Saturday, September 09, 2017

Started back at the gym this week

I've started back at the gym this week.

As I expected, after 4 months away from the gym, I'm only at 50-60% of the weight I was up to May 1st. I'm hoping I can convince things to get back up there fairly quickly; I'd hate to think that I'm going to lose 2-3 months to getting back to where I was. :(

I'm still doing the 12-week Lee Hayward program. This is my second iteration and I may go for a third iteration before dramatically changing it. But I've already been adding a number of exercises to the program this iteration, such as wrist curls and reverse wrist curls and a little upper body cable stuff. Oddly enough, the program didn't have pec flies, either, which struck me as odd; they're there now, too.

Yesterday, I did my normal program for the day. It had 60 squats as one of the exercises. I used to do this regularly and I did it again yesterday. Mind ewe, I haven't done squats since the accident, the more so since my ankle and leg bones were restricted by all the hardware and bending my ankle that much would've shattered the pins holding everything in place. ~shudder~

And because I've not done anything like that for four months, both my quads and that little muscle on the inside of the thigh slightly toward the back that runs down toward the knee and is anchored right around the hip crease are SCREAMING at me today. And I think they'll hurt worse tomorrow, too. :(

Oh, well....

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tree of Heaven, aka "stinking sumac"

We rediscovered the name of the obnoxious weed tree in our yard. (We'd been told but we'd forgotten.) It's Tree-of-Heaven, ailanthus altissima, and it's also known as stinking sumac, Chinese sumac, or stink tree. We're doing what we can to make it feel extraordinarily unwelcome--involving holes drilled in root balls and concentrated Roundup poured directly into the holes--but it's going to be a long battle, I fear.

Monday, August 14, 2017

How to choose a good apple (even Red Delicious!)

Choosing good apples when you're shopping is a challenge. Just from looking at an apple, you don't know if it's going to be crisp, crunchy, juicy, and flavorful, or if it's going to be mealy, dry, and flavorless. This post is about how you can choose good apples easily. You can even use this trick to find Red Delicious apples you'd wanna eat! (Yeah, I know; they're usually fit for applesauce at best, but really!)

What you do: You're going to use your middle finger and your thumb and make a flicking motion like you're flicking a large crumb off a table. Holding the apple between the thumb and middle finger of your other hand, gently flick the apple with your fingernail. (There's no need to do it hard; you'll bruise the apple. Just enough to make the apple ping a little.) The apple's going to make a noise, a musical note if you like. The riper and juicier and crisper the apple is, the higher and clearer the note. If the apple makes a sort of dull "thwock" or "thunk," it's going to be mealy.

You want to select apples that are of a roughly equal ripeness (based on how they look): apples that are unripe are going to make a substantially different noise compared to apples that are ripe. Also consider that some apples that are getting a little older, ones where the skin may even be a bit loose or wizened, may still be very edible indeed, even though they don't make the same high note. (You may notice a difference in clarity of the note they make, though.)

This will take a little experimenting to get the rhythm, but it's not Big Science, so it won't take you long at all. When I am selecting apples at the store, I usually have two or three in hand that have the highest notes, replacing with apples with higher notes as I go, until I get the feeling for what the highest note I'm going to get from that bin is, then I start bagging them. And yes, I get very good apples this way.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Relationship improvements

A couple months ago, The Babe said that she wanted me to change a behavior: whenever she'd say "Do you wanna do X," I'd invariably reply "I don't know." This made her feel devalued and unimportant and we didn't end up doing a lot. She said that she wanted me to instead say "Yes" or "No" but not leave her hanging. Well, that was a clear request and a good one and I understood why she'd feel that way and she was RIGHT; she deserved better... so I have started giving her clear answers, which have almost always been "Yes" as it happens. As a result, we've been doing a TON of things together and having a really good time! I feel invigorated. She does too. We're much more together doing this. I'm sorry I didn't learn this much, much sooner. She also made a request that we talk without technology on for 15 minutes a day at least, which has been very good for similar reasons.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

How I acquired Sanchez the cat

From 2011 to early 2014, I was living during the week in an apartment in Beaverton, OR, working a contract. Sanchez--known then to one and all simply as "El Gato Negro"--was a large black cat who lived in the apartment complex. His owners had been there for a number of years but for some reason one of the flatmates didn't like cats, so they left him outside. They fed him, but he lived outside.

El Gato Negro made the rounds of the apartments and maybe as many as half a dozen apartments left out food for him. I understand that when he felt he wasn't getting enough, he'd hunt (successfully) ducklings and goslings in the creek behind the apartment. When I met him, he was friendly and let me pet him and pick him up. He was actually a little scrawny at that point and his fur was a little dull, but he was very active and in good health.

Around 2013, the apartment manager told me that his owners had skipped and had left him behind. She knew I'd been looking for a cat to keep me company, so would I like to take care of him? That sounded like a great idea, so the next time El Gato Negro came by, I picked him up and carried him up to my apartment. He took to living indoors just fine and the first night he was there, I went to bed and he joined me about 10 minutes later and snuggled into me, something he's tended to do every night since then.

In about a month of regular feeding, he got to a proper weight where he didn't look scrawny anymore and his fur was glossy. In his case, "proper weight" means 17, 18 pounds, which is the size of a small bobcat. He's about that big, too.

He picked up the name Sanchez when The Babe and I were at Worldcon and heard John Scalzi read a very funny short story he'd written entitled "The Other Large Thing," in which the name "Sanchez" figured prominently. (It's a fast read; if you've not read/heard it before, please take a couple minutes and do so now.)

Sanchez, as far as I can tell, is 13, possibly 14 years old. He's all black save for a little line of white on his chest. And he still tends to snuggle into me at night.


Monday, July 10, 2017

A banjo story from my past

Back in the early 90s, I was doing a concert in Portland about 25 years ago and that thing we always worry about happening in concerts happened: I broke a string. Damn damn damn! I reached into my shoulder bag and pulled out the packet of strings we all carry for just this emergency and start changing the string.

But I've got to fill time while I'm doing it, so I start telling banjo jokes. I run through a lot of the old standards:

What's the difference between a banjo and an onion? (You cry when you cut up an onion.) accordion? (The banjo takes longer to burn.)
...a Harley? (You can tune a Harley.)
...a chainsaw? (The chainsaw has a wider dynamic range.)
...a banjo player and a large pizza? (The large pizza can feed a family of four.)

What do you say to a banjo player in a three-piece suit? ("Will the defendant please rise?")

How do you tell the stage is level? (The banjo player drools out of both sides of his mouth.)

...and a bunch more, including my all-time favorite:

Q: What's the first thing every banjo player knows?
A: That Jed's a millionaire.

Okay, so I'm about done with changing the string and I say "What's the difference between a banjo and an Uzi?" But before I can get out my answer of "The Uzi only repeats 40 times," some guy in the third row called out "The banjo clears the room faster!"

Aaaaargh! Upstaged! I mimed getting stabbed in the heart, tuned up the new string, and played the next song in the concert.