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Destructive Little Peckerhead

A play on words as well as a legitimate statement of annoyance. The target of my wrath?

A woodpecker (maybe more than one). Not just ANY woodpecker though. On NO, we had to attract something special:

A Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. They apparently hang out in this neck of the woods during the winter.

Late yesterday morning, I take a peek out the front door and I see THIS:

For half a second, I thought the tree had been hit by lightning during the storm the night before (although there was no thunder or lightning). Closer inspection turned up these:

A little research ruled out termites and led me to our culprit above. These filthy little beasts drill holes in trees to drink their sap. And this poor tree was just covered with holes! All that black gunk in the picture above was tree sap, running five feet down the trunk.

We were on the way out the door to go to Home Depot and get some pruning sealant spray when it came back too. At that point, I introduced it to Red Ryder.

Red Ryder is my preferred discipline tool for these situations. It stings, but doesn’t have enough power to hurt even a bird that size unless you shot it point blank.

A pop in the arse sent our destructive woodpecker friend on her way. Afterwards, we got a can of Spectracide pruning seal. It took nearly the entire can to seal all the holes too. Given that the seal smells like and has the consistency of road tar, I doubt the bird will be attacking those areas again. 😝

*sigh* I like nature. I’ve been told I have some fae blood in me (hasn’t everyone who is Scottish or Irish? LOL), so it comes natural… pun intended. That’s a nearly 100 year old tree that stupid bird was destroying though. One that also sits far too close to the house and our cars for my comfort.

Between that, squirrels tearing up our lawn and garden back in Sacramento and crows attacking our house and cars regularly…

well, let’s just say I’m liking nature a bit less nowadays. 😕

The Pitfalls of Me-Commerce

Another EXCELLENT post by Todd Garlington (I even spelled the poor guy’s last name correctly for a change). Todd does a world class job of breaking down advertising (and occasionally other subjects) and analyzing what’s REALLY being said and sold. This post takes a hard look at Touch of Modern.com’s push on the idea that image = identity. ie you’re defined by your things.

I love Todd’s blog because it’s a great lesson in critical thinking skills and looking beyond the hype and nonsense.

Image(s)

Now that e-commerce has proliferated and arguably become the backbone of big-box retail as well, consumers have more choices than ever before—so many in fact that comparison shopping has become almost overwhelming. Search results return pages and pages of different brands and models, and although product reviews should be helpful, they often lead to more confusion. So how might shoppers make informed and efficient purchases in the lightning-fast Information Age?

A collection of products curated for urbane males.

Enter the new and improved middleman: the curator. Although the concept of marketplace personalization (aka me-commerce) emerged in tech circles around a decade ago, its implementation has now become mainstream. Across the internet, more and more individuals and companies are adopting the curator model to promote their businesses and offer the weary consumer respite from digital chaos.

One example is Touch of Modern (ToMo), a lifestyle boutique similar to forerunner The Sharper Image, but with more panache. Most of ToMo’s…

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What A Workout!

Yes, I still like my vague titles, lol. Keeps people curious.

OK, so I had hoped to be back here (and at my other blog) writing again sooner, but things have been busy. There’s alot of little chores with a house this old and a fairly sizable yard. We’re also still sorting and tossing things in an effort to trim back and simplify.

On top of that, I’ve been working HARD at one of my New Year’s resolutions… You know, that one that EVERYBODY makes:

I’m Going to Get In Shape!!!

THIS has been my torture device of choice:

It’s a water based rowing machine. LONG story short, we decided months back that when we moved we were going to get one more exercise machine to go with our stationary bike. I thought long and hard about it, and pushed for a rowing machine because it works so many muscle groups at once.

Picture from Amazon’s store page

It also works your back and shoulders. I even feel it in my forearms. Rowing around on a lake (in an inflatable boat) was how I first got in shape in my younger days, and it’s a habit I still enjoy, so this was a natural choice to me.

I still have yet to get a certain lazy spouse on it however. >_<

For those of you who have been slacking on your fitness… Let me tell yah; you don’t realize how badly you can go downhill before you truly feel it. I knew I was out of shape thanks to my back and neck keeping me sedentary for 8 or so years. I walked, I did things around the house, so I assumed I wasn’t THAT bad off.

The first time I got on the rower, I could only do fifty reps. 😶 NOT good, since the rower pretty much provides the same moderate level of resistance as real rowing.

I’ve busted my butt however, and am determined to NEVER go back to that condition I was in before decompression therapy. In roughly three weeks, I’ve gone from 50 reps to 1000 yesterday. Some of my improvement was probably just the exercise working fatigue poisons and other toxins out of my system. I know I’m feeling mentally and physically better, even if pushing hard leaves me wiped out afterwards. 😀

I’ve also lost 10 pounds and am determined to keep that up also.

The Best Diet Advice I Ever Got:

Was something so simple that most people wouldn’t believe it works; just SLOW DOWN and enjoy your food. Take your time, thoroughly chew it, actually make conversation with people while you eat, etc… The ideas being that first, it takes 15 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain it’s had enough, no matter how much food you scarf down. So yes, closely related to that, it’s also better for your digestive system.

The hidden benefit to it though is that you AND your body will quickly figure out what’s truly good food. I was skeptical on this one and actually tested the idea on a McDonald’s Egg McMuffin one day. I used to love the things. Slowing down and chewing it though… truly giving myself time to sample the flavors… The sausage is REALLY disgusting, and the muffin and cheese aren’t much better.

Some of you may have had similar experiences with other foods. Little Ceasar’s pizza for example; it actually tastes good if it’s hot and you don’t truly take your time. Let it cool off even a little though… Yuck! Even if you eat it quickly.

If you want to read more about the whole concept, there’s a book called “The Slow Down Diet” that goes into more details, but I’ve given you most of the highlights here.

Just make that one simple change in your eating routine and see how much changes in your life.

The Ongoing Neck and Back War:

Speaking of the neck and back… Moving REALLY took a toll on both of them, given how rushed everything was. My worthless ProNex therapy tool broke on me also:

The damned thing tore in half at the narrow center section of the top piece, just from normal use. Talk about cheap! I mean I knew it was foam rubber, but still…

Pronex doesn’t stand by their products either, even if brand new. Needless to say, I’m changing my review to zero stars, wouldn’t recommend. After some meticulous research, I came across an alternative:

Only $50 more than the Pronex, but it’s solid construction, not low grade foam rubber.

It worked so well that we bought the lower back unit made by ComfortTrac also:

With my bad back and the auto accident my other half suffered in the Subaru, this unit has been a godsend for both of us. Chiropractic treatment never did anything long term for my back, but this is helping tremendously.

Neither unit is QUITE as good as full blown professional decompression treatment, BUT with common sense and regular use, they come VERY VERY close, for a good deal less. My previous decompression treatments ran almost $4000, and the moving undid a large portion of that. These two units had a combined cost of roughly $1000 on Amazon. That’s still ALOT of money, but we’re both benefiting from them, and it’s cheaper than professional treatment, and FAR FAR cheaper than surgery.

If there’s enough interest, I’ll do a more in-depth review on both. For now, suffice it to say they’re a large part of why I’ve been able to push myself so hard, and will help guarantee I never go back to that broken down state EVER again.

Oh yes… Remember that recurve bow I bought also?

Well, I finally got it out and started shooting also. The weather has provided limited opportunities there, but I finally got out the other day and shot a few flights. This was at about 30 feet of distance BTW. Not too impressive. My first volley was a bit of a mess also, LOL:

I hit the target with all 3 arrows though! I consider that fairly good since it was the first time I’d shot a bow since 1987 or 88. There was no nock point (a little piece of brass wrapped around the string) on the bow string, no sights, and the tab (finger guard) I was using on my drawing hand was incredibly sloppy.

Picture from Amazon’s store page of the exact one I purchased. Somebody sure chews their nails, LOL

I have to replace it with a shooting glove for sure.

BUT, I shot bare bow for the first time in 33 years and out of 50 arrows at between 30 and 35 feet, I only missed the target 3 times. By the last flight of arrows, my accuracy had improved too:

I even put one nearly dead center!

Funny… I was worried that a 40 pound draw weight on the bow might be a hair too much. It’s actually proving to be just about right for me, and is giving my arms a little extra workout also.

I’ve forgotten some of the technique I was taught back in college, but it’s amazing how I could pick up on what I was physically doing wrong with my shots; primarily being too tense, and sometimes not just simply releasing the bow string.

For those who have never shot a bow, the ideal release technique is to just simply let the fingers holding the bow string go limp. It prevents an accidental jerk of the string sideways, which will make your shot go wide. That can happen if you try to force your hand to release the string, or outright jerk your hand away.

ANYWAY… I need some practice for sure, but it wasn’t bad for a first outing. 🙂

I’ve also taken a few preliminary steps towards brushing up on my Kenpo and Wing Chun. That’s a story for another time however. 🙂

Five MAVO Points to anyone who can tell me what that last picture is though… WITHOUT an internet search. 😛

A TON of Catching Up To Do…

I am officially back. I’ve worked fairly hard the last week to catch up on my replies and followed blogs, but still have a ways to go.

Christmas is out of the way, and we’re FINALLY largely settled in from the move however, so I should have the time I’ve been craving to return to the blogs here, and my writing.

Alive!

But barely, LOL.

Just a short update to let followers know what’s going on.

Moving is still progressing slowly. It’s been a 240 mile round trip every day for the last week and a half, on top of cleaning both places, packing and unpacking. Sunday is the day the movers pick up the remaining stuff. We will have internet at the new place on Friday also. That means after Sunday the only thing that should be left is a trip back here to finish cleaning the place, turn over the keys and tell the apartment management to perform an anatomical impossibility, LOL.

We did manage to put in some solar powered lights to help us see the driveway at night also:

Look great right? Box said they stay lit for 8 hours too.

Dead an hour later. Don’t waster your money; they’re junk even after being out for years.

Anyhow, that’s my update and consumer tip for the week. I should be back after Sunday if all goes well.

Doggy Drama Update

Mortal Kombat continues as we work towards getting out of this apartment. The neighbors have gotten so bad that we had to go sleep at a hotel last night. That would have been great if the mattress had been better quality.

Long story short; same excuse about why the blog hasn’t been very active here. With over a month, and no meaningful sleep I’m running around with brain fog and serious fatigue. Sometimes it’s an effort just to keep up with the blogs I follow.

I’m a bit better rested after the hotel stay, so I feel like I’m being overly dramatic there, BUT I constantly wake up worn out, and 8 hours after I’m up, I’m ready for bed again. We sleep with shooting range foam ear plugs in, and half the time I have to wear gun mufflers to work at the computer in peace:

30db Noise Reduction

The more that fatigue sets in, the more annoyed I am regarding the offer to let us out of the lease also. We’ve been sleep deprived for almost 2 months, and it’s going to cost us thousands of dollars to move because they don’t want to deal with an ongoing noise issue. I’m feeling like we’re owed some damages at this point.

In the meantime, we got ourselves a pickup so that we can move as much stuff ourselves as we can:

1994 5.0L with ridiculously low mileage

So yeah… one step in the right direction. Joe Diffie approved too. We found when we had our house back in California that we needed a truck just often enough that renting was stupid.

RIP Joe

Now that I’m a tiny bit more rested, I’ll be trying to put more effort into the blog here also. There’s certainly a ton that I’ve wanted to talk about, but I haven’t had the energy to type a coherent sentence.

We will be putting in alot of work towards packing and everything also, so I’m not sure how much free time I will have for the immediate future, but I’m going to do my best here. I’ve got over 600 followers now. Some are even sincere followers, so I should be putting in some work here, lol.

Things I’ve Learned About Tennessee – Part 1

Don’t Drink The Water!

OK, seriously… Water quality apparently varies WIDELY across the state. In some spots, it’s great. In some other spots, such as our town, it’s so bad that I’ve literally gotten Montezuma’s Revenge multiple times. Even fountain soda pop from restaurants doesn’t taste right and can get you sick if you’re not used to it.

Here’s a pic of a large under-sink filter that we installed to have potable water at home. It’s supposed to be good for 800 gallons but only lasted a little over a month. New one shown next to it for comparison.

Tennessee does ALOT of things right. More jobs, lower taxes and better roads than California. Damned if some water quality standards wouldn’t be nice though. This is third world level stuff here.

Even after THAT filter, we still run drinking water and ice cube water through a filter pitcher also.