Sunday, February 22, 2015

I do not need reminded as much

I lived in the Northern part of the US a large part of my life and suffered as did everyone else in that same boat as I.  I do not need reminded how lousy the weather can be--this last week for example.  But Mother Nature laid it on real thick this week with a reminder that I can go back to the days of wet feet, cold hands, blowing ice water, fog and general mayhem that will cause cabin fever and generally dark behavior.  Linda had the best solution--next year we will be on an island--away  from this mess.  Smart woman!!

I was in Mexico again this last week.  High elevation and clear warm weather with the pollution in relative good order for a change.  It is the dry season there, no real rain has fallen since September, so there is a lot of dust in the air. My sinuses were fine, just a general deposit of concrete in my noise.   I was very busy with a project that we finally finished and had little time to do anything but work and eat.   We ate a lot of local food, because that is all that exists in the area NE of Mexico City called Ciudad Sahagun.   This week I had a couple of new dishes that I had somehow missed on my last 3 trips to this area.  We had something that you put in a soft tortilla, they were large ant eggs with cilantro.  Put on some red or green sauce and it was food.  I prefer the green chili sauce.    On the day we left, we stopped at the roadside BBQ for breakfast and had some bean soup, BBQ lamb and stomach.   Put on some red sauce and off you go.  By the way, the red sauce here would melt your face...  and the next day melt the other end.  I stayed away from that.  A 3 hour plane ride with an upset tummy would be really, really bad timing.

Winter time travel is a crap shoot, I had said that for years and it is the best way to describe getting from Point A to Point B when snow or ice can cause delays.  For example on this trip, three people were in my group from the US and we landed in Atlanta and then had one more hop to our home airports.  I managed to get home on schedule.  One got to the airport and had to hole up until the ice melted so he could get home on Saturday, the other missed his flight to Lexington and changed to Louisville and rented a car to finish the trip.  They crapped out and I managed to hang on a little longer and make my home airport. 

Now for the details:  The plane left Mexico City late--it is Delta and expected-  and thus we arrived in Atlanta and did not have a gate.  Lost some time there.  I had 90 minutes ( in the perfect world)  between flights to clear customs and get to my connection to Nashville.   I am watching my watch, like that helps anything, while I am in the line in customs.  I think a 747 had landed just ahead of us and it was jammed.  We slowly made our way to the customs agent and had some more delays as people had "lost" their passports and that really halted the process ahead of us.  How do you loose the more important thing in your life at the time??  Are you that dumb?? Answer-yes.   Finally cleared customs, got my bag, went thru another check and left my bag at the baggage check in the International entry area. I go thru the security screen and round up all the gear and I don't even tie my shoes at this point.  My flight leaves in 20 minutes at that point. I check the board for a gate, it is not on the board any more and I am not sure of the gate.  What?? My Delta app on my phone has a gate number for me.    I head for the train with a small glimpse of hope.   I am in Concourse E and my flight leaves from Concourse A, gate 34.  Do I actually try to make it or just go get some dinner and make the next flight??  Well it is winter and you do not know what is in store. You gotta try. I could spend the night is friendly old Atlanta.

Just for your information, all connecting flights that I manage to get are at the LAST GATE in the concourse when I am really strapped for time.  I refuse to run in airports, I walk fast, but I will not run to get a damn plane.  I hustle to the  gate, it is way down there, and by the time I get close and can see the door is still open with the agent out in the hall looking around and trying to find stragglers--me.  I get in the plane door, sit down and in 3 minutes the door was closed and we were off to Nashville. Whew!   By the way, I was really thirsty and needed to pee, I did not have time for either in the last hour in the customs or airport.  Just regular old winter time travel activity.

I had been in nice weather all week and when I landed in Nashville. I pulled out two long sleeve pieces of clothing while on the plane and put them on.  Got my bag and pulled out gloves and a hat and hit the cold air.  I was stunned that we even came to Nashville, Southwest had shut down and it was snowing pretty good and the run way was  slippery.  I had missed an entire week of ice and snow, so they cooked up some fresh when I got back-  I appreciate the honor, but I could pass. 

I got my truck, which is a 4x4, at the offsite lot and they had done a decent job of deicing it and immediately got gasoline and finished the window cleaning.  It had sit out in all bad stuff and was iced badly.   I was heading down the ramp to I 40, which was slushy, and the car ahead was going 5 MPH.  Not 7 or 9, Five!! You cannot go onto the Interstate at 5 MPH, it is sure death.  I just passed on the berm, you can die, not me.  I looked in the mirror as they were still going 5 as I went out of sight, it was nuts.  By the way cars were tailgating them down the ramp.   Comedy at every turn here.  The interstate was drivable, run 45 and stay off the brakes, use your gas feed and stay off the brakes, repeat stay off the brakes.  You drive in the winter with your accelerator and gears.   My truck has the electric shift, so I put it in 5 so I could lug it along about 1500 RPM and we cruised home.  I used the brakes at one stoplight, I just ran everything else when it was clear.  I kinda weaved thru the lanes to maintain my clearance and momentum and made it just fine from the airport. 

Now for my real problem with idiots driving in the winter.  You do not need to run your flashers as you go down the Interstate, I can see you just fine.  Driving on ice and snow is all about being smooth and controlled-relaxed.  I do not need you making me nervous or anxious with your flashers, turn them off and drive your car.  Running you flashers makes it no safer or better for anyone.  I think if you need flashers, you need a cab or a hotel room.   I DON'T WANT TO BE ON THE ROAD WITH YOU!   Stay off the brakes too.  Hint, if you hit the brakes on a FWD car and think you can turn or slow down, call your insurance company now.  That is not what happens.

Yesterday I tried to find some salt and sand to get the ice sheet broken up a little.  I found some sand and we bought a lot of table salt to get the melting started.  But if you have a water softener and need salt, you may to drive to Houston to get some.  The town was out of rock salt, period.   The crap is breaking up, but the gloom looks like it will stay.  Linda wants me to get my happy light out and she is right, I need some help this weekend.   I am going to add some flashers to my couch just to let everyone know that the weather is bad and I am felling it.  Share the pain a little.

Any planes headed to Miami this week??

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sunny Day

What a beautiful day in middle Tennessee.  The sun was out all day and Linda and I took advantage of the rays.    In the mid morning I cut down some more trash trees and reduced them to either firewood size or brush pile size with the chainsaw.  Great work out with the saw if you can look at it in that manner, sometimes it is just work, but it felt good to enjoy the sun today.   The crocus are still out and now the daffodils are just on the edge of bursting open.   So Spring must be close.........

We headed to the gym in the afternoon and she swam and I did some running,  but I had little gas in the tank.  I was dehydrated from the saw work, so I really worked on the stretching and ran some slower events on the treadmill.   I was in Mexico this week at 8000 feet elevation with quite a bit of air pollution and that really drags me down.   We were working just NE of Mexico City in the volcanic high lands.  There is a very large active volcano this about 40 miles from where we were working that was completely snow covered with some steam rolling out--the one clear day--it was quite a sight.    After the gym we took a nice walk to soak up some more sun and check out the new park up the street.  I love these days--maximizing the time outside.

I have been fooling around with a garden this winter and we picked some Kale that come on after the cold snap.  I was wonderful in the salad we had with our fresh salmon.  Yummy stuff.   Linda and I had been discussing bread making for a long time and finally today, she gave it the first shot.  She had a little goof early but recovered nicely to work up enough dough for a pan of rolls and a loaf.  The recipe uses a lot of fiber and that was the idea, get more fiber into the old guy. I have to get fiber or there is trouble, and not the kind I really care to deal with.  

The section of Mexico I was in last week- Hidalgo State--is a very industrial area with a very large working class population.  The working class in Mexico makes about 1/10 of what an industrial worker makes in the US, but most of the expenses are similar.  Cars, fuel ($ 4 US/gallon), clothes, hotels, etc is similar to what I would pay. 90% of the cars were 30 years old or more, this stuff will not die, amazing how long a clunker can go.   Food is quite inexpensive and it is all local, in a town of 25,000 I did not see one chain of any sort.  One McDonalds near the airport, that was it for chains.  The airport had some chains, but they did charge would it would cost to eat in any US airport.  

The locals eat very simple meals of fruit, some veggies, meat ( their chicken is the best of their meat) peppers, beans and something with real sugar. Then a choice of green or red sauce.   The green chili or red chili is like our salt and pepper-which is absent--and served at all meals.  I have to plant some green chili peppers this year, when pureed, they are tasty without burning your mouth off.  The red chili pepper sauce, just kicks your ass when you eat it-literally.  They use very little processed food --high fructose corn syrup was scarce-- and little is processed until it is time to prepare for service.  The variety of food was limited, but I think the summer would present much different food options. 

Breakfast at our hotel was interesting.  The breakfast meat was ham--which was sliced lunch meat.  No bacon, sausage, biscuits or cereal to be found.  Eggs were available.   I like to have my roughage for breakfast, raisin bran is my favorite, and that cereal was not to  be found.   I will take some next trip.  The breads were delicious, but all processed white flour.   Their menu's had a total lack of fiber available in the forms that I typically consume. No whole wheat anything, which I use a lot.   OK,OK, I might be whining some,  but that is a big change for me.   How you get past that fiber problem is to eat enough hot stuff--green or red sauce-- which will keep you lower GI healthy by that method of expulsion.    I worked for 4 days, but I think a couple weeks would be a strain on my system. 

I would struggle to survive in Mexico.   Simple concrete houses, very little heating if any, no yard to garden, stinky open water, rough roads with corrupt cops. Bad air, really bad air.   Not for me, I will stay in the US and fight my battle here.  And more importantly, a sun you can see and feel on the days the clouds allow, that is a big deal that makes it worthwhile.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Last Day for Football

Super Bowl XLIX is today and the NFL comes to a close with a lot of thuds today.  I think this will be a 'body bag' game, because these guys can tackle and hit pretty good.   Once this event is over, I always start hoping for Spring to start, something with success, sometimes not.  Come on Phil, make it Spring.

In central Tennessee we have some crocus up and shining their lovely violets and yellow colors.  Some of daffodils are pushing their luck and could bloom in a week or so if it stays warm.  I planted some yellow onions yesterday to see if they make it.  I have been gardening all winter and will continue to push that envelop.   I also cut out some ugly trees yesterday that have been damaged in storms and were never going to recover.  The 20 inch bar solved their dilemma real quick.  I am ready for Spring.  Come on Phil,  I am routing for you. 

Last weekend, I think I was at my darkest in terms of light induced depression.   I was struggling and Linda was commenting that she could see it coming and I needed to work through it pretty quickly.  I had a very tough work week and was not getting the results that I expected and that with the lack of clear weather was starting to take it toll.  If I were going to take a trip to break up the winter, last week would have been the week. 
I have been working on the treadmill to increase my fitness and even those work outs were not very encouraging.  But, this week, with the days  actually getting longer, I have able to get outside and get some light on my body and things are picking up.  It is amazing how the mood can be effected by the environment. 
It about a week ago, that the weather cleared up nicely and I ran on the Raptor track next door.  I had a very good workout and tested my fitness and speed.  My speed is good and as usual the fitness need to get better.   So, I continue to work on the fitness.    I was trying to race indoors in February, but a work schedule change has really effected my opportunity to race.  I have two trips to Mexico booked and training is not really an option.  We stay at 8000 feet elevation and the pollution is pretty bad. It takes me a couple for days to get over the altitude sickness- I have headache the first two days and do not feel like doing anything to make me breath harder. As you get older, the arteries do harden and the blood flow is effected enough that the altitude change is significant over 5000 feet.   Hopefully, I can find a way to make it happen.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Chise has Risen

If anyone has every listened to the Jim Rome radio show, you know what "The Chise" is all about.  Those people can skip the rest of the paragraph.  The Chise is the most important player on your team or league, the one that gets it done regardless.  Scores the big goal, scares the competition, you know the drill. 

Well, "The Chise" that lives in this house--Linda--finally got some recognition from her company.  Even though she only worked 10 months last year, the knee recovery eliminated January and February, she was the top Lab Specialists in the US.  Not in the top group, the top, the pinnacle, numero uno.... The LS's are measured on the amount of new start ups and the amount of money that those new installations earn, pretty simple math.  Worked 10 months and took the money!!  That is pretty cool.   She would of had it last year too, but the knee work eliminated 2 1/2 months from her year.  The award winners get a 5 day--all expense paid trip-- to Cabo  in  Mexico in June.  The resort is on the Southern trip of Baja.   Your spouse goes as well.  I will do what I can to support The Chise.    Plus I get to brag that I know The Chise and she likes me.

Congrats to The Chise, you earned this award.

I did some treadmill work this week, some was good and some was a little scary.  I was staying at a hotel this week with some junk treadmills.  One did not work and the other was a little difficult.   I was going to do my normal fitness routine of a couple 4 minute 800 meter runs.  I got warmed up and started to run and had nothing.  Out of breath in 30 seconds and I really struggled.  I thought it was humidity and the fact I ran the day before.  The next day, same deal. WTH??  I had a really strong suspicion that the deck was not level.  Since, I am an engineer, we carry weird tools and I have a compact digital level in my luggage.    I checked the deck and it 2.5 degrees off level!!!!  That does not sound like much, but it is a lot.   Any deviation from 0 is a problem.   Finally a reason for the difficulty.  So, I slowed my pace and got a work out.  Next trip I will use a different hotel.  Fixed that problem.

It was warm enough to run outside yesterday, but too windy.  Hopefully,  I can get some outdoor running soon.  I had to waste the sunshine we had yesterday.  I did some yard work to make sure I got some sunshine on my body. Felt great.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Ramping Up

It is winter.  I need not tell almost anyone in the US, but it is cold, frozen, windy and for anyone North of the Ohio River-white.    Even us fair folk her in Tennessee have been tolerating the cold.  I have had long johns for days, whether I am outside or sitting on the couch.  But, and this is a giant but, the sun does come out during the day and helps wash a lot of the depression off my body.  The sun has been a real blessing and has made the cold sustainable, but I am impatient to say the least.   Sprinter like the warmer weather.

Phase I of the kitchen remodel is basically completed.  The result looks pretty good.   Now we need to find the money to do Phase II, which will require a new stove (and we really like one of the pricey ones) and a dishwasher and a lot of cabinets.   I will not be getting any bonus this year, so Phase II may be put out a little longer than we would like.   But, it will happen...

We are pretty happy with what we have created thus far.  Not bad for a kitchen that is 135 years old..

I have been working from home this week and have gotten to the gym on a regular basis.  I have been running every other day on the treadmill or track (145 meter) and also doing some leg work in the weight room.   My fitness is coming around, I am at the same place I was last year in February, 2014 and the body weight is the same as well.  My weight cycles up and down with the seasons and the Holidays usually pack it on me. I will continue to work on the fitness as February approaches.  I still have my sights set on the indoor meets in Kentucky.  I joined the USATF today, which will allow me to compete  at the Masters level in various meets and this meet as well. 

It is also time for football teams to show their stuff.  I am  Buckeyes fan from way back  and hope they can pull it off.    I used to time my farm work around their games on Saturday afternoon while in college.  I worked on a farm that had dairy cows and pigs and I would clean the pig floors during the games so I could listen on the tractor AM radio. This 'cleaning' was a nice scoup shovel and you would deposit it in the spreader, repeat.   Life was sweet when you can do that while standing in 3 inches of pig poop.     Shoveling shit for the Buckeyes, I guess.   

The NFL is getting serious and we will be keeping an eye the action, our Steelers are out.  I got my money now on The Evil Empire (Ravens) and Seattle for the finale.

The sun is shining on my desk again, I need to get some rays.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tennessee Winter Gardening

This winter season  I attempted to keep some veggies going through the cold season  to see what happened.   During the summer, the carrots were not what you would call-nice.   They seemed to be stubby and malformed little creatures more suited for the movies, than the dinner table.   I also did not have much luck with spinach, it would really not respond, even though I did make sure plenty of water was available.  

This fall I tilled the garden up and mounded up some rows and planted several rows of carrots, some spinach and kale.  Kale has a horrible reputation for flavor, but it has many claims of a hardy winter plant- why not give it a shot.   Let's fast forward to November, where it was bitter cold here in the Nashville area,  and everything lived through that cold snap.  I have been picking some kale and spinach for salads and an occasional omelet in November and December.   

Today the weather was warm and I did some tree work around the yard, although it was quite muddy.  I checked the spinach and kale and thought I would pick some before we get the single digit temps predicted this week and possible burn the leaves.  I also checked some of my carrots that I planted in late September and they were perfect.   No more of the stunted malformed crap.  Long slender beauty queens of the Earth to be adored.  Wow, you can garden all winter in Tennessee.  It is January 3, 2015 and I am picking veggies!!  We have plenty of carrots coming along and we should be able to get a salad a week from the garden.
Just for the record, the kale is incredibly delicious.   It is good raw in salads or in soups as well.  Linda included it in a chicken based soup and it was really good, great texture and flavor.  Winter garden is  muddier, it is never really dry, but you have no pest problems and the weeds are all in Florida.  I think I am going to like it more each winter.

I have been getting more active and doing some indoor running.  I am seriously thinking about some indoor competition in Kentucky in February.  That would be something new to me and many of  the 'life' experts are always preaching the  mantra to try something new, regardless of your age.  Maybe this can shut them up for a while.

By the way, Happy 2015 and go Buckeyes and Go Steelers!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 winding down in a hurry

Ten more days and it is 2015.  If you have any 2014 goals to finish, you better hustle it up and finish. Linda and and I are basically done with work this year.  I have a monthly report and expenses to file next week and the year is done for me. Overall, 2014 was an OK year at work, no big projects or successes, just a lot of little things that kept me going.  The kitchen project is winding down, but I need to get some plumbing done to get it finished.

Linda and I will be visiting family for the Holidays, so it will not be that restful, but we will get to see everyone and catch up on the latest.    We also have tickets to the Music City bowl which is December 30.  We could not resist getting tickets to the game, two predominantly Catholic communities coming to Nashville for a mid week afternoon game.  There will be beer flowing and foaming up and down Broadway.  It should be a real spectacle, and we will be in the middle.   The Steelers are fighting to get into the playoffs and we are screaming at the TV for them.

I got an email this week from the folks at the Kentucky Senior Olympics and there is a series of indoor meets in Maysville, KY this year.  In late January and the entire month of February there is a meet each weekend.  I have never raced indoors and I would like to give it a shot.  You are never too old to try something new!  The track is 133 meters and the 400 is one lap in lanes and then merge for the last two.   That sounds pretty interesting.   Should be some interesting strategies and also plenty of contact.

Last week I did get to the gym and did some heavy leg work and was sore about a week. If I decide to get serious about running indoors, I will get started on the cardio work asap.   Our gym has a similar sized track as the one in Maysville, so I may start working on some speed work on it, although the door opening is in a spot I could run over someone and kill them.  A lot of people just walk in and don't thinks about some fat old man bearing down on them from their blind side.

Happy Holidays to all!!