Category: Anything and Everything

Cindy has really been working hard around the house during her furlough.  Yesterday was another example.  She relocated the sod as I described in the post yesterday from a spot where it wasn’t really needed to a spot where it was.  She had to pull up around 50 pieces of sod from the back yard and transport them via wheelbarrow to the front.  It was ass busting work for sure.  I appreciated her efforts as it saved me me from adding the task to my list for the weekend.  The new bahia sod certainly doesn’t look pretty yet but it definitely will accomplish the goal of elevating former flood prone areas.

Miguel texted me yesterday saying he was going to roll the sod and asked if I could have the money ready.  I said sure but I wouldn’t be home until 5:45.  He wound up not coming out anyway (surprise, surprise).  I could easily write a check and leave it at the house for Cindy to give to him to make it more convenient for Miguel.  However after as much frustration as he has provided me for the last two months I really don’t feel obliged to be overly courteous or accommodating.

I’ve been trying to not think about my dad’s dog Maggie passing away yesterday.  If I do I try to steer my mind towards all the happy memories she was a part of, like how she would like to take my dad for walks at the beach, so he could play in the water.

 

I got an email from my Dad today that brought instant waves of emotion over me.  Maggie had died.  Maggie was going on 16 years old and for the vast majority of her life she was an incredibly active dog which is a blessing.  Dad and my stepmom didn’t adopt Maggie until after I moved to Florida so I didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I would have liked but even with those limits, I loved her a ton.

The times when Maggie, Clara, Nicki and Sadie got together either via western road trips in the van or when my dad and stepmom would visit Florida were just so special.  Watching the four dogs interact and play was one of the purest and simplest enjoyments I could ask for.

Maggie was amazingly athletic, smart and seemed to have endless energy.  She would play fetch with you until your arm was ready to fall off.  She liked water, entertaining us by diving into the pool here repeatedly to retrieve a toy.  She accompanied us on countless walks whether it was 90 degrees in Florida or 10 degrees in western PA.  She didn’t care, she just wanted to be part of it.

She and my dad were inseparable.  Despite her size she wanted to be a lap dog while dad was driving.  It was always quite the funny visual seeing a full grown border collie jammed onto his lap on the road.  I know this moment was something my dad dreaded for a long time and it sounds to me like he wasn’t dealing well with it as Maggie went downhill.

When I saw her in January I was shocked by just how much she was struggling.  It had been a year or two since I saw her.  It was difficult to see the dog I knew running around for hours now having to struggle mightily to simply stand and walk.  During that visit I was pretty sure it was going to be the last time I saw sweet Maggie alive. I spent a lot of time on the floor just rubbing her during that visit.  I told her I loved her as I gave her one last head rub before I left.

The sadness and remorse I feel I am sure is only a fraction of what my stepmom and dad are feeling.  Despite my sorrow I do try to recognize that at least her suffering is at an end.  In times like this it’s hard to focus on all of the great memories and loving relationship you had with your pet as they truly love you like no human being can.

The picture in the snow was taken during that last visit.  I remember when I took it, the symbolism even then brought me to tears for a moment.  We all will miss precious Maggie.  She was a special one.

So the other day I got an email from Allstate about the first installment payment for my next 6 month policy period.  When I saw the amount I realized it was over 10% more than the last policy period which instantly sparked an intense irritation which I got around to investigating yesterday.  Several car insurance companies, including Allstate were very anxious to publicize how they were giving their customers a “rebate” since there has been significantly less driving, hence less claims since Covid 19 lock downs were enabled.  I actually got my $30 rebate check a few days prior to this renewal which I thought was ironic. The more I thought about this the angrier it got me.  Allstate just proclaimed how their costs were down so they were passing that along to the customer yet they follow up IMMEDIATELY with a 10% rate increase??  So they gave me $30 but in my case want to charge me almost an extra $300 for the year??  You son of a bitches.

So I called up my agent and started complaining.  I minced no words in expressing how ridiculous and disingenuous the situation was, giving a rebate and then charging nearly 10 times more of that amount on the back end.  I continued ranting about how annoying it is that even though I have a clean driving record and am an “older” person my rates seem to steadily increase with Allstate.  I said the way it used to be as you got older your car insurance went down, not up.

The guy on the phone understood my frustration and agreed with me.  He said everyone in their office cringed when they heard about the rate increase because they knew how ridiculous it looked after rebating money back just prior.  When I asked for some sort of relief they had nothing for me other than the option to pay for the entire year in advance, as far as Allstate was concerned the price was the price.  I told the guy how it seems like Allstate doesn’t give a shit about customer loyalty.  I told him I had been with the company for more than 35 years.  He sadly agreed with me, they don’t care.

So I asked him what my options were with other companies since they represented more than one insurance carrier.  He said he would run my information through some other companies to see what sort of rates I could get.  A short while later he called me back with some good news.  He said I could get comparable coverage through Travelers for $83 a month less than what Allstate has been charging me, a HUGE difference.  Travelers had similar savings for the million dollar liability policy that I had to get for the solar system.

Well that was all it took. In the span of 30 minutes I had severed my 35 year relationship with Allstate and signed on with Travelers.  I made sure to send a tweet @allstate expressing how shitty I thought it was for them to pull this stunt.  It’s too bad that companies nowadays don’t really care or emphasize taking care of customers that have remained loyal to them.  It’s the cold reality of the world we live in.

So Miguel’s crew spread the sod I bought around yesterday.  I need a little more but I plan to address that via a Home Depot run instead of buying more pallets.  We are actually going to be able to move some of the stuff that was laid down in a non-low spot to make up for deficit elsewhere.  I found it funny in an annoying way that Miguel was very quick to text me an updated amount of what I still owed him when it was so painfully slow to get responses to my questions this entire time.  I told him I would be happy to write him a check for the remaining amount once he rolls the sod as he promised.  If he never gets around to doing that then I guess I won’t get around to writing that check.

For the last two days there have been protests here regarding the Floyd murder.  When I walked out to my car last night in the pouring rain I was amazed at the amount of police in the parking garage, staged to deal with whatever happened.  There were a couple dozen police vehicles around and at least 50 deputies grouped together.  The demonstrations here were mostly peaceful outside of some yelling and pushing.  The outrage is understandable, especially when our president tear gasses a crowd so they disperse to allow him to stand in front of a church holding a bible for a photo op.  It was like he ripped a page directly from the playbook of other famous dictators.  His lack of empathy, understanding, and intelligence continues to be awe inspiring, in an awful way, day in and day out.

I made a video last night demonstrating how to install the new 3D rear bumper model I am selling on the store, if you are about these things.  Store sales have been really brisk, exceeding capacity currently.

 

 

So I have been given excuse after excuse by Miguel as to why he has been unable to get me the sod that I paid for almost a month ago.  With those excuses came multiple missed delivery/install dates, at least a half dozen times.  For good measure he also likes to ignore texts for days , especially if they request something ridiculous like an ETA till completion.

So the latest grind has been trying to get 7 more pallets of grass to finish the job.  Miguel has insisted he can’t get the sod.  He says the sod field is too wet and the trucks they use to deliver are stuck.  Well considering we are moving more and more into rainy season I don’t think that is a situation that is going to get better with each passing day.   So yesterday I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I did a Google search for “Naples Bahia sod”.  Within seconds I had a list of possibilities.  I called Leo’s Sod as I recall buying two pallets of sod from them at least 15 years or more ago to cover the elevated dog area.  I asked them if they had any bahia sod.  I was expecting a similar story about scarce availability based on what Miguel told me.  Instead i was told they had it in stock and could deliver either yesterday afternoon or today.  Yea it was $20 more per pallet but I am more than willing to pay for expediency at this point.  I gave them my credit card to pay on the phone.  They said they would let me know if they could make it out there this afternoon.  I could hardly believe it when they told me later they were bringing it out, the same day.

I had just gotten off a conference call so I had to quickly shut down everything at work and quick step it to the Tesla.  Cindy was over at Katie’s place so I asked her if she could head home in case the truck gets there before me.  As I approached the house it was a beehive of activity.  The sod truck had just pulled in, the DHL van dropping off filament was already parked and an Amazon delivery van was pulling in as well.  It was sort of nuts how all of these events lined up.  For good measure a few minutes later the people that bought some chairs Cindy was selling arrived as well.  It was a pretty hectic few minutes.

I stayed outside in my work clothes telling the sod guy where I wanted the pallets.  I sent a picture to Miguel letting him know I now have sod, no thanks to him.  I asked him if he was still interested in having his crew lay the sod for the $20 per pallet we agreed upon previously.  His one word response was “yes”  When I later asked him when they were coming he said “tomorrow”.  We will see if they show up today.  If not I am pretty ready to tell him to f off and I’ll just spread the sod myself although part of the installation he does includes rolling the sod flat which would be a nice bonus.  The grass he did in the chicken area looks fantastic.

This was just the latest confirmation that you just can’t trust anyone but yourself to make sure shit gets done.  If I am paying you yet I have to babysit your actions I really don’t want anything to do with you in the future.  It’s amazing that a month of excuses was remedied in a couple hours just by me making a 5 minute phone call.

So the Trump train of insanity keeps rolling along with nobody at the wheel.  Just like his handling of Covid 19, the Floyd murder reaction by the president has been utterly ineffective, corrosive, and inflammatory.  I recall saying a long time ago a very simple truth that I think is inarguable.  Not every person that supports Donald Trump is a racist, but, EVERY racist supports Donald Trump.  Think about that and let it simmer.

 

 

Friday at lunch I ran the parking garage at lunch for the fourth week in a row.  It seems that full summer temps and humidity are now upon us which makes each one of these sessions just a little more grueling.  I do get a higher degree of satisfaction scaling the parking deck ramps than I do running laps around the track at the school.

When I got home Friday night I saw that Cindy had been very busy.  She dug into the bushy areca palms that surround the small pond giving them a major trim which made the area look much nicer, maybe a little too nice.  Cutting back the palms exposed just how badly the pond needs to be redone, it is filled with inches of sludge and the pond liner is dry rotted and brittle.  The end result was my buying another liner at Home Depot that will get installed after the disgusting job of removing the old liner is completed.  I got the process started by popping a bunch of holes in the old liner so the water could drain out, leaving only sludge and other organic matter behind.

On Saturday I was out mowing when Deb arrived, she wanted to watch the Space X Dragon launch as did we.  Cindy came out and got me with about 5 minutes to go. I have always been fascinated by space and used to love watching shuttle launches.  As the countdown moved towards zero I had legit goosebumps from a combination of excitement of what it means to be flying humans into space again from the US and fear of something horrible going wrong.  The launch instead went perfectly, it was awesome to witness.  Hell the first stage even landed back on the drone ship intact as planned.  Elon is the man.

After the launch I went right back out on the mower to finish up.  The last 15 minutes of mowing occurred in a torrential downpour.  I was too close to being done to call it quits.  Nothing short of a direct lightning strike was going to get me off the tractor. Deb brought the printer I gave her back for the third week in a row.  I have been trying to fix an issue where prints were not adhering properly.  After several fixes didn’t work this time I applied a PEI surface to the print bed and did a few test prints that turned out well which I was glad to see.

I spent a lot of time this weekend working on the new model I mixed together for my MSX EUC.  It is a part that serves as a bumper for the rear of wheel.  It looks cool but also will help protect the case if the wheel goes down.  It has been a challenging model to print completely.  Three times I had one come off the bed after roughly 90% of the print was complete.

On Sunday I got out on my wheels to ride for the first time in a couple weeks.  I had three of my wheels with me to do a jumping test, an idea I had for awhile.  I wanted to ride across a speed bump at speed in a development to see how much air I could catch.  If you watch the video you will see that I caught very little air.  I had more success when I hit the smaller but steeper speed bumps in the school driveway.

I then grabbed my MSX and did a quick ride out to Ave Maria and back.  It was so damn hot and humid by mid-afternoon that I just didn’t enjoy the ride that much.  I tried to push speed as much as I could to get out of the sun.  The top speed I hit during the trip was over 34mph.

The news for the first time in a long time has turned it’s focus from the Covid 19 pandemic to the protests and subsequent rioting regarding the police officer killing a man by pinning him to the ground by his neck with his knee for somewhere around 8 minutes.  It is an incident worthy of outrage.  It is an incident worthy of protest.  It’s an incident worthy of attention.  However what is sad is how elements of society mutate this into a basis for violence, looting and destruction.

When this happens the focus and original message gets blurred by the violent end results which in the end does not cause appreciable change.  Of course me too lemming mentality kicks in and it soon becomes nothing about George Floyd but rather just an excuse to break shit, burn shit, and steal shit.    If our country did not have enough to choke on already with the Covid 19 mess and Trump’s never ending carousel of idiocy, this is just a big rotten cherry on top.  The disgusting racism that is at the heart of incidents like this is something held near and dear to the heart of so many Trump acolytes.  2020 is just one big nightmare I would love to wake up from at some point, hopefully on November 4th.

 

 

 

 

Last night I was out in the chicken area sprinkling scratch grains for the chickens in their feeder by the oak tree.  As I was doing so I heard a thud to my right.  I look and see a left over piece of water melon on the ground.  I glance up at the tree and see the squirrel that was eating it looking at me at eye level with an “oh shit” look on his face.  It felt like the scene out of Christmas Vacation when the squirrel was in the Xmas tree.  However instead of diving my direction he jumped down and ran off outside the fence, despite me telling him it was ok and to not be scared.  It was pretty funny. The chicken area is a hot spot for a variety of non-chicken animals including tons of different type of birds, rabbits, squirrels, and even ducks.

Last night I boxed up my Meepo V3 KT skateboard, I sold it to someone on the internet that saw it on my YouTube channel.  This board was my first foray into the world of ESK8.  The board was fun to ride as long as your riding surface was free of irregularities.  On rough roads or sidewalks it got unfun pretty quick.  Since I bought the skateboard in August of 2018 I bet I have logged less than 50 miles onboard.

I got a couple hundred bucks for it which wasn’t bad.  I still have the Backfire Ranger X1 all terrain skateboard in my collection.  I enjoy riding that a lot more because of the larger rubber tires and smoother speed control.  The Ranger is also one of Cindy’s favorite things to ride.

So I have now been in the midst of trying to get Miguel to finish this sod project.  You may recall last week I had 10 of the agreed upon 15 pallets of grass delivered and laid down.  When I had Cindy ask him when the other 5 were coming he said he wanted to see how much area was left to be done after the 10 were laid out.  Well the answer is a lot.

I told him that it looked like we could probably throw down another seven pallets.  When I asked him about this earlier in the week he said the large amounts of rain we had over the weekend made the sod field too wet to cut which was reasonable. However we have been rain free since Monday so yesterday I once again started texting, asking for some time frame for getting this shit done.  There was no response to yesterdays attempt at communication so I sent another this morning. If that is also ignored by tomorrow I will begin applying the full court press which will eventually include me reaching out to his dad to scold Miguel for being one of the poorest communicators I have ever encountered.  Rainy season is rapidly approaching so the urgency only increases with each passing day.

 

I felt a bit bummed yesterday that we canceled Patrick’s visit because although it looked overcast and rainy for a good portion of the day, precipitation was actually quite limited.  Like I said, he will be down here in Florida for awhile yet so rescheduling isn’t a huge deal.

So Katie texted Cindy yesterday to let her know that once again the Prius would not start for her.  I wasn’t shocked although I hoped my drive on Sunday was enough to get the 12V battery up to functional levels, it apparently was not.  I theorized that depending on how long the car had been left in this dead state that the battery has drained dangerously low, perhaps to the point where it can’t even be revived, despite it being less than two years old.

I came up with a plan to go to Katie’s, jump start the Prius again and then drive it back to our house so I could throw the battery on my charger to hopefully get some electrons back into it while Katie and baby DJ hung out.  Since it was DJ’s actual birthday we wanted to spend time with them anyway.  I had the car on the charger for several hours and when I disconnected it was able to fire up on it’s own.  The real test will be to see if it will start after sitting overnight.  If it does, great.  If not it will be time to buy another battery which is a pretty expensive ticket for the Prius.

As is always the case the visit with Katie and DJ was fun.  DJ had a great time in our pool, he just loves water.  When it was time for them to go I was holding him while the car seat was being prepped.  I then placed him in the seat and as he was getting buckled in he reached for me like he wanted me to pick him up.  When he realized I wasn’t he started to cry which broke my heart just a little bit.  I love the little guy.

 

 

Rain has been the dominant weather pattern pretty much the entire holiday weekend.  In a practical sense it is a good thing, our area has been very dry and more selfishly I just had 10 pallets of sod laid down so all the rain allows it to get a head start.  From a fun perspective the rain definitely limits your options.

Despite the weather I kept busy outside for a good portion of Saturday.  On our Home Depot stop we grabbed dirt, sod for the chicken area, and pond stone to fill in the stone landscape border near the one patio door.  A few times I forgot I was supposed to be protecting my injured shoulder and paid the price with a quick shot of pain.  Luckily the pain was short lived. Later in the afternoon I decided to weed whack the property despite a light rain which at one point got hard enough to make me stop for maybe 20 minutes before I finished it up.  Luckily the weed whacking position did not seem to irritate my right shoulder much.

On Saturday evening Deb visited again for the third or fourth consecutive week.   As usual the night was filled with fun and good times.  We discovered the app called House Party which allows geographically distant people to get together easily to communicate and play games.

Today is DJ’s actual birthday but yesterday was pegged as the day to to hold his virtual party so others could attend the Zoom broadcast of the event.  As usual Cindy had taken on the lion share of the responsibilities for the party, creating two cakes and trying to coordinate the attendance of other family members.

We headed over to Katie’s house early for two reasons.  Cindy had the two cakes and DJ’s presents to drop off and I needed to get the Prius running again.  Katie had been leaving the smart key inside the car for extended periods of time when the car wasn’t being used.  When the smart key is near the car it energizes certain parts of the vehicle.  Some of these parts evidently draw power from the 12V battery which was dead.

I had to first access and pop the manual release for the rear hatch since the battery is located back there.  Once I got down awkwardly crawling around in the trunk I got access to the battery.  I brought my portable jump starter/energy center with me.  After hooking it up to the battery the car woke back up.  I hit the accelerator to turn on the gas motor so it could begin charging the battery again.

Just to make sure the battery had some juice in it I drove the car to the gas station and back.  As I was driving the red triangle of death came on which is not surprising.  When the car is dead it is unable to manage balancing the cells in the hybrid pack as it should.  I had brought my ODBII reader/scanner along, anticipating this happening.  I cleared the error and the car seemed to be running ok, ok for a 235,000 mile vehicle.

DJ,s party was fun although getting people into the Zoom meeting turned out to be more challenging than we hoped.  DJ had fun digging into his “smash cake” which is designed with the intent of it being destroyed by the baby sitting in front of it.

The main cake that Cindy constructed was a painstaking reproduction of “coco melon” a cartoon series that DJ loves so much.  The inside of the cake looked like watermelon but tasted delicious, albeit both Cindy and I felt like we had a sugar overload afterward.

Before we left we assembled the large water playground toy that we got for DJ.  He loves everything and anything having to do with water so hopefully he will get a lot of entertainment out of it.

Cindy felt relief once we got home as the last 24-48 hours were mostly focused on party/cake related tasks.  It was still raining when we got back.  I split my time between the 3D room and playing some WoW.

Today Patrick was supposed to be visiting as he is doing project work in Melbourne Florida for a couple months.  He texted me last night about the near 100% chance of off and on rain all day.  He said he would take a rain check, literally but will be sure to visit before he heads back north.  As predicted it has been dreary which sort of sucks but again in the big picture the precipitation was needed.  It seems insane that I have not gotten out to ride a PEV a single time so far this long weekend.  I may try to sneak a ride in later in this afternoon but that all depends on the doppler radar.

 

 

 

My physical therapy includes doing certain exercises with would normally be considered a ridiculously minuscule one pound dumbbell.  The movements target small muscles in the shoulder that are not worked much regularly.  Even with the tiny weight I can feel the burn although I am doing up to 30 reps on some of the exercises.  Next week I am only going twice and I hope to taper off to nothing soon.  I have all of the equipment needed to do the exercises both at home and at the county gym.  The only thing I would be missing is the deep and thorough massaging that they do of the shoulder and the muscles surrounding it.

This is going to come as a shock but I actually arrived home to 10 pallets of sod piled up around the property last night.  After more than two weeks of failed delivery promises we actually had some grass delivered.  Of course, there is a but.  Having 10 pallets delivered was nice, but, I paid for 15 pallets.

This morning I had Cindy ask Miguel about the missing pallets.  He said he wanted to get this stuff spread first because he thought we might need less than five more pallets.  I have plenty of lowish spots left that we can throw extra sod onto so I am going to be pushing for the full five I paid for.

This weekend we will be celebrating DJs first birthday.  It seems hard to believe a year has passed already.  It also is funny how my interactions with him have changed as well.  When he was first born I held him briefly but it felt awkward and weird as I have never been involved much with babies my entire life.  However in the subsequent year since his birth I have become deeply attached to the little guy and love him very much.  The sweet innocence of a baby is something you wish could go on forever.  Every time he comes over to me, looks up and extends his arms in “please pick me up grandpa” mode, it makes me feel good.  Hell by this year next time he will be walking and talking like a champ.

Our long holiday weekend will hopefully also include a visit from my brother Patrick who is down in Florida for his job.  The last time we saw Pat was for my stepmom’s 60th birthday in January.  I always enjoy hanging out with Patrick, his passion for the environment and just doing the right thing is admirable and something worthy of duplication by others.

 

 

 

Last night I was up until after 10:30 working on server maintenance at the office.  I also had a number of 3D store related tasks to complete.  I awoke tired this morning, as seems to be the new norm.  I seem to consistently be getting at least 1-2 hours less sleep than I used to, which is surely not a positive trend.  As I was plugging away on my VPN session to the office I realized that I had not had a chance to play any appreciable WoW in at least a week.  For a long time I have used my time available to play WoW as a scale of my level of busy.  Based on that, I have been too busy.

The amount of conflicting information out there regarding Covid 19 is mind numbing.  It seems every day there is information that contradicts previous things that were believed to be true.  Masks are bad, masks are good, covid is droplet based one day, it’s an aerosol the next, and now most recently covid having a long shelf life on surfaces is now replaced with infection from surfaces is not common.  I have no doubt there is an intention of obfuscating the truth so no one really knows what the real deal is which helps to nurture and grow the overall environment of fear in society.  It is really frustrating.

I have now taken a shoulder shrug approach to most of what I hear.  I try to take reasonable caution in what I do but don’t obsess over it.  Hell I have even been able to resume going to the county gym this week.  Social distancing inside the gym has been very easy since it has been basically unoccupied.  I did a cautious bicep and tricep workout yesterday.  Not cautious because of covid 19 but because I was being very careful to only do movements that caused no irritation in my right shoulder.  The weight amounts were kept intentionally low, well off what used to be my standard.  Even with reduced numbers I can feel some soreness in those areas since real weight resistance training  has been off the menu for so long.

You would hardly know we are in a presidential election year.  Since Covid 19 has squashed traditional campaigning we have heard very little from Biden, besides a few things he has broadcast from his basement, which don’t get much traction.  However the other day I heard the first thing from Joe in awhile that made me laugh.

We all know one of the things Trump fans like is his affinity for 3rd grade name calling, something in our old reality the country would be embarrassed about in their leaders.  Donald has come up with nicknames for pretty much anyone he has conflict with.  Well Biden threw out a nickname for Trump that I think has staying power, “President Tweety”.  It is so ridiculous sounding yet perfect at the same time.  I hope to hear that name repeated thousands of times in the next few months as I am sure Trump HATES the moniker which so perfectly encapsulates the lunacy which his time in power has become.  Nancy referring to Trump as morbidly obese was another knee slapper.