Category: Home Improvements

Halfway done but already finished

I hit the ground running on my first day off.  I figured I would start off with something pretty simple, loading up another 30 bags of mulch in the Tacoma and refreshing the orchard with it.  I was pretty confident 30 bags would handle the job but it turns out I was four bags short which I grabbed the next day.  While I was out getting the mulch I made a planned stop at Costco to grab a few things we needed so Cindy didn’t have to make a stop later.

I grabbed the items as planned but I also made an unplanned purchase, a 55 inch LG tv.  I had been talking to Cindy loosely about the idea of me getting a new TV for the bedroom, despite the 47 inch LG set that was on the wall still worked fine, except for WIFI that didn’t want to work.  Cindy had said that if I did swap out the tv,  Katie and Daniel could use the old one in the new house they are planning on buying.  So anyway, for no particular reason I found myself walking down the TV aisle in Costco.

It really is staggering just how inexpensive large TVs have gotten in recent years.  They had a nice 55 inch LG ultra thin set for less than $500.  I didn’t grab it immediately.  I instead did my normal shopping to let the idea roll around in my head for awhile.  When I was done grabbing grocery items it still seemed like a good idea so I went back and carefully perched the large box across the top of my shopping cart.  I’m sure it looked silly. Since the bed of the Tacoma was packed to the gills with 30 bags of mulch I had to cram the TV box into the extended cab.  It barely fit, I had to jam the box at an odd angle in able to close the doors.

When I went to install the TV in the late afternoon I discovered that an assumption I made earlier was incorrect.  I assumed since the old and new TV were both LG sets, that they would have the same spacing on their wall mount holes.  Ironically the smaller 47 inch TV had holes that were 40CM apart and the bigger set had 30CM spacing.  So my plan to reuse the existing wall mount was scrubbed.  I wound up going back to Costco to get a new, and better mount that allowed a downward tilt, making for a better viewing experience at bed level.

The install of the new mount went ok.  The bedroom has metal studs that sort of suck for wall mounting a TV.  I wound up buying a bunch of drywall anchors that were rated to hold over 100 pounds each.  I utilized 10 of them for the install so I think the TV should stay up there.  Even though the TV has more screen real estate it is actually substantially lighter than the smaller set it replaced.

During the afternoon I also started doing prep for painting the chicken roof white, again.  I started doing this around three years ago to reduce the amount of heat the normally dark brown roof pulled in.  Before painting the roof, in the summer if you were inside the coop and touched the roof panels it would burn your hand in a second.  So the problem has been that even though I have been using paint that supposedly is made for plastic, it just does not last.  By the time a year has passed half of the paint is peeling off.

Last year I did very minimal prep to the paint before reapplying new stuff.  The end result was the paint lasted even less time than normal, as expected.  Hell one year I went so far as to put down primer first and then paint and it still fell apart in a year.  So anyway this year I am trying something different.  I had to try to do a better job with removing loose paint this time.  I got up on the ladder with the battery powered shop vac.  I used the suction tool as a scraper as well, breaking loose paint and ideally vacuuming it up right away.  I wanted to try to avoid getting a lot of old paint chips on the ground because of the risk of the chickens trying to eat them.  I soon realized that no matter what I did some chips were going to fall, I just went around later and vacuumed up some and broke the others down with high water pressure.

I also realized using the hose end as a scraper was not doing a great job either.  I decided to throw a paint stripper attachment on one of cordless drills instead. This did a much better job but of course made more of a mess.  It was tedious, shitty work.  Not only did I have to go over the entire surface with the stripper, I then had to go back over it with the vacuum.  Then as one last step, I hit the entire roof with a hose to hopefully get the surface as stable as possible for the new product I was using on the roof the next day.

When I woke up Saturday I was very sore from the labor of the previous day.  I popped a couple Advil to take the edge off the pain.  I resumed my work on the ladder early Saturday afternoon.  Instead of using the same paint that has proven to be ineffective over time I instead decided to drop a lot more money on a one gallon container of liquid Flex Seal, yes the stuff you see on infomercials where the guy holds together a canoe that was sawed in half with nothing but FlexSeal tape.

The product I bought is a liquid variant which is basically rubber in a can.  It boasts being able to stop leaks but that was not my concern.  I just wanted something that stuck to the roof like glue and lasted more than one calendar year.  Only after a few strokes I knew that it was going to be a very tiring job.  The FlexSeal is much thicker than regular paint.  Putting it on is a slow process that requires more effort than normal.  I methodically plugged away, consuming the entire afternoon in the process as I applied two coats.  I did not use great care as I applied it, I just slapped it on generously.  Once it dried it did feel like rubber and looked pretty good.  I am crossing my fingers it is able to withstand the brutal Florida climate.

On Sunday morning a new cold front blew in creating thunderstorms as it passed.  The air behind it was quite chilly with the temps not leaving the 60’s most of the day with high winds.  I figured it was a good day to knock out the indoor items on my to do list.  Two of the items were 3D printer repairs.  Neither of those went great.  One repair only helped my problem moderately, the other repair was an outright failure.

I wrapped up the day taking on the item on the list I was least looking forward to, ripping apart my Msuper EUC to tighten the axle nuts.  These wheels have some poor engineering that results in the nuts that secure the foot pedals to the wheel axle loosening up over time.  The only way to fix it is to rip the thing completely apart which is a major pain in the as to do.  However I had been putting off the work for awhile, if I didn’t do it during a six day break, when else would I do it?

The job was tedious as expected but overall went pretty well.  While I had it apart I also installed Slime into the tire to help prevent slow leaks, another task I should have completed a long time ago.    As the video shows, it was quite the job but the end result was as I hoped.

Sunday night I had another live stream and I caught a bit of the Chiefs/Patriots game.  It was historic that BOTH conference championship games went to overtime although it sounds like the Saints really got screwed on a pass interference non-call that would have changed the outcome.  I was pulling for the Chiefs to win, mostly because Andy Reid is the coach.  Instead Andy revisited his Eagle days where the team got to the championship game three years in a row and lost every time.  KC’s defense just seemed to have no answers in crunch time which is too bad.  Love him or hate him, you can’t help but respect what Tom Brady manages to achieve year after year.

The live stream went well and longer than expected.

So my to do list is officially complete, leaving me three days to do more of what I want to do.  Of course one of those things is coming up with more work.  After going out and doing a very chilly chicken clean up session this morning in the 45 degree air I later loaded Sadie and Elsa up in the truck for me to run to Home Depot.  I needed a replacement UPS for the coop and I also grabbed 20 bags of top soil.  Unfortunately to elevate the ground in parts of the chicken yard I do it via this manner.  What really sucks is the process requires me to load and unload each bag a total of four times.  Once onto the flat bed at the store, another time into the back of the truck, a third time from the truck bed onto the ground by the fence and then a fourth time as I lug each bag to its spot and dump it, one cubic foot at a time.  It’s a hassle for sure but my hope is the end result is I more or less double the amount of high ground the hens have available during the misery of wet season.

I hope to enjoy the rest of the day and repeat that pattern clear through Wednesday.

The secret project, Birthday, Busy, Wasp in the Box

So for some reason I have failed to mention a project that we started a few weeks ago when we ordered a new vanity online from Costco.  For a long time Cindy has asked about putting a double vanity in the bathroom (and Ali before her).  I had resisted all this time for a very logical reason, the amount of times that our schedules coincide that we need to use the sink at the same time are very, very small.  I didn’t see the need to undergo the hassle and expense of replacing a solution that worked fine 99.5% of the time.

Well I finally relented but I gave Cindy some financial parameters I was willing to work inside of and I wanted her to find someone to do the work inside of those parameters.  I just did not have the time or motivation to take on ANOTHER task at this point.  So we ordered the vanity and it arrived via a freight carrier yesterday, which also happened to be Cindy’s birthday.

So the understanding I had was Cindy’s neice’s boyfriend, who works for a plumbing company was doing the work, all of the work.  Well it turned out he only agreed to do the plumbing and vanity install but not all of the associated work that was required, like making the physical space available.  You see, when the builders did the house, for some stupid reason they made the opening 59 inches, instead of the 60 inches typically required for a double vanity.  So in order to make this work, a small section of the more or less useless “box” behind the tub was going to have to be demo’d and redone.

So Cindy looked into the prices of having another contractor do this part of the project but got some ridiculous quotes to do so.  Without my knowledge, she decided to try to do the work herself.  When I came home last night it was to a demo’d bathroom.  She did an impressive job, exposing the top surface, removing the problem drywall, relocating the metal framing, and buying the supplies needed to rebuild it.

She was extremely proud of what she accomplished courtesy of watching videos online and some direction she got from one of the contractors she talked to.  After work Ray and his friend Doug showed up to complete the removal of the old vanity and start on redoing the plumbing to support two sinks.

My biggest contribution last night was getting the old mirror popped off the wall, in one piece no less, and prepping a small section of the floor where I will need to insert a small piece of ceramic tile.  The problem is Ray is coming back Saturday to finish the vanity install so all of the prep work we have to do needs to be done by then.  The fact that I have to work late tonight at a branch office makes Friday evening my only window to accomplish this as on Saturday I have to work once again at another branch office for a good portion of the day.

The new vanity is really nice and should make a great addition to the bathroom.  I just feel a lot of anxiety having so many balls up in the air between this project and my work commitments.  As I said a few days prior, hopefully this time next week the crunch should be over and I can get back to business as usual.

This project reemphasized the corners that were cut during the home’s construction.  The corner we are working on is not square and the drywall behind the mirror has a HUGE bow in it.  We never realized that the old mirror on one side was about a half inch off the wall from the wall curve.  There is a lump behind the mirror drywall that Cindy is going to cut into to see what it is.  I guess when they were building houses in three months back in the early 2000’s, quality took a back seat to speed.

So part of the plumbing work required turning off all water to the house for a period of time.  While I was out there I wanted to show Ray the reverse osmosis equipment that is housed in a storage box.  When I pulled open the lid I was stunned as I was attacked by wasps, instantly I felt a burn on my finger and neck.  There was a sizeable nest being built on the underside of the box lid.  The neck sting was particularly painful as it swelled and red discoloration extended down my chest.

Last night after Ray and Doug left I took Cindy for a late dinner for her birthday at The Warehouse which is only 9 miles from the house.  Katie, who was working joined us for the tail end of meal which was nice.  I felt like a zombie by the end of it.  I am running on fumes this week. I hope the next 72 hours passes by quickly.

82 hours later, No power, no problem

So my largest and longest 3D print ever finished up sometime early this morning, a staggering 82 hours after it started.  The print tested the vertical capabilities of my new printer to it’s absolute max and I have to say the Chiron passed that test with flying colors.  The detail on the model, despite being blown up 250% is still amazing. It simply looks fantastic.  Cindy has been chomping at the bit to paint the see no evil, hear no evil, say no evil skull stack.  Based on what she did with the smaller model, I can’t wait to see what she does with the super sized version.

Last night I felt like I was on the go doing something most of the evening outside of eating dinner.  I even got 60 minutes of WoW jammed in there along the way.

This morning I stayed home to meet up with an installer from our electric company.  I had finally managed to arrange to have a Generlink installed on our meter.  It is a device that allows you to direct connect your generator to your household wiring during a power outage, allowing you to easily control power distribution via your breaker box.  It would have been a huge help during our 10 day outage last year after Irma.

I had been thinking about doing this for several years actually, I just finally did something about that intent.  The install itself was extremely easy.  The device just plugs into the outside power box and then the meter plugs into it.  The installer spent much more time explaining to me the details of the device that the the physical install took, which was 10 minutes, maybe. If it sits unused for years that is just fine by me. I still like having the peace of mind knowing any future power outages should be much easier to work around, as long as I can get gas of course…..

Infinite mowing, Venom, Broke the truce, Ride n Chat, Drink a beer with Brett

On my way home from work Friday my dad called me to check in on my health status, which there was no real news to speak of.  While I had dad on the phone I asked him about the state of them trying to sell their house in Marienville.  I did not get a real rosy report card.  It seems like the shine from the prospect of getting out from under the load of isolation and seclusion of north western PA is proving to be pretty daunting although that is not a surprise to him.  They just got done putting a new roof on the house which was advised by their realtor to make it more appealing.  There is actually a lawyer that may be interested enough to make an offer but dad did not sound upbeat about it.

At the same time as they have been trying to prepare their current house to be sold they have been prospecting new places in SE PA, near my sister Meghan.  It sounds like so far it has been a Catch 22 because of the current requirement dad has to move with all of barnyard animals.  Any property that is more or less ready to move in, with all the animals, is well above what they are looking to spend.  The properties that are in their range generally would require a lot of work (and money) to fit that need, which is something that just does not work for dad at this point in his life.

My entire life I have witnessed dad go into homes where he spent countless amounts of money, time, and effort to make the property fit him and his needs to a tee.  He did it with the house in Gouglersville, the house in New Mexico, and now the Marienville home.  The unfortunate thing is the Marienville house probably has the most invested with the smallest chance of getting the money out of it, because of the area, which is just not going to be attractive to a lot of potential buyers.  But my point is it just is not realistic for him to get into another fixer upper scenario at this point.  Both he and my stepmom deserve to enjoy life more and not be pulling a heavy weighted sled of work and responsibilities 24/7.

So to the casual observer the answer is pretty simple, they need to find a good home for the barnyard animals and move towards a more conservative property that does not require all of that work and upkeep.  Moving while keeping all the animals just relocates all of that work, albeit it would be closer to my sister.  If anyone understands a deep attachment to animals it’s me.  Hell one of the big reasons we have done less road tripping in recent years is I worry about the care of the chickens in our absence.  But, if the ultimate goal is enjoying your golden years I think some hard choices are going to have to be made.

Regardless of the outcome I am not envious of the situation.  Staying put is just going to become more and more stressful, as a person’s physical capabilities generally do not increase as they age.  Moving will be a task of monumental proportions although I thought the same thing when they moved from New Mexico back east.  They had a TON of shit then as well although sheep and llamas were not part of that equation.  I hung up with dad feeling somewhat sad for their dilemma.  It’s a situation that has big barriers and challenges no matter which direction they turn.

Based on the convo I thought it was funny/ironic that the parting advice dad gave me was to relax this weekend FIRST and then do whatever work I can.  If it doesn’t get done, oh well.  Well obviously that isn’t the way I am wired.  I ALWAYS want to get tasks out of the way first and then relax, if there is any time left over for that.  Doing it any other way just leaves me unsettled and anxious.

So as you could predict, I totally ignored my dad’s advice.  I spent over 6 hours on the tractor Saturday mowing grass.  The reason it took so long was I decided to knock down areas of the property outside the fence line, some of which that have not been mowed in years.  Mowing three to four foot tall grass is a very slow process requiring you to go back and forth over each area multiple times.  It’s also a very dirty process.  I had the chute held open to allow debris to get out easier.  The side effect was that debris blowing all over me.  Any exposed skin areas had a coating of organic matter on them when I was done.

On Saturday night Cindy and I got out to see Venom, a movie I had been looking forward to for awhile.  Although it was a Marvel affiliated movie it was not a Marvel production, and I could tell.  It was entertaining and I liked the movie but it definitely was not up to par with what I expect from a Marvel film.  There was lots of funny moments in the movie and many a few too many of them to be honest.  For an origin story, I felt like there should have been more serious plot and substance.  But like I said, I liked it overall but just don’t expect it to live up to any of the Marvel stand alone character movies of the last 10 years. I’d give it a B to weak  B+.

So before we left for the movies I had to close the garage door on the big shed.  This task has been becoming more hazardous over the last month or two because of my refusal to eliminate a wasp nest that has been constructed in the door frame.  My compassion for living creatures has governed that decision.  It felt like the wasps and I had a mutual understanding.  They knew I had to open and close the door, which would bump their nest each time and I did not want to destroy their home they have been working on for weeks on end.  Each time I accessed the door the nest would get jostled which would send some of the wasps off the nest but they never were aggressive towards me, they simply landed right back on the nest.

Like I said this nest has been growing and as of this weekend it had close to 20 wasps actively working on it.  It had gotten to the point where Cindy was afraid to go in the shed.  Despite the growing size I continued to let the nest be as I would do my best to keep the door disturbance minimal and the wasps continued to ignore me, until Saturday evening.

So when I went to close the door this time a bunch of wasps came off the nest and I could instantly tell they were aggressive.  It looked like the smaller, younger wasps were actually the aggressive ones, perhaps they didn’t get the memo that I was a good guy.  So as I see the small wasps looking for a target I hunched down as I was closing the door.  As I did I felt the distinctive burn on the top of my head as one of the little bastards stung me.  Instead of anger, my initial overwhelming feeling was one of sadness, as this meant the wasps had officially broken their peace treaty with me.  I could not have them stinging me or Cindy.

I did not address the situation immediately.  Instead during the night I felt sad that I was going to have to take the nest down.  Sunday morning I did the deed however I tried to do so in a non-lethal way.  I stretched a hose over there and blasted the nest with water to knock it down and off to the side.  I figured water wouldn’t kill the wasps and possibly allow them to rebuild their nest elsewhere.  When I saw one wasp later trying to initiate a build at the same spot I hit him with some insecticidal soap that should annoy him but again not be lethal.  I’m not sure exactly when in life I developed this seemingly at times strange compassion for even the littlest of creatures but it is ingrained in my personality for sure at this point.   Pretty much the only things that die without remorse at my hand are fire ants or mosquitoes, once they bite me.

Sunday morning I did not go out riding.  Instead I hopped back on the tractor to mow the back yard that is inside the fence, consuming another couple hours.  I figured I had the time to ride in the afternoon since the Eagles game was late.  After we ran errands late morning I didn’t get out to ride until around 3.  I drove out to Ave Maria with the Meepo and One Wheel.  In the video I talk about a lot of things I mentioned here, just because I felt like it.

I got home to watch the Eagles game, which in retrospect was not a great thing.  The team again played very sloppy ball and for the second consecutive week lost to a team they shouldn’t have.  I see several differences from last year that seem to be impacting the outcome of the games.  First off the secondary, outside of Malcom Jenkins is pretty awful.  Last year the front four of the D-line was able to get pretty consistent pressure on opposing QB’s, allowing the secondary, which still was not great last year, to make some plays.  This year the pressure does not seem to be there, exposing the poor secondary play even more.

I also hate the soft zone the DB’s seem to play the majority of the time, lining 8-10 yard off the ball most plays.  Doing this allows receivers to get a full head of steam to either blow by you as you are back pedaling or cut in front of your back pedal for easy yardage.  I much prefer a bump and run coverage where DB’s challenge the receivers during the first 5 yards to slow down their routes while playing man coverage.  I guess Schwartz just doesn’t like that play style or thinks he doesn’t have the talent in the secondary to do that.

The offense has been very inconsistent as well and a lot of that has to do with a lack of solid pass protection.  The O-line has been pretty awful with keeping Wentz upright since he returned.  The end result has been a lot of sacks and knockdowns as well as Carson making some poor decisions and not protecting the ball, resulting in big turnovers.

I don’t know that there is any magic formula to get the team back on track.  They just are not making big plays this year when they need to.  Last year they had an uncanny ability to do exactly that as well as getting just plain lucky at times when they needed to.  So far this year, the luck has run out.

On Friday evening I started the biggest print I ever attempted.  It was estimated to take two days and a few hours.  As of this morning it was only 66% complete.  If the print is successful it will be pretty epic.  If it fails this late into the print it will be pretty damn depressing.

Hey Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed!  What an incredible, unifying and progressive move.  It’s a hugely, very, very, fantastic win for Trump and the republicans.  It was just the latest of a string of never ending examples of just how f’d up the political system is in this country and why we continue to accelerate towards the bottom of the bowl where winning an argument has now become paramount to acting for the greater good.  It’s not a #metoo world, it’s a #mefirst kind of thing.  Please register to vote for the mid-term elections and do your part to try to end the insanity.





A good outcome, 100% success

So I continued my investigation last night into why I no longer had internet out at the chicken coop.  I did some more physical inspection of the cable in the coop area as well as the path it takes in the yard. I could not find any signs of physical damage which was good.  I then grabbed my laptop and headed into the attic, where the outside cable connects to indoor wiring.

This was the first time I had been in the attic since the roof was replaced.  I was AMAZED at the temperature.  Granted the sun was not out at the time but even so, with our old shingle roof the attic was ALWAYS a sauna.  It felt absolutely fine up there, no hotter than the garage below which was great.  It was also weird seeing ambient light in the attic from the three large roof vents on the north side of the roof.  I’m used to the space normally being pitch dark.

I got busy with my trouble shooting.  I got excited when I unhooked the outdoor cable and plugged it into my laptop and got a link light, meaning the outdoor cable was working, a big relief.  The problem was in the run that goes from the attic to the office.  I did some trouble shooting of that line but wasn’t able to quickly determine the issue.  If I were to guess, probably one of the ethernet ends that I installed when the house was built was flaky and not making good connection anymore.  Instead of diving into figuring that out I took a much faster approach, using a CAT 5 line that was connected to the TV in the bedroom, which isn’t really necessary.  Once I connected that line to the coop wire everything was back to normal.  It felt good as I exited the attic knowing the problem was fixed without having to deal with the buried line, which would have been a huge headache.

I did find a little time to get out on my One Wheel, despite some light rain coming down.  I just stayed in the driveway practicing slow maneuvers and most importantly, stopping/disengaging the board which I have struggled with.   I successfully stopped at least a dozen times with no failures.  I didn’t fall or have to jump off the board the entire time.  I’m excited about my progress and am looking forward to Cindy feeling good enough to start getting back on the board to show me how it’s really done.

Father’s Day Roll

I started off Father’s Day weekend with a run at the track despite my lower body still dealing with aching knees and a few other pains.  The air was thick with humidity and I felt like just finishing the distance was the primary goal.  It reflected in my pace which was the slowest I have logged in a couple months, oh well. I was pretty wiped out by the end of it.

So since I got work done on Thursday that meant I didn’t have to do quite as much as normal this weekend. Of course that meant I still found other things to do as that list never ends.

Mid-morning we took the dogs on a ride to Tractor Supply to get chicken supplies.  On the way back we dropped Sadie off at Ali’s.  Her and Shugs just got back from a trip up to Sea Isle City New Jersey with Ali’s parents.  For around a half decade or so I used to go to SIC with my first wife’s family so I was very familiar with it.  It is a great little place and in some ways reminded me of Rehoboth.

Mid-afternoon Cindy and I did an impromptu ride to the swamp, me on my Msuper and Cindy on her mountain bike. It was a cool little trip.  I was excited to see that they have replaced roughly half of the decking for the rotting boardwalk with the trex style composite wood which should last forever.

So we made plans to go to The Warehouse to eat dinner for Father’s Day.  Shortly before we were ready to leave I let Elsa out to go to the bathroom while I closed up the chicken area.  As I walked back up to the house I called Elsa over and stopped dead in my tracks.  She was covered in dirt. But I realized it wasn’t dirt, it was actually sludge.

Earlier in the day I dumped one of the rain barrels that was dry rotting.  In the bottom of it was a collection of black disgusting sludge that I stupidly didn’t hose away.  Elsa evidently found the smell of this substance intoxicating and decided to roll around in it.  I couldn’t be mad at her, she looked so proud of herself.

So even though we were both all cleaned up and ready to leave we had to give Elsa a tag team bath by the side of the house, trying to not get ourselves too dirty in the process.  It was quite the funny situation.

So despite being open for nearly a year, Cindy and I have never frequented the Warehouse before.  It is the closest upscale restaurant in our area.  We had heard good things about the place from others.  We walked out of there echoing the same feelings.  The food was great, the design of the space was cool and modern, our waitress was extremely friendly and attentive, and the restaurant was immaculately clean.  Hell as I was sitting there somebody was walking around cleaning the baseboards.  We will definitely be back.

The movie we went to see was Ocean’s 8, something Cindy said she wanted to see.  I liked all the other movies in the Ocean series so I was fine to see this one.  For whatever reason I was really sleepy which did not help my enjoyment of the movie.  It was a good flick although I would not rate it as highly as the originals.  It definitely does not benefit from the theater experience and can be enjoyed just the same at home as a rental.  I’d give it a solid B.

Sunday morning I took off for another EUC ride, this time on the Monster.  The plan was for Cindy to meet me at Dunkin Donuts with Elsa and then she could walk Elsa around while I rode with them.  Well the first part of the plan went well, the ride to Dunkin Donuts flew by quickly.

I wore my new full face helmet for the ride.  I wanted to see how comfortable it would be now that the full effect of Florida summer heat is on us.  The answer was, not bad.  As long as I was rolling the airflow through the helmet kept me comfortable and the big long visor kept the sun off my face.  When I was sitting still waiting for Cindy to come out with coffee it got a little warm. I did discover one big drawback with the helmet, I can’t drink coffee while wearing it.  Almost every ride video you see of me will involve me drinking coffee during it so I will need to plan accordingly.

I talked to my dad during the afternoon.  He appreciated my Father’s Day gift, a pair of those wrap around sunglasses old people wear that go over your existing glasses.  Even though it was really a gag gift dad actually will wear them because they do serve a practical purpose and look a little ridiculous, a combo he can endorse.

Late Sunday afternoon I hooked up with Marty, an EUC buddy of mine who lives in the LA area.  We are going to be doing what equates to an Electric Unicycle podcast, at least testing it out.  We wanted to test out the logistics before we do the official launch next weekend.  I used Skype for us to do a two way video call and then broadcast that window out to YouTube.  There are a few bugs to work out but I think it will work out pretty well.

Even though I have known Marty via our EUC connection I never actually spoke to him, until yesterday.  We had no issue going back and forth about stuff.  I actually talked to him for around an hour on Skype BEFORE I started broadcasting.  He has some good ideas for the content of the show which I think I will more or less his thing while I concentrate on the technical aspects.  If you want to see how our test run went look below.  I streamed for almost two hours which is crazy.


So after working today I have the next two days off which will be dedicated to testing the Ninebot Z10 which is scheduled to be delivered to the house today.  It should be a fun and busy couple days which will involve me driving all over the place to test the wheel in various conditions/locations.  See you Thursday.

Delayed, Big bill, Work after work, On it’s Way

So I was supposed to be off today for the gutter install on the house.  However I got an email around 3:30 yesterday saying the work was being postponed to Thursday.  I thought the notice was rather late but at least they let me know instead of just no showing without notice which is how so many service businesses in SWFL operate.  Luckily I was able to move my day off to Thursday to accommodate the change.

So as I mentioned a couple days ago, this past weekend I tried to do an alternative power run to the RV so we could hopefully run the AC unit to keep temps/humidity down.  For almost a month we have had the blower fan in the RV running 24/7 to try to provide some temperature moderation but it didn’t seem to do much of anything besides blow hot outside air into the RV at a rapid pace.  Well to add insult to injury, I got the electric bill yesterday and it had jumped something like $45 from the round the clock ineffective use of the AC fan out there.  If I didn’t have the RV fan draw, I was hoping I would be able to see the first tangible benefits of having a reflective, heat repelling, metal roof on the house.

So anyway, after realizing having the AC running out there with my current electrical circuit configuration was a no go and that the having the fan on accomplishes nothing, we came up with a simpler plan.  We ordered a small dehumidifier which will pull a fraction of the power but keep moisture from accumulating inside the structure.  Cindy is also going to be trying to get out there more regularly to open up the RV so it can air out daily if possible.

I took the truck to work yesterday because I needed to pick up supplies afterward, dirty supplies.  Over the winter I have been dumping bags of top soil in the area directly behind the chicken coop.  My hope has been to create some additional high ground that the chickens can utilize when the unavoidable high standing water of Florida wet season returns.  I have probably dumped 60-70 bags of top soil back there in total.

Well the last part of this plan was to put sod on top to stabilize the dirt.  I had been waiting to do this part until consistent rain had returned.  I hoped to get the sod at the Home Depot 5 minutes from the office but they had none.  Luckily the bigger location 5 miles away still had a good amount of sod available.  I loaded up the truck with 10 more bags of top soil with a chaser of 30 pieces of St Augustine sod.

I was outside working straight up until Cindy got home close to 7:30PM.  It was tedious and dirty work but I like the end result.  The deck of grass sits a good 6-8 inches higher than the low spots back there so I hope it can be the chickens island of tranquility during the stormy days of summer.

I just got a ship notice for an EUC being sent my way.  For the first time ever it isn’t one I bought.  Instead I have been lucky enough, thanks to my YouTube EUC presence, to be selected as one of a handful of people in the United States to get to test a new electric unicycle called the Ninebot Z10.  This wheel was just up in NYC where it was tested by a BUNCH of local riders.  In my case the testing will be isolated to me, unless Cindy, Daniel or Katie want to try it out.  I am looking forward to getting the wheel to see if it lives up to the hype.  I am actually burning two vacation days next week to dedicate to testing the wheel before I have to ship it to it’s next location.


Succeed and fail

So I went into this weekend with a loose outline of things I wanted to do and accomplish.  I found that challenging to do.  Saturday morning I hit the track again after a two week hiatus.  I still have been having some persistent aching pain in my knees that I hoped some rest would fix.  It has not thus far so I decided to run anyway.  The first lap or two I could feel the pain but it subsided as I warmed up.  The warm and humid air made the 3.4 miles feel like a struggle.  My pace was slower than my recent best.  It took me about a minute longer to complete the distance.  Not having Cindy there definitely slows me down.

So when I got back I started on normal stuff.  Although the grass was probably high enough to mow again we decided to put it off until Wednesday since we are both off that day.  I am taking the day off for the gutters to be installed on the house.  So after getting the first round of chores done outside we hopped in the truck to run errands which included stops at DD,  Home Depot, JoAnn Fabric, Petco, Lowes and Costco.  Yea it was a bit much.

While we were at Home Depot I couldn’t find what I was looking for, an adjustable screen insert (more on that later), but we did wind up buying something spur of the moment, a raised patio garden box.  I have talked many times about how hard it is to grow things here successfully in the summer.  The biggest problem is insects destroying the plants.  We are hoping by setting this up on the lanai we can finally grow something to fruition in the summer.  I was considering building something along this same design but when the opportunity came to just buy it I took the easier option.

So the reason I was looking for a screen insert was because I was trying to come up with alternative power options for Cindy’s RV.  Currently we have it connected to the same outlet that is used to power the 110V water equipment as well as coop power.  The circuit does not have enough juice to run the RV air conditioner consistently.  I am concerned about moisture/heat causing issues inside the RV so I had been trying to come up with a way to get more power out there.  My idea was to tap an outlet inside the guest bedroom.

By using the screen insert and a lot of weatherproof tape to seal the rest of the screen, my plan was put into motion.  I meticulously prepared the insert and then connected four extension cords together to stretch out to the RV.  I plugged in the cord on both ends and excitedly told Cindy to flip on the AC.  Well the AC ran for a few seconds and then turned off.  Yep, it popped the breaker.  I tried a few more times, hoping it was a fluke.  Nope, the circuit popped every time.  It actually did worse than the line it was on before.

The line in the house is a 15 amp circuit, the other circuit for the well equipment is 20 amps.  I thought having a 15 amp circuit with less contention would be the winning combo but I was mistaken.  I dejectedly undid all of my work and swapped the RV back to it’s original power source.  I really thought I had a viable solution but things don’t always work out as planned.

During Saturday afternoon we got absolutely SMASHED with rain.  I estimate we got close to 3 inches of rain in roughly 90 minutes.  The end result was standing water quickly forming in it’s usual locations.  Luckily the ground was still able to absorb it and by the next morning the water was gone.  This will not be the case for much longer.

Saturday night we watched the latest Netflix disc, Valerian City of a 1000 Planets, a sci fi movie based on a popular book I never read.   It was a very odd, random movie with really incredible visuals.  They must have spent a ton in production costs but unfortunately the end result was a B level movie, at best.

Sunday morning my to do list was still unsatisfied.  We picked up Sadie during the morning for another extended stay which Elsa was thrilled with.  It’s funny how Ali’s place is the only other location where Elsa immediately relaxes and feels comfortable.  Within 60 seconds of arrival she is already up on the furniture snuggling with Ali and Shugs.  We headed to Rural King afterwards to grab some chicken supplies.

During the afternoon I tried to address some of my remaining to do’s.  One of them was trying to salvage a pull cart we bought from Home Depot no more than two years ago.  It’s frame was evidently constructed out of some very low grade steel and is badly rusted, so much so that the part that connected to the handle snapped off.  This happened a few weeks ago and I had been hoping to come up with someway to extend the life of the cart at least a few months.

I first used a paint/rust stripper attachment on my drill to peel away as much of the rust as possible.  I then sprayed the areas with a rust inhibiting primer/paint.  I then reconfigured the handle layout, mounting the bracket further back and in a 90 degree different orientation than it originally was.   I then cut off the rusty remains of the mount with my Sawzall.  The new setup is not perfect but functional.  The entire time I was doing the work I felt frustration that the $130 “Gorilla Cart” was built so poorly with cheap materials.  When my rig job finally fails I won’t be buying one of their products again.

Most of the afternoon it looked like it was ready to let loose with rain which sidelined my hopes of riding with Cindy.  However later in the afternoon I decided to venture out anyway solo, riding to the school on my Msuper.  It looked like it was going to downpour at any moment but somehow I escaped the rain and got in a fun little ride.

Cindy had been doing a lot of organizing and cleaning up in the latter part of the day, especially in the guest bedroom.  Later in the evening I helped her with some finishing touches including hanging a couple mirrored window frames and a picture to fill dead spots on the walls.  The room, which had become sort of a dumping ground, looks 100% better now.

As I mentioned earlier I have a weird split week with taking off on Wednesday.  I am sure I will spend a good portion of that day off getting done what needs to be done.


It’s raining, again

I figured since it was yet another rainy day I may as well get the blog written for the weekend.  The weather the last two weeks has been crazy.  We went from arid, dry conditions to wet season literally overnight.  It has been gray and raining the better part of two weeks, it’s nuts.  There have been a series of low pressure systems in the gulf causing the weather, the latest being tropical storm Alberto.

We got lucky and only had light rain falling on us when we went for our run early Saturday morning.  I had taken last weekend off from running due to some mild pain in both of my knees.  My legs didn’t feel great while covering the 13 laps but we finished with a pace almost identical to what we logged two weeks prior.

So I had a decent size list written up for the weekend, not a staycation size list but at least a half dozen items were on there.  All of the rain meant the grass was back into high gear growth mode.  I got the the weed whacking done before the sky let loose but that meant the tractor mowing would have to wait. I mean what sort of idiot mows grass in the rain?

Another item on the list was to take the old dryer to Cindy’s mom.  She was buying a new washer to go with the dryer we are giving her.  The weather was still looking terrible but I grabbed a blue tarp from the shed to cover it during it’s ride in the back of the Tacoma.  Getting the unit into the truck was an ordeal.  I had it on a hand truck and I was up in the bed trying to lift the dryer up with brute force while Cindy was on the ground trying to lift.  It didn’t go well as I didn’t account for the wheels of the hand truck getting stuck on the tailgate.  By the time I realized what was happening the tailgate was at a 45 degree angle.  We set it down and modified our strategy.  We transported the dryer face up with the tarp strapped around the unit to keep it dry.

It was a good thing we covered the dryer.  The closer we got to Cindy’s mom’s place the harder the rain came down.  We unloaded the dryer in a torrential downpour.  I was absolutely soaked.  So the laundry spot had an old shelf that was about an inch too low to accommodate the high profile of the dryer and pedestal stand.  We decided to just pull out the shelf as anything on it could either go on top of the new washer/dryer or into the slide out drawers in the pedestals below.

So in addition to pulling the shelf I pulled the old accordian style dryer vent tube which was filled with lint.  I had Cindy sweep out the outlet into the wall as well, it was pretty bad.  I replaced the old vent pipe with the newer style that we had with our dryer.  I was finally ready to try to slide the dryer into place when I discovered another issue.  The 220 plug on the wall was an older three prong style, the cord on our dryer was a 4 plug.  Luckily dryer cords are easily changeable.  I hopped in the truck to head to nearby Home Depot where I got a different cord and a few other things I needed for the chicken coop.

Once I returned I swapped the plug and then was finally able to slide the dryer into place so I could see one more pitfall.  The laundry nook had folding doors in front of it.  With the dryer pushed into place the edge of the door blocked the pull out drawer in the pedestal from opening.  Cindy’s mom said we could just pull the doors off, she didn’t like them anyway.  After doing so the clearance was just enough to allow everything to work as intended.  Cindy’s mom thanked us for our help and we were off.

We decided we were going to drive up to Lehigh Acres to take a look at my two pieces of “investment” real estate I own.  I put that in quotes because it actually has been the worst investment of my life.  As it sits I am probably down roughly 80%-90% of what I originally paid for the two parcels.  I had not been up to the lots in at least two years, maybe longer.

The one reason we went was to see if there was any viability to using the lots to to store Cindy’s RV on  during wet season. (it’s not viable)  The other reason was to just see what has changed in the area since I been there last.

The two lots are tiny compared to our land here.  One parcel is .24 acres and the other is .29 which is standard for Lehigh Acres.  I bought these during the real estate boom in 2003.  At one point I could have sold each lot for nearly double what I paid for them but I thought there was no ceiling so I just held on.  Once the bottom dropped out of the market the prices absolutely plummeted and I paid the price for greed, riding it all the way to the bottom.

The trip confirmed that both of the lots have some nice attributes for different reasons.  One of them is very close to the middle of Lehigh Acres with easy access to all amenities while being surrounded by nice homes and a nearby country club.  The other lot is more remote but again nice with a canal and orange grove behind it meaning you should never have to worry about encroachment from the rear.

During the ride Cindy threw out an idea that had some intrigue for me.  What if we built a house on one of these lots for either rent or resale?  It’s something that could possibly be one way for me to recoup that money that will otherwise be lost forever.  It’s something I wouldn’t feel comfortable taking on until I get my HELOC paid off but it is an interesting idea.  It would be a lot simpler if the land prices in Lehigh started rebounding like land prices in Collier County have but it seems like that is an unlikely scenario.

My new full face helmet for EUC riding arrived Saturday.  I wasted little time before trying it on for comfort.  The XL helmet felt good and didn’t appear to affect my field of vision at all which is important.  On Sunday I got out in the driveway with it on briefly just to do a quick real world test.

Saturday night Cindy and I got out to see Solo, the latest Star Wars movie.  I have to be honest, with as disappointed as I was in the last Last Jedi combined with a lot of negative hype about Solo, I was less than excited to go see it.  However as a true Star Wars fan I felt obliged to see it in a theater, regardless.

My luke warm feeling about the movie was also self cultivated from seeing trailers that didn’t overly excite me.  I thought the actor they got to play a young Han Solo just didn’t look the part and I felt that would really overshadow the movie.  There were also all sorts of problems during the production of the film including reshooting large portions of it.

Well I have never been the type of person to be afraid to admit I was wrong about something and Solo is definitely an example of that.  I thought the movie was not good but GREAT.  Although the actor that played Han was not the visual depicition most fans would want, he did a great job of portraying the personality of Han Solo.  It didn’t take long for my initial apprehensions to melt away.  This felt like a true Star Wars movie and I enjoyed it from start to finish, you will too.  It gets an A.

Sunday morning I awoke to news that Florida was under a state of emergency from Alberto due to the potential for severe rain, forecast as much as 10 inches in some areas.  F that, even though it still was off and on raining outside I decided I HAD to get the grass mowed.  So while Cindy was out running errands mid-morning I fired up the Craftsman and got busy.  I was able to get almost the entire front of the yard mowed before the rain returned.  However it returned with a vengeance.

At one point I was mowing in the middle of an absolute deluge.  The canopy on the mower kept me sort of dry from the shoulders up and that’s it.  I didn’t care, I was going to finish, no matter what.  Cindy got back when I was almost done.  The tractor was encased in a wet, green organic blanket that I tried to rinse off afterward.  Even though I was soaked by the end of the task I felt relief to get it done before potentially horrid rain began. That rain never really came.  We had off and on periods of rain all day but it seems we missed the flood level precipitation that was predicted which I am certainly happy about.

We spent the rest of the day around the house attending to mostly indoor things.  I told Cindy late in the day that somehow, despite mowing in the rain for two hours earlier, I somehow felt lazy for not doing more.  It’s an odd ailment I suffer from.

Last night we watched our Netflix rental, Geostorm.  Wow, despite having the star of 300 in it, one of my favorite movies of all time, Gerard Butler, I found this movie to be utterly ridiculous.  Pretty much nothing made sense and when Gerard “saves” the planet it seems like it was already too late.  This was the opposite experience of Solo as I actually thought I would like this movie.  B-

Today we hoped to get out on the wheels for Memorial Day but it again was off an on rain all morning.  I may still get a shot to get out there later today but the the constant threat of rain makes it annoying and less than desirable to venture out only to get washed out later.  I have a lot of indoor things to keep me busy if need be until the world of work returns tomorrow.


A 40 year old skill, Mothers

On Saturday Cindy and I drug ourselves out of bed with a 6AM alarm to go run at the track.  I ran the track last week solo and wound up averaging a very pedestrian 10 min mile pace according to my Garmin 301 watch.  In the span of  a week that pace dropped to 9:10 according to the same watch, the only difference being that I had a running partner this time.

From all my years in the running club I guess I always knew that running with others makes a difference but this made that point crystal clear.  When you do endurance training with someone else you both push each other, without even trying.  I’ve talked several times about what being in a race does to me.  You almost feed off the energy of others around you and the end result is you perform better than you would by yourself.  It’s a simple truth.

When we got home I immediately rolled into chores, completing the weeding and weed whacking before eating the omelet Cindy had prepared for me.  We had to stick around the house during the morning so I could meet up with the project manager from the roofing company.  The finish mismatch on the one side of the roof I complained about had already pretty much disappeared .

There was another thing I complained about that I didn’t think they would resolve, the hump.  Ever since the house was built in 2001 there has been a hump on the front facing section of the roof.  It’s something I didn’t notice during construction but became apparent soon afterward.  It was just another example of the half assed way the builder constructed the house.

Well anyway, I assumed when the roof was redone the hump would be addressed although I did not explicitly point it out.  I thought it was rather obvious.  Well it wasn’t addressed as you can see in the picture.  However I did mention it to my PM, saying I assumed they would fix this during the reroof.  I said this figuring it was sort of pointless since the metal was already down in this section.

Well I only realized on Friday that the hump was gone.  The PM actually had them fix it which I assume meant removing the roof panel and underlayment in that section and fixing whatever was causing the hump.  All I know is the front of the roof of the house for the first time in 17 years no longer has an unsightly bulge in it.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

The only other item we were concerned with was a dirt/grease mark on the back of the roof.  Mark climbed up there with a rag and was easily able to wipe it off, he said it looked like a footprint.  Why the roofers wouldn’t have wiped that up themselves is a question mark but it looks good now which is all that matters.

Mark gave me some tips for the new roof that has a 5 year workmanship warranty and a 25 year warranty on the metal.  I was afraid I couldn’t walk on it without leaving dents in the metal.  He said walking on it is fine but you have to be extremely careful because if the roof is wet at all it will be like ice.  He said the way to walk on it is to step on the screws to keep your feet secure, which surprised me.  He also warned me about not letting the branches from the nearby oak tree touch the roof.  He said if that happens for any length of time the roof will turn black in that spot and it’s nearly impossible to reverse once it happens.  There were a few branches within a couple feet of the roof which lead to the afternoon’s most exciting project.

Before that project began we took Sadie and Elsa along with us to Tractor Supply.  We love Rural King but I actually prefer the chicken feed that TS sells.  It’s higher quality and organic.  We wound up buying a bunch of other stuff while we were there.  We had fun perusing.  We dropped Sadie back off at Ali’s place on the way home after a week long visit.  We hung and talked to Shug’s for a little while before departing.

One of the things I bought at Tractor Supply was another electrical switch.  My hope was the old switch for the pool light was defective since it no longer worked after I tried to install the WeMo replacement.  When I took the box back apart some of the guts of the old switch spilled out, confirming my hunch.  The new switch brought the pool light back to life, not that I ever get to use it.

So, Mark’s advice regarding branches not hitting the roof inspired me to take action.  I identified several oak tree branches that were either a short term or mid-term problem.  Of course the solution is to cut down the branches with the caveat being doing so in a manner that would not send them crashing on to our new $20,000 roof.

My plan required Cindy’s assistance.  I needed her on the ground manning a strap that was looped around each branch to pull them away as I cut from up in the tree.  This project required me to fall back on my expert tree climbing skills I honed as a child at our Gouglersville farm house.  I can not tell you how many hundreds of times I climbed trees on our property as a kid.  It was one of the main sources of outdoor entertainment we had.

So I did not dress appropriately for this work.  I had safety glasses and leather gloves on but I also was wearing shorts and Crocs which was rather moronic.  An oak tree branch system is a gnarled mess which left me with a couple dozen scratches and scrapes all over my exposed lower body.  My weapon of choice to drop the limbs was my cordless Sawzall.  I figured it was a much more manageable and safer tool to use 15 feet in the air than my gas powered chain saw.

Our tether to the branch was actually my gymnastic ring set up which has long woven straps.  The ring itself made for a good weighted object to throw over the branches.  Getting the three roof threatening branches down went pretty smoothly.  I would cut just until I saw some movement and then Cindy would pull away from the house so I could finish the cut.  The roof escaped impact although the fence below did not.  It got bent from the falling debris but I was able to straighten it out  most of the way afterward.  I put myself in a few precarious positions doing the work but my 40 year old tree climbing reflexes kicked in.

After dropping the branches I climbed down to chop up the branches for disposal in the fill pit.  I fired up my chainsaw while Cindy hacked away on the smaller sections with the Sawzall as you can see below.  It was tough work but we were both glad to get it down so the roof is not impacted down the road.

Sunday morning the skies were overcast, an indicator of the substantial rain that followed later in the day.  It was Mother’s Day so I wanted to make sure Cindy got to do whatever she wanted to do.  I tended to the chickens and offered to make her breakfast which she declined.  She just loves to cook.  Because of the rainy looking skies and other needs we didn’t do any EUC riding this weekend. Instead late in the morning we headed over to Cindy’s mom’s place to install the Ring doorbell she bought for Mother’s Day.  Her mom was at church so we had a window to install it secretly.  There was no existing hard wired doorbell so I dropped four holes into the stucco to mount it by the door.  The install went fine but there is a possibility the Ring is actually defective.  You can hear the audio of someone by the doorbell but the audio from your phone is not being heard back.

During the afternoon the rain started but I still had a project I wanted to start on.  With a brand new roof and brand new gutters arriving in about a month I felt like I needed to clean the gray/green eaves.   We have cleaned this using various techniques over the years, most of which involved pressure washing but I decided to take a very manual approach this time.  I used a cleaner/degreaser that I sprayed on generously one three foot section at a time and then wiped it down using a couple big microfiber cloths.

It is a slow and somewhat arduous process as I moved the ladder down the wall, working around various obstacles along the way.  The last third of the one side that I finished was done in a steady rain, adding to the misery.  I’m happy with the end result as it has been far too long since this had been done.  I hope to possibly knock out the other three sides of the house by the end of next weekend.

Around six we met back up with Cindy’s mom, Katie, and Daniel for dinner at a mexican restaurant.  The food was good but ridiculous in portion size.  I always feel like an absolute pig after eating mexican.  In addition to the huge portions you normally warm up by eating a ton of nachos as well.  Anyway, it was a fun time.  Cindy told me repeatedly she had a great day, which was the goal all along.