Onset of Fall

(9/15) I woke up this morning for work and discovered via my iPad it was 38°F outside.  38!  Ai yi yi.  It may be Summer by the calendar but that’s not a typical Summer temperature for sure.

With the change in the weather, more things come to mind that needs to be done to get ready for that other bug-a-boo, old Man Winter.  The garage needs to be rearranged to make room for the car, hopefully, earlier than I usually do it, which tends to be before the first or second snowfall of the year.  At that point, I take just about everything that’s crowded on the main part of the garage, shove it into the corners and sides, and make a car-sized space in the middle, just big enough for the vehicle to reside.  Then uncover the snowblower, make certain it starts and everything stays put for the most part until Spring.  And the cycle starts anew.  As soon as it’s warm enough, the car comes out, the garage is repopulated somewhat by junk and the car stays outside for the warm weather.

Like most years, about this time I think I’m going to change that narrative.  Since June, I’ve been meaning to get out to the garage, pull out just about everything in it and start sorting, rearranging, and seeing if I can make it neater, even have considered buying some storage solutions and either attaching them to the walls or building upwards from the floor with adjustable wire shelving similar to the ones that I purchased for our pantry in the past twelve months.

This seemed to be a better solution than my other idea, which involved woodworking.  Building a shelving unit from hardware (2×4’s, screws, and plywood) might end up being the cheaper route, but my woodworking skills are basic at best, and I’m not terribly confident that what I built would hold up under load for a long period of time.  So more than likely it would be cost-prohibitive in the long run if I went with something made of steel.

As is normally the case with my posts, they start at one point and end up being finished at another. It’s now Wed Sep 23 and Autumn has arrived.  We’ve already had 2 nights when the mercury dipped below the 32°F threshold and it was required that we either bring in potted plants or cover ones that we wished to save.  The garage has been populated with the pots and both the old blue sheet and ratty canvas dropcloth have been pressed into service to salvage the marigolds and the backyard flowers that cannot be moved.marigolds-2020.jpg

Suffice it to say we can’t keep that up forever.  At some point we’ll determine it’s time to let the annuals be frost-killed and remove them from the planter and backyard beds, preparing them for the winter slumber.  Soon enough I’ll be giving the lawns one good last mow and put away the mower for the year.  Raking leaves and putting them to the curb for the village to collect.  I’ve already started looking for a lawn service to clear out the brush pile behind the garage.  That needs to go as well.  I’m sure our neighbors behind us would agree.  They actually put up a fence to obscure it.

Three months to go until Winter.

An AAPL a day…

Tuesday I bought two shares of stock in Apple.  Something I’d been meaning to do for many years, but for one reason or another I just never did.  Of course, when you put things off, sometimes the thing you want quickly climbs out of reach and you have to wait.  For a time when it becomes affordable again.

Now granted, I could have bought them a week earlier and ended up with 8 shares right now instead of 2, since Apple just recently split it’s stock 4-1, but to buy those 2 shares at that point would have cost me $1,008.  For me, like a lot of penny ante investors, it’s better to wait for something to be affordable, instead of betting the lunch money on something of this nature.  As people have often said about the stock market, you don’t put your ‘food money’ into it.  Put money that you can afford to lose, because there’s no guarantee you’re going to get rich there.

And over the last couple of days, that’s good advice as from where I bought it ($134) it’s gone down as much as $25 before creeping back up to $120 at the end of business today.  From what I’m reading in stock sheets, this is a predictable result of the stock split, and a lot of people getting into the market because of it, expecting large returns, since Apple is such a well known company.  Many don’t understand how the markets work, they expect it’s going to be a lot like ‘Wolf of Wall Street’, where you can just jump in, make huge plays and get rich.  What people don’t understand is, Jordan Belfort was a scammer, and cheating investors out of huge amounts of money.  He wasn’t in any stretch of the imagination a ‘white knight’, he was a pretty low down dirty scumbag when it comes right down to it.  Even he admitted that fact.

Needless to say, I don’t play the market to get rich.  Quite honestly I’m about as good at picking stocks as I was at playing poker online.  I mostly go for blue chip stocks, companies that have been around for a good amount of time (IBM, Xerox, AT&T etc.) and on occasion tech stocks that have had good returns in the past (Amazon, Tesla and yes Apple).  The one regret I do have is selling my Tesla stock a couple of years ago.  If I’d held onto it (bought it at $60/share) and sold it just before the stock split I would have made $10,000 on my investment.  But at the time I didn’t see the stock going anywhere, Tesla wasn’t really touted as being all that much, so I sold the stock when it was worth about $200.  I figured I made my best choice and I lived with it.  Seeing as Tesla was selling electric cars, it could have very easily gone the other way, since there are lots of other companies that tried to sell that item (Chevy Volt anyone?) and bombed spectacularly.

Even though as a rule I’m not overly thrilled with Apples products, and operating systems (to date I’ve owned two iPods, and iPad and that’s it) I can’t deny the company has been big on innovation.  And quite successful as well.  Granted Steve Jobs didn’t invent anything, Steve Wozniak was really the brains behind the Mac revolution.  Jobs was good at selling, and making himself the face of the company.  Even Woz admits that he basically left the company because he wasn’t having any fun with what he was doing there.  He took his stipend and went back to coding, and starting other businesses that fed his passion.  Jobs stayed in, and it could be argued that he worked himself to death there.  But his baby is flourishing.  And I’m going to get my piece of the pie.  Even if it’s a small slice.

Flight Ops

More than a few birthdays ago, my wife bought me a drone.  It wasn’t one of those fancy-schmancy deals you see on websites, it was more of a teenager’s style, built for rough and tumble, and accidents aplenty.  It had a basic 2 MP camera/video capability and came with extra rotor blades in case the originals were damaged or destroyed during use.

I remember messing around with it, and a couple of times almost getting it caught on the roof of the house, as well as into trees, the neighbor’s yard, and so on, reminding me that I probably needed to find a big open field somewhere for flying, but never really did.  After about a week of playing with it, I got tired of not being very good at flying and put it back into its box and set it aside.

Fast forward to about five years.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about dragging the drone out and seeing about messing around with it again.  I remember purchasing a few extra batteries soon after getting it, along with a multiple battery charger so that I wouldn’t have to wait an hour between flights.  The drone originally came with 2 batteries, so I bought 3 more to increase the flying time from 18 minutes to 45.  Since each battery takes approximately 40-45 minutes to charge, it would help me to continually swap them in and out almost indefinitely, or at least until I got tired of crashing the drone into things.  Or until I got better at flying.

Over the past week, I’ve been taking it out for an hour or so at a time.  Since it’s a very lightweight drone, I’ve had to gauge the wind, since even a 5-7 mph breeze can have a marked effect on the flight abilities of the thing.  Too, I don’t have a lot of places I can fly it, and there are obstacles I have to maneuver around.  Like trees.  And the roofs of this house and the neighbor houses.  With limited battery time, if I happened to get it stuck, it’s going to be there awhile.  I’m not about to rent a cherry picker to get it off a 2-story roof due to pilot error.  Or stupidity.

Needless to say, there’s room for improvement.  Like other things I’ve gotten interested in, there have been thoughts of upgrades.  But for now, I think with winter coming on, it might be best just to consider maybe increasing the flight time little by little, before going for major upgrades, like a newer, more expensive drone.  Considering finding a different place to fly it around here has proved problematic.