Category: Ryan's Earlier Blogs
The one constant in time, is change. And with change should come progress. However, sometimes progress is not progress, but a step backward.
The other week, I had a haircut scheduled with my cousin. It’s a good time to catch up on family happenings, and I get a free haircut out of the deal. And since I was up in the area, I stopped by one of the city parks during my travels.
Now this wasn’t just any city park. This was a park where my Father had been a groundskeeper for some 20 years. Many a summer during my youth was spent helping him at the park. While other kids were enjoying their summer vacations by sleeping in, I was up at 6 a.m., and we were at the park by 7 a.m. There was trash to be picked up, pools to be cleaned, baseball fields to be mowed, and many other tasks to the day. Even when I was a teenager, and working, I would go work with him in the morning, and he would drop me off at my grandmother’s at lunchtime, so I could go to my job at the grocery store in the afternoon.
The park that I visited the other week was nothing like the park I remember. Where once the park had character, it now seemed cold, impersonal. White fence posts that once surrounded the parking lot were now replaced with a cold steel barrier of highway guardrails. The canopy of trees that once surrounded the pool, offering shelter from the hot day sun were now gone. Paths that were once worn down by the passage of many feet, large and small, were now grown in with grass. Two of the baseball fields, once having grass in their infields, were now nothing but a diamond of sand and stone. Character had been replaced by ease of maintenance. I could only shake my head in sadness, knowing what once was, and how much had been lost.
One of my Father’s best known skills was his ability to prep a baseball field. He was so well respected in this regard, that folks from other towns would ask him to come prep their ballfields for games. He would, and I would tag along to help when I could.
Looking at the large ballfield before me that had been prepped, I shook my head in much the same way that my Father would have, if he were looking at it with me. There was no pride in its prepping, no care. To whoever prepped it, it was just a job. To my Father and I, it was an art. The baselines weren’t well raked, with solid compacted earth around its edges, grass was growing into the baselines, the batter’s boxes hadn’t been well done. A part of me wished I had had the necessary tools in front of me. Twenty years later, and I still remember how to do a far better job than the one that lay before me. Part of the experience of playing baseball was the field itself. The youth who played on that diamond were being denied the full experience that is baseball.
But alas, time marches on, and things change. Unfortunately, progress is not always pretty.
Speaking of days gone by, it was time to say goodbye to an old friend the other week. After 10 years, and 187,000 miles, it was time for my car to get a rest. She had served me well, never once breaking down during my long commutes. For a commute that involves driving late at night, and at odd hours, with little civilization along much of my 123 mile trip, her dependability was comforting. Beyond a radiator, and a head gasket that was caught even before she had a chance to overheat or do damage, she never required any major maintenance, just the usual brakes, tires, belts, and hoses. And even with her age and wear, I was still getting 36-39 miles per gallon when I retired her last week. I can only hope that my ‘new’ used car can provide me with the same dependability and comfort that my Cavalier did. Time and mileage will tell.
May you all have a wonderful, safe, and happy 4th of July! I’ve been blessed with actually having it off from work this year, and I’m going to do my best to enjoy it, avoids and all! : )
The old adage, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes, it’ll change”, has certainly held true for the last month or so. That, or Mother Nature either has ADD, or she’s been consuming a lot of avoids lately. *chuckle* New England weather is always changing, but even more so of late.
Last month, we had enough nice weather that I figured I could put the winter clothing away, and pull the snow shovel out of the car. The next week, it snows. *sigh* : ) The week after that, heavy rains, and severe flooding. Not even a week after the flooding, some 20 brushfires across the state, with temperatures in the low 80's. This past weekend, a few more days of rain. And last night, a frost advisory. Frost! At this rate, we just might have Christmas in July! Yet in spite of all the unpredictable weather, I can’t imagine living somewhere where the weather was more constant, and less varied. Whatever the weather, each kind has its own beauty to be admired, and at the same time respected.
Technology has been kind to me this last month. Instead of fighting with technology, as I did in February and March, I’ve had the opportunity to embrace it. However, I do have another computer to work on soon. Yeah, I couldn’t say ‘no’ to one of my Better Half’s co-workers, whose having a problem with her computer. : )
For those of us who enjoyed our youth in the ‘70's and ‘80's, the cassette tape was our medium for music. Like anything else, time brings better mediums, and the cassette was eventually replaced by cd’s, MP3 players, and iPods. But what to do with all of your favorite music that’s on cassettes? Well, I went looking not too long ago, and found something that works quite well to bring our music on cassette tapes into the 21st century.
It’s called the Plusdeck2c, manufactured by a company called BTO. The Plusdeck2c is a cassette deck that fits into one of the drive bays of your computer, and with the software provided, converts the songs on your cassettes to MP3 files. In the past few weeks, I’ve been digitizing all of my music. I installed the Plusdeck2c on my old computer, and have run about 25 cassette tapes through, with no problem. On my current computer, I’ve been ripping all of my cd’s to my computers hard drive. With some 300 cd’s, and 400 cassettes, I’m going to have quite the music library by the time I’m done. : )
Having been doing all of this, my thoughts turned to my brother. You see, my brother doesn’t care for new technology. He’s still stuck in the cassette tape age. For awhile, I would buy the cd’s of albums that he wanted, he would pay for them, and I would put them on cassette tape for him. And I got to keep the cd. Sweet deal, huh? I thought so. Well, I’ve decided to bring him into the 21st century, kicking and screaming if necessary. *chuckle* My brother likes his music loud, and can often be found working in his garage with the music cranking from his stereo.
Recently, I found a product called a HiFi-Link that will connect a computer to a stereo receiver. That way, one can play the music on their computer through a stereo. Computers may have speaker systems, but they have nowhere near the power and loudness that a stereo receiver, and a good set of stereo speakers have. So for my brother’s birthday, I’m going to take an old computer, take all the crap off, install all of the music that he likes, and ship the computer and HiFi-Link up to him. No more swapping cassettes, no more worry about losing them, or wearing them out. He can just click “shuffle”, and go to work.
Well, back to changing out another cassette. Twenty five down, 375 to go. May you all find the beauty that is in each and every day, and take a moment to appreciate them all. Until next time.
As I mentioned previously, I had the unfortunate pleasure of becoming acquainted with the computer now not so affectionately named, “The Computer From Hell”. Yes, I could have said, “No”, to my friends request for help, and enjoyed the rest of my vacation. But that’s not me. Since I work with computers every day, I understand the frustration felt, when things don’t work properly. I just didn’t know how much of a battle I was in for.
When my friend called, she said that she couldn’t connect to the Internet. O.k., usually not a difficult fix, whether it be a hardware or software issue. So I headed over to her house, and started poking around. Modem Driver was working properly, no exclamation point next to the modem listing under System Devices. When I attempted to connect to her Internet Service Provider, came back with a ‘no dial tone’ error. Doing a modem query showed an error.
O.k., looks like the modem went bad. No biggie. I went home, grabbed a modem that I knew worked, and went back. When I swapped the modems, I found that the one that I had brought was the exact same model as the one that I was pulling out. Interesting coincidence. Seated the new modem, fired up the computer, went to connect, and.....nothing. Same error. Uninstalled, and reinstalled the modem driver, thinking that it wasn’t playing well with the new modem, but there was no change.
Well, it looked like the computer was going home with me. Still, I thought that it wouldn’t be too long before I figured out what was causing the issue. In our discussions, I found that the computer was a hand-me-down, so thought that maybe someone had installed the wrong modem driver. I spent time criss-crossing the Internet, finding the proper modem driver for this particular modem, going by the model number of the chipset in the modem. No matter what I did, I was unable to connect to the internet with her computer, even from my house.
However, my progress was about to come to a screeching halt. My fingers clicked before my brain engaged, and I suddenly found myself locked out of her computer. In the words of Scooby-Doo, “Ruh-Roh, Shaggy!” Ahh....the “stare and swear” was now in session! I had no operating system cd’s to work off of, there was no Guest account set up that I could go through, and my friend didn’t know the Administrator password. Things were getting ugly in a hurry.
Suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was my Stubborn Gene, asking to come out and play. Needing the help, I let him out, and the tag team match was on. It was Man vs. Machine, and this computer was about to have its circuitry kicked 100 years into the past.
Off I went, scouring computer forums, and Google, looking for ways to get around my dilemma. After several hours, I found what I needed, and burned it to make a bootable cd. That is, when you start up your computer, it will start up off of the cd or dvd, rather than your hard drive. I put the cd in, fired up the computer, saw the cd drive light blink, only to have it start up off of the hard drive. *sigh* Checked what’s called the BIOS settings of the computer, to make sure that it would read off of the cd first, and not the hard drive. That was set correctly.
So, thinking it was a bad cd, I burned another one, inserted, and had the same issue. I now thought that maybe my cd burning software was the issue. Yes, yes, if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Welcome to the world of computers! Found, and downloaded ImgBurn, and made yet another cd. Put it in the cd drive, fired up the computer and.....Bam!...I was in. We were back in the hunt.
One night after bowling, I stopped into Wally World (Wal-Mart), and picked up a new modem. Installed it the next day, and I was able to connect to the Internet. Yay! Success at last. I cleaned up her computer, updated all of her spyware and anti-virus, and figured I was done. Oh, how wrong I would be.
I took it back over to her house, hooked it up, and again, “no dial tone”. Yet it worked fine at my house. It was starting to look like our next problem would be outside the box. I could set up her parent’s computer, and it would connect fine. But connect my friend’s computer, and it refused to play nice. Next thought was maybe the phone line. So I checked the phone lines in the room, even swapping them out in case there was a bad line, cleaned the contacts at the wall plate, as well as the contacts at the junction box outside the house. Still no go. I was running out of options. But I had one more idea. I bought a surge suppressor to replace her power strip, and as soon I next tried to connect, she was good to go. I don’t know why, but it appears that somehow, the power strip was interfering with either the modem, or the computers power supply, since it sat right behind the computer case.
The “stare and swear” had conquered another ill-behaving machine. My friend was happy, and my stubborn gene got to come out, and play rough for awhile. As for me, I learned a great deal, and found a number of utility programs to help me the next time I work on a computer. The experience also taught me that it was time to build a “Crash Kit”. A toolbox filled with tools, software, cables, various media (cd, dvd’s, flash drives) with spyware and anti-virus programs, external hard drives for backing up, or cloning another hard drive, along with other odds and ends. I never thought that I would need such a thing before, but when the computers of friends and family decide to be temperamental, I answer the call. A good challenge keeps the mind and the body young. Mine just happens to be computers.
Computers are great, when they work. But when things decide to quit, or it doesn't want to play well with certain software, that's when things can get frustrating. Now you know why I keep my hair short. Less chance of me ripping it out during a good 'stare and swear' session. *chuckle*
In my last entry, I was fumin', because the radio station that I listened to no longer carried Dr. Demento. I like my two hours of weird and wacky comedy music every week. The Stubborn gene got to come out and play again, but after much searching, I finally found another station that plays it. Even if the radio station is in California, and I'm here in New Hampshire. What's a little time zone difference? Laughter is good for the soul, and I'll take it where I can get it. The more, the merrier!
Until next time.
Yes, 30 day wonder. As in, I wonder what happened to the last 30 days? Actually, it’s been five weeks and change since my last entry, but I can account for one of those weeks. It’s interesting, and yet at times frustrating, how time can seem to move so quickly, while moving ever so slowly in the same moment of time.
During the last week of my vacation, a friend called, saying that she was having computer problems. So I offered to go over, and take a look. Little did I realize at the time, but this would turn into a week long battle. Man vs. Machine. What at first appeared to be a single issue, eventually became several issues requiring fixing. Apparently, the Universe decided that since I was on vacation, it was only fair that my Stubborn gene got to come out, and play as well. *chuckle* And he played H-A-R-D. But I’ll save that fun for another entry.
As for two of the Clan O’Kitties, Shorty and Nixie are continuing to do well. Shorty has had no new episodes of unnatural limb twisting, and Nixie received a clean bill of health in regards to her recent kidney infection (Not related to the recent Menu Foods pet food recall). It’s hard to believe that Nixie is indeed 19 years old, and yet still acts like a much younger kitty. But I appreciate every day that she refuses to act her age. : )
During a span of three or four nights last week, I became the book wedged between two furry bookends, while trying to sleep. Beser up tight against my chest, and Nixie against my back. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’m one of the biggest softies there is, when it comes to critters. A fact that my Better Half will readily, and whole heartedly agree with. If they’re sleeping, I do my damnedest not to disturb them. Sometimes, it looks like I’m playing a one man game of Twister, limbs stretched out in every position imaginable, as I try to work around them, without disturbing them.
But when one is wedged in, in such a manner, what is one to do? Well, I can’t roll over, because at least one of them would be disturbed. And we can’t have that! So I’ve had to learn a new way to roll over in bed. I now have to do a “Lift, Spin, and Settle”. Are they spoiled? You betcha. But I am their staff, and I know my place. *chuckle*
I wish I could say that my softness is limited to just the Clan O’Kitties, but I’m just as bad with other people’s critters as well. The other night, I unexpectedly ended up staying at my girlfriend’s for the night. Knowing that I’m on the warm side, she told me that if I got too warm, to just throw the covers off. Sounds simple, right? Nope. Not quite so simple. I ended up being the book in the middle again. *sigh* My Better Half to one side, her 90 pound Chocolate Lab on the other. With him laying on top of the covers, there was no way I was tossing any covers anywhere. It was difficult enough, just trying to do a “Lift, Spin, and Settle”. Not willing to disturb either, I set myself on ‘bake’, and finally fell back asleep.
Many people would say, “Bah! Just move them!” But why would I want to disturb those who bring so much happiness into my life? I would rather take comfort in my own discomfort. It makes no difference whether they are human, or furry. Both are given equal consideration, and standing.
On the weightlifting front, things have been entertaining, frustrating, and sore. Two weeks ago, we/I started a new workout routine that I had put together. My friend was out sick the first week, so it was just me. As I mentioned previously, if I can get him to swear at me for the exercises that I find, I take it as a very high compliment. : ) Well, I did so well this time, I was even swearing at myself! LOL
I must be getting better, because when I came home from work Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, there was a message from him on the answering machine. Just to tell me how sore he was, and hoping that I was happy. Why yes, yes I was. *BIG grin*
At my last entry, I weighed 159 pounds, and am now sitting at 163 pounds. My numbers haven’t really changed measurement wise, though I am seeing progress. There is more muscular definition in my arms and legs. The volume of fat cells over my biceps has lessened. The “tapioca under plastic wrap” feeling has left my stomach, and the remaining fat there is now just ‘squishy’. My Better Half recently commented that my love handles are disappearing, so that’s a positive sign. : ) The real sign of progress will come when the fat around the small of my back starts to shrink. That seems to be the last place where fatty deposits start to shrink on me.
Now that spring has arrived, the increased physical activity should aid in my endeavors. There’s yard work to be done, and insulation to be laid in the attic. An attic where a person can not stand up to full height. Not even I, at a vertically challenged 64 inches. I’ll be glad when I finish that fun!
What? You made it this far, without falling asleep? You deserve a break! Grab your favorite tea or drink, take a look at the world outside your window, and take a moment to appreciate all of the beauty, both big and small, that life has to offer. Until next time. Right now, I have to go swear for a bit. A radio station that I listened to online took off the Dr. Demento show, and now I have to find another station that carries it. *sigh* And just when life was gettin' good! *chuckle*
Well, it only took until Valentine’s Day, but we were finally blessed with some real snow in my neck of the woods. All 12 inches of it. However, along with it came a weeks worth of bitterly cold winds. Good fortune was on my side, though, as I started my vacation the day before the storm came passing through. Not only that, the hospital where I work was struck with a computer virus last week as well. Talk about good timing. *chuckle*
Unfortunately, the past few weeks have not been calm. Two of the Clan O’Kitties have had to make unplanned visits to the vet’s. Shorty had a hip episode, that may possibly be the first signs of hip dysplasia. She has seemed fine since, but I now pay much closer attention to her every movement.
Nixie was found to have urinary issues when I came home from work last Sunday night. She seemed to have trouble going, and was spotting urine around the house. The next morning, she seemed to be back to her normal, demanding of affection self, but an appointment was still made. After an examination on Tuesday, it was determined that she had a kidney infection. Since then, her and I get to wrestle with her taking her medication every 12 hours. *chuckle* She has seemed fine since, and even now, lays in my lap with her head on my forearm as I type this.
With Nixie being a month shy of 19, and Shorty at 15, I try to appreciate each and every day that I have with the both of them. Knowing that they are in their twilight years, I try to make each of their days as pleasant as they do mine.
On the weightlifting front, things have been going well. Muscle mass is slowly increasing, while fat cell volume has continued to decrease. Fat around the sides of the waist have become soft and squishy. The volume of fat cells over my abdominal area has shrunken, and feels like rubbing across tapioca under a sheet of plastic wrap. All the meanwhile, the total amount of weight lifted continues to increase. Most of the last month has been spent at 159 pounds, with a slight fluctuation here and there. But as long as muscle mass continues to increase, and fat volume continues to decrease, all is good. I’ll have to see if I can get some new measurements this week.
The other week, I also picked up a neat little rig called the Door Gym. It’s made by Creative Fitness, and hangs off the door frame of most interior doors. With it, you can do pullups, chinups, crunches, pushups, and other exercises with added accessories. I’ve tried to get into the habit of doing some each night, before my last meal of the day. It takes all of a second to mount and unmount from the door frame, as it uses the leverage of your own weight to secure it to the door frame while in use.
As good as I’ve been about my meal plan for the past two months, I took a cheat day on Saturday. And boy, did I cheat! My Better Half and I took a trip to a place called Chutter’s, in Littleton, New Hampshire. This place has the world’s longest candy counter, at 110+ feet, with three tiers of shelving. Oh yeah, talk about a sugar fix! They also make their own chocolates, and fudge. And while it may be an avoid for O’s, their peanut butter fudge was G-O-O-D! Smoothest fudge I’ve tasted in a long time. Then again, since being on ER4YT, it HAS been a long time since I had fudge. : )
In other news, my Better Half and I have started introducing her kids to some of the foods that I can/should eat. They don’t know all of why I eat what I do, they just know that I eat ‘differently’. How do you explain to a 9 year old about things such as lectins, and agglutination? The other week, we made a spelt crust pizza, using turkey pepperoni, peppers, onions, and mozzarella cheese. With the spelt flour, we also made breadsticks, and homemade dipping sauce for another night, served with brown rice pasta, and compliant spaghetti sauce.
Her and I have also both spent time combing the Recipe section, looking for recipes that we can make. Right now, we’re going to try and make something new every week. It gives us a chance to try something new, and for us to spend some quality time together, making a mess in the kitchen. : )
Well, it’s time for me to go round up my 4th meal of the day. May all that is yours by Divine Right now manifest quickly, completely, under grace, in a perfect way. Until next time.