Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Announcement

Let the Royal Chronicles show that an extended journey is planned.
I will travel to Beaverton, Oregon (near Portland) to visit my sister (and brother-in-law and nephew).
I will be be gone for a little over two weeks.
Many pictures will be taken.
It is unlikely that any posts will be made to this blog while I am gone.
A full report (with pictures!) will be posted upon my return.

This means that the bathroom project will be on hold for this period.

THE BATHROOM REMODELING PROJECT

The status of the bathroom project as of this evening is ......

The living room wall is completely patched and painted with white primer.
It will remain in this state until I repaint the living room sometime next year.
(This sounds worse than it looks. The walls are already a light beige so in the normally dim light the primer looks little different from the rest of the walls.)

The bathroom walls are completely patched and "finished".
There are a few small places where I am not pleased with my joint compound smoothing and will attempt to improve on the work done in those places.
(I did some "patching" last evening.)
In spite of the above, a coat of white primer was applied to all walls (Saturday) and tonight I applied a coat of the New Color (a light gold-brown called "Roasted Cashew".
It looks good to me.

THE RUN

The run last Saturday was another productive session.
I was a bit tired from my remodeling project and had not done any workouts in two weeks.
This, I feel, weaked me just a bit more than otherwise (work has been slow this past week) would be the case.
My time was between forty-one and forty-two minutes, so I was not as badly fatigued as I feared.
It is good to be running again.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Remodeling Progress

I hate remodeling.
I would rather tear something completely to the ground and build a completely new replacement than to have to piddle with the infinite little details that present themselves in a remodeling job.
So here I am remodeling my baffroom.
With all of its many little details that must be fixed before it can be completed.




Hidden behind my old tile was evil mold stains.



More tub nastiness.



Fixtures removed.



"The hole" in the living room - old tub still there.



"The hole" with old tub gone.
Mo pichas later.

THE RUN LAST WEEK

(I know you both are really interested in this.)
The run last week was productive if a bit difficult.
The effort at work has been elevated and the results of such activity makes itself known when I run.
In addition, I was working almost every evening on my bathroom.
I was cutting sheet rock and smearing goop over the joints and holes.
The good news: is that I am expecting some diminished strength and results.
The bad news: I am not sure how much it will be.
The good news: I had a pretty good run.
The bad news: It could have been better.

It was cold (mid 40's) and I hate the cold.
So I have to be careful how I dress (a nuisance).
I must wear just exactly the correct type and number of layers or I will be uncomfortable during my journey.
Too much and I sweat like a piggy in the Mojave.
Too little and I freeze like a piggy in the freezer.
Fortunately, I got the layers right.
My time was a bit long of forty-one minutes but not bad considering my already taxed strength.
I was happy.

THE RUN THIS WEEK

The thermometer on my back porch read 58 degrees at 5:50 this morning.
That is "hot" for December in Alabama.
Thus, dressing for this session was simple - shorts and a long-sleeved top.
Off I went and had a pretty decent time of it.

I have been fighting a cold all this week and I am in the last stages of it.
My nose was stuffed up, which inhibited my breathing somewhat.
My lungs also had some junk in them that rattled around a bit until I hacked it up halfway into mile one.
Plus, this has been another active week at work.
Spending most of each day bending over, reaching behind equipment, hooking up cables and arranging them in neat bundles and tying them together is tiring work.
Much of it is done by braille because you cannot always see what you are doing.

Given all of the above, I expected a less than ideal time on the running course.
To my surprise, I had a pretty good time of it.
So much so that I caught myself daydreaming in mile two and three.
I was a bit late getting started.
It was 6:07 at my first steps.

My left knee started squeaking toward the end of mile two.
Running Central duly took note of the complaint and monitored the situation for a few minutes.
The problem went away and daydreaming resumed.
Running Central went back to sleep.

I was tired toward the end.
So much so that accelerated breathing kicked in a few hundred feet from the finish line/crack in the parking lot.
But the Runner in me had asserted himself in those last few minutes and we were going to give the session our all.

Part of the reason for this is that today is/was the Rocket City Marathon.
As I was running my little course, 1,500 people (much better runners than I) were preparing to trot twenty-six miles.
I have never run a marathon.
I never felt the need.
I have run two half-marathons (13.2 miles each).
That was enough.
But those people were on my mind as I ran today.
The Runner in me felt that the least I could do was give my best effort to my little course.

And thus, I crossed my finish line/crack at 6:49.
Forty-two minutes.
Not bad for a tired old man.

Friday, December 07, 2007



The meter says the bird is done.



Here is some of the dinner the I feasted upon Thanksgiving day.
Mmmmm, yummy!



The living room wall before "the hole".



The b-room before



My poor tub with temporary plastic sheet to keep it from leaking.



The potty that couldn't flush anything bigger than a marble and the sink that you can't put anything on while you wash/shave/rinse.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

THE RUN

The run Saturday was a good one. (again!)
I managed to dress appropriately for the cold weather and that made for fewer distractions as I trotted along.
It was about 40 degrees.
I put three layers on top and that proved to be a bit much, but two of them were equipped with zippers so I was able to moderated my temperature.
I had to open both zippers before I reached the end of mile one and my mittens came off by the end of mile two.
But due to the wonders of polyester knit, the layers were capable of allowing my body heat to move through them and also allow the cold morning air to drift in.
The extra layer did cause me to sweat more than I would have liked, but because it was also breathable I did not leave a trail of wet.
All in all, I was comfortable.

Between my work schedule and my bathroom remodeling project, I have been busy and active all week.
This resulted in me feeling “tired” before I even took my first running step.
I was mildly concerned that I may not be able to complete my three mile course.
But that concern was without basis.
I did my distance in forty-two minutes – about nominal for my level of fatigue.

I had such a pleasant time that I actually spent most of mile two and the first half of mile three daydreaming as I ran.
As my mind wandered the distance passed beneath me.
And then, I was done.
On to other activities....

THE PROJECT

The bathroom remodeling project is coming along.
The tub (my biggest concern) is installed and working.
There is still some open space around the walls of the new tub.
I must complete putting reenforcements around the walls of the tub before I can begin finishing the sheet rock.
Each day I complete another detail in the room.
Much of it is support work that will be covered and never seen or appreciated.
But I will know it is there and taken care of.

As a result of my explorations in this project, I have confirmed a suspicion of mine.
There is no (as in, NONE) insulation in the walls of my little house.

Therefore, after this project, I plan to insulate all of my outside walls with polyurethane foam insulation after the first of the year.
I have made the required measurements and calculations and know how much stuff to buy to get the job done.
Polyurethane foam is not cheap but it is very good insulation.
It is rated at R-7 per inch.
Thus, my 3.5 inch walls will have an R value of 24.5 when completed – very good.
This improvement will reduce my heating and cooling bills by as much as twenty-five percent.

To fill my walls with this foam, I will have to drill a two-inch hole near the ceiling in every stud space.
This will be messy and require yet more dislocation of furniture in the house (my house is a mess now with tools and new fixtures scattered all over the house).
Right now, my new toilet is sitting in my kitchen, still in the boxes.
But after this project is completed, and the holes in the walls patched, I can repaint my house according to my OTHER plan.
I have wanted to repaint my rooms for over a year, but have refrained because of the two above projects waiting to be completed.

Later, I may add more insulation to my attic to further reduce my energy use.
Then comes the carport....

It is time to go workout.
I am not enthused but will be better for it when I am done.
Tonight is chest and back night – pushes and pulls.
Later....

Monday, November 19, 2007

Running, Remodeling, Thanking

THE RUN

Forty-two minutes.
That was my time Saturday morning.
I was a bit tardy getting to the course from dithering around the house trying to decide what to wear.
It was supposed to be in the high thirties, according to my recollection.
My recollection was wrong.
It was in the high forties.
It makes a difference.
So I over-dressed a little.
The downside of such errors is that I am a bit uncomfortable (read: hot) if I overdo the clothing layers.
The upside?
I am warm even though the weather is “cold”.

I was tired from some extra effort at work this week.
I prepared myself for a tough slog and that is what I got.
The runner in me said, “This is not fun.”
The coach in me said, “Shuddup an' run.”
Running Central noted the sharp little pin-prick pain in the front of my right knee, and the stiffness in my left hip.
Somewhere in mile one, all the body part complaints disappeared.

I had not gone a good one-eighth of a mile when it became clear that the tension on my shoelaces was not even.
The right was much too loose.
It felt like it had come untied – a first ever event during a run, of any sort.
I had to STOP and retie my right shoelace.
I hate that.

Strangely, I had to stop AGAIN about a mile later to retie that SAME shoelace.
I do not know what happened.
My New Balance running shoes have never had a problem with laces coming loose.
My latest pair have special lumpy laces that, I was told by the salesperson, were designed lumpy so they would not come loose.
For me, they were fixing something that was not a problem to me.

At the end, I was tired.
I felt mentally good that I had done my duty and finished my run.
The last quarter mile was one of those blind trots where all you really want to see is the finish line/crack in the parking lot so you can stop.
As tired as I was, I knew that I would quickly recover from this effort and have a good day.
And it was so.

THANKSGIVING DINNER

After church, Sunday, we partook of our annual Thanksgiving dinner.
The ladies of the congregation prepared a massive feast.
One look at the table and I felt inadequate for the task that lay ahead of me.
I got some turkey, some ham, sweet potato casserole, Lima beans, a cornbread muffin, cranberry sauce, and maybe some other stuff. (oh, yea, I had some stuffing, too.)
After cleaning my plate, I partook of some cake. (I left most of the too-thick but very good, cream cheese-based icing on the plate – too sweet!)
It was all good.
I did not partake of the two kinds of brownies, the fudge, the apple pie, the pan cake, the cookies, or any of the three pastel-colored cool-whip dishes. (we had pink, green, and white with red dots (strawberries?) in it.)

THE PROJECT

The big news this week (other than it being Thanksgiving week) is that I am taking the entire week off to remodel my bathroom.
I really do not expect to have this whole project completed by next weekend, but I will have most of it done.
I have taken the extra time off to allow for fixing unforeseen problems that always come up during remodeling projects.
And I will take most of Thursday off from the remodeling to cook (and eat!) my Thanksgiving dinner.

If you remember the tale of the flying bathtub a few weeks ago, well, this week is when the new tub gets its new home. (and I get to stop scrubbing tile)
Because I am taking ALL of the tile out of the bathroom, I must remove the toilet and the pedestal sink (which I hate).
Today I purchased a new, super-flushing toilet.

I dread this project but it will be nice when I get it all done.
Photos are being taken to document the progress.
They will be posted soon.

GIVING THANKFULNESS

Remodling projects notwithstanding, I/we have many things to be thankful for.

First and formost, that God in mercy reached down to this helpless sinner and called me from my ignorance, rebellion, and selfishness to His kingdom/family/church.
A truly life-changing experience.
He has guided me, helped me, and taken care of me since that time.
I have had to exercise 1 John 2:1 a few times, but God has always been available to restore me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

VETERANS DAY AND OTHER STUFF

VETERANS DAY

A special thank you to all Americans who are serving or have served in our military services.
And a very special thank you to those families who have lost a family member in service to our country.
I realize that no words can ease your pain and loss, but please know that I am aware of your sacrifice and that of your lost loved one.
Thank you for your sacrifice.

ON TO MORE TRIVIAL NEWS......

The run Saturday was productive if not fun.
I was tired from my increased efforts at work during the week.
The question in my mind was how well would I do in my little micro marathon.
I got a late start because I was piddling around the house with various mental distractions regarding my upcoming remodeling project.

My watch read 6:15 when I finally began my run.
I started out expecting to have a tough time of it, thankfully I was mostly disappointed.
I broke into accelerated breathing near the top of hill two and it took me a few minutes to settle back down to my usual breathing level.
This was not unexpected.
By mid-mile three, various little aches and pains were squeaking in my hips and knees, but nothing rose to the level of show stopper.

The last quarter mile was a difficult slog.
I felt like I was running through molasses.
By this time I was pleased to be almost done and was determined to gallop to the end as best I could.
The time proved to be about average – forty-one minutes.

Thanks to the change in the clocks, I had semi-daylight on the whole course.

Sunday morning at five-thirty AM, the eastern sky lit up the few cirrus clouds in brilliant shades of gold, purple, and pink.
It was hard to keep my eyes on my walking course (the street) and not on the sky.
By the time I arrived home, the sun was almost peeking over the mountains.

IN OTHER NEWS.....

I was driving home from church Sunday when an old song came on the radio.
I had not heard it in years (decades?)
I present the words below for your edification:


I was standing on the banks of the river (sic)
Looking out over life’s troubled sea
When I saw an ole ship that was sailing
Is that the ole ship of Zion I see?

Its hull was bent and battered
From the storms of life I could see
Waves were rough but that ole ship kept sailing
Is that the ole ship of Zion I see?

At the stern of the ship stood the captain
I could hear as he called out my name
“Get on board it’s the ole ship of Zion
It will never pass this way again.”

As I step on board I’ll be leaving
All my sorrows and heartaches behind
I’ll be safe with Jesus the captain
Sailing out on the ole ship of Zion.


I first heard this song by the Kingsmen quartet in the early(?) seventies.
I would like to get a copy now.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Changes

Let the chronicles record that the flat sheets on the royal bed have been washed and retired for the winter, replaced by my nice, snuggly flannel sheets.

In other news.....

I am just two weeks away from the most major home project of my administration so far, the remodeling of my bathroom.
This will involve removal of all the tile on the walls, removal of the current steel bathtub, toilet, and sink, and installation of a new one-piece fiberglass tub, new high-fiber toilet and a custom vanity.
I will have to install new sheet rock on the lower four feet of the walls.
And then repaint the whole new bathroom. (color still to be determined)
I plan to keep the tile floor as is.


To install the new tub, I will have to tear out the entire wall behind the current tub, carry the new tub in the front door and pass it through the hole in the wall from the living room to the bathroom, then rebuild the wall and refinish it with new sheet rock and paint.
I very dread this project, but it needs to be done.

On a more pleasant topic.....

The thermometer on my back porch read 45 degrees when I stepped out for my morning run Saturday.
It was 5:45 AM.
I had dressed according to the prognostications of a local weatherperson from the night before.
That prediction proved to be accurate and in accordance with the reading on my thermometer.
I drove to research park – west and started my familiar journey.
My watch read: 6:00:00.
What a great way to measure my running time!

Interestingly, even though it was totally dark, there were no street lights on the first quarter mile of my course.
I assume this was either because of the new construction of Bridge Street, or because someone had already set the timing clock for the lights back in anticipation of daylight savings time this weekend.
My presumption about daylight savings time became less probable when I saw the street lights on along the second quarter mile of my course.

Going up the first hill it was really dark.
There are no street lights or office buildings here.
I could just barely see the lines in the road (I run down the center lane of the road here even though there is a sidewalk fifteen feet away.)
There was a faint quarter moon that provided a small amount of light all during my traverse.
I could even see my shadow in the darker areas.

Just about the time I was sure that the construction was the cause of the lights being out, I came across another section of darkened streetlights in mile two, almost a mile from the construction area.
Go figure.
And it was still really dark.

I was a bit concerned about my strength this session because my left knee tried to collapse Friday at work.
This was not a major event or even a “problem” other than I constantly am aware of how my body is functioning prior to a running event.
A collapsed knee is not a big deal at work where there are other people around to assist you to a chair, if need be, etc.
A collapsed knee when one is alone a mile and a half from one's car in near total darkness at 6:15 AM on Saturday morning, is quite another matter.
So I take notice of my physical resources constantly.

My concern was not needed.
I had a fine run up until the last half mile or so.
That was when my hip flexors began to whine.
Why they were complaining I know not.
It mattered not.
Every time I lifted a leg to take another step, the front of my hips barked.
Running Central duly noted the complaint.
The coach in me said, “Shuddup an run!”
Not a problem.

Steevee was in race mode again and pushed himself all the way to the finish line/crack.
Mind you, it prolly did not look impressive, but I was giving all I had the last few hundred feet of the session.
My watch read: 6:41:15.
I must have done too much sightseeing – even in the darkness.

When I finished, the eastern sky was light but the sun was not up.
This will be the last weekend this year for that circumstance.
In exchange for sunset at 4:30 in the afternoon, I will be able to run in the morning twilight from now on.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Catching Up

LAST WEEK

The run last Saturday was another good one.
There were no physical problems or environmental issues (other than it was cold).
While there was very little to add at the end (an artifact from my racing days) I tried to give all I had for the “big ending”.
I meant to log this event in this space earlier in the week but the time just got away.
So I do it now, tardily.

TODAY

The run today was yet another good session.
I started out a 5:59 and ended at 6:40:55.
It was cold – 45 degrees.
I hate winter. (Yes, I know it's not officially winter yet but it is as cold as)
I wore my “long-john” leggings and two tops – one of them long-sleeved, and my ear cover.
My gardening gloves completed my costume.
I found that I gauged my temperature/heat production quite well.
I did not have to take off my gloves until early in mile three.
Then just holding them in my fists was enough to keep my hands warm.

During the whole run, a tendon on the inside of my left knee kept squeaking about some minor distress.
It never became more than just a little reminder “I'm here”.
In the last half mile my left hip began to whine.
Something about excessive use or somesuch.
Running Central registered the complaint but did nothing.

The last quarter mile was taken over by the runner in me.
I do not know why he came back but the old race horse in me took over.
In spite of feeling tired and a bit “out of breath” (a poor description for accelerated breathing), there was a strong desire to pour out the last drips of Steevee juice on the race course.
I gave it everything I had those last few hundred feet right up to the finish line crack in the parking lot.

Then it was off to the store and the next project for the day – a new back door.
There are no windows in my kitchen.
I miss being able to look out and see the trees and sunshine.
Prolly some low-level claustrophobia.
Anyway, I decided early in my time in my little house to replace the nice steel backdoor (which had a 1/8th inch peep hole for a window) with a nice door with windows in it.



Two weeks ago I bought the new door.
Today I took out the old door and put in the new.



I still need to install the trim around the inside and outside, but it is firmly anchored and ready for use.




After waiting so long for a view, I now have to get used to seeing light in that space.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Week of the Flying Tub

It has been an interesting week.
In an effort to force myself to follow through on a big project that I really do not want to do (but will HAVE to do eventually), I purchased a one-piece fiberglass bathtub on Wednesday.
One of the guys at work offered to help me and use his pickup truck to take it to my house.
While we were loading the big tub on the truck, a bystander suggested that we turn the tub around on the truck so the wind would not blow it out.
I was willing to make the change but my helper/friend thought it would be all right as it sat.
He tied it in with some nylon twine.

So off we went with the big tub and a new back door in the back of the truck.
I was cringing with distress as I watched the speedometer needle sit on 40 mph.
“I think we're going too fast,” I mumbled.
My friend eased off the throttle to 39 mph.

We had gone about a quarter of a mile and everything seemed to be okay and I tried to force myself to relax.
Then WHUMP!

The tub went air born.
It landed in the road and bounced a couple of times.
“This is not good,” I said as I jumped out of the truck after we had pulled onto the median and stopped.
I was so distressed I could barely see.
As I feared, every corner of the tub was broken.
“It can be fixed,” my friend said, as a way of consolation.
I was thinking of how Christopher Reeves was “fixed” after his accident.

We gamely loaded it back onto the truck in a different orientation and drove the rest of the way to my house where we unloaded it.
We drove back to work and I thanked my co-worker for helping me with the logistical project.
The less I thought about it the better I was.

When I got home I looked at the tub again.
Slowly and deliberately.
There was a hole in every corner of the structure.
There was an 18 inch crack along the bottom side of the tub.

It was true, every hole could be patched and repaired so that it did not leak.
There was just one problem.
You cannot match the pure white color of the original tub with the patch material.
The tub would forever look like a patched mess.
While I could live with such a situation, any potential buyer of my house probably would not, and I (or my heirs) would have to replace the tub to sell the house.
That would involve removing and replacing an interior wall.

So, the next day, I told my story to my fellow workers in the absence of the man that originally helped me (he had the day off).
They agreed, the tub was ruined.
I would have to buy another one, if the store would not take it back.
One of them offered to take me back to the store to buy another tub.
So, Friday after work, me and the other co-worker – who also had a pick-up truck – drove me to the tub store, whereupon I bought ANOTHER fiberglass bathtub.
THIS TIME we loaded it low in the bed and tied it down with nylon strapping.
THIS TIME we drove about 30 mph all the way to my house (about three miles or so).
THIS TIME the tub arrived unscathed.
My co-worker offered to help me move the broken tub to the curb for removal by the city.
I accepted.

After the flying tub incident, I realized that I had lost my sunglasses.
Prescription sunglasses.
I went to the eyeglass store today (Monday) and picked out the cheapest frames I could find.
The total for the new sunglasses $240.00.
Almost the same cost as my new tub.
The tab for the week - $720.00.
It has been an expensive week.

The run last Saturday morning was pretty good.
It was cold.
My house thermometer showed 50 degrees.
That meant that the temperature was anywhere from 45 to 49 degrees away from the house.
I dressed appropriately with ear warmer, a long-sleeved top, leggings, and mittens.
I guessed just about right.
The mittens came off at the end of mile one.
Just carrying them in my hands provided enough warmth for the rest of the journey.
No other adjustments were required.

I started out at 6:03 and finished at 6:44.
That reads like 41 minutes to me.
Not bad for post two days of tub carrying.
As usual, I started out unsure of my endurance capacity.
I did surprisingly well until with last quarter mile, where I felt a bit tired/weak.
Even to the end, my breathing did not elevate to prolonged fast speed.
That surprised me, pleasantly.
It seems I am getting stronger, even with running only once a week.
This is good.

The other good thing is/was that my knees did not misbehave.
During Thursday and Friday at work, they produced sharp little shooting pains from time to time.
This was from the tub carrying and from the stooped position I must work in during the current installation.
Happily, my knees spoke not a word during my run.
Happy, happy, happy.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Many Busynesses

Last Saturday started off at rather warm – about 70 degrees.
I started my weekly run at exactly 6:00 AM and ended it at 6:41:35.
I was motivated, but unsure about my strength, as I often am, these days.
The session was largely uneventful.
No body complaints other than some faint whining from my left hamstring upper attachment area in med-mile three, and a similar signal from the lower attachment of the same muscle group.
These quiet points of distress were duly noted by Running Central and monitored for the duration of the party.
Nothing further developed.
I finished with good strength, but nothing extra, as is my normal circumstance these days.

Then it was off to the 41st Annual Tennessee Valley Old Time Fiddlers Convention in Athens, Alabama, as has been my habit for several years.

I saw many of the same folks there – both as competitors and spectators.
It seemed to me that there were slightly fewer groups of musicians than last year, but the number of spectators was close to 20 percent more, judging by the spread of chairs.
People had spread their seats fifty feet back into the vendor area by late afternoon.
The day was hot – 85 degrees or so – and it was a welcome change when the shade of the big trees behind my seating position finally blocked the sun.
Fortunately, I remembered to apply sunscreen to my arms and face so I did not get a burn (as I did last year).

I saw several of the saints from Morgan City during the day and evening.
We visited briefly then went on about our listening/watching.
It was good to see some of my old friends again.

I miss having someone to share this event with.
In days gone by, it was the Wingates.
I always enjoyed the varied interests that each of them brought to the group.
It was both exciting and frustrating when the kids were competing.
Each of them did well, but often placed lower than I thought they should have.
Certainly that was some of my friend-of-the-family prejudice showing.
Imagine that.

I took several pictures this year, though not as many as I did last year.
In addition, I took some video with my camera.
I had to play them on my Window$ machine because the camera takes video in .avi format, a proprietary Microsoft format.
But the picture and sound came out good.
One reason I took the videos was to show how close the groups were to each other, and yet how isolated the sound of each group was.

When I get inspired I will post some of the pictures.
I have no idea how to post the videos.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Incrimental Addition

Let the royal chronicles record that this week I saw all of my four offsprings.
I visited with Cathi on Wednesday for a few minutes (first time since July 4).
And, this afternoon, Jef (n Sam, Zack, and Bradley), and Tim, and Josh, ALL came to my humble abode for visits.
Tim came first.
And while he was yet speaking, Jef arrived, and while he was yet speaking, Josh arrived.

I was allowed to inspect/approve of Josh's new glasses and tooth patches.
Jef shared various tidbits of his life.
Tim also shared details of his recent past as well as the latest pictures of his offspring posted on his MySpace site.

A pleasant time was had by all.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Busy Dayz

I have been busy tending to many little errands.
Some of these are because I am on the Board of Trustees at my church and we are in the process of upgrading our sound system and installing a new one in our fellowship hall.

Since I am the sound guy at church, it has fallen to me to determine what to buy, procure the equipment and install it.
Most of the stuff I have purchased online and had it delivered to my house.
This is because sometimes there is no one at the church building to receive a delivery.
So, it is easier to have the stuff delivered to me and have me take it to the church when I come for whatever regular service is next.
I am going there anyway.

Today, was our annual church picnic.
There was abundant foods and desserts, games for old and young, and lots of talking/visiting among the saints.
I had a good time visiting with the church and eating the many yummy items that were available.

I also set up the new sound system in the fellowship building for the first time and tested it.
I works well, and will be useful from time to time when we gather for various reasons.
There are still a couple of items I need to acquire to complete the planned system – some microphones, a box or bin in which to store all the cables, and I need to build a small cabinet to house the mixer, CD player and cable bin.

The Run

The shortening days are a nuisance.
I arose nearly half an hour before my usual de-beding time, why, I do not know.
I slept with the windows open and it was quite cool, but I was adequately covered and slept comfortably all night.
When I got up, I was ready to go.
I got ready to run – shaved, dressed, collected the post-run towel and shirts to absorb whatever excess liquid I might exude, filled my water bottle, gathered my neck chain with car and house keys on it, installed my watch on my left wrist, dropped my knife (for self defense) in my tote bag along with my drivers' license (for ID should it be required by a law enforcement officer).
I wore my long-sleeved top this morning.
The thermometer on my outside wall said that it was 58 degrees.
That meant that it could be as cool as 55 or so.
I brought along leg, ear and hand warming clothing just in case it felt too cool at my running course.
They were not needed.
The cool air was nearly still and merely refreshing rather than chilling.

I started out at 5:57 with a three-quarter moon overhead.
The eastern sky was just barely lighter than the rest of the dome above me.
I hate winter.
Shorter days (yes, I know all days are 24 hours, but less daylight is more precisely what I mean) is just one reason.

I felt strong today.
Like a race horse wanting to kick the gate down and get down the track.
Part of me enjoyed the feeling (prolly the runner in me).
Another part of me was signaling caution, as it is easy to outrun one's strength when emotionally revved (prolly the coach in me). (BTDT)

There was no rapid breathing on hill number one, and it did not start until I was at the top of hill number two.
It mattered not, I was going the distance today.
I even flirted with the idea of taking a left at the new road and trying for four miles.
That was immediately rejected by Running Central and the coach in me.
“Maybe next week,” was the diplomatic response.
As if to confirm the wisdom of the rejection, the outside of my right knee began to complain at the end of mile two.
Every time I came down on my right leg my knee said hello.
Soon after, one of the flexors in my left hip started to whine – probably my iliacus.
So every time I lifted my left leg, it squeaked.
These two complaints settled in for the duration of the party.
In fact, my right hip flexor joined in on the festivities before I was finished.
Some of this may have been residual stress from the 30 leg lifts I did on Thursday and Friday in a gut tightening effort.

Anyway, as I came into the parking lot for the finish, I was firing on all cylinders.
Rapid breathing was still several hundred feet away.
My right knee was complaining in a way that gets my attention – it did not just hurt slightly, it was wanting to collapse.
This has happened before near the end of a run.
I have never fallen because of this problem, but I have come close.
In spite of all the sirens and flashing warning lights, I powered toward the finish line/crack.

Finally, about two hundred feet from the line, my breathing kicked into overdrive.
I crossed the line at 6:37.
Forty minutes.
Not bad.
There is still some juice in grandpa.
The knee and hips all stopped whining (like I knew they would).
I felt great.
It is a blessing to be running again.

As I got into the car, part of me wanted to drive to the old railroad depot near downtown Huntsville.
In just over an hour, there would be a race there.
You see, today is my racing anniversary.
It was eight years ago today that I ran my first race – the Big Spring Jam 5K.
The race horse in me wanted to give it another go – just for fun.




That is me in 1999 in the upper left corner, third from the left edge and fourth down from the top of the picture.




This picture does not portray the discomfort I was in.
I had run too fast the first two miles.
Now, I was out of breath and facing a finish line half a mile away.
I could see it but had few resources left to contribute to the effort.









The clock tells the story.
In spite of my discomfort, I was very pleased with my performance that day.
I had not run a race since high school - 37 years earlier.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some Comments on the Economic/Political Scene

Well, the United Auto Workers and General Motors have reached a “tentative” work contract agreement, subject to approval by the individual members of the union, which is expected.
The big deal in this contract was the high cost of health insurance.
GM traded this cost for a guarantee of jobs at several key production plants for the four-year term of this contract. (Watch for substantial layoffs at GM in four years.)
While health insurance costs for most workers is about 35 percent of annual wages, it is only 7 percent for members of the UAW.
As a result, GM was paying out massive amounts of money for the healthcare costs of its workers.
GM wanted to raise the percentage of the cost of healthcare paid by the workers.
The workers knew when they had a good thing and wanted no changes to their healthcare costs.
The final agreement set up a healthcare trust fund financed by General Motors but to be administered by the UAW. (I don't see how this helps GM)
GM's initial input to this fund will be 35 billion dollars.
Then the union will have to figure out how to manage the costs of the workers healthcare thereafter.

But the union has a plan.
They expect to have to deal with this problem for just a couple of years.
You see, the UAW has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
She has a plan to change the healthcare system in this nation from the current free enterprise method to a “single payer” system administered by the federal government.
(the term “single payer” is a misnomer. In her plan, everybody pays – whether you want to or not.)
The union knows that if she is elected President, all healthcare programs in this country will be transferred to the federal government.
So then, rather than just the customers of General Motors paying for the healthcare costs of the union members, the customers of Toyota, Nissan, Ferrari, Volkswagen, and everybody else, will be paying for it.
In fact, ALL taxpayers will be paying for it.
That includes you.
Even if you don't own a car.
Even if you are on Social Security.
Even if you can't afford it.
If you work – you pay.
And you don't get to choose how much you pay.

So, guess what?
The union is working hard to get her elected.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Incremental Addition

(Written on Open Office/Linux with Acoustic Alchemy then Pat Metheny playing in the background)

Let the chronicles show that yesterday the royal carpet was vacuumed and the royal kitchen and royal bath were mopped.

In other news....

The Desk

The accessory risers have been assembled, sanded, stained, oiled and installed (except one which is still in process) on my big new desk.
(technically, it takes up about the same amount of floor space as my previous setup, but it is about ten inches taller and has eleven (!) more feet of shelf space.)
I very like my new desk.
I find myself wishing there were more things to do at my desk so I could spend more time here.
I suspect that this euphoria will wear off some day in the future – when, I know not.
As of now, all of the design assumptions and features are working as planned.

The Run

It was almost completely dark when I started out at 6:01 AM this morning.
For some reason I felt a bit weak.
I am not sure of a reason for this, I did not exert myself very much this week.
It may have been a combination of stress from family problems (they do not involve me directly) and the subtle effects of my annual allergy season, which has arrived.
I often wondered why some folks call it “hay fever”, but I have found that on occasion, I feel sort of “sick” (subtly weak, tired) when my symptoms (runny nose, watery, itchy eyes) are acting up – as they were today.
Anyway...
I ran the three mile course today in fifty minutes.
I do not know why it took so long.
I did not have a noticeably difficult time during the session.
There was a minor complaint from my right knee that fixed itself by mile one.
There was another point of distress behind my left knee in mile two but this also corrected itself after a couple of minutes.
The “weakness” manifested itself today as accelerated breathing after each hill and going into the last half mile.
In each case, I was able to force myself back into my normal breathing rate with some minor effort.
This may have been the reason for the slower time, but I am not sure.
I had no sense that I was slowing my pace to accommodate my breathing rate.
Whatever.
It is good to be running again.

I also clocked the new road that could be the extension to allow me to run a four mile course.
It is almost a mile to the new entrance from Slaughter Road.
If I were to run that whole road all the way to Slaughter, it might be a full four-mile loop all by itself.
And it has a nice hill.
We shall see if I am able to build up to more distance.
Sometimes I wonder if I will be able.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tah Dah!

The Run

Saturday morning it was still darkish as I set out on my three mile jaunt.
This allowed me to check out the lighting along my path.
It was adequate in the parking lots and along the sidewalk on Old Madison Pike.
Quality Circle was another story.
There are no streetlights on the east and south sides of the loop.
The rest of the course has streetlights.

I was a bit concerned about my strength for the run because of all the weight lifting I had been doing during the week.
Not my nice steel weights, military tents at work and my desk parts each afternoon at home.
We were assigned to “training” Wednesday and Thursday and we spent part of that time setting up and taking down two large (about 15 ft x 30 ft) tents.
Anyway....
I was feeling pretty good starting out and pretty strong.
About midway into the first half mile I started to feel tired and wondered if I was going to have a problem.
Strangely (and nicely) the feeling left me as I started up the first hill.
The rest of the run went amazingly well.
There was no accelerated breathing on either hill, or even at the end of the run. (!)
Even when I picked up the pace at the last 500 feet, I could not force myself into my usual faster respiration rate.
Amazing.

My time was still about forty-three minutes.
But I will take quality over quantity at this point in life.

The Desk.

Tah dah!
The new desk is completed and installed.
There are a few “accessories” that must be completed but the new office is basically complete.
The accessories consist of wooden platforms (I call them “risers”) that some of my equipment (and junk) will sit on.
These will give me more open desk space should I need it.


The old desk(s).


The space.


The new desk bases.


The new desktop.


The new desk loaded with all the old stuff from the old desks.

I had to unplug EVERY cable from both of my computers to reroute them in/around/through the new desk (I made special holes for cables to go).
This scared me because I was afraid that I would forget something or plug something in incorrectly and break my nice puter setup.
But, alas, I was fearful for naught.
Everything worked upon startup.

So now I have two desks for sale.
One – the computer desk – is tentatively spoken for.
The other a nice, simple 24 x 48 worksurface with a nice, detachable double bookshelf above it is also available.
It comes apart into three pieces that can be compressed into a 24 x 48 x 48 space for transport or storage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The New Desk Approches Completion

(Composed on Linux with Clannid and then Bob James playing in the background.)

I have worked with great energy and focus to complete my latest project.
As evidence, the included photos are presented.



The boards become parts of structures.



This is the final plan to which I built.
There are a couple of details that were changed as better ideas came to me while building.
Most of the changes had to do with the area where the two bookcases joined.



The two bases and the top.



Wood parts spread around as I plained, filed, and sanded.



The parts with the "first" application of stain on them.

Normally, I only have to apply one coat of stain, but I was experimenting with a lighter shade of stain and it turned out to be too light.
Not enough grain in the wood showed to suit me, sooo....
I bought MORE stain, darker this time.
And stained everything again.
I am of the opinion that this may be the last desk I build (for me) so I wanted everything to be just as I like.
It should be finished this weekend.
("finished" = fully assembled, sealed with two coats of baby oil, and installed in its final location with all equipment, papers, boxes, etc. in place.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Desk and Running Progress

(Written on Linux with Andreas Vollenweider then Will Ackerman playing in the background.)

DESK PROGRESS....

Work has been slow the last few weeks (waiting for parts, engineering drawings, etc.) so in my idle moments my mind wanders to my new desk project.
Since I completed my design phase (other than a couple of details noted last time) and got started last weekend (having Monday off was useful), I have been highly motivated (“stoked”) to move the project to completion.
Thus, each afternoon after I got off work this week, I hurried home (actually I drove at my normal speed on Drake Avenue) and accomplished various tasks that the desk project required.
On Thursday, my boss indicated that he did not know when we would be getting the parts needed to assemble the two vehicle enclosures we are building.
This inspired me to ask for Friday off.
Which he granted.

My desk has evolved from some lines on some pieces of paper, to a bunch of boards cut into various lengths, to the cut boards glued together into various sub-assemblies.

So... yesterday I spent most of the day working on The Desk.
(the time NOT spend building The Desk was spent napping, washing clothes, fixing meals, eating meals, and cleaning up the stuff used to fix the meals that I ate.)
Specifically, I was plaining and filing the square edges and corners into more rounded shapes so the desk would look “finished”.
I also began sanding the various sub-assemblies – the last step before applying stain.

A couple of parts of The Desk are pretty heavy – the large bookshelf (left side) is about 70 pounds, I estimate.
The L-shaped top is about 40-50 pounds (but easier to handle than the bulky bookshelf).
Anyway, by mid-day my back was whining – thus, the nap.
That helped.
But I was still tired from my wrestling with the different pieces of my creation.
And I knew there would be more of that today.

THE RUN...

So... the run this morning was a slog.
It started out with the Coach in me urging the Runner in me to go for the three-mile distance in spite of the lingering fatigue from The Desk building project.
It ended with the Runner in me hating the Coach in me.

I knew it was going to be a push to go the longer distance.
But the Coach was saying that I needed to build myself up, in spite of the leftover tiredness, and this was the way to do it. (the reasoning being, the extra effort on The Desk is under my control – not like that at work, thus, if the run took too much out of me and I became too tired, I could simply stop building The Desk and take a nap.)
It sounded logical enough.

The first 20 steps, my lower back began whining loudly.
Other protests from hamstrings and calves were also heard.
Running Central noted the discomfort and did some rapid assessments to determine if the run should be aborted.
But with each step, slight improvements were felt.
Running Central ruled that the run could proceed as scheduled.
The farther I went, the better I felt – surprise to me.

There was no fast breathing on the first hill, and just a couple of minutes worth on/after the second hill.
There was no argument about which path to take when I came to the point to cross Old Madison Pike.
As a sign that all was well, there was no traffic to impede my immediate traverse of the five-lane road.

The two bikers had picked up another guy and they were both several hundred feet ahead of the lady.
Interestingly, we meet almost the same spot each Saturday.
My greetings were not returned by the men today, but the lady made amends.

I continued on, feeling tired but doing surprisingly well until the last quarter-mile or so.
It was somewhere in the last half mile that a biological necessity made its presence known.
This, I did not need.
But by then, I just wanted to get done.
The Runner in me was saying that if we had taken the shorter route today we would already be finished.
The Coach was saying “shut up and run.”
The Runner in me kept complaining but continued to run.
Surprisingly, all of the parts that were complaining at the beginning of the run had healed.
Everything was working nicely.
I did notice a faint grumbling from my hip joints.
Barely enough to mention, but I pay attention to signals like this.
It may be the beginnings of problems to come.
We shall see.
For now, I will just enjoy my runs.

The run ended 40 minutes and some seconds after the start in a blur of fatigue and intestinal compression.
There was no sprint at the end or even an extra push.
I just kept running until I saw the finish line/crack, then I stopped.
How I managed to shave three minutes off my time, I know not.

I hurried home, took care of the biological issue, took a shower, washed my running clothes and sheets and towels, and treated myself to a cheese omelet.
I washed the dishes, hung the laundry out to dry (crispy sheets and towels tonight!), and drove to Wal Mart to buy my week's groceries.
I also bought a can of wood stain (heh, heh).
Then it was home again, home again deskity build.

BACK TO THE DESK...

I finished sanding all pieces (there are five sections – left base, right base, work surface, left bookcase, and right bookcase), then I applied the stain.
At three o'clock I cleaned my hands and fell onto my bed for a surprisingly short (one hour) nap.
My back was really sore/tired.
The horizontal repose helped.

I purposely used a light stain this time.
I am not sure I like how it has turned out.
One good thing about light stains.... if you don't like it, you can always darken it up.
It's not so simple going the other way (BTDT).

Next comes a couple of coats of baby oil to seal the wood, and the building of a couple of small accessories for my computers n stuff.

I am very eksiited.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Busy Weekend

The morning run Saturday was productive.
I had expended some effort at work Friday and was concerned about my endurance for the run, but I, again, surprised myself.
I ran the three mile course with no problems.
Forty-three minutes with a push at the end, all the way to the crack.

My only company was the guy and girl bikers going the other direction, as usual.
She always lets him lead by a hundred feet or so.
Maybe its an ego thing she allows him to indulge.
They are both friendly and say "hi" when I greet them.
Some bikers are not so friendly.
They believe that their mechanized, low-impact speed and distance capabilities are superior to the slow, high-impact trotting of we pedestrians.
No matter.
My running equipment cost about $200.
That is far less than the $1,000 to $5,000 they must expend for their bikes and black stretchy togs.



The "Old" desk. (Amanda, RU watching?)

Anyway....
Then it was off to the building supply barn/store to procure lumber for the New Desk. (Ta Da!)
I purchased the plywood for the top and backs on Friday and had it delivered that afternoon.
A fortunate occurence.



The design has been frozen except for a couple of details that need to be decided upon.
The main unresolved issue is the shape of the lower part of inner leg of the right bookshelf section.
I do not want to have any intrusion of the bookshelf legs/ends on the desk work surface.
To accomplish this, the left bookshelf section will have to support both itself and the inner end of the right bookshelf section, where they come together.
I am still studying some of the details required to make this work.

Sunday, I spent little time on the earthly matters and attended both morning and evening worship services at the Madison First Church of God, as is my habit.
Due to poor planning on my part I violated a rule which I try to hold myself.
I purchased an item from a store on Sunday.
Generally, I do not like to reward businesses which operate their establishments on the day of Christian worship.
But I did not check on the amount of wood glue I had on hand at the homestead, and thus, used almost all I had on Saturday.
Thus, I stopped at Lowe's on the way to church, Sunday afternoon and bought another jug of glue.

Then today, Monday, I had a platter full of things to do, to wit....

Mow the grass
Cook the nice turkey breast I procured (pre-thanksgiving)
Work on the desk
Lay out for some UV therepy
Take a nap





All of this was accomplished.
Thus, tomorrow I will cut the plywood for the backs of the two desk support units and assemble them.

Written on Linux with Del McCoury playing in the background.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Progress

(Written on Linux with Andreas Vollenweider playing in the background.)

The run last Saturday was incrementally better.
I ran the three mile course.
I did not transition into more rapid breathing until the last quarter mile or so (not even on the hills (!)).
I felt pretty good the whole way.
I even had an extra Wheatie or two to push my pace at the end.
Not quite a sprint, but a definite push all the way to the designated crack in the parking lot/finish line.
My time was about 43 minutes again.
I do not expect to improve my times very much ever again.
I am just too old. (I think...)
I am looking forward to jacking up the task to four miles if I can maintain my three mile efforts for a consistent period of time.
I am thinking I need to do three miles for at least a month before an incremental increase.
I will also have to scout about for a handy half-mile loop to add to my three-mile loop.
I am not sure of the distance, but there is a nice new road that leads over to the new high school (Columbia) at the edge of Research Park, that might be enough to do the trick.
I will check it out with my car some morning.
The ultimate goal is to run the Cotton Row course again (six miles).

It is good to be running again. :)

IN OTHER NEWS.....

I am still working on my new/old desk design.
The addition of a computer requires some extra planning and design considerations that were not present in the first two iterations of the design.
I hate ECOs so I want to take everything into consideration at the first shot.
The thing will be huge.
It will have about sixty feet of 1 x 12 in it.
Part of me wants to get started on it, but the planner in me wants more comfort with the design.
It will be about six feet tall (including the bookshelves on top) and five feet wide on both legs of the "L".
That is a lot of desk. (almost 30 linear feet of bookshelf space)
But it will give me some room to grow.

For comparison, my current faithful computer desk is 48 inches wide and 66 inches tall.
And next to it is another desk/credenza thingy 48 inches wide and 69 inches tall. (It will be for sale, too)
So the new piece will be about a foot longer on each side and about three inches taller.
The advantage of the new desk is that all (as in ALL) of it will be usable space, above and below the work surface.
The current setup has a two foot by two foot "dead" space in the corner, both on the work surface and below it.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Forty-three Minutes...

Forty-three minutes.
That was my time for the three point two miles I ran this morning.
Sadly slow, but completed without having to walk (except for a few seconds waiting for traffic on Old Madison Pike).

Since my work effort this week was less than last week, I tried the three mile route, and it proved to be within my ability.
This is not to say that I was asking for more with I got to my designated crack in the parking lot which passes for a finish line.
I was not.
I strongly wish there were more BB's in the gun for these adventures, but there are not.
As I have said here before, my job is not extremely taxing, physically, but it takes more out of me than I like.
Which means that there is less of me for “other” activities.
One of the things that I look forward to in retirement is being able to exercise as hard and as often as I want (four days a week or so).

The other good news from today's session – no whining.
No joints wanting to quit.
No tendon attachments announcing their displeasure with their task or its duration.
No side stitches (I have not ever had this problem).

The weather is still steamy; mid 70's at 6 AM with humidity at 70% to 90% (there was fog in the lowest place near the new power station – which all you home schoolers know equals 100% humidity).
This made for more difficult breathing (less efficient because there is more water in the air, so for every breath there is more water and less oxygen).
Even so, I did not feel “tired” until I was well into the last mile.
That was when I went into my accelerated breathing and stayed there for the rest of the run.
I hate it when I start that because it is proof that my body is pretty close to the end of it's ball of string.
And one thing I do not like to be reminded of is my mortality.
But all in all, it was a good run.
It is good to be running again.

The other “event” of this week is that I am planning to build another (!) desk.
I have decided to go back to my very first design with an “L” shaped corner design.
It is the pattern that I used for the unit that got me through college.
And the variation that followed.
My present design is a four-foot wide, one-sided plan built for my computer.
It has worked well, but I am finding that it is becoming more and more cluttered.
Soooo, I am going to go back to the old “L” plan with a shelf underneath and a double bookcase on top.
The bottom shelf on the bookcase will be raised to 22 inches to accommodate my skinny LCD monitor and CPU unit.
Anyway, you will see how it comes together in a month or two.
I will wait for the weather to cool off before I begin construction.
This also means that I will have TWO lovely, sturdy, slightly used desks available for some needy family in a month or two.
Requests are being considered, starting today.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Nice Hot Summer

We set a new record for hot weather today - 104 degrees.
The humidity was around 20 percent so it felt like Arizona.
Which for me is just nice and hot, not the sticky-yucky-boiling-pig hot we usually have in Alabama this time of year.

For the record, I ran only 2.4 miles last Saturday because of the more intense physical work I did Friday.
That work involved taking down three military tents and loading them on a truck.
So, I was not sure if I had all the marbles necessary to go my preferred three-mile course.

As soon as I started out, Running Central received messages from the right calf and left glut and hamstring areas that there was residual stress from the activities from the previous days activities.
These complaints were duly noted and ignored as no increase in the distress level was observed as the run progressed.
The goal was to finish the run as a run and not have to walk, so the lesser distance was chosen to allow my system to build up to the three-mile distance more gradually.
Yes, I am babying myself, it may seem, but I do not want to break something in/on me.

I am aware that I often forget that I am 62 and not 22.
As hard as it is on my ego/id to admit this, there is a difference in physical capacity and recovery ability between the two ages.
I bump into this difference every once in a while when I fail to be mindful of my increasing limitations.
Sometimes it is painful.
Thus, I try to baby myself, sort of....

The dry weather Saturday allowed me to hang my bedding out on the clothesline, thus making them nice and crispy and clean-smelling.
I also washed my little white egg-car.
It needed a bath.

There is much more to write about but time is limited just now.
OBTW, I have George Benson playing on the stereo.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mo Pichers

x
The run this morning was an effort.
I was unsure how strong I would be/feel but I wanted to build myself back up to my three-mile level.
I stayed up later than I should have last night so I was not sure how much juice I would have to donate to the cause this morning.
In spite of the delayed sleepy time, I woke up ready to go.
But because of my concern for my endurance, this run was not as fun (read: carefree) as I would have liked.
I started out at 6:11 AM.
The weather was not cooperative.
It was about 72 with 80 or 90 percent humidity.
I kept expecting to feel weak -or at least, not strong, but it never came until the last quarter mile.
At the top of the first hill, my faster breathing was not required – a good sign.

At the point in my circuit when I must decide whether to turn to the two-mile path or go on to the three-mile path, I was arguing with myself which way to go.
I was out of breath from the second hill (not an unusual situation at that point) and was unsure if I could go the extra distance.
The coach in me won.
The thought was “go for it; if you can't run the whole way, you will then know that you couldn't run the whole way”.
The coach in me is rather a simple person.

There was also another person in me – the runner.
He knows that I can do more than I think I can.
And, indeed, I did not have to elevate my breathing until the last quarter mile.
I felt tired then and was looking forward to the end.
But by that time, I was committed and settled on finishing the whole course.
I even forced myself to pick up the pace the last couple of hundred feet or so.
The only disappointment was that I stopped about ten feet short of the crack in the parking lot that I usually stop at.
The time was 6:51.
My three miles had taken forty minutes.
Much slower than the twenty-four minutes or so of my racing days just three years ago.

But it feels great to be running again.
Great.

I am posting more pictures from David and Jill's wedding.
Because of the haphazard way I have posted previous pictures of the event, I am not sure which ones I have already posted and which ones not.




Included here is one of the sweetest pictures of the event.
It was touching to witness as well.
It is of the kiss.
If I was David I might have passed out.
This was not a quick peck, but a long lingering nuzzle that lasted two or three seconds.
I do not mean to make more of it than it was, but there were several people standing around, and sister Jill was not shy about expressing her affection in a way that was both powerful yet simple and quiet.
I enjoyed the moment with them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

More Pichers




If you look closely, you will see a lone deer walking across the parking lot.
I was just getting out of my car one afternoon at the college campus where I was staying and here came a deer slowly walking across the pavement.
There are a lot of deer in this area (Newark).




As promised, I include more pictures from my travels.

Due to my limited abilities, I cannot get the pictures to go where I want them so you will have to figure what is what.

Included is another picture of the Bartlett brothers.
Brother Tony, is on the left, Brother Danny on the right (duh).
I include another shot of the church building.
I consider the building very functional and generally pretty.
The sanctuary/auditorium is very similar in layout to what I proposed to brother Spanogle for the new Morgan City building.
I do not believe this idea was ever seriously considered.

Also presented are a few more pictures from the wedding of Jill and David.
More to come....

Monday, July 30, 2007

Busy Me





It has been a busy (and tiring) two weeks.
On Monday, July 16, I traveled to Newark, Ohio, to Brother Tony Bartlett's congregation – the Licking County Church of God, for their annual campmeeting.

I had a pleasant time and enjoyed the fellowship and services.
The sermons seemed especially clear and strong this year.
It was good to see my Army buddies – Tony and Danny Bartlett, Walt Williams, and Abraham Jeeter – whom I met in Korea.
This was also the time and place that we learned of the Church of God.
I traveled back to Alabama on Friday, July 20th.

My Saturday run was limited to two miles because of my fatigue from all the travel the previous day.
It was a useful session but I cannot say it was fun.
But it is good to be running again.

The curve ball came Monday at work, where I was assigned to a project on Redstone Arsenal.
This involved setting up tents, carrying equipment, and basically playing Army like I did forty-one years ago.
The temperature each day has been around ninety degrees.
I am not the man I was then.
I went home each afternoon exhausted.

Thus, the run this past Saturday was again limited to 2.3 miles.
I was clearly tired, but I was visited by a biological problem that I work diligently to avoid.
This morning I failed.
The distress this caused only added to the distress of the session.
Like I have said many times, it is good to be running again, but the practice has its hazards and problems.
This is one of them.

And this Saturday was a very special day in that I was to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee to attend the marriage of Jill Allison and David Parker.
I did not want to miss this very special event.
So after the run, and my usual shopping trip, I drove to Knoxville.

I have known David since he was about one year old.
He is a dear brother and I have always enjoyed his company and fellowship.
He is now about forty or so and has never been married.
I have prayed for years that his patience and faithfulness would be rewarded; and so they have.

I do not know Sister Jill as well as I do David.
What little I have been around her she has seemed a sweet, kind person with a hint of fun hiding beneath her quiet exterior.
She was married to Jimmy Allison – one of the most intimidatingly spiritual and talented young men I have ever known.
He was big, handsome, and an awesome singer.
I always admired him from a distance.
I felt that if I were to stand too close to him, the obvious differences and inequalities between he and me would be too apparent, so I kept my distance.
I just assumed that he was a “good” daddy and husband also.
What little I saw his interactions with his family seemed to support that impression.

Tragically, Brother Jimmy died a couple of years ago (three or four years now?) of cancer (I think).
For sister Jill and her three children, I cannot imagine the shock, pain, and loss this circumstance must have caused.
I was shocked.
I have never been able to express my sympathy to sister Jill and the children for their loss.
I certainly did not want to spoil a happy event like her wedding to David by bringing up her sad past.
But my heart went out to her back then and my prayer is that she will find comfort and happiness with David.







So, a couple of hours Saturday were spent greeting old friends and saints that I have not seen in several years, and meeting/observing a new generation of children whom I know not.
Then, because of local church responsibilities, I had to jump in my car and drive back to Huntsville that evening.
I made it all the way from Huntsville to Knoxville to Huntsville on one tank of gas.
430 miles round trip.
Actually, I stopped for gas about one mile from my house because my tank was so low.
I get really nervous when my needle gets close to “E”.

More wedding pictures to follow....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bizee Daee

Saturday was very busy for me.
First of all, the morning run was interesting/useful.
I ran my three mile course again, trying to build my strength.
I felt a bit tired starting out - not my favorite signal at that time.
But I motored on, doing my best to focus on the moment and not get into the dread of how the finish will feel, etc.

I surprised myself by scaling the two forty-foot hills with nominal effort.
As I started the second loop (the big mile-and-a half loop) I was feeling pretty good.
Near the end of mile two, I could tell that I was tired, but my breathing remained at the comfort level until I crossed Old Madison Pike for the final quarter mile.

By then, I knew I was going to be okay.
As I entered the final one hundred yards, I was able to push myself a little and speed up for a strong finish.
I hesitate to call the final push a "sprint" but there was enough to add a little extra to my pace.
Trying to cool down afterward in the warm (70 degrees) muggy (80% humidity) air was a slow process.
The run turned out to be slow, as well.
I started at 6:06 AM and ended at 6:48 - 42 minutes.
That was disappointing, but like I said before, I will take time over speed at this time in my life.
It feels great just to be running again.

THEN - it was home to begin preparations for my trip to Ohio.
Monday I am going to Newark, Ohio to attend a church campmeeting.
I will be visiting by old army buddy Tony Bartlett, now bishop of the Licking County Church of God.
Preparation involved doing laundry, mowing grass (it has finally rained enough in the last two weeks to inspire the grass to grow enough to require trimming), cleaning, buying certain foods that lend themselves to travel, etc.
I plan to return Friday.

A full report will be presented here next week. (with some pictures!)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Thots on Live Earth

One of my most pet of peeves is millionaires telling me how to live my life and spend my money.
Such is this weeks Live Earth concerts nonsense.

The purpose of such exercises is so the rich, caring rock and roll performers can ease their guilt from being so rich and lazy by preaching to the rest of us about some “cause” that is “good” for everyone.
In this case it is about “saving” the earth from global warming.
More specifically, man-made global warming.
More specifically, evil American capitalist-made global warming.
More specifically, evil American capitalist oil comany-made global warming.
It is difficult to imagine a more futile and stupid exercise.
Of course Albert Gore, Jr. is associated with this so you know it has to be stupid.

First of all, these people believe that it is the homes and power plants and factories of evil capitalists (read: rich Republicans) that produce the evil “greenhouse” gases that are causing the earths atmosphere to warm up, which will cause the ice at the north and south poles to melt, which will raise the level of the ocean, which will flood their fancy beach houses, which will force them to move somewhere else.
All of this is assumed to be caused by people, even though there is no evidence that people are causing any change in the temperature of the earths atmosphere.

In fact, there is a lot of evidence that the earths temperature has gone through several cycles of warming and cooling in the past thousands of years, when there were very few people on the planet.
Who caused that?
Campfires, maybe.

And regarding the melting polar ice caps: have you ever seen a glass full of ice overflow as the ice melts?
No.
Because ice in water displaces an amount of water equal to its mass.
So the ocean is going nowhere.
The moon raises and lowers the tides four or five feet two times each day and we have not perished yet.
So what is the problem?

And guess what one of the biggest contributers of “greenhouse” gases is – methane.
Guess the largest source of methane – cow farts.
Really.
So guess what, they want us to stop eating beef.
Really.

Try to follow this.
The compassionate, caring, rich movie stars and compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars want all the rest of us to stop eating hamburgers.
This will cause the evil, capitalist Republican ranchers will stop growing cows.
No cows = no cow farts.
No cow farts = less methane.
Less methane = less “greenhouse” gases.
Less “greenhouse” gases = lower temperatures.
Lower temperatures = more polar ice.
More polar ice = lower sea levels.
Lower sea levels = we save the planet.
Woopee!

And the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars get to keep his/her big beach house.

But there are several problems with this scenario.
Here is one -
Just one volcanic eruption sends more carbon dioxide and methane and ash into the atmosphere than all the the stuff all the people on the planet can put in it.
So even if all people everywhere were to reduce their “greenhouse” gas emissions to zero, the next volcano would more than undo all of our efforts.
So why bother?

So, this leads me to some questions....

1 Are the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars going to sell their mansions and live in little houses like the rest of us, so that they can use less energy, like they want the rest of us to do?
2 Are the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars going to stop eating beef, like they want the rest of us to do?
3 How much extra energy was used to power the big amplifiers and lights for all these concerts for Live Earth?
4 And how much energy was burned running the multiple 18 wheelers that delivered all the equipment for all of the Live Earth concerts?
5 How much energy was burned by the jets and limos to deliver the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars to the concerts?
6 Are all of the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars going to change all of their light bulbs like they want all the rest of us to do?
7 Are all of the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars going to sell their big SUVs, race cars and limousines, and drive little, expensive, slow electric cars, that only go 50 miles at a time, like they want all the rest of us to do?
8 Are all of the compassionate, caring, rich rock and roll stars, and compassionate, caring, rich movie stars going to wipe their butts with one square of toilet paper like Sheril Crow wants all the rest of us to do?

I think not.

I have an idea.
Lets all go to Taco Bell and buy a big BEEF and bean burrito and have a methane party.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Surprise! Again!

After the rather disappointing news of a couple of weeks ago that my running course was not three miles, as I intended, but two miles (2.3 to be ezakt), I set about to re-plot my path to really (reelee) be three miles.
So today, Saturday, I tried out a modified course that, according to my calculations, was 3.15 miles.
It should be pointed out that it is one thing to have a course of a planned length, it is quite another to actually run the whole length of it.

As you may know, I took advantage of the holiday on Wednesday and ran the two mile course in the early morning (six AM).
I was not pleased with my performance that day ( I felt tired, etc.) but I had a successful run nonetheless.
It was not intended to break new ground in distance or intensity - just a "maintenance" session.
It served that function, so in that view, it was a successful session.

So today, I was somewhat concerned that I would still feel weak and not do well on my new longer path.
My concern was not necessary.
I started out cautiously, mindful of the longer duration of my planned session.
The time was 6:08 AM.
The weather was typical for this location and time of year - about 70 degrees with about 95 percent humidity (really).
It was so humid that there was fog just a few dozen feet above the ground.

After some minor whining from my left hip and hamstring, everybody settled down for the task at hand (or foot, if you like).
Hill # 1 went well, with accelerated breathing starting only after I reached the top.
Hill # 2 also went well, with accelerated breathing starting late in the segment.
Breathing was slightly impaired because of the heavy, wet air.
After topping hill 2, instead of turning right, I kept going straight, crossing Old Madison Pike.
I wondered if I could make this additional mile and a half loop.
In the back of my mind, I was prepared to nurse my wounded ego (or id) if things got so difficult that I had to stop running and walk for a few minutes.

But the longer I ran, the better I felt.
This was a segment of my old running course.
I had traveled it many times in years past, so it felt familiar and comfortable.
At the end of the first half-mile leg, I was feeling surprisingly strong.
I turned right for the second half-mile segment, still feeling good.
As I turned right again, to begin the last half-mile portion of this loop, I wondered if my breathing would hold to my more relaxed one-per-four-steps level or bump up to the one-per-three-steps rate, like it did the last time I ran this loop.
Interestingly, my breathing held to the lower rate until I crossed Old Madison Pike and turned left for the last quarter-mile segment.
But by then I could almost see my car.
I was nearing the finish line, and elevated breathing was more in order.

By now, my body was beginning to talk to me about various points of discomfort.
None of this was urgent or even painful, and I was pleased (again!) that all systems were still go for the finish.

As I entered the parking lot of the office park where my car was parked, Run Command Central gave authorization for the session to stop at the near end of the long office building near my car, rather than the far end, as a reward for the good performance.
But my body (and ego or id or whatever hidden part of me that responds to challenges) signaled it's intention to push to the far end of the building.
To be sure, I was tired.
There was no sprint here.
But there was no letup, either.
My legs, though tired, were pushed to maintain - and even increase - their pace as I traveled the final one hundred yards.
I worked to lengthen my strides as I approached the end point.
It was with great satisfaction that I stopped running and began my cool-down walk.
I was very tired - and pleased.
I ran the whole way.
The time was 6:45 AM.
It had taken me 37 minutes to run three point one five miles.
I am not as fast as I used to be.
But at this point in my life (read: age) I will trade speed for time and distance willingly.
And to my surprise - again - I am stronger than I was last week.