When I walked out to the Tesla after work yesterday I found myself annoyed by how dirty it was.  2800 miles of driving will do that to a car.  Generally speaking I like to keep things neat, if you look at my vehicles there is minimal clutter and I try to keep them clean.  I made the mental commitment to wash the Tesla when I got home, despite knowing it would be pitch dark.  After tending to the chickens and Elsa I threw on a sweatshirt and got busy.  I had the garage Alexa play some holiday music to set the mood.

The Ring floodlight cam did a decent job of illuminating a little over half of the car.   The far side and rear I did mostly blind outside of the dim lighting from the Christmas lights.  It felt good to get the task done, one less potential to do for the weekend.

I have started to do some Christmas shopping already although the amount of work that will be required will obviously be less than in years past.  Christmas present buying is something I really like, I am a giver at heart.  Hell I have a column in my budget book that is called “Gifts”, just so I would always have money set aside to buy presents for Xmas.

I am doing something some people may see as strange, buying a couple things for myself that I had wanted, wrapping them, and putting them under the tree to be opened Christmas morning.  I know I will get some presents from my family as well but I wanted to have a few things under the tree that are can’t miss gifts, because I bought them, lol.  The overwhelming majority of the presents under the tree will be for DJ of course.

I did the weeding around the property on Wednesday so I can skip that this weekend.  The colder temps have also curtailed most yard growth so I can avoid that as well.  I want to try to knock out a lot of my remaining Christmas purchasing out this weekend if possible.  After almost 54 years on the planet I realize that before I know it Christmas will be here so I sleep better at night staying ahead of the curve.

Sunday afternoon I am going to a small celebration for Ali.  She recently completed her masters which is quite the accomplishment, something I would never have the ambition to undertake as an adult.  Hell I don’t even have a college degree for that matter.  Anyway it will be nice to hang with other human beings for a little bit, something I need to force myself to do more often.  Going into recluse mode comes easier and easier nowadays.

 

 

 

I left work about 2PM Wednesday afternoon so I could get home and tend to a handful of things before pushing off for Texas.  I knew I had an arduous task in front of me although the depths of it were worse than I realized.  After sitting on the sofa with Elsa for a few minutes I gave her a hug, told her I would miss her and backed out of the driveway about 3:30 PM.

My buddy at worked had said he thought traffic could be oppressive with it being Thanksgiving Eve.  I didn’t think it would be bad at all.  I was wrong.  I sat in stop and go traffic for close to an hour over the first leg of the trip, although it was due to a couple accidents, not overall volume.  As I was sitting in traffic I examined my trip details more closely in the Tesla.

When Torrin first mentioned doing this I quickly threw Naples to Dallas into Google and got back a number of less than 1100 miles.  She lives in Denton but it is close to Dallas so that was good enough.  My 5 second analysis was PA is 1200 miles so this is easier/less of a haul, good to go.   If I was being smart I would have entered her exact address into the car ahead of time to see the full route, including routing through superchargers, which I instead did after I already left.  This revealed a much uglier reality, with the trip actually being almost 1300 miles, further than PA, awesome.  I knew I had two VERY long days ahead of me.

After clearing the various traffic jams things started to clear up.  I was using autopilot/full self driving a lot as I was on interstate highway.  The best part of FSD for me is the auto lane change, especially in this scenario.  I just flip the turn signal and the car checks it’s blind spot, changes lanes and turns off the turn signal.  Since you are doing hundreds of lane changes on a 2800 mile road trip, that feature alone was worth it for me.

The charge stops were mostly short, which seems non-intuitive for a Tesla novice.  Most of them were in the 20-25 minute range.  The reason for this is it allows you to spend most of your time charging at a very high rate.  Once you approach 80% charge the rate drops off significantly.  This shorter but more numerous charge stops strategy overall winds up being the most efficient way to progress.

I was getting very tired but I knew I had to go as far as I could on Wednesday if I wanted any shot of getting to Torrin’s place at a reasonable time on Thanksgiving.  I finally pulled over after midnight in Madison Florida which is just inside the start of the panhandle.  I needed to get some degree of sleep if I wanted to be able to handle the massive drive still ahead.

My Thanksgiving started with some very crisp air in the 30s, something I don’t experience much.  When I saw the total distance I had remaining, 959, miles, I swallowed hard.  I once did this sort of mileage returning from a western road trip with Cindy.  We crossed Texas all in one shot which is 900 miles plus.  I remember how difficult that was, with TWO people.  The prospect of doing it solo put a black cloud over me from the start of the day.

Normally superchargers are located in retail areas with food and bathrooms readily available, which is awesome.  What isn’t awesome is trying to road trip on Thanksgiving when almost every thing is closed, cutting you off from food and bathrooms.  Again my poor planning came into play, I didn’t even pack any snacks.  The lack of bathroom facilities meant I wound up using bushes to pee more than once.  One time I pulled off the side of the highway and ran up a hill to some trees to get the job done. It was not a great situation.

So it was now mid-afternoon.  I was hungry but everything around the supercharger appeared closed.  I pulled out my V12 and rode around looking for ANYTHING.  Well my prayers were answered, sort of when I spotted a Dollar General store that was actually open.  I pushed my wheel around the store as I carefully selected my Thanksgiving meal which consisted of a bag Party Chex, popcorn, some no brand granola bars and a Yoo Hoo.  Nutritional content was ignored as I scarfed down the junk food while I waited for the charge to finish.

As the day drug on I was getting more and more rammy.  My lower back was starting to hurt and despite spending over 12 hours on the road I still had a ton to go.  At around 6:30 I was again charging and looking for food options, which there were none.  I went into the nearby hotel and asked if they knew of anything open, the nice kid did not know of anything but he suggested Uber Eats, where they bring food to you.  He was nice enough to allow me to have a Hershey Bar for free, which was very cool.

I already had the Uber Eats app although I never had used it.  I was surprised when it said I could actually get food delivered to me from a nearby Subway which was only 4 miles away.  I placed the order, added a big tip since it was a holiday and anxiously waited for my food to arrive.

The app tells you the status the entire way, it showed my order was received, and then it was being prepared, and then “finishing up”.  It showed me the delivery persons name and ETA, sweet.  Well after being stuck on the finishing up status for awhile I suddenly got a notification that my order was cancelled!  WTF.  The details of the message explained that it was cancelled because the store was closed…  So all of that realtime updating was bullshit.  I dug back into my snacks to keep me going.

While I was waiting for Uber Eats I called my sister.  My ETA had now slipped back to after midnight.  I told her I think a better plan was for me to drive until I was a couple hours away, get another hotel and then head out early Friday.  That way I wasn’t a zombie and they didn’t have to wait up until stupid late for me.  Torrin agreed that sounded like a good idea.

I wound up driving until I hit Lindale Texas, getting to bed “early” which still meant after 11PM.  I was really, really wiped out as you can imagine.  It was certainly a Thanksgiving like no other.  I did feel badly about missing my original proposed goal of getting there by Thanksgiving, partly because it also happened to be my niece Emily’s birthday as well.  Bailing early was the right thing to do but I still wasn’t happy about it.

Friday I again hit the road about 7AM and drove straight to the Denton supercharger a couple hundred miles away.  As I was waiting I went into the nearby Walmart and bought a bike pump.  The tire on the OneWheel was almost flat and I brought no pumps with me, more poor planning.  I was able to get pressure back in the tire and then ride the board around the lot in very chilly temperatures.  My mileage on the car for the trip at that point was 1369 miles, even higher than what my revised number was, sheesh.

Finally I pulled into Torrin and Damons place a little after 10.  I had seen them in January of 2020 when they came to Florida to visit but I had not been to a house they were living in for something like six years, when they still lived in State College, PA.  Since then they have lived in Colorado for a little while before landing in Texas for the last 3 years.  They move around a LOT.

Their house is in a great neighborhood and the house is very large.  I got the tour shortly after arriving.  My bed was set up in the upstairs room which is used for homeschooling the kids and gaming.  Both of the kids were anxious to show me some games and kick my ass in others.  The one downer for me was the family cat, Higgins, got out of the yard 5 days prior and has not turned up since.  I felt really bad about it and found myself constantly scanning the area for any signs of him whenever we were outside.

For lunch I had the Tofurkey Torrin bought for me, it still tasted good even though it wasn’t Thanksgiving.  During the afternoon we all went down to a nearby park.  I had brought the V12, OneWheel, and Ninebot One E+ along for the trip.  My hope was the kids would be interested in learning the Ninebot EUC and I could leave it for them.

When we got to the park Emily took more of a liking to the OneWheel and within a few minutes was cruising around on it pretty well.  Griffin wasn’t very into the OneWheel or Ninebot so he stuck to the Segway Minipro I got him last year for his birthday.  Damon really liked the OneWheel but he was also intrigued to try the Ninebot One.  After a pretty short learning curve he was up and rolling which was impressive.  He picked it up super fast and really liked the challenge of riding it.

I forgot to mention a very important family member, Ozzy.  Ozzy is around a year old and he is a crazy bundle of energy.  He seemed to immediately take to me, wanting to be in my face constantly.  At first Damon and Torrin would keep disciplining him for crawling all over me but I assured them it was ok, I didn’t mind.  Before long Ozzy presented me with his thick rope which he loves to play pull with.  He is a really a great dog.

The rest of Friday was chill with me eating more of the Thanksgiving leftovers, us watching a movie and spending a lot of time upstairs with the kids watching/playing games.

My first night of sleep was ok except for the ticking of a clock on the wall.  I kept telling myself there was no need to get up and pull the batteries out.  Surely I should be too tired to have it bother me.  I regretted that decision later but I still got the most sleep of the trip so far.  Ozzy was my alarm clock as he flew onto the bed with the rope in his mouth,  I laughed out loud.

On Saturday the weather was downright awful.  It was cold with steady to hard rain for almost the entire day.  I spent some of the time working on the 3D printer I bought them last Christmas.  They got a few prints out initially but then had some problems.  I was able to walk through a few steps to get it printing well.  I was so frustrated when I saw the end result of UPS not giving a shit with the computer I sent to the kids.  It looked like they dropped it off a truck, the frame of the bottom is bent to the point where the side no longer fits on the case.  Luckily the computer still works 100% but it looks like it was whacked with a bat.

I loaded up software on it for the 3D printer as well as demonstrating Tinkercad for everyone so they could design and print their own stuff.  It will be great if they get more use out of the printer.  Of course we played more games as well.

During the afternoon Damon arranged for us to go to an escape room, something I heard about but never experienced before.  He and Emily had done it once before and liked it.  You are given a back story and an objective and then are inserted into a room where you have an hour to solve all of it’s secrets.  Our scenario was very involved, or at least it seemed it to me.  Solving all of the puzzles and opening the associated locks was definitely a team effort with all of us figuring out some parts of the room at one point.  You could also ask the game master for hints if you hit a dead end.  We had to do that 4-5 times which I didn’t think was too bad considering how much stuff we figured out ourselves.

We thought we were done but realized there was more to do when a secret room was revealed, requiring more problem solving.  We just barely solved the room in time, we had 39 seconds to spare.  I think we all felt a sense of accomplishment.  It was a unique and fun way to spend an hour, I would do it again.

Saturday night we went to dinner at a real nice place that Torrin and Damon have enjoyed many times.  We got there early enough to avoid waiting.  The wait staff was very friendly and the food was good all the way around.  It almost gave me the feeling I used to get at the Naples Carrabas before they sterilized it.  When we got back home we watched the original Home Alone and of course more video games were played.

Early Sunday morning Damon took me to his “office”.  His office is a huge data center for Schwab.  The security, scale, and scope of this data center is pretty amazing, far beyond anything I have ever seen in person.  It’s a 1000 square feet of server racks stuffed with millions of dollars in equipment.  He is in the middle of setting up a second room of the same size in the same building.  Working in a huge corporate network like that was never appealing to me, the closest I got to that was when I worked for a bank back in the 90’s but it still was nothing remotely as complex as what I saw.  Damon loves the challenge and he excels at what he does.  On the way back we drove by a new Facebook data center.  It was enormous, covering something around a square MILE.  If you want to feel shitty about Facebook and just how incredibly deep their pockets go thanks to your data, look up their data centers.

The weather was better Sunday so we did another ride to the park which was fun.  Both Emily and Damon really impressed with me with how quickly they got up and rolling.  The rest of the day was a mix of activities.  I helped Damon with Christmas lights, we ran to Home Depot, played video games, watched Home Alone 2, picked up Chinese food for dinner and just hung out, something I don’t get to do much.  Oh yea, Torrin and I actually got to watch the Eagles/Giants game as well which surprisingly was being broadcast locally. The Eagles made a ton of mistakes which lead to them losing in an embarrassing fashion to the the Giants.  It was a depressing game to watch but fun that I got to do it with Torrin.  I can’t tell you the last time I watched a football game with her, if ever.

Sunday was my last night with them and I tried to not dwell on it.  Even with a short 3 day visit I had a chance to interact and bond with the kids.  Knowing I would be back on the road the following day was a bit sad for me.  I had my best sleep of the trip on the my last day there, ironically.

I woke up without an alarm around 6.  I was already mostly packed so I spent some time playing the game that Griffin was demonstrating to me all weekend, the new Zelda game on the Nintendo Switch.  I was able to progress through a few levels and left the game paused so Griff could see my progress.  Everybody crawled out of bed early to see me off.  It was great seeing everyone but sad that it was time to go.  I played one last quick game of rope with Ozzy and then headed east, somewhere around 7:30.

My hope was to hit the road hard on Monday, making the Tuesday portion less oppressive.  I hit a lot of the same charging stops as the way out.  The big difference was now everything was open which made the stops much more enjoyable as I could freely use the facilities.  The weather was perfect with cool temps and blue skies.  I did a lot of documenting of the trip on Instagram, taking some odd/funny shots like this one where I sat in a sleigh with seemingly no one around me.  All of the malls I went to on the way back were almost empty, it makes you wonder how they keep the lights on.

I pushed deep into Monday night not stopping until I was about 30 miles east of Pensacola in a town named Crestview.  I had a decent night of sleep but set another 6AM alarm to get things rolling on Tuesday.  I had 580 miles to go which is still a ton.

The weather was again great for the drive but I found myself getting frustrated as the ETA kept slipping backwards.  I did make a stop at one of the nicest rest stops I have ever seen.  The bathrooms were high end, meticulously clean, and nicer than you would see in most restaurants.

The place had a Burger King AND Dunkin Donuts along with a ton of unique crafts and souvenirs.  It worked out well that my charging time at that spot was one of the longer ones.

I finally arrived at my last charge stop at Land O Lakes.  It also was my longest charge, I was there close to an hour getting the necessary juice to go all the way back to Naples.  I spent the time rolling on the One Wheel and watching videos on YouTube.  My entertainment with all that driving consisted of podcasts and listening to Howard 101 which has infinite clips from his 40 years of radio.

During the last segment I was putting the pedal to the metal, pretty much ignoring speed limits.  As long as there were other vehicles going the same speed as me or faster I was ok with it.  I just wanted this trip over at this point.  Over the two days I spent somewhere around 27 hours traveling, excessive, in anyone’s book.

It felt a little surreal as I pulled into the driveway, knowing how much had occurred in the 6 days since I left.  Elsa of course was manic, beyond excited to see me again.  It felt good to get such a loving welcome.  I systematically emptied the car, going from back to front, trying to handle things as they come.  I got laundry going quickly and put everything away that I could.  After feeding Elsa and checking on the chickens I stayed up until after 11 getting the video of the trip to Texas edited which you can see below.

I took Wednesday off as well to get things back in order.  Luckily Cindy handled things around here so there wasn’t all that much I had to do.  I got the second video edited/uploaded and have been cramming through this blog entry which takes a loooong time.  Of course doing these things gives me ample opportunities to reflect on the trip.  I am glad I didn’t go with my initial knee jerk reaction of “it would be too much trouble” when Torrin suggested the trip to me a month or so ago.  Some things are worth the trouble.

Being around Torrin and her family gave me an appreciation for the connection family gives you, something I sorely needed in this time of general upheaval in my life.  Since my siblings and I have been geographically separated for most of our adult lives, family interactions become a casualty of that reality and I felt that more now than ever after the visit.  I am very grateful for the hospitality, love and caring that was shown to me. It makes me wish that thousands of miles weren’t a constant obstacle. (maybe fly more) The trip was an adventure, just like all road trips are.  It’s why I hope to find a way to make them a more regular part of my existence.

 

 

 

 

 

Last night I did as much trip prep as I could, getting my suitcase mostly packed and the house in order.  It felt weird knowing that 24 hours from then I would be driving north with a hopeful destination somewhere up in the panhandle followed by a nearly all day driving session on Thanksgiving.   It will be a grind for sure, especially with me still trying to get over the cold that settled in Saturday night.  I have not been sick for nearly two years, the timing is (not) perfect.

It sounds like my sister is creating a busy agenda for my 3 day visit.  I’m sure it will pass by quickly.  Tomorrow is also my niece Emily’s birthday.  I have never gotten to spend a birthday with either of them in person so it will be a nice treat to do so.  A quick look up in Google indicated it is an 18 hour plus drive non-stop, meaning with all things considered and the supercharger stops I will likely be spending 21-22 hours driving, a tough challenge for two days when healthy with a co-pilot. Solo and semi-sick will up the challenge level a few clicks.

This morning I took the truck to work so the Tesla could remain at full capacity for the trip.  As I got to the intersection of my street I saw a sign that was unexpected.  It said ” I almost do too   143 4Ever” It was an odd place for such a sign.  The message seems to be indicating some sort of romantic break up, like a couple was going to get married and then didn’t.  The 143 4Ever would be confusing for most people but I actually know what that means thanks to the Stern show.

Years ago one of the staff members was telling a story a about his wife who he suspected was cheating on him.  He saw texts she sent to a man that included the numbers “143”.  He later discovered that is texting code for “I love you” with the numbers representing the amount of letters in each word.  Because of that story, I was able to translate the sign.

I am taking my video/camera gear and laptop along for the ride as I hope to document the journey in a similar fashion as when I took the Model 3 to PA.  It should be a unique adventure and the first time I have crossed the Mississippi River in at least 5 years.

 

 

My working from home experience yesterday affirmed that I could do my job remotely the vast majority of the time.  I was able to take calls, help users at remote branches, coordinate installations and even manage a WAN outage at four branches all from the comfort of my Titan gaming chair.  There isn’t a lot of acceptance for the idea of us working remotely but it’s something I am going to continue to push for on at least a limited basis.

Yesterday I signed up for the full self driving subscription for my car.  The short term planned sub is to make my drive to and from Texas more enjoyable.  It will also allow me to reevaluate the feature which I had with my original Model 3 to see if it’s improved.  Even if it has, I highly doubt I will find it worthy of an extra $200 per month. We will see.

Tonight I need to pack and get as much ready to go as possible.  Tomorrow I hope to get out of work as early as I can, make a brief pit stop at home and then get on the road.  I am thinking I will take my truck to work tomorrow and have the Tesla charge to 100% capacity during the day at home to maximize the range on the first leg of the journey.  Otherwise I would only be starting at 75% charge which is less than ideal for a long haul.

The Eagles had another surprising outcome yesterday, beating the Saints 40-29.  With a score like that you would assume Jalen Hurts threw the ball all over the place.  Actually he didn’t, instead he ran for three TD’s and the Birds as a team ran very effectively.  Ever since the Siriani realized he needed to run the ball more than 30% of the plays the offense has been transformed.  Long, run dominant drives also has the side effect of keeping the Eagles suspect defense off the field longer an added bonus.  The team now sits at a 5-6 record with a bunch of in division games on their schedule.  They control their destiny because the NFC East is once again a weak division.

The last couple days I have been dealing with illness.  I have not gotten sick in something like two years so of course the first concern is covid, although I didn’t feel like I had a fever.  It just feels like an unpleasant cold.  A co-worker came to work sick Friday and I am pretty certain that is the source.  I felt increasingly shitty as Sunday wore on.  Last night I woke up at 3AM and was unable to fall back asleep.  I am can’t call out sick in a conventional way because we are shorthanded so I am manning the ship remotely, which is totally doable for the overwhelming majority of what I do.

Of course my biggest priority is feeling better before I start the long drive to Texas Wednesday evening.  The idea of doing that with the way I feel currently has zero appeal.

Maybe my illness was exacerbated by getting caught out in the rain during a quick DD ride yesterday.

Friday evening was the first time I did ride my after work in full daylight savings time conditions, meaning, it was dark.  I turned on my bright tail light as well as my helmet mounted light torch.  I don’t get to the street light section of the road for about the first half mile of the ride.  That is all that it took for me to identify a couple issues.

The angle of the light on my head was not good.   Even if I tried to crane my neck up abnormally high, only the 5 or 6 feet in front of me was illuminated.  The other issue I quickly experienced was having a bright light on top of your head is a beacon for bugs, inviting them to smash into your face/mouth repeatedly.

Once I got to the street light section visibility was better but still not great, making it very difficult to pick out small debris in the bike lane that I would normally try to avoid in daylight conditions.  As I got about a mile away from the turn around point I realized that the street lights do not extend all the way to Everglades Blvd like I thought they did, plunging me back into terrible visibility conditions.  I did a lot of relying on cars headlights to help me survey ahead.

Not being able to see reliably of course meant I had to reduce my speed, there was no way to sink myself into the aero bars and just pedal hard, I had to make sure I could see what I was doing, at least a little bit.

One thing that did work well was my new cycling glasses.  The clear lenses combined with higher profile kept the top of the frame out of the middle of my field of view.  I pulled back into the driveway intact.  I wasted little time until I bought an alternative light mount for the bike.  I am going to mount it lower, on the handle bars, allowing me to adjust the throw more reliably and give the bugs a lower target to aim for.

Friday night I watched Red Notice with Ryan Reynolds, The Rock, and Wonder Woman.  It recently came out on Netflix.  I found the movie filled with action, laughs, and not a single glance at a clock.  The chemistry between all three main characters was really good.  I’d give the movie an A all day long.

Saturday after getting normal chores done and running errands with Elsa in tow I dug into things that needed to get done, in my mind, before my upcoming holiday road trip.  Although the grass had hardly grown in some sections I mowed it, partly because I was planning to put up outdoor ornaments afterward, which normally is best done right after mowing.

Putting up the stuff did not have the affect it normally does.  Ever since I was young kid I have loved Christmas.  When I was a kid a lot of that was immature greed, excitement about what I could potentially get.  As I became an adult the holiday has meant a lot more giving than receiving, and I like it that way.  Putting up decorations was always fun as it signaled the official start of this month or so where the world seems just a little bit better. Every Christmas except one for the last 36 years I was in a relationship so whomever the person was, I got to share my hard to explain child-like excitement for the season.  I knew that trying to muster up the spirit to decorate was going to be difficult and painful this year, I was unsure just how deep it would go.

I went pretty bare bones by my standards on the outside of the house, decorating the first two palm trees and the face of the house with my LED light objects, most of which are 4-5 years old at least.  I made a command decision to throw out the collapsing snowman.  His cheap metal frame had broken at a bunch the welds which would have made him very flimsy.  I also decided to not bother putting up the Santa sleigh inflatable.  The reindeer never stay upright for long and I just didn’t feel like messing with it every night to make it look semi-decent.

As I was walking around doing the stuff I couldn’t help think back and contrast the 2021 display with some from the past where I would go all out, hanging every strand of light I had, illuminating all palm trees out front, the sides of the house and even the fence line.  I thought about my state of mind then and compared it to now in the process.  Back then there was seemingly endless good energy in many aspects of my life.  Now it feels like a dark alley with a couple flickering street lights.

I decided I only had the motivation to get the outside stuff done Saturday.  Even with the somewhat lame display I was out there for over a couple hours.  I would do indoor things Sunday.  Saturday night I spent a good portion of the night playing WoW, trying to distance myself from the sadness I was feeling.

Today again after tending to the chickens, paying bills, and doing a short errand run I dug into doing the indoor stuff.  Based on how I felt yesterday I was expecting similar difficulties getting through the process.  I made the decision early that I was not going to put up two trees, the second being the tree my mom owned when she passed away.  The tree will remain safe and sound in the shed but I just did not have the will to go through setting up a second tree.  Hell I was struggling to not just say fck putting up the tree altogether.

I cleared the customary spot in the dining room and put the three sections together.  I did very little fluffing/straightening of branches, that was always Cindy’s thing.  So not only was I hanging ornaments, I was dividing assets at the same time as there were a number of Cindy’s ornaments, many of which she is very fond of.  I carefully separated her things and only hung stuff I knew was mine.  Anything questionable or just unwanted stayed in the box.

Many people find it hard to believe that I am sentimental based on the stoic almost cylon-like at times outward appearance I carry.  I have ornaments dating back to my first wife.  I never threw them out because somehow despite the passing of that relationship, the ornaments each are like a miniature time capsule.  When I pull them out I instantly replay their back story which is always based around a happy moment in time, not a sad one.

Well doing this with ornaments based on my various adventures with Cindy was really, really tough, starting spontaneous tears more than once, something that has not happened in quite awhile. It made the process of decorating the tree a time of sadness instead of joy, and I hate that.  I know the only eventual cure is the passage of time and the first holiday post split is always going to be the worst but still, I really understand now the people that say that the holidays are some of their least favorite time of the year.  Hopefully I don’t every mutate into that mindset permanently.

This afternoon I will watch the Eagles game while I start to gather my thoughts and items needed for my road trip that begins Wednesday afternoon/evening.  I have a lot of boxes to check off.

 

 

This morning I had to do the blood draw and vitals measurement which is a requirement for our insurance.  Because of Covid we actually got to skip the testing for one year so this will be my first numbers check in awhile.  The BP, height, weight and waist measurements all seemed to be very similar to the last time I was checked a couple years ago, which is good.  Of course the blood work is the real indicator that matters to sniff out if there is anything lurking beneath the surface.  As always, I can feel my anxiety increasing the second I sit in the chair, although I do my best to hide it.  I had a man pulling my blood this time which is something new.  He seemed to know his stuff and despite 5 or 6 vials being pulled I came through it ok.

It was a fasted blood test, I had not eaten in 12 hours so the DD coffee and Pop Tarts I brought along were consumed quickly afterward.  I have talked before about how the county does their insurance coverage.  To me it’s a model for all health care and hell even for numerous other situations in the world.  In a nutshell, if you put in the effort you get rewarded.  If you don’t you pay a penalty.  With our insurance there are three levels of coverage.  To qualify for the best coverage with the lowest deductibles you need to have the blood draw done, get a physical, talk to a health advocate if there are any red flags and then take remediation classes to address those flags if any.  So in theory you could be a morbidly obese smoker and still get the best coverage if you jump through all of the required hoops.

If you just don’t give a shit and refuse to do any of these steps you get thrown onto the basic coverage with high co-pays and high deductibles.  It makes little sense to do this but you get out of it what you put into it, next to nothing.  I am curious how many employees actually give such little effort that they choose this route?

This weekend will be the start of six days of me completing the long list of things on my mental checklist that need to be handled prior to leaving for my long Thanksgiving road trip to the Dallas area to visit my sister.  I feel like I have a ton of things to keep in the air but that is a pretty normal feeling for me prior to any road trip.  This will be my longest journey since I drove up to PA for my brother’s 50th birthday last summer.  Although almost all of my road trips over the years have been with a co-pilot, that last trip was solo as this one will be as well.  Even by yourself there are tons of memories to be made along the way, they are just more enjoyable when shared with others, in my experience.

As we approach the end of the year it is typically the time that a lot of work projects slow down as the holiday season is generally not a great time for getting stuff done.  This year will be an exception however.  The new massive government building we are opening is scheduled to open right around the end of the year so instead of slowing down my to do list is going to swell, tremendously.  I have been through this rodeo a number of times so it will be ok, this is just the largest facility we have ever been involved in.

Popcorn the chicken is not feeling well, again.  For many, many months she has been on a roller coaster of wellness.  Astute blog readers may recall she is the chicken I probed with my finger, trying to determine if she was egg bound at one point.  I routinely have been trying to clean her vent with a hose as I try to hold her still, it’s a pretty challenging one person job.   For awhile I have felt that it is only a matter of time until she passes on.  I am pretty sure whatever she is suffering from ties into her affinity for drinking disgusting standing water when it is available.  I have been adding Zyfend (natural dewormer) to their water for a couple weeks to try to knock out whatever it is but she is still not doing well.  Chicken ownership has definitely not turned out to be what I expected, at all, but how many things actually do. Not many in my experience.

 

Cindy stopped at the house yesterday to do a couple things.  When she went in the garage she was shocked to see what at first looked like a dead baby bunny on the garage floor.  When she got closer she saw the rabbit was not dead but it didn’t look good.  I told her I had seen a very small rabbit hanging out by the chicken coop recently as well although I did not think it was the same one, at first.

Cindy got one of the small animal carriers and put the poor little thing in there with some food and water.  I was afraid I would be burying the animal when I got home.  My theory was it went in the garage and then got locked in there, cut off from a food/water source.  My hope level was low.

Later when Cindy stopped back again she was surprised to see the animal carrier was empty, the rabbit apparently moved somehow.  When she left she left the garage door cracked so the baby could escape if it wanted to.  I was still not overly optimistic. I still assumed I was going to find the rabbit dead behind something in the garage.

So when I got home I saw a little ball of fur right outside the garage.  As I moved closer I verified it was the baby bunny! When I got within 20 feet he scampered back into the garage, great…..

I carefully started pulling things away from the walls, trying to find him/her.  Because of it’s tiny size there were a lot of options for hiding spots.  Finally as I pulled one of the storage bins away I spotted the baby.  I could tell it was weak/tired but it most definitely was not dead.  I was able to get the rabbit back into the animal carrier.  I then took it down to the chicken area, putting out some food and water for it.  I realized this had to be the same baby bunny I had seen last week.

This morning I walked out in the darkness hoping to see the baby.  My hopes were answered, it scampered away once I got close but it seemed clear that food and water was consumed.  Hopefully the baby is in the clear for now although it’s tiny size makes it still vulnerable to a number of predators.  I will do my best to keep an eye on/protect it the best I can.  It’s cute as can be.  I felt fortunate to have a happy ending to what looked like a very sad story only a few hours earlier.

Last night I saw the neighbor two houses down already had adorned his exterior with Christmas lights.  A number of developments around here already have their holiday displays up as well.  Heck I even saw the neighborhood DD had their roof line lit up on the drive home last night.  Hey I like holiday light displays, this is the guy that in the past has left his lights up until mid-January once or twice.

I actually am going to be putting my decorations up, at least some of them this upcoming weekend, which would be the earliest I have ever done it.   Typically I do it during the extended Thanksgiving weekend but since I will be in Dallas visiting my sister’s family I determined I would rather be early than late.

It’s an odd situation because I have no idea what my Christmas this year is even going to be like.  It’s questionable how much effort this holiday season really requires.  I was thinking about the only Christmas I had during my one year of mostly singletude back in 2012 and tried to remember how that blueprint worked out.  I think Christmas morning was just myself and my mom although I think Ali may have been over at some point, I can’t quite remember.  The 2021 version is not going to be what I have become accustomed to, that’s for sure. So the point is, I will be putting up decorations this weekend, I’m just not sure which and how many.

I have moved my alarm clock back an additional 5 minutes this week, now getting up at 5:35 AM instead of 5:40.  I have consistently been getting to work 5-10 minutes late since I started doing chicken chores in the morning.  The alarm change is an attempt to fix that.  Getting up only 5 minutes earlier shaves around 15 minutes off my arrival time at the office.  The reason for this is the earlier I get on the road, the less traffic is congesting it.  That extra 5 minutes saves me an additional 10 en route. I should have done this earlier, pun intended.

Today would have been my Mom’s 74th birthday, which serves as another sad reminder of her early passing.  I wonder how she would feel about how the events of my life have transpired to this point.  I definitely see more and more parallels between her path and mine.  If I allow myself to dwell on thoughts about my mom much it makes me sad, really sad so I don’t do it.   I follow that strategy with a number of things.  When you keeping moving at fast pace the things in your rear view mirror remain mostly a blur.