So the motor in the automatic chicken coop door has been intermittently failing during cool mornings, not firing off to open the door.  When the temperatures rise the motor will kick back in so there is something thermally wrong with the motor.  The annoying thing is this exact thing happened before and I got a motor under warranty, now this motor is doing the same thing.  The replacement motor they sent me definitely seemed used so I just bought a brand new motor this time off Amazon, hoping they have since engineered out whatever issue was causing the cold temp failures.

Installation of the motor went smoothly although I had a chicken audience for most of it which looked and sounded funny on the video I shot.  I am hoping unattended chicken door operations can now continue normally for the foreseeable future.

Sean Spicer may be the biggest moron ever appointed the role of press secretary, just saying.

On my way home I picked up big reflective numbers for my new pristine mailbox.  Cindy helped me install them before she left for class.  Ironically we received no mail yesterday.  I asked Cindy if mail carriers wont deliver to a blank mailbox with no markings.  She said it shouldn’t matter so maybe it’s just a coincidence.

Last night I had a not so bright idea, to practice backwards EUC riding on my cheap, no frills wheel.  I was sick and tired of destroying my $1200 Msuper and I was interested in seeing if I could ride the smaller wheel backwards.  I never rode any wheel backwards successfully except my Msuper.  The good news was I was indeed able to ride the shitty wheel backwards without tremendous difficulty.  The bad news is I discovered that reversing directions on the wheel sometimes can overpower the capabilities of the low power EUC, causing it to cut out suddenly.  The first time it happened I was not expecting it and abruptly fell backwards onto my ass and elbows.  The second time I was reversing backwards to forward and was able to step off the wheel before I face planted.  It was funny as falls always are. As long as I am able to keep getting up from them the humor will continue.

So I had an extremely labor filled weekend.  I tackled one of my least favorite tasks, cleaning the pool cage and deck area.  In the past I would solely rely on brute force water pressure to clean the mildew from the cage frame.  In order to get the top supports that span the pool I had to use multiple wand extensions that were extremely physically difficult to manage.  It was exhausting and pushed my shoulders and forearms to their limits.  I decided to try a different approach this time.

I used a pressure sprayer with a 50/50 bleach solution to soak those top frame pieces thoroughly.  After letting the solution work for a couple minutes I would just rinse them off with the much easier to manage electric pressure sprayer and they looked good as new.  It was a much better way to handle the job.  The only negative was I constantly had bleach solution dripping onto my head and body.  I am surprised my hair is not blonde today.

Later in the morning on Saturday I worked on installing some solar post lights I bought at Costco last week.  My thought was I wanted to install two of them on either side of the garage doors.  For years and years I had thought I would like to have some additional lighting at that spot and never got around to it because I did not want to have to run electricity for conventional wired lights.

The lights I bought were described as post lights but I thought they would do just fine flanking my garage door.  The stainless steel modern design looked sharp and the combination of solar and LED lights has really improved over recent years.  In order to make the lights more visible I trimmed back the hibiscus bush on the left side really hard.  I was even considering ripping it out completely but decided not to because of sentimental value.  It was given to me by my old boss when I moved into the house 16 years or so ago.

The main focus of the install was to make sure the lights were spaced evenly and installed at the same height.  It took a little bit of futzing to complete the job but I was very happy with the end result.  They looked very nice at night and threw a surprising amount of light.  I installed the other two on fence posts in the new chicken area, on either side of the access gate.

For lunch on Saturday Cindy and I did something unique, went to a food truck cook off at the same church I attended Christmas Eve services at.  The event was well attended with some of the food lines easily surpassing 50 people at some trucks.  Cindy and I ordered am eggplant parm sub with sweet potato fries.  It may have been the most tasty eggplant parm sub either of us has ever enjoyed.

Later in the afternoon Saturday I decided I would ride my Msuper over to the school to ride around and do some more backwards riding practice.  I have been progressively trying more difficult maneuvers going backwards.  On Saturday I was trying to do more turning while going backwards and the end result was rather violent, both to myself but much more to my Gotway Msuper which took several bad falls.  The wheel which was pretty pristine before I decided to try to learn riding backwards now is scarred with scratches and gouges all over the shell.  I also broke a fitting for the top button panel as well as my trolley handle during another fall.  I was not happy at all.

Sunday morning I started off with another 5K at the track.  Even though I still didn’t feel great running, the 55 degree air made it a lot more tolerable.  Later in the morning Cindy and I went to Home Depot where I finally bought a replacement mailbox.  My old box was held together with tape and wood screws, it looked definitively white trashy.  My thought was I would dig up the old post that was housed inside of a 5 gallon bucket filled with cement, move it back a little bit for additional safety and then mount the new box to the existing post.

So as I was digging around the existing post I made a large diameter hole to accommodate the size of the buried bucket but there was one problem, there was no bucket.  I had forgotten that the bucket mount was actually destroyed when the very first mailbox we had got run over a decade or more ago.  There was just a bare post in the ground that I could have simply pulled out.  Instead I now had huge four foot diameter hole that I didn’t need to dig.  I also was not happy to see the subterranean portion of the post looked like it had been partially eaten by termites, meaning I needed get a new 4×4 post, awesome.

I definitely did not want to drive all the way back to Home Depot for the post.  I recalled seeing the nearby hardware store mentioning they now sold some lumber.  I crossed my fingers that 4×4’s would be among thier selection.

So I walk in the store and tell the guy what I need.  He has a weird look on his face when he said he does have a couple pressure treated 4×4’s but they are very expensive.  How much, I asked.  $25 each he replies. Wow, I believe a pressure treated 4×4 from Home Depot is around $10.  Well I told the guy I didn’t feel like driving another 30 miles to go to Home Depot so I took it.  It felt/looked like the post was actually made of a hardwood like cedar so maybe that explains the ridiculous cost.

Once I had the new post the install was straight forward.  I used a post hole digger to create a new hole further from the driveway and the street to minimize odds of it getting whacked.  Back filling the unnecessary monster hole was a pain in the ass.  I had to haul extra dirt out front to fill it all the way.  The new mailbox looks great.  The only thing missing is a fresh set of numbers to stick to the sides of it which I will pick up after work tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon Cindy and I stopped at the school for some EUC riding.  Cindy, despite not riding the wheel for two weeks continued her strong progress, dealing with some gusty winds while doing her best riding yet.  She completed multiple laps around the track and did not drop her wheel a single time.  It was impressive considering the inconsistent time she gets on the EUC.

I was sad to hear Don Rickles died.  He was truly a unique character and the best insult comic I have ever seen.

 

When I got home from work yesterday I immediately noticed something wasn’t as it normally is, the air felt stagnant.  It also felt warmer than I am accustomed to.  I immediately turned my attention to the digital thermostat to see what the indoor temp was.  There was one problem, the screen was blank. WTF?

Of course I was immediately concerned so the first thing I did was verify the breakers for the air handler and AC compressor had not been tripped for some reason.  Both were firmly in the on position but I cycled them anyway.  A quick check of the thermostat revealed it was still off.  I disconnected and reseated the thermostat to the wall, just to try it and again had no positive results.

I was out of ideas so I contacted the place that normally services the AC to see if they could help me.  I got the owner, Julie, who I have dealt with many times.  I described the symptoms and she immediately told me to go check the float switch at the air handler.  Son of a bitch, there is water in there, meaning the drain line is backing up.  When water contacts the float switch it kills the thermostat, something I never knew.

I thanked Julie for the info and immediately got busy since I knew what to do.  I attached my shopvac to both sides of the drain line for an extended period of time to suck out whatever was causing the blockage.  I then dropped a cup of white vinegar into the line to hopefully keep the organic matter that clogs lines from growing.  The AC flipped on as soon as I was done and all was well. Ironically, I had my recurring “Vinegar in AC drain” Outlook reminder pop up yesterday.

I am in a zombie like state after a miserable night that included basically no sleep.  As I was growing up I knew that adult life seemed complicated and I had apprehension about how that would all work out.  Well the ultimate answer is still a work in progress but as of late I sure feel like I am hitting a lot of double and triple bogeys.  All I really want is to be slightly under par.

After work last night I went out in the driveway on my EUC to do some more backwards riding practice.  I am still improving for sure but I am miles from being comfortable.  I was doing a lot of direction reversals and found for some reason I have a lot more struggles going from reverse to forward than forward to reverse.  To me it seems like switching into backwards riding would be tougher but that has not been the case.  I can successfully do the front back reversal probably 80-90% of the time.  I would estimate when I go backwards to forward my success rate is maybe half, and half of those involve a lot of arm flailing.

I also can’t believe how taxed my lower body feels after riding backwards.  My legs feel like they are under near constant tension when riding in reverse.  As a result my lower body almost feels like I did a weighted leg workout the day before.  There is a weird thing going in on my head since I started the trek to riding backwards, riding forwards feels like cheating.  It almost feels like until I am equally adept at riding backwards as I can forwards, doing a forwards only ride is not effort towards accomplishing that goal, which is bothering me.  It’s sort of weird that riding backwards is somehow negatively affecting conventional riding enjoyment.

So Sadie went back to Ali’s this morning.  The 4-5 week construction projection at her place has hit some road bumps that have delayed things.  It is almost done at this point and should be safer for the dogs.  The only major portion of the project that remains is installing countertops.  What was done looks nice and gives Ali a lot more functional storage and counter space.

Yesterday after I verified Retro Fitness was officially closed I drove immediately over to Planet Fitness to join up.  I am crossing my fingers it is only a short term, stop gap measure until some other lunchtime fitness option becomes available. By the time I got done signing up half my lunch hour was spent so I decided to ride my EUC over at Sugden park for a little bit.  I did mostly backwards riding practice that went well except for one incident where I came off the wheel and it kicked around wildly, part of which included the fast spinning tire grinding into my calf, leaving a nice brush burn.

I had a box at my front door last night which contained my latest mod for my Tacoma, color matching dash accents.  When I was speccing out my truck I thought all Inferno colored Tacomas had these accents.  It turned out only the trucks with a black interior got them.  My gray interior instead has the far less visually exciting dark gray accents pieces.

Last week the idea popped into my head that I could probably just order the color coordinated accents and install them myself.  A brief investigation confirmed this and I ordered the parts from the same dealership I ordered my replacement grill.  When I pulled the parts out of the box I did a double take, they almost looked red to me in the dining room lighting.  I verified the parts tag that these were indeed the Inferno colored pieces.

Installation of the pieces was pretty simple, really only requiring a screwdriver and my hands to pry the pieces off the dash and pop them back on.  Of course like any automotive project I shot a video for any other Tacoma owners that might have the same idea as I did.  I like the end result for sure.

So when I walked into the gym yesterday the eviction notice was on the door indicating as of Tuesday the gym would be officially closed.  It obviously was a depressing thing to see but not unexpected, despite my being told flat out by the gym manager that the gym would not be closing.  He claimed the gym was “transitioning” to being a corporate owned location which would be a good thing.  At the time when he told me that I hoped he wasn’t the type of person to lie to my face.  Evidently, he is.

So it felt strange going through my last workout with my bench press buddy.  Despite my various complaints about the gym over the years it still was probably my best gym experience since moving to Florida outside of the one year or so World Gym was around before Planet Fitness took it over.  I tried my best to make my last day at Retro memorable, attempting to decline bench press 250 pounds for the first time ever.  I got close but required a slight spot to get it up.

I talked to some of the remaining staff before I left, telling them I appreciated them sticking around to the end.  I had not seen the manager for the last three or four days.  I exited the building with a slim glimmer of hope that I may work out there again someday if the space is reopened under a new owner, something that has been talked about as a possibility.

So what went wrong?  What caused the gym to go out of business a second time under a different owner? Bad management would be my first guess.  Ironically the gym reopened with the same manager it closed with previously.  At the time the talk was the ownership was the problem, not letting the manger run things.  All that was supposed to be different the second time around.  It was different, the owner let the manager run things as much as I could tell.  The end result was the doors being locked, again.

Almost as soon as the gym reopened less than two years ago they began work on renovating an unoccupied adjacent space.  It was supposed to be a huge group class room as well as having offices for other wellness services like chiropractor and massage services.    Well for some reason, perhaps non-payment of contractors, just like their rent money, the renovation took FOREVER, only completing a couple months ago.  The gym also never did any marketing to announce their reopening, I never saw any advertising for the gym outside of a few Facebook ads.

They didn’t do a good job of upkeep, as I mentioned before, they had a LOT of broken equipment, however with their apparent dire financial situation I guess I can understand.  The one thing that I didn’t understand was a lack of simple maintenance and cleaning that doesn’t cost a dollar.  All it requires is someone giving a damn.  In the past month they actually hired a woman that was doing a good job of cleaning the place, finally.

Cindy was one of those employees that had been unpaid up until this point.  She got lucky and finally got paid last evening, in cash, as all bank accounts for the gym have been frozen.    I wish I had my phone with to take a picture of the sign apologizing for the lack of paper towels and toilet paper, they had no funds to buy any.

So my plan for today is to verify the doors at Retro are locked and if they are shoot over to Planet Fitness so I can join on a month to month basis.  I will be holding out hope that Retro reopens under some other name within a few months.  If not I will be forced to work out in the house the Lunk Alarm built for the foreseeable future.

Cindy and I watched the Walking Dead season finale.  Let’s just say it left me feeling unfulfilled.

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.

So when I had Best Services repair my leaking hose bib last year I signed up for one of their home service contracts because it actually saved me money on the repair.  Part of that service is free PM’s on stuff like your AC and electrical systems.   They had contacted me asking to schedule the AC maintenance a couple weeks ago.  They scheduled for last Thursday morning but then cancelled the day prior due to some high priority repair that came up, ok fine, we rescheduled for this Thursday.  They called the night before to confirm someone would be there between 8AM and 9AM.

Cindy taught a class early yesterday but got home before 8 o’clock.  She had some stuff she wanted to get done but the PM shouldn’t take very long.  So a little before 9 Cindy tells me nooone was there yet.  That’s weird, the last time the Best tech was very punctual.  I told her I was sure they would be there soon.  Well I was wrong.  9:30 arrived with no tech and no call to let us know what was going on.  I was officially annoyed.

I call the Best office and tell them nobody has shown up and noone called us.  They apologize and put me on hold to see what is up.  They come back and say the tech had truck problems but he should be leaving shortly.  I asked why he would not let us know he was going to be delayed?  The phone rep said he should have let us know and apologized again.  They said the tech will be talked to about the lack of communication but assured me they would “make it right”.  They said the tech should be arriving around 10AM. Ok, wonderful.  I let Cindy know of the new ETA, she wasn’t thrilled as it puts a crimp in her plans.

So I started checking the DVR driveway feed to see if the tech showed up. When 10:20 arrived and the driveway was still empty I had enough.  I called Best back and said the tech has now missed the second eta of the morning I no longer was going to wait.  They apologized again and asked if I wanted to reschedule.  I told them no, I don’t like dealing with companies that do not value their customers time. After more apologies from them I hung up, content to use my normal AC company for PM from now on.  I just have very little tolerance for people or businesses that don’t do what they say.  Sure, shit happens but if it does, let me know about it proactively.

When I was investigating options for Tacomas before getting my truck I liked the Inferno Orange dash accents that came on Inferno trucks with a black interior.  Well my truck has the gray interior so my dash surround is a much less splashy gray.  However, just because it came that way doesn’t mean it needs to stay that way.  I found out I was able to order the Inferno dash accent pieces and did so from the same dealer I bought my TRD Pro grill from.  I am hoping they show up today so I can swap them in over the weekend.  Cindy crinkled her nose when I told her about my purchase.  I told her that surprised me because when I first showed her the trucks she reacted favorably to the orange accents.  Oh well.

I also have been getting the itch to do some more mods to the truck.  I am thinking about new tires/wheels as well as a small 3-1″ leveling kit/lift.  Although the wheels and tires on the Tacoma aren’t bad, they aren’t all that exciting either.  A set of aggressive wheels and tires would make the truck uniquely mine which is appealing.  I watched a full video of what is involved with installing the lift kit and it is something I definitely could do. It would be much easier if I had access to a car lift.  Unfortunately there is no place in my local area that rents lift time that I have been able to find.  So anyway, those mods are not a next week thing but the seed is definitely planted in my head and is being watered regularly.

So the rabbit hole where the two baby bunnies were is now empty.  Cindy is worried something bad happened to the babies. I am more optimistic and hope the momma bunny simply relocated the babies to a different location once she saw the modifications we made to her nest.

This weekend I have some small things I want to knock out like some yard maintenance and cleaning out the chicken coop.  Hopefully a fun EUC ride and maybe a trip to the movies can be incorporated too.