first take the truck for a test drive.  Despite the foregone conclusion I was buying a new Tacoma I had not actually sat behind the wheel of one, I just assumed I would like it.  Owen walked us out the side door where the truck was waiting for us.  It looked awesome in it’s Inferno Orange color scheme.  Cindy had to jump in the back of the access cab which isn’t too bad for someone of her dimensions while Owen rode shotgun.

As I slid into the driver seat for the first time I could not believe how big the truck felt.  It felt tons bigger than my 99 Tacoma, almost as big as a full size truck thanks to the large and in charge hood design.  It feels bigger because it actually is bigger in every dimension.  It’s longer, wider, and sits higher.

I immediately loved the interior complete with the high tech info center that was equipped.  It had all the bells and whistles.  This was a pretty big thing for me.  Yea I had bought a total of 4 new vehicles in my lifetime but the only other time I bought one 100% based on what I wanted was my Pontiac Sunfire GT after my first divorce.  It felt sort of surreal.

The big size of the truck felt a bit disorienting.  Plus I found myself distracted checking out all of the feedback the truck gives you through the two screens, one in the radio position and another integrated into the instrument cluster.  The test drive was a couple miles at most but it was enough to convince me I made a good choice.  Cindy shared my enthusiasm for the truck, she thought it was awesome in pretty much every way.

So when we got back it was time to run some numbers.  This deal was unconventional in several ways.  Not only did I have to drive to the other side of the state to find a Costco affiliated dealer, I had no idea exactly what the truck would cost me since they will not pull out the Costco pricing book until you are inside the dealership.  So Owen brings out the book and we begin the negotiation process which again happens in reverse to what is normal.

Normally you start at the marked up price a dealer has on a vehicle which usually includes their addendum sticker and work down from there.  In our case we started down way low at the Costco member price which according to the book was 1100 under INVOICE, not MSRP, INVOICE.  So I had all of my internet pricing info with me so I immediately knew the invoice pricing they were listing was a little inflated but not much.  However from that number there were additions for stuff like floor mats, nitro filling the tires, and title/tag work which of course were dramatically inflated in pricing.  In addition there was a $799 dealer fee that Owen said was added to every vehicle they sell.  When I asked him what exactly that was for he said prep but admitted that of course there was additional profit taking in there.

So even with this subtraction followed by addition, the out the door pricing was much, much better than any number any other Toyota dealer offered.  They started their pricing at MSRP plus since the Tacomas have been selling very well with the new redesign of the truck this model year.  When I started doing my research I assumed I would be lucky to just get the truck for MSRP.  Even with the overpriced add ons I was still well under MSRP and able to very easily swing into my financial wheelhouse.  Even so I asked Owen if he could do a little better for me.  When he came back with a price 250 bucks less that was good enough, we agreed to the deal and moved on to stage 2.

So I had all my financing in place so I hoped our visit to the F&I guys office would be brief.  Even with my own financing and turning down all the extended warranties and other profit padding options we were in there for a while.  There seems to be a lot more paperwork involved than when I sold cars.  I was signing and initialing for quite a long time.  After we were done it took awhile to track down Owen so we could head out.  He had already attached the license plate and gave me a brief run down of the vehicle although I probably knew as much as he did based on my extensive internet research ahead of time.

When we left the dealership we were both starving and hit a nearby Chipotle to fuel up.  By the time we left the east coast it was quite late.  At least the traffic situation was much better.  The disorientation with the new truck continued on the way home.  It’s bigger dimensions made me feel unsure of my position in a lane.  Once we got back out onto Alligator Alley things were fine.  We didn’t pull back in the driveway until after 11PM, much later than I was expecting.  The garage was in no shape to house the new Tacoma with the old appliances residing there.  Cindy and I planned on working on alternatives over the weekend.  As we were laying in bed we could hardly believe that we got new appliances and a new vehicle, on the east coast no less, the same day.

On Friday I kept busy around the house for a good portion of the day.  Cindy had a fitness class to teach.  I told her to take the new Tacoma since she hadn’t had a chance to drive it yet.  She gave the truck a glowing report card as well.  One of the things I did was list the old appliances on Craigslist, hoping to quickly sell them to reclaim garage space.  I had exactly zero responses from the ad.  Used appliances on CL are a dime a dozen.  I followed up later on in the weekend posting on a local FB yard sale group and at least got some possible interest but as of now all of the appliances are out there.  Although I would like to get a little bit of money to offset the expense if we don’t move them within the next week I have no problem donating them as well.

I also needed to do prep for the race I was timing Saturday.  During the day I met up with John to pick up one of his generators.  The race finish line location had no nearby power available.  I also picked up Sadie for an extended visit while Ali and her boyfriend are up in PA.  I chose to do both of these things in the old Tacoma.  I figured I may as well try to keep the 2016 Tacoma as pristine as possible while I can.

On Saturday morning Cindy and I awoke to the 4:30 alarm clock.  Cindy actually had a track meet she had to attend but she agreed to follow me to the race to help me get as much equipment set up as she could.  The inflatable arch is particularly difficult to get set up solo.  I punched in the address for the race that was on the entry form which took us into the Immokalee Airport access road.  We saw noone around so I called the race director.  He said he was 5 minutes behind me and would be there soon.  We sat for another 10 minutes without seeing him so I called again.  He said he was now there but did not see us.  He described a park where the race was held which was nowhere in sight.  We came back out of the park and used his verbal guidance to get to the right spot.

So the location confusion cost us valuable time since Cindy had to leave asap.  We hustled and got the arch up and running off the generator and most of the other finish line equipment in place before Cindy had to head out.  The morning had a hectic start and it only escalated from there.  The location of the finish line was not good.  It was staged on the main road used for vehicles to park.  I had cars coming back and forth the entire time before the race.

At one point while I was setting more equipment up I heard the generator start to sputter.  Just as I thought to myself, “it better not die”, it of course did, sending the arch quickly to the ground as yet another vehicle was approaching.  I ran over to the generator and realized I did not have the vent on the gas cap turned to the ON position which caused it to shut down.  After opening the vent the generator fired back up on the first pull and was fine the rest of the event. The registration area was at least a couple hundred yards from the finish line which was problematic as well.  I had to go back and forth several times to do data entry while trying to finish the equipment set up at the same time.   I definitely wished I had Cindy there to help me.

So with the vehicle traffic constantly going through the finish line before the race I wasn’t going to put the timing mats in place for a chip start.  The field of runners was small so using just gun time wasn’t a big deal.  As the race was getting ready to start the race director came up and made some announcements on my bullhorn.  He then asked me if I had a starters gun we could use to start the race.  I told him no but the bullhorn had a siren we could use.  I showed him how to start it, assuming he would start the event.  Instead he asked me if I could start the race since he was going to run the race as well. Um ok.  Of course he didn’t realize that I already had a clipboard, my atomic watch, and a stopwatch I utilize when starting a race.  Trying to awkwardly work the siren was not going to be a good thing.  I managed to get the race started in a rather clumsy manner.

So once the runners cleared I had to quickly get the timing mats in place but I had to get the race clock set first.  I had some issues getting it set just right but eventually got it working. I then jumped on the laptop where I have to do stuff like set the time on the timing box.  I was getting no response.  A quick diagnosis revealed that the USB ethernet adapter seemed to not be working.  My only option was to power off the laptop and bring it back up.  By the time I got it back up I getting close to crunch time time-wise.  I quickly set the time on the Ipico box and got everything up and running literally seconds before the first young kid crossed.

So as I started looking at my finish line time reports I noticed something was wrong.  The times on the report were almost a minute more than they should be??  WTF…   So I started to try to figure out the problem.  This was my first timing with the Ipico equipment in roughly a year so I wondered if I missed a step.  Part of the process is setting the time on the laptop to match the time on my atomic synched watch.  The laptop time is then used to set the time on the timing box.  I had set the time on the laptop to match my watch before the race.  Well somehow my shutting off the laptop had caused the time to fall out of synch by almost a minute so I set the time on the box with the incorrect time, causing the problem.  I was luckily able to apply an offset to the finish times to correct the problem.  I was glad I had my new security dvr there to allow me review the time the race winner crossed the line so I could determine exactly how much offset I needed.

13096276_521020428081583_8933300977165395601_nThe security dvr system also came in handy for environmental conditions.  The way I was facing the rising sun was directly in my face.  The large 27 inch monitor I have attached to the DVR served as a sunvisor.  I spent much of the race ducked down behind it so I could see.

So in the end all of the race results worked out without anyone realizing just how much scrambling I was doing behind the scenes to make it happen.  It also revealed some weak links in my GMT race equipment.  My $149 Asus laptop is going to need to be swapped with something more substantial and I need to get more adept at setting the race clock.  Clean up from the event took FOREVER with me doing it solo.  I bet I spent damn close to an hour just tearing down and putting everything back in the truck.  I pulled off site mentally and physically tired.  Just as a final exclamation point on the morning, I had a hell of a time getting back on Immokalee Road due to a farmers parade going down Main Street.  I probably spent 15 minutes finding a route around it.

By the time Cindy got home I had already finished unloading all of the equipment and had started on post race work like posting results and ripping finish line video.  After we ate lunch turned our attention to the garage.  At first I had given up hope on keeping the new Tacoma housed in the garage.  It’s bigger dimensions would not allow it to fit where the SSR resided.  Initially Cindy’s suggestion of changing the layout of the shelves in there, which meant removing them, was not appealing to me since I hate losing storage options.  However the more I thought about it the more open I was to it.

13096208_10154475664692841_4085845741064209385_nWe first had to get the old appliances moved to the opposite wall as they were sitting where the Tacoma would go.   We then started pulling stuff out of the garage.  Of course this was also an opportunity to purge some shit.  I had a bunch of maintenance items like transmission fluid, air/oil filters, oil and other stuff that were needed for the maintenance of the old Tacoma and the SSR.  Obviously I had no need for these anymore so we deposited them by the curb for someone else to use.  Like I said almost everything was unopened.  We moved some shelves around and completely removed others.  The non-Tacoma side of the garage looked like a mess.

After we got done we did a test park with me backing into the space.  I fit fine but it was tedious backing in there.  We discovered that I could pull in forward and still have enough room to get out of the door once I raised an adjustable shelf on the wall, awesome.  Cindy came up with the good idea to utilize the wall space where the shelf use to reside for extra pegboard space, something I have been in dire need of for many years.  We stopped at that point since we were going to a sweet 16 birthday party for Cindy’s niece.

Even though I knew sweet 16 parties existed I never attended one and I never knew anybody that had one.  I was surprised at the size and scope of it all.  It almost seemed like a mini-wedding reception.  It was held at a cool little marina that I never knew existed.  Of course we cruised there in the new Tacoma.  By Saturday I was finally feeling adjusted to the different driving dimensions and was comfortable on the road.

The party was very cute.  Cindy’s niece is a terrific young lady with a bight future in front of her for sure.  Cindy’s daughter and mom were there as well so we got to hang with them to varying degrees.  We also got to meet Cindy’s brother’s girlfriend who was very nice as well.  I chilled out with four beers to take the edge off.  After the prior three days of go go go it felt good to just sit and chill for a bit.

Despite our high activity level up to that point, Sunday morning Cindy and I decided to get out and run, something that just has not happened on a consistent level for a long time.  We put in a little over 3 miles at the track.  With my lack of running of course I never felt comfortable the entire time but at least I got it done.

When we got home we loaded up Sadie for a ride.  I needed to stop at Home Depot to get stuff to expand the pegboard and a few other things.  Going there when we have Sadie is so much more fun now that we found out she is allowed to shop with us.  The 4×8 piece of pegboard hung out over the edge of the old Tacoma but was held in place by the weight of three bags of mulch pretty securely. We took the old Tacoma, trying to spare the 2016 from unnecessary dirt and labor until necessary.

13055680_10154477002917841_4738166062505067485_oMost of the remaining daylight hours of Sunday were spent out in the garage getting the new pegboard up.  I had some challenges along the way due to inconsistent stud placement on that wall but I worked around it.  In addition we built a small shelf/table to get back some of the storage capability we lost.  We also hung a tennis ball on a string parking aid we found at HD to make pulling the new Tacoma in far enough a no brainer.  We were both quite pooped when our day’s labor came to an end.  We now are quite anxious to get the old appliances out of there so we can again welcome the Prius back into the garage as well.

Like I mentioned earlier, we had a bunch of stuff by the road to give away.  Late in the day Cindy noticed like it looked like it was scattered.  We walked down there and saw a big freaking mess.  Some idiot ran off the side of the road and into the various bottles of automotive products.  In particular it looked like he squarely ran over one of the full bottles of tranny fluid, causing it to spray all over the other items, ruining them.  The only good news I could see was the spray pattern included a good portion of the road as well so I hope the asshole has transmission fluid dissolving his paint as we speak.

Of course I would be remiss to not mention the celebrity deaths over the weekend.  Chyna, one of the first big name female WWE stars died at the young age of 45.  Her death was quickly overshadowed by the shocking death of Prince who was 57, far outside of normal dying range.  It sounds like there are some odd circumstances in the week or two leading up to his death which I am sure will be beaten to death in the media.  Regardless of how it happened he was an extremely talented performer and musician that in my book gave Michael Jackson a run for his money.  I hate being old enough that famous people I grew up with that aren’t that much than older me are dying off. RIP Prince (and Chyna).

I also have forgot to mention my thoughts about the Eagles big move, trading what many (including myself) think was too much to move from the number 8 position to number two in the upcoming NFL draft.  The team is presumably going to pick one of the top two projected QB ‘s in the draft and at this point it seems it will be the kid from North Dakota, Carson Wentz.  This move concerns me on several levels.

If the Eagles were already holding the number 2 pick and wanted to draft the kid I guess I would be ok with it.  To be successful every team needs a franchise QB eventually and the Eagles don’t think they have one currently on their roster.  I agree with them.  However to trade 5 picks to move down 6 spots to get this kid seems really, really stupid.  How often do early pick QB’s fall on their face?  The answer is all the time.  More of them fail than succeed.  To compound that, they are giving this up for a QB that played at a small school that faces a competition level far less than bigger programs go up against.  Expecting him to jump from that scenario to play in the NFL where the talent level is magnified many times over seems like a stretch to me.  When you factor in giving up all those picks it all just makes little sense to me.

Last year when Chip Kelly made all of those questionable moves, I said I thought they were bad decisions (which they obviously were), but I hoped he would prove me wrong.  Once again I am hoping Howie Roseman turns out to be some sort of super genius and Carson Wentz proves to be the Eagles franchise QB for the next decade or more but I have a bad feeling it’s not going to be the case and cost us dearly in future draft talent to boot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12888527_10154425814682841_8028867623433436176_oOn Saturday morning Cindy was coaching at her first track meet, leaving me alone to run wild at the house.  I did a number of chores around the house including having all four of my cleaning robots running simultaneously scrubbing/vacuuming all of the flooring.  I then decided I was going to head out to Home Depot.

Cindy and I decided we were going to add an extra level of castle stone to the landscaped border around the pool.  We are both sick and tired of the chickens going into the area and kicking the rubber mulch out into the grass.  It has become a constant see saw of work.  So our thought was adding the second layer of stone would be enough of a wall to deflect their shrapnel back into the bed where it belongs.

Cindy had counted and we needed a little more than 90 of the 12 inch stones to do the second layer (we already had bought a few).  I had bought these stones in bulk once before and just had them bring them out on a pallet which I requested once again.  The immense weight immediately bottomed out the Tacoma’s suspension.  I am sure I was well over the posted maximum payload of 1700 pounds.  I drove very conservatively on the way home.

On the drive home my cell phone rang from an Oregon number.  It was a guy named Al that was calling about the SSR.  He had not seen the ad on Craigslist.  In fact he didn’t see any ads at all.  He was called about it from one of the main guys from SSR Fanatics.  On Friday I decided to also post my truck on their forum for sale.  I didn’t expect a lot from the posting but obviously I was wrong.  Al was called because the SSRF guy (Dick) knew he was looking for a 6 speed truck.    So anyway Al said he could leave Cape Coral right away to come see the truck so I told him to come on down.

When he showed up I was a bit shocked to see ANOTHER SSR parked in the driveway.  I had no idea he already had an SSR, a 2004 with a slick custom paint job.  He actually has owned his truck for 4 or 5 years but he was interested in a 6 speed.  Since Dick has met me and worked on my truck at a few of the meet ups he personally vouched for my truck, letting Al know it was nice.

Al was like the vast majority of SSR owners I have met, of retirement age and very nice.  Of course I didn’t have to give him a walk through of the truck like I did last week since he was already very familiar with the vehicles obviously.  When I told him some of the upgrades I had done like the LS7 Corvette clutch swap he knew exactly what it was and why it was a good thing.  We went on a decent test drive and he confirmed he liked the truck, just like Dick said he would.  Unlike last week where the buyer was all about lowballing, Al was fine paying my asking price, his background as a SSR owner made my price fair to him when compared to other trucks out there.

After the test drive Al hung at the house for quite awhile talking with Cindy and I.  Most of the conversation was not SSR related at all, just exchanging snippets of our background.  Al has been retired since he was 55 and spends 3 months out of the year living on his boat in Oregon.  It sounded like he was very fortunate the way things fell in place for him when retirement came around and he was grateful for it.  So we got around to making plans for the sale.  He left me a check for a deposit and said to call him Sunday after he checked his calendar to see when we could do the sale.

We worked it out that I am leaving work early today to get it all done.  I brought the SSR to work and will be driving it to Al’s house with Cindy following me in the Tacoma.  We will then leave the truck there and head to the bank and DMV office to finalize the paperwork.  It will feel weird for sure to walk away from the R but it is offset by getting much more money for it than I was willing to accept a few days prior.  It’s funny how things work out.  It’s also funny that Al will have two SSR’s in his driveway until he manages to sell his 2004. 🙂

After Al left I wasted little time heading outside to work on the 2nd level of our castle stone border.  Cindy and I first unloaded all of the stones, putting them in place on the wall where they would go.  It was only temporary as I needed to go stone by stone and reset both the first and second layer.  When I originally put the castle stone in place I just used the sandy soil as the base under the wall.  Over time areas of the wall have shifted as a result.  A good number of the stones had a slight downward facing angle which looked shitty.

981143_10154428582032841_2101537614128663790_oAlong with the pallet of stone I also bought 6 bags of substrate normally used under a paver installation.  The substance was basically very small stones, designed to give a firm base to support the blocks.  I began a very arduous process of pulling up each and every stone and re-leveling it, using the stone base to provide support.  It was not enjoyable as you can imagine.  Most of the work required me to be on my knees which gets painful very quickly.  I just kept my blinders on and focused on getting done.  Before I called it quits for the day I had about 75% of the wall complete which was cool.

We cleaned up and headed out to Germain arena for an Everblades game.  We had not gone to see the local minor league hockey team for a couple years.  I saw it was Star Wars night so I thought it would be fun to go.  When we got there the parking lot was pretty full, something we arent used to with the sparsely attended Tarpons games we are used to.

12888577_1165347933478459_1069596121842306345_oAs we walked up to the ticket window I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw signs on the window saying SOLD OUT. WTF?  Germain seats between 5000-6000 people I could hardly believe the game would be sold out.  Cindy and I looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.

Just as we were ready to start walking back to the parking lot a couple behind us stopped us.  The man said he had spare tickets and we could have a couple of them.  I told him I would gladly pay for them.  He said to not worry about it they were already paid for by his business.  Cindy and I could hardly believe our good fortune.  When we got inside I tried to repay their kindness to at least a small degree by buying the guy a beer.  It’s always nice to confirm that not all people are assholes.

Now I am the farthest thing from a hockey fan you can get but it was still fun to be at a live game.  I downed a couple large Shocktop drafts to help up the fun level.  We also enjoyed chowing down on our standard arena menu of pizza, a soft pretzel and roasted nuts.  At the end of the second period Cindy wasn’t feeling great after downing her alcoholic cider.  The home team was down 2-0 at that point.  I told Cindy I was fine heading out and although she didn’t want to be the impetus to leave I could tell she liked the idea.  After thanking the couple once again for their generosity we headed out.  I saw later the Everblades wound up losing 2-1.

On Sunday morning there was no way I felt like running/riding after the block work Saturday afternoon.  Plus I wanted to take advantage of the cooler morning temperatures to finish up the wall.  Of course I was just a little short of what I needed to finish so Cindy and headed out for yet another Home Depot trip.  We grabbed more castle stone as well as 12 more border stones that looked like smaller cousins of castle stone.  We wanted to lay them down as a test in the rock border area to see how they look.  Unfortunately the chickens have no problems kicking small river rock out of a landscape bed either.  Cindy has been putting the displaced stones back in place several times a week.  Surprisingly the chickens don’t listen when we ask them to stop scratching in those areas. 🙂

When we got back I finished up the main wall.  Both Cindy and I liked the finished product and we have not seen any projectile mulch clear the wall since it was extended.  We laid down the smaller stone border on a small section of the river rock bed and it looked good.  Although it is significantly smaller than castle stone in height we are thinking it should be high enough to block the stones since they won’t fly as far as mulch.

I was pooped from the labor that covered portions of both days of the weekend.  Late in the afternoon I decided to finally get to making a video that told the story regarding my drone prosecution.  Although I kept the video pretty in the middle, not trash talking the NPS tactics as much as I could have, I wanted to get a video out there shining a light on what happened.  Perhaps the same ranger that thought it was fair game to ruin my Xmas holiday will stumble across this video as well.  Hopefully it makes him sleep better at night.

The video is about 15 minutes long.  I don’t believe I have ever talked at that length on film at one shot.  As expected there are some stumbles along the way but all in all I give a pretty clear outline of what went down and why I feel it was handled poorly.

 

 

 

 

Biggest-Loser-cast-17-e1449086216218[1]Last night we watched the second episode of Biggest Loser.  I found myself more annoyed then I was after the first show where I saw the carnage after they retooled the cast and format.

The subtitle for the show this year is “Temptation Nation”, this episode outlined exactly what that means.  Basically many of the challenges this year involve temptation.  This is not a new concept.  In the past they would do challenges where contestants were thrown in a room full of shitty food and they had to resist the temptation to eat it, which the majority of them did.

Well this year they are basically forcing people to eat shitty food as a punishment if they lose a challenge which I think is absolutely idiotic.  Every single person on the show is a food addict to some degree.  Forcing them to consume the foods that got them into their morbidly obese state serves no positive purpose whatsoever.  Could you imagine if a person in rehab was forced to take drugs or drink alcohol?  I simply could not believe the show producers thought this was a good idea and further reinforces my feeling that there is a new person/people running the production of the show. Whomever it is, sucks.

So Cindy and I joined the Powerball craze.  We didn’t go crazy like buying 74,000+ tickets as some group of people did, we bought two tickets.  Cindy picked the numbers on one ticket and quick picked the other.  When I checked the numbers this morning I was excited to see we hit exactly zero numbers on either ticket.

You may have read how the Powerball people are basically mind fcking the general public.  A little while ago they made a change to the game, increasing the amount of “white numbers” you can choose from 59 to 69.  This addition of 10 numbers made the odds of anyone winning the top prize soar astronomically, to 1 in 292 million.  Of course Powerball officials will feed you a line of shit saying this change allows more winners overall of the smaller amounts of cash.  It does not take someone with a degree in psychology to see the game they are really playing.

Making the top prize so difficult to hit makes for lots of rollovers and lots of huge jackpots.  The big jackpots build big public hysteria as everyone wants to take a shot at the dream, resulting in massive ticket buying.  Whomever is in charge of the mind manipulation department at Powerball Inc. should get a big raise this year.

Tonight after work I drop off the stuff for the two days of race packet pick up.  It marks the start of the grind that will wind up late morning on Sunday.  It can’t come fast enough.

So I will do my best to recap four days packed with more stuff than my memory is comfortable regurgitating.  Wednesday I left work early after reports of the mob scene at the running store with hundreds of people signing up last minute for the Thanksgiving race.  I got to the store and saw people lined up 10 deep.  There was no way I would have room to set up my laptop at the registration table so I instead went into the back room of the store and made my own desk comprised of a white board laid across two piles of shirt boxes. I worked back there on data entry non-stop for a couple hours.  The pile of paper I had to burn through during the last two days was just ridiculous.

When I got home Cindy had loaded most of the race equipment in the truck which was a huge help, allowing me to concentrate on getting  the data from the last minute entries handled.  We tried to get to bed as early as possible to be some version of rested for what surely was going to be a mentally demanding morning.

I was quite unhappy when I woke up at 1AM and rolled around unsuccessfully for 90 minutes trying to fall asleep a bit before the 3:30 alarm went off. At 2:30 I had enough, Cindy was already awake as well.  We got up and got ready to leave an hour or so earlier than we planned.  I knew the running club equipment truck was going to be there so I figured we could get a head start on the set up.  We wound up pulling into the start line area at a ridiculously early 4AM.

We immediately started working on laying out the start mats.  We had the 8 rubber mats in place and had just started laying the first cable when we saw a pair of headlights approaching.  The vehicle appeared to be approaching a little faster than it should be and we had a 10 meter coax cord loose in the road so I stood up and started waving my arms and yelling for the vehicle to slow down.  Well as the car got closer I saw the lights on the roof, it was a city cop.  He stopped right in front of the mats and started giving me shit.

He didn’t appreciate my tone of voice as I was yelling for him to slow down.  I didn’t appreciate him not appreciating it.  We had a rather angry back and forth exchange. He was quite put off that I was not nice in asking him to slow down and probably further put off that once I saw he was a cop that I did not drop to my knees and beg for forgiveness.  I told him that I had a loose cable on the ground and did not want it getting caught in his vehicle and damaging the equipment.  The cop asked where the safety cones were, which I had not grabbed from the equipment truck yet.  I guess I foolishly assumed two bodies on their knees in the middle of the street were a good sign to slow down, although I should have had cones there from the get go. I pulled the wire out of the way and told the cop he could go now.  He definitely won’t be sending me a Christmas card this year. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if the race timer got arrested?

registration-X2[1]As we were finishing up another vehicle rolled across the mats faster than he should have.  Again we yelled for him to slow down.  He thanked us for the warning with a stream of expletives as he drove away, a Happy Thanksgiving to you too buddy.  I did post about 8 cones around the start line mats, many of which adorned with SLOW signs to dissuade drivers from flying over them.  They were not successful.  When I returned to the start line later the mats were buckled and shifted from idiots going too fast over them.  I guess my ideas about leaving mats across the road prior to the race start just isn’t going to work out.

So as we started setting up the registration area other volunteers started showing up to help get everything rolling.  I had asked Chris to show up to help me handle race day registrations since I knew I had to make sure all of my timing equipment was up and running before the race started.  After I got done setting up the finish line equipment I returned to the registration area where the line of people signing up on race day had swollen greatly.  I was flabbergasted that this many people waited to the absolute last minute to sign up, especially considering the huge influx of people that already signed up the last couple days.  It was nuts.  I told Chris, who was also running in the event to just do as many as he could before he had to head to the start line.  I had to get there to get the start equipment up and running.  I told him whatever entries that were left I could enter at the finish line.

So the race start group was huge as you can imagine.  Having roughly 3000 people compacted into roughly a block of roadway creates quite the crowd.  I had to wait nearly 5 minutes until I could disconnect the start box.  I ran over to the registration desk and grabbed an incredibly thick pile of yet to be entered paper entries and the main laptop and ran back to the start.  I threw the timing box  and computer in the back of the golf cart and hauled ass to the finish line.  This race is brutal logistically because not only do I have to wait at the start line forever for all the runners to clear, the event also has some VERY fast participants.  The winning runner crossed around the 15:30 mark.  I got the finish line up and configured with literally less than 60 seconds before he crossed the finish mats.

Normally by the time I am at the finish line I am just collecting times and posting/printing them.  Because of the deluge of paper entries I instead found myself doing data entry for the majority of the race.  I had over 50 paper entries that were handed in last minute.  Chris didn’t stop keying them in until 7:23.   Almost all of these people were out of towners that I did not have in my participant database that made the process very slow, made slower by trying to publish some finisher results while getting peppered with questions from participants who assume I know everything since I am sitting behind a computer.  I did not get my last paper entry into the system until after the one hour mark of the race, utterly ridiculous.

Finally I was able to breathe and realize I was officially past the worst part of the worst race I had left to time.  I may have actually smiled just a little bit for the first time all morning.  The timing for the race went smoothly overall.  I had a couple problem times which is pretty unavoidable with an event this size.  I fixed those problems and have heard only a couple post race issues which again is great with a 3000 person 5K.

Cindy once again reclaimed her role as the event mascot, spending a good portion of the morning in a turkey suit encouraging the runners, especially the kids.  She really excels in this role. We rolled off site around 9:45 after helping to clean up the majority of the race equipment.  The DD coffee on the way home felt especially satisfying, we survived our last Thanksgiving race, the largest event I have ever been involved with to date.

There was little time to relax when we got home.  I had post race stuff to attend to, Cindy had a big Thanksgiving dinner to coordinate.  Her family was due to show up around 4.  We both buzzed around for a good portion of the afternoon prepping despite both of us having low energy reserves from the skimpy sleep followed by the race craziness.  We combated it with some afternoon coffee.  I followed up with a 5 hour energy just as people were starting to show up.

I did watch some of the Eagles embarrassment on tv during the afternoon but don’t even feel like wasting time typing about it.  It was a horrible, horrible game on a national stage.  Chip Kelly has been exposed as a miserable NFL personnel manger and a one trick pony when it comes to game plans. That is all I can say about it.

12294847_10205401965393896_1938038356891076475_nIn addition to Cindy’s family, a friend of ours came over with her dog, Sage, who is a high energy labradoodle.  Before we let her into the backyard we corralled all the chickens back into the run for safety.  As we expected Sage was very interested in the chickens, running around the coop barking at them.  The chickens of course did not realize they were completely safe in there and started freaking out.  We tried to distract Sage and get her to play in other areas of the yard but her interest always turned back to the chickens so we headed back inside with her.

We had a lot of people under the roof, double digits including ourselves.  Cindy prepared a varied meal that was very tasty, she got good feedback from all.  The 5 hour energy and the natural energy from having all of those people around helped me stave off tiredness.

Kim was the last one there.  As her and Cindy talked I was hanging with Sage on the floor.  She was laying next to me and very content to let me rub her for as long as I wanted to.  It was cute.  When they left Cindy and I got most of the stuff cleaned up before retiring for a much needed night of sleep.  I slept like a rock with no recollection of the time in between closing my eyes and waking up around 7:30 Friday morning.

In the past I have messed around with the Black Friday scene, doing some occasional shopping.  This year I was not all that into it.  Cindy had her 9AM walking class to run so I used that time to get stuff done around the house outside, taking advantage of the cooler temps and lower humidity.  Once she got home we headed out to run some errands.  We took the SSR to add enjoyment to the trip.

One of the stops was Sam’s Club.  We took a look at some of the Black Friday stuff they had out.  One thing that caught our interest was an Atari 2600 package.  It’s basically an Atari looking console with some updates like wireless controllers and over 100 classic Atari games built in.  Cindy had an Atari 2600 as a kid and was very excited by it.  I never had one, opting for the more high end Mattel Intellivision as my first video game console.  I made an impulse buy and spent 40 bucks on the Atari system.  Later in the day when I hooked it up it did not take very long for me to realize that it was probably $40 wasted as any game I played normally was only briefly before I tired of the block graphics and klutzy controls.  Cindy, whose excitement was the main drive behind the purchase did not seem very excited about playing either.  Nostalgia sometimes sounds better than it actually is.

On Saturday I had plans to start with a run which were scuttled by an unsettled feeling stomach.   Instead we picked up Sadie and brought her home for a weekend visit.  We then got busy on part one of the two day Christmas decoration project.  I wanted to get the exterior decorations done on Saturday and the inside stuff done Sunday.  Our decorations got a few new additions this year with four fresh sets of colored string lights for the two front palm trees and a set of “AppLights” icicles for the front of the house, which are controlled via a smart phone.

12279147_10154142734562841_8589693929709588780_nThe colored string lights are a first for our property.  Ali had a deep dislike for colored Christmas lights so as a result I bought/hung nothing but white lights during the last 15 years or so.  I continued the all white thing even after we split for no particular reason.  Well both Cindy and I were very happy with the addition of color to the holiday landscape.  It looked really cool and I suspect next year it will expand to the second set of four palm trees.

The icicle applights looked cool as well as they cycled through dozens of patterns and light combos.  When combined with our LED snowmen heads and techno LED string light tree we bought last year the front of the house is very busy.

12308513_10154142734522841_3863751802297865027_nWe also got the chicken coop into the holiday spirit, stringing a long set of lights around the front of the run and roof line of the coop.  When it got dark out we walked the property admiring our handiwork, we were pleased.

Mid-afternoon I took part in an odd physical challenge.  When I posted about my shoulder issues last week an older calisthenics buddy of mind on FB who happens to be a physical therapist mentioned that bear crawling is a different type of way to help build up the shoulders.  I decided I would put that theory to the test in a rather large way.

bbcdfI have done bear/death crawls in the backyard a few times.  Once I crawled out to the back fence line and back.  Another time I did it while towing the tractor with Ali steering it.  I thought I would up the stakes and crawl the perimeter of the fence line this time, more than doubling the total distance.  Of course I did it on video and had a stop watch running.  As expected the crawl got very uncomfortable very quickly.  I paused multiple times during the attempt but never let my knees touch the ground.  I returned to the start line after about seven and a half minutes, completely out of breath.

Cindy, who was filming my attempt then said she wanted to try it which I thought was a bad idea.  Cindy never has done bear crawls, to make her first one just short of a 1/4 mile seemed excessive.  When she started out her pace seemed slower than mine but she kept going, pausing much less than I did.  At first I thought she would stop rather early in the attempt.  Instead she kept plugging away and actually completed the circuit almost a full minute faster than I did.  My ego was officially deflated but I took it in stride.  It was a testament to Cindy’s competitiveness and determination.  We both have been feeling the side effects of the bear crawl since with some pretty major back and shoulder soreness/pain.

Saturday night we stayed home and watched our Netflix rental, Vacation, the reboot of the National Lampoon series I have always loved.  My hopes of it delivering the same level of entertainment as the original films was probably unrealistic.  There were plenty of laughs in the film but overall it fell pretty short of the bar Chevy Chase and the gang set 20-25 years ago.  Seeing Chevy in the film for a small cameo role did nothing but depress me.  Man, he looks just awful nowadays with no hair and an extra 100 pounds or so on his body.  Beverly D’Angelo looks like she has botox for breakfast every morning which was scary in a different way.  Overall the film was ok, I guess I can give it a B+ rating despite it failing to capture the magic of the originals.

Sunday morning we finally got that run in.  We decided to keep it simple and just run to the end of our dead end road and back, which worked out to be a bit more than 3.5 miles.  The cooler temps made the run feel more comfortable although Cindy’s GPS indicated we ran it at a slower pace than it felt.

When we got back we let Sadie out and noticed she had diarrhea going on, something that she has from time to time.  Cindy made rice to supplement her meals to help her solidify things.   Ali had told me she gave Sadie turkey from their Thanksgiving meal and we had given her left over turkey Ali gave to us.  I later found out that giving a dog turkey skin is actually a really bad thing.  The sky high fat content in the skin can cause big problems for dogs ranging from diarrhea to full blown pancreatitis depending how much is consumed compared to the size of the dog.   I asked Cindy if the turkey we got from Ali had skin on it, she confirmed it did. I was quite surprised by this revelation and amazed I had not ever heard it before in my many years of dog ownership.

12321290_10154145465757841_1485143886082924430_nAfter doing a coffee run we got started on the inside decorations which included setting up the tree and other decorations which have been reduced significantly over the last few years.  Cindy spent a lot of time tweaking the branches of it to make it look as full and pretty as possible.  The interior of the house looked warm and festive by the time we wrapped up around lunch time.

The rest of Sunday was more relaxing, the first real relaxing we did during the four days off.  I did still need to pay my bills which included a pretty big accomplishment, making the last payment on the SSR roughly a year ahead  of time.  Owning the muscle truck free and clear has been a goal of mine for quite awhile.  The removal of that loan payment means the only long term debt I am currently holding is on the house in the form of the main mortgage and the HELOC.  It feels good. I plan to continue adding to my car payment budget column even though I won’t be having a payment.  I figure it will come in handy when I finally decide to replace the venerable Tacoma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So my flight was scheduled to leave Philly at 6:15pm.  A couple hours prior to that they pushed the departure time back 20 minutes to 6:35, annoying but nothing major.    The gate area for my flight was getting quite full so I decided to wait in the gate right across the hall.  I figured I would easily hear/see when they started to load.  After completing my blog post I dug into reading Crash and Burn, which I only started the night before.  Well either the book really held my attention or the speaker system next door wasn’t turned up very high.  I glanced over at my gate and all of a sudden there were about 15 people left, they obviously had been loading for quite awhile.  I quickly snapped close my book and wound up being the second to last person on the plane.

Despite packing intentionally light to avoid the cost and hassle of checking luggage for the second time in as many flights I wound up having to check my small bag due to all of the overhead bins being full.  The only positive of being forced to check your bag is they do it free of charge instead of socking you with the bullshit checked luggage fee US Airways and almost all major carriers charge nowadays.

I found my aisle seat.  Next to me was a hispanic woman who was traveling with her cute little daughter.  The little girl was already all set to take a nap, complete with a pillow, her blanket and a teddy bear.  It was very cute.  I almost immediately dug into my book.  Despite reading I was unable to block out some of the unavoidable annoying people on the flight.  Immediately to my left was a chubby, nerdy looking guy that would make some utterly disgusting noises which sounded like he was rattling mucus around.  Sometimes he would combine this with bringing his hand to his mouth, presumably to catch the sputum that was accompanying the disgusting noises.  After doing this I would see his hand go to his pant leg for a quick wipe off before it went right back to touching various areas of the seat.  Disgusting.

Then there was somebody with a horrible, chronic cough about six or seven rows ahead of me.  They were hacking almost non-stop for the first 45 minutes we were in the air, it was awesome.  I figured my odds of getting through the next several days without catching some illness from one of the passengers on the flight is pretty slim. The little girl fell asleep quickly.  She had her legs across her moms lap.  A few times she shifted and hit my legs with her feet.  The woman moved her feet immediately but I smiled and told her it was fine.  I was jealous the little girl could sleep through the gross sights and sounds of air travel.

I have to tell you US Airways flight attendants are pretty grumpy people.  I hardly caught a smile on any of their faces.  I also thought it was quite odd that between my two flights we had more men then women flight attendants.  That was a first.  It’s too bad that US Airways is my primary option for direct flights to Philly, I really don’t like the airline at all.  Between the bullshit fees, the cramped seating, the barebones drink service (you get one drink and not a single morsel of food), and the generally lousy disposition of the majority of their employees I really wish I had better options.

So as I mentioned I was plowing through Artie Lange’s second book, Crash and Burn.  Artie is a comedian and was co-host on the Stern show for around 10 years.  He is very funny, quick witted, has a photographic memory and happens to be one of the biggest drug addicts on the planet.  The second book covers the darkness surrounding his exit from the Stern Show which included a suicide attempt where he drank four shots of Chlorox Bleach and stabbed himself a number of times.

The stories of self destruction that are in the book seem impossible in scope and how often they were happening.  It gave a very open look at just how deep and dark the world of a serious drug addict can be.  I am sure multiple times my mouth dropped open as I shook my head in disbelief as I was turning the pages.  It was amazingly terrible just how hard he worked at destroying both his life and as a result the lives of the people that care about him.

The book was odd in the way it was written where at the end Artie tells on himself, basically admitting that something written earlier in the book was a lie.  Also earlier in the book he described how his relationship with his girlfriend that he loved came to an end after another Artie self destruction event.  Then at the very end he says they reconciled and were now engaged. I did a quick search and found out that engagement ended as well.  Of course I’m not surprised.

artie27n-24-web[1]Also the good fortune he described work-wise after he came back from his suicide appears to also have gone away as well.  The DirecTv show he had was cancelled as was the deal he had with Comedy Central.  It appears his only action currently is a podcast that you have to pay to subscribe to as well as some stand up gigs.  Unfortunately I have next to no doubt that Artie is cursed to spend whatever is left of his life, lying, abusing himself and hurting anyone in his inner circle as his demons come to the surface again and again.  The roughly 300 page book was a good read but certainly nothing that will make you feel happy or upbeat.  The best you can hope for is it will make you more appreciative that at least you are not him.

I had forgot to mention that I bought a unique present for Cindy that arrived earlier this week, an Amazon Echo.b8dd669b1ae9049e3101e504cfa86911-amazon-launches-echo-a-sirilike-digital-assistant[1]  The Echo is a wireless digital assistant.  Sort of imagine if Siri was pulled out of your Iphone and placed on your counter.

The small device has 7 microphones inside that are specially designed to hear your questions/commands from a considerable distance away.  It also has a high quality speaker system inside that provides high quality audio when you ask the Echo to do things like play music.

When Cindy first opened the box she was sort of like “great, another weird piece of tech”  but once she set it up and started playing around with the device she changed her tune.  She realized the Echo was sort of awesome. Not only can you give it commands by saying “her” name, Alexa, it can answer questions spoken in plain english, play music, tell you the weather, etc and even control home automation devices like the Nest and Phillip Hue.   In addition the device works with IFTTT (if this then that) which allows the Echo to be scripted to interact with other web enabled services in a near infinite amount of ways.

Amazon is continuously expanding the feature set of the Echo so the device should only get better and better over time.  Is it a necessary household addition?  Of course not.  Is it fun and cool? Absolutely.

It was nice to sleep in my own bed with Cindy and the two dogs near by.  The trip was quick and fun but it’s always feels good to come back to my familiar four walls.

Yesterday after work I stopped at Costco to get something.  Even though it was a Tuesday night there still were a quite a few people milling about.  I have complained in the past about how I dislike my shopping experience at Costco, despite my support for their business model where they pay their employees real wages, despite being in the highly competitive retail market.  Unfortunately, there are just too many human beings that crowd the aisles of my local Naples store and I find it extremely annoying.

Last night in the span of 30 seconds I ran into 4 different individuals, all women, blocking the aisles through thoughtless cart placement.  Two of them stuck their cart in the middle of the aisle at an angle, making it impossible to pass on either side.  Two of them pulled the classic bonehead move, park your cart on one side while you look at stuff on the other side, turning yourself into a shopping cart/human barricade. Each successive female got an increasingly frustrated sounding , “Excuse me…” as I tried to snake around them.

When The Bachelor first came out nearly a decade ago I watched the first season of it and never have returned as I deemed it as not worth my time.  Well Cindy has been a long time Bachelor fan and indirectly got me watching this current season with the infamous Juan Pablo.  Well even though I realize the show is trash tv at it’s finest, I have to admit I found last night’s finale fascinating.  The guy has cemented the crown as the biggest d-bag bachelor in the history of the show.  He is the male equivalent of a beautiful woman that has air between her ears and a horrible attitude to boot.  The most amazing part of the show was how Juan Pablo’s family basically told both of the final two girls that JP is more or less an asshole.

There have been a lot of press down here lately regarding vehicles hitting cyclists and pedestrians.  In the past couple months there have been a number of these cases.  As someone who has a road bike and has put a decent amount of time in on two wheels on our local roadways I have seen a lot of this firsthand where vehicles get far too close to me as I am pedaling in the bike lane.  Luckily I never had an impact with a car/truck.

Just yesterday I saw a guy on a bike that got knocked over on my way to the gym and then on my way home saw a driver making a right hand turn lay on his horn and narrowly miss a guy in the crosswalk.  There is no excuse for a driver to hit a pedestrian or cyclist.

However I have also seen the side of this coin.  You see, in these incidents there is one common factor, human beings are involved.  Human beings do stupid things and this is often the case with pedestrians and people on bicycles.  I can’t tell you how many times I have seen both cyclists (on sidewalks) and pedestrians cross in front of cars or enter intersections without so much as a momentary glance to ensure they are seen.  Yes, drivers are responsible for making sure they spot people on bikes or on foot but that does not absolve cyclists/pedestrians from doing their part to avoid potential accidents as well.

Hell 5 or 6 years ago when I was going to the gym I knocked over some Hispanic guy on a bike that crossed in front of me as I was looking the other way at oncoming traffic.  Yes I should have made sure the other direction was clear but he should have made the effort to determine if I saw him or not.  Instead he just went straight ahead like he had a set of blinders on.  As I said, I see this behavior ALL the time, so much so that I just assume the other person will not bother to look at me.  Failure to exercise common sense in your own personal safety is your problem first.

 

 

1549406_10152694331832841_203740829_n[1]I forgot to mention that I finally got around to getting nightstands for the master bedroom again.  Ever since the split some 20 months ago I have had a flimsy, small shelf on my side of the bed that was loaded down with remote controls, magazines and books.

At first I looked into getting the matching set from Rooms To Go since that is where the bedroom furniture came from.  They no longer had that style of furniture and any nightstands they were selling were between $200-$300 each, more than I was looking to spend.

Well as has often been the case, Amazon once again came to the rescue.  I found $70 stands that appeared to be a close match to the wood color of the existing stuff.  All I had to do was grab two metal knobs at Home Depot to mimic what is on the RtG furniture.

Assembly of the nightstands was straightforward and despite the low price, they seemed to be pretty high quality.  The finished stands felt solid and looked good.  The color match with the old stuff was very good as well.  To the casual observer, they may even think the nightstands were part of the bedroom set.  Their addition to the room added a completeness that was missing.  The only in house item that I need to reinstate is a king size bed in the guest bedroom.  Hopefully that will be a 2014 item.

On Saturday I had various things I wanted to get done.  I mowed the big section of the backyard and then ripped apart the dash of my SSR for seemingly the 100th time to adjust the gain on a potentiometer in my stereo system.  When I last ripped it apart to redo the ground I turned down the gain.  Well I turned it down too far, so far that with the stereo set at max volume it was hard to hear during topless highway driving.

I also needed to check the clutch fluid on the truck, shifting was feeling different.  Well the reservoir was very low.  The question was where did the fluid go?  I opened the remote drain line while refilling the clutch fluid tank to fill/bleed it.  I am hoping that possibly I just didn’t have the drain plug on tight enough, causing the slow leak.  I will need to keep an eye on things.

So back to the stereo.  I ripped the front dash cover off, something I am quite adept at by now.  I turned the dial up on the potentiometer and turned the key enough to flip on the radio.  It was loud with volume to spare, sweet.  I put everything back together, happy to have completed the project.

Well I wasn’t happy when I took the truck to the movies with Cindy Saturday night.  When I started the truck I immediately heard the annoying as shit electronic whine that follows engine RPM.  Evidently I cranked the knob too far, enough to once again pull that noise into the system.  When I tested it during the day I stupidly didn’t turn the truck all the way on.  So sometime soon I will be ripping the dash apart yet again, fantastic.

The movie we went to see was 47 Ronin, an action movie set in ancient samurai times starring Keanu Reaves.  I was SHOCKED when we walked up to the box office and saw a line of 30 plus people at Coconut Point.  This theater is never, ever this busy.  Evidently I must have never gone there to see a movie between Xmas and New Years.  Luckily the long line moved quickly.  The line at the food stand was equally long and unfortunately much, much slower.  By the time we got into our seats we were well into the previews.

I thought the movie was good, not great.  It was nice seeing Keanu back in an action film.  I’d give the flick a strong B+, bordering on an A- depending on my mood.

Perhaps my rating is negatively biased from the fat, zit faced kid that was sitting two seats to my left during the film.  Every few minutes he felt the need to light up his phone, just to make sure he didn’t miss some social media, text message or other brainless activity.  When I see individuals that are so connected with their electronic devices that they can’t even sit through a movie without interacting with them it sickens me.  It makes me feel badly for even owning a smartphone myself.  As I was waiting in the hall after the movie, 75% of the human beings in the hall with me had their heads down, making virtual love to their phones.  It just bothers me.

1513238_10152696767502841_1884907183_n[1]When we got home we had to light up a vanilla birthday cupcake for Nicki, celebrating her 11th birthday.  Both Sadie and her LOVED their sweet treat.  Sadie was pushing the dish across the floor, trying to lick up every last speck of icing.  Tonight I get to repeat the process since it is Sadie’s bday.

Sunday was a very slow/lazy day for me.  It was off and on raining for most of the morning, scuttling our tentative plans to do a bike ride.  Late morning we headed back up to Coconut Point to the ATT store.  We had stopped there before the movie to look into replacing Cindy’s aging Iphone 4S.  I had made the suggestion that she looks into breaking away from her Iphone heritage and look into a Samsung Galaxy S4.  Since playing with my Galaxy Tab 3 Cindy bought me for Xmas I am more and more impressed with the Android environment.

The S4 hardware is superior to what Apple offers as well with a better camera, dramatically larger screen and release from the typical Apple shackles, allowing you to do things like add a memory card and swap out the battery yourself, GASP.  Cindy wanted to go back to that particular store because she had a soft spot for the kid that helped us. He had a pretty noticeable stutter, something difficult to deal with in the sales field.

Well her loyalty came with a price.  The cost was at least 60 minutes of standing around, waiting for Nathan to get free.  We had the misfortune of showing up while he was in the middle of replacing phones for an ENTIRE family, four phones in total.  By the end of the 60 minute wait I was right on the verge of consuming my last grain of patience.

Finally he finished up and took care of the swap which was pretty easy.  Cindy converted over to the ATT Next plan which allows you to swap out your phone more often for less up front money.  I was skeptical of the plan since when you break costs into monthly increments you always wind up paying more than if you just bite the bullet and pay it up front.  However in her case the numbers made sense.  Instead of paying 199 up front for a new phone, her upgrade fee was 40 bucks and will remain 40 bucks in 18 months when she upgrades again.  With a 10 GIG shared data plan (her daughter is on her account), her monthly bill only went up roughly 10 bucks.

Cindy was scared to leave the comfort of her Iphone but I convinced her after the transition phase which is sure to be frustrating at times, she will be glad she made the switch.  I know multiple Galaxy former iOwners that LOVE their Droids once they switched.  A good portion of the rest of Sunday was spent fussing with the S4, migrating data from her Iphone to it and exploring/learning/configuring things on the new phone.

I sort of felt like a lazy bum during the afternoon, surely due to the lack of any organized exercise during the weekend.  It wasn’t like I was laying around watching tv and drinking beer but still, my mental health requires physical effort.

1482880_722728657740391_1857136686_n[1]I had the Phantom in the air a number of times over the weekend.  Each time I was amazed at just how ez the thing is to fly.  I had so much confidence in it’s stability that I even let Cindy fly it around the yard quite a bit.  As long as you make sure you are away from/above any potential obstacles you are good to go.  Crashing it would require an act of extreme negligence.  I’m not quite sure what the range is of the radio but I have had the sucker quite high, to the point where it was a small red/green blip in the sky.

Wow, the Eagles did it.  They beat the Cowboys to win the NFC East, delivering a huge interception at the very end of the game to secure the win.  The game was great, just what you would want for a contest deciding the division champion.  The Eagles never trailed but were only holding a very narrow lead for most of the game.

For Dallas it had to be a heartbreaking loss, akin to what the Eagles experienced losing three or four NFC championship games in a row.  You see for the past three years Dallas had a chance to win their division on the last game of the season against a division opponent.  For three years in a row they have gone down in flames, losing to the Giants, the Redskins and now the Eagles.

The Eagles winning the division is part of a dramatic turnaround that I never would have predicted a couple months ago when the team seemed destined to be in the midst of a rebuilding year, sitting at 3-5.  I am very happy to pronounce myself mistaken in my analysis of the team back them.  Nick Foles meteoric rise at QB and the defense playing better resulted in 7-1 finish, putting the Birds at 10-6 for the year.

Even with the great finish I am still not taking anything for granted.  I have no idea if they can make any headway in the playoffs or if the Saints will come in to one and done them.  It doesn’t really matter though to me, it’s all gravy at this point.

1028924943_3039aa1b5f_o[1]I can’t believe I forgot to relay the most interesting part of my day yesterday.  I was on my way to the running club meeting.  I was on a 6 lane road (three lanes per side) and passed a guy riding an ordinary looking mountain bike.  I didn’t notice the bike as much as how this moron was riding it.

He was wearing headphones, and was riding with no hands on the handlebars, relying on forward momentum to steer for him.  Ok I have seen this before. In fact, I have even ridden with no hands for brief periods of time just to see if I could do it.  Of course I would never entertain doing so with 6 lanes of rush hour of traffic in the vicinity.

These items already made the guy a certifiable dumb ass in my book.  However apparently he was interested in raising the bar.  The reason he had no hands on the handlebars was because he had both hands on his smartphone.  He was feverishly texting away, looking at the phone, with no hands on the handlebars and headphones on, with 6 lanes of traffic next to him.

I turned my head and just gazed in disbelief at just how incredibly moronic this visual was.  I continued to monitor the stupidity in the rear view mirror and then it happened, he dumped the bike.  I laughed out loud when I saw it.  He managed to land on his feet but the bike crashed into the curb.

Perhaps this young man will use his crash as a learning tool and no longer bicycle while listening to music and texting with no hands on the handlebars.  Who am I kidding….