Saturday, January 26, 2008

MAKING HISTORY

This morning was a perfect Alabama imitation of Oregon.
Thirty-two degrees with drizzle and light fog.
I dressed a bit too heavily for the event by accident.
I had two breathable layers on top and added a waterproof layer on top of them to minimize the effects of the drizzle.
It was too much.

I should have removed one of the mesh layers.
I discovered this about mid-way into mile one.
I toyed with stopping and removing one of my layers but decided against it.
I just resigned myself to sweat a little more.
This temperature was not the life-threatening chill of last weeks fifteen degrees, so I felt more comfortable with the discomfort, so to speak.
(As you may know, sweating in extremely cold conditions for long periods of time can be fatal.)

And, today I experienced an historical event.
I was stopped by the police while running.
I was running in the street on Explorer Blvd. (as I usually do around 6:40 on Saturday morning) when an approaching car suddenly sprouted red and blue lights on its roof in the dim morning drizzle/fog.
I was informed that according to Alabama law I was required to run on the sidewalk if one is available.
I thanked the officer, trotted over to the sidewalk about 30 feet to my left and resumed my journey in a somewhat bemused state of mind.

Technically, the officer was correct.
However, as a practical matter and a matter of preference, I like running in the street.
At 6:40 AM, there is not a lot of traffic on this road.
Actually, there is virtually NO traffic on this road at this time of day.
That is one reason I run in this area at this time of day.
The police car was the fifth car I saw on the three roads that I run on during my usual course.
Only two of those cars were on my side of the road. (the police car was the third.)
(I also run on other roads during my Saturday morning jaunt but because of the traffic on those roads, I run on the sidewalk. as required by Alabama law. I am not a complete idiot.)
He knows this as well as I do, but I had no inclination to argue with the man.

Sidewalks have several unique problems that I prefer to avoid, if possible.
First, they are hard.
Harder than roads.
This seems very counter-intuitive, but it is true.

It would seem that roads would have to be very tough and hard because they have to support big cars, bigger SUVs and bigger trucks, whereas sidewalks only have to support people.
True, but wrong.
Most roads are paved with asphalt, while sidewalks are made of concrete.
Concrete is harder than asphalt.
While they both may seem equally hard on first examination, spend an hour or so “pounding the pavement”, as the saying goes, and see for yourself if there is a difference.
Asphalt is somehow softer than concrete and thus, easier on the joints.
Trust me on this.

Second, sidewalks sometimes are tilted to the side to allow water to run off of them.
There is one section of sidewalk that I run on now that is this way and I hate having to run on it.
You might be thinking, roads are crowned the same way for the same reason.
You would be correct in your assessment.
However, in many places, the crown in the road is less severe than the tilt of a sidewalk.
In addition, traffic permitting, one can run down the MIDDLE of the road where there is no tilt.

What would the man think if he had seen me running down the middle of Old Madison Pike at 6 AM on Saturday a few years ago.
(That was before a couple of plants opened in research park that have weekend shifts. Before then, it was REALLY dead on Saturday morning.)

THE PROJECT

The bathroom project is coming along slowly.
I am taking my time and doing just one or two steps each evening.
This week I applied calk around the bathtub and toilet.
I painted the calked areas around the tub.
The calk around the toilet base will remain white as it is.

I am getting my custom-built vanity base ready for installation.
I attached the front door and stained it (the whole vanity) a nice light oak color.
A test fitting revealed that a couple of notches needed to be cut in the base and back to accommodate slight irregularities in the floor and wall.

The section of floor trim behind the toilet must be installed before I install the vanity and I want to paint the trim before I install it, but it has been too cold to paint outside, so I have to paint the trim inside, but the saw horses that I need to set the trim on to paint them is being used for the finishing touches on the vanity base.
Got all that?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dedicated Or Crazy?

THE RUN

Seventeen degrees.
That is what the thermometer read on my back porch Sunday morning when I stepped out at about 5:30 AM.
Saturday is my usual running day but I had a commitment this past Saturday that precluded a morning run.
Thus, I ran on Sunday.

This was one of those days that I committed to that summer in 1999 when I was deciding if I was going to become “a runner”.
I was going to do it just like my weight workouts.
No excuses.
No slacking.
Set up a program and stick to it.
No matter what.
In sickness and in health.
In the rain.
In the snow.
In the heat.
Whatever.
If the circumstances were not ideal, you just suck it up and do the drill.
Shut up and run, as the phrase goes.
I knew it was going to be cold.
I have run in the cold before, and lived.
So I just set my mind to do what I knew I should.

I was prepared for the chilly task.
Three layers on legs, three breathable layers on top, one pair of knit gloves inside a set of wool mittens on hands, two layers of socks inside running shoes.
Ear warmer and a breathable neck cover.
And Vaseline smeared on my cheeks, lips and chin.
It was almost enough.

My fingers were the first to complain about the lack of insulation.
Halfway into mile one, they were wanting more protection.
I balled my fists up inside my mittens and tucked my thumbs inside my fingers.
That made my thumbs happy but my fingers complained.
So I alternated thumbs outside fingers for a few minutes, then fingers outside thumbs for a few.

Somewhere toward the end of mile two, my hands began to sweat and I took off my mittens, leaving just my knit gloves to protect my hands.
They were enough.
I marveled how much energy and heat one body can produce, even in the most bitter cold, such that one can begin to selectively remove layers of clothing and still be “comfortable”.
Just a few minutes ago my fingers were complaining about being cold, now they were “hot”.

Soon after that, my left hamstring began to whine about too much stress.
The complaint was duly noted but the run continued.
I was highly motivated to finish this session as soon as possible.

One reason was because it was cold.
As warm as I was by then, I knew that if I had to stop running and walk, I would become cold again.
Not a good thing. (I hate being cold.)
Second, it was Sunday.
I needed to get back to the house and get ready for church.
I had almost an hour of safety margin but I did not want to play it too close.

It is good to be running again, in spite of the inhospitable environment.
I am looking forward to July.


THE PROJECT

The bathroom project is not complete yet.
It was allowed to sit half finished while I went on vacation.
Friday afternoon I installed my new Atomic Toilet.
It turned out to be more simple than I was expecting.
The main reason for this is that it required no leveling on my tile floor.
With no fiddling around to get it to sit level the installation was simple.
I pressed the wax ring on the bottom flange, turned the bowl over and set in on the pipe with the two anchor bolts poking through the base holes.
I smushed the wax ring down and bingo! the potty was placed.
The tank was attached (with silicone goop applied to all holes/gaskets, and then the water hose was attached.

I held my breath as I turned on the water.
The tank filled.
I pressed the lever and KA_WOOSH!
The Atomic Toilet did its thing.

The brand is Toto.
It does not flush like most toilets I am used to.
Instead of a long ten second swirling gurgling hydraulic symphony with a final wet gargle like I am used to, this new piece takes about two seconds (literally!) to wash away whatever is in the bowl.
This thing could flush a whole loaf of bread.
Or a Jimmy Dean sausage.

There were a couple of small leaks in the hose connections that required some tweaking, but those were soon fixed.

After having to use the back bathroom for almost three months, it felt strange tending to biological business in the front bathroom again.
But I am very pleased with my new plumbing fixture.
Now I am getting ready to install my new vanity and sink.

Pictures of my Oregon trip coming soon!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm Baa-ack

Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.

Let the Royal Chronicles show that I have returned from my journey to Oregon, USA.
I had a wonderful time visiting my sister and her family.

The weather was typical for this time of year and that locality - temp between 45 and 35 degrees night or day.
It rained every day - some days for ten minutes, some days for ten hours.
I got to run nearly every other day - rain or cloud. (as I had planned)

We visited the coast for four days.
There, the temperature never varied above 57 or below 35, day or night.
It rained every day - some times for ten minutes, some times for an hour or two.
It was VERY windy on the coast - 30 to 60 mph.
It was so windy at one place we visited that it literally almost blew us off our feet.
(This was not good as we were standing on the edge of an 800 foot cliff overlooking the ocean.)

Much fun and eating was enjoyed by all.
I got to have my annual halibut fillet.
It was very good, as usual.
My sister made one of her famous four-inch tall apple pies (pictures were taken for proof) which was a good as it was tall.

I did not take as many pictures this year as I did last year - mostly because of the poor weather.
The weather at the coast cleared for about half a day which allowed us to travel to one of our favorite places for wave watching, climbing, and picture making.

There were no travel problems, no lost luggage, or undue delays.
I arrived home early (by an hour or so) and under budget.
How can this be bad?

Pictures will be posted soon.