Forest Mushrooms

Every year, in the fall, there seems to be an explosion of mushrooms on the forest floor.

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A Brief Summary of South Florida

Those individuals within my immediate circle of friends and family know of and are aware of a career move I made in mid-February. After finishing a masters degree in computer science at the end of 2017, I caught my breath, stepped back and took a moment to reflect on where I was at professionally. Over the course of 2018, I ruminated on whether now was the time to continue the academic push together further graduate studies in computer science, or if I should make a change with my career’s direction.

Ruling out doctoral studies, I started to look for open positions in the Twin Cities’ area, as well as entertaining discussions with technical recruiters.

After many interviewers, phone calls, and all the machinations involved, I received an offer for employment from the analytics wing of a large, publicly traded, renewable energy focused, electricity company. I accepted the offer.

And so, five weeks into my latest career move, I found myself in South Florida, visiting the corporate headquarters, and meetings coworkers who I had only seen and interacted with via video conferencing.

Jupiter Beach Resort & Hotel

As I told a few coworkers, I had never been to Florida. If you are a long term lurker of my musings on this blog, you will be aware of my global meanderings, but I had never been to Florida. The farthest south in the continental United States was South Carolina, and even then, I have only been to Lancaster, which is near the border with North Carolina.

When I arrived in West Palm Beach, Florida, the sun had not gone down, yet, and the weather was pleasant – in the mid-60s, light breeze, and more humidity than back home.

My preconceived notion was Florida entirely built from media accounts of events that I had taken notice of over the years, as well as a narrow thread of inputs from former coworkers who had, at one in their lives, live in South Florida. Publix grocery stores, garish cars & culture, Cuban sandwiches, stand your ground laws, and truck nuts were all things that I have associated with a Florida writ large.

Two hours north of Miami, along the coast, I found low key communities, snowbirds winding down their winter stays — looking forward to returning homes in states north, and open air restaurants. One of the most interesting things I found was architecture. It had a similar incorporation of outdoor and indoor spaces that made me think of the similar use of indoor and outdoors that is found in the Presidential Palace in Ho Chi Minh City. I encountered a few covered walkways here and there. There is no snow, but there is plenty of rain. Likewise, the majority of the street light poles and power poles were concrete, reminding me of Japan. Similar to Japan, Florida has to deal with massive storms with high winds.

Jupiter Beach

I’m certain that my three days in South Florida does not represent a meaningful sample of the place and people, but it was a pleasant place, with friendly people. There were Publix grocery stores, and I did shop at one. There were fancy cars, but the truck nuts must have been hidden.

Custom Front Receiver Mount for a 2002 F150 4×4

I have had the idea of a hitch receiver or even a winch mount for the front of our 2002 Ford F150 4×4, for quite a while. This idea became pretty strong. I would find myself, when I had a spare moment, sketching out on paper different possible layouts. Waffling back and forth on whether to incorporate a winch from the start, and incorporate a hitch receiver, or just go with a hitch receiver. Do I use the recovery hook mount points on the underside of the frame rails directly under and behind the bumper; or do I do something more drastic, and attempt to mount in the frame rails through the bumper — actually physically cutting through the bumper.

I opted for a non-invasive, no bumper modifications path. I removed the existing recovery hooks from the truck. As a side note, if you need to remove the recovery hooks on your 2002 F150, complete remove the bolts nearest the bumper, but simply loosen the rear bolts just enough to free the hooks. There is a captive nut rail inside the frame that would be a total time suck to get lined up again if those rear bolts were to be fully removed.

I realize that I could have just bought a front receiver mount, but what is the fun of that. If I exclude new tools and cutting wheels/discs that I had to purchase, this was a relatively inexpensive project.

Materials and Costs

The 2″x2″x1/4″ steel tubing was a Craigslist find. I bought 48 feet of the material for $150. Throw in maybe $15 for gas, it was a two hour, round trip, adventure to get the steel tubing. This project used 29″ of tubing. At roughly, $0.28 per inch, the center rail cost $8.30. The 3″x3″x1/2″ angle steel was free. I had originally found this in an outbuilding when we bought our property. It was roughly 48″ long when I found it. Over the last few years, I’ve sliced off a piece here and there for projects. There was a smidgen over 32″ left.

The weld on receiver hitch was about $16, the weld on recovery shackle mounts were purchased from a person on eBay for $25 (here is a very similar set from Amazon).

Total materials cost was around $50.

I used a 6013 welding electrode — because that is what I had on hand. The Jepson abrasive chop saw was something that I did not have, but was able to get it from a person on Craigslist for $35. Bimetal hole saws, a titanium coated metal drill bit, new abrasive cutting wheels, a 15 mm deep socket and 6″ extension all could have added to the overall cost of this project. However, I tend to think of these sorts of purchases as being amortized into the future. I will definitely get more use out of all these things on future projects.

Here’s a video that captures much of the work.

AutoCAD DXF for this project

There are still a few things that need to be done, but they can wait until spring: knock off the bits of weld splatter, grind and smooth the welds, and powder coat the entire assembly. Recovery shackles will also need to be added, too.