Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Everybody Loves Raymond....Except his insurance man

Home in PC
Low of 40 !!!!
High of 65

Workout update
I completed day 2 of week 2 of the C25K program. I was feeling a little extra energy today so I did the program two times over. My sciatic (sp?) nerve was really hurting when I got done but I think that's mostly due to the sudden cold weather. After I finished my extra tough workout, I was rewarded to a nice steak dinner that Dad made for Kathy and I.

I met a new neighbor today; Raymond. He and his wife are from North Carolina and have been here for 8 years. He told me how Hurricane Charley nearly destroyed his house in 2004. He had to sue his insurance company to get paid. They still haven't finished repairing the master bath. He said they lost their whole roof. Wild, how our house was nearly untouched and he got devastated just a few doors down. He shared some of his favorite dining secrets and Dad is going to take Kathy to check one out while I'm out of town. Raymond says that Barnacle Bills has the best Friday night fish and chips in the whole Gulf Coast area. We talked about boating and he says he's partial to sailing, although he's not a boat owner. He told me about a charter in Sarasota that will take you out for 4 hours, $25 per person, and even let you take the helm. Sounds good to me.

I fly out at 4:20 PM eastern tomorrow and will be gone for 9 days.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Home in PC
Low of 50, high of 72

A cold front has moved into South Florida, resulting in lower temperatures for the next two days. I had to break out a jacket this morning but it was a nice change. By Thursday, we are supposed to be back to normal...lows in the upper 60's, highs in the upper 70's.

Dad and I installed a 30x60 foot dog run for his girls. It looks pretty good.
Yesterday, Dad installed some electrical outlets on the lanai for Kathy and I dug out and cut out a 20' horizontal tree stump that was in our side yard.

Workout update
I started week 2 of the Cool Runnings Couch to 5k running program. In week 2 I run for 90 seconds and walk for 2 minutes, for 20 minutes, plus a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down walk. It's going good. My net weight loss is sitting at -22.5 pounds.

I fly out on Thursday night, bound for Phoenix, Vegas, back to Phoenix, returning to SOFL on Saturday, November 8.

Here's a joke someone sent me:
Obama meets St. Peter at the pearly gates and St. Peter asks him what great deed have you accomplished? Obama states: I was the first black man to be elected president of the USA. St. Peter responds: when did that happen? and Obama replys: ten minutes ago.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Home in Port Charlotte
Rainy most of the day
High 85, low 69

Dad arrived safely yesterday, along with Penny and Patty the Pointer sisters. Dad and I are going to assemble a temporary 4' perimeter fence so the girls have an area to run, yet be contained.

I picked up the boat from the repair marina this afternoon. Inspite of a small craft advisory, with 4-7 foot seas and a heavy chop in the harbor, I brought the boat home. It was not without drama. My experience here led me to believe that any tide less than 1.2 feet above mean tide, would allow me to pass under my short bridge. When we went out last weekend, the tide was at 1.0 as we approached the bridge. I didn't even slow down and passed under with no problem. Tonight, the bridge looked lower than normal. The tide showed 0.9. It should have been a clear pass but something told me not to leave it to chance. Good thing. I slowed my approach to a virtual crawl and ran up topside, to the bow pulpit. I caught the bridge with my hands, stopping the boat. The hard top would have cleared under but the GPS antenna would have been sheared off, likely leaving a gaping hole in the hard top. WHEW! That was close. I returned to the helm, backed off as a neighbor who had been watching offered to allow me to tie up to his outer pilings. I took him up on his offer and, after tying off two cleats, I pulled out my tool kit. I removed the two bolts holding the GPS antenna, which stands about 5" tall. I cast off from my temporary moorage and did the same, slow, drill as I approached the bridge while standing on the bow. By now the tide was down to 0.8 and I needed every centimeter I could find. I cleared under by about an inch.

The moral of the story must be that tidal reports are mere predictions or forecasts. The are normally right on, but today's tide was about a foot higher than what was called for. I will make sure I don't take anything for granted. This was a close call. I did some online research and found that NOAA has documented something called Extratidal High Water and sea level anomalies. The first example normally occurs with storm surge, following a hurricane or tropical storm. The second is just anomaly, a wierd circumstance. I learned another lesson in coastal boating today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Grove

On the road
Hampton Inn
Boyton Beach

I did the second day of the new workout today and it went well. I had some heel pain in my left foot but worked through it. I spent the day along Miami Beach, inspecting the crews working the resorts. It was very windy along the Atlantic beaches. We also drove through a really cool area called Coconut Grove. I was told the locals simply call it, "The Grove." It was very much like a little seaside village. It reminded me of the type of place you would expect to find near Conneticut or New England. The boats moored in Miami Beach are nothing short of amazing. I wish I would have taken pictures today but didn't have time.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to do inspections at two golf courses, one in Lake Worth and one in Palm Beach. After that, it's homeward bound. My dad should be there when I get home. He is spending the last night of his 8 day motor home journey, from Arizona, up near Gainesville.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fresh Start

Hampton Inn
Pembroke Pines (near Ft. Lauderdale)

Boat verdict is in: Stuck thermostat (replaced); raw water circulation pump ok; impeller ok; oil & filter changed; lower unit drive gear oil dirty and smelly (changed); propeller mounts seized (replaced); props pulled and greased; fuel water separator filter changed. Not as serious as we feared it could be. Most of this is routine required maintenance stuff but if gone unchecked, we could be stranded again or worse yet...burn up the engine or drive. The boat should be ready on Thursday afternoon so I should be able to bring her home on Friday.

I started the revised workout tonight (for details, see posting from 10-19-08). I can tell it is going to be more intense than what I've been doing but I also think it's going to be more beneficial for what I'm trying to achieve. I also liked being done in 30 minutes instead of 90. I did the other workout for 7 weeks. With this one, I'm supposed to be running 3 miles non-stop (no walking) after 8 weeks.

I had dinner at Cracker Barrel. It's never been my favorite place but tonight was the most enjoyable meal I've ever had there. Perhaps my workout built up a bigger appetite, but it was a great meal. I had grilled catfish fillets, corn and mashed potatoes, with ice water.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Couch to 5k

Home in Port Charlotte
Going down to 62 tonight...brrrrrrr.

The boat remains at Gulf Coast Marine, awaiting an evaluation tomorrow. Our backyard dock looks strange without the boat there. My honey did a wonderful job of detailing the beach and deckwalk out back. It looks beautiful. I mowed the grass and used the weedeater to burn down turn weeds. It was a really nice day again today. So much so that we were able to leave the windows open for the last 24 hours.

My walk was almost chilly, dressed in shorts and a tank top. My sister, Shannon, called me today and shared a really inspiring website with me. It's a free exercise program called Couch to 5k. It's designed to take a total couch potato to a 5k (3.2 miles) runner in 9 weeks.
It's based on an exercise philosophy called "interval training" where you walk a while, run a little, walk some more, run some more, etc until you gradually get where you are running 3.2 miles without walking. The whole thing starts at just a 20 minute workout and ends with a 30 minute run, some 9 weeks later. The website has a link to another site called Cool Runnings, which is where the downloadable audio podcasts are. You can download, for free, the program guy talking you through the walk/run. It has inspirational music for the run portion. It sounds really good. I'm going to do it.

Shannon is in the second week of it and we talked about someday doing a 5k or 10k together. I'm in my 8th week of exercising and feel like I could use some more structure to help me out. This sounds like just what I'm looking for. When I walk 5 miles, it takes me 90 minutes. If I can get the workout I seek, which is building up to being a runner and not a walker, and be able to do it in 20-30 minutes a day instead...I will likely stick with the whole regimen long term.

My dad is driving from Arizona to Florida to spend the winter with us. He is in Texas tonight and plans on arriving here on Thursday. He calls every night to update us. It sounds like he's having a great time.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How a 20 mile ride could cost $900

5:30 PM Update:

The trip was a bust. The weather was perfect, the seas were calm, the water was smooth as glass. About 11 AM the boat started overheating for unknown reasons. I monitor the thermostat and saw it pretty quick. I shut down the motor, tried to troubleshoot the problem but couldn't find an easy answer. Luckily, when we bought the boat we also bought a Sea Tow policy for $149. We were nearly 20 miles out when we stopped, so the tow took 3 hours. If we didn't have the Sea Tow membership the bill would have been $900. We got towed to a marine repair shop on the water, less than a 1o minute drive from home. Now we await the bill for that. Did I mention it would have been a beautiful day?

Heading for the water
Overnight low, 68, high of 85

We're launching the boat at 9 AM, est. The tides will necessitate being out until about 630PM. Kathy will drive her car to Fisherman's Village, about 10 miles away, and I will pick her up there. That way, if she doesn't want to stay out for the whole day she doesn't have to.

I spent yesterday cleaning up the boat, charging the batteries and running the motor for about 45 minutes. All systems are go. It's been too long and I'm excited to launch. The seas are going to be less than 2 foot this morning, going 2-3 foot in the afternoon.

The fishing reports have Tarpon up to 100 pounds still active in Charlotte Harbor but I'd like to target the Spanish Mackeral along the beaches from Boca Grande to Englewood. Reports are good for trolling. For the first time, I'm going to try to catch my own bait fish as opposed to buying them at the bait shop. If that doesn't work, I'll be trolling with spoons or plugs. (lures)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

East Coast Time

Hampton Inn
Palm Beach Gardens, FL
I spent this week working the "treasure coast" of Florida. Above is an incredible homesite situated on the St. Lucie inlet and some awesome kite sailing shots taken from Juno Beach. I strongly encourage you to click on the pictures to expand them for better viewing.
My workout continued last night, doing 5 miles on the treadmill. I am taking a break tonight to rest. Tomorrow is my company's annual "field day" when management works side by side with labor to remember who butters our bread. I will be working with a trim crew in Palm Beach Gardens. I head for home after my labor shift. Man, I want to go fishing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back on the run

On the road
Stuart, FL

The new music I uploaded to my mp3 player apparently did me some good. Half way through my 5 mile trek on the treadmill, I started running. I ran 1.2 miles of the 5. You may recall I started off this program with to where I could run...and after about 3 weeks, lost my will to run. I continued an aerobic walking pace and I'm definately getting into shape but the running is such a better workout. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I'm able to run it. The sweat just pours and pours off.

I got to the job yard this morning at 6:30 and attended a safety meeting. As the trucks rolled out of the yard, we stopped each one to inspect seat belts. Suddenly a vicous downpour came through, drenching my clothes. After about 10 minutes the rain stopped and a breeze of about 15 mph followed. What a beautiful morning.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Three times around the block

Home but ready to roll

I'm leaving today for an east coast road trip. I have been continuing my workout program and am presently doing three times around my block at home, five days per week. The thing is...once around is 1.7 miles, so three times around is 5.1 miles per day! I'm walking about 18 minute miles and the whole thing is taking about 90 minutes. I'm trying to stay off the scale until the end of October. I copied a bunch of inspiring music to my mp3 player to keep my workout motivation going strong.

I had a beer last night (a rare occasion for me now) to celebrate the Arizona Cardinals victory over the Dallas Cowgirls; 30-24. It is likely the two teams will meet again in the NFC playoffs in January. That is, IF Dallas can make the playoffs. The last time the Cardinals made the playoffs was in 1998 and they went into Dallas and beat them handily. The Cardinals haven't been back to the playoffs since then but Dallas hasn't won a playoff game since then, either.

The weather in the tropics has gotten suddenly interesting. Tropical Storm Nana lit up and died out in about 24 hours. There are three other systems trying to get named, about 2500 miles away from Florida. I don't expect to have to break out the window boards again this season though. Just as I type this, it begins downpouring rain like you wouldn't believe.

I have trips planned to Phoenix, Vegas and back to Phoenix for the first week of November. All are business related and time will be at a premium.

The above Bromeliad is in our backyard, next to a birdbath. By the way, there is a Cardinal that visits that birdbath on a regular basis.

Bromeliads are members of a plant family known as Bromeliaceae (bro-meh-lee-AH-say-eye). The family contains over 3000 described species in approximately 56 genera. The most well known bromeliad is the pineapple. The family contains a wide range of plants including some very un-pineapple like members such as Spanish Moss (which is neither Spanish nor a moss). Other members resemble aloes or yuccas while still others look like green, leafy grasses.
In general they are inexpensive, easy to grow, require very little care, and reward the grower with brilliant, long lasting blooms and ornamental foliage. They come in a wide range of sizes from tiny miniatures to giants. They can be grown indoors in cooler climates and can also be used outdoors where temperatures stay above freezing.
(borrowed from )

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Home in PCH; 73 degrees, cloudy hurts to move.

My honey and I spent the entire day working in the backyard. We have 26 sable palm trees back there and they all needed a serious cleanup. We used a 26' pole pruner and it was definately a team effort. The palm fronds were enough work, but those seed pods were a ton of work. We will call Waste Management tomorrow and schedule a bulk pickup. We get two of those a year. It's nice that we can decide when we want it, as opposed to Phoenix, where they scheduled it for you. We also took down some gigantic bougainvillea and pulled a bunch of weeds from our little beach. Have I mentioned we are sore? I even took a palm boot to the face, giving me a boxers cut above my left eye. It's official...we have put our sweat AND blood into this yard. I've said it before: This place is like working a farm.

It's clouding up quickly now, at 6:15PM. I'm hearing some thunder and hoping for rain. We haven't had any significant rain since last Tuesday. I put some selective herbicide down on my lawn on Friday and watered it in, but I need more rain. I'm trying to kill off all the weeds in the grass and kill off the crabgrasses too. We have about 50% of St. Augustine and it will greatly improve this "winter" if we kill off all of the competition. Nice steady shower falling now.

Yesterday I spent the entire day on the boat. Unfortunately the boat was on the lift and I was cleaning it. It was long overdue. I can't believe the amount of debris that accumulates on deck. I don't recall the Sea Ray being this much work to keep clean, but then Kathy reminded me that we had a full boat cover on the Sea Ray and it wasn't parked next to 26 palm trees. Someday we will afford a cover for this one.

I was having some pressure problems on my starboard side fish well. It fills up with rainwater or fresh water when I wash the cockpit. It probably holds about 25 gallons and it is supposed to pump out by pushing a button at the helm. The pump pressure was so poor, the water just seeped out of the drain. I opened up the engine bilge and found two more sea strainers I didn't know were there. After opening them I found each one covered in sludge. After cleaning the screens, the pumps worked like brand new. Woohooooo! I love it when I figure stuff out. This is another example of messing about in boats. Wow, it's really a downpour outside now.

My workout plan is still going strong. Kathy joined me again on Friday and she pushed me pretty hard. She is a very fast walker. I stepped onto the scale tonight and had a nice surprise. 257.5.

This is the middle of my sixth week and I am down 22.5 pounds. I even treated myself last night for Kathy's birthday. We went to Rib City and enjoyed some delicious BBQ ribs and corn on the cob. We also split a very tasty slice of Key Lime pie. Happy Birthday, honey!

My trip to the Keys was nice, as always. I did my walking along the Overseas Highway, as the sun set over the Gulf. The workout is always easier when you are walking new ground. Along the walk I passed a street light pole with an old bumper sticker on it: Perot For President. Wow, how long ago that seems. The Manatee Resort at Key Largo has a new GM and she fired a bunch of the staff we liked. Our tiki bar bartender, Iris was let go. I figured I could find her if I went to Snooks Bayside restuarant and I did. She said it was clear the new GM was out to clean house. Too bad, that place had a good thing going. The tiki bar is now closed during the week. Iris is having trouble finding a replacement job. If she's unable to find anything in the next few weeks, she thinks she might leave the Keys and go stay with her niece in Maine. Talk about a change. She's been in Key Largo for 12 years and seems to fit so well there. This economy is hard on so many people. I went away feeling bad for Iris but counting my own blessings.
It's 7PM and raining steadily still. My body is crying out....get in the hot tub!