Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Busy Week, Retirements and a Nifty App

Last week was one of the busiest weeks I've had in a while. A good friend offered to run the necessary wiring for our main floor remodel and much of it required us to be up in the attic spaces pulling wires through to the electrical panel in the garage on the other end of the house. Neither of us realized how laborious a job this would be and I feel bad for taking Steve up on his offer to help. He didn't bail on me and for that, I'm grateful and thankful.

There were some key decisions to be made along the way with respect to the placement of lights and for the most part I've got one chance to get them right. I think what we've got will work but it won't be until the project comes together more fully that I'll know for sure.

Tammy will be in Babbitt with the pups (Dublin got to ride up front) for another couple weeks while construction continues. This is definitely not the home I'm used to. There are no wagging tales as I come in through the back door by the garage and no sniffing noses to see what I'm eating. This is not normal.

During the course of the week we made quite a mess. Even though it's all going to get trashed again when our drywall guy comes in later this week, I spent a few hours cleaning it up. I like the openness of the new look having removed most of the wall between the kitchen and front room and the additional light through the window Joe added to the west side of our front room. As Karen said, "It should've always been there."

I ordered some glasses for viewing the upcoming eclipse in late August. What fun is an eclipse if you can't look at it?

Mark Lapham and Steve Mechelke have left the building! Mark hosted a nice get-together at Lakeville Brewery to celebrate his retirement. I always enjoy these parties and the chance to catch up with friends.

My walks and rides and time spent on the golf course have come to a grinding halt for the most part but I hope to find a more normal routine soon. I spent some time on my bike this morning after the drizzle stopped before going to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls.

While Tammy is away, I'd like to fit in a quick day trip to Huron, South Dakota for a round of golf on the course I used to play when I worked there with the FAA in the early to mid-'80s. Tammy and I stopped there a few years ago on our way out to western South Dakota but I didn't play. It's been on my bucket list for a while.

Here's video from a nifty little app called Relive that takes data from my rides or walks and displays it in an overhead view. I had intended to be out there longer but a half-hour into my ride I realized that the battery to my rear blinking LED light had died. I really depend on it to feel safe against distracted drivers so I opted to head for home instead. Times have changed.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Nothing is Routine

My former supervisor Otto Pluntz used to say that with respect to sick-leave usage, the lack of a pattern was itself a pattern. I think the same could be said of what used to be my normal routine. I no longer have one and that has become my new routine. We're getting ready for a bunch of dominos to fall in our main level remodel project and Tammy and I are doing our best to stay ahead of the tasks we need to accomplish. Normal routines have been put on hold for the next 6 weeks or more. 

Keith and Jason were here Tuesday morning to remove our kitchen cabinets. Keith has a friend who wanted them for his basement and garage so I gave up my parking space in the garage for a couple nights until Emmett could pick them up. We're happy to know they'll have a fate better than a landfill.

Our kitchen is mostly useless now so we're sorta camping inside, eating off paper plates with plastic utensils. I'm not complaining but I do miss my routine—and our kitchen sink.

We stopped by Keith's shop to see how our cabinets are coming along. They look like they're ready for their new home!

This coming week will be a busy one with Joe coming tomorrow to begin opening the wall between our kitchen and front room as well as some other construction-related jobs on his to-do list for us. Steve will also be coming sometime this week to help with the electrical once Joe is ready for us. I spent a few hours in the attic space above the kitchen yesterday building a catwalk from plywood sheets Keith cut up for me to use. Rachel and Drew spent the day spelunking and I couldn't help but think they could've enjoyed the same experience in our attic and allowed me to relax and enjoy televised coverage of the U.S. Open golf championship.

Tammy leaves with the pups for Babbitt tomorrow to spend time with Cindy for the next two weeks. Not having the pups to worry about will help, especially with Charlie. He loves to sneak out and explore our backyard and Ruth's yard behind us where she has two pups. Jenny (our neighbor across the street) saw a coyote walking across her front lawn with a small animal in its mouth a few days ago. That's my biggest concern.

Dublin is staying with us again while Claudia is away. This is his 3rd extended stay here in the past year and he's become quite comfortable with us, barking at visitors and protecting our home like it was his own. He's quite the character.

I've spent so little time online lately and I'm finding I like life better that way. I still make a quick lap around the pattern in the morning and at night but for the most part, I'm avoiding the touch-and-goes throughout the day the way I used to. The news is too depressing to subject myself to more of it than is necessary. There are enough other things to easily fill my days.

Here's a quick snippet of some video I took from yesterday's attic project. Note the creepy heavy breathing through my face mask. It sorta reminds me of a horror movie scene where the methodically moving, relentless bad guy is seeking his prey.

And speaking of the attic project—it's time to don my mask and headlamp and get busy again. My work isn't done up there.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Kitchen Remodel Project and Bike Path Dangers

Tammy and I went to the Edina Art Fair last Friday morning. The closest parking we could find was a few blocks away and on our walk to the fair we met a man walking an older dog, a Lhasa Apso named Lily. Lily was moving a little slowly. We stopped and chatted with her owner and he commented that Lily is 20 years old. Wow! We were both stunned to learn a dog could live that long.  Lily doesn't hear much anymore and her vision is lacking some; just like Toby, and like Toby, she enjoys her daily walks.

On our drive home from the fair Tammy looked online and found that the oldest living dogs live nearly 30 years. I wouldn't have guessed that.

We're gearing up for a remodeling of the main level of our home and busting out of this oak look that was so common back in the day. We've been busy emptying the contents of our cabinets and cupboards and storing it all downstairs, or in some cases, giving it the heave-ho. I didn't realize we had so much stuff! Tammy was in overdrive yesterday making lots of headway on the project. We spent this morning looking at slabs of granite for our countertops.

We had planned to do this project last year but we could never settle on a design that got us excited enough to move forward with it. We have that now. Keith came up with an overall idea. We then handed his sketches off to Karen for her to add her touches before going back to Keith for some more tweaks, and then back to Karen. I think we're nearly there but the entire project has us both a little anxious. There are still a few key decisions to be made.

The biggest change will be a large opening we're making between our kitchen and front room where there's currently a full wall. The front room will see the most dramatic change and will no longer be a quiet sitting room. Instead, it will be an extension of our kitchen. Here are 3 different views.  View A; view B, and view C. The eyebrow arcs into the front room in the plans have been changed to horizontal lines after a discussion today with Karen. I liked the idea of a slight arc but this makes good design sense. Also, the columns into the front room will be squared and not cylindrical. We're also adding a window to the front room on the west side; something I've always felt was lacking.

We made it out to Alexis Bailly Vineyard in Hastings Saturday afternoon. We try and get there both spring and fall and spend a couple hours listening to the music, tasting the wines and chatting over a tray of olives, cheese, and crackers. It's always a nice time.

I texted Tracee to ask if she and Keith had ever been there. They hadn't. I think we'll insist they come with us next time.

We talked about possibly volunteering this fall to help with the harvest. The man pouring our wine told us it's a lot of fun and that they're always looking for extra help.

I don't typically ride bike paths unless they're on a stretch of road where there are few if any crossing streets, and there's a reason for that. I recorded the 9-second video below when I was on a ride last week. I'm riding with the flow of traffic with a bike path off to my right—a perfectly good bike path but I opt for the road instead. A car abruptly stops for the light and positions itself directly across the bike path. Riding the path would've forced me to yield to the vehicle when I actually had the right of way. I could tiptoe through each intersection but I'd prefer to not have to break my rhythm and the zen feeling I'm likely experiencing. I too have been guilty of being that driver who straddles a crosswalk just like in the video.

Most drivers are happy to share the road with me but as I've shown here on a few occasions lately that's not always the case. I hope this helps to give you a better understanding of why I ride the way I do in case you were wondering.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Golf Speak and Playing the Fool

I'm whipped! I went out for a ride tonight (a 20-mile loop to the trails at Murphy) and my legs were dead. I'm terrible at taking a day off and just putting my feet up to get the rest I need. I suppose that's why I welcome rainy days. I'll typically either ride or walk or golf each day but not a combination of those. I've not been so good about limiting my activity lately, and oftentimes I'm finding myself riding in the morning and golfing in the afternoon.

I'd planned to volunteer for a few hours tomorrow morning working on the new mountain bike trails in Lakeville but I think I may take a pass. There's a chance I'll be golfing in the afternoon and I need some downtime. I'm not complaining. I signed up for this when I retired. I just didn't know it would be so much work!

I'm enjoying my time on the golf course as much as ever and while I'll still play a pitiful round of golf some days, I can see where I'm making noticeable improvement. I played at Legacy Golf in Faribault yesterday (my favorite course of late) and was +1 after 8 holes. I tired on the back 9 and posted an overall score of 85. I had the dreaded 4-putt on the 12th hole. How does that even happen!? Anyway, I'm really enjoying my time out there, especially now that I've got my PCC membership and the variety of courses it offers. I've yet to break 80 but I sense I'm going to reach that milestone soon.

And speaking of golf—I've been using the 18Birdies app for tracking my golf stats and for yardage help during a round. I like the app a lot. Check it out and see if you agree. It's free and free of ads. I believe there are promotions that you can opt into and that's how the developers generate an income but those promotions happen behind the scenes of the app and aren't noticeable while you're out on the course.

Switching gears.

For those of you who feel you're getting your political and world news in a "fair and balanced" way, I have something for you to read. This article is from a 14-year veteran at Fox News. In the article, he details how nearly every program and discussion on the network is scripted to provide a win for the conservative home team. I fully understand why you believe as you do if this is where you're putting your trust (in addition to the numerous other far-right voices of deception on talk-radio) but I would also tell you that it's not too late to stop playing the fool, and I say that in the kindest of ways. But you have to be the one to make that choice for yourself.

I don't have any illusions that it will happen in my lifetime but I'm hopeful that at some point reasonable people will be able to look back and see this time in our country for what it was: a massive brainwashing of a large percentage of our populace, too willing to turn over their critical thinking ability to others to manipulate or too comfortable with the message of fear and hate that Fox and other deceptive voices were feeding them while conning them into supporting people that don't have their best interests at heart, nor those of our country or the world.

On what planet is it okay to applaud the rollback of regulations that help protect our sources of fresh water or dismiss regulations that protect our air quality? How can people honestly say that they're in support of those who seek to abolish regulations that are there to protect consumers from those who would prey on them and take advantage of them? Do you really believe that our mainstream news sources are "fake news" as Trump* likes to assert? And how does one get to the point where they listen to a man like Trump* and believe the propagandists that assure them he's not only the right one to lead our country but that he's a godly man?

Faith can be a beautiful thing, but it can also make a fool of you.