As I was driving home from work last night for no particular reason the idea popped into my head to ride the Sherman to work on Friday. I had done the commute on three different EUCs in the past as well as my Ultron Ultra scooter, which I no longer own. The last time was on the scooter and it was almost two full years ago. After doing a quick check on the weather forecast I mentally committed to the ride, which is all it takes. Last night I got the equipment charged up and organized so I could get out the door around 6:30 AM this morning. Cindy as always was not happy to hear of my plans, the idea of riding with morning rush hour traffic makes her nervous.
I set my alarm about a half hour earlier than normal. I tried to expedite my normal routine by eating just Pop Tarts and toast instead of preparing eggs as well. I geared up like I never have before for the commute wearing a full face helmet, upper body armor and my motocross style knee/shin pad armor. Getting everything put on and my gear ready to roll took awhile, I bet I spent 20 minutes gearing, gathering, and double checking I had all that I needed. My work shirt, gym clothes, lunch and charger were neatly stowed in my backpack.
Cindy was not happy to see that there was thick fog rolled in as I was getting ready to depart. I assured her I would be very visible with my reflective vest and ultra bright LEDs I have around the opening of the wheel. I looked like a one wheeled UFO. After giving Cindy a kiss I rolled off into the mist.
My visibility was fine in the fog but it did have the side effect of making things very moist. Before very long my selfie stick and helmet had water dripping off them. Luckily the camera lens appeared to not get covered in condensation. The Sherman is a fast vehicle. For the portion of the commute where I was in the bike lane I was maintaining around 30MPH without even trying. Once I got to the Livingston Road I transitioned to sidewalk which knocked about 10MPH off my cruising speed. Even so I made great time, even having time to grab a DD coffee a couple miles before the office. I looked at my watch as I opened my office door and saw 7:59, pretty amazing.
When I walked my wheel through the customer lobby I got tons of WTF looks from employees and customers alike. Like I said I had not done this ride in a couple years and nobody has seen the Sherman before. Unlike prior years where I would also need to take my EUC to Planet Fitness at lunch, I now walk to the on campus county fitness center, further simplifying the process. I brought my charger for the wheel along, even though I would easily be able to ride home without charging. I brought it so I can have the battery at a high level for the return to trip to allow me to maintain faster speeds safely.
I am fortunate to have yet another three day weekend ahead of me. I am still very happy I knocked the pool cage pressure washing out last weekend. I do of course have other things I need/want to get done but nothing that I would consider oppressive. It’s also Valentines Day weekend. Cindy is actually open to going out to eat, as long as it is somewhere that has outdoor seating. We are surely still miles away from returning to “normal” life but inch by inch, we are at least moving in the right direction.
I don’t have anything present day to complain about so I thought I would delve into another throwback moment that randomly popped into my head the other day. When I was growing up I played on some intramural basketball team. I struggle to even accurately place how old I was at this time but I am guessing maybe 12ish. By this age I had already displayed height for my age, which normally would be a good fit for basketball. However I was never great and on my team there were other kids that took the ball most of the time.
Well this one week we were playing a team that was short a player and I somehow wound up being volunteered to play on the other team since my team didn’t seem to think I was very valuable anyway. I’m not sure if chip on your shoulder mentality kicked in but I had my best game of organized basketball of my life, scoring more points by far than I ever did with my original team. I think we actually won that game but even if we didn’t I recall one of my earliest feelings of “fu” athletic satisfaction, turning the tables on the team that didn’t think I could do much.
I never played organized basketball after that, only occasional one on one games with friends. As I grew to my full height I became focused on trying to legitimately dunk a basketball on a regulation height rim. I sort of was able to do it but never as cleanly as I was aiming for. I remember one session at the Brecknock elementary school I tried so many times that I ripped open the skin on my dunking hand (right). Because of the weird way my brain is cross wired, I could only do the approach and jump going off my left leg. If I tried on the right I would look like a newborn deer trying to stand.
Later in life during the 10 years or so I played volleyball all the time I was able to pretty consistently jam a volleyball into the hoops at the gym we played indoors at. That all ended when I tore my meniscus when I was 31 or 32, I never approached those heights again.
Yesterday afternoon I had to do some work at the Immokalee branch. During the long drive there I called my dad for a couple reasons. I received an oversized envelope in the mail from him the other day. In it was a magazine with an article about how they are 3D printing buildings, something I had seen/known about for awhile. I chuckled as I read dad’s note on the front telling me what page the article was on. The old school method of sharing information via a mailed magazine with an attached post it note was very dad appropriate. After all when he travels cross country his preferred method of navigation is via paper maps, if he can find them.
I knew dad’s knee replacement was coming up but I had forgotten the exact date. Well that day happens to be today, he was already in Pittsburgh to have his second knee replaced. Dad has already had his one hip and knee done, he is practically the bionic man. The reality is even with the joint replacements his mobility is still greatly compromised. I don’t think he puts in the time doing the rehab as he is instructed to so his end result has not been great. He also is carrying extra beef on his frame which surely doesn’t help either. Hopefully the surgery goes well. I think this is the last thing he is due to have replaced, for now.
When I got home I found myself disgusted by just how dirty the Tesla was. I made a snap decision to give the car a speed wash at that very instant. I didn’t even go inside, I just pulled out the hose and bucket, washing the car in my work clothes. I did a real high speed once over, probably not taking more than 15 minutes from start to finish. This was something else on the potential to do list for this weekend so I again felt a small sense of accomplishment as I walked inside with water splattered all over my pants.
I’m not really even following the impeachment trial closely. It seems a foregone conclusion that not enough Republicans are willing to divorce themselves from Trump yet to make it happen. I agree it needs to happen as sweeping Trump’s actions under the rug would send the wrong message. However we all know the writing is on the wall. It’s unfortunate that politicians actions are so easily predetermined simply by a R or D in front of their name.
I started my first BIG print in quite while, a full size Mandalorian helmet. This print is looking like it may consume the most filament ever. In retrospect I should have used more conservative slicer settings. We are on day two and have only completed 22% of the print but have already used almost an entire 1 KG roll of filament already. I snap bought two more rolls of filament this morning. At nearly $25 a roll this will also be the most expensive print I ever have done. I am crossing my fingers the print actually completes, these massive prints are always very risky.
Last night I got to play some more Half Life Alyx, the game is so damn good. The environment is so hyper-realistic you feel genuine fear as a zombie is bearing down on you as you have only a couple bullets left in the chamber of your pistol. Reloading your gun doesn’t just mean hitting a button on a joystick. I have to actually reach up over my shoulder to grab a new magazine, jam it into the gun and then grab the barrel to cock it. Doing this under duress is something I am not very good at, yet.
When something catches my attention as an issue there is normally a good chance it will get addressed sooner rather than later. Such is the case with the pool cage, the over head beams looked horrible with green algae/mildew covering them. Although I had pressure washed only a few months ago I did so with the new electric pressure washer which does not have the reach or blasting power to clean the top cross supports well. I fired up the gas pressure washer and got busy.
Before I headed into the lanai I did some blasting outside first, cleaning the patio stones, water equipment roof, and the gutter on the west side of the house, all of which were in dire need. Once I got into the pool cage area I decided I wanted to get the worst over first, meaning doing all the parts that require me to attach the extensions to the wand which makes for physical misery. Trying to wrangle 9 feet of wand that is blowing water at 3000 PSI just is not fun in anyone’s world.
I worked methodically, cleaning in short bursts as much as my burning shoulders could tolerate. Once the high overhead sections were cleaned the rest felt easy and almost fun. There is something magical about taking something green and turning it white with a few passes of a pressure cleaner. In total I was out there between 2-3 hours but I was happy with the end result of my effort investment. Right before I got finished cleaning DJ and Katie showed up. They hung out for several hours. DJ was happy to see Sadie, he loves saying her name. Sadie for some reason is a bit freaked out by DJ but it doesn’t stop him from trying to pet her. We hung out inside and outside, it was a good visit.
Saturday night we watched the Upside which has been sitting in our Netflix envelope for a couple weeks. It’s a movie starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston that is supposedly based on a true story. The movie made you laugh a lot but also had serious, touching and sad moments mixed in. Cindy and I both liked it, B+, Cindy says A.
Our Super Bowl Sunday was once again devoid of party prep as Covid reality made a party impractical although I have no doubt that many threw caution to the wind. The weather looked unsettled for a good portion of the day. I wound up not stepping foot on an EUC the entire weekend. Sunday afternoon I did strap on my Quest 2 to take another shot at capturing VR gameplay for my YouTube channel.
I am taking a different approach that I didn’t execute cleanly but I think will actually be cool with a few tweaks. I record the VR gameplay on the Quest while shooting myself against a green screen with my GoPro with my wireless mic set up. My green screen is not quite big enough and my lighting of the screen was too uneven but it sort of worked out like I hoped. I shot a session playing Half Life Alyx which is such a cool game, even if I do spend most of the time being confused. The feeling in game is extremely immersive.
I then quickly shot a Beat Saber session as well, again just testing out my recording environment. I have a four foot wider green screen coming, I think that may be the last piece of my puzzle.
Despite our Super Bowl “party” just being Cindy and myself she made my favorite SB party dish, pigs in a blanket. Despite the hot dogs being the vegetarian variety they still taste great to me. I also drank a White Claw and another seltzer drink that hit me hard for some reason. Either my stomach was empty or I drank them quickly. All I know was I was acting pretty silly pretty quickly.
Like I said last week, I was happy if either team won but I honestly think I was pulling more for the Bucs. They were the underdogs and the Tom Brady story was just too good. Imagine if after the Patriots letting him go he goes to another team that hadn’t been to the playoffs in years and wins the Super Bowl. It didn’t take long for Brady to get the Bucs a lead, a lead they never relinquished. Although Brady threw three touchdowns and was named the games MVP I thought the real star of the game was the Buccaneer defense. They terrorized Patrick Mahomes, even though they only had three official sacks, they had him running for his life the entire game. You could tell Mahomes injured toe was bothering him as well.
Even injured and despite the lopsided outcome we got glimpses of just how amazing Mahomes is as a QB. There were two passes he threw that were both near touchdowns. The one he tossed while falling backwards and the more amazing attempt was when he was diving and parallel to the ground, unleashing a perfect spiral that was on target but knocked away last second by a defender. Despite the loss and poor statistical day, there is no doubt just how special of a QB he is.
The Cheifs also had the distraction of two players that only came off Covid quarantine last minute because of an ill advised visit to a barber who had covid and also the terrible incident with one of Andy Reid’s son who is a linebackers coach. He was involved in a car accident during the week that injured two little kids, one is still in critical condition. If you pull back the curtain on Andy’s family situation it has been a nightmare. Two of his sons had horrible drug habits, leading to the death to one of them back in 2012. Brit, one of the kids with a drug history is the one that had the car accident and there is one terrible detail I left out, he is suspected of drunk driving when the accident occurred.
On the field the Chiefs were sloppy, committing a ton of penalties, giving Brady multiple chances to extend drives. It was weird watching Andy, every time they showed him it looked like he was just watching things unfurl, not calling plays, not communicating with players or staff, it just seemed a bit odd. The 31-9 final score was not anyone expected. To have Brady and Gronk connect on two touchdowns in the Superbowl for a team other than the Patriots felt a little surreal. Although it wasn’t necessary it clearly cemented Brady’s label as the greatest quarterback that has ever played, at least in my lifetime. I feel lucky to have witnessed it. I told Cindy I can’t imagine a cooler way for him to end his career but I don’t know if Tom’s competitive spirit will allow him to retire just yet, even though he is 43 years old.
I don’t have specific commentary on the commercials, they were the normal mix of funny, emotional, and head scratching. The halftime show was lukewarm to me. I thought the set and choreography was cool but I really only was familiar with the last song The Weekend sang. I much prefer when they have multiple entertainers perform together unexpectedly, this was just one guy, whom I hardly knew.
With no normal party clean up to attend to we got to bed at a reasonable hour. This morning I dropped Sadie off at the vet for a tooth cleaning. It’s not easy for a dog, they need to knock them out to clean their teeth. At Sadie’s age it is always a somewhat risky affair. I felt absolutely awful leaving her there. Once we got inside Sadie started to shake in fear, she never does that. When she gets scared by loud noises she will want to hang close to us but she never shakes. She shook non-stop and kept trying to pull towards to door. I tried to reassure the best I could as I handed off the leash to the vet tech who was a sweet girl that did her best to calm Sadie as well. I felt absolutely awful leaving there as a wave of sadness swept over me as I walked back to the truck.
This is a week leading up to another three day weekend as we get off for Presidents Day. I originally thought I would do the pressure washing then so clearing it off the to do slate makes me feel a little better.
Last night was another late one with my eyes not shutting until about midnight. After playing some WoW I was going to shower and hit the sack. Just before I turned off my computer Cindy told me Katie was asking about playing some in VR. Despite my oncoming sleepiness I told Cindy I would get in and play with her. Cindy was already in bed so she stayed there, and just put on her Quest headset so she could be in our virtual party while Katie and I played some Beat Saber in which I lost every game but one, which I am accustomed to. We were just getting ready to do some bowling when DJ woke up so Katie had to jump out. When I looked at the clock after taking the headset off I realized it was a good thing timing-wise. I am feeling a bit sluggish this morning, hopefully the XL DD coffee can help burn off the fog.
This is Super Bowl weekend. The pandemic is a pretty solid excuse to not have a Super Bowl party once again. I don’t know if Cindy will invite anyone over last minute. I do find the game interesting with Tampa Bay actually getting a home game for the Super Bowl, which to my knowledge has never happened before. I also find it amazing that Tom Brady has served up the ultimate FU to Bill Belichick and the Patriots, taking the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl while New England failed to even make the playoffs. I really would be ok with either team winning as I have reasons to be happy either way.
Brady and the Bucs winning would be like writing the perfect ending to an unbelievable career. If the Chiefs win it’s another feather in the cap of the former Eagle’s coach Andy Reid who despite frustrating me greatly at times, I am happy for any success he has had since leaving the team.
So Alfie Oakes has gained a ton of notoriety in our area over the last couple years. Until he became exposed as a hardcore Trump cultist, he was best known for building the most extravagant and delayed super market in our area. His Seed to Table store opened up 4-5 years late but has had good success since it opened it’s doors. He has done what I feel is the dumbest thing you can do as a business owner, make your politics public. He started publicly ranting on social media, at times it was almost as if Trump’s hand was jammed up Alfie’s rear end, working his mouth for him.
Alfie also liked to emulate Trump’s litigious ways, suing the county for trying to make him enforce the county mask mandate. Just like Trump, he has lost these cases, repeatedly. He has held Trump rallies at his store and even paid to rent a bus to take a load of like minded Trump zealots to the riots in DC on January 6th. The guy is really a piece of work.
Well all of a sudden yesterday I got a message from one of my friends in PA about Alfie, asking what the hell was his problem? Somehow his lunacy had gotten national media attention focused on a news person that filmed a walk down the cash register line at the store. Not a single customer or employee wore a mask and there were none of the basic safety features set up at the store like have become commonplace like spit shields. It was quite the badge of honor for Naples to be associated with such an individual.
It’s a shining example of people not caring about the big picture. Their simplistic thinking is if they aren’t worried about getting sick that is where their concern ends. I find it ironic that many of these people also claim to be religious which teaches some core tenants, like caring for others. I have several first hand stories of covid nightmares in my personal circle of existence, perhaps that is the only way the “me first” type of individual wakes up. Taking basic preventative steps is not a big ask until the numbers start going the right direction and show the spread is dying off. If you are bored just Google “Alfie Oakes” to get an eyeful of the end results of Trumpism when you have more money than compassion.
Regular blog readers will recall the ordeal I went through when I got my colonoscopy 3 years ago. Between choking down the prep solution, the toilet endurance events and then my actually being sick with something that felt like the flu at the same time, it was sort of a nightmare. During the exam a pre-cancerous polyp was found and removed. The doctor said because of that I should have a follow up in three years just to make sure nothing bad takes hold. I clearly recall thinking at the time he told me that, “good luck with that” as I had absolutely no desire to repeat those events anytime soon. I recall thinking that I’ll get my next one in 5 years, maybe.
So you can imagine my joy when I got an email this week reminding me that three years has flown by already. I almost insta-deleted the email, recalling my vow to ignore the 3 year advice. However after a pause and some adult thinking I reconsidered and scheduled the procedure which will happen in early March. My thought process involved considering the responsibilities I have and how colon cancer would be an experience far worse than any colonoscopy in the long run. It won’t be fun for sure but perhaps like most things in life, the second time will be easier than the first. Another sour part of this is unlike my procedure 3 years ago, which was paid entirely by the county, any follow ups outside of their once a decade preventative maintenance schedule occurs on my dime. (and insurance)
So the coldest air in probably two years blanketed our area this morning. The coldest reading I saw in the car was 36 degrees. It was cold enough to deposit frost at various spots around the yard and do things like partially freeze the chickens water. For many years I used to run a chinese fill drill when cold temps like this rolled in, trying to cover cold sensitive landscape with blankets, buckets, and frost cloth.
I no longer do this, content to let plants that don’t tolerate cold take the hit because despite my covering efforts in the past, they never seemed to really change the outcome much. This scenario of giving less damns about certain household tasks has been a trend that has been gaining momentum over the last decade or so.
Last night Katie and DJ were over. We had dinner while we watched a show. Of course as he is approaching the age of 2, DJ is not going to sit quietly to watch a program. He had fun making his rounds, eating a little, drinking a little, playing with Elsa, his toys, while visiting all three of us at varying times. It brings a unique energy when DJ is around so it is always entertaining and enjoyable when they are both over at the house.
I have always been all about space exploration dating back to a young child when I thought being an astronomer would be sort of awesome. I watched the test flight of SN9 yesterday which ended in a similar fashion to SN8 with a fiery explosion landing, however for what appears a different reason. Although SpaceX and Elon have not released any preliminary data for the failure, it seemed like the second Raptor engine that was supposed to fire up for landing instead sputtered and flamed out. With SN8 the official cause was listed as a lack of fuel pressure to the engines. This time it seemed like the engine just flat out failed.
Even with the back to back failures, thanks to SpaceX’s incredible ability to pump out test Starship prototypes, it won’t be long till they are back at it, pushing the envelope. You needed no further proof than the fact that SN10 was already on the launch pad a couple hundred yards from SN9.
While the northeast is digging out from a big snowstorm, us Floridians have been dealing with some of the coldest weather in awhile. There is a good shot that temperatures tonight at our place will dip into the 30’s. The “thinning of blood” that people use as a way to describe the lack of cold tolerance many Florida residents have is a real thing. When I first moved to Florida I used to laugh at people that bundled up like eskimos when the high temps only get into the 50’s or 60’s. Although I still don’t reach for a winter coat and have kept my “no coat worn to work ever” streak alive for going on 21 years, I most definitely am more bothered by cold air than I once was.
The past two nights for some reason I have had awful sleep filled with waking up and long efforts to fall bask asleep. They also have been punctuated by a lot of dreams, the details of which have been escaping me. This morning I was so tired I fell back asleep immediately after silencing the alarm, waking up a half hour late. The end result was no shower, a slammed Pop Tart breakfast, and hauling ass to get out the door. I still managed to get to the office on time just in a more disheveled manner than normal.
The northeast appears to be buried in a nasty storm today. I still have distinct memories of the misery associated with snowstorms as an adult. The grocery store panic, endless shoveling, and driving on ice rink-like roads were part of the reason I yearned to relocate 1200 miles to the south. The adult snow experience eclipses the wonder, anticipation and excitement I had about snow as a child. I have had some stinging reminders of what real winter is during some of our winter visits to PA over the years, I am more than fine keeping them at arms length. All my friends and families in the northeast, I offer you my sincere condolences.
After quickly doing chicken chores Saturday morning I hopped in the car and headed to one of our branches to do support related to a migration of our DL issuance system. I originally had visions of being out of there in an hour but it wound up taking three hours until I was done. No problem was show stopping, there was just a lot of testing that needed to be done.
After getting home and eating lunch Cindy, Elsa and I headed out to Home Depot and Rural King to get supplies. One of the things I bought was a single 16″ patio stone, for my 3D printer room. You may wonder why in the world would I be using a patio stone in there? It turns out it is a great way to negate printer vibration noise. Cindy has complained forever about the noise some of the printers make, much of which is caused by vibration in the printer getting amplified by the bench it sits on.
Last week I saw multiple examples of hobbyist putting their Prusa printers on these patio blocks with small pads under them. They claimed it did a surprisingly good job of deadening excessive noise. I was skeptical but it is worth the $3.66 the block cost me to give it a try. I set the block up under the noisiest of my four Prusa Mk3S printers and was surprised that there was a noticeable difference in decibels. It was significant enough that I have Cindy tasked with getting me three more blocks this week.
Later in the afternoon I did a task I had been wanting to shoot a video on, ripping open a bent up wheel motor that was sent to me by an EUC buddy from Vegas. I thought it would be interesting to see how things looked inside of it. I immediately ran into a roadblock as the bolts that attach the slide frame to the motor were stripping when I tried to turn them out. Evidently they used red loctite to secure them. I later found out that I would have had better luck if I heated them up first prior to breaking them loose.
Instead of that I brought in my impact wrench and was able to brute force a few out while hopelessly stripping the rest. I looked at it as an opportunity to test out my new angle grinder to cut off the stripped bolt heads. It was the first time I have used the tool since receiving it. I wore safety glasses but was in my bare feet on my knees so I definitely was not utilizing best safety practices. It did however make for a funny visual. I got the thing apart eventually. I have no real use for it now so it will probably wind up going in electronics recycling, although I may try to make clock out of one of the motor covers.
On Saturday night Cindy, Katie and I finally got to do some virtual bowling together with all three of us in the same lane. It was funny hanging out and hearing Cindy and Katie’s commentary. The fun was cut short however because Katie’s headset ran out of juice as she forgot to charge it from the last play session.
During the day Saturday Cindy and I also got to check out the brand new DD that opened up less than three miles from our house. It was clean, small, and BUSY. When I went Sunday evening for a late coffee the drive thru had 7 or 8 vehicles lined up. The good news is the staff we interacted with seem personable and nice which is not always the case in our other DD stomping grounds.
On Sunday Cindy and I rode to the DD, her on the Dualtron scooter and me on my Veteran Sherman. We didn’t get there until a little after 11 and it was PACKED. I guarded the equipment while Cindy went inside. She said there were 13 people ahead of her at one point. Everyone wants to check out the latest and greatest. It will be nice to have a quick 6 mile round trip to grab coffee when no other errands are required.
After getting back from the ride I went right back out to shoot two more videos since I was already dressed for it. One video was a private thing I shot on request for a rep of one of the EUC companies to go along with Chinese New Year. The other video was my first response to a response video. Evidently another EUC YouTuber took offense to some commentary I made during a ride back in November and decided to make a video about it. Nothing he said was disrespectful but I thought it would be entertaining to address it on video along with a few other talking points.
I wound up my evening with some more hobby room work along with playing some WoW for the first time all weekend. As I was around the property this weekend I kept seeing annoying jobs that need to be attended to, the biggest and most annoying is pressure washing. It feels like I just pressure washed the pool cage not that long ago but the deck and frame have areas that are very, very green and in need of blasting. I will force myself to do the job sooner rather than later, despite my intense dislike of the process.