So in what seems a blink of an eye my 5 day weekend is over. I’ll do my best to recap it in an abbreviated fashion. I wanted to get most of my weekend work done on Saturday as I was supposed to drive to the east coast to pick up the KingSong S18 demo wheel on Sunday. Some of that work included mowing the grass, weeding, and the other normal chore tasks. When we went out to run errands one of those stops was Lowe’s. I finally decided to officially pull the trigger on buying a new lawn tractor. I ordered a Husqrvana TS 242XD.
It’s a 42 inch deck as I have now. I intentionally chose a shorter deck because it allows me to access certain spots on the property which would be a huge PIA with a bigger deck. This unit has the high quality Kawasaki engine, an electric PTO, LED lights and a few other features. The biggest reason I went this route is I wanted a tractor with a welded, fabricated deck that utilizes stronger and thicker metal. All my prior mowers have had shitty and thin stamped metal decks that fall apart. This mower is not stocked so it is supposed to be delivered next week. Cindy’s military discount really paid off as it saved me nearly $300 on the purchase.
We left after lunch on Sunday in the Tesla to pick up the wheel. When I mapped out the ride ahead of time I was surprised to find out that they put in a supercharger at the Indian rest stop that is halfway across Alligator Alley. The drive over to Pompano Beach was quick and easy, the car drove itself for most of the alley. When we arrived Mickey gave me some quick pointers on the wheel as we did a fast ride to Dunkin Donuts which was right around the corner. Hopping on the S18 for the first time felt foreign but in a good way as I could feel the suspension helping to absorb bumps. We didn’t stay very long as we had to drive back across the state where we stopped at the Ochopee super charger which gave us enough juice to get home in less than 15 minutes, less time than it took to use the bathroom and go into the gift shop.
The period of Sunday night through Wednesday evening was a non-stop blur of EUC riding, video production with a few chores thrown in while the wheel was charging. For example on Monday we picked up 30 more pieces of sod to throw on the front house mound. We got it at somewhere other than Home Depot which was actually quite nice. The sod was better quality and about a buck per piece cheaper. I also found the time to weed whack the property which was getting jungle-like in certain spots.
As far as the EUC part of those days, feel free to consume as much of the 9 videos that I produced as you can tolerate. My time with the wheel included riding to Dunkin Donuts, riding through the swamp, jumping the wheel in the back yard, and taking it for a long nearly 35 mile ride out to Ave Maria and back. The whirlwind schedule has left me sore and tired but with the realization that an EUC with suspension is not a novelty but instead a real improvement in the riding experience.
As predicted New Years Eve was a very tame one at home. I celebrated with a couple Zimas and a shot of apple pie moonshine while I did a brief stream to test out my new AV equipment. Cindy spent a good portion of the night making her first fondant cake which I think turned out very well. For the first time ever we didn’t have the ABC broadcast on as the ball dropped. Cindy instead had on the NBC version with Carson Daly and Chrissy Teigen. I thought they were pretty awful, I hope to return to the Dick Clark memorial broadcast going forward.
New Year’s day I made an effort to not get sucked into the must do a project mindset. After tending to the chickens in the morning I kept my mind and schedule open. Cindy was busy doing a number of things so I told her I wanted to take the Backfire Ranger skateboard to Dunkin Donuts and back, hopefully. It’s posted maximum range of 20 miles is right at the distance for the ride so I was unsure if I would actually make it or not. I asked Cindy if she could be my pick up vehicle if I ran out of juice which she agreed to.
I did this ride once before on the Meepo e-skateboard but only to DD, not back. The ride on the Backfire was much easier. The large rubber tires and softer suspension allows it to handle small objects and undulations in the surface much better. I was enjoying the ride as I was cruising in the bike lane of Immokalee Road. I had Strava running to monitor my speed, I was cruising in the neighborhood of 15-16 mph, slower than I would on an EUC but still a nice pace. The ride was going great so far.
So something to my right caught my attention, to be honest I can’t even tell you what it was. All I know was I looked away from the bike lane for a couple seconds. In a split second I found myself smashed into the asphalt on my right side with my right arm extended above me. I hit something in the road that instantly stopped the board and sent me flying. As I laid on the ground stunned for a few seconds I heard a driver with his window down going the opposite way yell “WOOOOAHHHHH!”, he must have seen the fall and I am sure it looked bad, real, real bad.
So as I stood up I did a quick self inventory, I knew I had hurt myself but I still had basic functionality in all body parts. I instantly started searching for the board which somehow wound up on the median side of the three lane road. Oncoming traffic saw me staggering around as well as the board sitting in the roadway, luckily all three lanes stopped. I limped out and grabbed the Ranger, I didn’t notice any physical damage to the board which was a small win.
I then grabbed the remote control which was in the lane closest to me and retreated back to the bike lane to do a more full assessment of my injuries and damage to equipment. I was not happy to see the waterproof glass over the lens of my brand new GoPro 7 had shattered on impact. I was holding it at the time of the fall. I was amazed at how much damage my phone case took, despite it being in my pocket. The back side of it looks like someone took a belt sander to it. My cargo shorts were torn to shreds from the impact/slide and my right ankle was seeping blood from a few layers of skin getting torn off.
I could tell I had some bad road rash on the upper right side of my back which I could not see and my right hip was hurting as well. Considering the nature of the fall which was a total blindside where I had absolutely no chance to brace for impact, I felt somewhat fortunate. When I saw the piece of angle metal that I hit in the bike lane there was no doubt in why I was stopped instantly. Even though in the video I curse at and throw the piece of metal on the ground in disgust, the fault for the accident was mine for not closely monitoring the road surface ahead at all times. I could toss a little blame the road departments way since they appear to be very negligent with their bike lane maintenance/cleaning as displayed by the dead alligator carcass that has resided there for nearly a month.
So I paused for a short period of time to think about when/if I should tell Cindy. I knew she would be very worried and even though I was beat up I still had basic functionality. I decided I would hop back on and then call her to ask her to pick me up at DD. At first I was going to not even mention the fall but then when I stopped to text her I did say I had a “small incident” which of course prompted a phone call 10 seconds later. She was upset as you would expect. She wanted me to just stay put. I assured here I was ok and that I would just ride to DD and meet her there. The rest of the ride went fine but as you can see in the video Cindy was not happy when she saw me.
When we got home I did a full body inventory revealing pretty substantial road rash and bruising on my back and hip. I hopped in the shower and dealt with the intense stinging as the hot water hit the open skin but it eventually subsided. Cindy bandaged up my oozing ankle and I was good to go. Considering how hard I hit the ground I think I got off pretty easy, much of which I attribute to wearing full gear including helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. It could have been much worse.
The video does a solid job of depicting the experience….
So even though I rode, and crashed, I felt uneasy just staying at home. I played some WoW but then got the urge to go shoot the how to ride a One Wheel video I was talking about. I popped a couple Advil and headed to North Collier regional park to shoot the video, the same place I shot the video on how to learn to ride EUCs. I am happy how the video turned out. I think it accomplished the goal of introducing the One Wheel to an audience similar to myself, someone that has no prior board sport experience. You can hardly even tell that I wiped out earlier in the day, except for the flapping bloody ankle bandage visible on some shots.
I look forward to closing out the remaining three days of this work week. Hopefully I got all the bumps and bruises for 2019 out of the way early but somehow I doubt it.
Friday after work I got out to run once again, my third week in a row. I had just done lower body work on Wednesday so my legs were feeling rather cement-like and sore but I trudged through my conventional 13 laps without a major incident. After the brief reintroduction to group exercise on Thanksgiving, where there were 7 or 8 other people on the track, I once again was the only person out there which in most ways I prefer.
So on the weekends I am usually the one that does chicken morning clean up duty as Cindy does it every other day of the week. I headed out there pretty early, a little after 7AM. I started doing my preliminary tasks like scooping poop in the run and spreading scratch grains around. As I did I looked around and didn’t see Stephie in close proximity which was a bit unusual since she normally likes to hang close to me. I figured she was maybe out in the yard behind the coop or maybe even under the deck of the coop, although it would be pretty early for her to be under there.
So I continued on my clean up for a few minutes but still didn’t see Stephie (bottom right in the picture) show up. Ok well she must be around here somewhere so I stop what I’m doing and start walking around the chicken area looking for her. I look in the back yard, the front yard, in the corners of the coop and then down on my knees to look under the coop deck. When I scanned under the deck and still did not see her the red light went off. Where the hell is Stephie….
So I didn’t want to panic too quickly so I repeated my search pattern one more time, hoping that I somehow just missed her hiding somewhere, anywhere. I again came up empty. The harsh reality that something happened to my favorite hen was sinking in…
So now I went inside and told Cindy I can’t find Stephie. I confirmed with her that she was in the coop last night at bedtime, which Cindy said she was. Cindy said she swore when she came out of the bedroom she saw Stephie walking in the yard. If you recall earlier this year I added a second automatic door to the chicken run so when the birds get up they not only can exit the coop but also the run so they can go outside without us letting them out. Stephie was normally one of the early hens to come out as she was generally the outcast of the flock and picked on by many of the others.
Cindy immediately headed out there to do her own search. I instead headed to the computer to try to pull the security DVR footage of the coop to see what the hell was going on. My emotions of sadness and despair were joined by frustration when I realized that the DVR had not been recording footage for several weeks due to some sort of problem, unreal. The only recorded footage I had was the camera on the house that shoots towards the coop. All recordings are motion based and the times that camera recorded did not show anything of significance.
So now we had to assume that some sort of predator came in between when the outside door opened at 6:30 and when I went out there a few minutes after 7. When we had a coyote take Cocoa over a year ago it happened early in the morning as well. We went into investigative mode, trying to get a clue to what happened. There were absolutely no signs of an attack or struggle in the chicken area itself. Normally you will see at the very least a collection of feathers and/or some blood. Stephie was nervous, agile and fast, I had a hard time imaging something grabbing her so easily without a struggle. We expanded the search to the rest of the back yard, walking the entire fence line, again looking again for any signs of an attack. Cindy and I both walked the fence independently and neither of us saw even a single feather.
I later emailed my neighbor across the street that had chickens and predators attack them. She said her guess was it was a cat of some type, maybe a bobcat or panther. She said they are can clear a fence easily and are lightning fast. I guess that is possible but I still have a hard time believing there would be no traces visible of the event. I was so angry that the DVR did not record the incident as this is exactly the reason I installed it in the first place.
I loved Stephie, as I said she was my favorite hen. She knew her name and would come when I called her to give her treats away from the other hens so she wouldn’t get picked on. At night when I put them to bed she would often jump across the perch, getting bit by the other birds as she did just so she could get close to me so I would pet her before turning off the light. To have her just vanish and not know what happened broke my heart.
So of course not knowing what happened means it could happen to the other hens so I had to make some changes. Having the outside door open automatically was something to give the birds more freedom but I didn’t ever think it would also present danger. I wound up getting a second smart switch. Before the coop and the run door were on the same switch so they both opened at the same time. I now have it set so the coop door still opens at 6:30 but the door to the run does not open until 7:30 (but still closes automatically at night) so that we will be the ones to let the hens outside so we can prevent this scenario from happening again.
I thought about Stephie a lot all weekend. Each time I did a rush of sadness accompanied it with the realization I won’t have her fuzzy face and sweet demeanor to experience any longer.
So my KingSong 18XL demo wheel showed up Friday. I charged it up overnight . I needed to get a good test ride in so I suggested to Cindy to ride out to Ave Maria, a 30 mile plus round trip. So normally riding to Ave Maria would be something I would only do myself, it’s just too far for Cindy to ride on any of our wheels, however things are now different. With the arrival of our Dualtron scooter last week Cindy now has something fast, comfortable, and capable of traveling distance matching or surpassing my biggest EUC’s. She said she was down for the ride.
The 18XL that I was testing has a bigger battery and bigger foot pedal than the 18L that I bought earlier this year. Both improvements were substantial as my feet hurt less than any other wheel I have ridden. Cindy LOVES the Dualtron. That thing is pretty amazing. For the first time ever I couldn’t keep up with Cindy at times. At a few points in the ride she approached 35 mph. The video does a good job of detailing the experience.
Saturday night we watched Red Sparrow, a movie with some very explicit and graphic scenes, dealing with the Russian/American spy programs. Despite several “oh shit” scenes I found the movie interesting and unpredictable enough to earn a solid B+. If you ever wondered what Jennifer Lawrence looks like naked, this movie will satisfy your curiosity.
Sunday morning I did another test ride on the 18XL to Dunkin Donuts, a staple ride for all of my PEV’s. There was a extremely strong headwind during the ride which made it downright unenjoyable at times. The 18XL however once again performed well. I told the story of the demise of Stephie during the middle of the ride.
Since the Eagles don’t play until tonight my Sunday afternoon was pretty open. We did a run to Home Depot and later when we got home I walked around the property and sprayed all the castle stones I de-crudded last week with Wet and Forget, this stuff that I tried before to remove the crud by itself. It wasn’t effective in that role but my hope is spraying the stones after cleaning will delay the onset of more black crud returning.
Early in the evening I almost started the task of trying to replace the inner tube in my Gotway Monster. However I came to my senses and realized that starting what is likely to be a frustrating task to close out the weekend would be a mistake. Hopefully I can take a shot at it one night this week.
Friday after work I decided to take a shot at running. It had been two to three weeks since my last run. The cold front temps made the idea much more enticing. I got to the track about 5:30 and got started. The first 2-3 laps felt pretty miserable. My lower back hurt and I’m sure I was running with somewhat of a limp. As I warmed up it got more tolerable. My endurance actually didn’t feel too bad. I’m not sure if I can credit that to the lower air temperature or the fact that I have been doing a lot more cardio at the gym over the last month or two. I didn’t wear a watch but I assume my pace was slow. Regardless, it felt good to get back out there.
Saturday morning it was once again nice and cool. I knew I needed to weed whack but mowing was not on the menu. Somehow I managed to spend three hours out there whacking away. The combination of not having done it for over a month and my decision to knock down the shit in trench in the back yard along with a few other tasks added up to way more time than I planned. My right hand was numb from being subjected to that intense vibration for so long.
After eating lunch we loaded Sadie and Elsa up for a trip to Rural King, we needed to get just a couple things but thought it would be fun to take the dogs for a ride. Well somehow we wound up leaving the store with six baby chicks. Our hens have reached the age where egg production shuts down. Cindy and I had talked loosely about eventually getting more chicks but it certainly was not in the immediate future.
Cindy said she was up to the challenge of constant care and clean up that the chicks require. I was ok with it as long as we limited it to no more than six, which would give us a total of 14 when they are introduced to the flock we already have, which would be max perch capacity in my mind.
So I let Cindy do all of the picking of chicks, my only input was I thought we should be getting them in pairs so each one has another bird “sibling”. We got a set of Delawares, Cochins, and Blue and Reds. The Rural King employee put all six in their little cardboard “barn” and handed then to Cindy, who was all smiles. I was less enthusiastic for sure but was happy that Cindy was happy about it. When we got home we spun into action, collecting a bunch of our chick supplies we still had in storage. We set the chicks up in a large bin in the guest room bathroom. We had them situated after a short period of time, they wasted no time digging into the food. Baby chicks eat, sleep, and poop round the clock.
Late afternoon Cindy said she had some stuff she wanted to get at Walmart. We turned it into an opportunity for me to ride as well as I threw my One Wheel in the trunk. Cindy dropped me off at nearby Collier North Regional Park. By the time we got there it was almost dark so I got to experience prolonged night time riding on the board for the first time. It was an interesting ride as I also got to try out the much talked about new Gemini firmware for the One Wheel which allows users to dial in their board settings to a degree not possible before.
Saturday night we watched Rampage, with The Rock. It was sort of like a modern day Godzilla versus other monsters kind of vibe. I found the movie entertaining and action filled enough for a B+ rental rating.
Sunday morning after tending to the chickens Cindy and I went for an enjoyable ride out to Ave Maria. Although it was overcast, the temps were still pleasantly cool for me, meaning it was downright cold for Cindy. She rode her MiniPro around while I opted for the Mten3, the tiniest wheel I own but probably the most fun one to ride in small spaces due to it’s maneuverability. The wheel is just so easy to throw around and it’s the easiest wheel for me to ride backwards by a ton.
So originally the Eagles game was on the schedule for 1PM. I didn’t realize they shifted it to 4:30 to be a national game, so the entire world could watch them be destroyed. (more on that later) So all of a sudden I had an extra three hours to do stuff. I played some WoW but felt guilty after a little bit. I felt I needed to do something more productive. I decided to go out and work on the front end of Cindy’s RV.
From sitting in the back yard for a year the nose of the trailer had already started to look faded and nasty. I bought some Meguiars product to cut through that haze. Before applying it I had to wash the nose which meant pulling a couple hundred feet of hose and a ladder out. After washing the area I applied some of the product to about a one foot square section to see if it had the end result I was hoping for, it did. I proceeded from there, slowly working on the front end one small section at a time. To be effective you have to use a LOT of elbow grease, rubbing the surface in circular motions time and time again while applying a lot of pressure. It took awhile but I when I finished up the nose looked not perfect but significantly better. I now need to follow up with wax or paint sealant to keep the sun from repeating it’s damage in short order.
So it took very little time for me to get the feeling that the Eagles game against the Saints was going to end badly. To be exact it took the amount of time that elapsed for the Eagles to go three and out on their first possession, followed by the Saints driving straight down the field to kick a field goal. I just got the vibe that the Birds were extremely overmatched. This pattern continued and amplified as the game progressed. By halftime I was so disgusted I turned the game off and just monitored the progress, or lack there of on NFL.com. The final result was an absolute embarrassment, the Saints destroyed the Super Bowl champs 48-7. Wow.
So where to begin? Well this was really just more of the same, the only difference is they were playing arguably the best team in the NFC this time. I heard that Jim Schwartz was planning to make some defensive adjustments. I threw up in my mouth a little bit when I heard the great idea was to only rush three and drop eight into coverage more often. WTF? The defense already has demonstrated they are AWFUL at pass coverage, how is getting even less pressure on a QB going to help that? The soft zone the Eagles play is maddening as it seems to repeatedly result in defenders simply running to the open spots while Eagles players stand there flat footed.
The Eagles defense is horrid this year. Part of that problem is the secondary, which I think was subpar before the season started, is decimated by injury, meaning guys that couldn’t beat out the subpar guys are in there. The front four has not been good enough to get pressure on opposing QB’s meaning the shitty secondary has ample time to fall apart in coverage which they have done all season long.
Ironically another problem for the defense is the Eagles offense. Despite good numbers for Wentz overall, in the big picture the offense is not getting it done. They aren’t scoring points, they aren’t able to put together long drives, and until they get down by double digit points, they don’t play aggressively. I think the biggest issue is they are now one dimensional and either don’t want to or can’t run the ball with any sort of consistency. The play call balance is all out of whack. The end result is the the offense has terrible time of possession meaning the shitty defense gets tired and gets more time to display just how bad they are.
At this point in the season I don’t know that there is any magic pill the team can take to fix these gaping problems. They let go of some key blue collar players this year and it is looking like what was left just isn’t up to the task at hand. I am resigned to a sub 500 season in 2018. I’m just not how much more of it I will be subjecting myself to watch. It’s so ugly.
So last week Sadie had her teeth professionally cleaned, something that should have been done awhile ago more than likely. During the procedure they discovered an approximately 1cm x 2cm mass on her palette. They removed the mass and sent it out for testing as a precaution. Well Ali told me over the weekend she got results back and it showed the mass as being melanoma, not a good thing.
As I researched the condition online I saw that oral cancer in dogs is not uncommon. The bad news is depending on a number of factors a mouth melanoma can be very bad news and potentially terminal. From what I read the size and location in the mouth are the two biggest factors. Sadie’s was on the smaller side and towards the front, both of which are positives. The negative is this sort of cancer has high tendencies to metastasize to other areas of the body. So Ali is meeting with a pet oncologist tomorrow to talk about options. It’s times like this that us paying the sizeable monthly premium for pet insurance feels well worth it.
Off and on all weekend I had waves of sadness come and go as I thought about the potential of losing Sadie. She certainly is showing no signs of slowing down at this point. She is full of energy and happiness. Her and Elsa were playing all weekend long. I am crossing my fingers that we get lucky.
So I had my abdominal CT on Friday. I was dreading the two barium shakes I had to drink but they actually didn’t taste that bad. I was able to get both of them down without issue. I had no clue what to expect of the procedure, I had ideas of it taking an hour or more and of course I would have to be in a hospital gown. Neither of those things were true. I didn’t have to even take off my sneakers, the only requirement was not having any metal in the scan area. The entire process took about 15 minutes.
So the drinks were to create “contrast” in my GI system. In addition I was given an IV prior to the scan to give contrast to my blood. The fluid they inject you with feels odd as you can feel it circulating in your body, causing certain areas to heat up. They warned me about the sensation ahead of time. The machine reminded me of the open MRI that was used to scan my knee years ago. During certain periods you are told to hold your breath for a few seconds. The entire thing was really a non-event. Unfortunately I will not have any information on the results until today or tomorrow.
So I felt fine afterwards and came back to the office to eat my lunch. Somewhere after 1PM I started feeling not so fine in my gut. The result was two trips to the bathroom that reminded me of colonoscopy prep. I asked to go home as I felt ready to burst. It was a long drive home as I fought the pressure pretty much the entire way. Unless I missed it, there was no mention of the barium shakes causing explosive results afterward. It would have been nice to know. That was not fun. I wound up laying in bed for a couple hours at home.
Because of persistent rain the property had a lot of standing water still on it so mowing the grass was off my list for the weekend. We started Saturday off with standard fare, tending to the chickens and weeding the property. During the afternoon I turned my chore focus indoors as I vacuumed all the carpeted areas and then followed up with steam cleaning the hard surfaces. Just for good measure I let my two hard surface cleaning robots loose afterward.
Late Saturday afternoon we headed over to the high school. I had the Meepo along and Cindy wanted to get a brisk walk in while I rode. The ride was cut short by yet another round of hard rain. I still had fun cruising in Expert mode. I even maxed the throttle for a short burst which supposedly should be at 20+ mph.
On Saturday night Cindy and I watched our latest Netflix rental, I, Tonya, the movie about the mess which is Tonya Harding. I thought the movie was very well done and provided me with a lot of background that I did not have about her life. I had no idea just how dysfunctional and abusive her relationships were growing up. The circumstances around the Nancy Kerrigan attack just seem incredibly moronic. How that group of mental midgets thought this was a good idea is amazing and a testament to the power of stupid people collaborating. Anyway, I came away from the movie feeling somewhat sorry for Tonya. I’d give the movie a B+.
Sunday was really nice for me, it felt like a perfect mix of work and play. In the morning Cindy and I parked at DD and rode from there. She started out the session on her roller skates but then later switched to her MiniPro.
I got some tidying up done in the hobby room and did something I do far less than I used to, wash the vehicles. I washed the Tacoma and Cindy’s Ioniq. Both were overdue for sure. I used to wash cars a lot more often in the past, I’m not quite sure why I have slacked off on that nowadays. I guess like most negative things, I can attribute it to old age.
So I decided to go out on a second ride mid-afternoon on the Gotway Monster. I wanted to go all the way to Collier North Regional Park and back, a trip of almost 35 miles. Very early on in the ride I saw something bizarre. As I headed west on Immokalee Road I saw four cops fly by me but none of them had their lights on which seemed very odd. As I rounded a corner I saw a car stopped at the intersection with Wilson Blvd with all of those vehicles surrounding it, with their lights on.
As I got closer I saw the car that was pulled over was a Maserati that I remembered passing me a few minutes prior. I assume the cops did not want to tip off the driver they were in pursuit. As I swung out around the police vehicles I was shocked when I saw two of the cops had their guns drawn and pointed at the open door of the car. I glanced quickly to my right and did not see a driver in the seat so I have no idea what was going on. I later tried to look up the incident on the news and the sheriff’s website but found nothing. It was a little crazy.
The ride to and from the park was fun. I was glad that I had the Monster for the ride, I utilized the seat on the wheel for prolonged periods of time to give my feet a break. By the time I returned the wheel was constantly beeping from low battery levels as the Monster did not have a 100% full charge before I left. When I checked Strava for my ride statistics my mouth dropped open when I saw the top speed it recorded during the ride, 33.1 mph. Wow, I had no idea I was going that fast at any time and I certainly was not trying to hit a new speed record. If that speed is accurate it is the fastest I ever have traveled on a single wheel by several mph.
I finished up my Sunday with a short WoW session, wrapping up a near perfect day. I can hardly wait till the next 5 days pass so we can do it again.
One year ago today Hurricane Irma smacked the hell out of us. Hopefully we can avoid that scenario for another decade but seeing three named hurricanes in the Atlantic right now doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies.
Last night was quite busy as Thursday evenings go. I headed straight from work to Boston Beer Garden to meet up with fellow fantasy football team owners for the draft lottery pick. I have had unbelievable bad luck when it comes to draft position. I have picked the last draft spot at least four or five times. This year my luck was a little better as I grabbed the number 7 spot. Normally I would hang around and drink a few beers but Katie and Daniel expressed interest in coming over to try the One Wheel and Meepo so I left the bar shortly after drawing my number.
I had only been home maybe 10 minutes when the kids arrived. I quickly changed and threw the gear in the back of the Prius. We met over at the school. Katie tried the Meepo first. I gave her quick pointers on how the remote control worked and she was off, slowly at first but soon she was doing slow and steady laps. I had the board set to beginner mode where she was speed capped at 10 mph.
I gave Daniel basic One Wheel instructions but because of his pretty extensive skateboarding background riding the board wasn’t tough for him, the hardest part is learning how to stop and dismount safely. Cindy showed up early in the session, coming there straight from teaching class. She always loves when all of us are together.
After awhile on each device Katie and Daniel switched it up. Katie felt very unsure of herself on the One Wheel for awhile but never fell and did a good job circling the lot. When Daniel got on the Meepo it was like love at first sight. After 10 minutes of riding I unlocked him to advanced mode with a 25 mph speed limit. He was ripping back and forth across the parking lot with ease having next to no learning curve at all.
I only rode the One Wheel very briefly. I instead just let the kids have fun trying out the two new forms of electric transportation. By the end of it Daniel was sold on the Meepo. I am pretty sure he will be ordering himself one very soon. Katie loves the Meepo as well as the One Wheel. She commented how she actually felt like she was working her lower body, something she doesn’t really get on EUCs at this point. They both thanked me for letting them try out the new toys. Hopefully they want to start riding with Cindy and I again on the weekends as a result.
I had not had anytime to eat dinner so that only happened around 8:30 when I got home. After dinner I still wasn’t done, working on a custom 3d stand model for a customer and then remoting into the office to get some after hours tasks done. It was a long night that left me feeling groggy this morning.
This weekend is the precursor to what will be a hectic weekend in 7 days when Cindy has her bikini competition next Saturday and then I have to move one of our offices to a temporary location next Sunday, followed by hosting our fantasy football draft party on Monday. That doesn’t mean this weekend will be a laid back, veg out couple days. The tasks just don’t stop coming.
So for the second consecutive week I wound up getting my run in on Friday evening. Not only was the run different because it was on a Friday evening, I also got there in a unique way, on my EUC. I have thought several times in the past about riding my EUC to the track, running and then riding back but I never made it happen. I finally did. I wanted to test out how my 18L was going to act with the battery problem it has been having so I needed to get some miles on the wheel anyway.
Unlike last week where I did the run after 8PM, after eating dinner, this time I did it before eating, around 6 which is a better option. Running on a full stomach just doesn’t feel good. Luckily it was overcast which kept the temperatures down but the run still felt as miserable as always. The video I shot talks a lot about my mostly hate relationship with running and why I continue to do it anyway. The ride also revealed that my batteries in the new wheel are still not acting normal, which sucks.
So the big task I wanted to accomplish was mowing the grass, all of the grass. So on Saturday morning since my run was out of the way and Cindy did the weeding for me on Friday, I was out on the tractor early, around 8:30 AM. The standing water that was on the property during the week had receded so as I have said a million times, during wet season you have to mow when the opportunity arises, not when you feel like it.
With the new drive belt installed the tractor was appreciable faster, letting me mow at a faster clip than I have been accustomed to. After finishing the normal mowing I grabbed some water. Cindy thought I was done but I told her I still needed to mow the back half of the yard as well. A few laps into the task I noticed the clouds were starting to pile up. A few more laps and I saw the clouds turning gray and after several more I could see columns of rain starting to fall from them.
I was not happy at the sight but had already predetermined that I was finishing mowing, regardless of the conditions. Well that edict was definitely put to the test. About halfway into the task the rain started coming down, lightly for a short while. However the wind was gusting and I had to mow with one hand on the canopy to keep it from blowing backward. Then the torrential rain started, the driving, miserable, wind swept relentless rain that makes wet season here so frustrating. The canopy did little to keep anything on me dry other than perhaps the top third of my head. I didn’t care, I plowed ahead, wiping the rain from my sunglasses as necessary. I did accomplish my goal but I literally finished as the property was flooding once again. I looked like I just jumped into the pool fully clothed.
Thankfully later in the day the rain broke and the sun came back out. I took that opportunity to take my Meepo over to the school for my first real riding session. It didn’t take very long for me to abandon beginner mode which just felt too restrictive after 5-10 minutes. I bumped it up to Eco Mode which has a 15 mph top speed. This felt much faster and really made the riding experience more enjoyable. I had a ton of fun on the board and look forward to Cindy getting more comfortable on it (and the One Wheel) soon.
Saturday night we went to go see the latest Mission Impossible movie, I have always been a fan of the series. The movies have always had Tom Cruise performing unbelievable acts that most super heroes would be hard pressed to emulate. However this sequel seemed to be Mission Most Impossible, some of the stuff that went on was just utterly ridiculous but even so, I found myself utterly entertained the entire time. It is a non-stop roller coaster that has so much action that you don’t have time to focus on how silly it all is. B+
Sunday morning I wanted to do a more extensive test on my KingSong 18L so I decided to duplicate the ride from last week to Dunkin Donuts to see how the battery performed. It did not go well. I actually got significantly worse range than the week before, it was so bad that I had to call Cindy to come and pick me up at DD as I only had 36% battery left after 10 miles. This wheel should be able to go 35 miles on a full charge. I now have to figure out the best course of action to get this fixed with my dealer. As the wheel is now I no longer trust to ride it any appreciable distance.
When Cindy got me she brought the Meepo with. Before it started to rain, again, she got on the board for the first time and did some slow cruising around the back of a shopping center. She said she liked it and needs more time to get used to controlling speed via a hand control. I can’t wait until she gets as comfortable on the Meepo and One Wheel as I am.
So the rest of Sunday was basically a wash out with mostly continuous rain that left our property the worst it has been this year. It’s crazy that I was able to mow everything the day before. I spent the majority of the rest of the day indoors tending to little tasks here and there. With the addition of a new EUC and two skateboards to the fleet I need to think about some alternative storage options for the hobby room to keep everything organized.
It’s an oddball week where I am off Wednesday and have a fantasy football draft order pick Thursday. It will set me up for a very hectic following week. Can’t wait.
On Friday I talked about my problems with FedEx and how I laughed at their theory that the label fell off the box somehow. Well apparently that is what actually happened. In a call back to the trace department Friday morning they said they found the box based on my description. I had the option for them to relabel it and have it delivered Saturday or I could pick it up on Friday. Despite it being a roughly 60 mile round trip I chose the latter option. I used my lunch hour to drive to the FedEx distribution center and get my new wheel.
I was sort of surprised at the security at the facility. It was surround by a 10 foot fence with barbed wire lining the top. I wasn’t allowed to actually go into the building, instead you speak through an intercom and somebody brings the package out to you, outside the fence line, some 30 yards outside the building. This practice seems like it would have serious flaws considering the frequency of downpours in SW Florida as there was absolutely no protective canopy or cover of any kind.
I wasted no time and unboxed the wheel right there in the parking lot. I wanted to make sure all was well after it’s cross ocean and cross country journey. It powered up and I was able to ride a slow loop around the parking lot. I left it unboxed so I could take it into the office and let it charge up during the afternoon.
Friday night I did something odd around 8PM. I told Cindy I wanted to go and get my run out of the way. At first Cindy objected but when I told her how it would be nice to not have a 6AM alarm to deal with Saturday the idea sounded better to her. It was not ideal circumstances as we had already downed our Friday night pizza so I was worried that I could get side stitches but the idea was in my head and had to be executed.
So I quickly threw on my running clothes and headed over to the track. I also had my new 18L in the trunk to try out for some night riding after the run. So I have not run at night in a very long time. I have done a couple night time 5k’s but I don’t think I ever did a training run at that time of day. During the first half lap I felt pretty strong, I recall thinking “Maybe I will feel less miserable running at this time of day”. That thought was very fleeting. It did not take long until the heat and humidity felt oppressive, despite the sun being down. It was once again a run of survival, not speed. Lap 13 felt like it would never come.
I was a sweaty, panting mess afterward but I still wanted to try out the wheel some more. My legs were pretty spent so I felt a little unsure of myself as I got rolling. I made sure to do slow, big arcing turns, doing nothing that was tough on the legs. I was impressed by how good the headlight is on the wheel, making riding in the dark not a big deal at all. The King Song wheel felt smooth and powerful, as I expected.
It felt nice to not have to set the alarm as we laid down in bed that night. It was going to be a treat to have two days in a row where we can wake up whenever we want. Well that fantasy was shattered about 2AM in the morning. Cindy awoke first which woke me up. I was greeted by the overwhelming stench of dog fart. It was really bad. I tried my normal tactic of just covering my face with a pillow until it dissipated. When that didn’t work I told Alexa to turn on the ceiling fan. It was strange, nothing was making the smell lessen.
Cindy was almost retching from the stench. Elsa does fart sometimes but not often, it was odd that this was so bad and so persistent. Cindy got up to go into the bathroom, when she flipped the light on the true nature of the disaster was revealed. Cindy had a look on her face like she just witnessed a murder, Elsa had covered the bed in diarrhea, oh my…
So Cindy was freaking out and immediately launched herself into massive sterilization procedures, stripping the bed and anything related. I took Elsa outside immediately where she had more episodes of the shits. I felt bad for her. It took awhile until she was able to stop crouching in poop position. When we came in Cindy had stuff in the washing machine and bleach in hand where she was sanitizing left and right. The entire house stunk, we had fans on, windows open, candles burning, and the AC cranked down, all in an effort to remediate the stench. It took awhile but eventually it aired out. By the time we remade the bed and got back to sleep I bet a couple hours had transpired. It was so gross it was almost comical. Needless to say we did not awaken Saturday morning feeling rested.
Despite the rough night I once again had a sizeable plate of things I wanted to get done Saturday. Originally I hoped with the aid of Cindy I could get it all done in the morning. That got sidetracked because she needed to take Elsa to the vet to see what was up as she still had similar diarrhea once we woke up, thankfully outside this time. So I tackled coop duty, weeding, weed whacking, pool maintenance, tractor tie rod replacement and the mowing solo, consuming the day until close to 4PM.
Despite being wiped out I wanted to get a DD ride in on my new wheel. I had it on the charger overnight to give me a full charge, or so I thought. When I turned it on I noticed the app said I only had 76% charge which made little sense. I wrote it off as a glitch and headed out. The ride went well. The 18L feels fast and smooth, a very comfortable wheel to cover long distances on. The only negative was the battery level being lower than it should be, causing some unexpected and rather jarring tilt back on the way home.
Saturday night we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a movie by JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame. This movie is set in the same world and general timeframe of Harry Potter. I was a big fan of the HP movies and I read three of the books. I did not feel this new effort matched up although there were a lot of the same cool things going on. I guess I just did not like the main characters in the story line nearly as much. I’d only give it a B.
So Saturday night I once again put the wheel on the charger, expecting it to fully charge overnight. When I woke up Sunday I had a green light on the charger but once again when I checked the battery level it showed only 76% full. Great, I officially have a problem. Despite the issue I took the 18L, the One Wheel and Cindy’s skateboard out in the morning. We did a short ride near Dunkin Donuts were Cindy showed her returning board skills. It was fun but hot.
So I reported my battery issues to my reseller. He asked if I’d be willing to rip apart my wheel to do some further testing. Of course I wasn’t keen on the idea of opening up my brand new wheel but it was better than trying to ship the wheel out and wait for a repair/exchange. He wanted me to remove both sides of the wheel and disconnect one of the two batteries and try to charge. In my two prior charging sessions the batteries never showed voltage over 78 volts which was another symptom. The batteries should be reading 84V after a full charge.
So I did as instructed. I felt pain as I pulled apart my pristine wheel. Doing so at least gave me an appreciation of the build quality of the unit compared the Gotway wheels I have owned for a couple years. King Song is at another level in QC. After disconnecting one of the batteries I attached the charger to see what would happen.
When I checked on it a couple hours later the light was green I fired up the wheel and saw the battery was reading 100% and 84.2 volts, just like it should. Wow, ok so I guess the other battery pack was bad, pulling down the overall voltage. I reported the result to my dealer, thinking we definitively found the problem. However a little later I thought to myself, just to be sure I should do the same test with the other pack. Imagine my surprise when the other pack, when charged by itself was also fine, reaching full 84.2 volts. The behavior was baffling but my plan now is to put it back together, ride it, recharge it and see if the batteries recharge as they should. Of course it isn’t fun being a guinea pig but it’s better than being without the wheel for an extended period of time.
Sunday night we went out to dinner with Cindy’s family for her mom’s birthday. In total there were something like 15-16 people that congregated at Longhorn’s Steakhouse for the celebration. Of course I opted for one of the handful of non-steak dinner options. I took the edge off the social anxiety by downing almost three full 20 ounce Miller Lite drafts during the dinner. It worked like a charm.
I wrapped up my weekend with yet another EUC live streaming event. I was sort of tired as we started the show an hour later than normal but it worked out ok, I think.
Despite having two One Wheel injuries on my right toe/ankle I drug myself out of bed to run on Saturday morning. It’s no point reiterating how warm, muggy and uncomfortable it is running this time of year. That situation likely won’t change until October at the earliest. I plugged away, completing the 3.4 mile distance at a very mundane pace, similar to recent efforts.
When I got home Cindy, who had pulled her back badly, had done the chicken chores, despite me prodding her not to. Since I got all the grass mowed on the 4th I didn’t have to dedicate three hours plus of my morning to it. Instead I just knocked out the weeding. Once I was done we jumped in the truck to go help our friend Deb move a couple pieces of furniture she was given into her condo. In the process we also picked up a ton of Deb’s old fitness materials that she was giving to Cindy. Deb is a lifelong fitness trainer but no longer does it as a primary career.
So once we got back it was nice, I didn’t have a big list of things I felt that needed to be done at the moment. So I turned my attention to the OneWheel. I already reached into my 3D hobby to support my new wheel, designing a stand for it. I wasn’t quite sure if a 3d printed piece would be strong enough for the job but I designed the part with a lot of infill for strength. So far it seems great.
So anyway I wanted to build on my mostly successful riding in the driveway by taking a drive over to the school, the place I did the majority of my early EUC training at. Outside of about 30 seconds of the ride, I did great, able to ride around doing basic maneuvers pretty comfortably. So back to those 30 seconds….
In total I had three different falls during the ride that sent me to the ground. The first one stripped large chunks of skin off my shin when I tried to stop and disengage the board unsuccessfully.. However it was the second fall that was most concerning.
I had just driven by the camera that I had stationed on the ground. I was trying to do a relatively tight 180 degree turn to come back. As I did so I got too much lean forward on my toes. In a split second my body reacted and I lurched back to catch myself. My motions were amplified by the board and it rocked back and forth rapidly. The motion was enough to send me falling but not forward as all of my EUC falls had been. Instead I fell directly back like slipping on ice as the board shot out from under me. The back of my head hit the parking lot hard, very hard. If I was not wearing a helmet who knows what sort of damage would have been done.
I got up slowly, a bit in shock. My initial physical assessment was my neck was instantly sore but otherwise I felt intact. I took a few minutes to collect myself. The fall was legitimately scary but I reminded myself that is why I am wearing the gear to help mitigate that damage. After a few more deep breaths I was back on the board and rolling around.
My third fall which came at the very end of the ride was another unsuccessful dismount. This again resulted in me falling backwards with head impact with the ground albeit significantly less than the last time. The video I shot tells the story. Still, even with those bad moments, overall I am really enjoying the challenge of riding the board and think I am making solid progress.
Of course when I told Cindy about my incidents she was concerned. I totally expected to wake up with a locked up neck on Sunday but it was just sore. The muscles in the front of my neck are the most painful as they must have contracted strongly as I went down to try to minimize the speed of impact with the ground. We had plans to go see Ant Man Saturday night but because of Cindy’s back pain and my neck pain we decided to push it off until next weekend.
Sunday morning started out fine. When I went out to the chicken area to clean I heard gurgling. It was the sound of the pump I set back up in the chicken yard sucking air. In less than 24 hours, combined with a day without rain, the water level behind the coop had dropped significantly. After paying my bills Cindy and I headed out, again with Elsa in tow.
Cindy’s back was still too tweaked to ride a PEV but she brought along some work to do. The plan was for me to park at North Collier and ride around there for awhile while she hung out with Elsa. Elsa LOVES rides where she is not required to leave the vehicle.
Despite my falls on Saturday I was eager to get back at it and see how well I could handle the varied paths and terrain at the park. I had a great time on the 6.5 mile ride with no falls. I had several unsuccessful dismounts but none of them resulted in my hitting the ground. I’m really enjoying the process of learning another physical skill and being rewarded with slow but definitive progress as I keep working.
Sunday afternoon I was involved with various things. Once of those was getting Cindy set up out in her RV. It was hot as hell so she needed the AC. After popping the house circuit breaker twice trying to do it I instead just pulled out the big generator that could run the RV with ease.
Later in the afternoon I told Cindy I was going to do something I never do, hang in the pool. I can’t tell you exactly the last time was that I floated around in the pool for a period of more than 5 minutes. Cindy joined me along with a few “noodles” for flotation. I’m not sure how long we were in but it was long enough that my fingertips started to shrivel.
Oh I neglected to mention the very first project of the weekend that happened on Friday evening. I stopped at Home Depot and loaded up on another $100 worth of dirt and sod. I wanted to extend “Chicken Island” behind the coop to give the birds more dry land to hang as wet season continually submerges their surroundings. I almost doubled the size of the the grassy retreat. It’s high enough to outlast pretty much any high water situation.
Sunday night I had my second EUC live stream with Marty. We pushed the starting time back to 8 EST to work out better with Marty’s west coast geography. The stream lasted almost two hours. I think it went pretty well although there are times I struggle with what to say. We also had some technical difficulties on both sides at times that we worked through. We had 30+ people tuned in almost the entire broadcast and the feedback we have received thus far has been pretty positive.
I awoke this morning sleepy, sore, and ready to tackle a new work reality where the HUGE application conersion project is now something behind us instead of hanging over us. So far, so good.
So as I mentioned before I have been very interested in dipping my toe into the world of One Wheel for a couple weeks. I have been reading, watching videos, and gathering information from all over the place. My desire to get one was held in check by the fact that the model I want, the XR, is back ordered and takes at least a month, if not two to receive when ordered.
Well yesterday for some reason I found myself on the dealer locator page of the One Wheel web site. After punching in my zip code I surprisingly discovered the Ron Jon Surf Shop in Fort Myers was actually a One Wheel retailer. I knew it was pointless but just for the hell of it I called them up to see if they had any boards in stock. I was in disbelief when they said, YES. They had JUST received two of the XR units, wow.
After asking the price and confirming they sell them for the same amount as the web site I felt like this was almost divine intervention. Nobody has these boards right now yet I just happened to stumble across a local source for one. I told Cindy about my find and told her I’d like to go up there right after work to snag one of the two boards before they were gone. Cindy was not enthusiastic about the plan but relented. I assured her I would get home asap.
The ride up there went through some absolutely torrential rain that slowed down my arrival by quite a bit. The arrival was further delayed by the GPS taking me to the wrong section of Gulf Coast Town Center. After a second phone call to Ron Jon I got my directions straight. I fast walked into the store and told them I wanted an XR, they sales guy said, “cooooool” as he walked to the back to grab it. I completed the transaction and put my new life experience challenge in the back of the Prius.
When I got home I just placed the box against the wall and didn’t even open it. I knew Cindy was still skeptical of my decision so I didn’t want to make a big deal about it. We ate dinner and watched some X1 content before I even turned my attention to the One Wheel. When I got the board out I could immediately get a sense of the tank-like construction everyone talks about. It feels like it is ready to do battle. I was also surprised it came with a fully charged battery, every EUC I ever bought came with the battery at 20% or less out of the box.
So while Cindy was in the bedroom I decided I would just do something real simple, get on the board. Although I have seen many instructions for how to do this the first time, tips like wear proper gear, do it outside, and hold onto something, I ignored pretty much all of it. In my bare feet, in the middle of the great room, with nothing to hold onto, I tried bringing the board up into balancing position. As soon as the electronics activated I developed a front back wobble that sent the front of the board down. With a One Wheel, dropping the nose means accelerate. So that is what the wheel did, sending me hopping off in the process.
The board immediately shut off as soon as I came off but made a hell of a racket which sent Cindy running into the room, worried that a major crash happened. I told her I was fine and the board was fine. I immediately got back up on the board, this time while holding onto Cindy’s shoulders. After a few seconds I was able to release from her and get a sense of how the balance feels with this type of set up. When I successfully dismounted I looked down and noticed drops of blood on the floor that lead to a pool of blood on the board that lead to the side of my right big toe. Evidently when I came off the very abrasive grip tape took a sizeable chunk of toe skin with it.
The bleeding was pretty substantial so we had to stop and get it under control. I held a paper towel on the wound until Cindy arrived with a band aid. The band aid very quickly became saturated with blood so I applied a second one on top of it to tide me over until going to bed.
So while I was on the sidelines Cindy got up on the board. Despite her initial reaction to my purchase, she was very curious and sort of excited by the One Wheel. You see Cindy has a skateboarding background as a kid, something I only toyed with. When I started getting into EUCs Cindy expressed interest in the One Wheel. I wasn’t all that interested at the time because spec-wise it was far inferior to many EUCs in terms of speed and range. Well with the new XR model those specs have improved drastically.
So anyway Cindy got up and balancing on the board pretty easily and before long was slowly making her way around the great room/kitchen with minimal balance assist. She said she really liked it and that THIS was something she could really be excited about riding, something she never really felt with electric unicycles. I got on afterward and did some more slow movements as well as getting off and on. I’m not 100% positive but I think I am a “goofy” foot rider, meaning I ride with my left foot back instead of my right. I need to do some more testing. Because of the cross wired way my body is as far as side dominance goes, I’m just not sure which style will work best for me for control. I am technically right footed but I think my left leg is actually stronger and I mount and dismount an EUC as a left footed person would.
I can tell immediately that riding a One Wheel will involve more total body engagement than an EUC does once I become at least basically capable of riding it. I think it will be very interesting contrasting and comparing my learning experience on the electric unicycle to what goes down on the One Wheel. Right now I feel very stiff and unsure of myself, just like I did with EUCs, however my past experience makes me confident that with some determination and practice (and shoes), I can conquer this physical challenge, despite Father Time pulling at my feet.