Category: Vehicle Maintenance

Last night before dinner I wanted to get a quick ride in before dinner so I hopped on my Msuper and headed to the first cross street.  I quietly carved back and forth as I traveled both ends of the street under the bright full moon.  It always feels good to just get out and ride.  Even brief 10-15 minute sessions like last night helps clear the mind and dull some of the sharp things jabbing me in my daily grind.

I was surprised and happy to hear that Cindy was actually out on her wheel in the backyard yesterday practicing, using the new chicken fence as a support.  She said she actually launched herself away from the safety of the fence a few times and free wheeled it.  She said she feels less danger when the potential for falling is on grass instead of asphalt or concrete.

So today on my way to work I had two annoying things happen with my Tacoma.  Shortly after pulling out of the driveway the RPMs on the truck jumped way up, it almost felt like the truck was in neutral.  I immediately backed off the gas.  After doing so when I reapplied the gas the truck felt normal but it concerns me because of the widespread transmission issues that have been reported with the new Tacomas.  I already had mine at the dealer once to have a reprogramming done to the transmission controller to address shifting problems.

Then about five minutes later my information center lights up with alternating ABS/BSM warning lights, the same problem the truck spent 3-4 days at the dealer for a couple months ago.  At that time they replaced the driver side wheel sensor and the problem had not reappeared, until today.

I have to say my new Tacoma ownership experience has not been as smooth as I had hoped it would be.  These various electronic gremlins, transmission issues, and dealing with a shitty dealer have been the source of a lot of frustration, the sort of frustration you hope to avoid by buying a new vehicle.  I turned the truck off and on which made the error disappear but I am pretty sure it will be back.

This weekend I hope to do one more big load of sod and topsoil to raise certain areas in the new chicken run and patch up areas that are bare.  It is always dirty, unfun work but I am hoping it will be the last of it for a little while.  I’d like to take the wheels down to Marco this weekend to try riding around the hilly areas.  We will see how that works out.

So yesterday was Chapter 2 in my SQL corruption trial by fire experience.  Early in the morning we saw the document imaging system generated an error importing a single file overnight.  When we looked in the Windows application log we saw the SQL server generated a 824 error which is bad news.  It basically means for some reason it was unable to write data.   I ran a dbcheck on the database and was not happy to see around 150 “inconsistencies” reported.  I was actually surprised the DB was still online and functioning as this was similar to the errors I saw when the DB went offline 10 days prior.

So I spent the rest of the day trying to determine my best course of action.  Contacting the application vendor last time proved to be pretty worthless but we placed a call with them anyway, which didnt get returned until later in the day, after I already decided on a new course of action. In my research I determined I was missing an important part of a good SQL management plan, regular dbchecks.  By running these checks you can catch inconsistencies early, making it easier to recover from them with minimal data loss.  The only time I ran these was after a problem already existed.

So it seemed like my best option was to pay for a Microsoft professional services incident where you pay $499 and they have a high level tech contact you to remedy the issue.  I placed the ticket around 3PM.  They had a four hour response window.  When I closed my door shortly before 5 I assumed we would be tackling the problem in depth the following day.  Well as I took a couple steps down the hall I heard my phone ring in the office.  I instantly wondered if it was Microsoft calling.  I ran back into my office and picked up the phone.  It was indeed Paul from SQL support group.

We embarked on a roughly three hour trouble shooting session that involved restoring back ups and testing their integrity.  We determined that even the back ups had the same inconsistencies as the production database.  The plan then shifted where the tech ran a repair on one of the backed up DB’s which fixed the inconsistencies by deleting the records that contained them.  The downside of this was a handful of data was deleted but in the big picture in a DB containing millions of images, losing a few is not really a concern.

My main concern was that the application still ran correctly after the clean up.  The tech swapped in the repaired DB and I brought the application back up.  I was able to test various aspects of the document imaging process, it all seemed to be working fine.  I thanked the tech for all of his help.  It was great to deal with someone so knowledgeable and even better that he was not from India.

I didn’t leave the office until a little before 8.  I felt badly because we made plans go riding the PTV’s with Katie and Daniel to look at more Christmas lights.  I was happy that even though I got home late they were still there and ready to ride.  Instead of going to Ave Maria as originally planned we went to the nearby Waterways development which had some very pretty lights as well.

It was a bit chilly with temps in the mid 60’s when combined with the wind from rolling around at 10+ mph.  Even so we had fun and were out there longer than we originally planned.  We made plans to meet up again Friday evening and head out to Ave Maria on the wheels, it should be a very festive and fun way to start off Christmas weekend.

I have known for awhile that the struts on the Prius have not been in good shape which probably helped accelerate the wear of the tires that were just replaced.  It sort of hammers over bumps.  I have now watched the replacement process for the front and rear struts/shocks.  It involved taking a LOT of stuff off just to access to the parts I want to replace.  So although it is involved I would not call it difficult work.  I think I will buy myself a Haynes repair manual shortly and tackle the job as an early 2017 challenge.

This will be my last working day until next Tuesday.  I am looking forward to a great four days with lots of giving peppered with some receiving.

 

 

Yesterday I had a different sort of work day that started and ended with riding my Msuper.  I headed to the greenway after work and had a very pleasant roughly seven mile ride before sunlight was totally expired.  I wore my gym clothes and actually felt a bit chilly as I tooled around.  I was cold enough that I actually used the heated seat feature of the Tacoma for the first time ever on the way home.

This weekend I have some automotive work on my plate.  I need to rotate the tires on the Prius to try to stretch a few more thousand miles out of them before they get replaced.  I bought them shortly after we got the car.  It seems nearly impossible that we already have put over 50,000 miles on them.

2017-toyota-tacoma-trd-pro-inline1-2-photo-666034-s-originalThe other task is replacing the overly chrome grill on my Tacoma with the darker and cooler version found on the Tacoma TRD Pro.  I have watched a few install videos for the grill, it looks like it takes some time but is not high on the difficulty scale.   I actually ordered the grill over a month ago.  It took this long to get it due to high demand.  Evidently this is a popular swap out among Tacoma owners.

I am going to willingly subject myself to what is surely going to be a madhouse scene at Costco after work today.  In addition to some grocery items I am hoping to score the few remaining Xmas gifts I need to cross off my list. I just remember to take deep breaths and remind myself it will all be ok.

I was sort of freaked out most of the afternoon yesterday from the news that I guy I knew from the gym for quite a few years dropped after doing a heavy set earlier in the week and died the following day.  He had a brain aneurysm which surely could have been related to the strenuous activity he was doing at the time. He was 49.  Nothing like having mortality thrust in front of your face  to ruin your day.  I can’t help but feel a little weird each time I am in the area of the gym where it all went down.

So my weekend got off to a very frustrating start on Friday.  In the mail was a letter from Synchrony Bank regarding the Amazon store credit card I applied for.  Uh, I didn’t apply for such a card.  I have not applied for a new credit card in years.  So considering I had someone go on a small spending spree with my Visa card a month or so ago I was on full suspicious mode.

My initial thoughts were maybe the letter itself is a hoax and an elaborate phishing scheme.  The letter instructs you to call a number to complete the card application.  Perhaps this was just to get people to hand over key information over the phone?  I hopped on the internet and checked the phone number and verified it was indeed owned by Synchrony so I decided to give it a call.

I explained to the guy on the phone I got this letter for a credit card I did not apply for.  He said he was sorry to let me know that whomever did apply for the card had some key information like my date of birth and social security number.  He said that the application did trip some red flags which is why a letter was sent to my address as a secondary form of verification.  Of course I found it extremely disconcerting that my SS number is out in the wild.  The bank rep was very helpful, letting me know what to do next, call Trans Union and report the incident.  What happens is when you report such an incident to a credit bureau they will report the fraud to the other agencies.  A 90 day flag is then placed on your account that indicates no credit should be extended in your name without additional verification. Well that’s cool but what happens after 90 days?  All the criminal has to be is patient and try again.  The guy said if you file a police report you can get that flag placed on your account for 7 years.  Yea it’s a pain in the ass to jump through that hoop but better than getting your id hijacked.

I thanked the bank rep and called Trans Union who apparently has outsourced their call center to India, awesome.  I struggled through the conversation with the phone rep but at the end of it was assured the flag was now active on my account.  For the foreseeable future I need to have my ears up and eyes wide open for ANYTHING suspicious in my financial world.

On Saturday I decided to resurrect my infamous to do list, a small hand written piece of paper that resides on the kitchen counter, laying out things I want to accomplish for the day.  I rarely use this method anymore although it used to be a weekly ritual.  It’s an effective way to get things done.  Saturday’s list had six or seven items on it.  Crossing them all off consumed the majority of the daylight hours, I finished up mid-afternoon.

Late afternoon I rewarded myself for my labor with an electric unicycle ride to the school.  I decided to ride my Ninebot One which I have hardly touched since I got the bigger and faster Gotway Msuper.  I just felt like mixing it up.  The Ninebot which I probably put over 250 miles on felt a bit foreign at first, feeling small and nimble.  Cindy drove over to the school with Sadie and Elsa to walk around for a bit while I was there.  I hitched a ride back to the house with her when I was done.  During the ride the total mileage on the 9B1 crossed the 300 mile mark.  The last 30-40 or so miles have actually been ridden by Daniel, not me.

Saturday night we stayed home and watched Mechanic, Resurrection, a Jason Statham movie.  Jason seems to play an almost identical role in every film he does which isn’t a bad thing.  His movies usually have good action and excitement despite being very predictable.  Unfortunately I fell asleep and missed the entire ending although Cindy filled in the blanks for me.  I feel safe giving it a standard B rating.

So my months long streak of getting out for a run on the weekends ended on Sunday.  My cold has continued to slowly ramp up with more runny nose and coughing fits.  Although it hasn’t decimated my energy level based on the work I did on Saturday I definitely was not feeling great.  I took Nyquil cold medicine Saturday night which knocked me out, I didn’t roll out of bed until 7:45, awaking in the Nyquil haze that feels odd.  Oh well, I will start it back up next weekend and I actually hope to run at the gym during the week.

Katie and her boyfriend came over mid-morning for yet another EUC ride.  We rode around the Heritage Bay development mostly.  Both Katie and Daniel have become real EUC enthusiasts.  Katie logged at least 5 miles on the slow training wheel without any major incidents which is very impressive.

I was home alone during the afternoon as Cindy went to her nephews birthday party.  I didn’t go because of feeling lousy and my desire to catch the Eagles game.  In retrospect the game was certainly not worth any sacrifice.  The Eagles played like shit, again.  It was the exact opposite of the first three games of the season where it appeared the team was hitting on all cylinders with solid play on both sides of the ball with very few mistakes.  The team has now transformed into basically a bunch of bumbling idiots, unable to get out of their own way.

Carson Wentz had his worst game of the season, throwing three interceptions and could have literally had double that if the Bengal defenders held onto the ball.  Surely the fault is not entirely his as his surrounding cast has gone into the shitter.  But Carson has not performed well, making bad decisions and bad throws on a pretty routine basis.  I still think he is the QB of the future but the future is considerably less bright than 6 weeks ago.

Doug Pederson who like the rest of team, surprised me early in the season, has now been performing more on par with my pre-season expectations.  He just seems to have no answers to halt the steady downturn in performance by his players.  Yesterday was a must win game if the team wanted to stay in the playoff hunt.  Their response to that challenge was to come out and absolutely suck in every aspect of the game.  The rest of the season will be interesting to see if the plummet continues or if the team decides to actually give a damn.

The game was so bad that I spent some of the second half performing a modification to my Tacoma.  A YouTube viewer of my channel informed me of a mod many owners have been doing to their AC drain outlet to prevent possible future problems.  In what seems a dumb design choice by Toyota, the drain tube for AC condensation is right above the frame.  Some owners have reported this constant flow of water has started to cause some surface rust on their frame welds.  The mod involves attaching a longer hose to the outlet so the water drips out below the frame instead of above it.

I purchased some heater hose, hose clamps and zip ties to complete the work.  I wound up spending more time doing the work than I expected, trying to get the additional hose routed and oriented in such a way to not impede drainage of the line.  Of course I documented the process on video, take a look below if you feel like.

Sadie and Elsa have had so much fun playing over the weekend.  It’s great that they get along.  Elsa in general has seemed less skittish and fearful while Sadie is there.  I am not sure why that is but hopefully it carries over after Sadie goes home tomorrow.

 

 

I took yesterday off to drive Cindy all the way up to St Petersburg to go to the VA facility there.  Although it is nice the VA offers free health care to veterans, it is definitely not convenient or fast.  We had to go up there to talk to a specialist that was not available anywhere closer.  We pulled out before 7:30 for the long drive.  In total we spent over 6 hours on the road, it almost felt like a driving day we would put in during one of our road trips.

The doctor we spoke to was a stark contrast to the last one who had terrible bed side manner and was just plain rude.  This guy was older and really gave Cindy an opportunity to try to express the variety of symptoms she has been dealing with for quite awhile.  The biggest problem is the symptoms  have many, many possible sources.  The doctor listened to everything but still was unable to give Cindy the clear cut diagnosis she was hoping for.  However he did lay out several courses of action that Cindy will be following up on.

On the drive home we stopped at an undeniably low rent lunch shack called Salem’s Gyro.  The inside was dirty and run down but it was the only food place I saw before getting back on 275.    Their menu was interesting with fried chicken gizzards being a feature item.  The shrimp platter Cindy got and the fish sandwich I picked was actually quite good although being very “heavy”.

So Monday night Cindy and I dropped off the Tacoma at the dealer.  Cindy had been telling me about some weird sensation she was getting while braking.  During the day Monday she actually had an ABS error flash on the screen as well as an error regarding the blind spot detection system.  Well I didn’t want to mess around with any potential braking problem so we got it in there right away. The truck was in there all day Tuesday, my hope was we could pick it up on the way home.  Around two o’clock we had not heard anything so I had Cindy contact them.  The service rep said they were still working on it so I decided to stop on the way home since it was on the way.

teaser-pro1x-facdade21So I found my service rep and he told me the shop foreman took the truck out and did notice some odd behavior when braking and the error came up on the instrument panel.  At that time in the conversation I recalled that I had seen an odd airbag error a couple weeks ago that fixed itself as well so I shared that as well.  So anyway after reproducing the error the foreman went to hook up to the vehicle diagnostic connector to see if he could pull more information.  When he did he saw I had my Automatic adapter attached, the cloud trip logger I got for Christmas last year.  I had it in my 99 Tacoma and put it in my 2016 Tacoma during my first week or two of ownership. The guy pulled the Automatic out of the diag port and was unable to get the error to reappear, odd.

So the troubleshooter in me immediately suggested to my service rep the next logical step would be to run the truck without the Automatic adapter attached.  Even though it has been fine for all these months, logic dictated that this simple solution should be the first one tried.  We agreed I would take the truck and report back if I see any errors reoccur.

Later at home when I was documenting my problem for my YouTube channel I noticed something very interesting.  The Automatic adapter was rattling when I shook it.  The rattle to me indicated the possibility that some electronic component inside failed which absolutely could have unpredictable behavior when connected to the vehicle computer.  So far on the drive home last night and the drive to work today I have seen no reoccurrence of the ghost in the machine. It would be great if the problem was that simple although speaks poorly of the quality control of the Automatic adapter.

I was very excited to get a ship notice on my new Msuper wheel this morning from SpeedyFeet, located in the UK.  I am being hopeful that somehow it gets to my door by Saturday although I am probably being overly optimistic.

I would love to talk in depth about episode 1 of this season of Walking Dead but won’t because of spoiler potential.  Let me just say it set Cindy off in a near hysterical crying, screaming fit which I don’t think is the reaction the show producers should be aiming for.

So I was pleasantly surprised that my replacement DirecTv receiver was at my door already yesterday.  On the phone I was told it would be 2-5 business days, it got there in one.  Gotta love under promising and over delivering. So last night I hooked up the new receiver which is a much newer model than what I had.  I got everything connected and started going through the set up screens.  When it tried to connect to the satellite service it would repeatedly fail.  I backed up and ran the signal strength test.  It showed straight zeroes across the board , wtf….

sup-2400_zoom1So after screwing around some more I finally decided to call DirecTV support.  After verifying that my dish and switch type selections were correct he had me try to connect repeatedly and again had no more success than I did.  He said maybe my dish was out of alignment but I assured it had not been touched.  I did not tell him that I had a likely lightning strike however.  The rep said the only thing he could do was schedule a tech to come out to check stuff out.  Ok, fine. I scheduled a visit for Sunday, yes they work 7 days a week.

So after I hung up I still was not satisfied with the troubleshooting.  Just for the hell of it, I decided to remove the “B-band convertor” that is inline between the satellite coax feed and the receiver.  I reconnected the line to the receiver and tried to connect again.  It worked.  Evidently the convertor which is used to gain access to a number of HD channels was also damaged from the electrical surge.

So I called DirecTv back, hoping I could skip a service call and just have the convertor sent to me.  We went through some more set up screens and verified that even though I was now talking to DirecTV satellites, I did not have access to all of the stuff I should because of the lack of this little grey box.  The rep said the tech will have a replacement convertor if needed.  Well it was obviously needed.  I wound up staying out there until 10 getting the problem sorted out.

It looks like my new 70 inch tv is going to be the last thing to get replaced or fixed.  I got a call from the service that does the repair.  They said they had to order a main board for the TV and that was back ordered.  They probably won’t even have the part for a week, meaning we will be limping along with a TV less than half the size of what is normally sitting there, oh well.

So last night there was some gusty winds and brief periods of rain but overall the effect of Matthew in our area was very minimal.  We slept through the night without hearing any severe weather.  I was glad to see when I woke up that the eye of the storm has stayed comfortably off shore to this point, keeping the worst case scenario off the table.  From what I can tell the biggest problem as of now is large scale power loss but even that is much less severe than it could have been.  Florida is not out of the woods yet as it will be scraping along the northeast coast during the day.  If you look at the long term forecast there is a chance the damn thing could go out to sea, loop around and smack us again.  Let’s hope that scenario doesn’t play out.

Dad, Teresa, Maggie and Clara should be arriving this afternoon for a weeklong visit.  Of course we need to be very cautious with a yard full of chickens.  Until we get a feel for any potential aggression level from their dogs towards the chickens they will be kept separated.  If the chickens are free ranging in the yard the dogs will not be and if we have the dogs off leash the chickens will be inside the coop/run.  Of course we hope everyone just gets along.  I plan to have Sadie out for the weekend as well to add to the fun.

This will be the first time they will have visited my place without me having a large conversion available to shuttle both humans and dogs around the area.  We will likely just have to do the dual car thing when animals are involved with wherever we wind up going.  My step mom and Cindy are planning to go to Key West for a couple days next week which will be fun for them.  Outside of that we have not made firm plans we will just go with the flow as we normally do.

Oh I forgot, we dropped off the Prius to get the passenger wheel bearing/hub replaced since the part I ordered on Amazon showed up yesterday.  The repair took on a more urgent nature since Cindy and Teresa plan to take the Prius to Key West to maximize mpg.

 

 

I figured a long 5 day weekend needed to be recapped now instead of later to conserve brain cells.  The main reason I took Thursday and Friday off was Cindy needed a ride to the Cape Coral VA hospital because she was having a MRI done.  She was going to take a valium to ease some of the anxiety the MRI process can cause so with me being there we could head home without first waiting for the valium to wear off.

I brought my Warcraft book and also had a Kindle version of Lenny Dykstra’s book I could read.  Instead I wound up playing Hearthstone the couple hours I was waiting while watching the Buzzr channel which is nothing but old game shows.  I forgot just how much I enjoyed shows like Match Game and Family Feud in my younger days.

Cindy emerged from her procedure intact and only a little fuzzy from the valium.  By the time we got home it was mid-afternoon.  Cindy was really tired and tried to nap.  I putzed around the house doing a few things, including removing the dealer emblem from the back of my Tacoma.

I designated Friday as the day to get the rain shelter built on the side of the house over the water equipment.  I have had most of the raw materials to do the project in the shed for a couple of weeks and I was ready to get it out of the way.  I got outside relatively early.  I had some grand delusion that I would have most of the shelter done before the heat of the day set in.  Yea, right.

13590239_10154622162727841_1385303295382827171_nIt quickly became an all day affair with me laboring away in 90+ degree/ 90% humidity which is just pure misery.  Of course I had to go to Home Depot to grab some extra stuff I hadn’t anticipated which is nearly always the case with my home improvement projects.  At least it gave me a reason to take Sadie with.  Home Depot has quickly become one of her favorite places since we discovered it was dog friendly.

I was working on the shelter until almost 5PM and by the time clean up began my ass was dragging big time.  Despite drinking throughout the day I felt majorly dehydrated and exhausted.  Thanks to Cindy’s help I got the frame in place and stained.  The only thing that remained was attaching the roof panels but I needed some additional parts to make that happen so it was going to have to wait until Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

Tracer_portrait[1]Cindy had spent a good portion of Thursday evening and Friday working on her costume for Supercon.  She had decided late in the week she was going to go as Tracer, one of the heroes from Overwatch.  Of course the easiest thing to do when it comes to costumes is to simply buy one.  The problem with that is then you look just like everyone else that just bought one.

Cindy has always been good, very good actually at making costumes by hand.  She has an uncanny knack to just be able to take a bunch of raw materials and make very cool costumes out of it.  She uses a similar process in costume making as I do with home projects, start with a general idea and tweak it as you go.

She was stressing out late Friday, not thinking she was going to be able to get t all done.  She actually did not get it all done Friday, she did the finishing work Saturday morning, right up until the time we were heading out for Florida Supercon in Miami.  I opted to not do any special costume, declaring my Under Armour Spiderman shirt as festive enough.

We took the Prius across state opting for gas savings over the more comfortable cruising the 2016 Tacoma offers.  The drive went relatively smooth until we ran into some pretty serious traffic coming into Miami which is normal.  Our plan was to park in a garage that was in between our hotel and the convention center, both within walking distance.  The walk to Supercon was a few blocks which didn’t feel great in the heat and humidity.  We could tell we were getting close as we saw more and more people in costume going the same direction.

Cindy had planned for us to go to Supercon for a bit and then go back to the hotel for her to do her costume, hair and make up in the afternoon.  Once we saw so many people already dressed up and the long security line we realized it may have been better for us to be in full costume from the start instead of having to come, go and come back again.  It was our first time at an event like this so we had much to learn.

13590319_1224798860866699_3336039955776482111_nLike I mentioned the security line to get in was very long but luckily they had a lot of staff there so the line moved quick.  The time went quickly since everywhere you turned there was someone in an interesting or funny costume to look at.  It didn’t take long till I regretted not doing any sort of more formal costume.

I had never been inside the Miami Convention Center before.  I was impressed at how big it was.  Once we got inside the main show floor it was just wall to wall exhibits and people.  It was a nerd’s fantasy without a doubt.  We met up with our friend Kim and her two kids who also were over from Naples, we spent a good chunk of our time at the con with them.

Walking around was just amazing with one amazing visual after another.  It sort of reminded me of how I feel when I go to Vegas but in a different way.  If you wanted to, you could easily spend a few paychecks on merchandise.  They had anything and everything you could imagine.  Luckily I am not much of a collector so I didn’t buy anything.

You could also easily spend a small fortune if you were interested in getting an autograph or a photo with the diverse cast of B and C list celebrities that were there.  It seemed like the absolute minimum you would spend to get anyone’s autograph was $25 and another $10 if you wanted to throw a picture of you with the person as well.  The whole thing was a bit of a turn off to me although you were allowed to at least walk up and say hi to any of them without opening up your wallet.

13439088_10206828149727613_7997443622328343747_nThey had two levels of celebrities there.  The upper tier was against one of the walls where each person had a roped off waiting area.  The not so famous people were plopped behind normal tables where you could just walk up to them.  I thought it was funny that even though this was “Supercon”, the array of celebrities were definitely not just from the super hero/comic book realm.  There were WWE Wrestlers and even cast members of Sesame Street signing autographs.

Ironically the one autograph we actually paid for was for Emilio Delgado from Sesame Street.   He was extremely friendly and down to earth.  He seemed to be a genuinely nice man.  It was amazing that the guy has been on Sesame Street  his entire adult life.  I clearly recall watching him on the show as a kid helping me learn my abc’s and 123’s.

The most interesting celebrity sighting for me was Henry Winkler, aka. The Fonz from Happy Days, one of my favorite shows growing up.  Henry looked about as far away from his famous character as you could imagine.  He is old, overweight and was wearing plaid pants with a pink untucked oxford.  I don’t think Henry has ever come out as being openly gay for whatever reason but it seemed pretty obvious to me that is the case.  He was nice enough to come out and greet people waiting in line and allowing people to take his picture without paying for it.

4046-311179[1]Cindy had a funny conversation with Bruce Boxleitner who she evidently met randomly when she was in high school.  Cindy thought he was the bomb and evidently gave him a flower way back when.  Cindy got red in the face as she told the story and Bruce laughed out loud as she told it.  It was pretty funny.  He is old now too.

So we decided it was time for Cindy to put her costume on.  We walked first to the parking garage to grab our stuff and then a few more blocks to get to our hotel.  It was admittedly a pain in the ass to walk there and we had to take a detour into a back alley due to construction that made Cindy nervous.

During check in I found it annoying that even though our room was supposed to be “paid in full” already, they tack on another 20 buck resort fee.  WTF, since when does PAID IN FULL not mean paid in full.  Our reward for the resort fee was two vouchers, one for a complimentary drink that we never used and another for the continental breakfast, yippee.

The room was nothing spectacular but fine for our needs.  While I laid on the bed and chilled out Cindy began the long process of doing her hair and make up for her Tracer costume.  Even though she estimated earlier it would take her 30 minutes to get ready I knew it would take much longer based on experience.  It wound up taking close to 3 times that. We thought it would be interesting to have the GoPro rolling to document the transformation.  I took the 75-80 minutes of video and condensed it down to around 14 minutes through the magic of editing.  Check it out if you have time.

The combo of the make up and outfit really made for a convincing visual.  The fact that we saw no other Tracer’s earlier made me think Cindy was going to get a lot of picture requests.  My prediction turned out to be very true.  To get back to the convention center we decided to dip our toe into the world of Uber, something we never tried before.  We figured walking 6 or 7 blocks with Cindy in full make up and costume would have sort of sucked.  Plus we were handed a card at the center to get an Uber ride for free so it made sense.

Being an Uber virgin I had no idea just how efficient it was.  After installing the app and requesting a ride we literally had a car waiting for us outside in a couple minutes.  We didn’t expect it to be quite so fast and had to haul ass downstairs to the lobby.  Just as we were walking out my phone rang with a call from the driver letting us know she was there, wow.  Now one of the big perks you hear about Uber is you don’t tip.  Even though I knew that, old habits die hard and I pulled the few singles I had in my wallet and gave it to the driver.  I was amazed at just how smooth, efficient and clean the service is. It was so impressive that I suggested to Cindy she should look into doing part time Uber back home.  Her personality and schedule would be a great fit for it.

13567422_10154625365627841_3979962345776103065_nSo once we got to the convention center it took absolutely no time until the fruit of Cindy’s labor became apparent with people asking to take their picture with her.  Her costume was pretty damn spectacular.  We didn’t keep official count but I estimate she had no fewer than 50-75 people that asked to take their picture with her.  There were some other people dressed up as Overwatch characters that made for some good photo ops as well.

https___twindom.com_scans_128211467498415I was mostly a passive part of the experience and was happy to be so.  This was Cindy in her element, with a smile and happy words to share with anyone that wanted a picture.  She said her face literally hurt from smiling so much by the end of the night.  It was pretty crazy but in a good way.

13529060_1224799674199951_1908755988096058381_nWe had an unfortunate incident during the afternoon when they evacuated the building.  Evidently a smoke alarm was tripped from something other than a fire. It did give us a chance for Cindy to get a funny picture with a guy dressed as one of the crazy guys from Mad Max.  We were only outside for maybe 15 minutes before the all clear was sounded and were allowed back inside.

Cindy posed for a 3d rendering of herself that was set up.  They basically take your picture from something like 40 cameras simultaneously and can stitch it into a 3d model that you actually have produced into a statue.  Cindy got the GIF version of it for free.

13606966_10154625365537841_7141763357577438574_nA short young girl approached Cindy and asked if she could take her picture as she was apparently a Tracer/Overwatch fan.  Cindy quickly realized it was Briana Hildebrand who was in Deadpool.  She was one of the celebrities at the show.  We thought it was kind of awesome she asked to take a pic of Cindy.

We spent the majority of the rest of the afternoon and evening just walking around and taking everything in between picture requests of Cindy.  It was just fun and the entire building was filled with a very positive energy.

The only formal thing we did was attend the costume contest (that Cindy should have entered)  It was not as much fun as I had hoped.  The theater was packed and I was seated next to a guy that had a definite creepy vibe.  He was easily in his 50’s but had his Nintendo 3DS in hand and was playing some stupid looking game that seemed targeted at 5 year olds for a good portion of the show.  He also seemed to clap the loudest for the costume contest participants dressed as or played by young girls.  I felt an repeated urge to deliver a sharp blow with my left elbow to his nose.

The contest was too long, running over two hours.  The majority of the participants were dressed as characters from games, shows, or comics that Cindy and I had no familiarity with.  Plus we were too far away from the stage to get a great view of anything.  I had a much better time checking out the costumes as we walked around the con.

By the time we got out of the costume show it was late, after 9:30.  The main exhibit area was closed at that point but we went upstairs were the video games were set up to hang out a little bit with the diehards before heading out.  We met so many great people during the Supercon that it actually made me eager to experience it again.  Like I said, just seeing Cindy so happy was worth the price of admission to me. We said goodbye to Kim and her kids before hailing yet another Uber to get us back to the hotel.  We were exhausted but glad we made the effort to get there.  It was something neither of us experienced before.

On Sunday morning we headed out after our decent continental breakfast. We hailed our third Uber in two days to run us back to the parking garage instead of us lugging the stuff.  I felt a bit lazy doing it this time but it had rained earlier and we didn’t want to get caught in the rain again while hauling our stuff.  After fueling up with some DD coffee we headed back across Alligator Alley towards home.  The drive was without incident.  Our Sunday once we got home was filled with mostly chores associated with returning from vacation, even short ones.  We always have anxiety about the chickens well being when we aren’t home.  I also worked on getting the long video of Cindy’s Tracer transformation ripped which took quite awhile.

Sunday night we watched my latest Netflix dvd, Creed, a movie we wanted to see in the theater.  I thought it was good but was curious why it wasn’t called Rocky 6.  Sure Stallone isn’t the fighter in this movie but I think the film totally revolved around him.  I thought he did a really good job and I liked the movie overall, regardless of how improbable the outcomes were. A-

This morning I knew I had the rain shelter project foremost on my plate.  Once again I hoped to be able to knock it out early and again I ran into complications that made that not happen.  I underestimated the amount of roofing screws I would need to attach the panels and had to go back to Home Depot for the third time during my extended weekend to get what I needed.  I finally got the project finished up around lunch time and had a nice hard downpour to test it with later in the afternoon.  Just as I hoped, the shelter kept the equipment dry.  When the sun came back out I verified the temperature under there felt a ton more bearable than when the bare sun is beating on you.

If you would like to see the rain shelter install process chopped down to a 24 minute time capsule, look below.

I also had a small side repair that was annoying me.  The pool filter has had a small leak for quite awhile.  In an attempt to stop it I bought a new lock ring and O ring for it.  When I installed both I was rewarded with a leak that was worse than before.  I then got some O ring lubricant, hoping that would stop the leak.  It slowed it down somewhat but it was still dripping.  I decided I would attach the top of the canister filter with it turned about 90 degrees from it’s normal front facing orientation.  That simple change addressed the drip.  Water no longer was running down the side.  It’s an unexpected simple fix but a fix is a fix in my book.

The rest of my day has been consumed with editing the rain shelter video you see above as well as writing this blog entry which has been fueled by three Miller Lites.  Yea sure I wish I had a couple more days where I had less to do but that always seems to be the case.  It was the first time in close to a decade that my 4th of July didn’t start off with timing a very hectic, hot, and humid 5K for the running club.  I can’t say I missed the experience even a little bit.

 

 

 

13330955_1202713056408613_7040199351879115416_nYes I am blogging on a holiday.  Time-wise it just works out.

Even though we had an extra day tacked onto this weekend and no MAJOR projects planned we still have been going much more than not.  On Saturday the main focus was getting the chickens perch reconfigured.  We wanted to lower it to make it safer/easier for the birds to jump down from.  Our original plan was to literally just chop maybe 18 inches from the triangle shaped perch and be done with it.

Saturday morning Cindy suggested that we consider a redesign in coordination with the elevation decrease which at first I was not really into as it sounded like more work.  However with the way the existing perch was constructed, even lowering it’s existing design was going to be more trouble than you would think.  Cindy suggested we transform the perch from a triangle into a rectangle which would allow for more perching space.  Doing so would allow us to use some of the perch in it’s existing layout and to repurpose most of the wood we pull off in it’s new configuration.

13254657_10154542352637841_8744336053980607097_oWe did a Home Depot run in the new Tacoma, adding another 10 bags to go with the 20 I picked up on Friday after work.  We also grabbed the additional lumber we would need to complete the perch which was not much.

13315668_1202713179741934_7701192265892999086_nWe set up the 13 x 13 Coleman tent I bought at Costco a few weeks back to use as a sun shelter.  It worked well until some strong winds started to blow in advance of a storm.  We dropped the tent to prevent it from unintentionally becoming a flying object.  We finished up the work inside the chicken coop to protect us from the rain.  We were both happy with the end result.  It has ample perch space with a low enough height that even our fattest chicken, Cocoa should be able to jump down without getting injured.  Although the birds looked a bit confused about their new sleeping arrangements they eventually settled down and all had more space to sleep than they had previously.

Saturday afternoon I accompanied Cindy to the place her daughter is living with her boyfriend’s parents.  Cindy agreed to look after their two dogs, Tank and Bowser while Katie and the boyfriend’s family were away for the weekend.  I also brought my drone along to get some aerial video of the old abandoned track in the back of their property.  Tank and Bowser are normally crated when nobody is home which always makes me feel badly.  They say dogs don’t mind being crated but it sure doesn’t seem like fun to me.

They were both very happy to see us and ran around happily in the yard, enjoying their freedom.  I took my drone to the back of the property and set it up in the air.  Believe it or not I think this was the first time I have flown the Phantom since the Yellowstone drone prosecution fiasco. The track is badly grown over but you can tell originally a lot of time, money and effort went into it’s construction.  It is fully covered with asphalt and even has banked turns.  Some areas of the track you can barely see due to massive overgrowth.  The aerial footage came out half decent.  Click here if you want to take a look.

On Saturday night we stayed home and watched Max, the story about a military dog whose handler was killed.  Of course any dog related movie is going to be an emotional thing for me.  It was a touching movie that any dog lover will enjoy.  B+

On Sunday morning we were originally going to run but decided to postpone it for a couple reasons, the biggest being the big blister on the side of my foot from wearing wet Crocs a good portion of the day Saturday.  We instead did our second Home Depot run in as many days (after letting out the dogs again) so Cindy could get some supplies to repaint the perch and I could grab a few random items I needed.

When we got home I got around to doing my post 1000 mile oil change on the new Tacoma.  I wanted to minimize the chance of tiny metal shavings contaminating the oil from the engine’s first 1000 miles of use.  I was a little late as the odometer actually read 1305 miles when I did it.  While I was under the truck I heard a car stop out front accompanied by a voice.  It was a guy asking about my old king size mattress I had by the curb.  I was hoping somebody would actually take it instead of it being relegated to the back of a trash truck.  My mom got me the mattress years ago so I had some sentiment about it.

I told the guy the mattress was still in decent shape.  He first asked if I could set it aside until he could come back with his truck but then decided he was going to just strap it to the roof of his car.  I helped him hoist the mattress into position and he then tied it down.  It made me feel good knowing someone potentially will continue to get use out of the mattress that mom carefully picked out for me years ago.

I decided to video the oil change on the Tacoma just as I do with nearly all of my automotive work.  I figured it would be a good way for me to get some familiarity with my new truck.  I was literally just changing the oil and not the filter.  The oil filter location on the the new Tacomas is a bit of a pain in the ass as the only way you can reach it is by removing the skid plate from the truck.  It also is a canister type filter instead of the conventional all-in-ones I have dealt with in the past.  You unscrew the the housing and just replace the filter element inside.  I am not sure why Toyota thought this was a better choice as I am sure it will be quite a messy job to replace.

16tacomaoilThe oil swap went smoothly.  If you would like to see the documentary regarding it, click here.

After lunch I hopped on the tractor to get the yard mowed.  The grass growth rate has now started to accelerate due to the increase in precipitation.  I tried to hurry up and get done because we planned to go see a matinee of the new X-men movie at 3:30.  Even with us hustling we walked into the theater just as previews had started.  Luckily the time of day meant the theater was very empty.

Like Captain America, this movie was very long, nearly two and a half hours.  I always enjoy X-men movies although my comic book knowledge of their characters is not very strong.  I liked the movie. Although it was not as good as Civil War in my opinion, I would still give it an A- rating.

This morning we finally got out for our run.  I let my normal weekday alarm set to get us out of bed relatively early so we could start before the heat of the day hit hard.  We got to the track around 7AM and tacked on an extra lap which added up to just shy of 4 miles, a longish run for me nowadays.  We were both glad to get the run out of the way early.  Afterwards we went straight to Dunkin Donuts followed by a stop at Sam’s to grab some bulk and ancillary items.

I am hoping to be able to just chill for a good portion of the rest of the day as we have no Memorial Day social functions on the calendar.  For the last 5 or 6 years my Memorial Days used to always include timing a race in the morning and then attending the running club Memorial Day picnic in the late afternoon.  I used to have a lot of fun at the club picnic.  The recent venue change for the picnic last year along with the changes in my relationship with the club have made that option not an appealing one this year unfortunately.  Perhaps circumstances in the future will make it a better option once again.

Of course today really isn’t about picnics, pool parties, hot dogs or hamburgers.  It’s a day to reflect upon and appreciate those that gave up themselves in the name of our country.  It is a sacrifice not many can imagine but hopefully more can respect and learn from. Wouldn’t a goal of a more peaceful existence in the future where regular loss of life in the military is not so commonplace that it hardly generates a mention in the 24 hour news machines be a great thing?

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I returned to the bank to deposit the remainder of the funds from the sale of the Tacoma.  Luckily the amount was less than $3000 so a Spanish inquisition was not necessary in order to deposit the cash.  I drove the new Tacoma yesterday and had the GoPro rolling for the vlog.  Somehow it added up to over 30 minutes of brain dumping covering no less than 6 or 7 subjects.  30 minute videos just do not work in YouTube world so I plan to chop the video up by subject matter to make three videos each around 10 minutes in length instead.

13260167_10154527199897841_684342278174357775_nYesterday I received some more Tacoma upgrades, a cargo net and a bed mat.  Both items are to address similar problems.  The 99 and new  Tacoma has a great composite bedliner which is very resilient. However there is one problem, it’s very slippery.  If anything smaller was in the bed, even slight deceleration or acceleration would cause it to slide all over the place.  Sometimes this was just an annoyance, other times it was a real problem, for example if I was transporting chlorine jugs or gasoline.

This new rubber mat not only looks good but will keep most items in place due to it’s grippier surface.  It also offers a second layer of protection for the bed floor.  The cargo net will come in handy if we want to do something like throw groceries in the back.  The net will securely keep the stuff back in the tailgate area instead of letting it roll around.

Once again this evening I have to work late at the office but it should be much earlier than the last time.  The rest of the weekend should be ok.  I have some small projects to work on like trying to swap the guts between two monitors.  I also have some house chores as always but I’d like to have some chill time if at all possible.  We hopefully we catch the new X-men movie.  We also have the last Florida Tarpons game of the year on Sunday evening.

13116376_10154505286312841_3298927256612933844_oSo I carefully created my Craigslist ad yesterday, including a pretty thorough description along with 9 or 10 pictures.  I published it and waited for my phone to ring.  To be honest it didn’t ring as often as I expected.

My first contact was a text message from some guy that offered me $3000, over 2k less than my asking price.  He qualified his offer with an acknowledgement that it was a low offer but was all the money he had.  I politely told him I couldn’t sell it for that but thanked him for his offer.

I then got another text from a guy that said I should text him when I got home, presumably so he could come out and see the truck.  Once I got home I texted as promised but got a response he couldn’t come out tonight but he would be in touch.  I then got a call from a guy from Fort Myers.  He was definitely interested but couldn’t come down to see the truck until the next night.  I told him that was fine, as long as I don’t sell it ahead of time.

Then about 7:30 my phone rang.  It was another guy wanting to know if I sold it yet.  When I told him I had not he said he could come right over, since he also lived in the estates it should only take him 15 minutes or so to get there.  I told him to come on over.  While we were waiting Cindy and I did another round of interior clean out of the truck.  Cindy had already pulled a lot of the personal items  out when she cleaned the inside but there were a few more things in there.

Shelby pulled up in his big full size diesel Ford truck with his wife/girlfriend in the passenger seat.  She stayed in the truck the entire time for whatever reason, apparently uninterested in the potential purchase.  Shelby seemed like a cool younger guy.  He has his own handyman business and does some car repairs as well.  He is very familiar with the Tacomas and owned one several years ago that he liked.

Unfortunately the sunlight was fading fast but I showed him some examples of where the clear coat was failing.  He said his brother actually does paint/bodywork so that would be a nice fit.  I brought him a flashlight which he used to get a better look into the engine compartment and under the truck.  We went on a 5 minute or so test drive where it seemed clear he liked the truck.  The negotiation actually occurred during the last 1/2 mile of the drive.  He offered me 600 less then what I was asking, I said I would be willing to split the difference and he agreed to it.

Once we got back we talked about the logistics of the transaction.  We agreed on him running to the bank this morning to pull out cash and then meeting me at my office since we can do the transaction right here.  I then would hopefully be able to hitch a ride to the gym with my buddy and will get a ride home from Cindy at the end of the day.  Now of course my experience with the first potential SSR buyer who backed out after giving me a deposit makes me not willing to count my chickens before they are hatched but I am pretty confident the sale will transpire as planned.

The sale of the Tacoma will culminate what has been a quite busy month or so with the SSR sale, 2016 Tacoma purchase followed by the sale of my 99 Tacoma.  As I looked through the folder of repair documentation I was going to deliver with the truck it brought back many memories.  I bought the truck in October of 2001 for $15,300.  To be able to sell it some 15 years later for almost 5k is a testament to Tacoma value.

I expect there will be more sentimental feelings as I see the Tacoma drive off compared to the SSR because of longevity.  I have never owned a vehicle for as long as I have owned the truck.  It’s not even close.  It has served me tirelessly over so many years in endless projects, races, and just commuting on a daily basis.  The various maintenance and repair tasks I have taken on with the truck have provided me with many challenges to overcome with the accompanying sense of accomplishment when I eventually succeeded.  It’s been a great vehicle and I hope it continues to serve it’s new owner for many years to come.

So I got my rebooted podcast online yesterday.  You can find it with this link or search “duf-cast” on iTunes.  My plan for now is to convert my YouTube vlogs to mp3 podcasts.  After uploading the video to YouTube I pull back the processed mp4 file and then convert it to mp3 format.  I then use the Blubrry plug in in WordPress to create the feed which is fed into iTunes.  It takes some work to get the content out there but it isn’t too bad.   The podcast really is for nobody else’s benefit but my own as it will help me work on talking through my thoughts instead of keying them.  If somebody finds it entertaining enough to listen to outside my immediate circle, great.

I shot my first and last vlog entry in the 99 Tacoma on my way to work today.

I have been having a TON of detailed long dreams the last few nights, too bad that detail is mostly lost when I awake.