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

Mexico

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.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year

On Christmas morning, Mother Nature gave everything, including Santa a good wash down.   Around 4:00 AM it was raining about as hard as water could fall from the sky!!   Our idyllic little creek came up in a flash and covered our entire meadow with water.  It also took care of all the leaf residue, imagine that, the rain water washed my leaves away!   A couple hours later, the creek was back to near normal levels.   These water levels were the highest since the May 2010 mess.  

I enjoyed Christmas in Brentwood with all the kids and Linda.  We were missing Betty's wife, she had to work in Milwaukee during the Christmas weekend.   But all the kids and two girlfriends also made it a house full.  We opened a lot of presents and had some yummy treats... It was a fun Christmas for me, for sure.  

Linda and I did travel to Ohio the Monday and Tuesday after Christmas to hang with some friends while I deer hunted for two days.   There is an extra two day season for shotguns in Ohio that would be my chance to hunt this season.  I did (probably)bag a doe on the second day.  I was with two others, standing in a hay field, waiting for the standers to get into position and another hunter close by jumped up a doe.  She came walking up through the hay field, saw us, panicked and took off.  We had a short distance to get a shot while she was in the clear.    Two of us shot at the same time and she was down.  The deer was about 40 yards away and had started to accelerate to full speed when we shot.  I know I was working on my lead when I pulled the trigger,  and she was shot in the head!  I think it was my shot, but it there is not way to be certain. None the less,  we had some really nice venison out of the deal.    Plus we did not have to chase anything down after being wounded.  

Later in the hunt I must have eaten something with garlic or another seasoning that I got blind sided.  I had my garlic attack and was up most of the night cleaning out the stomach.   It was not as severe as Green Bay, but I still evacuated the GI tract and we needed to drive home the next day.  I drank some Gatorade and started to get some yogurt down and we were down the road to Brentwood.   As, I said it was not as bad as some previous, but I need to find a way to avoid these situations with garlic, etc.

Today I went to gym for some running, it has been about a week of no hard cardio.   I got warmed up and actually had a little race with one of the women trainers at PLF.   Hannah ran track in high school or college and she wanted to see if we could have a race.  We ran about 90 meters with two turns on an 1/11 mile track.  I had her run on the inside and I took the outside--stay in your lanes, it was narrow.  It was a  lot of fun, I did catch her on the last short 20 meter straight and win by a step.  I had enough power to get the advantage off the turn.  If she gets another chance, it will be tough, she has quick feet.  By the way, I was real relaxed to start and by the end, my heart rate was 100%.  Amazing how the intensity of sprinting just maxes out the heart rate in no time!!  I followed that up with a 400 meter and a 800 meter thread mill runs.   I had a big calorie burn after the sprint!

I was looking at some email on an address I had not looked at all in months and it is the address that any emails generated from replies to this blog are routed.  I found some emails replies to me that I did reply, but way to late to be of any use.  That is my fault and I have corrected the situation.  I can now look at the email address connected to this blog daily.   So, if you sent something before and got nothing back , that was my fault, I was not ignoring you, just not looking at the reply.    Now if you response to any of the blogs, I can answer any question you have or continue the conversion. The two way street is now open. 

Stay Healthy Y'all.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Let's Take a Trip !



 A cranberry bog near Vancouver with fresh snow on the mountains.  Quite a panorama. The mountains were beautiful and the skyscrapers in the foreground made for a great picture
SSSS stamp--this crap is not random. 

 
I traveled this week to Vancouver, BC Canada on business.  I want to inform the uninformed, that it is not like on TV.   I traveled on Southwest and Delta Airlines, which is a little odd , but there are reasons that I will try to explain. 

On TV commercials, they show the travelers that paid for first class seats having their wine and cheese in their fancy seats and enjoying the sunset out the window of the plane.   OK, it can happen, but those people are not you and I.    By the way, Delta has only 8 747 planes, the big ones that are shown quite frequently on TV commercials, so your chance of riding in a big 747 and behaving like these people is remote.   They basically run a lot of the MD 88's and 90's, which happen to be some old loud planes.  I got that off my chest. 

This was the last trip of the calendar year for me.  I was just a few miles short of getting to a major milestone for the frequent fliers program on Southwest--SWA, and needed to fly one trip on SWA to get free wifi on their planes next year and get to board in the first 30 people.  Sounds petty, but those little perks make life significantly easier for me.  I could have flown Delta the entire trip, which would have been easier to do, but the only options were to fly in the Regional jets the entire way--flying tubes.  I hate them.  They are narrow and my shoulders do not fit in the seats--I am too wide to be comfortable.  I nixed that idea.  So, I flew to Seattle on SWA and then hopped an RJR on the 35 minute hop to Vancouver with DL.   I worked the details and got the flights all arranged to get the points and also to minimize the hanging around airports.  So I had a 3 hopper up and a 3 hopper back. It was a long trip any way you slice it, but I survived and actually we had a good sales call at the tissue mill.  I may go back, but I have better plans next trip.  My learnings from each trip get put into the next trip plans. 

The second picture is of my boarding pass in Vancouver, BC on the hop to Seattle.  I am not sure how it happens and it is not random--I am convinced of that--but I was randomly selected for the SSSS.  The SSSS?  Well, it means that you get the extra special screening and just get to be aggravated more than the other passengers.   I have gotten this at Atlanta as well--do I look like the German terrorists with the bleached blonde hair that were fighting Bruce Willis??  I think the TSA crowd is watching too many old movies again.....  I am not a Hans or Klaas.  Nope.   The SSSS meant that I had to do the body scanner and just be aggravated a few more seconds that anyone else.  But why do I seem to be that guy??  Drives me nuts.    

Now my comments on how much crap you need to tolerate to fly international.  I had a 6:00 AM flight leaving Vancouver.  You need to be checked in 2 hours before an international flight.  I know people that have not be allowed to board due to this rule.  I got up early--my body was on CST and I was in PST so it was not that big of a deal.   Leave for airport at 4:30 AM and check in-show passport.   Take luggage to a line to be screened that opens at 5:00AM.  Wait in a really long line for 20 minutes.  Get thru that line where they photograph your luggage and check your passport again.  Bag is checked now. Go thru the SSSS exam where three different people look at your passport.  I bitched about the SSSS randomness to tin ears.  Queue up for customs.  It opens at 5:00 AM.  Another 20 minutes of patiently waiting.  By the way no phones are allowed in either location and I am glad I stopped for a potty break earlier--rest rooms are quite limited in those areas as well.  Stay in line! I got thru customs where they check your passport, ask a couple of questions and send you to the gate.  They always ask me what I do for a living and I have not been able to explain that for 9 years now.  I try, but "making toilet tissue softer" is not really working anymore. They need to show this crap on TV a little better-- it is a genuine grind. 

I get the gate within the 30 minute window to be on board for international so they do not cancel your flight.  Flight is scheduled for 6:00 AM-- arrive at airport at 3:45 AM for two hours of hurry up and waiting.  At the gate- they checked my passport again before we started to board.  Also when you board it is checked again.  I think that is 7 times by now.  Also the second gate agent wanted to check it again, after the first agent checked it.  I asked what was up with this ??  They did not need to see it again, they did not update their roster.  I thought 7 was enough.   There is little regard for the traveler-- it is a constant queue and lame questions that you must answer in the proper manner..

I made it home without any delays. Neither SWA plane on the return trip had wifi working, so the TV was down on each.  Passing the time was a lot tougher without entertainment. Enough whining.  I was glad to see Linda and start getting ready for Santa.

   When we pulled into our gate at Nashville, the plane that ran off the run way this week was parked on the tarmac.  It was unstuck and patiently waiting to go back in service.  The planes also get to wait their turn. At least the waiting it is not all my burden to bear alone. And I am glad to share it!!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Getting ready for Santa

We have been decorating away so Santa can find our house. Lights on the front porch with a couple of inflatables to add some kid attraction.  The tree is up and actually filled with presents underneath.    I am done with shopping and actually have a lot of the Christmas cards in the mail--Yes!  I still do a few cards to family and some school friends from college and high school.   During the year is very difficult to keep up with everyone and the Christmas cards let them know what my latest info is for addresses and phone numbers.   Old fashioned, but it actually works pretty well.  

We have also been doing some work around the house to get ready for the kids ( all adults now) who will start arriving on the 23 rd and stay thru the 26 th and then all disappear again.  It should be a lot of fun, we try to get everyone in the same room at least one time a year and this year we get them all at our house.  It is typically a very energetic couple of days and this year should be no different.  So as we slowly creep towards the arrival days, we will continue to cram stuff into closet and other spaces to make room. 

I took last week off from any sort of training activity.  My gout got the best of my left foot and I needed to get that under control.  The previous week I was out of town and ate two steaks in a period of 3 days ( they were pretty goods steaks) and I think that was the catalyst that set off the pain.  So this week I ate no meat and tried to keep my diet limited with gout foods.   After a couple of days, things started coming around and I ran some yesterday at the gym treadmill.  Things felt OK.  I also am getting some plantar fascia pain in my left heel, so hopefully I can keep that under control as it heals( I hope).    My feet are still my weakness, but I manage to keep up some sort of training regardless of the resistance that they throw my way. 

My training has changed away from running to a  weight lifting based sessions to build strength and rest the lower body joints. I still do some 800's to keep some fitness.  Linda likes the new emphasis on weights, her opinion of a skinny husband ( in season husband) are not that high.   As the running is reduced, the weight and muscle definition increase and that is the look she prefers.  

I have been some recruiting at the gym.  One of the new gym employees and I got to yakking about running and he ran track in college against some pretty elite talent.  I encouraged Zack to check out USATF and run some meets.  He is starting to get involved and I gave him spikes I was not very fond to help get him started.  He is in his late 20's and I hope he can kick some butt as a sprinter!!  New blood is always needed. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone who checks in on me.  I appreciate your attention.

Jack 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sad News

The United States and gun violence seems to connected in some strange way and it appears the answer is going to be one of the messiest situations that we have ever experienced.  Guns are easy to get if you have the money and connections, the black and gray market is unregulated, and the retail market is relatively unchecked in many respects. There are people that currently have thousands of rounds of ammo in their houses with dozens of military grade weapons.   You can accumulate as much as you can afford.    No limits or controls anywhere.   This has got to change if we are going to stop the random acts of mass killings that makes this country look like we are owned by the mafia. 

In the 1990's I had a license to sell guns through the BATF and would sell guns to people I knew for sporting and hunting purposes.  The license allowed me to get better pricing on ammo and guns.  I did a lot of shooting and hunting and enjoyed burning some powder.  But times do change and I got out of the business when I moved to Alabama and did not have access to the real estate to shoot that I had in Ohio.  So, I got out of the business and gave up my license.  I am also a Life Member of the NRA.  There was a period of time that the liberal legislation was looking to make gun owner ship very tenuous, and I thought that the NRA could balance the equation and make for better legislation to control gun ownership.   With the rise of the Tea Party, there is little worry about legislation of any type getting thru the US congress that would do anything constructive to get rid of gun ownership or access.  I am still a member, but not active in any of their lobbying efforts.  They are pretty effective as lobbyists, but I think they are way over the top with a lot of their scare tactics and dooms day scenarios and hate speech. 

I still own some hunting guns and two revolvers.  One revolver is a collectable that my Dad owned and I purchased a used revolver from a guy that needed money.  The purchased revolver is an older police handgun and is a great shooting .38 that is kept for "protection".  But I hope I never have to even get it out of the case.   I have no need to ever shoot anybody and live with that the rest of my life... I just don't need that burden.  Plus, it leaves a huge mess and you get to deal with the police and courts. No thanks.

With all this being said, I think I am qualified to chime in on the gun situation in the US. And it is a mess of giant proportion that is not easy to fix. 

Congress is going to have to do some very difficult work to get this done.  I do not think they have the political will to get it done.   The breaking point has not occurred where we get the fix, but I think we can get a start. 

I think two major changes are needed now:
1:   If you own a gun and have anyone children in the house--by law--you must store the gun  in a safe or other locked container that will not allow children access.  Too many kids get a gun out and it is a toy to them, and someone ends up dead.  This is the owners fault, put your guns away--lock them up.  Your kid is dead from failure to control the weapon, you the parent and gun owner should go to jail.  Tough love is badly needed here.  I had a safe when I had kids in the house and we had no issues with gun getting used as toys.  This is doable now and it really needs to be done. 

2:  Now the messy part.   I really think if we are going to control the movement of guns and their use, we need to create a licensing system to monitor and control the purchase and sale of guns and ammo among individuals.   You can still get guns and ammo, but you must have a license.  
        a.  I think to make this really work, a government agency, that would be administered by the Feds, would control the licensing process.  Similar to a passport, you would apply to get a license and you could be denied upon issues with previous crimes, mental stability, associations with terror groups, etc.   This license could be revoked upon any problems with your mental state, drug abuse, scrapes with the law,  selling to unlicensed individuals, etc.   The licensee info would be in a national registry that would be updated with the latest available info.   I think it would have to be renewed on a minimum of ever 3 years.   The license would have to be kept up with your current location and also your purchasing  and sales history.  It would make keeping track of people that have too much ammo or are accumulating too many weapons or weapons of the wrong type much simpler.  It would be basically big brother keeping an eye on you, a police state in many opinions, but you could keep guns and it would avoid confiscation.   The NRA has paraded out the confiscation argument for years to scare the US into giving them money to fight this issue.  This can avoid their biggest fear and the legal gun owners would re rewarded with keeping their guns.  Easy no, necessary--yes.
 
  b.   Getting a licensing system in place would be messy and the political will  I still think is lacking.  But, the tide is turning and I think the political pressure can be exerted.  We need an effective lobbying group to exert the pressure and I do not see them now. They may develop soon and I will join them when they do come to the fore front to fight this national massacre mess we are currently immersed. 

c.  How do we get compliance??  That is another messy part.  Enforcement will lead to some people that are not licensed properly losing their guns and gun rights in the future.  Just like a license suspension when driving, some people drive with no license and others do the work and get legal.  Punishment is going to have to be jail times and massive fines to get some level of compliance.   Can this stop the problem??  No, but it will control the legal sale of guns to individuals that are not suited to own guns.    I think a part of the licensing will also control the transfer of guns among family members.  There is currently no control in this area and this will really be hard to make happen, but it needs to be addressed.  Some idiot kids, cousins, uncles, grandkids, ... do not need gun access. 

Can the US get normal in terms of gun violent as compared to the other civilized countries ?? Yes, but as we are currently governed--NO.  We need to get started on the change that is needed to bring gun violence under control, and we need to start now.  Congress needs to get the legislation started without regard to their political futures, which would be imperiled.   Change is hard, not impossible---let's go. 
 

Happy News

The Ravenwood Raptors finished it off last night with the 6A Tennessee Football championship.  Last year they were beaten by one in overtime on the extra point conversion.  That ending, and the sick feeling it left everyone on the team and those connected to it, was the drive to get back to Cookeville and get the championship that they were an eyelash from achieving.  All season this year, getting back and finishing was the target.   Pretty simple goal, but incredibly hard to achieve. 

The object of their quest was Maryville Rebels.   Mayville has been in the championship game for 7 straight years.  They have won 4 and lost to Hillsboro, Whitehaven and now Ravenwood.  Maryville is expected to be in the championship game and are expected to be good.  They were rated # 1 in Tennessee this year and 18 th in the USA Today school national rankings.   They are expected to win, that is just how it works.    Ravenwood knew all that and were ready, what a great game.  

Ravenwood had won all season with a defense that was just a stone wall in the second half of games, incredible kicking teams, aggressive coaching and a gutsy running game.    Guess what, it happened again last night.  Ravenwood got the first score with a field goal by Crews Holt who was the Titan's Mr. Football kicker (high school) this last season.  Crews finished the game 4 of 5 in field goal kicking and the offensive MVP award for the championship game.  This guy is that good. Maryville then started to take control and had a 10 to 3 lead with a lot of momentum and we needed a play.  Ravenwood was looking a little flat and it appeared that their energy was starting to wane--you could feel a little doubt creeping in.   Chris Rowland put the Raptors back in the game with an electric swing pass touchdown.  Too much speed and he was in the endzone with a 65 yarder.  The energy came back in a big hurry!!   Maryville scored again to make it a 17-10 game.   Near the end of the half the sophomore quarterback for Maryville made a couple of mistakes.  He was a 70% passer and their leader rusher coming into the game and was their offensive star.  Ravenwood defense forced some turnovers and by the half the Raptors had managed to take the lead with another FG and half back option pass from Rowland to score a TD and take a 20-17 lead!!   Maryville had not trailed at the half all season.  How would the Rebels respond??

Raptors started the half with the ball first and scored another field goal to have a precarious 6 point lead.   Now, it was the second half, and time for defense to show the way.   The defense shut out Mayville the rest of the way.  They got two picks, forced a lot of punts and just made life miserable for the quarterback.   The 36 seniors on Ravenwood could smell the blood in the water and were going to finish the deal.. and they did!!   Another late Crews Holt field goal and it was over.   Redemptions was the Raptors.  They went after the champions and took it, what a great way to finish it off.  

John Calipari who coaches at Kentucky,  made a very interesting statement on Colin Cowherd's talk show this week.   He said "coaches win games, administrations win championships ".  He was referring to Kentucky having five different coaches win titles in basketball.   With that in mind, Ravenwood appears to be position for a great future in football with some great coaching and a very solid school that fields great teams and graduates some very smart kids.   Congrats on a great season of entertaining football and I am ready for another year in 2016....

Let's Go Raptors