Thursday, July 31, 2008


as I bloghopped a while earlier I found mention on a friend's blog that the husband of Becky passed away on Monday. Becky found her way here via Lori, her sister. Just last week they were arranging for people to attend a tribute band concert at Sandstone; the one I referred to in my post below. The photos are still up on Lori's site...

He was 52; my age.

I know we should never take anything for granted in this life; sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the "the whirl" of our lives that we don't take that moment to enjoy it; to savor it. We race and run and measure time in nanoseconds and begrudge ourselves slack because we should be accomplishing something.

Then, in a blink, it's gone...

May Becky and Lori and all those affected somehow find joy in remembering the kind and wonderful things Randy made happen!


Monday, July 28, 2008

60 blocks east...

of where so many of those I care about were caught in a downpour while merrily engaged at the tribute concert the other night, we barely even got sprinkled on. Dottie and I were on our second trip back to my son's; when we went to feed the cats for the 2nd time that day, the doors of his garden shed were open (the grandkids had locked the padlock and left it somewhere in the house, lol). We went home and I dug up a spare padlock; we knew they had issued a thunderstorm warning and after we climbed the hill out of our ancient little neighborhood we started noticing limbs down; still it only sprinkled all the way there. The closer we got to his house the more and bigger the downed limbs were; he has one down in his backyard the size of my upper arm.

I am told that despite the soaking at the concert, a good time was had by all who were there the other night!

I did a bit of the shopping on Saturday, leaving the little dog that didn't like my cat in her kennel. Having gotten the check for the vacation hours that I hadn't used when I retired, I bought us a set of 600 thread-count sheets as a "present". They had a very small pattern on them; I couldn't feel it, but Dottie said with her psoriasis she couldn't sleep on them, so I returned them yesterday. I came home and unloaded, then went by my son's to feed their cats. One eats in a hurry, the other won't eat 'til the first one stops, but the first one thinks it's entitled to the other ones food. So I spent an hour and a half there with a magazine trying to cajole the first one into staying in my lap...things are never easy, it seems!

Today it's raining again; the dogs have just gone out for the 2nd time now Dottie's left for work and I'm waiting for the UPS man to bring me some things I ordered from ProSource. In the time I was off my diet, protein powder doubled in price (makes me wonder how much of what I bought came from China before the dog food scare!) so having bought some ZMA from them last month and been impressed with the price and quality, I thought I'd try some other things from them. Some creatine monohydrate, BCAA powder and acetyl-l-carnitine filled out my list at about half what I'd have paid otherwise.

Meanwhile, laundry is running and if the UPS guy shows up early enough I'll spend a few hours downstairs before Dottie comes home, along with taking care of John's pets. Since it's raining I really don't want all of that stuff sitting on the front sidewalk!

Amid the clutter...

The weight and extension benches I throw grill covers over just so Frankie isn't tempted to use his claws on them. Behind the pole with my tally board on it you can see the old 19" knob tune TV and perhaps the DVD/VCR below it, in front of the treadmill and the upright bike. The mountain bike some of you have seen before, back when I was down around will again by next summer as well!

The back extension bench I picked up on eBay, and a dumbell rack the way Dave Draper says Joe Gold made them in the original Gold's Gym...

Olympic bar and e-z curl bar set up for doing bicep curls...

The Weider 600 bench from Sears, with leg attachment. Rated for 300 pound user (which I no longer am) and 300 pound weight...

So that's my little gym. The floor is from Sam's Club and cost about $75; it's firm enough to do squats and such, comfortable enough to walk on barefoot (or sleep on if you're Frankie) and seems to be wearing well.

Dottie is off tomorrow, so I'll be playing hooky until Wednesday sometime!

May Monday be kind to you all!


Friday, July 25, 2008

The Dark Knight...

appropriately named; visually stunning and sumptuous; a truly "good" movie.

I didn't say a happy one!

I'm not going to spoil a single frame for anyone. I was torn about seeing it because of Heath Ledger; I now know why things happened exactly as they did.

RIP, Heath...may you find peace...


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leg day...

I tried to write Barb to answer her question about legs, but her mail was eaten by the Mailer Demon, so I'll lay it out here...

I'm still "easing" back into this, trying not to damage myself beyond what my weight already is.

I'm starting with 5-10 slow minutes on an excercise bike each session just to loosen things a bit, get my heart rate up a bit, etc..

I bought a back extension bench on eBay; I alternate a slow easy set on it with a light set of "good mornings", both of which work your lower back and hamstrings along with your glutes,; I've been doing 4 sets of each, slowly pushing the weight up on the "good mornings". My 4th set yesterday was at 75 pounds, 10 reps. When I first put the back extension bench together I could barely do 2 reps at a time; now I'm doing 4 sets of 8-10 (having shoes on seems to oddly make it easier).

Then I've been doing "back" squats (bar across back of shoulders), though I'm learning to do them without a Smith machine, so I'm not pushing the weight too heavy yet; form is everything, and weight will come later.

I'm taking 3-4 minutes between sets and not supersetting these with anything, letting my heart rate slow and my strength come back.

After 4 sets of them, I've been doing "front" squats (arms crossed, bar across the top of shoulders and arms), though once again not pushing the weight. They work your quads more than your hamstrings...last time I could only do 3 sets of them.

The bench I bought has a leg attachment so after those I'm doing leg extensions and hamstring curls.

For calves, I'm doing toe raises with the bar across my shoulders again, and toe board I made with a 2x4 screwed to a 1x10 to keep it steadier. I had to add another 1x to the top of it to get a better stretch at the bottom...

When I lose a bit more gut and my back isn't quite so tight, I'll start adding some deadlifts into the mix. Right now I'm a bit afraid of them...

Zilla had asked me to let her know how my floor worked out; it's interlocking mat from Sam's Club; I love it! My chest workout I actually did barefoot because it's comfortable and warm. My leg days I wear flat "wrestling" or "mat" shoes to keep my heels down, but I can't stand doing the toe raises barefoot. The corners on my toe raise board are a bit too sharp for my old feet!

I will try and upload some photos of my little gym in the next day or so...

All of that was finished off with 20 minutes on the treadmill; it should be more by now, but I'm going to have to work up to it!

Today not only do I still feel the pull in all of those muscles, but across my upper back from the day before. Tomorrow will be an "off" day as Dottie traded Friday for Thursday this week to help someone else out, and we're going to see the new "Batman" movie. I may do some back extensions and treadmill later this evening and again tomorrow.

Friday if I get whatever shopping needs done early enough, I will try and do another chest workout; I don't know yet whether I'll include back or let it wait an extra day or two. I'm still feeling my way through a return to all of this, trying to work things as they quit hurting and rest the ones that are...

May the rest of your weeks be kind!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Weight loss, slack time and such...

I haven't really gotten the time in my basement "gym" that I had hoped for until these last two days. What weight I've lost has been a lot more due to diet than excercise.

I have one of those metabolisms that craves carbs, and is very good at turning them into fat, so I've cut my carbs dramatically, along with cutting my calories by 1/3 or so. I'm not really tallying things, but am probably consuming around 2400 a day, split over the course of 5 or 6 meals. I've cut my beloved French Vamilla latte to one every other day, cut diet soda entirely, and am drinking lots of water. One or two of those "meals" are whey or whey and soy "protein shakes" with ice cubes and water through a single serving blender cup.

When you've broken 300, dropping 20 is nothing! When I hurt my back I was sleeping on the couch because I couldn't get in and out of bed, living on painkillers and muscle relaxers, and lost my appetite entirely. I dropped almost 30 in a month from the time I hurt myself 'til I started therapy.

So though the number is "nothing" it's the trend I hope to continue.

After I watched the cat for a while yesterday and he (finally forgave me and) seemed OK after his shots, I went downstairs and after a few minutes on the "bike" to warm up I did a push-pull chest-back workout that I spread over 4 hours, taking longer between sets than I would have were I not just "getting back into things". (Resting 'til my heart slowed down each time instead of trying to keep it elevated like I did in the gym last time around.) Since I'm using entirely free weights this time, instead of a Smith Machine and some Nautilus equipment, some of the things I'm doing are new to me and I need to get a feel for them as well. 11 sets of various things, quitting at 6:30 in time to get the trash out and get in the shower before Dottie pulled in.

I had put a movie on "her" Netflix list she hadn't heard of (mine is full of silent and classic stuff) when she didn't have anything on it a while back. "Hustle and Flow" is a Terence Howard movie I had heard him talk about in a "Fresh Air" interview, and he seemed very proud of it. I wasn't sure, especially when we watched the first 15 minutes, where it was going but it turned out to be a very good movie. Definitely not something for younger ears, though!!! Someday, if I'm around 40 years from now, I expect him to have a career like Morgan Freeman has...

So now, off for another protein shake and then downstairs to do a "leg day"...

May the week be kind!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Back to the real world...

The grandsons spent the weekend; my sister took Talia, so next time it's her turn to stay.

Friday afternoon they ended up with time to ride their bikes a bit then I had to fix dinner for when Dottie got home. Saturday we hit "Hobby Lobby" and picked up some kits, a "Hummer" for the younger one, and two rubber band powered aircraft for the older one. One of them is going will take several days to work through, so we built the ornithopter, which was about 5 hours work on Saturday afternoon and evening.

With a range of 150 feet and way too many trees around here, we took it out to the park next to the Ampitheatre so many of you will be hanging out at next Saturday, where they have a model aircraft field. We also took a handful of foam glider kits and an F-18 rubber band launched glider I had picked up.

With the wind at 12 it was a bit much for the poor ornithopter; it made a dozen flights, several in the 75 or 80 foot range before the wind would overpower it. It's last "landing" popped a bamboo brace loose, so it's sitting on Dottie's desk now to have a drop of glue placed to hold it firmly.

On a calm day, I have no doubt that it's range will go up. It's truly amazing to watch something flap it's wings to fly...

Yesterday afternoon we met my sister at the nursing home and the 3 grandkids and my sister, Dottie and I all played dominoes with my Mom. We thought she'd be overjoyed at playing a game with the kids; she was more miffed because she wasn't the sole center of attention. The kids had a good time though!

Now I have to catch my cat and take him to the vet for his shots...hopefully he'll forgive me!

I got on the scale last night for the first time in two weeks; down another 10...slow but sure!

May Monday and the week be kind!


Thursday, July 17, 2008

1st loves...

come in many forms, and at all ages if we're lucky!

When "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" was released I read about a graphic novel it was based on, and picked up a copy. I hadn't touched a comic since high school, while waiting at the barber shop. Not only was did I fall head over heels for it, but it also got me to go back and read some of the classic literature that I missed in my youth. (Another new love was found there, as when I bought my copy of "Dracula" it also contained Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein". Finding that an 18 year old European girl was lamenting the fate of the Native Americans 200 years ago stunned me!)

I picked up the 2nd and read it in one sitting.

Last fall the 3rd came out, just before Christmas when all was ascramble between shopping and work. I made note of it and thought I would pick it up later...

I got an extra last paycheck yesterday, for one day, June 30th, as that was the last day of the month I retired in. I took part of it and a coupon to Border's yesterday and came home with "The Black Dossier". My first hardcover graphic novel, complete with 3D glasses. As I fixed lunch (a peanut butter added to a vanilla whey protein shake, not so good) I slipped the plastic wrap off, and was immersed in 1958 Britain, with ever youthful Mina getting a young spy named "Jimmy" to let her into a building, telling him her name was "Oodles O'Quim"!


It was all I could do to put it down and go finish the errands I had for the day!

"Oodles O'Quim" indeed!

Perhaps this weekend while the grandchildren are napping or something I'll find some more time to spend with it...

Off to mow after I put a tape in a VCR for "Zilla"...just in case...

This afternoon and tomorrow I'll be shopping and housecleaning as all 3 grandkids are spending the weekend; I most likely won't be around much until Monday again.

May the rest of your week be kind and your weekends all be fantastic!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Firewalls and such...

Ange said something in a comment on my last post that probably bears further study.

Listening to way too much NPR through my working years, 5 years ago or so I heard a piece on an IT student think tank that bought 8 new desktop PC's and connected them to the net without a firewall to monitor how long it was before there was an intrusion attempt. They had told their professors they expected it to be 45 minutes, and they were right.

Two years later they recreated their experiment and predicted it would be 20 minutes as I recall; it was less than 15 for all 8 computers!

Though only an illiterate autoworker, my younger son convinced me early on to always run a firewall and antivirus (I have a brother-in-law who firmly believes that all the viruses are written by the AV companies in order to sell you their product). Since AdAware and SpyBot came out, I run both of those as well. Probably not as often as I should, but more than once a month.

I've still had a few virus incidents through the years, but only a few. I got so tired of ZoneAlarm telling me it had blocked another intrusion attempt that I turned off that feature years ago; it still logs them but doesn't report them to me. (My little hiccup the other day my son said was most likely just a one time thing where Windows got confused and therefore took away everyone's administrative privileges; when he started it up in "safe mode" he fixed things quite handily.)

I truly wish that those who spend so much time creating the need for these products would direct their energies towards ending the genocide in Darfur or something, but in the meantime what little I have in my bank account I'd like to keep there!

9:58AM, the trash truck just rolled by about 6 hours early, so in a minute I'll go drag my cans back in. Then I get to call and deal with benefits as for some reason I have to call them to opt in to my health insurance program now that I'm retired...gee, is there someone out there who is retiring that doesn't need to continue there insurance. Other than "W" I mean...

May the week be kind!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday finds me...

a bit sore from putting that new bench to work on Saturday evening for the first time. Since the box had several holes in it, and as it had moved around the basement while I made room for it pieces had actually come out of it, I had my doubts about all the pieces being in it but they were! When we finished it after a long day, I started playing a bit with some easy bench press sets while she went to the shower. Before I heard the water turn off I had done 6 sets of those and 4 of preacher curls; not much compared to what I used to, but enough to come upstairs grinning when I tried to get a drink and my arm didn't want to bend quite far enough, lol!

My laptop crashed on Saturday, deciding that I didn't have the authority to open programs or turn it off; John, my younger son, came to the rescue and we didn't end up having to start from scratch with it. He and the grandkids were here for a couple of hours while he saved it.

(Zonealarm had quit working with the latest XP updates; I went and got a new firewall called Comodo; somewhere along the way one of them apparently had issues, most likely a one time thing, though I haven't reinstalled the firewall yet. I had also installed a new version of Norton in the few hours before it decided to melt down on Friday night.)

We had planned on going to a movie Sunday morning, but Dottie wasn't feeling too chipper and we slept in instead. After some "us" time and a leisurely breakfast, she said she wanted another set of some roller rack shelves I had bought at Sam's; on the way we stopped by the nursing home to find my Mom at a crossword puzzle "get togther" with her head almost lying on the table while she held her glasses in one hand, backwards, trying to look through the right lens with her left eye. The other lens had dropped out two days earlier, but she didn't want to call and bother us...

So we went to her room and got the lens; left her the "reading glasses" I keep in the truck for when I forget my bifocals, then ran to Sears and got hers fixed and returned them. Then to Sam's and Petco since it's close by, and home again just in time for dinner.

Dottie rather felt like I had taken away her Saturday as I had vacuumed when we first got up on Saturday, then John and the kids came, etc.. Last night we settled down to eat with the first episode of the 2nd season of "Burn Notice" and then watched "Two for the Money".

When the "riverboat" casinos opened here I would occasionally hear people speak of how much they won or lost that weekend or the night before. To me, some of the amounts were staggering. At time time I had been driving a car I bought for $800 for several years and it was our prime transportation. They would speak of losing $8-900 like it was nothing. Later, these last few, I would hear of someone losing their entire paycheck, and be smiling as they said something about "next time".

I'd have had to jump off a bridge or something if I lost that much...I just couldn't!

Knowing that I have an "addictive personality", I've never gone to the horse track or the boats, even though I've been told how wonderful the restaurants are. Though I've squandered my fair share of money in my 52 years, I couldn't deal with losing it that way.

Mickey Rooney used to tell a story about taking Louis B. Mayer to the Del Mar horsetrack to bet on a sure thing. Mayer lost $50, and claimed he spent several million trying to get that $50 back.

"Two for the Money" illustrates all of this so wonderfully! The numbers are as staggering as they are real; quite a movie as well!

For those who visited Mr. Krupa in my weekend post, perhaps I should have identified him as I'm sure that's not an automatic thing for most of you like it is me; I'm sorry!

May the week be kind!


Late update: The same XP updates finally got to my desktop this afternoon, along with an update from ZoneAlarm that fixed the incompatability issue I fought the other day. As it reopened, it showed they had blocked over 240,000 intrusion attempts to my desktop in the 5 years or so it's been on there...I really like having a good firewall in place! Now off to go reinstall ZoneAlarm on the laptop!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finding some joy...

in our lives is harder each day it would seem; fire, famine, political skullduggery and countless other ills all take their toll on us and dampen even the brightest of spirits.

I ran some errands and came home to find something playing on "Music Choice" as I settled down with a salad for a late lunch; as I went to add it to my Amazon list (where I keep track of albums and artists) I also checked for a video clip. There wasn't one of the track I was looking for, but I did find this one that expresses joy and exuberance and a complete love and devotion to something that takes you "there"!

May we each find a bit of it for ourselves this weekend!

May the weekend be kind to each of you!


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wednesday "nooner"

Snuck up from the basement to fix a latte (my last vice) and get something to eat before I go back to work again...

I put together the hyperextension bench I bought on eBay Monday evening; beautiful, stout and half the price of anything I could find "in town". Dottie was off yesterday, though she had to go to a meeting, so we did "Sam's" after and I bought some matting for the floor to go under it and the weight bench/squat rack. Hopefully by this evening I'll have the bench put together.

I was going to try to mow this evening, but it rained so much last night it's still too wet for now, so back to the basement it is I guess!

When I finish down there I need to take the back off my desktop tower and vacuum it out and change the battery in it, then I'll start uploading some photos again...

So, as my break closes, may the rest of the week be kind!


Addendum: A few hours I was moving boxes and vacuuming the "shelf" around the edge of the basement that supports the foundation of the house, I ran across a "Kansas City Star" with a headline reading "Clerics Demand Holy War to Overthrow Iraqi Government".

The date was August, 1980...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Finally, after two weeks...

things slowed a bit yesterday! Mainly due to allergies, but still!

Thursday we made an hour run east to buy fireworks, as the indoor retailer we used to buy from gave up his license two years ago and we had been a bit disappointed buying from the local stands. We went to a warehouse with a retail floor, and got things that had been handled several times less, as well as stored inside and dry. We counted things up in our head and thought we were on budget ($250 we had set, we thought we had $260 when we stopped). There were two major cases of heart failure as the girl hit total and it came up to over $560! We started pulling things to put back, both in shock that we could have been so far off. The girl on the register was new and couldn't figure out how to subtract things; she called the manager over, who looked at the ticket and said "I don't see two cases of such and such here at $140 each, where are they?"

Of course, we didn't have them; they rerang the order and we were right on; I went back and grabbed one more thing for a "finale" then they gave us a $50 one because we spent $300...

Every year we say we're going to cut down, and that is down some from years past (blush). The 4th was always a big holiday as I was growing up; in my grandparents backyard, with all the cousins and such gathered, sometimes 2nd cousins as well. Grandpa would spend a hundred or so, as would Dad; I would spend around that from my lawn mowing money. Sometimes things went on for 3 or 4 hours! Grandpa would always sit off to one side, even after his stroke, and set off Roman candles holding them in his hand while our parents all told us to "not even think about it".

After they gave up their house the party moved to my Dad's, and the cousins stopped coming, but it was still a big deal, and Dad and I picked up the spending a bit. Dad would grill (and he was good at it). The 2nd year Dottie and I were back here Grandma got sick the night of the 4th; we found out a few days later she had begun her 4th and final round with colon cancer. She passed away that fall...

We had 11 for dinner and fireworks Friday. Bill was here, though Laura is in D.C. doing an internship. John, Noel and the grandkids were here, along with my sister and her husband and their younger son and his girlfriend. After lots of daytime stuff and dinner, the show started between 9:30 and 10; we finished sparklers about 11:30. As the last sparklers went out John yelled "Happy Retirement, Dad"!

Dottie and I told them they didn't need to pick everything up that night as we would do it the next day. My brother-in-law had to be up at 4:30 to get to work at 5:30, and it was well past the grandkids bedtimes as well, especially since everyone needed a shower due to the powder smoke). I hadn't counted on 3 hours and filling four cans, but it was fun making the mess! I awoke with my left eye "bugging me" to the point that allergy drops weren't working and I was outside wearing an eye patch. After we took a break and ate I checked all the gutters (nothing like having a gully-washer roll in and finding out a downspout is clogged with a cardboard tube or a half a sphere from a mortar ball) and cleared them. After that I took a nap hoping my eye would be better (it was) then we had dinner and watched "Fool's Gold", Dottie's Netflix movie for the week. Mine is still sitting from 3 weeks ago...maybe later today...

Yesterday when I woke it was the right eye, and less cooperative, so I spent most of the day sitting in the living room with the eye patch over it while Dottie caught up laundry. We watched 7 hours of "Battlestar Galactica" (she was only behind one, but I had gotten behind while working overtime and Saturdays) then two of "Men In Trees" (not sure I'll forgive ABC for cancelling it).

We got to bed around midnight, and she returned to work this morning after her two weeks off; I'm sitting here feeling a bit guilty about that, since I'm not! I'm waiting for FedEx to deliver a hyperextension bench I bought on eBay, running more laundry, and trying to decide if I dare spend enough time in the basement to finish making room to assemble my weight bench, knowing I might not get to the door when they show up.

Boring, huh?

Somehow it feels like it's about time!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Physically and mentally, anyway!

I mowed for the 1st time this year; 7 hours between the gutters, the trimming, sharpening the blade, reattaching the rear carriage of the mower 3 times (5 years it never loosened, then 3 times in one day...hmmmm). Then there was spraying something to kill the grass coming up through the driveway and the patio.

Dottie hadn't let me mow this year and had been paying Bill to drive in from Lawrence and do it because she was afraid at my weight and with the constant ache in my chest I would "stroke out" before my retirement date. The ache it seems isn't heart related, only weight; all my other "numbers" were good last week, and I don't get quite so out of breath with the time I've spent on the treadmill of late.

So I covered my bald head with SPF 50, along with my face and shoulders, SPF30 on my arms and legs, and "went to it".

I had planned to also do something about the broadleaf coming up in the yard, but at 7 last night I had had more than enough and decided it could wait 'til after the rains today and after the 4th.

Angel survived her clipping and trip to the vet. I haven't posted nearly as many photos this last year as I used to, but perhaps can start again as there are more hours in my day!

From two years ago:

The first is full-winter coat; that year we clipped her twice, once partially down early in the year, and a 2nd time and much shorter about this time of year. This year, I just couldn't get to it sooner...

Today we make food and fireworks runs for the 4th of July, then back to the basement to finish rearranging things to make room for my weight bench!

May the rest of the week be kind to each of you; if I don't get back before the 4th then for those who get to celebrate the holiday, may you enjoy it safely!