Braces

Orthodontic work yesterday – braces to straighten my crooked teeth and correct an overbite.  Not painful at all the procedure, but when I got home and finally had a chance to make a sandwich for lunch the first bite resulted in a couple of lower brackets breaking away from the teeth to which they’d been anchored.  The dental office was able to get me back in to repair the damage and make a couple of adjustments.  My mouth feels strange and my speech sounds different/feels awkward.  Probably a soft diet for a couple of days.  I’m hoping this intervention will help prevent dentition problems as I get older and, Sparks fans, that I’ll look a little better.

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Better Motivation, Thanksgiving, Living an Ordinary Life in an Ordinary Way.

Motivation

For about the past three or four weeks, on weekends, I’ve been consistently getting up around 4:00 am and either riding my bike or driving to the gym Saturdays and Sundays.  Been a little hit or miss before that.  No idea why I’ve had better motivation recently than formerly.  My doctor told me about a year ago I should concentrate on strengthening my back and rotator-cuffs to alleviate bilateral shoulder pain he attributed, in part, to having overdeveloped my pectorals.  But to look at me, you wouldn’t think so.   Still, I’ve complied with his advice and my posture has improved as well as, a little bit, that shoulder pain.

My workouts have lasted about an hour and a half, and I incorporate legs and abs, some tricep and chest, with my primary lat, back, and bicep work.  Am I a glorious specimen of beautiful middle-aged masculinity?  Not so much, although I feel better – it’s good to feel strong.   I’m gaining weight, but my clothes still fit, so some of that must be muscle.

Thanksgiving

This was our year to spend Thanksgiving with my wife’s family but we stayed home for the holiday because of my work schedule.  We spent a really pleasant day with my family, instead.  Friday, my wife finished decorating the house for Christmas and my son and I went for a bike ride around the neighborhoods.  We stopped by and visited my godparents and then rode home when the boy looked like he was about to fall asleep.  He’s not ridden much over the past couple of months, so he had a hard time riding back up hill.

Ordinary

My mom recently told me that when I was a young child, she was afraid I might be a sociopath.  Speaking sentences at nine months, also by her report, was certainly indicative of something unusual about my development.  Probably she saw other troubling indicators like lack of empathy, total self-centeredness, and so forth.  Anyway, as I’ve written elsewhere, mine was not a completely Dr. Evil childhood, but it was moderately difficult and shot through with oddness – not all of it my own.

By some miracle or fluke of predestination and providence, I turned out not to be a complete monster.  I’ve written in this space, at some time or other, that for me or someone like me, the great adventure is to live the ordinary life in an ordinary way.  You can probably not grasp how unimaginable an outcome that seemed for me when I was young or how much joy it brings me now.  It’s what I’m daily most thankful for – my wife, son, our health, meaningful work for both my wife and myself, a modest house in a modest neighborhood, self-directed recreational activities like cycling, paddling, strength training, reading, a small and extremely Calvinistic congregation where we are accepted and maybe for the most part liked and to which we contribute by participation, prayers, offerings.  Also my extended family – much more important to me now in middle age than it seemed when I was a young man.

I have a lot to be grateful for and I hope you do, too.

From Smooth Rapids to VFW Lodge, McMinnville – Folbot Aleut

With the 2003 Anniversary Edition Folbot  Aleut I bought in late June, I drove to McMinnville again to float the Barren Fork River from Smooth Rapids to the VFW lodge.  My son and I paddled that length of river  in our Grumman canoe.  Longer ago than that, after a rainy week, I’d taken the Aleut to Smooth Rapids only to be advised against putting in there by the guy in charge that day d/t debris, etc.

In late September, I finally got back to Smooth Rapids with the Aleut, but by then we’d had about no appreciable rain on the Upper Cumberland Plateau for about two weeks, and I had some concerns about low water level.  Still, hypalon’s supposed to be a tough material for hullskins, and I numerous times dragged a 75# wood-framed solo kayak with PVC hull over rocks and fallen trees and heaven knows what crud may choke a laughably small river’s channel.  Without mishap.

During my late September paddle/float down the Barren Form & Collins rivers, I had reason to regret leaving a handy painter in the car.  Two or three times I my kayak hung on rocks and one time I just got out and pulled the Aleut, wagon-like, behind me.  I started writing this post about a month ago, but I’d already prepped the snapshots, so here they are:

Bow Half Float Bag

Stern Half Float Bag

Bow and stern sections, respectively, with NRS medium float bags. Inflated, they take up most of bow and stern sections under the deck.  Pretty good displacement for the 12′ Aleut, I’d guess.

Smooth Rapids Put In

That’s the Smooth Rapids restaurant, office, store up there on the hillside. Restaurant seating is available up there  on the deck.  You can drive down near the put in, then back up the hill to a parking lot out of frame to the building’s left.

Aleut Seatback

That’s how I got the Folbot’s seatback to stay in place. I’ve got the seatback’s tension pretty high and lean forward when paddling.  Sort of like a backband, but not quite.  Just making due with what I’ve got.

Aleut & Klepper Paddle

That’s the first kayak paddle I ever bought – probably close to my own age, it’s about 240 cm in length and is a Klepper paddle.  I tried it out on this river float trip and found it far superior for the purpose than my Eric Renshaw Greenland style paddle that’s a lot shorter.  Also, the Klepper paddle’s got metal riveted to the blades’ edges which proved helpful this day.  I think in future this is the paddle I’ll be using with the Aleut at least until I get a longer Greenland paddle.  I think I mentioned in a previous post about smashing fingernails against the Aleut’s deckline D-rings using the shorter paddle; not a problem with the Klepper paddle.

Barren R Steep Rocky

Meadowy Grove

Future Fossil Bed

Confluence Construction

Construction Site Runoff

Too Shallow Need Painter

Barren R Curve

I wish I’d had time to get out and paddle a Franklin County slough, today, but instead dropped off the Jamis for some repairs and the Sprite frame for headset.  Stopped by a gun store and range where I spoke with a fellow I haven’t seen in several years, entered a drawing for a “tactical” shotgun.  If I win it, I’ll review it here.

 

 

5 Years a Cyclist

Back in the summer of 2015, I was averaging about a hundred miles a week and I was still the slowest guy in the bike club on group rides, no matter what bike I rode.  Later in the season, just before Fall, I started getting sick. Like a knucklehead, I googled my symptoms and came up with viral spinal meningitis.  My doctor’s nurse practitioner diagnosed instead seasonal allergic rhinitis.  I still think I was probably right, but whatever the problem was, I got over it.  Still, the pounding heart thing while riding abrupt and steep (for me) hills niggled at the back of my mind.  In 2016, about a year later, painful irregular heartbeats occurring at least once a day prompted a lot of diagnostic procedures by a good cardiologist in a neighboring county.  Turns out at some time or other, I’d had a heart attack but damage was not too bad and my arteries were clear.

Anyway, after Fall of 2015, I quit riding for a while and then started again riding only for fun.  I think this year my longest ride’s been about 22-24 miles.

This year, I’ve got a new solo kayak, have taken my son paddling a couple of times, have started working out at a local gymnasium, and continue to ride most weekdays from work at lunch with a few after work and weekend rides.  My son still doesn’t enjoy riding for exercise – mostly, he wants to ride to a destination for nerf-gun war or in hopes of finding a disc some cannabis use disordered frisbee-golfer has lost.

Here’re a couple of photos from 2016 – the cotton field picture is from a lunch ride while I was working in a rural Southern Middle Tennessee county; the dredge photo’s taken beside a small, decorative lake that’s got clogged up with mud and lily pads.

Cotton Pickin Supernova

Supernova Dredge Phot

 

Early Mornings but Little Motivation

I got up around 4:00 a.m. this morning and yesterday morning planning to get a cup of coffee and ride my bike to the gym, but instead, both yesterday and today, I had my coffee and read the news.  This morning I think I will work out here at the house, but yesterday I engaged in no fitness activities whatsoever.  Did some other stuff like help out a neighbor and attend my son’s first soccer game of the season, then socialized with other parents afterward at the local Chic-fil-A restaurant.  I almost never socialize with anyone, but sort of enjoyed the time I spent with both my own family and others from the sportsfield group.

My wife, who earlier in the morning looked after her friend’s three young children d/t a family emergency, wanted me to check an email we received to determine whether we’d had our data compromised in the recent Equifax data breach and I got side-tracked deleting some 2200 emails from the family email account my wife uses.  There’re probably about that many more that need purged.  No, we didn’t get any Equifax notification.

Finally, I tore myself away from the computer and drove out to my mechanic’s garage on the off-chance that he’d be there working on a Saturday.  He often does work Saturdays and holidays, but doesn’t answer the phone on those days.  The car I’ve been driving since my green ’98 XC70 was totaled last summer by a young woman who had lterally gone off her meds a week or two prior to the wreck.

Apparently some previous owner had a mechanic (or did it himself) who hard-wired one of the low-been headlight bulbs.  Now, after seven years, it’s gone out.  I ordered some replacement bulbs to change them out, myself, but found yesterday morning the wired-in problem.  Hence the need for professional intervention.  I may drive out the garage again, today, because the place was closed up when I got there, yesterday.

On the way back to the house, I stopped at a produce stand and got my wife some tomatoes for BLT sandwiches.  Our backyard garden hasn’t produced much.  Three green tomatoes out there, now.  Not much else besides, although the various plants seem to be okay.  About a 30 mile round trip, but not completely wasted.  I hate driving around with a headlight out – it feels shameful not having something that basic tended to.

Did I mention I’ve been reading a lot, this year?  Mostly Star Wars “Legends” novels – way more entertaining than the lame SJW-inspired Disney sponsored novels that are now, supposedly, “canon.”  By “reading a lot” I mean wasting a lot of time reading novels like some people eat candy.  My mind is probably getting fat and lazy and my brain fit for maybe the glass-jar equivalent of soft, fast-food and ice-cream stained couch.  Did I mention I had a milk-shake yesterday at lunch.  See?  It’s not just my brain that’s deteriorating here.

My wife reports my son has complained that I’ve been spending too much time reading and not enough time playing with him – hunting each other with Nerf guns outside Son-on-Scooter versus Dad-on-Foot dodge-the-scooter driveway game; backyard target shooting with the Tippman 98 (ours has been modified for killing grackles); building with Lego blocks, etc.  So, late yesterday afternoon when my son was too worn out from a day playing soccer and running around outside with friends while watching other teams’ games, I got another Mojang account so he and I could multi-play Minecraft on our LAN.  THAT was pretty time-consuming.

Next week, I’m scheduled to preach at our congregation’s worship meeting.  I don’t think I’m very good at that kind of speaking.

I think part of what’s getting in the way of my preferred leisure activities is that I know I’ve got two or three responsibilities I’ve got to carry out and have been procrastinating about getting them done.  That’s weighing on me and obstructing the clarity of purpose and function that equals motivation I seem to’ve been lacking recently.  To the good, I haven’t been binge-watching series on Netflix.

That’s all for today.

 

Solar Eclipse Phots 8-21-2017

Pre-Eclipse Bike Ride Sky

A week ago Monday, I went for a bike ride at lunch hoping to notice some odd lighting changes related to the scheduled “Once In A Lifetime” solar eclipse.  I do recall seeing some kind of solar eclipse when I was in elementary school in Southern California – we made a viewing device out of cardboard that had a reflecting surface upon which to safely see the eclipse.  I think I had trouble making mine; recall seeing something and looking at the sky; my eyes kept working so I guess I didn’t take a long look at the eclipse.  I took my ancient Pentax Optio WP kayaking camera with me to work and snapped a few pictures during the day.  But on my ride, I noticed nothing out of the norm – too early by at least an hour.

None of my afternoon appointments presented, so I was able to snap a few pictures during the eclipse later.  One of my co-workers gave me her extra pair of bona fide cardboard and plastic solar eclipse glasses.  I was able to see the event pretty clearly, snapped a few phots with the Pentax with poor results, then someone suggested holding one of the eclipse viewer lenses over the camera lens.  That produced better results.

Crescent Sun

At full eclipse, I took a couple of pictures without the special viewing lens.

Full Eclipse

Full Eclipse 2

Probably the oddest phenomenon I observed during the eclipse, though, besides the early afternoon darkness, was the crescent shadow effect.  Behold the effect of the crescent shadow-inator:

Crescent Shadows

Life

isn’t color-coded.  Those who imagine that the value of human lives or whether human lives matter depends on skin color are: racists; have well-below average cognitive horsepower; make their living by ensuring large numbers of human beings see themselves as primarily their skin color.

color_wheel

Do black lives matter?  Not any more than the lives of members of any other race.  And the extent to which human lives matter is best determined by other human beings on an individual basis.

In the world of work as in the larger society, I tend to value human lives according a rule of three.  I ask whether the individual with whom I have contact is:

  1. A person of goodwill;
  2. Oriented to reality;
  3. Competent or moving toward competence.

Obviously a man or woman can be a person of goodwill and still not be oriented to reality or competent.  A human being can be oriented to reality and be a person of ill-will and an incompetent.  A competent person is usually a person oriented to reality, but that person may lack the quality of goodwill.  An individual who meets all three of my criteria, or Christov10’s Big Three, is not often found in media, in politics, in government middle management positions, or really occupying positions prestige in most realms of human endeavor.

I’m reminded again of C.S. Lewis’ address, The Inner Ring.  I’ve either linked to it previously or mentioned it in this space.  I first ran across when working for a largely unknown and strictly small-time (by the standards of modern bureaucracy) state government agency.  It was while so employed that I also developed my Rule of Three, which appears as a numbered list, above.  No imagination should be required to understand why it was that I turned my mind to matters of this sort during that period of my life.  By the way, it was at that time that I first read Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.

Keep your speech free, people of the left, the right, and center.  Resist anyone who tries to silence you and to diminish your ability to think for yourself and experience your own circumstances according to your own perspective and within your own values.  None of that is infallible, but to what extent a genuine manifestation of your real self, to that extent meaningful and of value.

Dos centavos, people, dos centavos.