Category: WoW

Last night as I was hanging outside with the chickens and Elsa there was a funny moment.  Elsa and I were outside the chicken area near a corner.  The chickens were all hanging around and Elsa was sitting there observing them, only a foot or so from the fence.  The chickens were observing Elsa as well with curious looks.  Pumpkin was comfortable enough to stick her entire head through one of the squares to pick at the grass on the other side, somehow thinking the grass was greener on the other side of the fence.

Elsa slowly moved closer to the point where her nose was barely inside the fence line.  Peaches greeted her with a quick peck on the nose which of course sent Elsa scurrying.  It was funny but I immediately told Elsa it was ok and the chickens were just playing with her.  Elsa really has seemed to be coming into her own as she is passing through puppy hood.  She is still neurotic for sure at times but she also is very loving, fun, and happy at the same time.  She brings a lot of joy into our life.

I finally completed the long grind to enable all of my characters in WoW to fly in the current expansion.  Hopefully I get some time to now enjoy untethered movement in the game that I invested so much time in.

So I woke up Saturday knowing there were a lot of small to medium things I needed to address.  What I didn’t realize was I would be addressing them pretty much all day long.  It was one of those days where I am doing one thing in the yard and I notice another thing that needs to get done which gets tacked onto the list.  I did a full mow and weedwhack of the property myself, the first time that has been done in close to a couple months due to sparse rainfall.  Having the new fenced in chicken area definitely is going to add more time to yard maintenance.

I finally got around to putting the cactus that was in a large pot next to the chicken coop into the ground.  I got tired of it getting blown over repeatedly during high winds.  I was surprised with how shallow the roots for the cactus were, they were pretty much non-existent.  I made a trip to Home Depot to grab some castle stones to finish off a couple spots around the yard as well as a stop at Auto Zone.

At AZ one of the things I grabbed was a headlight restoration kit for Cindy’s Prius.  When I replaced the headlight bulbs in her car I got a front row seat to how cloudy the headlights were.  After a lot of scrubbing, polishing, and sealing the lenses looked much better.  Unfortunately it is the kind of thing that needs to be done periodically as the only long term fix for cloudy headlights is getting new headlights.

Despite busting my ass all day I still had a chance to take the Tacoma out for a quick test run of my new bed GoPro mount that was custom fabricated by a guy I met on YouTube, Chuck.  He made a video about making the mount and I told him I would be happy to pay him to do the same for me, so he did.

The mount gives a unique perspective while driving and is something I hope to mix in to my Tacoma videos here and there.  Chuck is also the guy that has gotten me a lot more interested in swapping out the wheels/tires on my Tacoma as well as doing a small lift on the truck.  He did something similar to his SR5 Tacoma and the visual transformation as a result was dramatic.

Sunday morning I awoke without an alarm a few minutes before 6 and got up to go run.  Despite my body being pretty beat up from Saturday’s labor I wanted to start off my Sunday with the weekly 5K I have been putting in for a month or so now.  The morning temps and humidity were higher than I have been enjoying in recent weeks but I still put in a decent effort.

I assumed Cindy and I would do a joint EUC ride later in the morning but Cindy was feeling beat up from teaching a bunch of group classes this week.  She suggested instead we bring Elsa with to the Greenway so Cindy could walk her while I rode.  That worked for me so we piled in the Prius and headed out.  Elsa seemed to have a lot of fun and wasn’t as freaked out by other people as she can be at times.  I worked a little backwards practice into my ride, some of it more successful than others.


A little later in the afternoon I got the itch to take a shot at a challenge I had in my head ever since I started learning to ride backwards.  I wanted to see if I could ride an entire 1/4 mile lap around the track at the school.  The skies looked menacing as I started riding around.  After a little warm up I got onto the track for the attempt.  My biggest worry was negotiating the curves, something I definitely am not great at in reverse.  The first couple hundred yards went pretty smoothly but as I was coming out of the first curve I got smacked by a big headwind in advance of the coming storm.  Multiple times I flailed my arms wildly to regain balance.  Somehow I completed the entire lap but it definitely was far from pretty.  Just as I finished up it started to rain pretty hard so I called it a session.

I went into veg mode for most of the rest of the night, working on yet another large WoW virtual task.  I figured I earned the time off.

It’s going to be a long day.  I awoke for unknown reasons about 2:30 AM.  I unsuccessfully tried to will myself back to sleep for about an hour until I gave up and got out of bed.  I plopped on the computer and spent two and a half hours in WoW, having a fun time tooling around my alternate virtual universe with a bunch of other nocturnal gamers.

Sadie should be going back to Ali’s sometime today which is going to be sad for Elsa.  She really loves having Sadie around and I think Sadie feels the same way.  It certainly has made Sadie’s visits much more entertaining.

While I was at the gym yesterday while I was on a treadmill I saw a commercial for some bank that was promoting a FANTASTIC deal for US veterans!  They will allow you to refinance the full value of your existing home PLUS whatever balance you owe on it!  The spot declares how awesome this could be, allowing you to pay off your credit cards, get a nice wad of cash while paying less per month!  Of course they neglect to mention that any people that take advantage of this “deal” will be absolutely buried in their house in negative equity for the rest of their lives.  What a nice way to thank our veterans!

Last night we finally got around to hanging decorations on our new Christmas tree which had been set up since Friday.  The tree looks sharp for sure.  We still have to get mom’s old tree set up in the great room which should complete the decorating for 2016.

Last night I had a miserable night of sleep.  I fell asleep early, tired from whatever form of illness I am dealing with. I wound up waking up suddenly about 11pm having to take a leak.  Afterward I was absolutely unable to fall back asleep, I rolled around for close to two hours before I said fck it and got out of bed. I plopped myself in front of the computer and fired up WoW.  The last time I was playing WoW at 1:30 in the morning was probably close to a decade ago.

That time of night is actually prime playing time for a lot of WoW players, there were more people online than I am used to from my normal 8-10 gaming hours.   Despite my eyes feeling like they were burning into my skull, I had some fun playing in the dead of night.  I don’t think it is sort of habit I want to be forming if I wish to maintain my sanity but I’ll try to treat the side effects of the sleepless night with extra caffeine today.

I strained something in my right elbow yesterday at the gym doing rep 7 of a planned 8 rep set.  There was a strong younger guy on the bench next to me so instead of stopping as soon as the pain hit I grimaced through rep 8 which was stupid, and surely put the icing on the cake.  Doing any sort of pushing movement with the arm is not going to be a pleasant experience until it heals up.



nineday7Last night I put on my full body armor to have a more prolonged session on the Ninebot One.  I was curious if the week long layoff would have a noticeable negative effect on my still very basic EUC riding skill.  My primary goal last night was to get the hang of stepping off the wheel at the end of a ride instead of the awkward hop/fall off I have been doing so far.

The rides up and down the driveway went pretty smooth.  I felt more or less under control.  My first few attempts at stepping off were not good but eventually I got a little better.  I really have to think through how I need my body to be in order to make it happen.  Of course this needs to become a reflex reaction before I would feel safe riding around more obstacles or people.

I had one big highlight of the night when I started the ride crossing the driveway into the front yard.  I then crossed the house mound and descended down the hill to the front yard, turned and was able to climb the hill and wind up where I started, stepping off in a controlled fashion.  I was surprised and very excited I pulled that off.  All in all I was very happy with the way things went and I am finding myself feeling much more anticipation instead of dread when I step on the wheel now.  In addition to continuing to work on stepping off the bot I need to get much, much better at turning.  Tight turns is something you need to be able to do in real life, all I have been successful with so far are larger sweeping changes in direction.


Warning, WoW talk ahead.

Yesterday the initial stages of the new WoW expansion released which unlocked the ability to play the new class of demon hunter.  My decade plus in the game meant that I had already brought every class in the game to max level.  Getting to try out a brand new class is always interesting.

I had a lot of fun rolling around the desolate landscape kicking demon ass wherever I could find it.  Demon hunters are a bit of an anomaly.  As their name suggests, their primary goal is to destroy demons however they are part demon themselves.  The main difference is they are not part of the hive mind that controls other demonic forces in the game.

With this new expansion they have changed a TON of things which is the case with pretty much every expansion.  The changes cause players to have to re-learn a lot of things which can be a pain in the ass but all part of the cycle of MMORPG’s.  If they kept things the same forever the game would get stale very quickly.  Just as in real life, if you are not adapting to and embracing change you will be left behind.

Last night Cindy and I were trying to decide if we wanted to get in another September road trip this year.  I have one window of time that is available in September to do it.  If we do decide to take the trip it would be an east coast course that would hopefully takes us all the way to Maine.  We are weighing the time, logistics and expense of something like that with a staycation where we mix in some more local fun and projects in that same time period.  Of course the traditionalist in me is uncomfortable with breaking the streak of long road trips Cindy and I have done since we have been together.  I get a lot of enjoyment exposing Cindy to places/things she never has seen before.

13882503_10154708964147841_7357356529025633094_nSo Cindy had been working diligently or more accurately, obsessively on costume prep for a good portion of last week.  I have no idea how many total hours went into the outfits for her and myself but it is way up there.  Her creativity in recreating the look of the two characters we were going as, Soldier 76 and Tracer was extremely impressive.  She made 80% of the costumes by hand.  She was working on stuff right up until we left on Friday morning.

After getting the chickens handled for the day we piled into the Prius and heading northward towards Tampa.  I had not been to Tampa in many years and never had much good or bad to say about it.  It took us around two and a half hours until we arrived at our hotel which was called Aloft, a hip sort of place.

I immediately was not happy that our only parking option was to valet at a cost of $20 a day.  The room was not cheap so getting add on expenses right off the bat didn’t make me happy.  We used a luggage cart to haul our large collection of props upstairs.  The room itself was very modern and cool with a flat screen tv mounted on the wall, modern accessories, nice view out the window and black slate floor in the bathroom areas. It was very nice.

The Con started on Friday so we wasted no time in prepping.  Of course the majority of the work that needed to be done was by Cindy both on her costume and getting me situated in mine.  Besides my putting on the costume, Cindy spray painted my hair gray and darkened the area around my eyes.  She once again did the face make up on herself to simulate Tracer’s goggles which takes quite awhile.

13932811_10154708964337841_2175209035600275748_nFinally after about 2 hours of prep we were ready to head to the convention center.  The skies looked like rain so we decided to get an Uber ride instead of walking the roughly half mile to the convention.  Since it was a “surge” time the ride cost about 50% more than normal.

We did not actually get to the event until after 5PM.  We headed into the main exhibit hall where all the vendors are set up.  It took no time at all until the picture requests came rolling in.  It seemed like once again there was a scarcity of people dressed up as Overwatch characters despite the popularity of the game.

13895046_1248994551780463_2010903245512963782_nAt first I was trying to just put on the mask as needed since it limited my vision to a narrow slot in front of me.  However the picture requests were so fast and furious I wound up just leaving the mask on.  I used Cindy as a beacon in front of me that I would just follow through the crowd. Besides the limited vision I was also hot as hell.  In no time at all I had sweat running down my back.

We did not realize that although the Con ran until late at night, the main exhibit hall closed at 6PM meaning we only got to walk around it a bit.  To be honest, between all the picture requests and the crowds we didn’t get to really look at anything in depth on the show floor.

Once the main hall closed we headed downstairs where a bunch of things were set up in the smaller rooms that lined the halls.  Of course there were a ton of interesting costumes to look at which honestly is my favorite thing to do at these events, just people watch.

Cindy was having some costume difficulties throughout the show.  The complexity she added to her costume unfortunately brought additional fragility as well.  A number of things that were attached via glue gun broke loose.  Luckily she brought safety pins with that could be used to fix most of the problems. We hung at the convention center for several hours, posing for picture after picture.  Since this is the first time I dressed up for a con this was a new experience for me.  It gives you an idea of what it must be like to be an actual celebrity.  It was both cool and annoying at the same time.

We decided to walk back to the hotel Friday night in our full costumes.  Cindy was a bit scared by the idea of walking.  We saw some interesting things on the way like a bar owner in a screaming match with two patrons that appeared to be trying to skip their bill and some shady looking guys that bottomed out their low riding car pulling into a parking garage.  Walking in the warm and humid air in costume just brought on a whole new level of perspiration for me.  We were quite glad when we got back into the AC of the hotel.

We stayed up a bit on Friday catching some of the Olympic opening ceremony but then turned it off due to us both being exhausted.  We began a night of pretty miserable sleep thanks to bad acoustics and inconsiderate assholes allowing their children to run wildly up and down the halls after midnight.  Cindy called to the desk to report the noise but it really didn’t matter.  Pretty much any noise whatsoever in the hall seemed to amplify and broadcast into the room.  We woke up Saturday morning feeling like shit from a lack of solid sleep.

13880335_10154710825972841_6389343018469298439_nAt first Cindy was saying she wasn’t going to dress up at all for Saturday.  She was bummed out about her costume failures from Friday.  I told her she would regret not dressing up so she reconfigured her outfit on the spot to a less restrictive version.  It still looked good.  We once again hailed an Uber to get us on site, we got there late morning.

Before heading there we had the non-complimentary hotel breakfast.  Again with what the room cost, throwing in a free continental breakfast would have been beyond reasonable.  Instead we paid $21 for greasy egg sandwiches neither of us enjoyed.

Well we knew Saturday would be much busier than Friday but that knowledge did not make the situation any better.  There were just walls of humanity everywhere you looked.  We went into the main exhibit hall and tried to merge into the current of people circling around the space.  It was pretty damn miserable.  Of course we again had picture requests by the dozens.

Everywhere you looked there were long, long lines.  The lines to get Norman Reedus’s (Darryl from Walking Dead) autograph and/or picture were some of the longest.  I just could not believe that many people were willing to wait in a line that long to pay $200 to spend 30 seconds with the guy.  The lines for food were equally morbid.

After being there for 2-3 hours we wanted to get some food.  The lines were still horrible even though it was now around 2pm.  We headed outside to check out the army of food trucks by the convention center, hoping they would be less busy.  No luck, the lines there numbered in the dozens as well.  It was frustrating to be in a situation with that many people.  We decided to take a time out and took yet another Uber back to the room to chill out for a few hours.  Once we got there we ordered a pizza and just tried to relax for a bit.  We were already tired from the lack of sleep the night before.

13938626_1250024115010840_2539557118303229173_nWe decided we would head back between 5 and 6 but do it in normal clothes.  I still had the dark make up around my eyes and a Soldier 76 T-shirt that Cindy hand crafted but that was it.  We walked there this time.  It was still crowded but not suffocatingly so as before.  It felt a bit weird walking around without being asked for pictures.  It made you miss super hero life in a small way although it was nice being able to walk around in comfort.

We had more fun this time around exploring some of the rooms which included Cindy schooling me on Galaga, one of her favorite arcade games growing up.  She was really, really good at it.  We also got to bear witness to a very odd cosplay battle where three or four Spidermans took on a sword wielding Batman, a T-Rex, and Popeye.  The footage from that is down below.  All of the video we shot was from Saturday.  We had the GoPro strapped to Cindy’s arm so we could have film rolling throughout the day to capture some of the craziness.

We decided we had enough somewhere around 8PM.  We had a much more pleasant walk back to the hotel which included a detour to the beautiful river walk area that was nearby our hotel.  We finished off our left over pizza for dinner and called it a night.  In order to block some of the sound from the hall we tried piling some shit in front of the door.  It didn’t really make a difference, we still both generally slept like shit.

Once we got up we wasted little time getting packed up and out of there.  We skipped the hotel breakfast and instead grabbed sandwiches at Dunkin Donuts.  The DD was actually in a town just outside of Tampa.  The drive there took us through areas that ranged from sketchy looking to historical.

On the drive home we listened to some podcast that Cindy discovered where a woman tells real life stories in very interesting ways.  The story we listened to was about Bo Berghdal, the soldier that the US traded five Gitmo prisoners for.  The story revealed that the headlines that 24 hour news organizations jammed down the public throat were extremely inaccurate.  The media made it seem like Berghdal was a Taliban fan and had a pleasant time while being their hostage.  Actually the opposite is true, his existence during those 5 years in captivity was horrific and he tried to escape multiple times.  It’s just another example of the American public being all too willing to accept what the media tells them at face value.

The drive home had a major delay as there was an accident on I-75 that involved fatalities.  Traffic jam situations generally make me dislike people more than a lot of things.  As you approached the area of the accident there were multiple sign boards indicating that the left two of the three lanes were blocked.  You had to be blind to not see them.  So a logical, considerate person would get into the right lane to minimize the quagmire of cars trying to merge over.  Well of course most people don’t give a flying fck.  They deem their time as more valuable than others and stay in those lanes they know are closed in the hope to get a few car lengths further ahead.  It is reflective of society in general, fck the greater good, me first.

We got home around 11:30 and started unpacking.  Cindy headed out to tend to the chickens.  I wonder if they missed us?  The rest of the day was low key as I ripped video from the con, paid my bills and chilled out.  Today I have a few things on the docket, including getting back on my Ninebot One.  Should be fun.

You can see the videos we took from the Con below.  It was a fun time but Cindy and I both agreed we enjoyed the experience at Miami Supercon more.




003[1]I have had no blogging the last couple days due to working at the tax certificate sale.  The sale process for us tech guys is rather boring as we are there in the off chance that something goes wrong which it rarely does.  The good thing is it meant our days ended a little earlier than normal.  I took advantage of that extra time yesterday by getting my new Rachio intelligent sprinkler controller installed.

I had to first remove the Orbit sprinkler box which I got last year to replace my original controller which died.  I felt a little bad that there was a tree frog that had claimed the inside of the box as it’s daytime shelter.  He is the star of the video I shot of the install.

Installation of the new hi-tech controller went pretty well.  I had turned it on and connected it to the app the day before inside.  Once I got it mounted on the wall and wired up it connected to the house wi-fi immediately which is cool.  I then went through the set up of each of my 6 zones.  In the app you describe each area including the amount of sun it gets, soil type, vegetation, slope, and type of sprinklers used.  It then uses this information if you decide to use the smart scheduler.  The Rachio will use the information you enter combined with the local weather information it pulls from the internet to water your property as needed.  Last night the system was scheduled to run but it cancelled the watering because it knew our area got substantial rain during the night.

The biggest reason I went with the Rachio is it can interact with our Amazon Echo.  Last night I turned the sprinklers on and off via voice control which is very cool.  Cindy likes that she can now easily turn on the sprinklers around the house easily to dissuade the chickens from digging excessively in the landscaped areas.  I can also use the app to turn sprinklers on and off from anywhere in the world where I have internet connectivity.

I like the Rachio a lot.  My only concern is it’s ability to survive outdoors.  I bought the outdoor box for the Rachio which should protect it from the elements but it still has to deal with the extreme humidity and heat Florida brings daily.  I may try to put a small “roof” over the box in a similar manner as I did with the Ring that is on the chicken coop to offer a little bit of additional protection.

Today I had my 6 month dermatologist check up.  I have had a spot on the trap area of of my shoulder that has been a problem for awhile.  It would cycle between just being red to actually bleeding from time to time.  I pointed the spot out to the doctor.  When he looked at my chart he saw he had done work in a nearby area several years ago.  He scraped the suspect area and sent it out to be biopsied.  If it again comes back as skin cancer I will likely be once again going under the knife to have the spot cut out.  When a scalpel is involved it is never much fun.

I have been playing some Overwatch since it came out officially last week.  The game is incredibly polished and well done, what I expect from any Blizzard title.  Even though I last played a first person shooter seriously probably a decade ago I have been having fun in Overwatch.  I have fun even though I really don’t know the maps or characters in the game well at all.

I also have fun even though I am not good at the game at all.  I have messed with a number of the possible heroes and found the only ones that I do half decent with are the type where I can lay back strategically and attack from afar.  Any hero that requires in your face fast twitch reaction or precise mouse control I fail pretty miserably with.  So yea, dying a lot does absorb some of the fun factor for me but I still have a good time.  I don’t see Overwatch taking over the number one or two spot in my gaming hierarchy which is occupied by WoW and Hearthstone but it is a fun change of pace for sure. Cindy thinks it’s funny watching my mannerisms while playing the game.  My facial contortions and weird breathing is uncontrollable and odd looking for sure.

Tonight we have an oddly timed Tarpons football game.  It is the first round of the playoffs and I guess it was the only date that worked for all parties involved.  I expect the attendance to be worse than normal because of it being the middle of the week which means I may be able to count the bodies in the seats in a couple minutes.  The other negative is the Tarpons are playing the team from Savannah who we just saw during the final regular season game which was a ridiculous 70-6 blow out.  I expect tonight to be another yawner but at least we will be one of the few there to support the team.




The extreme standing water we had yesterday morning only accumulated throughout the day, bolstered by the unrelenting storms.  When I got home the visual was pretty unbelievable.  It was the most standing water I have EVER seen on the property outside of a tropical storm or hurricane.  The fact that it was the end of January seemed surreal.  This just doesn’t happen.

There was just a ridiculous amount of water in the front and back yards.  The chickens of course were soaked but didn’t seem to care all that much.  The big shed that they often like to hang under was totally flooded out underneath.  The standing water seems to be wreaking havoc with my internet connectivity in the coop.  Although the coop has power it seems like the buried, ground rated ethernet cable isn’t getting very strong signal out to the back yard, making some of my tech out there malfunction. I drove to work today in a steady light rain and I saw a chance of showers still in the forecast for tomorrow.  Please, make it stop.

Warning a couple paragraphs of WoW talk follow.

A little while ago WoW introduced something called Timewalking Dungeons.  They are basically a way for current players to play old 5 man dungeons that have been part of the 11 years of WoW’s existence.  Last night I did one of them from the Cataclysm expansion which was something like 4-5 years ago at this point.  I ran it as the “tank” aka. the guy that leads the group and tries to get all the bad things to attack him.

Despite not setting foot in this dungeon for approaching a half decade somehow “muscle memory” kicked in and I was able to know exactly where to go and what to do as a result of running through this dungeon dozens upon dozens of times when it was current content.  It almost felt similar to how I feel when I am back in the Reading area, still able to more or less get around despite not living in town for over 15 years.  It just felt weird in a good way.  Anyone that has played WoW and only someone that has played MMORPG’s like WoW will understand that playing these games is literally like living in a different world, complete with it’s own set of road maps, hot spots and rules.

So you may recall a week or two ago I mentioned how Cindy was getting a heavy metals blood test based on some health issues I heard Howard talking about on his show.  It turned out his fish heavy diet had resulted in him having high mercury levels.  Cindy has been having a lot of issues that most people would quickly write off as just the side effect of getting older.  However our diet was very heavily seafood based with us having seafood for dinner 5-6 times a week and possibly a couple more times on the weekend in the form of a tuna wrap for lunch.

Well after a long wait the test results came back earlier this week, Cindy’s levels were indeed high.  The test results are going to result in a change of our diet where the majority of our protein will come from plant based sources instead of seafood.  Fish is ok to eat in moderation and there are certain types of fish that are much more prone to high mercury levels than others.  However in our case we need to take steps to remove the heavy metals in our bodies that become embedded in many organs which causes a myriad of problems.  Over time the metal leaves your body through body fluids but it is a good idea to kick start the process as much as possible.

I already assume my heavy metal number is elevated as well since for the most part I eat whatever Cindy eats although perhaps because of my larger dimensions I am affected to a lower level.  I do have memory issues at times and my eyesight has definitely gone downhill dramatically since seafood became my main animal based protein.  It will be interesting to see how the next few months go as we try to “get the lead out”.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


oow2lsp[1]I really don’t feel like discussing current news items like circular gun control arguments, Trump proposing a stance on Muslims Hitler would be proud of, or Demarco Murray whining that he sucks this year and it’s Chip’s fault.

I also don’t feel like expanding on my conflicted feelings about the Christmas season as I get older. It seems each year carries with it more sadness because of the unavoidable loss of loved ones that accompanies the march through time.

Instead let me describe something that made me laugh, for a very stupid and immature reason.  The other night I was in a WoW raid which is a group of 25 players working together to take down very dangerous and difficult bosses in the game.  Typically before you begin one of these fights the players are mulling about, typing things into group chat about strategy or other random topics.

Just seconds before we engaged the 50 foot tall demon I participated in the discussion with a very simple “I have to poop”.  Watching the reaction of 24 random strangers around the world to that statement made me bust out laughing.  Sometimes it’s the simplest, stupidest things that bring a smile to my face.  And no, I actually did not have any pressing bathroom needs at the moment.