26 August 2010

chest work

Wednesday seems to be the lightest workout day of the week. Squats and deadlifts are "heavy" lifts, so those take a lot of systemic work. My main exercises on Wed are currently bench press and bent-over rows. I can't move big weights on anything, but while I work those exercises to what I think is hard, they don't wear me out beyond simple muscle fatigue.

Not much else is going on. Been doing a few things around the house in the weekend, like a fresh coat of paint on the chicken coop and things like that. Too many crochet projects in the works, when combined with teaching a crochet project next month. I'm practically a beginner, but I apparently have more experience of the regulars in the lunchtime knitting group at work.

Our daughter starts school next week, so there's a school orientation tomorrow that I'm attending wit her.

22 August 2010


Yesterday morning I looked at my latest lifting stats and backward to see what progress has occurred. Lately I've been thinking that I've been working hard and making progress, but the numbers show that my long-term amounts have continued as they were: small increases. Argh.

I've been working on a crocheted shawl for my wife since May. I didn't like working with the yarn in the body of it. Now that I've been working on the "Fun Fur" trim for a few weeks, I dislike this yarn more. I changed hooked this morning from an aluminum K to a Clover soft touch J and it's flowing better. Maybe there's hope to get this thing done.


I'm been thinking about getting a new squat rack. The main reason I haven't is the cost. The minor reason I haven't is that I have to get rid of the old one, which means selling it or cutting it up into pieces that can go out in the trash. The second option is not so much an option as a last resort.

After reading these stories about people getting robbed or murdered when someone shows up at their houses to supposedly look at items they've listed for sale online, I wonder about our safety related to using an online listing. A used squat rack is not an expensive item and we don't have anything that I would consider theft worthy, so it's unlikely that someone would see that as an entry toward robbing us. It's sad that the world has come to the point where it happens frequently enough that it's a concern.

20 August 2010


My father sent an email to my two sisters and me with a question. I replied to all directly to the point of the question, knowing that it could potentially hurt him. I then received an email from my brother in law filled with insults and hate, but in his pompous manner. He has spewed this way to me before, with no consideration of my point of view. I think the bottom line of his response was that I am emotionally simple minded, but would have to spend more time with a dictionary to be sure. I tend to think logically about things, but usually understand the emotional side as well.

After that, I sent another email to just my father explaining that I knew my answer had the potential to hurt, but didn't get into the BIL's "comments". He replied that it didn't and he clarified his question a bit. I understand his question better, but don't understand the BIL's response, when my answer did not hurt my father.

Summarizing the background and subject of the emails, my father believes that my mother effectively committed suicide when she did something that hurt him emotionally about ten years ago. The symptoms of her degenerative illness didn't show up until about seven years later and the consequences of the illness killed her three years after that. He sees that her action back then was unforgivable and she was punished for it.

I think that's delusional.

13 August 2010

wood carving

After posting that picture of a wooden Cloud Gate, a blob, I thought I should post a couple pictures of other carvings.

A dolphin on a stand.

A turtle over a rock. The rock is painted wood.

Santa ornament. I have a made few of these and liked this project.

10 August 2010


Over the weekend I read a little in Brooks Kubik's "Dinosaur Training". It's a book I've read before, but wanted to remind myself of some of his training principles. He likes to use all caps and one element he points out is the need to do "HARD WORK" and to do this rep, then work on the next one.

I've been working on strength training for 1.5years and have little to show for it in terms of strength gains. Based on this book, he would attribute this to lack of "HARD WORK" on my part. Yesterday evening was a workout with squats. I need to remember things like those points when I go into these workouts.

I have a few other of his books too. "Gray Hair and Black Iron" is for older lifters, over 40. While I'm over 40, I'm not much of a "serious lifter" or "garage gorilla", who are the audience of the book, so I debated getting that book, but bought and read it anyway. I'm a beginner, so should be working on training for strength, like in "Dinosaur Training". I have yet to see gains from his training methods and now he has a new one, "Strength, Muscle, and Power", which is more of the dinosaur-type training. Hmmm.

The other books are his fiction, "Legacy of Iron" series. It's a story of the "old time" lifters from 1940 into the war. The first volume had a lot of lifting competition stats from that period. Yawn. I don't care about the current lifter's stats. The story of the lifters is interesting and the second volume was better. He has published the third volume recently. Another, hmmm.

09 August 2010


I had an email from my father over the weekend. He was letting us kids know that one of his brothers died over night. That was a surprise. One because he never sends email and two because that was very sudden. About two weeks ago I was talking with him there after not having any communication with him or his wife in many years. He talked to me before the service and we talked some at the house afterward.

The family memorial service at the house was in the back yard at my mother's labyrinth garden, where my father spread her ashes. Nearby was their vegetable garden. This uncle was working with one of my aunts to get some dill from the garden for her to take, but they were having issues coordinating the logistics of his cutting it and getting the box of it to her. It was kind of amusing. I hardly knew him, but I guess that's the episode I'll remember about him.

My father is the oldest of that generation and another of their brothers died last year. Makes me think about the limited time of our lives.

08 August 2010

she's home

She's back from camp. She's dirty, well, was before a shower. Everything was dirty. The laundry is in progress. She was planning to go with another girl as her buddy, but the girl decided at the last minute not to go, so our daughter was an odd one out. Not sure why the counselors didn't pair her up with some other chick, but it's done.

Happy to be home and vice versa.


I worked on a few crochet projects yesterday. Finished one.

When I started to crochet in Dec and joined Ravelry soon after that (a local yarn shop suggested it), I wondered what items I would make. For a few years I did wood carving, but the craft takes concentration and focused effort because the work is done with very sharp tools. Not something to do while doing some other task, like watching a movie. The other side is that the finished objects are just that: objects that sit around on a shelf. Toys are the exception to that, but our daughter didn't have much interest in wooden toys. Another aspect is detail. I preferred the stylistic approach, focused on the form over realism, like duck carving.

In 2006, did a version of the Cloud Gate, which is a monumental-scale stainless sculpture in Chicago.

There are a lot of crochet patterns for women and women have a much broader palette of fashion accessories and decorative items ("a woman's touch" in a house) to draw from. There are lots of things I could make for my wife and our daughter, but not much for me. On Ravelry, I have listed a bunch of different projects I have completed that were mostly for a couple rounds of swaps (a scarf and another of kitchen and bath items). Interesting variety in that set of projects, I suppose. I seem to keep finding something to do, but aside for a hat or two and scarf, the things have been for other people and simple. I have done one afghan. It was simple too, just big, so it took a long time.

A swap came up recently that I debated joining, but finally did. The project I finished was a practice item for that. It's a jock. I don't wear them and I'm not interested in seeing other guys wearing them, but it was a guy's project, so I joined in anyway. I've never made a fitted garment before, so I figured that would be good practice for me too. Hats are pretty simple to make and, aside from being too small or too big, the sizing is not complicated. Getting the pouch to conform to the body, getting the pieces sized, and putting the elastic into the waistband was new. Now that I have some idea of how to do this, I have to make one for some other guy, my swap partner. I don't need to see him in it when he gets it, but would like to know if it fits, but I suppose potential changes don't matter because I doubt I would ever do this project again.


The wife and went for a bicycle ride yesterday. I think it's been about a year, but it was a good afternoon for it. The day was sunny, though otherwise cool. There was a nice breeze and not much traffic on the side streets we followed, so we had a good ride. We stopped at the fabric store for a skein of green yarn to complete the collection for the multi-colored afghan, though I don't know how much yarn of each color that will take, I now have some of each color at least.

Anyway, for the weight lifting I do, my level of muscle strength doesn't carry over into biking. I thighs started burning after only a few miles. Sad. Out of shape. My breathing was fine, so maybe my cardiovascular work is okay, but just had muscle burning.

The kid comes home this afternoon. The kids were bussed to the camp from another city, so we have to go there to pick her up again. I wrote about the note she sent. She sent another one since then. The second was mostly focused on how much she missed us and wanted to come home, NOW, and never wants to do a sleep-away camp again.

06 August 2010


I receive weekly notices of job postings from Careerbuilder. I followed one link this morning and started filling out the online application. When I made it to the provide three references box, I realized I just wasted my time. Until a company has expressed some interest in hiring a person, they have no reason to ask for that level of information. I'm not going to put people on notice that someone from a company might be contacting them unless the company is serious.

Not much else going on. The kid is still at camp. We received a note in the mail from her. I was looking forward to it, but it was short. She didn't write too much about her experience, just a couple things they did, that it's fun, and she misses us. The "it's fun" part was good to know. Given how she hates to read and write, the lack of other content shouldn't have surprised me.

The shawl project in progress is stalled because I'm waiting for additional trim yarn in the mail. I may not finish it in time for the wife's birthday and haven't bought her anything else for the event. Bad husband. We have different ways of thinking about spending. I look at the amount of money I spent to visit with relatives and attend my mother's memorial and think that now I need to hold off on getting the squat rack I have been wanting to get. My wife thinks the trip was a necessary expense and I should still get the rack, so she probably thinks I should get her something nice for her bday TOO.

03 August 2010

the chickens

We've had chickens in a backyard coop for about three years now. They each generally lay an (unfertilized) egg every other day.

One of our first two chickens is this golden-sex link, which is a red with buff accents and on her hackles (neck) and the tips of her tail and primary wing feathers.

Our other chicken was this red-sex link, which is a red with black tips on her tail and primary wing feathers. Here she is in the oat patch that I planted for them. They reach up and strip the oats off the stems. She died in May of congestive heart failure.

The term "sex link" comes from the attribute of these hybrids to have sex-linked coloring. The hens have the colors shown here and the roosters have different colors.

This is our new pullet, who is currently about ten-weeks old. Up to eight weeks, she was a chick. She won't lay until she's about twenty-weeks old and won't be considered a hen until she's one-year old. She is a gold-laced Wyandotte. She doesn't have her wattles yet (under her chin) but is starting to grow her comb. Wyandottes have a rose comb, which is compact with a point toward the back of their heads. The sex-links have a simple comb.

The gold-sex link is still mad about having to share space in the yard with her, and doesn't want her in the coop at all. She is getting better. They each like each other's food. The pullet is still eating "chick starter", which are crumbles, and the hen gets layer food, which are pellets fortified with calcium.

no kid

With our daughter off at a sleep-away camp for the week, my wife and I have the house to ourselves. After the first day, we have found that things are not that different. We had a few errands to do yesterday evening and have to mess with the chickens, so by the time we were settled at home, there wasn't that much free time. We sat in the living room and talked while she read and sorted her mail and I did some crochet work on her shawl and soon it was bedtime.

The young chicken and the adult chicken don't get along yet, so have to be kept separate and supervised when out in the yard. The separate care has been annoying for some time and we are quite ready to move them into the coop together, but the big chicken insists on pecking (establishing pecking order).

I tried to read some of "Antony and Cleopatra", but couldn't concentrate when I wanted to go to sleep instead.

My workout in the afternoon was a squat day. I increased the weight to 200lb and tried to get to parallel on the reps, but didn't. I'm doing twelve-rep sets to keep the weight lighter, because I know I haven't difficulty sinking with heavier weights, so opted for more reps and lighter weight to encourage more depth. Going below parallel is not in the cards with my bad knee.

02 August 2010


The weekend flew by. I spent too much of it going through the pictures from the vacation, which (now) started almost a month ago. Too much time at the computer on the weekend, when I spend all workweek in front of one. I think the highlights are posted here. I didn't post any of the stuff from after I went back home, when the girls went off east to Montana.

Other than that, it was housecleaning, pet maintenance, and errands.

One of the errands was to get pet supplies for the chickens. At the store there was a guy buying a 50-lb bag of chicken layer food and another of chicken scratch. That store is the only one around that sells the stuff. We started talking with him about chickens, because he obviously had them. He showed us a picture of his and I described ours. He wasn't sure what breeds he had. Afterward I thought that I should have asked him for his email address to talk more chicken.

Back home, I asked the kid, again, what she wanted to do together before she left for the week. The night before she was crying because she was leaving and we didn't do anything together during the day (on Sat), so we said we would do whatever she wanted the next day (Sun). She just sat around and later played on the computer. My wife had to push her to get her packing finished, but she wasn't interested in doing something until late in the day. That thing became a game of Risk, capital style. In those rules, each player picks one of their territories to be their capital, headquarters, and the other players try to capture the other headquarters. It's quicker than the regular Risk, which can take hours.

At bedtime she was teary and didn't want to sleep alone, so I took her bed. This morning she was crying about her imminent departure. We tried to console her that she's going to be busy doing things with the other girls at camp and she should write to us in the evening if she misses us. It didn't work very well. She can receive and post letters, but no mobiles, MP3 players, etc. We will see how it goes. We have already sent a card to her, plan to send a couple more in the coming days, and my wife wrote a few cards that apparently will go to the "counselors" and they can dole them out on specified days.

I spent some time doing some crochet work too. I've been working on this shawl for the wife for months, kind of off and on. The body is done and I've started on the trim. She wanted Fun Fur around it. The pattern is a hybrid of a poncho and a shawl, mostly a shawl, done with bulky yarn and the trim idea from the poncho. The poncho pattern says 69yards for the Fun Fur, so I bought two skeins of it, which were 60yards each. Plenty, right? The perimeter of the shawl is a little more than the poncho, but I'm on the second skein and haven't even gone around once. The poncho pattern shows that in the first round the trim has five stitches in each space of the shawl stitches. In the second round, there should be five stitches for the bottom (outer square) and three stitches around the neck hole. A triangular shawl has an edge around the top/neck and a two-sided edge around the back. By my estimate, it's going to take over two for the first round. Because of the three or five stitches in EACH of the (posts of the) first-round stitches, that's 3-5 times MORE yarn than the first round. How did the designer of the poncho come up with 69yards total? Ugh. I ordered some more. Many more, well, six, for a total of eight or 480 yards, which still may not be enough. I'm planning on four stitches per stitch/post in the second round.

vacation: Craigdarroch Castle

I forgot to post the part about the Craigdarroch Castle. After we went to Bouchart Gardens, the bus bought us back to Victoria and we started walking toward the castle. It turned out that the blocks were bigger than we thought, and gave up on that idea in favor of riding a bus. At a bus stop we found out how much the bus costs and that the buses only take Canadian money. We walked a little farther, looking for a money exchange business or bank, but soon sat down on some steps to look over the map and think about how to proceed. At that point, a man on a bike came by and asked us if we needed any help. After we explained the situation, he said that he had a shop just down the street and he would give us Canadian change. The Canadians we encountered were all very nice, unlike the Americans.

Once we had Canadian money in hand, it was a simple thing to catch the bus and ride to ... next stop after the castle, backtrack a block, and walk the last block on the side street up to the castle. The castle used to be a grand house on a hill at the center of its estate, but now entrance gate (reconstructed) is the entry to a neighborhood, the estate has been carved up into lots, and the castle is the big house on the hill, surrounded by a number of other, smaller, houses.

Craigdarroch Castle took three years to build, has four stories, and was finished 1890. The man who had it built was Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. He died before it was finished and his two sons had it finished. Dunsmuir's wife lived there with their family after his death.

Many of the rooms have stained glass windows.

01 August 2010

colorful afghan

Yesterday my wife and I went shopping for yarn for the afghan my mother started. At bedtime I looked over the pattern and figured out how it was supposed to look and saw that there are supposed to be four colors involved, so I have to go back to the yarn store for another. I'm terrible at choosing colors, but our daughter suggested a green.

This morning I took a picture of the different yarns we bought already, made a copy of the blue one and changed it to green and made a draft layout, of course the stitch pattern won't look like these skein pictures, but the color layout would be like this, going by the pattern. Not colors I would choose for a blanket for me. I like dark blue and green, not purple and lavender.

vacation: Whistler, British Columbia

We had determined that Whistler was the farthest we wanted to go into British Columbia. There's not much beyond it. Whistler is a ski resort "community" in the winter and a lift-assisted mountain-biking resort in the summer. There is also hiking and other activities too. The zipline company operates year around. We did the ziplines. The zipline suspension walkways were similar to the Capilano ones, so turns out we could have skipped that stop.

At one overlook, we could see clearly out to the mountains surrounding the Whistler valley.

Our daughter coming down, backwards at the end. We had little ability to control the direction we pointed, so had a slow spin. The top cable is the suspension cable (tight) and the lower one is the brake cable. On the longest run, she was too light to go by herself and had to go tandem with one of the guides.

Wife in the distance.

Me looking over my shoulder. When we hit the brake area, there was a jerk every time because we were going so fast. Everyone wondered how we would stop in time, but they stop quickly.

vacation: Capilano Suspension Bridge

After Victoria, we drove up to North Vancouver to visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the suspended walkways and boardwalks there. The bridge is quite wobbly. This view is actually from the far side looking back at the entrance plaza.

The bridge passes over a stream.

Once on the far side, there is a network of suspended walkways, boardwalks, and ground paths that take one on a tour of the forest.

vacation: Butchart Gardens

The day after driving up to Hurricane Ridge, we took the ferry over to Victoria and caught a tour bus to the Butchart Gardens.

The estate used to be a cement factory, so the grounds include an old quarry. When the work in the quarry was done, the wife of the owner converted the space into a sunken garden. One of the old smoke stacks from the factory can be in the background on the right.

Beyond the rock in the middle of the above picture is more of the garden then a pool with a fountain. The spray pattern of the fountain changes. Here they are crossed, but another picture we took has them straight up.

After the sunken garden, we went to the rose garden. At the entrance was a small fountain with a brass spitting frog.

Beyond the rose garden was a path with a big dogwood in bloom.

The spiral-fish fountain.

The Japanese garden contained a number of very green spaces and water features with waterfalls and there was also a clacking bamboo tube too.

Another cascade of water in the Japanese garden.

A long, formal garden pond.

vacation: Hurricane Ridge

After we checked into the hotel at Port Angeles, from which we were going to take the ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, we drove up to Hurricane Ridge.

On the way up the mountain, we saw a couple vehicles on the side of the road and people with binoculars looking up the slope. Off in the distance there was a bear, so we stopped and watched for a few minutes too. That black spot up there is a bear. They thought it was a she.

A little bit further along the road, there was another vehicle, with a couple with binoculars looking up the slope. Much closer this time was a female bear and cub.

These two were close enough that I could zoom in and get a reasonable picture of them. We stayed to watch them a few minutes too.

Once at the top, the girls took off to walk around in the patchy snow following the deer as they wandered around.

As they walked around, their travels took them to the other side of the hills near the parking area and were able to see the bay down below.

On the other side of the parking area was the slope down and over to the far ridge.

On the side of the road up there were lupins.

vacation: Fort Nisqually

We stopped at Fort Nisqually and walked around the inside the fort and walked a bit on the path into the woods of the containing park. The modern fort is a replica of the original, which was actually at a different site.

One of the towers was accessible, so we climbed up it.

Once up there, we could see the complex of buildings within the fort.

The tower was really to see what was outside the fort. This was the view of the bay from the lookout slots in the walls of the tower.

vacation: Crater Lake

Next was Crater Lake, in Oregon, near Klamath Falls.

Our first view of the lake behind the shield wall of rock was at the south shore, because that's where the road to the west comes in. The lake was very blue and huge.

Farther along the road, the overlooks had a better view of Wizard Island, the last remnant of the volcano that grew within the blown-out crater.

In the rocks at the overlooks there were chipmunks and signs saying not to eat the wildlife, but the peanut shells, etc. on the rocks were testimony that people don't read signs.

vacation: lava tubes

Our vacation near the beginning of July started with a trip to the open house at the camp ground where our daughter is going to be for this coming week. Her first sleep-away summer camp.

The first significant stop on the road-trip vacation was Lava Beds National Park, here in California. The area contains number of lava fields and under the flows are some tubes open to the public. The tubes are formed when the outer layer of the flow cools and hardens, insulating the inside and leaving the lava flowing until it drains to some point.

On the way to the entrance to the easiest tube, which, without cavern gear like a good flashlight, sturdy clothes, and helmets, we thought we would try first, we saw a lizard sunning itself on the lava rocks.

Inside this tube there was a paved walkway and path lighting, but my wife and I both managed to hit our heads on the low ceilings. That's why they recommend helmets.

After that tube we went in a few others, but didn't venture too far because we only had one flashlight and there was no light if that one didn't work, we turned it off to see... nothing. Our daughter hit her head in one of these and that was the last one we tried. We had bumps on our heads for days afterward.

protein bars

Yesterday I modified a protein bar recipe:

1c oats
5 scoops (chocolate) protein powder
8oz (weight) natural peanut butter
3/4c milk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder

Baked at 350deg F for 35min. Cut up and refrigerated after cooling.

They puffed up like a quick bread, because of the eggs and baking powder, but they are not gooey like the unbaked type, which is a feature I don't like. I'll be eating these this week :-)