Thursday, August 27, 2009


On the road in Chantilly, VA
70* at wakeup

Danny has come to life in the Atlantic. With winds this morning at 60 MPH, it is expected to track Northwest over the next few days. If it contacts the US mainland, it is only expected to skirt the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I ran 3.5 miles on the street yesterday after work. I feel like I'm back in the groove again, being prepared to run 3-4 days weekly. It will take some time before building my distance back up to the 7-10 mile at a time range. By the time the weather breaks in October I should be able to set a new personal best. The Miami Marathon is still a possibility in February, right before the Superbowl (also in Miami).

Today I work Chantilly. Tonight I drive to Germantown, Maryland for my final night here. Work tomorrow is at Clarksburg, MD and fly home out of Baltimore late Friday night.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Hampton Inn, Chantilly, VA
Lows upper 60's, highs mid 80's...nice

Before leaving home I applied the final coat of paint on the outdrive so the boat project should be completed this next weekend. I still have to remove all of the masking paper and tape, change the drive oil, change two zinc anodes, grease and re-attach the propellers and apply the replacement Volvo decals. I have everything I need to do that this Saturday. I want to get back on the water soon.

It's Tuesday and I'm finishing the second day of my DC trip but it feels like I've been here a week already. Nothing has gone bad, I'm just loosing track of the days. I haven't been home on a Tue/Wed/Thur in the past 3 weeks. Thank God for weekends and an understanding wife.

Yesterday at the National Harbor I went for a walk after dinner, down to the marina. It's a beautiful development there with dining, shopping, retail office and lots of jewelry/curio shops. There's a bandstand that hosted some fairly decent 90's bands over the summer. My favorite sight is this art sculpture of Triton or some other mythical sea god. It is placed in a huge area of sand, with only a few body parts emerging to give it the illusion that he's completely buried in the sand. The head, face up, right arm/hand, left hand, right foot and left leg/knee are all that you see. The body parts are extremely large so it looks like a giant has washed ashore. I wish I'd had my camera but trust was a cool piece.

I ran every one of the past four days, in a row, so I am resting/recovering tonight. It feels good to be back running again. I was on treadmills on Sunday and Monday but there's a great street course I run around this Hampton, which I will tackle tomorrow after work.

Another system has emerged in the Atlantic and from what I have read, I'm pretty sure this will become our next named storm, Danny. I reported on this last Saturday; it's the same system. Hurricane hunters examined it today and failed to find an organized center of low pressure circulation; however all of the factors are right for this system of widespread showers to become a tropical depression in the next 48 hours. The good news is that the same steering winds that kept Bill away from Florida are still in place to send this system north, as well. It is currently northeast of Puerto Rico and I will keep reporting on it until it developes or dissipates.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
74* at wake up, high of 92

It's been a very long week of work on the road. I worked the Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Homestead/Keys areas. I enjoyed 2 nights in Islamorada but other than dinner and sleep didn't do anything there. Nonetheless, time in the Keys beats time anywhere else.

Today is Saturday and I have a bunch of things to do before departing Sunday afternoon for DC. Our hot tub has fallen into a little disaray and we are getting that all cleaned up and rebalanced on chemicals. We don't care for bromine tabs so we are switching back to chlorine. After the spa duty I need to mow, edge and trim the grass. I did it on Thursday night after returning from home but need to do it again before leaving town, lest I come home to a jungle. Rolando's house still has power on and he hasn't pulled his furniture yet. He's hoping for a miracle to save it but it seems like it's only a matter of time until it's a foreclosure. They have missed 2 payments and got their pre-f notice from the lender. I plan on continuing to maintain the landscape to avoid having a next door eyesore.

The boat drive project remains unfinished but the materials arrived Thursday and Friday. I doubt I will get to it today though. Friday was spent typing reports from sun up to sun down. Oh it was a rough road trip with lots of bad news to pass on to my branches. I don't care to talk too deep about company business on here but it was a week of seeing poor practices in action. I'm sure we will get it cleaned up, as I have the full support of the big brass.

I'm sure you all know Hurricane Bill is no threat to the US Mainland, save for some high surf in New England. There are no other threatening systems on radar, just a tropical wave off the coast of Africa that has less than a 30% chance of organizing. Just to be safe, I showed Kathy how to install the window boards using the new Plylox fasteners.

This evening we have a dinner party at Chuck and Ruthie's house. The Cardinals play at home tonight in the second pre-season game of the year. I will record the 1AM re-broadcast and watch the first half before heading for the airport tomorrow. Speaking of broadcasts...we switched from DirecTV to Dish Network. We got a bunch of new features that we were lacking before like HD reception, HD DVR, some movie channels and a third TV hooked up. We got all of this for cheaper than we were paying without those options. We saved about 20 bucks over DTV and saved another 15 by cancelling our Netflix subscription. Every dollar counts, right?

Good news / bad news
The bad news is I haven't maintained my running through July and August and I gained about 10 pounds. The good news is I started again this week and ran 4 days. Our humidity will start to drop off in September too and that will encourage me to stay with it through the winter. It was a year ago that I was at 280 pounds. I got down to 238 and this morning was back at 248. I am committed to stay running. Without it, I will surely see 300 someday and that's not acceptable to me. My sister Shannon has continued to be a good source of inspiration, as she runs along "with me" from her home in Southern California.

My oldest son, Ryan, now works for my company in our Phoenix branch. He is very happy, so far. My youngest boy, Billy, has started 8th grade in Phoenix and he plays Pop Warner football. Ryan plans on attending every game. My girls, Kimber (22) and Stephanie (17, Senior year) will be with us for Thanksgiving week. My Dad plans on driving out in December this year, with the pointer sisters, Penny and Patty. I can't believe this will be my third December living in Florida. I got here 12/3/2007. Time sure flys.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Click on pictures for full screen image

Home in Port Charlotte
76* and dry at wakeup

6PM Sunday update:
A tornado touched down in Cape Coral, about 30 miles south of us, flipping a car end over end and resting it standing up against a house. Six other homes received moderate damage. There are no reports of injuries. Our NOAA weather radio activated at 4:45 with a tornado warning for our neighborhood. The warning was due to atmospheric conditions, not the sighting of a tornado like up in the Cape. We had some pretty high winds and rain for a while and then dead calm. Our warning expired at 5:30PM with no further activity. It is not believed this tornado was related to TS Claudette, as that storm is hundreds of miles northwest of us. TS Bill has strengthened to 65MPH winds. Ana has decreased back down to a Tropical Depression (TD) with winds at 35MPH.

Monday morning I will work the Venice/Englewood area, which is the closest branch to our home. Monday afternoon I will depart for Miami/Homestead for 3 days of work.

2PM Sunday update:
TD #4 is now Tropical Storm Claudette. There is no danger of this affecting our position.
TS Ana continues the same track, same status. TS Bill has gained strength to 60MPH winds.

7AM Sunday
Yesterday's big storms missed us on Charlotte Harbor, but Miami, the Keys and Naples all got tons of rain. We had some decent breezes throughout the day but just a spit of rain. That system came from the Atlantic, crossed South Florida, entered the Gulf and this morning became Tropical Depression #4, with 35MPH winds. If it reaches 40MPH, it will become TS Claudette. We are out of the path of it anway, as it is north of us and continuing north/northwest toward the Florida panhandle or maybe even Alabama. The photo above shows our position relative to TD #4.

Back out in the Atlantic, TS Ana is now being tailed by TS Bill. Ana is very small, with winds barely hanging on to her Tropical Storm status. Bill is a huge system that will very likely reach hurricane status by the middle of next week. It's much too early to predict where it may go but with all of this activity we have activated our preparation plans. We bought 20 gallons of bottled water at Sams Club. We have spare propane bottles for cooking on the grill, plenty of non-perishable food items in the pantry, important papers in a box that can be placed in our saferoom, batteries for flashlights, and of course our NOAA weather radio. The to do list includes taking 2009 property insurance photographs (have 2008) and filling up vehicles and spare cans with gasoline just before storm day. Hopefully I have to opportunity to complete the boat repairs project next weekend before anything hits. I'm sure I will be able to.

Today we are relaxing at home and watching the weather. If you want to track our local radar images the best website is Look for the weather picture on the right and click on it for a larger screen. Close the little advertisement window that blocks some of your view. Now you have an interactive doppler zoom radar. You can use your mouse to scroll in and out as well as click and drag the map all around to see the area you want. This thing zooms in so close, you can get right down to our street level and see our house! Save it to your favorites and follow along all storm season.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Home in Port Charlotte
75 at wake up, high of 87
The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season got it's first action overnight when tropical depression #2 re-organized and was re-born as Tropical Storm Ana. As of 7:30AM eastern time, Ana is still 2,400 miles away from Southwest Florida and moving at only 16MPH. Her maximum winds now are just 40MPH. The current projected path shows Ana not coming near Florida until next weekend, if at all. There's always the chance she breaks up before making landfall. The photograph above shows not just Ana but two other significant systems.
The area in yellow is a tropical wave of low pressure that will bring some good rain to us today. The area in red is huge tropical wave behind Ana that, if it organizes, will be a much larger storm to be named Bill. (don't look at me, I had nothing to do with it)
For this season we bought some new materials that will make it easier for me to board up our windows. Last year I had to use concrete screws to secure the boards into the window frames. This year we bought something called Plylox clips that use tension to lock the plywood into the window frame. It should make the task easier, faster and in the unlikely event Kathy has to put them up without me, she will be able to do this herself. When we have to put them up I will post pictures or video to share.
The additional materials I ordered to finish the outdrive project won't arrive until next Thursday so I can't complete the boat project just yet.
The twins arrived safely back home in Phoenix yesterday. I spent last week in Palm Beach County again. The coming week will bring me to the Miami/Homestead area.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Update: 8/9/09
Instead of writing a new blog each day, I am just editing this entry to keep all the pics together.

One coat of the new paint took the entire can, but the job's not yet done.

Primer applied. The damage to the exhaust was there when we bought her.

Post primer shot

Taken today after removing the props

Outdrive after sanding the worst of the corroded paint off

Shaft splines showing what's left of the grease from last October.
Click to enlarge then look at the screw just above the skeg fin.
That's where my drive oil drain plug is. We will service the drive oil since we've come this far.

Lower unit of the Volvo Penta DP-S outdrive showing early signs of corrosion on the day we brought her home. She really needs repainting now, as you see in the pics above.

Monday morning update:
I sprayed the new paint on but one coat took up the whole can and it's not enough of a coat.
I ordered another can of paint and will have to wait for it to be shipped by Friday.
While working down there I found another zinc anode that must be replaced.
Today's order from Marine Parts Express was the zinc (28), hex screws and washers (21), can of paint (13), tub of prop grease (25), drive oil (25), pump for drive oil (16) for a total of $125, with my 10% discount. I also saved sales tax over a local dealer. I try to focus on what we're saving by having me do all this myself.

I have booked my hotels for the week and depart for the Atlantic coast today.

Sunday night update:
The primer has been applied. I will shoot the paint before leaving town for work Monday.

Saturday night:
Home in Port Charlotte
Heavy downpour for the last two hours

Today I started my next DIY (Do It Yourself) project on the boat. The outdrive has to be repainted every few years as a normal part of maintenance. In order to do this I had to first remove the Duoprops. Volvo requires the props to come off every year in order to re-grease the shaft spline. The outer prop is a 30mm socket ($7) and the inner prop requires a special tool from Volvo ($50) and of course the inner tool was a 1/2" ratchet connection so I had to buy a new ratchet ($27). If you don't remove the props and re-grease the shaft spline, you run the risk of having the inner prop hub corrode and freeze to the prop. This is what happened to us last October (see blog entry from 10/20/08) and just the prop service cost $300. Purchasing these tools once to DIY from now on makes the expense worthwhile.

I still had a hard time getting the rear prop off, today, so I had to buy a rubber mallet ($5). That did the trick. I decided I will make this prop service a twice annual item to keep the grease fresh. After pulling the props I got out my Corner Cat sander and started sanding off some the worn and flaking paint. Not long into the job, the rain started falling. It hasn't stopped now for 2 hours.

I will update more tomorrow.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Crossing from east to west coasts required going through this monster storm
Home in Port Charlotte
High of 90, late day rain
Last weekend was a busy one at home, pruning the Sable Palm trees on our lot. There are 27 of them and it is quite an ordeal to trim them up. This summer I had two capable helpers in the form of our grandsons Dylan and Devin. They boys were rewarded for their hardwork with dinner and a movie.
I spent the past week travelling the Atlantic coast, throughout Palm Beach County, working. It was a tough week with lots of problems discovered at my branches. I had to write some hard line reports but that's my job.
I ran on Monday night but that was it. The weather is getting uncomfortable and running in it is not appealing. I will try to continue to use the treadmills at the hotels and maintain my physical training program until the weather breaks in September.
This has been a strange summer for weather in the tropics. Last year I was busy tracking tropical storms and reporting on hurricanes but this season we haven't had so much as a tropical wave since May 30. I'm not wishing for bad weather, I just find it interesting that it's been so quiet.
Coming back from Palm Beach, yesterday, I encountered a monsterous thunderstorm and shot the above pictures. The rain was so thick I had to drive 40 in a 65. The temperature dropped from 92 to 75. That's the summer pattern I came to enjoy last year.
The title photo on my blog, of Dylan and Devin piloting the boat, was published yesterday in the Waterline magazine. It's a weekly boating and fishing publication in Southwest Florida. The boys, their mom and Mimi (Kathy) were all very excited. I thought it was pretty cool myself. Ten or twenty years from now it will be a great memory for them.
I get this weekend at home and depart Monday afternoon for more fun on the other coast.