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Everything stated on this site is, of course, MY opinion / statement / thought, unless specifically stated otherwise. You knew that.

June 2014

PLEASE NOTE: I'm combining my blogs into this single site. If you are looking for Lotus Notes content from my old site, please EMAIL me at: jrlitton at gmail dot com and tell me the link or the content you were seeking. I will try to email you the content within a day.

The week of 02Jun2014 I am migrating my Notes blog content in chunks each day. Goal is to complete by 10Jun2014. Cheers :)

- Joe

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Friday
Jan102014

Washer Repair: $170 for the part. At least saved paying a service fee.

Yup, constant party here. Friday night, so took a little time out to fix the washer. It's a Maytag Model MAH5500BWW , a front loading machine that has been great for 10-15 years (we're not sure just when we invested in high quality laundry gear). But early this week it started getting wonky. The signal (the beep of selectable volume and tone that can be set to sound when a load of wash is done) started having a mind of its own. It would randomly sound different tones when we were running the washer, and then started doing it even when the machine was turned off - as long as it was plugged in. It didn't matter if we turned the signal off; it would come back on in mere moments.

These machines are quite modular. The downside of that is that when something like this goes wrong, one must replace a large (spendy) component. The upside is that this means that the repair is quick and easy. SO... I ordered a new Touchpad and Control Panel from RepairClinic.com http://www.repairclinic.com/PartDetail/Touchpad-and-Control-Panel/22003238/824620 

Yes, it was US$163 plus shipping, but they sent it right away, it arrived today, and as the pictures show, the repair was, indeed, fast and simple. We've got a load of laundry running now with zero problems :)

Here's the patient before surgery. YES, I disconnected it from power before mucking with it.

Using a little mirror, I was able to locate the 4 small Phillips screws holding the plastic housing to the base, and the 2 smaller hex head screws holding a metal panel to the rear. All 6 had to be removed.

With the screws removed, the Touchpad could be pushed back to free it from the base, and then tilted forward to rest on top of the washer.

After removing 4 more Phillips screws, and unplugging the modular connector ribbon, the Control Board could be separated from the Touchpad / Control Panel. 

Then it was just a matter of attaching the Control Board to the new Panel, reattaching the ribbon cable, fitting the new Panel back onto the base, screwing the metal plate (2 small hex screws) into the rear of the base, and screwing the 4 Phillips screws back into the top of the base. Plugged it in and it's working like a champ again :)


Monday
Oct282013

Survived the 10-miler. Registered for half marathon

This pic is me crossing the finish line of the Disney Tower of Terror 10-mile race on Sat 05Oct2013. Well, it was actually Sun 06Oct, since the blasted thing didn't start until 10pm, and I got stuck in the last group, which didn't start until about 10:30pm (past my normal bedtime). I averaged just under 10.5 minutes per mile, which I consider pretty good - especially given that the last grouping included a number of folks who were there to walk the course, and that meant I had to often pass people (walking 3 or 4 or 5 abreast ...ugh) ...often having to detour onto the shoulder of the road to do so.

Fortunately, I've been training part of the time doing a minimalist style of running, which has me striking the ground with the front or front and middle of the foot, rather than my more common heel strike (which is sort of like a Hulk Smash! to one's body). So in addition to being easier on the joints, the front-foot strike allows the foot and ankle to more easily adjust to oddities in the ground. Oddities like little holes, rocks, etc ...the things one might (and does) encounter when running off the pavement when it is dark outside.

I'd like to say that I ran the whole thing without stopping. But at mile 4 I really had to pee, and there were no lines at the portable toilets, so I took a quick relief break. It's amazing how much clearer one's focus becomes after such a quick stop :) ...and I likewise walked a few steps at each of the water stations where I drank a little. I tried, but just could not drink from a cup while running. A water bottle is no problem, but a cup? Nope. So there were several little walk breaks.

Overall, however, I felt pretty good afterwards. Until a day or so later. OMG, the front quads remembered that run for a couple of days! But most runners (and other sports enthusiasts) have poor memories or otherwise view through blinders when considering further activities. And so I am now registered to push a little harder. I've registered for a half marathon (13.1 miles) here in Tampa in Feb. Among the several good things about that: the run is in the morning - daylight!, the run is in Feb - cool temps!, the run is here in Tampa - no hotel fee!

I gave myself a brief time off, and then got started training. The training program is the "Ultimate 13.1" program (US$25) from Run the Edge. Most training schedules focus strictly on distance; run x miles on a given day. This program focuses on duration of each workout, and varies the speeds and combinations quite a bit, along with emphasizing the importance of cross training. So... hopefully in Feb I'll have a pic to post from completion of my first half marathon :)

 

Sunday
Jun232013

Reattached rear view mirror on the Yaris

A couple of weeks back I had the windshield replaced on my Toyota Yaris. A little stone had struck the old windshield, and the large crack was too big to fix. Well this morning (after the car had been parked since Friday at our hotel in Dunedin), I noticed that something in the car was not right. This (see image below) is not where the rear view mirror is supposed to be -- note that it's resting down in front of the gearshift, where it really offers little useful purpose.

So once we were home, I popped over to Autozone and paid $5 for a kit of rearview mirror adhesive:

I should mention that I did very briefly consider calling the company that had replaced the windshield, and have them fix this. But that would have involved more than $5 worth of inconvenience. OK, back to the task at hand. That big black dot near the top of the windshield (above my Florida Sunpass sticker) is where a small (maybe 1 inch at longest edge) piece of flat metal should be glued. The metal piece is grooved around the edges, and the mirror assembly slides over it. I scraped the residue of the old glue from the windshield and from the metal piece (should have taken a pic, but wanted to get this done!), and then opened the blue packet from the kit. I have no idea what chemical cleaner that thing held, but one wipe on the windshield removed any remaining trace of glue.

I followed the instructions from the kit and waited 2 minutes after the cleaning before continuing. Then came the (mildly) stressful part. The glue from the kit is super strong. One drop is all that is applied to the metal piece, then that is immediately pressed to its former location on the windshield. Although I pressed/held it in place for a minute as instructed, I could tell that it was already stuck there and was not going to move. After another 15 minutes of letting everything set up (again, as per instructions), I slipped the mirror back on over the grooved metal tab, and (for now anyway!) all again looks proper. Hopefully it will stay this time! If not, I'll call the folks who'd replaced the windshield :)

Thursday
Jun202013

Fitness is a journey..most important thing is to START!

A friend texted me today a bit frustrated with her fitness journey. And I know of at least a couple of other folks feeling the same. So hopefully this post will help someone...

The main point is that fitness is a journey. I think everyone who embarks on a program to lose fat / gain muscle / tone up / lower blood pressure / lower LDL / raise HDL / run faster and jump higher ...whatever it might be ...eventually discovers that there's no magic wand. What's required is a conscious decision to adjust one's lifestyle, and this can include any or all of diet, exercise, sleep habits, drug use (caffeine, alcohol, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, sugar, etc), occupation, and literally anything else that we do while alive. And I bet that ANYone who has realized some progress or met some goal ...wants more!

SO ...although I'd been quite healthy in years past (used to weight lift 2.5 hrs/day, 6 days/wk; ran an organized 10k each month, over the years did martial arts, played soccer, etc, etc) ...when we moved to Florida in 2004, I got out of shape. After a pretty bad report from an annual physical, and the doc telling me my triglycerides were about the worst he'd ever seen, I knew I had to get organized.

I started by walking a mile on the treadmill each day. At first even that was enough to feel like a workout. I should have kept track of what I did over what span of time, but I slowly increased the distance up to 3 miles.

Then I did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred for a few months. At first, that was a killer! But as with any program, it eventually was no problem to do even the 3rd level (hardest program).

Next came various Beachbody workout programs. I did P90X - I think 6 times through the 90-day program - a year and a half. And after that did a couple of times through Insanity, I've done Asylum, P90X2, Body Beast, and repeated some of the earlier programs again. Sometime during the past year, I discovered the Daily HIIT website (HIIT = High Intensity Interval Training), and have been incorporating some of their workouts (all are free).

But now I've set a goal to complete a 10 mile organized run in Oct 2013. I am again humbled. 30 years ago I would run a 10k (6.2 miles) in under 45 minutes. I could run 6.5 minute miles for shorter runs. Now, however, as I get back into running, I find that the best I can do is about 9.5 min/mile, and a 5k (3 miles) is about my limit. So I'm following a training schedule of weight lifting 2 days/week, running 3 days/week, plyometrics (jump training) 1 day/week, and 1 rest day every week. Oh, and 4 years ago we switched to a vegan diet (all plant-based foods).

The good news: at my annual physical the past few years, the doc has been very happy - not only at my improvement (pretty good numbers all the way around) - but also to have a patient who, as she put it, "gets it", and addresses health concerns via lifestyle choices rather than medications.

The other good news: even though I'm frustrated that my current "run" is what I really consider a "jog" speed, and my max distance is not yet where I want it to be, I am definitely improving.

The bottom line: Take a step. Literally take a freakin' step (and maybe put a few thousand more after that to walk a mile). And just keep making incremental improvements - carefully - and your fitness journey is underway :)

Saturday
Jun152013

What a wonderful run this morning!

There's a lot in play here, since I'm training for the Disney Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler in Oct. As their website loves to point out with the always-on countdown timer, I now have 110 days left to get in condition to run farther than I've ever run. Hey, I have no ambitions to do a marathon, or (yeah, right!) and ultramarathon (2 to 5 times or more the 26.2 miles of a 'simple' marathon). I just want to get be healthy – truly healthy and fit – and be able to comfortably run 5k's and 10k's. Many years ago, I used to run an organized 10k (6.2 miles) each month. That was decades ago :)

There were times when running seemed to trash my knees. The worst was 30+ years ago after finishing the Cascade Run Off; the last mile or two or three of downhill killed me, and I limped around for a day or two after that. A doc told me that if I wanted to be walking when I was 60, I should probably not run more than 3 miles at a time. I'm no longer certain that the advice should be followed.

Well ... now I've read Born to Run, and am in the middle of reading Eat and Run. I've had my running gait analyzed at Fit2Run in Tampa. I picked up some compression sleeves, compression socks, Skora BASE minimalist running shoes, and have a few other pairs of "regular" running shoes (main ones are Saucony Triumphs).

So what's the effect of all this gear and reading?

After decades of running with the Boom! Boom! of my heel-strike running, I'm now working on 3 fundamental changes:

  1. Striking with the middle or front of the foot
  2. Taking a short and more frequent stride (I used a metronome set at 90 beats per minute today for the first mile and a half to help me hold my desired stride .. 2 steps per tick)
  3. Breathing through the nose (at least on the inhales) and focusing on diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing). I thank vocal lessons, pranayama , and martial arts for making that easier to do!

And to make those things easier (more automatic) to do, I ran the first mile today in the Skoras. Since these are designed for "barefoot" running, one automatically does a mid- or front-foot strike (try running barefoot or in water shoes and you'll immediately notice that without the thick padding of common running shoes, there's no way you're going to want to slam down on your heels every time!).

The actual routine this morning (as per my training schedule to slowly ramp up to the 10-miler) called for running 2 miles. So I walked the first 1/4 mile and then jogged at 6 mph (10-min mile, so not what I would consider a run) for a mile. I then switched to the Triumphs for another couple of miles (went slightly more so that I'd jogged a proper 5k ...3.1 miles), and then did a 5-minute cool down walk followed by stretching. It all felt great!

I was tempted to keep going, but I know myself, and know all too well that I can easily tend to over train. My schedule calls for 30 min runs each Tue/Thu, and then a longer run on Saturdays. Next week (as per the schedule) is 3 miles, so my goal next week is to jog the first 1.5 miles in the Skoras before switching shoes. I also found that I do prefer using socks with the Skoras. On Thursday I wore compression sleeves and was barefoot in the Skoras, so today I tried compression socks – I'm experimenting. It's hard to qualify the why, but the socks felt better.

And I wish to thank Google Play Music, which I had going on my phone (via ear phones). I'm experimenting with Google's music service, and I quite like the mix that was streamed today. I have a lot of Green Day in my music collection, so Google's algorithm pulled me a blend of Green Day, Limp Bizkit, The Offspring, My Chemical Romance, Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, blink-182, Guns N'Roses, Alien Ant Farm, Foo Fighters, Sum 41, The Ataris, Simple Plan. I've not heard of about 1/4 of those groups, and I pretty much liked it all. Sweet.

I should also state that I typically run on a treadmill. I like it. I can put on some tunes or a podcast, not worry about crazy Florida drivers or the Tampa heat. We keep the A/C at 78F during the day, so even in our workout room if I have the door closed, the temp doesn't get above the low 80's, which is much more comfortable vs. the normal 95F outside during the warmer 6 months of the year. And I like the flat surface – no crown of the road to mess with. But I will do some outdoor runs as well – as time goes on.

And with that ...time to clean up, grab a breakfast shake, and (if the thunderstorms don't start up) go hit the yard work! ...And I'm already looking forward to the next run :-D