Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kitchen redo


The biggest piece of the kitchen puzzle is complete.  The stove and tile are in and everything is operational and in use.   We are pretty happy with the result and are now learning to cook on a completely different stove.   I have the new cupboards in the living room in their boxes for the last section to be completed around the frig.  It appears that will happen this weekend.   I need to get finished so the rest of my life can continue.  

I have been on break from remodeling at home for a couple of weeks.  In the mean time, we have been getting our gardens in shape, painting the new fence at the veggie garden, changing the brakes on the car, mowing and anything else that would happen after work.   One thing that has not been happening is running.   Oh, and for a weekend away, Linda and I headed to Chicago for three days to help one of kids do some building.  Aaron and his girlfriend live in a warehouse space with a couple other youngsters.  The space is very open and he wanted something that would resemble a room within a room.  So, we drove up and helped hang a bunch of drywall and change up some wiring.  The results were very promising and we did have a good time helping out.  

I have not been putting in the time to train, I really need to get some speed stuff going.  My first meet will be May 21 in Nashville.  It is an open meet with electronic timing.   A masters event is coming up in 10 days, but I have too much going on that day to make it.  I am not ready anyways.   SO this year feels like a sabbatical of sorts.   I will get going soon, but the kitchen needs to be done and my target is two more weeks to have ALL the boxes and tools out of the house. Period.   Don't fail me now. 

I have been traveling about 50% of the time and when I am home, I am beating on something with a hammer or mixing up something.  My travel is picking up slowly and so will my training.  Nice weather helps a lot, it has been a little chilly to run hard prior to this last couple of weeks. 

The weight is staying pretty good and should not be an issue, I feel strong from all the construction activity--a career of that has got to wear you down after a decade or so.  I just need to run.... more.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Kitchen redo

We are right in the middle of the second kitchen remodeling project.  Spending money like water and it is going to be really nice when we get finished. I am on the regular list at Home Depot and Lowe's.  The top photo is the cabinets (sans doors) in place to make sure everything fits and establishing how much subway tile we need to put on.  The second shot is the new tile just hung and waiting for it to dry so we can grout.   I have been spending a lot of time getting the plumbing, electrical, ventilation,  dry wall and paint ready for the tile and new stove.  The red Bertazzoni  6 burner with griddle -dual fuel - will be here in two weeks and I want the place to be ready. I was talking with Linda about the number of kitchen remodels and this is my third major remodel of a kitchen.  I have only owned 5 houses!! Enough, next place better have a good set of cabinets and not need a major job, this is not my career--fixing junk kitchens.   I am pretty excited about this remodel and Linda is tired of temporary cooking conditions and stuff stored everywhere with the cupboards gone.  She has been patient through out and is really good at hanging tile.  I hope she is as good with grout--it is a challenge to the that patient. 

Training has been limited the last couple of weeks--the weather has been too wet and cool and I have not been traveling.  I generally can get some running in while traveling.  While at home with the house in chaos, I cannot seem to get out long enough to run some laps.  I will be traveling the next few weeks  and hopefully get in some miles, although I am heading to some Northern climes.

I think my first race will be organized by Fleet Feet and will be May 21and called the "Nashville Classic".  I ran in it last year and enjoyed the event.  Last year was the first year for the event.  It did have electronic timing and had some really fast talent.  So, I will time my speed work for that event and I need 4 to 6 weeks to work on the speed.  I gotta get this kitchen work finished so I can do some training and move on with the garden and yard maintenance. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

In this case, failure is an option

My experience with the hollow core auger did not go well, it was your basic failure.  I "thought" the dirt under the house could be augered out into my little wagon and hauled off, thus eliminating the need for buckets and a lot of sweat.  But, my thinking of saving a lot of work for my mining project was a failure.   So I disassembled the auger and it is laying in the yard.   The dirt I was removing was a little too wet and it would just ball up and get mashed into the pipe and stay there, I could not figure out to make it any lighter or bulkier so it could be moved.   I will try again this summer when I am bored with my other projects.   In the mean time, I have removed 26 yards of dirt to date  and the crawl space is not quite luxurious, but I can get to the utilities under the kitchen and that is what is needed. The kitchen project is in full swing.

I visited my Dad's brother who lives in Maryland.  I have never been to his place and I was in the area and made the effort to look him up.  In the past funerals were the only chance to visit with him and it is hard to make any real conversation at those events.    Ward is currently working as a home inspector at age 79.  He still works 3 or 4 days a week and climbs on the roof and crawls under the house to do inspections during the selling process or if there is a law suite over some failure of construction.  He stays pretty busy.  His wife is a retired realtor.  He built the houses and she sold them.  It has worked pretty good for them.   The picture is a chain saw carving in their yard.  A very large oak tree was near a power line and the local tree trimmers basically botched the trimming and the tree died.  He decided to have a local artist carve it into a "totem pole".   The actual carving took only two days and it is really a great piece of art.  The carving has been a local attraction ever since and is easily seen from a very busy highway.   It was an interesting day to get a feel what my Dad's family was like.   Ward left the Ohio area during college and never returned.   He quit after his sophomore year at Ohio State to follow his wife to be back to Maryland.  He was majoring in civil and mechanical engineering.  His interest in math and his incredibly knowledge of building houses let's me know the source of my similar interests.

I have been following three local senior athletes who ran in the USATF Master indoor championships in New Mexico last weekend.  They are my Facebook friends and Grady Cash, William Yelverton , David Schmanski  all medaled in several sprint events.  The local talent is quite deep and it makes me proud that I can actually compete with them.  I am in a bad age spot for USATF, I am 59 and the old guy in the age group.  Next year I can try the indoor stuff when I am 60 and actually have a shot of competing.  I have never competed indoor and look forward to giving it a shot. 

I am ready to start outdoor running.  I ran tonight at the gym on the 1/11 mile track.  I did some 290 meter cycles, felt good, but the curves really restrict my stride length and the feet and ankles get a major cranking.   I have been really uncomfortable on the treadmills lately and my breathing has been uneven.  It is time to get outside and start doing some speed type work.  I still have about 3 months until the State meet,  but I have some ideas for some lower risk speed training. Plus, the local talent is already in shape from their indoor competitions.   I need to get to the track, badly.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I would explain how I loaded this picture today, but I would be too exhausted to blog.  This shot is from umbrella 63 at the Holiday Inn Resort and Casino in Aruba in the Palm Beach area.    We are spending the week and having a very relaxing stay.
This is our first trip to Aruba, and probably not our last.   The weather is very warm with very intense sun and brisk winds all day.  The wind is from your back as you look at the water and ranges from 20 to 40 mph in a rather steady manner.  You must keep your stuff nailed down or it is gone! The wind is a blessing for keeping bugs and mosquitoes away, but it annoying because you cannot leave anything lay around.  The beach is clean and well kept with blue water that is warm enough to swim and cool off.  It also an open beach so there is a steady stream of walkers and running coming by all day.  Something for everyone to watch.

The resort is full of East Coast folks with families, couples -young and old-- mostly American but with a few European couples.  Everyone is quite friendly and the staff actually speaks to you and is glad to chat you up.   That is refreshing!  Most of the locals speak 4 or 5 languages, English, Spanish, Dutch, a local dialect and French.
For activities, there is food on the beach, at the hotel or across the street at some very good family run restaurants.  We have sampled them all and really enjoyed the fresh fish.   We have not done any boating, with the high winds, it can pound you pretty hard and that is not what we are after.  There is a little sports bar on the beach close by, that is open from 10 to 10, with Happy Hour from 10 to 9.  Happy Hour is 2 for 1.  It is a good place to visit around sunset.  I have sampled the local Balashi beer with good success.  It is similar to Yengling that is brewed in the US.  The bottles or cans are all 22 cl or 7.5 ounces.
I have run on the beach twice and I am resting today.  The hips get sore from the soft sand and uneven surfaces.  But I had two really good workouts and will do some weights today at the hotel gym.  I ran the first day at midday and survived, but it kicked my butt.This close to the equator (12 degrees) the sun is really strong and it will beat you down.  I ran the next day much earlier and recovered much better.   There are a lot of runners and triathletes here.
Speaking of the sun.  I stay in the shade at our little umbrella made from palms.  I have not laid in the sun as such.  Walking around and swimming is plenty of exposure.  I have had all the fry jobs I ever wanted. Keep covered and use the sunscreen.

Aruba is great spot to visit and compared to Mexico, it wins out on many counts.  1)You are left alone- big deal for us-no vendors are hounding you.  2) Money is not a problem, US dollars work fine. 3) The plumbing is done right and you do not smell sewage  4)  Security is very good.  We have not seen any police and have no need.   5)  Southwest Airlines flies here.  6) There is shopping for those   that want that.  They really advertise watches for some reason...7)  I can walk to 2 different Dunkin Donuts in 5 minutes!!!   It is relatively expensive and you will need quite a bit of cash.  Many of the small places do not take anything but cash.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


The new dirt auger covered to keep it dry
The kitchen remodel project really warmed up the last week.   I ordered a grain auger from the local coop to convey dirt from the crawl space to the yard.   I finally got it installed last weekend and ran some dirt, but it was Valentine's Day and spending it underground was not in my best interests. I does speed up the process immensely, but I still need to figure out how to load it a little slower.  I overheated the 1 HP motor a few times and it will kick out until it cools off, dirt is definitely harder to mover than animal feed.    I also made a trip to Atlanta and made a stop at IKEA to pick up half of the cabinets we need.   Now, I have way more than I can do in several months and we will start chipping away.   We also found a really neat exhaust hood for our stove.  Futuro makes a Mimosa model that is very stylist--Italian of course-that is paintable.  The design uses wood and some molded plastic material that is can be easily.   The fact that you can paint your hood makes the variations infinite in the finished look.  This should make it fun to trim out the kitchen. I can't wait to get to that part.

One problem related  the auger was the lack of a good wiring chart.   The motor is 220 volt and I added a very slick switch from the feed to the creek water pump.  I got all the wiring done and it took all day to do the wiring of the new outlet and the motor.  I get it all set and it will not start.   Double checked everything and no luck.   The major piece of the motor wiring is a control box that is fitted with a limit switch to stop the motor when the bin is full.   That unit is where all the connections for the incoming and feeds to the motor were located..   I brought this piece inside to trouble shoot due to the lousy cold weather.   I finally worked through the very simple drawing they had and had to fix two misplaced connections.  The diagram did not match what was in the box.   One warning lite had no ground, two hots will not make it work.  Another feed to the motors was not fed properly.   I cannot imagine trying to get this running in some barn with the animals all fired up over getting fed.  But after all the changes, it started just fine and we were off and augering away.

I have started to experiment with new gear again this season.  I have been searching for some compression wear that is made for running with some style.  I finally found some stuff at Skins and have picked up some shorts, calf compression sleeves and a compression top that needs a helper to get on and off.   More on them later as I test them out, they look good and fit snug.  

I have been picking up my pace with my running and feel great.  I am doing nothing longer than 1200 meters on the treadmill now and I am looking for a chance to get outside.   Yesterday I ran 1200, then 800, then 400 then a 200 at increasing speeds for each.  That was basically the entire workout.  Today I leg work and did some dead lifts, clean and jerks and hanging power cleans.  Not a lot of reps, but some heavy weights and an incredibly thick sweat.  The humidity is back up with all the rain and I have found I feel much stronger and faster in the humid weather.  The dry weather, although less dense, is not what my body likes.  Hot and humid are my best combinations for running. My stretching is also much better is the humidity....

Thursday, February 4, 2016

I am still here

I keep forgetting that people like to read my blog and I have been slacking.  My bad.

This 'off season' if you can call it that, I have been doing more long distance running on the treadmill and weights for the legs and upper body. I try to get in some training at least 3 days a week, but no more than 5.  Rest is very important for us old timers.   So far so good.  No real injuries from running. I did have a really sore left hip last week that was self induced.  I wrapped a rope around a very heavy piece of pipe to get it "out of the way" and I moved it OK.  But two days later the top of my hip was really mad and caused me to skip a couple of my running work outs.  Back to normal now.  I ran a mile last night at 8:34 pace on the treadmill and then did some leg weights.  So I think I am healed up. I am staying in pretty good condition and my fitness is good.   I have been slowly inching up the speed on my treadmill runs.  If I do not run at a faster pace, the heart rate struggles to get above the 95% level where I like to finish each cycle if possible.

My project list is 'fixing to' explode in the next couple of weeks.  Linda and I finally got the house refinancing done and cashed out some money to finish the kitchen remodel. I have purchased a auger from the coop to get the rest of the dirt removed from the crawl space so I have access to the wiring and plumbing under the kitchen.  The auger is a huge overkill for this project, but I like a workspace that has room to move freely.  I will hire some help to reroute the gas lines under the house and a lousy crawl space might make getting work done a lot more pricey.   There is also some heating duct work that is not within reach currently and needs attention.  The burrowing animals in the days before we arrived, dug out their burrows and piled up the dirt in the crawl space and eliminated access to a couple of important ducts.  The auger (40 feet) will make getting access to the ducts a much simpler and quicker operation.    And the dirt removed will be useful in leveling the yard.  Certain yard sections are hopelessly unmanaged.

I will be in Atlanta next week for an interview with the US Government to get my Global Entry approval.  This program allows much quicker and simpler border crossing for me  when I travel to Mexico and Canada for work.  My future work schedule will include frequent trips across the border and this program will speed entry to the US by 80 to 90%.  This is huge during Spring Break! Since I will be in ATL, I will stop at the IKEA on the way back and start buying cupboard sections.   Once we get this started, we are off and running on the kitchen.   We will be doing some cupboards, new stove and a hood that carries the smoke outside.  The current hood vents the smoke over your head and the smoke alarm is a huge annoyance when cooking nearly anything.  The smoke deal is a massive downer for both of us.

Later in the month, Linda and I are headed to Aruba for a week of vacation in the sun.  We looked at a lot of different places and the prices are relatively the same in the US or Aruba.  Southwest flies there and that made the choice much simpler.   Many people whom had previously been to the island indicated the locals leave you alone and the dollar is OK for currency.  Plus, it is sunny a lot in the winter with temperatures in the low 80's.  That should be enough to make for a fun week. We are planning on some fishing and since it is a small island, fishing should be pretty simple to do.

After the vacation, it will be time to think garden and yard, an early season race, and off we go again.

Thursday, January 14, 2016


I was in Mexico for 5 days this week for a Sales Meeting at an all inclusive hotel on the beach in Puerto Villarta.   Perfect weather and gorgeous scenery from the seventh floor of the hotel over looking the bay.  I did do three workouts while in town.  I had to take advantage of running in sand.  It whips your butt and makes my knees real mad, but I can burn some serious calories.  My second running workout on Wednesday used 1025 calories.  I was gassed at the end, I had burned a lot of calories.  My knees were sore the next day, but the rest of me was fine.  For that session, I ran on the beach and then returned to the hotel by the street just inland a block or two.  I was running and discovered a very nice all weather track and public activities area.  I got in a couple of laps for  fun and continued on. There was even a few kids working on starts with their blocks...great to see that.  I was out of energy at that point, low on water and needed to get back to the hotel and hydrate and eat.
I returned to the hotel and had some liquids , water and NA beer were pretty good, along with some dried fruit I always carry.  The other running workout was not as intense, but it still makes your legs turn to jelly.

The hotel food was a little bland and since I was with a group of about 70, we got fed in a group and after a day or two, it was getting old.  But , no food poisoning this trip.  I Stayed with the breads and potatoes a lot.  I also took along my own raisin bran cereal to eat in the morning.  That fiber really helped out.  I know I may look like a codger with my own breakfast cereal at a massive breakfast buffet, but it was the right thing to do.  I did mix in a couple of fresh scrambled eggs on the side.  This trip I stayed out of trouble with the foods.  The beer choices were really limited, so the all inclusive is a very limited all inclusive.  No Victoria, which is a really great Mexican brew.

I ate lunch at the PVR airport at Johnny Rockets burger stand.  The young lady who waited on me was about 15 or 16 and spoke great English as well as her native Spanish.  She Took my order and was very good at her job.  There was a tip jar at the order counter that said "tips for school".  I asked what she was studying and she replied..high school.   She must pay 500 peso per semester to go to high school.  That is 58 US dollars a year! Wow, you pay in Mexico for all you school... I tipped her 20 peso, I would have done a 50 peso but was out.   Every country is different, and in Mexico, you work for everything including school.  No wonder many of them are so motivated to succeed in the US.

I need to hustle up and publish.  I am doing this on the plane wifi at 35000 feet and we are headed in Houston.  This year I am A List Preferred and get free wifi on the flights that have the receiver on the Southwest planes. This is a great perk that will get used a lot.