Thursday, April 30, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

I love baseball...

And this is one of the great songs of  baseball--Terry Cashman's Talkin' Baseball.

How to stay on your diet

Yesterday, I discovered a new dietary aid that will help keep people from eating things that aren't on their list of things they should eat. I think I could possibly make it rich with this new innovation.
The innovation? Hair in the food. That's right, hair. Yesterday morning someone was sharing some delicious-looking red velvet cake, homemade, for his birthday. He cut up the cake on the break room table. I had just finished eating an apple and a Kashi granola bar, but that cake was looking mighty tempting. I left the break room, hoping the cake would all be gone before I walked back past the room. However, the next time I walked past, there were 3-4 pieces left. I decided I really wanted one.
The first bite revealed my new secret diet keeping device. A hair, roughly three inches long, protruded from the edge of the cake. I pulled it out, but my desire to finish eating the cake was immediately quelled. Into the garbage it went—upside down on the plate so that the guy who brought it wouldn't know I'd thrown away nearly an entire piece of his cake.
If there's one thing I can't stand to find in food, that makes it instantly unappetizing, it's a hair. Well, flies aren't very appetizing either, but I don't generally find them embedded in cake, enchiladas, or bread dough items like I do human hairs.
I wonder why that happens. Generally it happens whether or not I know the head whose hair it came from, but when I don't know whose head it came from, it's even worse. And if it was a pubic hair—well, thankfully, that has never happened to me.
I wonder if it's possible to market something like this to help people lose weight, or to stop eating unhealthy foods. Theoretically it is. I have huge numbers of hair on my head, and they always grow back, so I could make practically unlimited batches of chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, or lasagna filled with my new diet discovery. I'm surprised no one else has thought of it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Raised bed garden project

I finally completed actually building the frames for my four raised beds. Here's a pic:
Picture strategically taken to not show my messy back yard.
Now, all that's left is digging out another section of sod (if you feel, like I do, that cutting out sod by hand is the worst garden job, raise your hand!), roughly six feet by twelve feet, moving the beds into position so that I can create a nice decorative path in between them, filling them up with good garden soil, and planting. The goal is to have all this done by mid-May. Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Exercise results this week

I haven't really lost much weight. Right now I'm at 191, so I think I've lost two pounds in the past three weeks. Of course, I had the kidney stones or something else that felt pretty bad this past week.
That being said, I got in a 13 minute HIIT workout on the treadmill on Friday. On Saturday, I went back to the gym and decided on the spur of the moment to see how fast I could do a 5k (3.1 miles) run. I thought I'd warm up for five minutes or for the first half mile, then run as fast as I could until I had reached 3.6 miles, then subtract the five minutes from my end time.
After the five minute warm up time, I decided that I wouldn't go 3.6 miles and subtract the time, but would include the warm up into the total, so I'd only have to run 3.1 miles--but my time would be tad slower because of warm up is done at a slower pace. I decided this because I was feeling a little tired (probably because of the HIIT workout the day before). So I ran the 5k as fast as I could and got done in 27:38, which is faster than I've run the same distance in the past two years at least. I wonder what I could have done had I not been tired!
Not to brag. I just felt pretty pumped about it.
(Oh yeah, for those who don't know, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training.)

Friday, April 17, 2015

I like those rocks

A few days ago, Ann and I were driving past a cemetery. "I like how they did those rocks," Ann said.
"What rocks?" I said. "Do you mean the head stones?"
She didn't mean the headstones. "No," she said. "They had a small part of the parking strip that they didn't know what to do with so they landscaped it with rocks."
As I thought about it, I actually thought about the headstones and what if she'd actually been commenting on them. Most cemeteries are well-designed, and the stones--rocks if you will--are laid fairly uniformly throughout the manicured lawn and trees. They are peaceful places for the living to remember the dead for the most part. But I also thought, would anyone want to be remembered as part of a collection of nicely designed rocks? The good news is that most people aren't.
Most people are remembered for cherished memories. For the love we had for them. For the good they did and the kindness they showed in their lives. They are remembered for their senses of humor or their love of life.
Sad it would be if they were only remembered as part of a collection of neatly arranged rocks, but there are people out there like that. Perhaps their sense of isolation keeps them from making friends. Maybe they have a mental illness that makes it hard for others to befriend them. Maybe they just never had children and lived to an old age with no one to remember them.
These are the kinds of people that most need our love and attention. It's those that are hardest to love that most need that love. Remember the words of our Lord:
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Let's not focus on the rocks, but on the people for whom those rocks are just a representation. Let's be kind to the lonely and down-trodden in the world. Not only will it make their lives better, but it will enrich ours as well.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Return to the Titanic day

I pretty much thought that Tuesday was the day of all days as far as weird things happening. Then Wednesday happened. I had spent all night off and on in great pain, which I'm fairly certain was kidney stones. I woke up, unable to go to work, so I called in sick. Most of the stones had passed by that time, thankfully, and it was mostly a matter of resting up. I'm also very grateful that I didn't end up needing to go to the doctor or ER.

In the afternoon, I was feeling good enough to replace the motor on our dishwasher that had gone out a couple of weeks ago. So I did that. It went well.

It was Miriam's birthday and since Ann was feeling poor, it was up to me to get her present over to her. I wasn't feeling tops either, but in the snow storm, it was me or nothing. I got in the 4runner and headed over. As I rounded a corner onto 41st south, I noticed something not quite right with the 4runner. The radio was flickering on and off. In just a couple more minutes, the tachometer had ceased working. I turned on the wipers because the snow had picked up and the extremely slow sweep of the wiper blades told me something serious was wrong. I decided that I needed to turn around and head home.

I got headed back and then the vehicle stopped running completely. I had forgotten my phone, so I walked back to the nearest grocery store--Smith's which was about five blocks away, and called my family to come and rescue me. Then I called AAA to come and tow the 4runner to my mechanic.

What a last couple of days! But we at least got hit by a lot of snow. Last I heard, Snowbird got 43 inches, so that's really good.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Snow at last

April snow showers bring May flowers? The biggest storm since the winter of 2013-2014 hit the Salt Lake Valley and deposited 9" in our city of West Valley. Too bad I was sick today, and stayed home from work and won't be able to do the same tomorrow for a last gasp ski day. I would dearly love to go.
The good thing is, by the end of the day, I was nearly back to normal. The kidney stones or whatever it was that was causing great pain, had largely subsided, praise the Lord. I went out and took a few pictures of the snow.

Yesterday, as part of the "Titanic Day" the heavy winds blew over our fence.

The lilac bush was collapsed by the weight of the snow.
I think it's going to be a few days before I can work on the raised beds again. And clean up the yard.
Anna is our little snow lover and has been waiting all season for enough snow to actually play in.

It has been snowing off and on all day and we couldn't be more grateful for it. The Lord has answered our prayers. Last I heard, Snowbird had received 22 inches and it was still snowing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Titanic day

I found out that today was the anniversary of Lincoln's assassination, and also the sinking of the Titanic. It figures. My day started out just like that. Well, not quite as bad. Getting assassinated makes for an extremely bad day, as does going down with the ship.

No, my day didn't begin quite that bad. The first thing that happened though was when I went to put on my jacket. I was late already, and as I finished putting on the left sleeve and was reaching back to grab the jacket with my right, I knocked over the pencil holder from its customary spot on top of the speaker. When I finished picking those up, I was a little bit later. I got to the 4runner and threw my gym bag into the passenger seat as is my habit. I heard a hissing noise and saw a cloud rising from the side pocket of the bag. It was my old can of Old Spice body spray. I actually had meant to get rid of it, since Ann was no longer making comments about how good I smelled, but had inadvertantly left it in the bag and somehow it had gotten punctured when I tossed the bag. By the time I got to the other side of the vehicle and opened the bag, the can was nearly empty. I grabbed it and threw it in the trash, in the process, coating my hands in the stuff. Even later now, I got in, wiped my hands on some tissue, and headed to work.

When I got there, the stench from my hands was overpowering. I tried to stay away from people until I had time to wash my hands. I finally got a chance to wash my hands with soap, only it was too late. The scent stayed on my hands as if it had been cemented with Gorilla glue. It was going to have to wear off.

I looked at my watch and found that it had stopped functioning properly. The digital display did not match the hand display (the hand display was correct), and the date had changed to January 1st. Later on, when I tried setting the digital display to be correct, the hands moved so that they were displaying a time approximately six hours different from the correct time.

As I drove around delivering mail, I watched people's shingles being ripped off by the high winds we experienced today.

And then when I got home, I found that my fish oil supplement in liquid form that I keep in the fridge, had been knocked over and the lid had broken, spilling several ounces on the kitchen floor. And last, but not least, part of our back fence had blown down in the wind.

So, all in all, not a bad day as far as ocean sailing goes, or play watching, but definitely an unusual day with weird happenings. It probably all started because I had to make out checks to the IRS and the Utah State Tax Commission. In fact, parting with that cash was probably the worst thing that happened all day.

On past mistakes

"Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been'. Thus spoke John Greenleaf Whittier some of the wisest words ever uttered. And yet, it never pays to dwell on things we might have done differently long ago. The choices we make, affect the rest of our lives, but that doesn't mean we should spend a great deal of time trying the old "I wish I would have" game. One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite films (and books) The Fellowship of the Ring is this:

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.
Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. There are other forces at work in this world Frodo, besides the will of evil. Bilbo was meant to find the Ring. In which case, you were also meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought.

Perhaps those choices that we thought were mistakes were actually necessary for our own development of character. Perhaps those choices needed to happen for some reason. Wishing for a past that never happened can only lead to depression.

At any rate, there isn't anything we can do about our past mistakes other than looking forward with hope, striving to do better, and losing ourselves in the service of others. We can't change the past, but we can certainly anticipate a bright future.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Frary Peak - hiking Antelope Island

Yesterday's hike was amazing. First of all, know that it's about an hour and a half drive from my house to the trailhead for Frary Peak, which is on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. I wanted to get there early so I could capture the sunrise from the island with my camera, so I left the house at 4:30 (I was up at 3:45 getting ready). I arrived at the gate just about 5:30. I had checked online the night before to see when the gate opened, and the info had said 6:00, but having been there before when the gate was opened earlier, I decided to try it just in case.

Actually, I believe this was a new gate put in since two years ago (the last time I got there that early) and it was on a timer, I think. It wasn't open as I had hoped, so I had a half hour to kill in the dark waiting for it to open. I was tired because I got up so early, but I didn't want to tilt the seat back and try to sleep for 30 minutes, because I might keep sleeping and miss the gate opening. I looked out the window and saw the moon and thought I'd like to try taking a picture of it with my new zoom lens. I dug that out of my pack and stepped outside. Since I didn't want to set up a tripod, I free-handed it. Here's what I got:

So, when I actually was looking at the moon, it had a halo around it. For some reason, my camera moved this halo to the left of the moon, and as you can see, the moon is quite blurry. Of course, that's due to my not using a tripod. I think it kind of looks like how the sun might look from a spacecraft.

At about 6:04 the gate finally opened and I drove to the east side of the island, to the trailhead. The hike started out amazingly well. I was feeling alive and vibrant--great actually. I kept the long lens on the camera thinking that now would be a great time to experiment with it and find out what it could do. The moon was still up as it began to get light and I tried to get a good picture of it with mountains, birds, etc., in it. Here are some of them:

Again, this was free hand and I think for being free hand, I got a great image.

After I took the picture of the moon over a small peak (not Frary Peak) I took a few more pics and then finally did my last moon pic of this raven with the moon beside it:

Of course, as I do on every trip, I took some flowers home to Ann. Here are some of them:

I didn't see any close-up bison like I have before, but I saw these mule deer across the way. They were skittish and I had to use the full 300 zoom power of the lens to capture an image of them:

It was only a little over two and a half hours before I made it to the top. Just before the top there is a place where you have to go down quite a ways and back up again. It is the steepest part of the trail. Here's a pic of the top of Frary Peak from an adjacent peak, that makes it look much easier than it is:

That image in no way shows how far you need to go down, or how challenging the climb is back up, but I finally made it to the top, as shown by this U.S.G.S. marker:

From the top you can see a long ways. You can see how low the water is in the lake. Here's a picture of that with a vast stretch of beach that isn't there when the lake is full:
Of course, there was me up there taking the pictures. I was hungry for second breakfast by then so I dug out my peanut butter sandwich (Krema Peanut butter, which is peanuts only, and blackberry preserves), and some dried apricots.

Of course, I needed more documentation that I had actually been there. I was setting up my tripod to take my own photo when a couple of young guys showed up. I went out of my comfort zone and asked if one of them would be willing to take my picture. I guess I asked the right guy because he told me after he took a few shots that he actually had tried to take people's portraits for a living, but it wasn't steady work because too many people had digital cameras these days. Anyway, here's one of the pics he took of me:

So, I actually did make it to the top. All in all it was a great early morning hike. I'm not sure if I burned off an entire pound. I was tempted to stop at the gym where I normally weigh myself and see, but I would've needed to dress in my gym clothes instead of my heavy blue jeans and long johns to find out. I'll have to wait until Monday. As for the lens, it did pretty well until the little switch on it that switches it from "Normal" to "Macro" got stuck on "Macro". I couldn't fix it and don't know if that's permanent or not. I will have to work on it later.

If you go to Frary Peak, or anywhere on Antelope Island, take bug spray. I got up there early enough that I missed most of the biting no-see-ums on the lower part of the trail, but everyone I met coming up was complaining about them, and they were there in force the last time I hiked that trail. Consider this a fair warning!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Frary Peak on Friday

I'm hiking Frary Peak on Antelope Island on Friday. I'm hoping to get some nice pics of the sunrise. I've done this hike before. Lots of bison and bugs. I will give a full report when done.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015


Harvey and Shelia. This is for my friend who likes acronyms. Enjoy.

Do I look stupid?

A few months ago, I decided that I needed to become more familiar with a .45 auto that was in my possession. Being a little nervous about firing it for the first time, and not wanting to look like an idiot if I couldn't figure it out (I had never actually fired a semi-auto handgun), I went out into the desert, found a nice hillside, and put up my target.

Walking back about 25 feet, I turned and pulled the action back on the gun which should've loaded a cartridge into the chamber, and I thought it did. I aimed and pulled the trigger. Nothing. I tried over and over to figure out what was happening, pulling the action back repeatedly and repeatedly trying to fire the gun. Still nothing. In frustration, I walked back to my vehicle and got in, then went and did some other things while I was out there.

The thing with  the gun is that I had taken it many times on campouts just in case there was a bear rampaging through the camp. Luckily for me, there was no bear, or I would've had the nicest gun-shaped club in existence with which to fight it off.

In talking to a friend, I decided that I might take the gun to a gunsmith to find out if something was wrong with it, but instead I just put it away to wait for spring or to wait for someone who knew guns to take a look at it for me. Finally, I approached another friend of mine who I found out happened to work at the Lee Kay Center, a local gun range. He offered to take the gun with him to work and to try and fire it.

Here's what he found out. He too was unable to fire the weapon. After talking to several people there who know guns, they deduced that it was because the magazine wasn't long enough and the mechanism wasn't grabbing a cartridge out of it because of that. When I had acquired the gun from a family member, the magazine had been missing. I had taken the gun into a local gun store and asked them to match up a magazine that would work with this gun. I had bought the one they suggested. I didn't know that the particular guy wouldn't know what he was talking about.

But at least it wasn't anything I did, so if I looked stupid out in the desert, it was because someone sold me the wrong part. Now I just need to get the right one.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Weight loss, first update

Although I've been fighting a new schedule and cold weather, my exercise program is going well, and my eating habits, despite Easter, are on a better track than they were two weeks ago. I started working on my goal of 184 or less a little over a week ago, and at that time I weighed in at 193. Today I tipped the scales at 192. Not much, but I'm heading in the right direction. I will be getting a fitness assessment soon, which will measure my recovery heart rate, body fat percentage, flexibility and several other factors. I will post the results of that when it's done. That will give me a good basis from which to compare results.

More 70s music

From the 1970s, Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou". A classic.

For the love of music

I suppose that one of my greatest passions in life is music. I like playing it myself, though I'm not very good at it, and I like listening to many kinds of great music. My early life was filled with music as my parents would both sit down and play the piano frequently, and they liked to listen to music in the house. My dad would listen mostly to country music--Grand Old Opry kind of stuff--and my mom was quite often found watching television programs that featured musical performers.

As a teenager, I went to several concerts. I think my first actual concert was before I could drive and it was to Gordon Lightfoot, up at the Special Events Center (now called the Huntsman Center) at the University of Utah. Lightfoot was in his heyday back then. During the seventies, I went to Styx (twice), Kansas (twice), Billy Joel, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I wasn't a heavy concert goer, and I think these may have been the only concerts I attended. Nevertheless, they were all amazing.

My first real rock concert was Kansas and it was at the Terrace Ballroom in Salt Lake.
Kansas was just becoming famous and they were on their Leftoverture tour. The Terrace, and the photo shows was a small venue, with a low ceiling and a lack of ventilation. A lot of folks there were smoking pot, including those of us (me) who never took a drag on a joint. The air was just so thick with the stuff that no one who was there could have helped inhaling it. The concert was amazing. It wasn't until years later that I thought that I may have thought it was even more amazing than it actually was because of the smoke I'd been inhaling in that arena. Still, I've always loved Kansas since then.

I only went to one concert at the Terrace, but I loved that small, intimate venue. Concerts later at the old Salt Palace just didn't have the same feel, nor did they have the same cloud of marijuana smoke--oh, there was smoke, but it rose a bit higher in the vast heights of that arena.

Any concert memories you have?

Monday, April 06, 2015

Morning takes

Sometimes, it's just tough to get up in the morning. Ever have that feeling? Right now, I'm so in need of a vacation. I do have one scheduled for the week following Memorial Day, but that seems a long ways off. I have no plans for that week as we have some money issues right now, but at least it will be time away from work.

And, I will most likely go and do some local hikes and some other outdoorsy stuff on some of those days, so even though I won't be doing a road trip that will take me away for several days, I will be doing some fun things.

I think we all need a break from the day to day routines we have. Well, most people do. I am a firm adherent to the "find a job doing something you love and you'll never work a day in your life" mentality. I still need to figure out how to get hired at a wage that will pay the bills, for doing something like hiking, fishing, or four-wheeling. And how that job being away from home will work with a spouse who is largely incapacitated.

Sometimes you just do what you need to do and take your breaks when you can get them.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Diet and holidays

One thing that's fairly obvious is that it's much more difficult to maintain a diet on a holiday than it is on a regular old day or week. Easter is no exception. But this isn't something to stew over (pun intended). In addition to their literal meaning of "holy days", holidays are meant to be times to have good food and good times with friends and family.

The question is, how do we deal with staying on top of our eating habits when we have holidays in our lives? I saw a sign the other day that said something like, "no amount of hard work can make up for bad eating habits." And that's the key. Eating habits. The most important thing is that your habits of eating well are entrenched and that you get right back to them after your holiday splurges.

The occasional piece of carrot cake isn't going to hurt you. It's the daily eating of fast food, junk foods, candy and desserts, and soft drinks that will take its toll on your health.

So don't be afraid to eat that piece of pie today. Just don't make it two pieces. And get back to eating healthy tomorrow.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Health and fitness goals

This week, I began my outdoor running for the year. I'm kind of a wuss now, and I don't really like running outside in the winter anymore. Too much opportunity to slip on unseen ice and face injury, and for pete's sake, it can get just too darn cold.

My work schedule actually precipitated a complete change in my workout schedule. I now have to split my workout into running in the morning and strength training after work. It's either that, or give up writing in the mornings, which I'm loathe to do.

All of this is part of my goal to get to 184 by July 1st. Right now, I weigh in at 193. It fluctuates though, because at the beginning of the week, I weighed 191, but yesterday, 193, and I haven't eaten a lot of food. The body normally fluctuates because of wather intake and other factors, so that doesn't worry me. For the past few weeks I'd been at 193-194, so the 191 kind of was an anomaly anyway.

My goal of 184 is one I chose because that's the lowest I've weighed in the past ten years or so and it was the weight I was at when I did the tremendous Half Dome hike in Yosemite National Park. It was the weight I was at when I felt the most in shape that I have been in in quite some time. I will shoot for that, even though I realize that weight actually is a bad way of figuring out general health. It is one way, one factor, and that is all. It's possible that since I'm concurrently doing strength training that I will build muscle which will add weight and my general fitness won't be expressed by a loss in weight. I'm allowing for the possibility and I will know if I'm in great shape or not regardless of my actual weight. I also expect to get my body fat percentage down below 15 percent. I'm really not a fanatic about getting my body fat percentage down to zero or close to it, especially after reading about this study a few years ago: Extra Weight Leads to Longevity, but a healthy lifestyle leads to greater happiness and greater resistance to injury and many kinds of diseases.

I'm a firm believer though that what we eat is more important than exercise in maintaining a healthy life, and in weight loss. I've already begun the diet transformation that will be a part of meeting my goal. I'm not going to totally cut out things that are bad for me, but they will be the exception and not the rule. For snacks, I will more often grab an apple or some other kind of fruit or vegetable, instead of grabbing a cookie or brownie. I'm beginning to train myself in doing so, and wise food choices are the real key to fat loss.

I will post my progress here from time to time.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

I would call this a defective product

It never fails to amaze me how some products just don't function the way that they should. Here's one example. We recently bought a dry erase board so that we could mount it to our door (made of metal) and write down important things (like "we need toilet paper" or "give Randy the keys"). The board we ordered even came with a couple of markers, some handy magnets for posting notes, and with magnets mounted to the back so that it would easily attach to a metal surface--like the kitchen door. The problem is, the magnets aren't strong enough to support the board when the door opens and closes, so, when you close the door, it collapses to the floor. How difficult would it have been to have provided some stronger magnets with the board, thus alleviating this problem? I'm thinking the same thing would occur had it been attached to a fridge as the door opens and closes on the fridge as well. Who actually tests these products?

I'm not actually trying to hang a piano from the door, for cryin' out loud. Just a dry erase board that weighs less than a pound. But what do I know? Maybe it's designed to collapse to the floor so that someone will actually notice the board, and then maybe notice what has been scrawled on it...

A fine man passes

One of the finest men I ever knew passed away a few days ago, and I just found out about it. Renn Robinson was one of my Scout leaders as a young man. He always greeted me with a hearty handshake and a "How are you doing, young man?" He could tell stories like no other and was always a kind and friendly man. The world will be less without Renn on it.