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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

I watched this video a week or two ago, and now I am completely re-thinking the Calories In - Calories Out paradigm.  After watching this, it's impossible to deny the *huge* metabolic differences in how our bodies deal with different types of carbohydrates.  I am a believer.  Sugar is slow poison.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

That took a LONG time...

Yesterday our handyman finally completed the drywall project he started about a month ago.  The wife is a very tired of having to hang around the house while he was working, and I just wanted to be able to use the room again.

It's a weight-lifting and storage room, so all that stuff had to be moved out of there while he was working on it.  We had moved it into the downstairs guest bedroom for the duration of the project.  But we have visitors arriving for Thanksgiving who will need to use the guest bedroom.  The guest bed is currently being blocked by stacks of storage boxes.  I will need to move those out of the way tomorrow, so that our guest will have a place to sleep.

The drywalling is done, but there are a few items that still need to be taken care of, like finish carpentry and a couple of touch-ups near electrical outlets.

Also there is some work under the crawlspace that needs to be completed, but that can wait.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Texture and Paint

As I type this, our handyman should be two-coating the big room in the basement, and finishing the majority of the project.  Here he is on Friday night, finishing up the texture.

There will be a few things remaining to do, such as texture and paint the closet, install the closet door, and have the electrical outlets connected.  Also the crawl-space area is not finished.  But the month-long project is nearing completion finally! 

Just in time for family to arrive at Thanksgiving!  We now have to quickly move a bunch of storage boxes from the guest bedroom, back into this storage room.  And clean house.  Ugh.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day Honors

Grace's school sent home a note a couple of weeks ago, stating that they would like to honor any veteran parents who would like to attend a Veteran's Day event they were holding.  Grace asked me to come to the event, and so I told her that I would.

Today was the day that they held an assembly.  There were 3 rows of chairs at one end of the gymnasium, at which several parents were seated. 

In California and Oregon, kids are let out of school for Veteran's Day.  Here's how it goes in Idaho.

I sat in one of the empty chairs, and as Grace's class filed in, she came and sat with me.

The High School band came to Grace's Elementary School to play.  A Cub Scout color guard marched in with the US and State flags and set them in their holders.  The band played the National Anthem. 

Next, Veterans of each military branch were asked to stand as the band played each service hymn.  I hadn't heard "Anchors Aweigh" in decades.  Afterwards, we were each in turn asked to stand up, state our name, branch of military, and dates of service.  Then the band played a few more hymns.

Toward the end of the ceremony, a pastor gave a brief speech and asked for the children to raise their hands if they knew what happens during a war.  He selected one girl, who said, "People shoot at each other and die."  He said that was correct.  Then he told the children that each one of us had sworn an oath to uphold the constitution, even to death.  And that was the purpose of Veteran's Day.

After that, the entire school, and the high school band stood up and clapped for the handful of us vets seated at the end of the gymnasium.  It was very, very humbling.  And it was a lot different than having Grace out of school for one Monday in November.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Power Dieting

I started a diet on October 1st.  In about 40 days I have lost 27 lbs.  As of today I am officially no longer Obese according to the Body Mass Index.  Here is a BMI calculator.  I anticipate being to my goal weight some time around New Year's.   At that point I will begin eating more and lifting weights again.

I have a very effective diet that I have used in the past to shed weight rapidly.  It's a combination of fasting and Low Carb.  The thinking goes like this:  I can eat a negligible amount of food since I have plenty of body fat to burn that will provide energy for essential bodily functions.

There is an energy balance in the body.  Basically calories eaten minus calories burned = weight gain or loss.  What most people don't realize is that exercise doesn't affect this equation very much!  The largest part of the minus side of the equation is called BMR, or Basal Metabolic Rate.  Here is a BMR calculatorMy BMR is about 2100 calories a day, with no exercise at all.  If I were to add a mile of jogging at 5 mph, I would only burn an additional 100 calories.  That's all, an additional 100 calories!  So clearly controlling diet is FAR more important than exercising at this stage.

To be blunt, you need a lot of your body to be active muscle mass for exercise to be an effective way to burn calories.  At this point, I am mostly bones, organs and body fat, not muscle!  Here's another thing people don't realize.  It's not a good idea to try to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.  Building muscle requires an excess of carbs and protien - the same things (combined with inactivity) that causes people to get fat in the first place!!!  So... first we lose the fat, then adopt a program of eating right and exercising.

Back to my aggressive diet though...  When I get hungry, I initially try to avoid taking in calories, either by drinking coffee, a low-carb energy drink, or a diet soda.  When the hunger gets too great or I get a splitting headache, I will either have a protien drink (160 calories), an ounce of cheese (110 calories), or a couple of hot dogs without the bun (200 calories).  Rinse and repeat.  I am burning off 4-5 lbs each week.  One caveat:  I am religious about eating a multivitamin and a fish oil pill whenever I am doing this, because I am certainly not incorporating all the essential nutrients in my diet.

Some folks would probably say that it's dangerous to diet this way.  I would like them to explain that scientifically.  The last time I was on this diet, I had a full set of blood work done.  My triglycerides were excellent, my cholesteral was normal, although a the LDP/HDP was a little high and the doctor recommended I eat some stuff containing good cholesterol.  I think he specifially mentioned adding nuts to my diet.

So there.  Actually I really enjoy the challenge of dropping weight, even if I don't feel very energetic or 100% mentally acute.  It's the enjoyment of tracking my progress and having clothes fit again that brings its own set of rewards.

Then too, I am also looking forward to eating like a horse and exercising like one! 

More Drywall, plus Elk

Drywall and Elk don't have much in common, other than Drywall is ongoing in my life, and I spotted a few Elk on the way home from work today :)

Latest on the big basement room - Tape is done, and mud is going on:

Tiny herd of elk.  Poor lighting conditions, large distance, and using a Blackberry camera from a moving vehicle.  Meh.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Drywall

The drywall job is not moving along as quickly as I had been led to believe.  Our handyman has himself spread pretty thin and so he has had to take care of several smaller jobs.  I'm OK with the waiting because he is doing the job right and also has tackled some other issues he found in the crawlspace.

Here is a picture of the progress though.  The room is entirely drywalled now and it will be taped and mudded today.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Organizing and Framing Up

So, between shopping for a car, fixing hydraulic leaks on the new (used) tractor, working, and entertaining visitors, I've not accomplished much around the house until this past week.  But it's coming along again. 

I managed to clean all the rain gutters.  I assume this was the first time they've been cleaned since I found roofing nails and bits of shingles in them.  I also repaired a seam in one of the rain gutters that was dripping onto the deck and ruining the eave.

I had a 5KW garage heater installed, because we store canned goods in the garage, and I'm not sure how well the garage refrigerator would work when the ambient temperature got lower than the temperature I want my food kept at.  So I set the thermostat for forty degrees.  I hope that works out!

And lately I have been (finally) trying to get the shop a little bit more organized.  It's a huge process, because half of what's in the shop either doesn't belong there, or needs some storage.  However I have made a start!  I wanted to begin by setting up my workbench and organizing the tools somewhat.

Before:
 
After:

For the record, I am NOT a fan of pimped-out, polished diamond deck cabinets for my crap.  I think that's a relic of the housing boom easy-money years.  I'm miffed that I can no longer buy cheapie cabinets like these - just eye candy that costs 10 times as much.  Thanks a lot, you Martha Stewart shop rats.
 
Lastly, there is a big 15x30 foot room in the basement that we are having finished.  The exterior walls were not framed, so that is in progress.  After the electrician addes a few outlets to these new frames, the drywall can go on.  


 This will be a storage/exercise room after we have it completed.  I would have tackled this job myself, since I think I have the skills to get it done.  However, between work and the holidays, we would be halfway through 2013 before I would have managed to get it completed.  Instead, I hired the job out, so it will be completed in another week.
 
We want to paint the new walls, coat the floor with an epoxy, and add baseboards like so... 
 
...and then FINALLY get all these boxes out of the garage!  Ugh!
 

September-October Update, Part 2

The summer and fall seasons here, like much of the nation, were very very dry.   Up here in the forest, drought has more serious consequences than a lost crop.  If the dry forest catches fire, it can easily burn your home to the ground. 

In fact, there were a couple of nasty lighning-sparked forest fires upwind of us in the Okanagan and Cascades.  Most of the summer was miserable with smoke from fires over 200 miles away from us!  Nasty air...


Because of the drought, I became worried enough about how close several trees were to the house.  The recommendation is to clear trees for 30 feet, and to thin them out to 100 feet.  So I got going with the chainsaw.  I now need to re-sharpen the chain and remove the fallen trees.
 
We grew a tomato plant this summer from a small seedling.  It grew a lot of tomatoes, but they weren't ripening quickly enough to get any before the first frost would arrive.  We put the plant on a roller cart and started bringing it into the garage each night.  As a result, it was able to provide us with some wonderfully tasty tomatoes, and it still has a few ripening up!
Autumn arrived, and the fall colors have been beautiful.  I haven't had the opportunity to stop and take a picture of any of the aspen groves around here, but I did take a couple of the tamarack pines on the property.  I never knew any pine trees turned yellow and lost their leaves...
 

September-October Update, Part 1

I see it's been a while since I've posted anything here.  It's not that there isn't anything to post, but that life has been a bit full lately!

One of the big items we had to take care of recently was getting a new car for Corie.  She has never driven in the snow in her life, and I felt the need to get her an All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicle before we get snow that sticks.  In addition, the old Explorer was having some issues that would be expensive to correct.  The differential was howling, and a damper inside the dash had come loose from its hinge.  The damper didn't reliably direct hot air onto the windshield, so the defroster would become a huge issue in the winter.

So we spent a lot of my days off in September and October test-driving new cars.  We also spent a great deal of time researching.  We test drove a Kia Sportage and Sorento, Ford Edge and Explorer, a Honda CR-V and Pilot, a Mazda CX-9, and a Dodge Durango.  We were almost ready to buy a Durango, when Corie spotted a Dodge Journey.

The Durango is a little bigger and taller, and felt a bit beefier.  However, it was based on a truck chassis and therefore was heavy and needed a larger engine.  We decided on the Journey over the Durango, primarily because of its better mileage and lower price.  Otherwise they were quite similar.

The dealership was trying to get rid of their last 2012 models, and so we got a great deal on a loaded R/T model.  It has way more gadgetry than any car I've ever owned, and it's the first new vehicle I've ever owned.   All the functions are accessed from a touch screen, which I find distracting.  On the bright side, it has a slot for a thumb drive, so you can play your own music. 

I'ts not a color I would have picked out, given more choices (metal flake black, LOL), but it works.  Life is full of compromises :)

Monday, September 03, 2012

Timber Terror!

I had 2.5 days off, and they (yet again) were full.  On Thursday afternoon before going to work, I mowed the lawn.  Afterwards I tried to mow the massive long weeds along the driveway, but eventually the big rocks broke my lawn mower and the blades quit working :(

Friday we cleaned house in preparation for visitors from Hermiston.  Saturday we entertained our visitors, and the kids really had a great time, while we chatted with the parents. 

Sunday was church, followed by a trip to Silverwood Theme park.  Grace told me that she wanted to go on the "Timber Terror" Rollercoaster.  It's clear that she had no idea what she was getting herself into, because she was terrified after the first drop...   She was close to bursting into tears, but she held it together!  Now she can brag about it, but I don't think she will be getting on a coaster again anytime soon.


After that we stuck with the log ride and shot rubber balls at the Battlezone boats :)  It was fun because she could fire shots at the plexiglass right in front of the boat driver's face, hahaha!  And in turn he could fire a little water cannon back at her.  Good stuff!

We had a pretty good day, and that's as much fun as I've had in a while!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The opposite of long change

I'm  currently in the process of working seven straight 12 hour days, some of which are nights!

Before that however, I had 2.5 days off.  After getting off of nights, we took Grace to the Orthodontist to get her fitted for a palate spreader.  Then later on I helped a co-worker move his refrigerator to his new house.

Wednesday we prepped Grace's room for painting and applied the first coat.  Thursday we got the second coat on, removed the painters tape and got her moved back in.  Quite the whirlwind...

At some point, I would like to be settled in and get back to doing my two favorite things:  Drinking beer and playing WoW :)

Here we are going from some ghastly color to a nice light blue color (her pick).   And today I'm back to work with speckles of paint on my eyeglasses :)






























Saturday, August 18, 2012

Petz

We have a new kitty that we picked up from the shelter in June, as well as a Dachshund that we got from the Hermiston Pet Store right before Christmas.  They give each other hell.  The dog tackles the cat and the cat tackles the dog.  It's fun to watch.  Yesterday the dog had all her toys piled under the cat's platform.  She so badly wants the cat to play with her like another puppy...





Friday, August 17, 2012

Seven off, minus 3

I just completed my seven days off.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to accomplish a lot in that time.  The week off runs from Friday morning to the following Friday evening.  I lost 3 of them because I had to work two nights, which ruined the following day.

We had visitors from Hermiston my first day off.  It was great to see them again.  I hope they come back soon and bring their kids, whom Grace is good friends with!

Before our friends arrived on Friday the electrician came back to add a light in the garage.  There was a little area off to one side that needed some light, and so we got that installed.  I only noticed the darkness when I finally got around to hanging all the brooms and mops on hooks, and realized I could barely see them without having the door open.
Also I had a HVAC guy come out to give me an estimate on a LPG shop heater, one which would hang from the ceiling and blow hot air down, yet have the exhaust vented outside.  He said $2900.  Not including the propane line and tank.  Ouch.  This is what I had in mind:


















But I think it will have to wait, because it's certainly not a critical item.

We have a lot of deer in the area.  I have been feeding them corn and recently started putting out water, since we haven't had rain in a month.  They are always hungry and thirsty...  Monday morning, a mama deer and her fawn wandered into the back yard.  They ate, and then the fawn laid down in the grass.  I suppose it was cooling off, since the grass was still damp from being watered.  It had more spots than a leopard, and was about the size of a labrador retriever.

The next three days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) I got sorta busy with making the house more live-able.  Now that we finally have the basement carpet in, I bought a TV for downstairs, and hooked up Grace's Wii.  And we had some lawn chairs, but no furniture for this room. It's kinda odd, like furnishing three houses.  It looked pretty friggen pathetic, with a cheap folding table and lawn chairs.

So we got some recliners, book shelves, an entertainment center, and a Blu-Ray player!  Rock on!

We still have A LOT of pictures and drapes to hang, books to fill those bookshelves, and crap to put up on the plant shelves.  But at least now we are finally getting there.

We had the most stunning sunset one day this week.  I suppose it's due to the wildfires in the Okanagan and at Cle Elum.  Hopefully we don't have any here.
Yesterday I put together a heavy-duty shelf for the garage.  We've been walking around piles of junk on the floor since we moved in.  Since we have been unloading boxes, we finally had some wall space free in the garage, so I put up this shelf.

I liked it so much (and we have so much crap to store) that I bought 3 more shelves.  They are not yet assembled, as we need to unpack more boxes.
 

And today, I got up a little early and installed more drapes for the dining room and Grace's bedroom.  Then we finally located the hardware to install the mirror on the guest bedroom dresser, so I took care of that.  Not sure why the photo has a streak across it.  It's not in the room :)
Hopefully, Corie will spend the next couple of days unpacking the book boxes that I brought in from the garage and getting some of the pictures hung.  Then we can bust out the antiques and for the first time in two years, it will start feeling like we live in OUR home.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Not alot...

Another 2.5 days off, coming off nights, as usual.  I didn't get much done, alas.  I was wiped out and slept half the day on Friday.  Then I slept half the day on Saturday.  In the afternoon on both days we drove to Coeur d'Alene and either shopped or test drove SUVs for Corie.

We test drove a Kia Sorrento, Ford Escape and Explorer, and a Honda CR-V.  I liked them all, although the Fords seemed pretty pricey, considering they were base models.  We may drive a Honda Pilot next.

We are looking for an AWD vehicle for Corie before the snow flies.  She has no experience with snow driving, and I think AWD will help her a lot. 

Although we didn't decide on a vehicle for her, we did get some drapes installed.  It was (and always has been) an ordeal.  It's all overhead work, and I usually have to do it a couple of times to get things exactly how she wants them.  Meh.  At least most of them are up.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keeping my job during snow season...

The title of this post explains why I bought a tractor.  Its a nice little Japanese tractor called a Yanmar 1300.  Yanmar now makes all the smaller tractors for John Deere.
I've always wanted a tractor, and now I finally have a really good excuse.  Due to the odd hours I keep at the power plant, I didn't feel comfortable relying on a snow removal guy to keep my driveway cleared at 5:00 AM every time it snows. 

It's a pretty small tractor, but it shouldn't take very long to clear the driveway.  As you can see in the photo, it has a loader and the thing on the back is a rotary tiller.  Chewing up soil to set up a garden next spring is gonna be a snap!  It also came with a rear blade, which should handle the majority of the snow removal.  It was really important to have a tractor with a loader for when we get a really big snowfall, and I have to actually remove snow to a pile somewhere.

It's a nice little tractor with a live PTO, 4x4 drive, and a 3 point hydraulic-lift hitch.  So although its a small diesel tractor, it's the real deal.  Besides, if I need to get between trees (likely), it's way more practical than one of the cool old antiques I was interested in. 

Like the Farmall Super H:
Or the Deere Model B:
Both are beautiful classics, but unfortunately they are way larger than I need, and are not practical for using with a loader :(   I may someday pick one up for restoration and for fun though... I just love how they look!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Dachshund Blocker

It didn't seem like I did a good job of explaining my little dog gate, so I took a couple of photos this morning.

This is a picture of the front side of the gate.  It's pretty low, so less of a trip hazard.  Still keeps the dog out though!


Here is a picture from above.  See how it clamps to the center piece of the door frame?  If you look carefully, you can see the felt dots I installed to keep the wood from scuffing the door frame.


Lastly, here is a picture from behind.  Here the felt buttons are easy to see.  I slotted the back rails so that they could slide over to remove the gate.  It's not a pretty piece of work, but it's practical and I thought it was cool enough to share.

Come and meet my little friend...  The Ridgid TS2424

Friday, July 27, 2012

2.5 days of company

Mom came up for a visit, at my suggestion.  She arrived the day of my last night shift, so we didn't have much time to chat before I went to work.  And then I had a couple of days off (one of which involved taking Grace to the dentist for a couple of extractions).

I felt guilty about not accomplishing much of anything at the house, even though I had the excuse of company. 

Corie had a small card table wedged up against the laundry room opening.  The purpose of this was to keep the dog away from the cat's food and litterbox.  It's gross, but for some reason dogs like to much on cat poop.  So we had to keep the dachshund out of the cat box.

My mom managed to catch her foot on the top of that card table while leaving the laundry room and fell flat on her face in the hallway.  Fortunately she wasn't hurt.  However the incident made a back-burner project a front-burner one.

I got out the table saw and cut a 30" x 16" piece of pressboard to fit tightly in the doorway.  Then I fastened two stand-off rails on either side.  Next I made slots in two additional rails, so that they could slide over and lock and unlock the thing in the doorway.  Lastly I put little felt buttons on all the surfaces contacting the woodwork in the doorway so that it wouldn't damage the finish. 

It looks pretty good, is a few inches lower, keeps the dog out of the laundry room.  I now simply need to paint the thing and all will be well.

Yesteday though was a lot of fun.  We wanted to go to Sandpoint (and we did), but decided to check out a couple of local lakes on some back-roads.  We went to Granite Lake and Kelso Lake.  Below are a few images of Kelso Lake from the public dock.  Just a really nice quiet fishing lake.

This is a quick panorama from East to West (left to right).


 

Afterwards, we managed to get lost.  None of the dirt roads were marked.  The digital compass in the inaptly-named Explorer always read "SW" regardless of what direction I turned.  Eventually we popped out near Priest River, crossed a bridge, and headed East to Sandpoint.  I had to get on Google Earth after we got home to determine where we had been.

Looks like a forest service map and remembering to bring along the GPS will be useful in the future.  I suppose I could have used the Navigator on the Blackberry, but there wasn't much cell service in the back-country.  I think it needs cell service to load the appropriate map.

Eventually we made it to Sandpoint, after seeing a lot of neat new country.  And then we had Huckleberry Ice Cream cones!  Beats running out of gas in the wilderness and getting eaten by a bear... ;)



Friday, July 20, 2012

Seven off

Sooo... the DuPont schedule puts you through hell for 3 weeks and then compensates you with 7 days off in a row.  Not the ideal schedule, but there is a bright side to it.

So here (in pictures) is what I accomplished on this 7 off:

Furniture purchase and placement.  And placement.  First she wanted it upstairs.... then she wanted it downstairs...
Currently the furniture is on the main floor.  It looks very nice.


























But we also were under a deadline.  We had ordered carpet for the basement, and had to have everything clear of where carpet was to be installed.  When we moved in, the two basement bedrooms had strange carpet that didn't match the rest of the house and had stains etc.

Below:  The basement front bedroom before painting and carpet.























Below:  The basement front bedroom as it is right now, with new, non-green paint and high-quality carpet.  Note:  I used the blackberry camera for the second photo, without allowing the CF lights a chance to warm up...  It really is a much whiter color than the photo shows.



Below: The basement back bedroom before painting and carpet.  I had rolled on some paint to see which was preferable for a basement.  The above two photos are intended to show the carpet in the basement. FYI we chose the color on the right.























Below:  The same bedroom with the color on the right and new carpet.   Again the blackberry camera takes with cold CF lighting took a yellower photo.


This 7 off I also had asked a painter to get all our doors and paint them the same as the walls.  We hauled them to the shop and he masked off the shop for the project.  This pictue reminds me of the movie Monsters, Inc.

























Here is a picture of one of the large basement rooms after paint and carpet.

























Same room, opposite direction.

























And after having the carpet finally replaced, we were able to begin unpacking!!!  The big room in the basement will be for Grace to goof off.  The other large (unfinished) room will be for lifting iron.



Here is a picture of the TV room, with the front speaker installation showing.  They don't exactly blend in with the wall, do they?  But I suppose they look better than stand-alone speakers.

























I also added rear speakers.  The previous owner just left us with wires dangling through holes in the ceiling.  I wanted a cleaner look, but it's been a back-burner project...





Below is a photo of "Grace's basement hide-out" before we got started.  Bare concrete floor, no texture or paint, and a bare incandescent light.





















Currently: Baseboards, textured walls, fuscia paint, carpet, fancy light fixture, and a bean-bag chair!  All under the basement stairs!


















































It's been a very busy week, but I finally had a tiny amount of time to begin straightening out the shop.  I was at least able to begin hanging a lot of long-handled crap :).  Really looking forward to having a shop heater and safety rails on the mezzanine.