My hammy, heat or ice?

I’ve been noticing a tightness in my left hamstring, sort of a persistant twinge. It’s noticable as a weakness when I’m walking and I come to a curb. I’ll leap from my right leg and land on the curb with my left leg, but because the leg is bent at the knee when I strike the cement, there’s this quick pain and a weakness in my hamstring that almost feels like I’ll collapse.

I don’t, but that’s the best way to describe it. I also notice the pain/tightness when I sprint.

I don’t necessarily feel I need to rest my leg, but I do need to find some sort of stretch for it.

My hamstrings have always been tight. When I played softball in my late 30s, pulling a hammy running the bases was a regular occurrence.

Before the game, I’d have to do a proper warmup and stretch, which helped minimize it, but the threat of a pull always remained.

Part of the problem is, I hate stretching. I’m relatively inflexible and stretching hurts. I’ve never been able to touch my toes. I have to use a towel wrapped around my foot to pull myself into a stretch because I can’t reach my foot. Even with the towel for leverage, I’m still several inches away from my toes.

See this meme?

I can’t do either of those. Even the bottom person is closer than I can come. 

So I’m wondering, since I can’t get a significant stretch out of my hammy with the hurdlers stretch or the modified hirdlers stretch, if I need to find other stretches for it.

So I did an Internet search and I found these, which I’ll have to experiment with to see if the help:

Lying hamstring stretch

The lying hamstring stretch looks promising. I already have the towel for the hurdlers stretch, so it’ll be an easy transition to this.

Bench hamstring stretch

The bench hamstring stretch also looks promising. I’ll probably still need a towel to pull muself into the stretch, but otherwise all you need is some stairs or a coffee table.

I’ll research further to see if there are other stretches I can manage with my inflexible body. 

In the meantime, starting tomorrow… OK, fine, right away, I’ll do those two stretches and see if there is any improvement over the next week.

By the way, should you apply ice right after a run, or heat? Is the heat later after you’ve rested?

Run. Stretch. Ouch.

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Friday on my mind

We made it to Friday! Time to party! (Or as I keep thinking a commercial for a local Native American gaming casino says, “Some people like to BUTTAH! all night long.” Yeah, my wife gives me that same look every time I say it, too. “Why would you think she’s saying butter?”) Fine, let’s get to it.

Bad Friday Haiku

Let us hit the streets

The weekend beckons us again

It’s time to buttah!

Coffee, a little bit of Heaven on Earth

My wife and I recently (a month or so ago) found a newly-opened coffee store. But not your ordinary coffee shop that serves beverages, no, this store sells coffee before it’s brewed. It is called, CoffeeIcon. The location used to be the Java Hut –Oh, drink coffee you will– Sorry. And we frequented it infrequently. Then it was gone and the store stood empty for years. 

I forget why we stopped by. Either for the Walgreen’s on the corner and we noticed it in passing (“Stop! Coffee! My precious!”) or we were getting some pizzas from Papa Murphy’s next store. (Funny, but as a kid, I always thought people were saying, “They’re our next store neighbors.”) Anyway, I digress, as usual.

We stopped in and were stunned. Inside there were shelves upon shelves of coffee. Dark roast, medium roast, light roast, flavored coffees, coffees from Africa, South America, everywhere. It was like we’d died and gone to coffee Heaven. 

They have the largest selection of Keurig-style coffee pods I have ever seen. This isn’t your average supermarket selection. This is premium coffees. Coffee that you can sample! Yes, you heard that right. Find a k-cup coffee you’ve never had before? Take it up and they’ll brew it for you. No charge. As in free. 

That’s the best thing ever! Free coffee!

Their selection of brands includes, for example, a nice selection from Twisted Pine, which is a Green Bay Wisconsin roaster that started with their “1265 Breakfast” roast (any guesses what that address is?) and has greatly expanded their offerings. Their “Jamaica Me Crazy” is one of the few flavored coffees I like. Caramel and vanilla flavors blended with a hint of coffee liqueur.

But CoffeeIcon is more than just Keurig cups. They sell beans, as well. In fact, they have a large variety of green beans on the premises and they will roast them to suit your taste and grind it to your preference.

Our most recent visit, I picked up a pound (12 ounces once it’s roasted and ground) of their “Jaquar Espresso” (and I apologize, but I do pronounce it with an X, but I’m working hard to stop), which is an organic blend of several South American varietals. It’s a dark roast, but it’s smooth and delicious. 

The cool thing is, on the bag the barrista wrote the temperature and length of time it was roasted at so the next time I can go in and say, “Could I try it a few degrees cooler this time?”

If you like spicy, get the Marley Coffee “Catch a Fire.” It has natural chili pepper flavor in it. Delish. And yes, that’s Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, who founded it.

They’re online, too, and they ship. Coffee Icon

Running within myself

This morning I experimented running at a pace that allowed me to breathe through my nose the whole time. Usually, I run too fast and I end up gasping through my mouth. I’m not sure if that is beneficial aerobically. But it always leaves me exhausted, almost burned out afterwards. 

Today, I made a concious decision to run slower and I did. Sure, my time was 2-1/2 minutes slower than I had been running for the same distance, but I finished the run still breathing through my nose and actually had enough kick left to sprint to the finish. Usually you can’t tell I’m sprinting because I’m so worn out.

I guess I’ve been pushing myself too hard all this time. I need to slow down in order to build up my aerobic fitness.

Weigh-In Friday

I lost 0.2 pounds. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

I spy a Monarch!

I saw a Monarch butterfly in our yard the other day. I was happy, but at the same time, quite sad.

I was happy because I’ve always liked Monarchs with their bold orange and black wings and because they are so unusual due to their marvelous migratory pattern, traveling thousands of miles from the U.S. and Canada to central Mexican forests.

As a child, that fact alone facinated me; that this delicate creature could survive an exhausting and hazard-filled flight of over 2,800 miles was simply miraculous. I still have a book from my childhood about it, “The Travels of Monarch X” by Ross E. Hutchins.

But I was sad, too, because seeing a Monarch has become a rare occurance. As a child, I remember them swarming everywhere. They were among the most common of butterflies in the summer.

Now, they are endangered. Pesticides, which are decimating our honey bees, are killing the regal Monarchs as well. They are also suffering from a loss of habitat; Man is encroaching on their winter mountain retreats. And let’s not forget climate change (which, if you’re conservative is easy to do). It too is having a negative effect upon the once proud Monarch.

It’s sad to think that one day our children, and our children’s children will not be able to experience the joy and wonder that is the glorious Monarch.

I think I’ll go read that book tonight. Maybe it’ll uplift me.

#climatechangesucks

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This changed everything

It’s Throwback Thursday. I thought it would be fun to go back and listen to some ground-breaking music, if not historically ground-breaking, then personally ground-breaking to my own music habits.

It was 1971. I was fourteen, a year into my teens, but still rather innocent musically. That fall I would be entering high school as a freshman.

My dad took me to a record store. Until this day, my musical tastes were poppish and bubblegummy. On the more mature side, I listened to the Beatles, but on the still chikd-like side, I had the entire collection of The Archies albums. I also liked the Monkeys, and most Top 40 hits that were played on the local AM radio station, WOKY, the Mighty 92! (920 on your AM radio dial.)

So who knows what I was looking for when I went in there? The Beatles had broken up the year before, so there would be nothing new from them. The Monkees technically were gone for several years. I liked Creedence Clearwater Revival and their breakup was still a year away, so maybe something from them. 

Hard to say. So I just browsed, which is a lost art today considering there are no more record stores. You’d start at A and work your way along looking at all the album art. Because back then, album art was just becoming a thing. In the ’60s, most albums were just graced with a picture of the singer or the band. Boring. But the drug scene changed that and album art became psychedelic, in many cases it was real works of art able to stand on it’s own. 

Maybe The Beatles pioneered that, with covers like the White Album (“It’s literally, just a white album, man!” “Far out!”) Or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was a collage of many different pictures and great fun trying to find all the celebrities.

So often times while browsing you’d run across artwork on an album that was so compelling, you’d buy it even if you never heard of the band before.

Thus, when I got to the Bs, I flipped to this spooky cover. It was simple, really, just some woods, with a haunted looking house, and this blurry image of a green-skinned woman dressed like a witch. I was mesmerized. The only printing on the album were the words, Black Sabbath. What’s a Black Sabbath? I had to know.

“Are you sure?” My dad asked, who I have to believe knew about the band already because he was always kind of trendy.

Once home, I rushed up to my room and put it on my Realistic Clarinette II turntable. The album started with the gentle sound of falling rain, then thunder and the chime of a a bell, like a church bell bonging slowly as if announcing some impending doom. A moment later, the first deep, thunderous guitar note struck, reminiscent of the thunder that came before. Slowly, like a dirge, but powerful like a punch in the chest, the first three notes crashed against my senses and kept repeating, then they grew more soft accompanied by the drums, which were also soft like the rain.

Then came the vocals, deep, raspy like a death rattle, and they croaked out, “What is this, that stands before me? Figure in black, which points at me. Turn ’round quick and try to run, find out I’m the chosen one. Oh noooooo!”

It gave me chills. I could feel the terror of the song’s narrator. I was hooked! This wasn’t anything like The Archies at all! 

Even as I’ve grown in my music tastes, this is still my favorite. It has a strong blues influence, yet Tony Iommi’s guitar detuned a step and a half, gives an additional darker, scarier feel to it. 

In high school, I also discovered the writings of Robert E. Howard, specifically Conan the barbarian, King Kull, and Solomon Kane. It was like this music was made for it and I’d read those sword and sorcery tales while listening to Black Sabbath’s eponymous first album and also Vol. 4.

So today, when I listen to either of these albums, my mind makes a strong association with sorcerers, demons, black magic, and sword fighting. So strong is the association that I play them when I write in that genre because they not only make a great soundtrack to what I’m writing, but provide inspiration as well.

I mean, with songs like Black Sabbath, The Wizard, Behind the Wall of Sleep, and Sleeping Village, how could you not be inspired to write something demonic?

Here then, is that first album. To me, it still sounds as fresh as it did that day I first heard it as an innocent, pimply-faced kid back in 1971.

Enjoy.

Black Sabbath full album
#tbt #throwback Thursday

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Friday wrapup

A bad haiku

Today is Friday

The last work day of the week

Let’s all hit the beach!

Morning running

Let me reiterate one more time, I am not now, nor have I ever been a morning person. And yet, when my alarm goes off at 5am, do I hit snooze until my normal wake time 45 minutes later? (Ok, I did on Monday, but that was because my 70-pound dalmatian must have been having nightmares and used me as a pillow all night long and I woke up too stiff and exhausted to move.)

Surprisingly, I get up and put on my running clothes and head out the door. Granted, I’m not chipper or bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I’m more like an automaton. I have just enough wherewithal to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I’ve completed my run.

But it’s become a habit now. I forced myself to do it throughout June, often battling my normal inclination to say, “This is stupid. I want to sleep!”

Now I don’t think, I just turn off the alarm and keep moving. And I haven’t put a different pair of shoes on lately. Different socks, yes.

Today I made it to 1.75 miles, up from the 1 mile a day I was doing in June. I think I’ll stay at this distance for a bit to let my body acclimate before going further. Granted, I was regularly running 5k on the treadmill, but that was a treadmill. It does a lot of the work for you and absorbs much of the pounding, unlike cement.

I really don’t want to risk shinsplints again. They curtailed my running activity for nearly 20 years the last time. That sucked.

Running wear for colder weather

This morning was somewhat chilly. Around 60°F with low humidity. Not like the humid, hotter temps earlier in the week. Which made me think that I soon will need to address Fall and Winter wear. Running in shorts when the gales of November come is probably not a good idea.

For those of you thinking, “It’s July. Isn’t it a little early to be thinking about Winter?” No. This is Wisconsin. It could snow tomorrow. (Ok, for real, no, from what I could find there isn’t any measurable snow here in June, July, or August. But September is coming up fast!)

For now, I have a pair of those long running tights and a long-sleeved exercise shirt (with the strap that goes around your thumb) which will serve me for Fall. But Winter? I don’t know.

Back in the ’80s I had a winter running suit. Sort of a wind-breaker material with an inner lining that wicked away the sweat from my body. I believe it was something made by a company called Nor’Easter or that was the outfit’s name. I don’t recall which, but it kept me warm even on the most brutally cold days.

Anyone have any recommendations?

Weigh-In Friday

Nothing much to speak of. I lost 0.3 pounds.

My fault, really, because I like junk food. Sorry, Piccard.

Also I ate store bought bagels for breakfast instead of the high fiber English Muffins (Thomas’s) I usually have, so those were an additional 110 calories each day (220 calories with 1.5 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber vs. 100 calories with 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of fiber).

Any loss is good.

Virtual Races

Have you heard of these? You race online, somehow. I just read about it. You can run it from any location. Basically, you run your own race, at your own pace (I guess you can even treadmill it), then get bling, like a medal or something that shows you competed.

Weird, right? But it sounds cool, too. I mean for someone like me who hates crowds and isn’t really much of a people person at all, running a race virtually sounds right up my alley. Or street. Whatever.

But, you ask, won’t people cheat? Well sure, in this day and age of TheRump, his supporters believe lieing, cheating, and committing fraud are the new black, so there is definitely a chance some will cheat. But it isn’t like it’s an officially sanctioned race so you won’t see anyone at the Olympics being announced as, “The man to watch is in lane 3, Brad Liarliarpantsonfire, a relative newcomer to the International race scene. He’s posted the fastest recorded virtual race times in history and with these weather conditions today, he has a good chance to set a new Olympic record.” As far as doing it to get bling, you have to pay an entry fee, so basically, you’re not cheating anyone. They have your money, you have a cheap medal not worth what you paid for it.

For us honest folk, who seem to be becoming a minority, a virtual run helps to motivate us and gives us a chance to see our progress and how we compare against others without actually being passed by an 80-year-old.

I have to look into this further.

And as they say in the Charmin commercials: Enjoy the go.

-30-

Smaller but harder

I’m going to address the history of music portability. There will be a quiz at the end. 

At one time, music was only as portable as how easy and convenient it was to carry your instrument.

If you were going to party with friends, you could bring your french horn, trombone, or viola to entertain them, but if you had a bass cello or sousaphone, probably not. That harpsicord, however, was right out.

Of course, you could always bring your wind-up music box, but hearing the same tinny musical passage over and over got old fast.

Then recorded music came and you could carry your windup gramaphone to the park to play your jams.

Cranking out the jams!

A hundred years or so later, technology has made impressive strides in the area of recorded music portability and now you can carry your entire music collection around in your pocket.

We’ve gone from boomboxes to the Sony Walkman to the MP3 players to smartphones.

Great, right?

Yes, except as the technology shrank the devices for some reason the engineers also made the tranference more difficult.

With the Sony Walkman you could easily make party tapes at home on a cassette recirder then insert the tape into the Walkman.

When CDs came out, you would have to take your pre-recorded commercial CD and play that. It wasn’t until years later when the home computer became more common that people were able to record to CD and make mix tapes, um, CDs to take with them.

Somewhere in that process the MP3 was created along with MP3 players. It was easy to load music onto your MP3 player, you just plugged it into your computer and transferred the songs you wanted. Easy peasy. My first MPe player stored all of 128kb, so if I wanted a variety, I’d have to download different songs to it. It became a little tedius.

Then I got an iPod, which held more songs. Unfortunately, the ease of transfering songs started to decline. To transfer music, you couldn’t just plug it in and drag and drop. No, you needed Apple specific software as well as needing to convert your current library of MP3s (or WMA, WAV, or whatever) to an Apple proprietary file format.

Soon, smartphones came on the scene. Great, we could now carry our music on a device that also worked as a phone and a computer. Things were much simpler, right?

Wrong. Not only did each device have it’s own way of transfering music, so did each cellphone carrier.

I’ve been through several smartphones, cellphone carriers, and platforms over the years. 

With each update, upgrade, or so-called “improvement” things became harder, not easier. For me, only one smartphone was ever relatively painless in its transfer process, the Windows 8 Nokia. It was truly drag-and-drop.

With every other device or carrier you needed to jump through hoops and finally Google the instructions to figure out how to sync up and transfer. 

The iPhone had the same issues as my iPod. In fact, it was worse, for whatever reason, and I often had to restart my computer and the iPhone several times just to get them to recognize each other.

My Samsungs were a pain in the ass as well, especially early on because Verizon forced you to download their proprietary software to transfer music. Thankfully, they abandoned that, but the Samsung was never drag-and-drop. The computer never recognized it until I sacrificed a chicken at midnight while singing Mother Goose nursery rhymes wearing a Brown derby and dancing a jig on one leg.

And every time I wanted to transfer songs, I had to Google the instructions again because I couldn’t remember the exact sequence. And even then it wouldn’t always work.

And my LG is just as bad. The computer wouldn’t recognize it when I plugged it in, even when I changed the phone’s “What to do when plugged into a computer” setting from “charge when plugged in” to “transfer files.” 

And does anyone think that is the stupidest feature? Why can’t it do all those things, charge, transfer files, act as a midi device, et cetera? Why should we have to specify? They’re both computers. They should automatically know what it is you are trying to do.

I Googled what to do and found out I needed to download two (2!) programs to my computer, and once I started those, I still had to change some settings on the LG for the two to sync.

And then I could transfer music.

But not so fast! It wasn’t transfering via the USB cable! No. That would make too much sense. Instead, through those two programs, the transfer happened via Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi! WTF? What idiot thought transfering music via Wi-Fi was a good fucking idea? I’d like to meet them so I can punch them in the nose!

Transfering files via Wi-Fi is a bad fucking idea. It’s slow. It fucks with everyone else using the Wi-Fi. And did I mention, it’s slow?

Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. It shouldn’t be, because everything else we do on our Wi-fi — Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, downloading Warez (kidding) — is fast, but this is sloooow.

…or someone is transfering files to their LG.

Transfering files via USB cable is fast! 

Transfering files via Wi-Fi is agonizingly slooooooow.

It reminded me of downloading music files with Napster via dial-up! It took forever for one song. Download an album? Might as well do it overnight. I mean, that’s what I’ve heard. I have never illegally downloaded music myself. That would be wrong.

So WTF? I appreciate that technology has made music so much more portable than it was when I was younger. My smartphone is much easier, and lighter, to carry on a morning run than the Walkman ever was.

But can’t we make file transfers easier? What is so hard about having our devices all be compatible and all you need to do is plug them together, they recognize each other, and away you go dragging and dropping music?

Is that too much to ask? For user-friendly, easy to use, cross-compatible technology?

I don’t fucking think so.

Here is the quiz I promised:

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop?

(I never said it would be related to my blogpost.)

3, according to Mr. Owl.

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Friday roundup

Another Friday Haiku

Another week gone

Time speeds past, where does it go?

Left with memories

Independence Day

Another 4th of July has passed, Happy Birthday, America, but can we please grow up and stop blowing shit up all night long, keeping people who have to work the next day awake, terrorizing pets, and traumatizing military veterans suffering from PTSD?

Not to mention maiming and killing ourselves and starting fires. For what? Because we think playing with explosives while drunk is fun and somehow our right as Americans?

In most communities, fireworks are illegal, (even sparklers!) and yet somehow people still get them and then blow them off right in the middle of residential areas without regard to anyone or anything around them.

I love fireworks. I admit it. The bigger the boom the more exciting it is. But I like watching from an established safe distance while professionals shoot them off.

Standing outside my house armed with a garden hose in case something lands on my house is not my idea of fun.

Grow up, America. 

Sparklers are fun and relatively safe unless you touch the burning part. I mean, it’s burning at a temperature of 1200°F and up. Show some restraint and they’re very beautiful.

10,000 Sparklers Lit Off At Once

Does anyone remember punks? It was a stick made of a slow burning material that gave off an odd smelling smoke. As kids we thought they were to keep away mosquitoes. They were a mild, safer alternative to sparklers. Turns out they were originally used to set off fireworks because they provided a longer reach than matches.

June Challenge and beyond!

June, I challenged myself to run a mile every day. I had been unhappy with my dedication, if you will, to the sport. I had lost my motivation to run and sometimes went a week or longer without running.

Thus the challenge. And I was very pleased with myself that I had stuck with it and faithfully ran every day for a mile.

And though I am not a morning person, I found running first thing gets it out of the way. It’s over and done with and I don’t have to worry if I’ll fit it into my schedule. Also, as I’ve said previously, I don’t have restless nights as I did running in the evening.

So now, I’ve made a new challenge, a Life Challenge, to continue to run every morning, slowly increasing my distance (because increasing speed, well, that takes far more effort to achieve and let’s face it, it’s still the fucking morning and it’s enough that I’m running). So far for July, I’ve increased my distance to 1-1/2 miles (3k?) and I only took the 4th off because I was very tired. Thanks, people who kept shooting off explosives nonstop throughout the night.

Weigh-In Friday

OK. OK. I gained 1.3 pounds. 

We took a six day vacation, four days of which we spent in the Wisconsin Dells celebrating my son’s birthday. So a lot of good food was eaten. (If you ever are in the Dells, have a meal at the House of Embers. You won’t be disappointed.)

One thing I’ve noticed, which has me puzzled. Last week I lost 2.1 pounds, yet my body fat average increased 2.3% and my muscle average decreased 1.5%. This week, again, my body fat average increased 1.3% while the muscle average decreased by 0.9%. Why is that? You’d think with a daily run my muscle average would increase, right? Right? Anyone? Bueller?

Speaking of the Wisconsin Dells

Dragon’s Tail at Mt. Olympus

See that? That waterslide? The orange one (no relation to TheRump)? That’s called the Dragon’s Tail and it’s at the waterpark we stayed at this year (and last year, and also several year’s ago). It is seven stories tall. I hate heights. But I finally screwed up my courage and took the plunge, so to speak. It was thrilling, exciting, and scary as Hell, especially when it felt like I became airborne for an instant on the second bump.

Next year, I’ll try the purple slide on the left of it. You can’t see it because it’s behind the Dragon’s Tail. They call it the Demon’s Drop and it has an 85-foot sheer drop that they claim is virtually straight down, putting you in “free fall” until the water and slide curve out to catch you.

Yeah. Ok. Maybe not.

Running outside

Since I returned to running last year, I have only run outside two, maybe three times. I ran on our treadmill the rest of the time for several reasons.

First, I felt a treadmill would be better for my joints. Our house is essentially concrete-locked. Meaning, there are only sidewalks and streets upon which to run. Nothing soft or giving like a high school track or a nature area with running paths cut into the dirt by the feet of thousands of previous runners. So I’ve treadmilled.

Second, although you don’t go anywhere on a treadmill (and many runners find that boring), it gives me the chance to either watch something on TV or to listen to music. (I’m aware you can listen to headphones running outside, but I don’t have a bluetooth set and when I did run outside with earbuds, the cords nearly strangled me and were painfully ripped from my ears several times.)

Well, last Friday morning, because we were in the Dells and our hotel did not have any indoor exercise area or equipment, I took the show on the road. And you know what? I enjoyed it. The pounding on my feet and joints wasn’t as bad as I feared and I was able to enjoy the scenery.

I ran outside three days while there, and when we returned home, I have continued running outside. No music or TV, sure (unless I get a decent bluetooth set of earphones), but the outside offers changing scenery. Especially since the weather is nice. Once the winter gloom, cold, and ice make an appearance, I’ll return to the treadmill, but for now outside running is working for me.

Currently Reading

I have a paperback copy from the 1960s of “The Time Machine and other stories” by H. G. Wells. I have never read the story before only having seen the 1960 movie adaptation with Rod Taylor (who I just now realized was portraying H. G. Wells himself! In the story, the main character was only ever refered to as “The Time Traveler”), and also starring my childhood crush, Yvette Mimieux as Weena. A classic, by the way. The movie, I mean, not neccessarily Ms. Mimieux.

The short story/novella is similar to the movie except where the movie decides to make the focus about the romance between Wells and Weena where he returns to her future time to rescue her from the Moorlocks. That doesn’t happen in the short story. Instead, the Time Traveler just goes off in time and leaves the narrator (portrayed by Wilbuuuur of Mr. Ed fame in the movie) to speculate where and when he went and if he died or not.

This book also contains “Empire of the Ants” (not to be confused with his other story “Food of the Gods”), “The Country of the Blind,” and “The Man Who Could Work Miracles.”

If you like Wells, you’ll enjoy these short stories. His writing is fluid and poetic, even if a few of the concepts and social mores are dated (“The Time Machine” was first published in 1894, for instance). If, on the other hand, you don’t enjoy Wells, what the Hell is wrong with you?

Go read Wells!

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Bob Vila I ain’t

I think I mentioned a year, maybe two, ago that I found this cool, old stool someone had set out by the trash.

My goal at the time was to refinish it. Sand it down smooth and repaint it, maybe a glossy piano black or even a bright sun shiney yellow. Then I’d have a stool for practising guitar.

The stool, before I started working on it


I thought I’d bring you up-to-date on how that project is going.

It ain’t.

I’m still in the taking off the paint stage. In fact, most of the sanding I did was well over a year ago.

Just on the seat. 

That’s it. Granted, its one smooth seat, sure, but it took me several weekends of sanding to get it that way.

I still have to do the legs. 

When I found it, the stool looked like whoever had it last kept painting and repainting it. I’d say it had a several layers of paint on it about the thickness of 3 maybe 4 credit cards. 

That’s a lot of hard sanding and I didn’t have a sander. I was doing it by hand. Now we have a sander, which I have yet to use, but even with that, the legs are round. The sander is flat and rectangular.

To speed up the process, I tried paint remover. The first stuff I bought didn’t remove shit. I don’t know if I didn’t follow the directions properly, but it didn’t even make the paint soft. I mean, if I wiped it with a rag, the rag showed a smear of paint on it, but the stool itself didn’t look like anything had happened. Sanding proved faster.

So I bought some heavy duty paint remover by Goof Off. I sprayed it on. Let it sit for a bit, then used a plastic puddy knife like the instructions said. The paint had turned to a gooey paste. I’d scrap along the legs, wipe the goo off on a rag, but a flat puddy knife on a round surface cleans off just a tiny strip about a quarter of an inch wide, if that, while pushing the rest of the goo around the leg, kind of like how a snow plow cleans one area but leaves a wake of snow piled up on either side. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

Mr. Impatient, that’s me. I thought there had to be a faster way to remove the goo. So I took the rag and tried to wipe it off.

That not only didn’t work — the rag became sort of glued to the wood as I attempted to wipe the goo away. So I used more force, gripping the rag in tightly in my hand and trying to rub up and down to get the legs clean. No go. The rag kept getting stuck to the wood and my hand kept slipping off. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was wearing nitrile gloves. I do have some sense.) At this point, I’m getting angry, frustrated, and annoyed.

And guess what? The paint remover not only softened the paint, I soon discovered it was melting the nitrile gloves I was using as well! And because I’m not the most coordinated, nor as stated above the most patient, I started rushing the job oit of frustration, no longer paying attention to where I was touching.

I then realized this paint thinner not only melts nitrile gloves, but it BURNS LIKE HELL when you get it on your skin!

The burning oobleck was getting on my hands where the gloves melted; it had gotten on my forearms and wrists where I’d brushed against the stool because I wasn’t paying attention; the oobleck was even on one knee.

Did I mention it BURNED LIKE HELL? Well, it did. So I had to run into the house several times during this procedure to wash the oobleck off my burning flesh. I also went through several pairs of nitrile gloves. I started to feel lime the Incredible Melting Man

Later, I checked the labels. The Goof Off said to use chemical-resistant gloves and the nitrile gloves did not mention that they were chemical-resistant. Great. I’m surprised that it didn’t melt any holes in my nylon-blend shorts.

At that point, I gave up. 

I took the stool into the alley and hosed it down. Well, if you’re wondering, that didn’t do anything except deactivate the Goof Off. I had been hoping it would rinse off the paint like the first, inadequate, paint remover was supposed to do. It didn’t. It just left a hardened mass of paint and oobleck.

So I’m essentially back to square one. I still need to sand the legs, although now that the paint is bubblied and rough maybe I could take heavy duty steel wool to it to essentially scrap off the paint.

As you can see, I’m working in the dark here. I wasn’t raised by do-it-yourselfers and if there was a Mister (or Ms.) Fixit gene in our family it completely missed me, so I have no clue what I’m doing. 

Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe a paint remover that actually does rinse away?

I thought by refinishing this stool, I’d save money on buying one to use for practising guitar. I’m not sure I’m saving anything at this point. Least of all my sanity.

How does everyone else make this stuff look so easy?

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