Tagged: 2017 in review

Another 365 days have raced by once again which has brought my dreaded 50th birthday into the light.  I guess it’s time to recap the year and as always I start that by seeing how I did with my goals I set from last year.

Home Improvements – Address the roof maybe, resurface pool deck, replace the bathroom vanity in master bathroom. Well there was plenty done around the house but not what I expected although the roof will be redone during next summer thanks to Hurricane Irma.  Instead of the master bathroom getting a new vanity Cindy totally redid the guest bathroom including paint, wainscot and a new quartz countertop and sink which looks great.  Pool deck is still lack luster but oh well .

Financial goals – pay off primary mortgage, check!  That was a cool accomplishment that now gives me more income to apply to other bills and goals.  Getting Cindy a new Prius, well sort of.  Instead of a new Prius she bought a brand new Hyundai Ioniq and I bought her old Prius, allowing me to have a good daily commuter and giving us the luxury of a third vehicle in the household.

Fitness – Don’t die and more regular running, races.  I’m not dead and my fitness/strength has taken a slight uptick I think from last year at this time.  The aches and pains have not been quite as bad, the addition of CBD oil to my regimen certainly helped that.  I have been able to run consistently pretty much all year which is cool.

Travel – Do a road trip again, yep we did our first Florida to Maine road trip which was really awesome in some ways and terrible in others.  We rode our EUC’s up and down the east coast as I hoped.

Interest in buying a Jeep Wrangler – nope the 2007 Prius filled that spot, not as much fun but surely much more functional.

Growing my YouTube channel – YES.  I am now just shy of 3000 subscribers and have over two million views.  In addition to monthly ad revenue which is currently in the neighborhood of $250, I am also getting spiff’s via my affiliation with an EUC store, an electronics store (GearBest), and through my Amazon Affiliate links.  I am now damn close to bringing the same if not more extra income as when I was doing race timing which is pretty awesome and a lot more fun.

Ok so what else happened….

Well let’s get material objects out of the way.  In addition to the home improvement projects mentioned I also built a new fenced in area for the chickens around their coop.  The initial reason was because of Katie living with us with her dog Bowser whom could not be trusted with the chickens.  The fence had the side benefit of containing the chickens destructive powers to a small portion of the property.  During the wet season it was not ideal as the back part of their area was flooded out more often than not which sucked for all parties involved.  We also added an expensive whole house RO system which provides super clean water to every outlet in the house.  It was a very pricey upgrade but something I decided to do when our six your old system started to leak.

Cindy had a big year in ownership, not only buying the Ioniq but ALSO a new 26 foot Coleman trailer that is residing in our backyard.  The primary intent of the trailer is to serve as Cindy’s “she shed”, a space that is entirely her own to do whatever she wants with, something she has wanted for almost as long as she has lived with me.  She has tried to convert the small shed and spare bedroom into such spaces in the past but it never was that great.  Of course she wants us to try to take the trailer out on the road for some conventional RV camping which is not high on my priority list but I paid almost a thousand bucks to equip the Tacoma with the hitch and electric brake controller which is required to do so.

I once again spent heavily on my electric unicycle hobby, buying three more wheels in 2017, the Gotway Monster, Mten3, and Segway S1.  I still LOVE riding and added the ability to ride backwards to my skillset this past year which was a physical and mental challenge.  I have not gotten to ride as much as 2016 but still love getting out there as much as possible.  Cindy actually finally learned to ride an EUC this year as well after getting scared off from a bad fall when we first got the Ninebot One.  As you can tell from the video I posted last night of her starting to ride backwards, she has made some great progress.

2017 was a year where I picked up ANOTHER major hobby, 3D printing.  I approached 3D printing with similar enthusiasm as I did in 2016 with EUC’s.  I started out with a FlashForge Finder which we made some amazing things on, especially considering how new we were to the hobby.  The most notable was the Widowmaker rifle that consisted of 30 something parts that Cindy carefully assembled and painted, resulting in a pretty amazing end result.

Since then I have added two more 3D printers to the collection, a Creality CR-10 and Dagoma Neva.  I have something being printed most of the time.  I have had my fair amount of frustration with the hobby, especially with my CR-10 that frustrated me for awhile with several issues, some of which I created myself.  There is just something very cool about being able to create physical objects,  often quite useful ones out of nothing.

There was a very sad tragedy in the household this year where my stupidity caused the death of Tuki, our long time Senegal Parrot.  I thought I was doing him a favor not making him stay in his cage the entire time we were dog sitting my buddy’s dog.  Instead that decision resulted in the dog killing Tuki when both Cindy and I were in another room.  I still regularly feel great guilt and sorrow when I think about how it all went down.

One of the biggest events of 2017 was of course Hurricane Irma, the massive storm whose eyewall literally passed right along our house, resulting in significant damage and a lot of fear as we sat bottled up in the house with the sounds of horrific wind battering the house for hours.  The 10 days of no power that followed were a test of patience and ingenuity.  Two hour gas lines became a regular everyday thing and dealing with the widespread carnage was something we don’t care to revisit anytime soon.  I mentioned the roof damage but there was also a lot screen damage to the pool cage that is yet to be repaired as well as a lot of landscape that was torn up.

The most miraculous thing was the chicken coop survived the storm more or less intact despite the structure only being rated for a max of 75 mph winds. (we hit somewhere around 130)  I spent copious amounts of time reinforcing the coop and surprisingly it worked.  The chickens were unhappy but safe in the garage during the storm.  Riding out a direct hit hurricane is not something you really want to do, I’ve now done it twice.

I haven’t done as much ranting this year but one of them again has been hurricane related.  Dealing with my insurance company on storm remediation was painful and frustrating as hell.  The experience was filled with weeks between call backs and tons of outright apathy by the insurance sub-contracted claim adjusters towards returning my requests for information.  It took me between two and three months until I got a check in my hand that was for an amount that was reasonable for my damages.  I am going to be eating the difference in price to go for a metal roof this time, something that should outlast me and save us a lot of energy costs due to the reflective properties versus heat absorbing asphalt shingles.

Sure I could rant for days about the first year of Trump’s presidency.  I didn’t think it was possible but it has (to use one of his favorite words) been more of a disaster than I ever imagined it could be.  He has made us the laughing stock of the global community, put us on the brink of armed conflict, and dimmed our future in so many ways.  However at this point I mostly just shoulder shrug to it all and just hope we survive until 2020.

2017 was our last year as Florida Tarpons fans as they decided to pack up and move to Lakeland in the off season.  Even though the games have always been sort of a joke, it’s where Cindy and I had our first “date” so seeing the team vacate the area was sort of sad.

There continued to be significant mods done to the Tacoma in 2017, the biggest of which was the installation of a 3-1 leveling kit on the truck.  I love the higher stance which will eventually allow me to equip the truck with larger/cooler wheels and tires once my factory tires wear out.  Installation of the kit was special as Chuck, a fellow YouTuber and Tacoma enthusiast actually drove down from Maryland and helped me do the install, it was epic.

I felt like I had to pinch myself when they announced that Zima, my all time favorite alcoholic drink was back for a limited time.  Cindy grabbed as much of it as she could and she actually became a fan of the beverage as well.  I sadly only have one bottle remaining, which I have been keeping for months in the fridge to crack open on New Year’s Eve.

2017 was our first full year with Elsa.  It’s funny how I went to being more or less opposed to having a full time dog in the house again to where I am today.  Elsa is such a huge source of fun and joy in our lives.  Her quirky personalty where she can be so shy and scared one second to crazy and affectionate the next is endearing. Cindy and I both love her so much.

This was likely the most challenging year I have had at my job, ever.  We initiated a full office renovation project that presented me with endless challenges as we moved our staff out of our building to temporary office space and back again.  I had my hands in so many things at once it made my head spin at times.  To make things more challenging we had Hurricane Irma thrown into the mix which closed our office for over a week and severely damaged our Everglades City office which I had to get up and running in a trailer until repairs can be completed.  This year was a tough one for sure at work but we have now emerged from the other side and are enjoying our significantly modernized and updated work space.  2018 is going to have a different set of demands on me as we will be ripping out our back end systems and migrating to a cloud based solution, fun.

My year wound up with a whirlwind trip to PA for my 50th birthday which included a surprise party with an even more surprising appearance by Cindy, whom I thought was in Florida tending to things.  It really was an amazing trip and likely the most memorable birthday of my life.  I guess being old as dirt has it’s advantages.

Alright that is enough recapping, let me quickly see if I can come up with 2018 goals.

Home improvements – As I mentioned by this time next year I should have a shiny new metal roof on the house.  I also will eventually find someone willing to rescreen the pool cage without drastically overcharging me for their services.  I don’t have other big projects in my head but surely there will be plenty of little ones to keep me occupied.

Fitness is sort of THE goal as opposed to setting numeric milestones at this point for me.  My direction is always to press on with consistency which hopefully results in incremental gains while avoiding serious injury.  I want to keep running, not because I like it but because it’s challenging.

I am hoping to keep expanding my YouTube efforts.  I have grown my income stream more than double in the last year.  I am looking forward to see if I can keep building on that momentum.

I expect my hobbies to continue to grow although I don’t know that I will need to buy any more EUC’s in 2018.  I think five is enough.  I do expect to get more 3D printers and I MAY actually start creating some objects that could be sold on a limited basis if demand is there.  Cindy is hoping to dive deep into crafting, learning how to use the Silhouette Cameo 3 I got her for Christmas.

I don’t have a lot of specific financial goals outside of now working to pay down the home equity line of credit so the house is truly free and clear of debt which would be amazing.  I am thinking of opening a Roth IRA as well even though I already have two retirement accounts through work I am funding.

I would expect Cindy and I get out for some sort of road trip this year although I am unsure what exactly that may be.  My work schedule this year is not going to be amenable to prolonged time off this summer.  At some point we will need to get the RV out on the road to see how viable the Tacoma is as a tow vehicle.

As always I have internal goals to keep trying to do my best to shape my decisions in a way that continues to lead to happiness.  I have a long history of sometimes reacting to things strongly, unnecessarily so at times.  As I get older I realize that although it may feel good for a few moments to just unleash energy the moment something that annoys me happens, the reality is that in the big picture, I am often much better served to reflect, think and choose differently.  Many battles I thought were worth fighting in my youth just do not seem remotely worth it anymore.  Briefly reading my book of 2007 blog entries made that more clear than ever.

I hope your 2017 was equally memorable and 2018 holds promise, joy, and possibilities for you.  If you aren’t always working towards something, what’s the point….