I have been checking the solar permit status several times a day.  Yesterday afternoon the status finally changed from “Under Review” to “Ready for Issuance”.  I immediately sent an email to the construction manager making him aware of the change.  An hour or two later I got an email that was exciting at first and then aggravating as I read deeper.  The guy said they would be able to break ground on the project next Monday, a great turnaround time.  However he then continued on saying the solar panels that I was quoted were not available but my install would include one of two other brands which he sent me the spec sheets for.  Woah, let’s slow down chief….

So when I got home I pulled up the spec sheets of the two proposed replacement panels and compared them to the Silfab panels I was quoted.  I could feel the anger swelling up when I saw both of the replacements had less than half of the product warranty that the Silfab panels do.  They offered 10 year product and 25 year performance guarantees, the Silfab are 25 year product and 30 year performance, a HUGE difference.  My immediate reflex reaction was this was a bait and switch.  The Silfab panels also appear to cost more so I theorized this was a way to pad the bottom line if the customer was asleep at the wheel.

Before responding to the email I got on the Silfab website to verify they were still producing panels, which they are, albeit the model numbers have changed.  I then crafted a measured but firm email to the construction manager telling him I was not agreeable to swapping out the hardware for something with a far inferior warranty.  I also said I didn’t appreciate the timing, dropping this at the last minute after the permit was approved.  If this was truly an issue it could have been brought to my attention weeks ago.  I summarized that my preference was to still go with the Silfab panels and said if the other panels were the only option then I would need to renegotiate the price downward.

This morning I received a follow up email apologizing for the problem.  Supposedly they just found this out yesterday when they went to order the panels from their normal supplier.  The manager again pushed to use one of the alternatives with a third option of getting a different model of the Silfab panels although the timeline for doing that would be unknown.  As I was in the middle of responding to the email, saying again basically “Silfab or I pay less” I got ANOTHER email from the construction manager.  He said his boss did some legwork and was able to get the panels ordered from an alternative supplier. I deleted my draft email and instead sent a short and sweet reply, confirming we were once again on for Monday.

I plan to take the day off from work so I can document the process and answer/address any questions or problems that may arise.  To be honest it’s been so long since I agreed to the solar install that it almost feels not real at this point.  I guess once shovels start hitting the dirt that perspective will change pretty quickly.

Last night I stayed up after midnight watching Ironman 3 on Disney +.  Of course I saw this movie in the the theater but evidently I forgot huge chunks of detail about the story.  It almost felt like I was seeing it for the first time.  Cindy and I both enjoyed it.  That’s the great thing about being old, even old things seem new again, because you forget them.

I have seen some of the impeachment hearings and they are in a word, maddening.  The same thing gets asked 20 times, looking for the slightest crack to try to redirect the narrative to something that looks less dirty.  The entire event is truly a circus and if it had a chance of actually ending in the outcome of throwing Donald out onto the lawn of the Whitehouse, it would be worth the effort.  However we all know the partisan Iron Curtain is awaiting in the Senate so no matter how much dirt is thrown on the floor during the inquiry, Republicans will happily sweep it all under a very large rug.  Nothing to see here folks, our extremely stable genius leader has all the answers.

 

 

 

 

I broke down pretty quickly after Disney + launched and bought a year subscription which saved me roughly 15%.  The combo of a having Star Wars and Marvel on one streaming service is just way too appealing for someone like me.  Cindy and I watched the first two episodes of The Mandalorian, one of the the first Disney + original shows based on the Star Wars universe. So far the show is great and feels like an authentic Star Wars production.  When you add in Marvel content and Pixar stuff on top of that I really think it is one of the best valued streaming services out there.

Yesterday I also re-added Showtime but I didn’t do so through Comcast.  During my last rework with Comcast I added high speed gig internet but sacrificed the premium channels I used to have as well.  Showtime has a bunch of shows that we both enjoyed so I dipped my toe back in but did so by adding Showtime streaming to my Amazon Prime Video account, allowing me to stream it easily anywhere instead of being tied to my Xfinity hardware.  Both of our LG TV’s have native Amazon Video and Disney Plus support built in so it’s stupid easy to access.

So the Impeachment holiday TV special is in full force.  It seems each day new slimy pieces of information are revealed about the mafia-esque workings of the White House.  If anyone, even Trump underwear wearing cultists doubts the basic timeline of events that went down regarding Ukraine they are too far gone to be helped.  As I have said before, in the grand scope of things this is probably small change compared to some of the REALLY awful shit that has been going on the last three years.

I was thinking just how fake outraged Republicans were when Clinton went up for impeachment for getting oral sex and lying about it, GASP!  Trump got oral sex and a lot more from a porn star, while married, paid her hush money and it has been treated as though it was inconsequential, amazing.  The hypocrisy that exists in American politics is rampant, sad, and toxic.  No this is not isolated to the right or left side of the fence.

To me the cold reality is no matter how many witnesses “me too” the Ukranian story, no matter if the House moves forward with presenting a trial to the senate, partisan politics will block any possibility of an outcome based on facts.  Instead the cowards will continue to prop up the worst human being we have ever had as President in my lifetime because it is politically advantageous to themselves to do so.  This sort of disingenuous loyalty is exactly why senate term limits need to be a thing.  Some senators are buried so deep into their corrupt and lobbyist infested blankets you can never dig them out.

So with an actual impeachment being basically impossible in this environment, the main task is making sure that Trump is not reseated for another four years of insanity.  To me, there is only one way this can happen, the economy and stock market which has been pumped up by massive corporate tax breaks, stomping all over regulation, and applying other short sighted “fixes”, has to tank, it’s that simple.  If both of these things remain strong Trump will get reelected because the majority of people in this country that actually vote care about their immediate circle of existence and not the big picture.

I think candidates like Elizabeth Warren and even Bernie at this point are going to struggle because despite my core belief in some of their policies, the reality of getting them implemented in today’s world is just plain unrealistic unless you are going to implement Senate term limits magically, which you aren’t.  I really like Pete Buttigeig, he is brilliant, amazingly well spoken, young, a veteran and offers a more moderate approach. He is basically the exact opposite of Donald Trump. Of course he is also gay which may be more damning than being black to a lot of voters, which is a sad testament to the country where the President has made hate speech, insults, and bullying the new hotness.

Oh speaking of the “hot” economy, did you know that this upswing has been historic but in a way that you would not assume.  Despite soaring stock market numbers the budget deficit has been rocketing upwards and not down.  Normally when the economy is strong, deficits shrink.  Nope, not this time.  It is a testament to short sighted decisions and fixes.  Despite all of the “great numbers”, one number that is kept in the shadows is the budget deficit that has increased 26% in ONE YEAR.  One of numerous false campaign promises was to eliminate the budget deficit within 8 years.  Instead, he has increased it by 50% in three years.  He is a very stable fiscal genius, after all.

 

This weekend the cold front blew in with full force but the forecast turned out to be less accurate than expected.  What I saw was predicted lows in the 50’s and highs in the mid 70’s.  Instead both days were completely PA gray with Sunday being especially so with the temps never getting much above 60 degrees.  For months and months I have been looking for cool weather and we definitely got it.  Now if we could just mix a bit more sunshine into the equation things would be peachy.

The cool weather was good for getting stuff done outside without the normal perspiration penalty.  I got the grass mowed and the property weeded on Saturday.  At some point over the next few weeks I am going to need to address pressure washing outside, another miserable task.  The out buildings and pool area are both in dire need of it.  I have a number of winter projects in my head that I really need to write down to increase their probability of getting completed. The current list of projects includes getting fill/sod brought in to raise the ground level in the chicken area (and other spots),  rebuilding the steps of both landings of the pool deck which are rotting away, and replacing the fencing around the chicken area with high quality galvanized twisted wire fencing instead of the shitty welded wire that I used initially.   Cool weather down here is a limited resource so I need to not procrastinate.

Sunday morning felt pretty raw so I put off riding until mid-afternoon.  Unfortunately the thermometer had only moved up a handful of degrees by that time.  I rode my KingSong 16X out to the entry of Ave Maria and back.  I paid the price for riding in 60 degree weather, my body felt nearly frozen solid by the end of it.  Yea 60 degrees isn’t horrible but when you factor in standing stationary on a wheel with a constant 20mph+ wind hitting you things get pretty miserable.

I did more work on my Prusa MMU2S this weekend.  I discovered that part of the problems I was having was because of my ignorance.  I was sending it files I created before attaching the MMU to the printer so that caused the printer to have issues.  I got that part of things sorted out but I am still trying to implement some sort of set up for the multiple filament spools that doesn’t result in a tangled mess as filament feeds and unloads during a typical MMU print.

I sat down for the Eagles/Patriots game not expecting much, despite the Birds winning two games in a row.  You can imagine my surprise when the Eagles jumped out to a quick 10-0 first quarter lead.  Then you can imagine my disappointment with them not scoring the rest of the game, looking downright anemic most of the time while allowing the Patriots to score 17 unanswered points.  Since I didn’t really expect the Eagles to win I guess I shouldn’t feel disappointed yet the way the game laid out I did find myself feeling very frustrated by the end.

I have mentioned before how I have never really gotten on the “Carson Wentz is the Messiah” bandwagon.  He just is not consistent and I don’t have faith in him being able to deliver in pressure situations.  His numbers are not bad and I know the Eagles WR core has been downright awful this year, ranking at the bottom of the league in productivity.  He is a gamer, tough, has a strong arm, and is mobile, yet I just have not seen an ability in him to take command of a game like top tier QB’s can do.  I hope he proves me wrong in the future but as of now I feel like with Carson at the helm the team will be a perennial wildcard contender and little else.

Things don’t get any better for the Eagles next week as they play the Seahawks, another probable loss.  If the team didn’t blow games to teams like the Falcons and the Lions early in the season they could afford to lose some of these game against high level competition.  However their reality is they have minimal room for error the rest of the season and I will be surprised if they manage to get into the playoffs as their only path is by winning the division.

Yesterday I had my blood draw and measurements taken on campus to meet our insurance requirements.  I have now started to officially shrink.  For my entire adult like I have claimed my height was somewhere between 6’3″ and 6’4″.  When I was younger I was officially measured at 6′ 3 1/2″.  Yesterday I came in at 6′ 2 1/2″ inches, meaning I have lost a full inch off my frame.  I could have dismissed this as being spotty measurement but during one of my doctor appointments this year I was also pegged at the same height, which I dismissed as a spotty measurement, so I guess I am actually shrinking.  It’s not like I needed anything else to make me feel poorly about the realities of descending into old age.

We have our first product ever being displayed in a mall.  The custom skateboard stands got set up at our local mall yesterday.  I designed/printed the stands and Cindy painted the logo part of them in a contrasting color.  It was very cool to see our work out in the wild like that.  I’m not sure if it will lead to more similar projects or be a once and done sort of thing.

I spent a lot of time yesterday gathering knowledge about the MMU2S and the myriad of things that can potentially go wrong.  Last night I got the printer up and running with a single color print at least.  I am hoping this weekend I get time to dig in to do some more thorough trouble shooting.

We are forecast to have four or five days in a row with high temps not leaving the 70’s which I am absolutely thrilled about.  Of course we have plenty of things to keep us busy but at least the amount of sweat generated by doing so should be considerably less.  I am just glad that the debilitating lower back pain I had last week has subsided, allowing me to kick the Advil habit.

I have not been happy with my decision to install the multi-material upgrade on my one Prusa printer so far.  Take away the sizeable expense and the even more sizeable chunk of time I have invested so far, it just isn’t working well.  After my first couple initial small prints worked every subsequent print has had an issue during a filament change requiring manual intervention that was sometimes successful and sometimes not.  It’s getting pretty aggravating.  I found out the process if I want to convert a normal one color model to multi-color but it doesn’t do me much good if I can’t get the MMU to work consistently.  I need to watch some troubleshooting videos which will likely lead to me having to tear into the unit all over again.

Today I had my bi-annual blood draw which is a requirement for our insurance plan at work.  I wish this would be a model that could be followed nationwide when it comes to medical care.  Basically if you want the best rates and coverage for insurance you need to jump through a number of hoops including blood tests, blood pressure, getting weighed, a physical, and other age triggered procedures like a colonoscopy.  If this testing reveals warning signs you can still get the best rates but you are required to attend education classes like weight loss, smoking cessation, and others.  If you don’t attend any remediation education you now will wind up paying more.  If you are a lazy, obese slob you can bypass all of the testing whatsoever and your reward is basic coverage and a high premium.

A national health plan that included this basic philosophy would be fantastic.  Despite my liberal leanings, I absolutely do not endorse a lack of personal responsibility.  Whether it pertains to your health or income, an individual needs to put in the effort to make the best of whatever cards they have been dealt.  Laziness of course will never go away but it certainly should not be rewarded either.  Put in the work and reap the benefit of doing so, that is how life works.

I saw parts of the first day of the public impeachment proceedings yesterday.  Ambassador Taylor was pretty amazing. If you think that guy was making shit up your rose colored Trump glasses really need some cleaning.  He was extremely matter of fact, believable and didn’t portray any partisan leanings at all.  He saw and heard things that were out of bounds and did his job to document and recount them when asked.  I also wish both sides would stop with the practice of posting propaganda placards behind the proceedings, it is ridiculous and unnecessary.

 

When I first considered buying an EV the reasons for doing so were environmental, fuel savings, and the modern tech.  I never really thought much about the performance side of things but I knew out of the EVs out there, the Tesla line up were the most powerful by far.  What is nuts is that power can be increased with a simple software update that tweaks the output algorithm. That is exactly what happened in the most recent 10.1 update which claimed to unlock an additional 5% of performance.  I didn’t think 5% would equate to much seat of the pants difference but man was I wrong.

During my commute to and from work I got a chance to stab the accelerator pedal a few times and the difference was pretty shocking.  The car was already very fast, now it feels it almost brutally fast. It surely is faster than any car I owned before, and I have owned some performance cars like a turbo Probe GT, V-8 Firebirds and Chevelles, a Corvette, and yes my 2005 SSR.  The Tesla would smoke them all as it pulls away like a quiet rocket.

I talked about the power and other new features on camera last night, check it out.

I got up with my 6:10 AM alarm, popped two advil, slammed a pack of Pop Tarts and was out trimming the first set of trees out front before 7AM, likely the earliest I ever started.  The temps weren’t as cool as I expected at 72 degrees but it was overcast which is perfect.  What was even better was as the cold front advanced across our area it actually dropped a few degrees by the time we were done.

Every year when I do this job I have thoughts regarding if this would be the time my luck runs out and I finally fall while perched 20 feet high on a ladder.  Luckily my string of good luck continued.  That isn’t to say I was safe.  The two tallest trees require me to be dangerously close to the top rung of the ladder with the only thing keeping me from falling being my grip on the tree itself while I try to cut branches with my DeWalt battery powered sawz-all with the other hand.  As the cold front blew in so did the winds.  As I was up in the tallest tree it was swaying back and forth substantially while I held on with a death grip.

Cindy started the branch pick up part of the job about an hour after I started cutting which worked out great.  Because we went around and did all of the ground level tree trimming a few weeks prior we got done on Saturday quicker than ever, finishing up before lunch.  We concluded just as a steady and cold rain swept in.  I was very happy that we finished quickly and that I survived.  I thought my bad back would be more of an issue than it turned out to be.

Before this task comes around next year I am definitely going to invest in a taller extension ladder of either 24 or 28 feet.  It will make trimming the sky scraper cabbage palms a lot less dangerous.  I almost felt like we did enough work in that morning to cover the entire three day weekend but of course that is never the case, at least with me.

We both showered and headed out to run errands, later than normal obviously.  We discovered going later in the day equates to a bigger influx of annoying people.  Both Rural King and Home Depot were congested.  Despite the massive task that we knocked out in the AM, during the afternoon I found myself back outside doing more things like fixing the automatic chicken door and redoing the corrugated roofing on the moveable shelter so water drains off it instead of collecting in disgusting pools that the chickens would try to drink from.

Saturday night we watched A Dog’s Way Home.  Pretty much any movie that involves dogs/animals will generate an emotional reaction from me.  This movie was no exception.  It was a sweet and touching story that connected to the inner animal lover in me repeatedly. Of course it gets an A.

Cindy got the idea to crack a bottle of red wine during the evening and somehow that transformed into us trying out one of the new features added to the Tesla, Caraoke.  It turns your car into a $45,000 Karaoke machine.  I didn’t think I had nearly enough alcohol to get me to participate in the fiasco but evidently it was.  It is beyond silly and of course it’s on video.

Sunday morning I went for a simple solo ride on the 16X over to the school just to enjoy myself.  I hoped to get out on something longer but I had other things to do.  Before I left I heard a BOOM noise emanating from the garage.  When I tried to open the door and it failed after a few inches I knew what was wrong, the garage door spring broke.  I had experience with this problem as it broke once before in 2011.  I guess 8-9 years is an acceptable lifespan for a high tension spring?  We have the same company that fixed it the first time scheduled to come out this afternoon to fix it again.

The biggest of those things was to take on building/installing my Prusa MMU2S add on.  I had done some light research into what was involved but not nearly enough in retrospect.  I figured it couldn’t be anywhere near as tedious as what I went through building the one Prusa MK3S from scratch.  Well, it was pretty damn close.

I started somewhere around 2:30 in the afternoon and was still angrily turning screws after 10PM.  It was very aggravating.  If all you had to do was build the MMU2S unit it wouldn’t be that bad.  However installation also involved digging into the printer itself, partially disassembling, swapping parts and then reassembling.  Unlike with the printer build, the instructions this time were not quite so bulletproof with some ambiguity at certain steps that lead to delays.

I followed up with another couple of hours of work on it on Sunday finishing up the build and configuring the unit.  The good news is it does indeed work.  The bad news is I have to come up with some plan to accommodate the layout I use with the spools mounted on the shelf above the printer.  Because of how the unit loads and unloads filament on demand, you have to have something to address the slack of filament as it gets unloaded.  Otherwise you get a tangled filament mess which will cause failed prints.  If I knew just how much work was going to be involved in getting the MMU2S set up I probably would have passed on it’s purchase.

Sunday morning Cindy and I went to ride at the Greenway.  Cindy wanted to see Baker’s Park which is now fully open, the playground and main building were recently completed.  I rode my One Wheel XR while Cindy rode her newly improved Minipro.  The ride felt a little rushed because Cindy was supposed to watch the baby again early in the afternoon.  I was pissed when I got home to pull the ride footage and realized the external mic was not plugged in correctly, resulting in shitty wind noise filled audio.  I did my best to throw something together out of the mess.

The rest of day was spent tending to things as they required.  I did get to play a single game of Hearthstone which encompassed all of the gaming I had time to do over the three days.

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I initiated a claim on the Ipad Air we have had for years.  The power button on the tablet stopped functioning ages ago but for some reason it never occurred to me that this is covered under the device insurance policy I have been paying for monthly.  Filing the claim was very easy and since the tablet is probably at least four years old, I wind up getting an upgraded model sent to me with 4X the memory, a sweet deal.  Assuming the migration goes ok Cindy should have a brand new tablet all ready to go by the end of the weekend.

My lower back pain has persisted despite efforts by myself and Cindy to remedy it.  Last night she put her TENS device on the painful area for some electro-stim.  It helped somewhat but I still am limping around this morning when tasked with walking.  At this point I have no doubt the pain will be with me tomorrow for the tree trimming bonanza.  My plan is to set the alarm so I am outside as day breaks to maximize my time working in cooler conditions. I have a long history of grinding through unpleasant tasks so I expect this to just be another more painful example.  I will be on a steady diet of Advil to help me get through the day.

The other project I hope to accomplish will test my patience more than my body.  I want to put together the MMU2 unit for my Prusa printer which will allow me to utilize up to 5 different filament color/type in a single print.  Outside of that I hope the rest of my three day weekend will include resting up from the abuse I subject my body to tomorrow.

 

I have been hoping my left side lower back pain was going to start feeling better as I need to be able to endure hours of tree trimming on Saturday.  This typically is one of the more exhausting annual chores I take on after all.   Well instead it seems the needle has moved towards the worsening side of the meter.  This morning even with a dosage of Advil in me every step with my left leg on the long walk from the parking garage to the office sent a jolt of pain down that region of my back.  Right now it is impossible to walk without a limp.  It’s so bad that I am considering not even going to the gym in the hope that doing very little for the next two days allows me to do a lot on Saturday.

I am lucky in my job that I don’t have to deal much with customers as generally speaking, they can be a major pain in the ass.  However with the birth of the 3D printed parts store I do have to deal with customers and their problems.  More than once I have had people that I have gotten delivery confirmations for tell me they never got the package.  Instead of taking the hard line stance and presenting them with a “too bad so sad” answer I have replaced the stands at my expense.  Likewise I have had some parts break, likely from abuse, but again I have replaced them on my dime. It aggravates me at first but usually once that passes I come to the hope that putting the good will out there will come back to help me in the future via positive word of mouth.

Almost a month ago I was contacted by some guy in France.  Right away I got a bad vibe about him.  He refused to send me emails in English, requiring me to translate.  One of his earliest emails asked if I could give him a discount for some reason.  Sending stands overseas is a big pain in the ass for me and the last thing I was going to do was discount it further.  When I told him no discount he whined a bit but then eventually said he wanted to get two stands via another three or four annoying emails.  I just knew this guy was a dick based on the communication.  I had considered just stopping response to him so he would go away but I did eventually agree to make a custom store item that would allow him to buy the stands.

He was unhappy with the $22.80 it cost to ship them to France but I charge customers what USPS charges me, not my problem.  Then he wanted me to tell him what other fees or taxes France would charge for the package.  Again, not my problem, I don’t control import taxes.  So when he finally places the order he sends me three emails to verify I got the order, despite him immediately being sent an order confirmation from the store.  He then wants to know when they will arrive.  I told him that is why the tracking information email was sent to him.  At this point I just couldn’t stand this guy, I was relieved when his package was dropped off in the mail, good riddance.

So yesterday I get another email from the guy saying the package arrived.  He sent me a picture of the parts that he claimed were inside.  The 8 bolts that are in their own little plastic bag were not in the picture.  He claimed they were missing.  I immediately was suspicious as I am certain the bolts were inside when the package was sealed.  I disassemble the stands at my desk before packing so all parts are accounted for.  I asked him for a picture of the package and asked him if it looked like it had been tampered with.  He never sent me the picture.  What I did receive was a dispute from Paypal, saying the customer received goods not as described along with a request for a $12 credit, that son of a bitch…

So I email the guy again asking why he filed the dispute.  He said because I shorted him eight screws and he also said he didn’t like the packaging of the stands.  I had the urge swell up in my neck to reach through the screen and throttle this idiot.  Unless somebody opened the package, removed the bolts, and then sealed it back up, this guy was outright lying and using the lie to get that discount he asked for at the very beginning.  I considered being a dick and ignoring his Paypal request until the deadline at the end of the month.  I instead thought better of it.  $12 wasn’t worth the aggravation so I refunded the money, closed the case, and blocked the guys email address so I never have to communicate with him again.  Vive la France! Idiot.

 

 

 

So I have been in a holding pattern for our solar system install for over a month.  After them doing the site survey the day after signing the contract I was impressed at how quickly they moved.  I hoped it meant everything would move at this pace.  The permits were submitted quickly as well but nothing has been issued as of today.  I have checked with the solar construction manager twice since then and he said the hold up is on the county side with their slow processing of permit applications.  I believed the explanation as there is a established history of permitting being slow in our area.

Well with the passing of another week I thought I would try to look at the status of this permit myself, which I could do via the public web site.  I was not happy with what I found.  In there it shows a letter notifying the contractor of an incomplete application was filed on October 11th and then AGAIN on October 30th.  Basically this meant that the delay all this time has not been due to the county, it’s because the contractor submitted incomplete applications, twice.

Now the construction manager is not the one that submits these permits so there is a good chance he did not know the details of the delay but it still pisses me off nonetheless.  I sent my findings to him with a request to verify that all required paperwork has now been submitted successfully.  Just to cover my bases I also sent an email to the permitting department to verify the same, just so I can call out bullshit if it is presented to me once again.  I should know by now that trusting the word of others is a crap shoot in today’s world.  I am hoping this is the one and only snafu in my solar conversion project.

My lower back has been flaring up once again.  Despite that I opted to do smith machine squats yesterday at the gym.  I didn’t feel any “oh shit” moments doing the reps but I am sure paying for it now.  Getting out of bed was ridiculous and walking was a painful process.  I immediately popped a couple Advil to take the edge off the pain.  I need to make a pretty rapid recovery as the massive annual tree trimming project is on the calendar, written in permanent marker.