Sunday, May 24, 2015

Vegas

 
 This picture is of Lady Liberty at the New York New York resort across the street from my hotel, the Tropicana.  A great symbol for the Memorial Day Holiday coming up.  
I was in Las Vegas this week for a sales call at a local tissue mill.  Yes,  they have a tissue  manufacturing plant in North Vegas!  I am 58 years old and this was my first trip to Vegas.  I had been to the airport numerous times, but never left the secure areas, so that does not count.   By the way, as I left the secure area to get my bag, there was an interesting sign overhead coming down the escalator.   Two words and two arrows.   Baggage to left, liquor to the right.   Pretty simple I think.  The bars do not close, neither do the carry out stores, restaurants, casinos, etc.  Around the clock action--that is Vegas.
 
I had never had any interest in going to Vegas, but I made the most of my chance this trip.  I did not gamble, because it is impossible for an amateur such as I to do anything but give them money while learning.  I can stand to the side and spectate for that kind cash.  The hotels rates during the week are quite reasonable, the resorts are gorgeous, the shopping is top shelf--Harry Winston diamonds for one--and walking around the city is a joy.   I spend one evening doing a walk about and had some dinner at an outdoor Irish Pub.  It was just a very enjoyable evening for one.    I would like to go back and take Linda.  I think with some good planning, we can have a reasonably priced vacation and also meet some of our other adult friends for a good time.  We would play cards, but for fun and conversation. 
 
Yesterday, the local shoe store, Fleet Feet, had a track meet for all comers.   I ran in the 100 m, 200m and the 400 m races.   We ran in that order as well.  I think close to 150 people actually ran and some of the athletes were definitely elite.  Some of the elite Senior Olympians were in attendance and the quality of the middle distance people was exceptional.  One young college runner did a 10.9 second 100 meter and ran about 22 flat in the 200, he was really quick.  I was chatting him up a little and he indicated he had never run the 400 meters but had signed up.   I was trying to help him figure out how to pace himself, which is a big part of the race.   He said that he runs about a 22 second 200 and I told him to go for a 26 or 27 second first 200 and then see what was left,  and see if he was being pushed and let it rip after that.   He ran a 26 second first 200 and finished in 52 seconds--perfect right out of the box. He looked great and of course, had some really good coaching as well.  That was a fun race for me--just watching.  
 
The track was quite fast, it was a six lane black synthetic with the temperature in the low 80's and party sunny.  The first race was the 100 meters and I ran a 13.55 seconds and took first.  I felt pretty good and won my heat.  I was not challenged and basically ran my race.    The race promoter gave the winners a $15 gift card--cool.   The next race the 200 and I ran it in 28.2 and took first place.  I ran it hard the last 120 meters and felt good.  That also yielded a $15 gift card--I am liking this pro stuff.  Those times are near my best for the last couple of seasons, so my training is on track to be competitive at the state championship in 4 weeks.  I will continue to concentrate on my speed work, which I have been doing for only three weeks.  I think this strategy is working and I will continue my current training.  I have been really trying to avoid the over training related fatigue and injuries. 
  I also ran the 400 m late in the day and was out of gas so to speak.   I ran 70 seconds and finished 4th in the heat.  I was fine with that time, I was dehydrated and knew it. The easiest time to get hurt is during periods of dehydration, so the 400 was just a practice lap.  I drank 4 bottles of water and had no inkling of needing a potty break.  After the race I had a 24 ounce smoothie, a cup of warm coffee that was in the car, more water and finally worked up a little stream, I was dehydrated.
 
While in Vegas I worked out on the UNLV track.  In the background of the picture you can see the top of one of the hotels on the strip.  So, if you go to Vegas and need a place to workout, check out the UNLV track, it is close to The Strip and has a nice red synthetic surface.  The wind was really tricky at this track.  A storm was brewing to the West and  it did sprinkle a little during my hour on the track.  I was trying to run with the wind so I would not work my muscles that hard with a meet coming up in two days.  The wind switched 180 degrees about every minute or two and it was hard to get in a 200 meters without hitting the wind somewhere in the run.  But I felt pretty good and my stretching was really good. 
 
Have a great Holiday.  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Summertime Feet

I am not including pictures for this post because of the fear of reprisal.   Wintertime feet are nice and clean and soft because they are always in nice socks and boots or shoes.   But summertime feet for those of us who garden and wear flip flops all summer, are dirty and dusty with the always present dirty ring around the toe nails.   The toes are always dirty and even when you scrub like no tomorrow, they still have the little residue around the nails.  I guess this is the price I pay for wearing flip flops all summer.   I really do not help me case since I run the tiller and garden  with flip flops are well

   I have been doing  some roof work recently and I wear an old pair of running shoes so I can maximize the traction while on the metal.   As with any job I do at home, I will get distracted by  the garden and end up with a tiller in my hands or the hoe for a few minutes during a break.    Even with running shoes, you get the ugly summertime feet.  The mesh material just allows the finer material to filter thru and you still get dirty feet. So it goes, get the hose ready or head for the creek.

Linda and got to see the Prairie Home Companion radio show at the Ryman last night.  What a treasure !  We have seen the show 3 times at the Ryman and she has seen it multiple times at various sites, it is such fun and it about the best two hour show you will ever get to see.  Great writing and production, wonderful music and it has been going on for over 50 years.  The genesis of the PHC was the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman when Garrison came for a visit in 1972.  He could not get in because it was sold out, but watched and listened thru the windows (it was the days before AC) and he was hooked. He wondered if he could something similar and he has!! He has created one of the best weekly show anywhere and when he hangs it up, we will lose a real American treasure.

I have to brag a little, but I have been furiously trying to get a patch of yard to grow and the local mole population have insisted they get to help.  Their help is really unwanted in my newly seeded area, but they insist.  This week, I finally got one cornered with the garden hose and after about 15 minutes of water in the hole, it came out looking for air.  It made it a few feet and I made sure the shovel hit the mark.  I was so proud!   Next day--another mole in the same spot.  Boy was I aggravated.  I tried the hose again but to no avail.   I will work on him next weekend, hopefully he gets careless like his predecessor.    I also tried some of the mole baits early in week that are formed to look like earth worms.  I lost my patience with their lack of effectiveness and moved on to the hose.  The baits look exactly like the Creepy Crawlers  that we used to make many decades ago.   You would pour some liquid into a mold, cook it, and pull out a spider, snake, etc.  I was a fan of the purple spiders, but they always looked like beetles, because you just would tear off all the legs getting the thing out of the mold.  Creepy Crawlers were doomed because of the leg issue.  Now if ZI can doom the moles as well.

My first competition will be Saturday May 23 at a local high school track.  Fleet Feet who is the premier running shoe supplier in the area is doing a fund raiser with some track events.  So I am signed up and will see what times I can run in the sprints.  So, I now have something to shoot for and hopefully I can get free the week to do some running on the track.    It is hot enough, no excuses left.

Happy Mothers Day to all !!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

It's Summer Already

We blinked and it turned into summer.  Garden is coming up, grass is getting dry and needs watered and the weather is nice and hot.  Great time of the year to be outside and enjoying it. 

I have finished the high work on the roofing project for the front porch.  I am glad that is done because of the heat. As it got warmer , it was really tough to work on the new shiny metal roof--dehydration was pretty rapid.   So, the roof is finished, gutter installed and I can now work on the lower stuff that I can do in the rain or shade.  I need to rebuild the support columns and deco P's as I call them.   Our paint colors are selected and we will get on with the painting of the porch as the pieces are repaired and replaced.  It should pretty classy when done.  I looked like it was going to fall in earlier this year.  

One of the previous owners of the house stopped by last weekend and wanted to admire our work.  He was impressed by the improvements we have added.   He owned the house when the high school was built next door.  During the construction--which included a lot of limestone blasting-- the house sustained significant damage to the floor structure.  He had the floor replaced, including support beams-- in the lower bath and hall because of the floor was developing very wide cracks and the entire upper story.    He also improved the electric, water and added the present HVAC system which works quite well.   He spent a lot of money on the house interior, and he also financed the improvements by selling off several one acre building lots.  It was then purchased by the Peters family from whom we purchased the property. It must have been worth saving. 

I was been traveling quite a bit, although this week I am working at home, and have been getting in little real training.  I have been doing distance work twice a week and feel pretty good.  The local Fleet Feet is doing a fund raiser in a couple of weeks by holding some track events at a local high school.  I am going to run a couple events to see how I am doing with my speed.  I could run the 100, 200 and 400 if I like.  I will probably run a couple, all three may be too much.  I need less stuff to do while I am home, so I can get in some harder training on the track.   Whine Whine

May 4 was a major anniversary date for me.  I graduated from college May 4, 1980 and started full time employment in the paper business on May 4 , 1981.   34 years of the paper business and still counting.  Hopefully I can make it to 45 years before I step away!!  The new job with Kadant is going well.  I am getting to still see some familiar faces and my insights into the tissue making process appears to be helping the sales process for doctoring blades. 

Linda asked about why the doctor blades are named that, great question for Google.  According to Google, doctor blade comes from the word "ductor blade".  The ductor blade was used in early block style printing to remove excess ink from the block when prepping to print on paper.  Ductor turned into doctor and that term is used today in all types of printing, roll cleaning and tissue making.  Nothing to do with medicine, even though the words tissue and doctor may get the unsuspecting pointed in the wrong direction.    That is our little FYI for the day, now we all know.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Tired and Sore Season

The busy season for me is always accompanied by the tired  and sore season.   Yesterday I set up the scaffolding and worked on the roof project again.  This session was replacing the siding in a section of the house that I had to destroy when I replaced the roof on the porch.    Small section of siding, but the access was terrible and for some unknown reason, every time I would get going good, the sun would come out and just cook me on the roof.  It looked great when I got the cedar siding installed, but I managed to drag almost every tool I could carry up on the roof, including the leaf blower.   I use the blower to clean up the dust and debris created when you work on an old house.   Dust of all sorts is created and makes for a filthy mess.   I need to do another section on the other end of the porch, but it has better access.  Progress is being made. 

I worked until the rain was ready to fall and will hopefully complete the repairs up high next weekend if the weather cooperates.   It is still raining today, so I will put my tools away for another week.  My body is pretty sore, I did a lot of climbing up and down the scaffolding and as my Mom says 'you ain't as young as you used to be".  She reminds me of that every time I get to whining about being sore.  But my ass is sore today.  Mom's are always right....

We finalized our paint colors yesterday and bought some bright yellow for accent, hunter green to match the roof for the trim and a neat shade of violet to paint the ceiling in the porch.   There will also be some white for the main part of the house, but I can get that stuff anywhere. 

My new work vehicle arrived yesterday morning.   The leasing company found a blue Ford Explorer in Nebraska and had it shipped to my house.  Finally, I can get off the rental car carousel and drive 'my' vehicle. 
 The new gig at Kadant has been going very well in my opinion.   I have been traveling recently and it has been to some spots that are not on the big map--you need a small map for these spots.  I did get to see a mountain lion/lynx while in Western Wisconsin this week.  It just flashed across the road while we were headed to the supper club.   At the supper club the bimonthly Wednesday night cribbage club was playing.  They had a great turn out and the Old Milwaukee was popular with this group.  They play from October thru April and break up for the summer.  I was stunned at the quietness of the group--no trash talking or anything of that sort--very civil.    As you travel, you notice different slices of the population and in this section of the country the hairstyles for the women was just so different to the Nashville area.   Of the dozen or so women playing cribbage, not one had hair that could touch a collar on a shirt, but neither could any of the men.  I thought that was so striking.  In Nashville, long hair on women of all ages is the norm.   Maybe only one barber in the area could cut hair ?  

I have attempted some gardening this Spring, but it has been wet and getting anything started that will be good to eat will have to wait. I will wait for my chance to get it planted-- it will resemble corn farming, it gets dry and you go full bore day and night to get it all planted.  I did plant some grass and it has been perfect weather to grow grass.  A section of yard that was all crabgrass last season, looked anemic after I killed the crabgrass this year needed to be redone.  So, I tore it up, planted and rolled out the bumps.  The grass is coming on now, I hope this is last time I need to plant grass in this section of the front yard.

About 12 years ago Linda and I first started to date.   We have been with each other ever since.  It has been a great run and I hope it continues.   Speaking of running, I have been running about twice per week,   Last week,  I ran outdoors at Ladysmith, WI --home of the Lumberjacks--on their very nice all weather track.  I felt good to get an outdoor workout.  I was very breezy and warm and enjoyable.  I am hoping for some dry weather so I can get a little track time this weekend.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Busy season

 
When I started changing jobs almost 4 weeks ago, I was also going to lose my pick up truck, which was a company owned vehicle. This created a deadline to get the roof work done.   Without a truck to haul around lumber and debris, I was not going to be able to repair the roof on the front porch of our house as planned.   The roof was leaking and had to get repaired this year.   The plastic siding that was covering the old wood -which was completely rotten in many spots-was falling off and it was time to fix it or forget it.  So I rounded up some scaffolding, ordered house jacks--(the porch was 8 inches lower on one end than the other), ordered the metal roofing and started the process.    Last weekend was expected to be rain free and I removed the old roof, did the necessary structure repairs-- (a lot of that)-- and put down the new metal roof.   I looks great and last night it rained really hard for a bit and it did not leak.  That was good news.    
There are also several decorative elements on the porch posts that were rotting on the ends, (as a result of the roof leaks), and needed to be repaired or removed.  They are shaped like a "P" with small holes drilled for relief.   I removed them and will repair as needed.  They are made of three boards that are cut to shape and then nailed together.  They add nothing structurally, but do break up the silhouette and give the owner somewhere to put some accent color.  When I reinstall them, they will not be completely white.   With the roof on, I can repair the decorative elements at my leisure, and complete the other work that was a result of the water damage.  Also, putting on some paint that might be a more than white with a splash of white is an important part of the process.
 
Last weekend, March 29 was my sister's birthday.  She would have been 53.  If you think something is wrong with you, go the doctor.  Waiting solves nothing. 
 
Our daughter Rosemary is in town for the Easter weekend.  She flew in from Austin yesterday.  I flew in from Portland about an hour earlier, so I just met her at the gate. The airports were pretty busy yesterday, the Spring breakers mixed with the normal Friday traffic really made for a crowd.    Today is spa day and I need it after the long plane rides this week.  The planes seats are hard on my back.    We are also going to The Hermitage Hotel for Easter Brunch, they do it real nice. Eating and relaxing, I like the sound of that. 
 
Next up is gardening and mowing,  I am a little behind because of the porch repairs.  This week I am not planning on any travel and can hopefully get the dirt tilled and some planting started.
 
I am still getting some treadmill work in to stay in shape on my trips.   I am running a couple times a week and when we get some warm weather, I will get outside.  No current injuries to report and that is my main goal this year--run healthy.   I feel strong when I run, so I think I will have a good season for the oldest man in the group-- 55 to 59. I need to lose a few more pounds, but otherwise, I feel ready to race.
 
 
 
   

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March in Massachusetts

The last time I was this cold was in January 2014 when it was too cold to deer hunt in Ohio, and too cold to hunt is dangerous cold.  Today in MA it was 27 and windy.  Beautiful sun shine, but cold enough to kill you if you were not looking--just like in Minnesota.   Wow!  I do not miss any of this crap.   Snow is still stacked up everywhere and melts some during the day and then freezes again in the evening and makes for some really slick new ice daily.  It is March and still way to cold to go outside and enjoy.    Linda sent me a picture of our first daffodil bloom, that is March weather in my opinion,  enough said.

I am in Massachusetts for a visit to my new home office-- I now work for Kadant, based in Auburn, MA. I just got my new computer--on which this blog is being written and will get an iPad  as well.  I am loading my data and short cuts on the new machine slowly but surely.  I will take a few days to get everything adjusted to my liking, and I am fussy about how the computer display looks and works.     The other details like cars, what trips I need to plan, presentations, how to do expenses, get paid, etc. are the minor details that are also on the docket.   Details, details details.....   

My first impressions at Kadant are very positive.  We have a dominant position for supplying doctoring equipment in the tissue and paper industry, which  is right up my alley.  Hopefully,  this new relationship will be good for both of us. As I explore the new products, I can see some very good opportunities in the tissue making business and I will hit the ground running, so to speak.  And since my conditioning is pretty good now, it could be a blur to the competitors.

I ran outside in Tennessee last weekend and really enjoyed the fresh air.  I did a little speed work and felt pretty strong, but mostly did slower longer stuff to continue with the fitness improvement.   75 and sunny was great running weather.  Yesterday I ran on a treadmill in MA, the outside temperature was in the 20's and way to cold to try anything outside.   A great way to burn the lungs and get pneumonia.   It is amazing the difference a plane ride can make.

It appears my schedule will fill up quickly for travel in my new role and getting outside runs will be at a premium until the Nasty Winter of 2014 goes away for good.   Good riddance from where I am currently shivering away.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Switch is on

New phone number this week--I do not recommend this to anyone that does not have at least 12 hours to hover and update the dozens of places your phone number is used and/or required.   Whew!  You will need both phones to be active to get everything actually completed.  I got most of important ones done, but some places you do not use on a regular basis are a mystery on how to make the change.   Next week, it will be a new computer and all the nuances that go with that process.  "They" whoever they may be, claim that some change in your life is a good thing to stimulate growth and all that crap.  Could be , but "they" can come over and work through the computer conversion next week.  I need a massage..

I finished up with Buckman this week and started to get some tools for my new role at Kadant.  The phone and new employee packet were two days late due to the ice and snow that was dumped on us last week.  I am in full transition mode of payroll, insurance, expenses, credit cards, cars, travel rules, new boss, a lot of shit to remember and and even more to just screw up.  But this is what I wanted and I got it.   Next week will be the real work in terms of getting all the paperwork completed and the following week I will be in the main office doing the rest of my transition stuff with HR and IT.  My old phone and computer get send home next week as well.

TONIGHT WE CELEBRATE.  Linda and I are headed to the Omni Hotel to check out Bob's Steakhouse and celebrate one of life's little changes that is actually for the good.  My nephew and his wife from Martin, TN are going to jump in on the fun as well. Linda is celebrating her great year as the # 1 LS in your company.  I am thinking some steak and expensive bourbon.

The weather appears to be breaking up, it better,  the time change is tonight..  Daffodils are straining at their leashes, ready to explode into Spring.  The sun is doing all it can to force the issue, now if we can get the rest of the snow piles melted, we will be on to something.

  I am ready to run outside.

I have been running 3 times per week on the treadmill and the work is paying off.  I feel pretty fit and would love to get an outdoor work out.  My gout is under control and I have had no issues with pain or swelling.   The last couple of sessions I have not used KT tape on my right foot which was the poster child for plantar fasciitis.  I have worn the KT every time I have run the last 3 years.   I have used some really tight compression socks instead.  Only issue with these socks are, you are exhausted getting them on, it is a struggle.  I think I will still use the tape most days, the confidence factor is higher with the additional support.

  I am switching companies, the time is switching, Mother Nature could go ahead and switch the seasons as well.  I am ready, already.