Saturday, December 03, 2016

40 Years Ago Today - December 3, 1976

December of 1976 brought about a lot of visits to the doctor about my abnormal head growth. There were fears that I had hydrocephalus and may end up unable to care for myself. In the end I would turn out fine but at the time it was very stressful for both parents.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

40 Years Ago Today - December 1976

While I'm not entirely sure that the photo was taken in December of 1976, I'm guessing it's very close to late 1976 and early 1977. So I'm putting it here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Mrs. Brown Saved My Run And Made My Day

For those with the inside scoop on where I live and run, you already know about Mrs. Brown. For those that don't, she was my Fourth Grade teacher and she lives just around the corner from where I grew up. Which means she lives just around the corner from where I live now. She and her husband were staples of my neighborhood for decades, always walking their large, white, fluffy dogs. Think Dire Wolves but nicer. After her husband passed, she continues to make an appearance walking her dog around the local streets.

But before I get into the headline, let's rewind a little bit. For the past few weeks, I've been neck deep in removing the insulation from the Fort Max attic. Then installing new insulation. And then I had to demolish our back porch to make room for a new one. Well, the insulation tore me up. Figuratively. It was beastly work with more crawling around than a worm does in a life time. But after a few weeks, we perfected the process of removing the blown in cellulose crap. And after a few stumbles, I perfected installing the new fiberglass batts.

But it still sucked. And with the weather nice and a looming deadline to start the deck, I just rolled right from one project into another. And with the help of my neighbor, the deck was a heap of rotten wood after just two days of quick work. And I wasn't even rushing. In fact, I was taking my time, making sure I didn't damage the propane line into the house, the heat pump, the back door, or any windows. It was a little nerve-wracking at times but I got it done.

And I'm glad I did. It was scary. So scary, I don't think it would have lasted a heavy snow, stiff breeze, or large picnic party. Hell, it almost caved on me twice. While I was on it. But it's done now and I feel better for it.

But all of this work means that I didn't really get any training in. Other than long hours on my hands and knees or swinging a sledge hammer or what-not, I didn't run or bike or anything else. Just some home improvement cross-training.

Sunday I did my best to get out and accomplish something. And I did. I ran a bit and didn't die. But today felt like the first good day in training I've had in a long time. Sure, I'm tired and feel drained but I feel good. And part of that is because of Mrs. Brown.

I made my first loop around the neighborhood hoping I wouldn't get rained on. In fact, I struggled to get dressed because I knew it had rained, would rain, and probably still was raining. But I lucked out and stayed dry for the run. So with the first loop done, I looked down at my watch. I was a full 2 minutes ahead of my normal slow pace and a full minute ahead of my faster pace. But I felt damn good after that first loop.

I started my second loop but started to feel like I was dragging. I had already passed Mrs. Brown and said hello during my first loop but I was now approaching her a second time. But I was walking up the hill this time so we chatted for a few minutes. Her walking pace was much slower than mine but I slowed down to keep the conversation going. She said she was about to turn 75 and credited her dog with keeping her going. We both agreed with that adage I've ignored for years that it's easier to put weight on than it is to take off.

But the best thing she said to me was that she thought I had lost some weight. She noticed it around my middle. As we parted ways, I swear I was floating on wings. I was in the clouds with happiness. Totally saved me from drudging through another mile and totally made my day. Before I left, I made sure to tell her I appreciated the comment and that it made me happy to see her around the neighborhood so much.

I finished the second loop a little slower but I'm totally okay with that.

Here are some pictures of the deck demo.


And some panorama shots.

Temps were about 50F. Sky was overcast. Wind was high.

Fluids and Fuel:
Before the run I had two coffees. During the run I had plain water. Recovery was a four egg omelette with left-over ham and cheese and two slices of toast. And coffee.

Aches and Pains:
Nothing really hurt. I'm just tired.

Wore pants, thermal top, wind breaker, hat, and gloves.

Today's Motivation:
I'm trying to get back on track before the porch project starts.

Naughty Neil:
I made Jewish Apple Cake, thanks to THE Mrs. Beverly Goldberg for the idea, the other day and I've been enjoying it. Lots of sugar in it but it has apples so it must be healthy.

Loop 1 - 16:12
Loop 2 - 16:52
Finish - 33:04

Monday, November 21, 2016

40 Years Ago Today - Thanksgiving

While I don't have any photos that are expressly from Thanksgiving 1976, I thought I'd hit the pause button a little bit and take a step back in time beyond 40 years. Even though I'm moving forward and delving deep into 1977, I'm still digging into the past. In the case of this post, I'm having old negatives scanned because I don't have prints to scan. As I go though the records that I have, it's weird to find a roll of negatives without prints. Getting a print was really the only way you could look at what you took a picture of back then. The fact that I've found so many un-printed rolls of film is even more odd.

Before I could dig deeper into the mystery, I took a trip to see my mother. During the trip, she let me bring home some of her photo albums. Pretty much the only photo albums she has after the divorce. That made me a little sad to think about how things as simple and small like photos become the dividing line of a marriage. And even sadder that sharing the photos, all of the photos, wasn't easier.

But within the sadness, I found the answer to my mystery. My dad had the negatives and my mother had the prints. Not everything matched up as some prints were missing, but after so many decades, I was just happy to have what I had. And as I started sorting and labeling the digital images from the scanned negatives, the power of history struck me again.

All of those prints I was worried about scanning and carefully removing from the album were no longer a problem. Photo albums, for those that don't remember them, were the easiest way to store and organize photos back in the day. And nearly every album had thick plastic sheets that covered the photos and a cardboard page that had a glue-like substance on them to keep everything attached. Over time the "glue-like substance" became glue and the photos could not be removed without damaging them.

Modern technology saved the day as the scanned negatives became the better source for digital images. I knew time could pose a threat to printed photos but it never struck me as all that big of an issue. Until now.

An original print (not stored in a photo album) of my parents in December of 1972.

The same photo but from a digital scan of the original negatives.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fort Max Attic Insulation Installation Workout

After a two hour meeting at work, I went to work in the attic. Today's workout went something like this.

Go into the attic where you have low head-room and need to walk on sketchy plywood. Wear two layers of long-sleeve shirts, a hat, pants, gloves, and a mask. A BUFF is recommended as it is somewhat more comfortable to wear.

Now that you're in your gym, set the right vibe by dropping the temperature to anything under 50F, throwing some microscopic dust into the air, and adding a dash of itching powder (aka fiberglass insulation) to your clothes. Don't worry, you'll continue add more throughout the workout. Dim the lights by using work lights.

Begin the workout by crawling or crouch-walking to the other end of the attic. Once at the other end, move a 20 pound piece of plywood towards the eave. Repeat with another piece. Now place a smaller piece further in the eave. Open a bag of insulation. Be sure to add a dash of itching powder in the process. Move a single batt of insulation towards the eave. Now crawl towards the eave until you run out of room. Then do a push-up or downward dog to squeeze further into the eave. With the patented Gaffi Stick, push the batt all the way to the end of the eave. Then, while still in the prone position, use the Gaffi Stick to ensure the batt is installed correctly. Repeat the batt installation in the eave bay next to the first one.

Remove yourself from the prone position by doing a push-up back to the kneeling position. To improve results, on every fifth eave bay, instead of a push-up to the kneeling position, overextend yourself into the eave making a push-up impossible. This will force you to use your abdominal muscles to pull your body out of the eave, even though you are still in the prone position. For extra credit, you can occasionally come to a kneeling position too quickly and hit your head on the roofing nails above you.

Repeat the above steps approximately 50 times. Don't forget to add the dash of itching powder after opening every bundle of batts (every 11 pieces).

When not working in the eaves, installing the insulation is done on your hands and knees. When pushing it into the joist cavity, be sure to throw a giant handful of dryer lint dust and itching powder in your face. This will insure that everyone knows you've worked out today. After installing approximately 5 batts in the center of the attic, move four pieces of plywood forward to the next joist while in the kneeling position.

Now that the insulation is installed, you need to do some cleanup. This means manually removing the loose insulation. This is a fine particulate that is only going to allow you to move extremely slow or it activates like a temperamental bomb and explodes like Vesuvius leaving you coated in a layer of dust. While a shop vac should be used for the mortar near the chimney, it will fill too fast to make it worthwhile.

Congratulations! You've completed today's Attic Insulation Installation workout. As a cool down, go across the street to your neighbor's house and help them build a children's swing set for 30 minutes.

Temps were about 50F. No breeze. No sun. Just work lights.

Fluids and Fuel:
Too much cold-pressed strawberry lemonade made me want to puke, especially after all that ab work. Breakfast was two eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns with coffee. Only a little juice during the workout. Recovery was two crappy sliders (mini-burgers), tater tots, Twix, and iced tea.

Aches and Pains:
Pretty much everything hurt.

Wore work pants, thermal top, long sleeve top, BUFF, hat, and gloves.

Today's Motivation:
My living room was cold this morning after sucking out the old insulation. And I need to get rid of my old deck soon. So I needed to insulate today. So I did.

Naughty Neil:
That burger was horrible. But I needed something quick. Maybe I should have aimed for a salad or wrap instead.

No splits but I did install about 80 batts (4 feet long each).

Oh, and I know I wrote the above workout as a joke and wanted it to sound funny, but that's everything I dealt with today. No brag, just fact.