Category: Anything and Everything

So although I have given up on the sod guy doing the work in the chicken area, I did call the reference he gave me for fill that will be needed to raise the ground level.  I told him I was interested in three loads of fill.  Later in the day I was wondering if there would be any issue getting through the gate that leads to the backyard.  I texted the guy and asked how big of an opening he needed to get the dump truck through.  His answer of 12 feet didn’t give me a good feeling as I was pretty sure the front gate is only 10 feet wide.

When I got home last night I confirmed with a tape measure that the gate is indeed 10 feet wide.  The gate on the side of the property facing the neighbors is actually a 12 footer but it would be impossible to swing the truck in that way without tearing the hell out of my neighbors yard.    I texted the guy back with the info.

I asked him how wide his dump truck was.  He said it was 8 feet wide plus the mirrors.  I told him that we had successfully moved an 8 foot wide RV in and out of the 10 foot gate several times.  I also told him the fence was only four feet high so his wide mirrors should clear the fence posts without a problem.  He said we could try which is all I can ask.  The delivery is scheduled to happen Tuesday morning.

I need to do some prep ahead of the delivery.  I want to mark the sprinkler head locations in the yard so we can avoid driving over them.  I also need to unfasten more of the chicken fence and possible remove one of the fence posts.  When I was originally talking to the landscape guy that never calls me back he indicated we would dump the fill outside the area and then he could use his Bobcat to move the fill into the chicken area and spread it.

My revised plan is to have a big enough opening in the fence where the dump truck can just back into the area and dump two loads back there, which should be a big time saver.  The third load will likely go in the low area outside the fence line so we can further reduce the size of the lake that forms during wet season.  I then have to decide if I want to rent a Bobcat to push the fill around or do it in a more manual fashion.  A Bobcat would be a timesaver and more “fun” although it will likely add another  $400-$500 to the project cost.  After that I will get some sod delivered, hopefully all the way into the backyard where I can cover the freshly elevated ground to eliminate future high water events.

Tonight I plan to do something different with my run.  Instead of circling the local track for 12 laps which is undeniably boring, I am going to change at work and go to nearby Sugden park to run there.  I have run there a handful of times before as well as ridden my PEVs around the scenic pathway.  If I find myself enjoying the more scenic and diverse running experience there I can see it becoming a more regular venue for me.

I watched more of the democratic debate last night than any prior iteration.  The main reason was I was interested was to see how Mike Bloomberg, who has been rising in the polls despite just entering the race a couple months ago.  He has done so almost exclusively by TV ads and little else ( pun intended).  It is a testament to how malleable much of the electorate is, how easily they can be swayed by money alone.  Well despite his 50 billion plus, he got destroyed in the debate.

He came out of there looking like he was suffering from PTSD as he was repeatedly assaulted by the other candidates.  Elizabeth Warren struck the killing blow digging up all of the NDA agreements Bloomberg has with females to buy their silence over alleged incidents of sexual misconduct.  Bloomberg asked if he would waive the NDA’s verbally on the spot which he awkwardly and sheepishly declined.  He came out of the debate terribly in my opinion and I think he would be best served to take his mountain of cash and go home right now.

Amy Klobuchar, who consistently has received praise for her prior debate performances, finally cracked.  Mayor Pete obviously rattled her when he pointed out she did not know the president of Mexico’s name when asked the other day and making light of it.  He doubled down on the pressure pointing out she serves on a committee that deals with Mexican relations.  She instantly departed her normal happy countenance and instantly flipped into B mode, accusing Pete of calling her dumb, which he didn’t do.  Pete smacked her around on her voting record as well on immigration issues which again solicited a similar response from Amy.  It was the first time I had seen her lose it, and it wasn’t pretty.

Joe Biden has turned into a cartoon character, or more specifically, the grinch.  All he did all night was act outraged repeatedly as he stared into the camera with a very grinch resembling look.  The way he portrays himself you would think he was president during Obama’s run.  Hell it was almost like he thinks he was Dick Cheyney.  Joe is done, just like Bloomberg. No one cares what he has to say.

Elizabeth Warren as I mentioned earlier chopped off Bloomberg at the knees and I think overall she represented herself well.  However I just think her loud and generally angry persona hurts her as a female candidate, which is ironic because that is what many would see as a strength for Bernie.  I like Warren but I have a hard time seeing her being able to generate the sort of energy needed to get the voter turnout necessary to make change happen.

I think Buttigeig really is a gay, white Obama and that is meant as a compliment.  His measured, calm but intellectual responses to both questions and attacks is pretty amazing to watch.  I respect intelligence and the ability to communicate effectively immensely when it comes to political candidates and he gets an A+ in those areas.  I think the fact that he has some ultra-rich supporters isn’t quite as nefarious as Bernie and others have painted it to be although I do understand the concern.  I really do like his approach to issues like health care that may be characterized as less radical and more realistic.  I think seeing him debate Donald Trump would be a fascinating dichotomy of polar opposites in personality and beliefs.

So all that remains is Bernie.  I love Bernie, I have contributed to Bernie’s campaign.  I believe in Bernie’s core concepts that the system has been rigged for decades and needs to be retooled.  Bernie was his usual loud, gesticulating self, saying many of the same things we have heard since 2015, which still remain true, in some cases even more so.  I think his policies are so out of the box that they could mobilize a good portion of the 30-40% of normal election non-participants to get out there, which is a republican’s worst nightmare.

Bernie is not a young man, which concerns me, but he obviously has no shortage of energy or enthusiasm.  The bigger issue I have is although I love his ideals, I am also a realist and know that without ripping out a large part of the seated congress, none of his policies have a shot of coming to fruition.  You can’t implement Medicare for all without congressional support and it isn’t there, nor do I see it being there anytime soon.  Without term limits and outlawing the lobbyist system, I have no idea of how that would ever change.  So part of me is conflicted because the bottom line is I want to see some sort of appreciable change take place.

So anyway, it will be interesting to see the fallout from last night’s debate and it will be interesting to see which candidates rise and fall as a result.

 

 

 

This was a non-standard morning.  Cindy set an early alarm so she could accompany Katie to take baby DJ for a procedure in North Fort Myers.  At first I didn’t think I would fall back asleep but I did somehow.  After eating breakfast I headed straight out to the coop to get it cleaned before leaving.  It was still pretty dark so the chickens were still all on the perch.  I wound up carrying each hen out one by one.  Each birds reaction to being held is different which is funny to me.

Originally I assumed with taking the time to clean the coop before work I would be pretty late getting into the office.  I walked in the door only five minutes late which was unexpected.  I’m hoping DJ’s procedure goes well and his happy little existence rolls on with only a small bump in the road.

For some reason when I was walking out to the car last night after work I was thinking about a childhood activity that provided me endless hours of entertainment, table top bowling.  I was a real bowling enthusiast as a kid.  We had a bowling alley only a couple miles from our house.  I participated in several bowling leagues and used to watch the PBA tour religiously on ABC.

My brother and I used to have a full size bumper pool table in our attic bedroom.  Bumper pool was ok but I got my real enjoyment when we would put the top on the table, giving me a nice flat surface to “bowl” on.  The pool balls were all red and white except for two of them.  One was a red ball with a white dot and the other a white ball with a red dot.  I always preferred using these as my bowling ball because the dot allowed you to visualize the spin you were imparting much easier.

The “pins” were a collection of various empty bottles that I had collected.  I don’t think I even had a full set of 10.  I would even manicure the “lane” by spraying down a fresh coat of Pledge so the ball could slide in a more realistic way, similar to a real lane.  Most of the time my “games” were solo, I don’t think I ever kept score.  I just had fun spinning the hell out of the ball and seeing if I could control the hook enough to knock down the various pin configurations I would set up on the other side.

As I thought about those simple days I compared it to modern times were children have become addicted to screens and seem unable to be entertained without them.   How did I manage to be so entertained for so long with a pool ball and some empty bottles….

 

Yesterday had minimal chores outside of chicken duties.  Cindy was babysitting DJ during the day so that added additional fun and laughs to the day off.  I got out to ride for the third day in a row, again on the MSX.  I wanted to try some different skills at North Collier park like slow riding, tight turns, backwards, and seated riding.  I also did a few high speed runs.  One of them I filmed with a stationary camera perspective that made it seem like I was going ridiculously fast as I went by.  I mean, I was going fast, about 30MPH but it looked way faster.

So even though I wasn’t “working” in a conventional sense, my 3D store sort of kept me busy probably a couple hours during the day between keeping parts production rolling, assembling stands, along with processing and packing orders, the time adds up pretty quickly.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel very lucky to have something like this organically grow to the scale that it has but it definitely requires a time investment to keep it rolling.

I forgot to mention that the replacement of the metal panels on the front of our roof completed last week.  It’s nice that the roof no longer has tiger stripes in it.  Hopefully I am all set with roofing needs for the next 30 years or more.

My Valentine’s Day was filled with exertion and effort.  At lunch I did my 400 rep calisthenics workout followed up with a uncomfortable 12 laps around the track after work in high humidity conditions.  Later in the evening I went back to the office to get some after hours work done which included swapping out three network switches and relocating seven rack servers.  I crashed into bed exhausted to a high degree.

Saturday had a number of smaller chores/tasks that I attended to in the morning followed by a long range testing ride on my new Gotway MSX wheel in the afternoon.  I logged around 36 miles on the ride and reached speeds in excess of 33 MPH during the trip.  The EUC has the title as the fastest in the world, I could definitely confirm that.

Saturday night we did our belated Valentine’s dinner.  We headed to Carrabbas as I had a gift card my sister sent for Christmas.  We had not been there in awhile.  Wow have times changed.  We arrived about 6:30 which is prime time.  In years past, going to Carrabas at this time on a Saturday night during season would easily result in huge crowds with 90 minute or more wait times.  Because of the huge influx of dining options in our area over the years and the sterilization of this location where they removed all of it’s uniqueness from other locations, Carrabas isn’t that big of a deal anymore.  We got seated in 5-10 minutes and there were plenty of spots in the parking lot, wow.

Our server appeared to be somewhat new and she sort of was klutzy with her delivery of service during the meal.  The food itself was tasty but I couldn’t help missing the days of the old Carrabas which were filled with many lasting memories as I dined there with family and friends.

Sunday was a nice day as well that was not overloaded with work.  During the afternoon Deb came over for a visit.  We headed over to the school for a bit where she tried her hand at riding the One Wheel.  She had one fall but overall did very well, rolling along pretty steadily after maybe 45 minutes of practice.

I was hoping to have the fill/sod work done in the chicken area by now.  The guy that went to school with Daniel has not been very responsive to my requests to get the work scheduled.  He ignored a number of texts and didn’t return a call I made on Friday so i think I am done with him.  I’m not going to beg someone to take my money.  I will either find someone else to do the work or I will rent a Bobcat and do the work myself at this point.

My Monday looks to be following a similar timeline as yesterday.  After tending to a number of things this morning I plan to get back out on my MSX this afternoon.  If you are wondering what the inside of an EUC looks like, wonder no longer.

 

When I had my Bell’s Palsy scare last year, it required a visit to the ER because initially we thought it was a possible stroke.  My two hours in the ER generated a bill of over $6000 which was outrageous in itself but par for the course in our perverse American healthcare system.  So the end result of this was my being sent a bill of roughly $1000 for my portion of the expenses not covered by insurance, which was still ridiculous, in my view.

I asked for an itemized bill which broke down all of the individual charges, one of which really stuck out, $700 for one pill.  When I did some checking on my own, a 10 day prescription of this medicine costs around $20 yet somehow the hospital was charging me 35 times that for a single dose, it was pure lunacy.  I called up the patient billing department and raised hell, repeatedly.  The initial scripted response was something along the lines of hospitals don’t give discounted pricing on medicine like a pharmacy does that takes insurance.  I called bullshit on that immediately and refused to take no for an answer.  Eventually I was told the $700 charge for the single pill was going to be totally dropped.  Great, I win, or so I thought.

Keep in mind my visit to the ER was last APRIL.  Since then I have received several bills for varying amounts.  Whenever I did I called up, said WTF, and was told it was some sort of error and that the bill would be resubmitted and adjusted.  Back in August I received a bill that showed I owed nothing.  Finally the saga was over, right?

Well that ended yesterday when a fresh bill arrived from the hospital, some 10 months after the incident.  The amount due is now back to what the original amount was, almost 1k.  This system is meant to break you down, to frustrate you to the point where you just throw up your hands and write a check to end the stupidity.  Of course I don’t give up that easily so I will once again pick up the phone and verbally spar with someone until I get the bill “resubmitted” once again. Idiots.

Cindy is babysitting today so we aren’t doing a traditional Valentine’s Day dinner tonight.  Instead we hope to get out tomorrow night for a date.  I also have to go into the office tomorrow morning for a few hours to get some work done.  I have Monday off so I felt like having an extra day in my weekend takes some of the sting of working Saturday away.

Yesterday I got the report from my stepmom that my dad’s first of two knee replacements went well.  He has already had his one hip replaced, twice and after this knee surgery he is already booked to have the other replaced later this year.  It’s hard to say the exact cause of his joint issues other than the cumulative effect of long term abuse and/or damage.

Dad used to be pretty active as an adult.  When I was younger he was a pretty regular runner.  After my parents divorced he played rugby for a number of years.  He also liked to ski which resulted in a bad knee injury where he tore his ACL.  As the aches and pains accumulated over time you would notice his gait developing more and more of a limp.  The problem is as you compensate for pain on one side you can often be negatively impacting other parts of your body as well.  Dad has also been carrying more weight on his frame as he has gotten older which never helps your joints out either.

I myself have had two knee surgeries on my right knee which originated from a meniscus tear while playing indoor volleyball in my early 30’s.  I remember my knee surgeon telling me that if I wasn’t careful I could need a knee replacement by 50.  He counseled me against impact activities like running as they could accelerate the problem.  Of course I still run to this day, some 20 years later.  My continued focus on healthy lifestyle where exercise, stretching and conscious eating are the norm has served me well as I descend into mid-life.  I am hoping the same holds true as genuine old age sets in.

Earlier this week my sister and brother in law finalized plans to come visit us in early March.  It’s sort of last minute but we had nothing pressing on the schedule and the dates worked for them as well.  The last time they were in Florida was well over a decade ago, it’s kind of crazy.  I am looking forward to seeing the gang, especially the kids who should find lots of things to entertain them on our property and at the beach.

The last time we saw my sister’s family was during our last winter road trip to PA when they still lived in State College.  It seems hard to believe that maybe 4-5 years have already passed since that visit.  The acceleration of time as you age is a real thing that never slows down.

 

Last year was the first year of the LA EUC Games, an event organized by some of my online EUC buddies where a number of riders got together to hang out, ride, and compete in various events.  By all accounts it was a lot of fun.  A couple weeks ago the main organizer of the event, Rama, asked me if I would be interested in attending this years event which has now been stretched from one day into two.  When he told me the event was towards the end of October my knee jerk reaction was to dismiss it since in the past that was the crunch time leading into property tax season at my job.

However the more I thought about it the more I thought it would be really cool to attend the event so I checked with my boss yesterday.  Since we redid the back end of our tax system a couple years ago the amount of work we need to do in preparation for tax season has been cut dramatically.  We used to have to print, pack, and mail over a quarter of a million tax bills every year.  Our on premise cashiering platform also was less than robust and could be problematic under the heavy loads of tax season.  Both of those former hurdles have now been eliminated.

I was given the all clear to take the time off if I wanted so the ball has been set in motion.  I did a little price checking of flights which seemed reasonable.  Of course I can’t attend EUC games without an EUC, the problem is you can’t fly with one.  Luckily my buddy Marty has over a dozen EUCS and said he would be fine with me borrowing one of his fleet to ride.  A lot of stuff can happen between now and October but as of now I am excited about the prospect of joining in with a huge group of like minded EUC enthusiasts.

Yesterday I received a new addition to my PEV collection,a Gotway MSX 100V.  This EUC is currently recognized as the fastest on the planet with many documented cases of the wheel going over 40MPH.  Now I have no desire to reach those types of speeds on a single wheeled balancing device. I have been interested in getting the MSX to help round out my fleet for the YouTube channel.  The MSX is one of the most popular wheels in the the US, having one would be beneficial for channel content.  It also allows me to have a real life model on hand for possible future 3D projects which is cool.

I hosted a live stream last night to reveal my purchase which I had hyped on recent videos.  A YouTube audience always seems to love when you get new stuff.  I had almost 50 simultaneous viewers at one point during the 75 minute stream, far more than when I used to do a scheduled stream.  This stream had no real prior notice but still pulled in some nice numbers.

After finishing the stream I hopped on the new wheel briefly for a spin down the side streets.  I got a little taste of the power between my legs.  It will be fun to explore some capabilities I have not experienced up until this point on an EUC.

I wound up getting stuck late at work on Friday evening so that scrubbed my plans to get a run in.  Instead Cindy joined me Saturday morning at the track.  The temps in the low 50’s were chilly but typically good for running once you get moving.  The air felt even brisker because of a steady wind that was smacking us in the face for about half of each lap.  For whatever reason I never felt like I got to enjoy the benefit of cool air running.  My legs felt more or less like cement for the entire run.  I was relieved when the 12th lap had been completed.

After doing chores I went out and ran some errands with the dogs.  Cindy usually accompanies me on these trips but she was in the middle of cake prep.  I decided to take both dogs inside Rural King with me.  Trying to wrangle them by yourself while pushing a shopping cart around takes patience and persistence. The dogs seemed to appreciate the effort.

Saturday afternoon Cindy was still in cake world so I decided to take advantage of the glorious weather with temps in the mid-70’s by doing a late afternoon DD ride on my big Gotway Monster.  The ride had several funny moments in it highlighted by some woman yelling her approval as she passed me on Immokalee Road and my screaming in sarcastic approval of the lawn mower sounding Mustang that rolled by late in the ride.

Saturday night we watched One Night in Hollywood a Quentin Tarrantino movie starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo Dicaprio.  Cindy was excited to see this movie based on it’s Oscar nominations.  My excitement level was much less but I typically always like film Brad Pitt is in.  After watching the movie, I may have been confused about large portions of the plot and why certain things happened but I did think Brad did put on a great performance.  I can’t give the movie overall anymore than a B grade but hey, maybe it’s just me.

Sunday morning we got out for another ride, this time with Deb.  We rode the Oakes loop which is pleasant albeit harder on Cindy because she isn’t able to utilize the scooter cruise control much.  The weirdest part of the ride was when we came across an obviously drunk man that wiped out on his bike on the sidewalk.  He insisted he was ok.  Cindy had a theory that not only was the man drunk but that he also stole the bike as his appearance did not seem to match up with the very expensive bike he was riding.

When we got back we didn’t have much time until we had to head back out to attend George’s party, where the cake Cindy has worked hour upon hour on was going to be center stage.  The cake was huge, three tiers, totaling close to 30 pounds, not including the standalone rice krispie sneaker she made as well.  Transporting the creation was sketchy and I did my best to have minimal G forces applied to the cake sections which were in their own boxes.

Once we got on site the sections were carefully brought inside and Cindy stacked them precisely.  Everyone was blown away by the detail and artistry of Cindy’s design, it really was an amazing accomplishment.  Not only did the cake look good, it tasted great as well which was resonated repeatedly by the 50 or 60 people in attendance.

The party was attended by mostly people we know from the running club, a crowd that I used to be immersed in deeply, but now have hardly seen for four years or more.  It was nice catching up with the people that I spent many an early morning hour with setting up for races.  I miss the people but I definitely do not miss what came along with the race timer title.

I drank five beers at the event, more than enough to help my social skills.  However even with the alcohol I found myself walking out in the empty courtyard area a couple times just to escape the crowd.  George seemed to have a great time which I was happy to see.  Just like the good old days, Cindy and I were one of the last to leave as we helped clean up the party goods and load up the car.  In addition to the cake I made a couple lithophanes for George, one of him running in a recent race and him and his wife Susan, both of which he appreciated.

Cindy drove the Tesla home as she stuck to non-alcoholic beverages during the party.  We stopped at Katie’s place to drop of a big chunk of uneaten cake and then headed home.  I was beat, probably most likely due to the combination of alcohol and sugar overload.  I will focus this week on burning some calories to compensate for the abuse.

I had a hard time falling asleep last night.  It was an odd sensation I was getting in my arms.  I just could not get comfortable, it almost seemed like restless leg syndrome, with my arms.  I eventually fell asleep after turning on my side but I bet I laid there at least an hour until I drifted off, despite feeling utterly exhausted.