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.