So yesterday after lunch I sent a text message to the auto transport company verifying that we were still good to go for pick up.  Well it was a good thing I checked.  The woman from the company called me and said now the driver that was supposed to do my pick up was out sick and went to the doctor.  She vaulted past the TMI line to let me know that the ailment was diarrhea.  Ok then.  She said the car should definitely be picked up today by either diarrhea boy or another driver.  So far I have been patient and calm with the repeated instances of over promising/underdelivering by this company.  However if they again fail to deliver today it’s strike three and they will get the full court press from me.

I heard some very sad news yesterday. Mark McGarity who I knew from my affiliation with the running club for around a decade passed away yesterday from cancer.  Mark was a teacher and cross country coach at a local high school for decades.  He was the type of person that you had no choice but to like.  He had a smile for everyone and really cared about anything and anyone he was involved with.  There were three events per year that he and I worked together closely on and it was that involvement that endeared the man to me.

The most memorable races were the cross country events where I got to see Mark wearing his coach hat.  He was so upbeat and supportive of his kids.  You could tell the kids appreciated Mark immensely, it was touching to see first hand.  I also know Mark’s wife, a very sweet woman.  The loss for her has to be crushing.  Mark was not an old man, I believe he was 69 when he passed.

Since I left the running club I had only seen Mark a handful times, the most recent within the last year or two.  I heard about his illness at that time but I got the sense he was doing well.  He still had a smile, firm handshake and a slap on the arm for me, just like he always did.  My grandfather used to always do the same thing, perhaps part of the reason I found Mark so endearing as well.

It was a painful reminder of how we are all running around on borrowed time.  Hopefully more of us can be like Mark and use that time cultivating warm feelings, smiles, and good energy.  Rest in peace buddy.

 

 

 

 

 

So if things go as currently planned my Tesla Model Y will get picked up today by a car carrier.  Once it is loaded up I need to take a picture of the paperwork the driver has as well as my car on the back of the truck to get Vroom to start the process of electronic payment for the vehicle, both to the bank and myself.  Until that payment occurs I will still be suffering from mild anxiety.  The whole situation still feels rather surreal.

I have a lot to cram into this three day work week.

This four day weekend has chugged by quite quickly.  On Friday and Saturday I got the majority of my tasks completed the biggest of which was mowing the entire property as well as weed whacking.  If done back to back it can take close to 6 hours.  I also got the Tesla prepped for pick up by a Vroom carrier.  As I was doing some of the prep I shot a video talking more about the less than perfect process so far.

Friday night Deb came over for us to watch the new release of Black Widow courtesy of Disney Plus Premier.  The $29.99 price tag struck me as a little steep initially but when compared to the nearly double I would spend on a typical movie theater trip I was less salty about it.  This was the first post Covid Marvel movie that has been released.  I liked the movie.  It had good action and told the Black Widow back story which is a bit ironic because she is currently officially dead in the MCU.  It was a good flick but if I am judging it on a Marvel scale it would be in the lower half as far as my favorites go. I’d go B+  I think going in depth into a dead character let some air out of the balloon for me.

Saturday evening we watched Dark Waters, a movie about Dupont and the horrible things they did in the name of non-stick surfaces, also known as Teflon.  They not only knowingly poisoned employees, landfills, and water supplies, they also have been poisoning the world with Teflon which utilizes PFOA’s which have a laundry list of terrible health side effects.  I recall in the last decade or so hearing negative news about Teflon and I have made efforts to avoid it since but all I recalled was the surface could flake off and only then was a problem.  No it’s a problem, all the time.  It’s crazy to me that there are still a ton of non-stick surfaces sold under the Teflon brand.  Supposedly they haven’t used PFOA’s since 2013 but I have no doubt whatever is being used today is not significantly better.

Cindy of course was freaked out by this.  After the movie she did a full audit of our cooking pots and pans, pulling out anything with a teflon-like coating.  We went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond yesterday and got a couple cast iron pans and another set that supposedly had none of the chemicals Teflon was infamous for.  The movie painted a very dark picture of just how gigantic companies have immense power.  They were able to stall prosecutors for well over a decade and even when they did pay out it didn’t change their core business process based on profit first, public safety a distant second.  If you aren’t afraid to have your eyes opened you should watch the movie.  It’s an A.

Yesterday I took out my little Mten3 into the driveway for a little putz around session.  As I mindlessly rode in circles and both directions I rambled about various topics, just because.

Over the past two days I have been playing a game my nephew loves called BTD6.  It’s a tower defense game, something I used to enjoy years ago.  Tower defense games have gotten much crazier and complicated over time.  After playing a few games solo to get a basic understanding of the game I played several co-op games with Griffin, which he seems to really enjoy.  It’s a fun way to connect even though we are far away.

The last 48 hours have been pretty chill by my standards, not a lot of work has gotten done and I am trying to be ok with it. Today I was on my way to get coffee when I saw a call on my cell from Fort Myers.  I rarely pick up on a number I dont know but for some reason I picked this up.  It was a car carrier company saying they were supposed to pick up my car, today.  WTF.  The email I got made it seem like I would get a call and the pickup would be scheduled a couple days in advance.  I said ok, when are you coming?  “In about an hour…”  Um ok, doing the time calculation in my head I figured I had time to get coffee and do the couple remaining things I had to do on the car before releasing it.

So I haul ass home and just as I finished up the tasks I get a text from that same number asking if we can do it tomorrow….. WTF for the third time.  I asked what happened to picking it up in an hour?  She said the truck had some sort of problem so they can’t come until tomorrow.  I told her in that case it would need to be late in the day which she agreed to.  So, if things go as planned, which is not a certainty of course, the Model Y will be moving on to it’s new destination tomorrow afternoon.

 

I had a stressful and hectic day of work as I was trying to juggle burning fires on multiple fronts.  The most attention grabbing was getting a call from one of our vendors, telling us they received a phishing email from one of our employees.  After getting sent a copy of the email and investigating the employees access record I was able to quickly verify that their email account had been compromised.  It looks like several days ago someone successfully logged into this account outside of our area, waited a few days and then sent this spear phishing email to over 100 addresses in this persons contact list.  Not only did they send them, they were camped out in the account, answering emails sent back asking if this was legitimate, which they emailed back confirmation.

The email itself was easily identifiable as bogus with bad grammar and a premise that made little sense.  However I know at least one recipient blindly clicked the link which supposedly landed them on another page asking for private information.  This was the classic email compromise scenario.  Ironically, we had just started rolling out multi-factor authentication over the last couple weeks, requiring a secondary confirmation via SMS for access to Office 365 outside of our network.  MFA was not turned on for this user yet.

The user technically didn’t directly cause the breach, if what I was told was true.  I asked if the password was used in any variation on other internet sites.  The answer was no.  The password itself was not robust at all, a common word followed by a number.  The user said they had a hard time remembering complex passwords, I basically said “too bad”.  I did assure them that they were not alone in bad password practices, despite our repeated training we give employees about the importance of hardened, complex passwords.

The first thing I did was sign the user out of all authenticated Office 365 sessions.  The users password was then reset and MFA was turned on for that account.  Investigating this incident lead me to pour over access logs that revealed that there were a handful of other accounts that have been unsuccessful hack targets, with access attempts from countries all over the world, including China and Russia.  This hack also is leading us to fast track multi-factor authentication for all network users as well as my adding additional rules that will not allow access to IPs outside of the US. This is far from fool proof but will stop some of these attempts dead in their tracks.  I will now be watching the access attempts like a hawk so the hacker has lost their element of surprise.  However having someone with full access to a mailbox gives them access to a lot of information about an organization.  Paranoia will be running high for quite awhile.

Another step we are looking into is an office wide password management system like LastPass, which I have used for my personal PWs for years.  It is a rather pricey option but gives users a much easier and secure way to manage passwords while giving administrators the ability to keep an eye on password requirement compliance.

So at the same time I was working on that hack I was also dealing with continued bugs after upgrading our main file server to Windows Server 2019 last weekend.  Normally this upgrade is not a big deal, I have upgraded a number of other servers already without a hiccup.  However because of the role this server has, some of the annoying and sort of inexcusable issues of 2019 are coming out.  The biggest issue is network performance. Server 2019 has a bad habit of performing significantly worse than it’s two most recent predecessors, Server 2016 and Server 2012 R2.  Microsoft made some changes to networking that really have had a negative impact on it’s adopters.  If you look up “Windows Server 2019 network problems” you will be inundated with ME TOO pages of users complaining.

In our situation the problems manifested itself in several ways, print queues hanging up, issues with AD Sync with the cloud, remote control sessions needing to be reset often, and the most troublesome, corruption of files in our accounting app that runs off of this server.  I have been trying tweak after tweak which has resulted in some improvement but not a total disappearance of the issue.  Today I took the drastic step of moving these files to another server on the network so I can keep troubleshooting the problem without impacting the accounting department.

I finally received my FedEx package from Vroom today.  I plan to send it back to them tomorrow and see if things progress as they say.  The car should be scheduled for pickup and then 2-3 days after that the transaction should be completed with a payoff to the bank and the balance into my bank account.  I have read enough Vroom horror stories to make me nervous but I have everything documented as I need and the extra time if needed to make sure it all goes down as promised.

The rest of my Monday was very subdued.  Cindy did way more storm prep than I did as she pulled in the dozens upon dozens of plants she had around the outside of the house. She found a cool rat snake hiding out in one of her plants during the process. I did not feel much concern as the storm track and intensity seem that at least for our home, 17 miles inland, several inches of rain is going to be the driving force.

My day was pretty low energy for me, doing nothing of major consequence.  I did get to dig into the new WoW patch quite a bit which is cool so far. I also finished up printing my orange exo-armor and full face headlight helmet for my Sherman.

Today I took the truck to work because Elsa will be rolling through our area for the next 12 hours or so.  I would have taken it anyway because the Model Y is still parked, awaiting confirmation that Vroom has sent the paperwork needed to complete the deal.  I am just about done hounding them.  If I have to continue to push them to do what is supposed to be done, the idea of them getting me and my bank money in a timely fashion makes me nervous.

Today is going to be a wet one, see you on the other side.

 

My July 4th weekend started off with a Saturday of normal tasks including mowing the grass which is now a weekly requirement.  Mowing requires a bit more attention as I need to maneuver around the areas where the bahia sod was laid which wont be able to be mowed for weeks.  I also handled a few minor projects throughout the day as I did my spot checks of tropical storm Elsa predictions, which seemed pretty favorable for our area.

Katie and DJ came over later in the afternoon.  We had fun as always.  DJ and I spent a lot of pool time together. Towards the end of their visit Deb came over to hang out as well.  Saturday night we watched Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime with Chris Pratt. It was entertaining and lengthy with a final fight scene that made me laugh out loud, it was that silly.  I’d give it a B.

Sunday was the fourth of July, a holiday I sort of used to like when I was younger but now can’t stand.  The only good aspect of it is it is a work holiday.  The reason for my about face is dog ownership and specifically just how terrified most dogs are of fireworks.  Nicki was always terrified of fireworks and Sadie is scared too but Elsa may be the most scared of all of them.  She will cower, shake and hide in the tub for hours.  There is very little we can do to comfort her.

It doesn’t help that the neighbors are the type that like to have their own personal fireworks display, maximizing the noise for all around them.  It’s really frustrating but there is nothing I can really do about it, it’s legal to set off fireworks 3 days of the year if my memory is correct, New Years Eve, New Years Day, and Fourth of July.  The area we live is filled with people that set off their own fireworks.  I often wonder if these people have dogs and if so does their burning desire to see things blow up override any concern for their animals?  It’s one of the many things in the world that just don’t compute in my brain.  If fireworks are so exciting for you, go see one of the professional public displays, right?

Deb was over again yesterday for our BIG 4th celebration which included veggie dogs for me, Miller Lite, and macaroni salad.  I also took a long ride out to Ave Maria on the Sherman, my first real long trip on the wheel since I did all that work.

I have had a few frustrating phone conversations with Vroom support agents, trying to figure out where the paperwork is that was supposed to be Fed Ex’d to me.  I was not happy when i realized that it appears that Vroom has an outsourced Indian call center, one of my pet peeves that will immediately turn me off to a company.  The inability to get me a clear answer on when I will be receiving the documents was frustrating.  My latest call this morning ended with an assurance that the paperwork will be sent out tomorrow.  However my confidence in that going down is not very high.

A quick search on Vroom customer service paints a pretty scary picture of furious customers that have dealt with a variety of issues both with buying and selling vehicles.  None of it gave me a very warm feeling when it comes to doing a 50k transaction with them which requires them to both pay me and the lien holder.  I am still moving cautiously forward but if there are any more delays I am not afraid to pull the ripcord on the entire deal.

The rest of today should be pretty chill. Cindy spent time outside gathering up small plants vulnerable to the potentially strong tropical force winds Elsa could bring tomorrow.  My concern level for the storm still is relatively low, a feeling that seems shared by most in my area, there weren’t even lines at gas stations.  We have thunderstorms that can deliver the same if not more punch, just not potentially for as long.  Hopefully it is a non-event for us.

 

 

Last night I had a dream where I was at dinner with Cindy and heard music playing in the distance, loud enough to be annoying.  Mid-dream I awoke and swore I heard music in the bedroom.  My first thought was a neighbor for some reason was playing music loudly at 2AM??  I walked out into the main living space and didn’t really hear anything.  I went to the front door to see if I heard anything outside, I didn’t.

So I shrugged my shoulders and went back to the bedroom but heard the music again, getting louder as I approached the AC intake vent which is on a wall shared with the garage. WTF?  I walk out in the garage and see the culprit, our old Echo Show which I put out there awhile ago so I had music in the garage if needed.  For some unknown reason it had started to play Pandora in the middle of the night.  There has been one other case of this unit playing music inexplicably,  perhaps it is all part of Jeff Bezos grand plan to take over the world.

Cindy of course woke up as well and was also in the middle of a dream where she heard music, funny.

So I mentioned previously how I was throwing around the crazy idea of selling my practically brand new Model Y to Carvana to take advantage of exploding demand for used vehicles, especially Teslas.  However Carvana would only do a “manual appraisal” and was requesting things that I thought were stupid so I walked away from the process.  Yesterday morning just for the hell of it I decided to see what Vroom, one of Carvana’s competitors would offer me.  Unlike Carvana, I was not required to jump through additional hoops or a manual appraisal.  When I saw the number in my email I did a double take, $49,000.

When this thought process started 10-14 days ago, $10,000 was the number in my head I set where I would be stupid to not take advantage of this opportunity.  That opportunity that seemed ridiculous at first was now a reality.  They were offering me $10,000 more than the list price of the car, this is insane.  When I told Cindy about this at first she wasn’t enthusiastic.  Like me, she loves the Tesla and didn’t understand why I would even entertain the idea of selling it.  However when I painted the master plan for her she got onboard.

With getting that much combined with what I owe on the car I had the ability to BUY the next level up of a Model Y, the LR (long range), without spending a single penny out of pocket while keeping my car payment the same.  The LR has some huge advantages like a bigger battery that offers nearly 100 miles more range, AWD with a motor in the front and back and more speed with a 0-60 time of less than 5 seconds.  I made the decision to go for it.

In the span of 30 minutes I had done the first electronic document signing with Vroom and then immediately went onto Tesla and ordered myself ANOTHER Model Y which only required a $100 deposit for now.  Vroom is supposed to be overnighting some more documents I need to sign and return.  After that a pickup of the car is scheduled and once Vroom inspects the car the funds will be transferred to my bank account.  It seems crazy that you can conduct a 50k transaction without even talking to another human being but that is the world we live in.

Part of the deal is the odometer can’t have more than 250 more miles on it than what I reported so the Model Y is now parked in the garage, where it will remain until it is picked back up.  I need to give it a quick bath and remove the small upgrades I have done to the car since I have owned it.  The 2016 Tacoma will now become my daily driver until I take possession of my NEXT Model Y which as of this point is supposed to happen sometime in September.  This has truly been a bizarre set of circumstances and it will be a bit sad to not have a Tesla for a few months but the reality that a newer, bigger, faster one is being built for me will help temper that sadness.

I have neglected to talk about the horrific partial collapse of the Surfside condo on the other coast.  It has to be a horrible feeling for those rescue workers knowing that only 10% of the missing people have been recovered at this point.  The task ahead of them is gruesome.  The neglect that appears to have been connected to the building collapse seems pretty ridiculous as is the requirement to have buildings certified only every 40 years.  I have a feeling this horrible tragedy is going to affect the way building safety is handled from here on out.  There are a TON of people on the east coast living in old condo buildings, I guarantee they are all feeling a lot more nervous and paranoid now.

There is a tropical storm named after our beloved dog, Elsa, brewing in the Caribbean.  Right now the forecast cone puts our area right in the middle of the predicted path.  However if I have learned anything since living in Florida it’s that predictions made 4 to 5 days in advance of a hurricane rarely, if ever turn out to be accurate.  The other positive is since we are still early in the season, the system is predicted to stay at tropical storm strength which can still be quite nasty but nothing like a cat 3+ hurricane that starts ripping things out of the ground.

Since July 4th is Sunday, I have Monday off as well.  In addition I put in for two more extended weekends, working on using up my remaining vacation time before it resets in mid-August.  This weekend I have nothing huge and ridiculous like laying sod on the menu but there will still be plenty to keep me hopping.

 

 

 

I have been recovering from the tolls spreading four pallets of ratty bahia sod had taken on my body.  My legs/knees are still hurting and I have welts on my feet and arms from the fire ants that were hiding inside some of the sod sections.  I did return to the gym yesterday, doing chest work but I definitely did not feel strong, falling short of my recent PRs with the smith machine press.

I saw the news that the PA supreme court overturned Bill Cosby’s conviction for raping one of many women.  It wasn’t overturned because anyone thought he was innocent, hell he admitted to the assaults himself.  The decision was based on a technicality from a civil suit that was filed against Cosby where in return for a more favorable outcome in that case for himself, he was told that if he admitted to the assault he would never be criminally tried for that admission, which seems like insanity to most people, a deal that should have never been offered.  So basically, to make more money in the civil case, one of the women’s lawyers struck this deal.  The end result of this is a lifetime sexual predator now gets to go free and can not be tried again for the crimes he has admitted to.  Of course people are outraged as this end result is pretty disgusting.  I was almost as disgusted by Bill’s TV wife Phylicia Rashad applauding the court decision.  Does she actually think Cosby deserved no punishment for his sexual abuse of at least 60 women? Come on….

 

 

The sod did arrive on Monday albeit at the very end of the day, he rolled in close to 5PM.  As I was standing in the yard at the spot I wanted the first pallet dropped at I noticed the driver was having some issues with the loader that is attached to the back of the truck.  He started to lower it but then the engine on the loader died.  He kept starting it only to have it die a few seconds later.  After watching the scenario play out I walked over and asked what was up.  He said the loader is out of gas.  The issue is the loader was now partially undocked from the truck so the truck can’t be moved.  I was a bit in disbelief that the guy wouldn’t check the fuel level on the loader before coming. I didn’t see any other options so I told him I would run to the gas station and buy 5 gallons of diesel fuel.

I returned with the fuel which he dumped in the huge tank.  The loader fired right up and we were  in business.  I was getting four skids in total.  I wanted to put two by the mound in the front and two in the back on the side of the house near the pool equipment.  I had some concerns about the loader with a pallet of grass doing a number on the yard but it actually left very minimal imprints. I acted like a human flag, directing and then standing where I wanted the pallets placed.  My goal was to keep them as close as possible to where the sod was going to be placed. Despite the gas fck up and later than promised arrival I still gave the guy a tip which he seemed surprised by.  I appreciate people that do labor for a living, an appreciation deepened by experiences like what followed.

So despite it being around 5:30 I wanted to get started spreading sod.  I had already made arrangements to take Tuesday off as well so I could complete the work.  So the pallets were at the base of the house mound, the bare dirt areas were mostly on the top of the mound.  I brought the wheelbarrow out front thinking a solid plan would be to load sod in there and cart it to the spot I was laying it to save back and forth trips.  This plan failed miserably.

I have once placed a full pallet of sod however it was thick floritam grass which holds together well when cut into squares.  Bahia is the opposite.  Bahia is what we used last year for the ground leveling project, it is a native grass which is ideal because during dry season it goes dormant, unlike floritam which will completely die and turn to dust if you are not watering it all the time.  However bahia when you get it looks like shit, like a big pile of mostly dead weedy grass.  However the real problem is the squares fall apart.  I mean really fall apart.  I bet on each pallet at least half of the pieces were disintegrated.

So anyway, with my wheelbarrow plan I would pick up the pieces of sod that were falling apart and plop them in there.  I them pushed the heavy cart up the incline and then tried to pull the pieces out a second time, making them fall apart even worse.  At times I was pulling out small clumps of sod not much bigger than my hand.  It was maddening.  To top things off it was still humid as hell and the gnats were driving me insane.  I f’d around out there until about 7:30, taking almost two hours just to do one pallet.  I was miserable, knowing that I had that amount of work x 3 to get done on Tuesday.

I let my normal work alarm go off Tuesday.  After cleaning and filling the chicken water and eating breakfast I was straight outside, somewhere around 7:30 AM.  I took two advil up front, knowing what I was going to be subjecting my body to.  I shit canned the wheelbarrow idea, just making endless back and forth trips holding shitty sod pieces that were falling apart.  Despite dramatically increasing the amount of steps in the process it definitely took less time overall doing it this way.  By the time I threw the last ratty, small piece of sod in place it was right around 11:30.  My body felt awful and I had an armor made of a mixture of sweat and dirt. I was disgustingly dirty.

After a quick shower Cindy headed out with me in the truck.  I had to return the four broken wooden pallets to get my $40 deposit back and I wanted to pick up a sod roller to press the bahia down as much as possible.  The driver told me he was going to tell the office about my buying the fuel so they could reimburse me for that as well.  When I mentioned the fuel purchase they knew nothing about it but gave me a $20 bill for the trouble without any fuss.  The sod roller pick up went smoothly as well.

When we got back I filled the roller with water and got busy, despite there being a steady light rain coming down.  The limited slip differential in the Husqvarna tractor came in handy in these conditions, able to pull the heavy roller back and forth over the wet sod without much issue at all.  I zig zagged across the areas repeatedly, hoping to give the sod the best chance to take hold and fill these areas where now dead floritam used to occupy.  I finished up and immediately took the roller back to Home Depot within four hours, meaning the rental only cost $15, one of the few reasonably priced parts of this project.

The rest of the day was spent recovering, it was the most grueling project I can recall in quite awhile.  Probably the last time I had to bust it that hard was when I did the fencing around the chicken area.  My lower body, back, and hands are all quite sore today.  Of course as I was slogging through the pallets I thought how much better it was when I paid Miguel’s crew $25 per pallet to lay it down.  Unfortunately I cut ties with him after he never finished the scope of work he was supposed to.  However I made myself a promise that I would never spread another pallet of bahia grass myself.  I will make sure whomever I get it from next time can lay it down as well.

WoW released a new patch yesterday meaning I have lots to keep my recreational plate full for awhile.