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Each Christmas season, our tradition is to get our Christmas tree the first full weekend of December and to take it down the first full weekend after January 6th (aka: the “Feast of the Three Kings” or “Epiphany” or “Little Christmas”).  We have a secondary tradition of purchasing a representative decoration for each year.  Sometimes they are religious (angels, stars, etc.), sometimes they are Christmas but humorous and sometimes they are topical (StarTrek, StarWars, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, etc).  This year’s “extra” ornaments were two electric guitars my wife got me as presents.  (LOL)  Anyway, we are getting ready to take the tree down next weekend, so I thought I’d post a few pictures of this year’s tree and ornaments…  (You can click on the image to see a larger version.)

Our 2021 Christmas Tree

Our 2021 Christmas Ornament

2021 Les Paul Style Guitar Ornament

2021 Stratocaster Style Guitar Ornament

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On This Day In:
2021 2020 Tree And Ornaments
My Bag
2020 Still Looking
2019 Too True
2018 Simon Says
2017 Next Cell
2016 Important Knowledge
2015 Are You Still The Exception?
2014 In Answer
Days Are Passing
2013 Opportunity
2012 Appropriate Qualities
2011 A Place To Hang My Hat

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Firefly RE01 Resonator (acoustic) Guitar   —   guitar review
[DISCLAIMER:  This product is being reviewed without compensation of any sort by the manufacturer.  I purchased the guitar with my own personal funds.  Also, nothing I say should be taken as anything but my personal opinion / observation, as I have VERY little knowledge of music or musical instruments.    —    KMAB]
 
Background:   Since January of this year, I’ve been trying to teach myself how to play guitar – starting from scratch.  And by “scratch” I mean I have (had) little to no actual knowledge of music or of the guitar as an instrument.  Although I have owned a couple of guitars (and other instruments) in the distant past (back in my late teens / early twenties), I never learned how to tune them, let alone play them.  I “meant” to, but life got in the way, and they ended up lost in the mist of time.  I think I sold one and the other I simply left with a friend (who ended up junking it).  So, the sum of my musical “knowledge” base is what I know of radio / pop music and playing “air” guitar (again, in my distant youth).  … So next to nothing.
 
In January, I got my first (acoustic / steel string / dreadnought) guitar and began physically learning – as opposed to simply watching YouTube videos – how to play.  In (roughly) March, I purchased my second guitar (an electric guitar / stratocaster [aka: “S” type] knockoff) with a small amp.  In late May, I purchased my second acoustic (third guitar).  This one is a small (3/4 size) one with nylon strings.  The intent is to have a time and location friendly guitar.  “Time” friendly in that you can play a nylon string guitar for hours without seriously hurting your finger tips.  “Location” friendly in that I can take it most anywhere without worry about it getting knocked about (because it cost less than $50).  After this, at the very tail end of July, I got my second electric.  This one is a “Les Paul” (aka: “LP”) knockoff.  All of my guitars have been from different manufacturers and ALL are at the low end of the price range with “out of pocket” cost varying from $20 to $220.
 
I also borrowed my brother’s steel string acoustic.  It is not a dreadnought, but I’m not positive what type of guitar it is considered.  It is the same body shape and length as my dreadnought, but it is not as deep (wide).  I don’t know if dreadnoughts can have variable depth (so maybe it is).  Anyway, it came with steel strings and I swapped them out for nylon strings.  So, I now have a full-size acoustic guitar which I can practice on for extended time periods.  Having said this, my “normal” daily practice is 60 to 90 minutes.  This sounds like a lot (even to me), but it really isn’t that long.  The longest I’ve “noodled” has been about four hours while watching football on TV.
 
Start of review:
So, this (Firefly Resonator) is the fifth guitar I’ve purchased this year.  It was ordered online with no “expected date” – for shipping or for delivery.  (Yeah, I know it sounds shady…)  I was hoping for delivery in less than two weeks.  It was ordered on a Saturday and delivered on the following Thursday (yesterday).  Five days:  an initial good impression.  The box had a small (two-inch) tear in the exterior, but there was no damage to the guitar.  I add that I have grown increasingly concerned about shipping as I am constantly reading about damaged guitars being received.  Knock on wood…  I’ve been lucky so far.  On YouTube, the reviewers frequently say things like:  “Firefly is a very good company for shipping. They use double boxing and the guitars are packed in Styrofoam for safety.”  Well, that may be true for guitars sent to YouTube reviewers, but neither was true for me.  NO double box. No extra packing.  The guitar did come in thicker plastic wrap (not see-thru anyway) and it did have a cardboard neck / head brace.
 
(Click on images to enlarge…)
 
Per their site (https://guitarsgarden.com/collections/acoustic-guitar), this is what I got for $216.91 all-in (including tax and shipping).  Note:  the item price on the site is $189.91;  the difference is added shipping.
 
Features / Specification:
• Spruce Top, Mahogany back and side
• Bone nut, and nickel String
• Rosewood Fretboard
The site doesn’t mention it, but you get a truss rod Allen wrench included.
 
And, that’s it…  No gig bag (dust cover).  No strap.  No courtesy (marketing) pic.  Nada…  Compared to my other “inexpensive” guitars, which came with some or all of these “extras”, this will add well over 10% to the real / final cost once they’ve been purchased.
 
First reaction:  The guitar is beautiful!
 
Second reaction:  The guitar is heavy!
 
Strum…  Sounds okay to me.  Not in tune, but definitely different to a “normal” acoustic.  The guitar is BIG and surprisingly heavy.  To my mind it feels solid, but bottom heavy.  This is not a stand-and-play instrument.  At the very least, you MUST have a strap.  All the metal in the resonator pan (I’m not sure what this is really called / named), makes the guitar look incredibly “art deco” to my eye.  I’m loving it!!
 
I extend the guitar out bow and arrow fashion and sight down from the bridge and then up from the head-stock.  The neck is visually straight (no warping).  From the side the action (string height) seems a little high, but I’ve been warned (on YouTube) this is frequently true on resonator style guitars because some players will want to use a slide.
 
Strum…  Run my left hand up and down the neck.  Absolutely no, sharp fret ends sticking out (on finger or thumb side) and they all feel well rounded / smooth.  The fretboard doesn’t look dry or in need of oiling.  The strings feel smooth and new.  The neck feels smooth, polished and maybe just a bit thick / chunky.  (Note: this is a “playing” style / round neck resonator model.  Firefly doesn’t seem to stock them, but you can get models with a square / flat-ish neck which are meant to be played on your lap or a table in front of you.)  There are no scratches anywhere on the body or neck.  The finish / polish appears smooth to the eye and to the touch.  I look around the sound holes just to see what a “resonator” looks like.  It looks and feels solid.  I feel like I’m back on my first guitar because this is SOOOO different from my others.  I do notice there is a white residue of some kind around the two screened holes nearest the neck.  I don’t know what that’s about and I’m leary to give it more than a gentle scratch to see if it comes off.  Some does.  Some doesn’t.  (see image)
 

Glue residue?

 
Strum…  Okay, attach tuner and see how close it is to “shipped ready to play“.  Result:  not very.  Half the strings require less than 360° tuner turn, two – a couple full turns, one – multiple turns.  The good news is the tuners seem very steady / responsive and there are no dead spots or slips.  I do all six strings and then go back through them a second time.  All but the last are slightly off (expected).  Total time:  a couple of minutes (15 max).
 
Strum…  Open chords time…  Sounds different, but great.  A minor scale time…  Hmmm…  Something is not quite right.  The strings don’t “feel” right.  I look at the strings again from various angles (top and then up and down the neck).  The strings are not parallel.  The “D” string runs closer to the “A” string as it approaches the bridge. Hmmm.  I thumb the string and it sounds fine, but it is definitely wrong.  I hook my index slightly in front of my thumb just in front of the bridge and press…  There is a slight “nick” sound and presto(!) the string is in place and running parallel between the “A” and the “G“.  My guess is there is some slight groove the string is supposed to rest in and it wasn’t quite there when they shipped the guitar to me.  Anyway, it’s fine now!
 
Two additional points:  Action and Intonation.  Action is the height of the strings above the frets.  I’m not sure what the action is supposed to be, but it feels comfortable to me on both chords and scales.  Intonation is (as I understand it) if / does the guitar produce true notes up and down the neck – particularly at the nut and at the twelfth fret.  To my ear (and to the tuner) it is perfect – at the twelve, five and  seven frets.
 
Final thoughts:  This is a beautiful instrument and I look forward to learning its peculiarities.  I already feel like I’m playing an electric guitar instead of an acoustic because the sustain is soooo long.  And, yes, it does sound a lot like a banjo got crossbred with a guitar.  I imagine myself doing (learning) some Missouri / Louisiana style blues finger picking and sliding with this baby.  I can hardly wait!
 
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On This Day In:
2020 A Word Of Assurance They Are Not Alone
  Is #45 Still Crying?
2019 It’s Obvious
2018 Passed Too Swiftly
2017 On Our Wall (Part 1)
2016 Or The Ripples From A Good Life
2015 Titles And Reputations
2014 Unfolding
2013 Again
2012 Needs
  Damned
2011 Potter & Prejudice
  Blink, Blink
   

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Image of guard in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier2021 Veterans Day Poster
The image / poster was taken from the Veterans Administration web site:  http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/gallery.asp where you can see each of the posters since 1978.
[To all who are serving, to all who have served, and to all those who have waited patiently for their return, “Thank You!!
If you have the time, take a minute to read:  What Is A Vet?    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Veterans Day – 11 November 2020
Thankful
Remembrance Day – 11 November 2020
2019 Veterans Day – 11 November 2019
2018 Veterans Day – 11 November 2018
2017 Veterans Day – 11 November 2017
2016 Veterans Day – 11 November 2016
2015 Veterans Day – 11 November 2015
2014 Veterans Day – 11 November 2014
2013 Veterans Day – 11 November 2013
2012 Monkey Business
Veterans Day – 11 November 2012
In Others
2011 Veterans Day – 11/11/11
Deeply Confused (Still)
2010 We are not from fearful men and I Am Not Afraid!!
Veterans Day – 11 November 2010
2009 Narrowly missed first weight goal, but still happy…

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Waaay back when I was a child, we had a dog we found as a stray puppy.  She was a little Scottish Terrier mix / mutt;  white with light brown ears.  No more that a foot high at the top of her head.
One day I took her to Golden Gate Park (in San Francisco).  At the entrance to the park is a pond named:  Alvord Lake.  Actually, it’s really more of a pond than a lake, and I didn’t even know it had a name.  Anyway, as we were coming down the rise from the park entrance, I let me dog off her leash.  My dog looked up and saw some ducks floating / swimming on the lake and she was off like a flash…
Now, at that particular time of year, the lake surface was covered with a dense cover of bright green pond scum – some kind of seasonal algae growth.
Back then, the lake did not have the palm trees or ferns which you can see in a more recent photo (below), but it did have the large rocks on the edge of the paths and around the edge of the water.
My dog was racing full bore towards the nearest ducks, intending to bound off of one of the boulders and into the middle of the her prey / victims.
Seeing her coming, the ducks were starting to move away and separate.
She hit the rock, leaping in the air more than her own full height and braced her feet to land on the dead run, pivot and continue the chase…
Yes, the predictable happened!  Splash!!  Surprised, she emerged covered in the scum / algae.  She was able to shake a good deal of the muck off once she swam back to shore.
Generally, it is wrong to anthropomorphize your pets, but I have never seen a dog / pet look more embarrassed by such an obvious mistake in judgement.
Needless to say, I was beside myself with laughter (at least until I got home and had to bathe her).  And, no, the GIF above is not of my dog 50+ years ago.  But it reminded me of the incident and made me chuckle.
[Disclaimer:  the two images are from Google and Google Maps.  The GIF was found on the net.  I don’t remember where.  I make no claim to ownership and they are being used for informational / illustrative purposes only.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 I Don’t Want To Get Any Older…
Maybe I’ll See You There
2019 Free At Last!
2018 Some Basic Virtues
Day 17: Fit In 48’s
2017 Too Soon We Part…
Rigorous And Difficult
2016 Where And Why
2015 The Beauty Of Thy Voice
2014 Faith In Men
2013 An Average Verge
2012 Dew Drop Secrets
2011 Champion Freedom

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So, this was our house last year after the new paint job…
And here it is after updating our front garden to help conserve water…
As you can see, we’ve removed the front grass and replaced it with (mostly) white stone.  We’ve circled the two trees with larger riverbed stones and red pumice (like) stones.  We’ve high-lighted the roses on either side of the brick path and added river stone edging on the sides.  We added a “fake” stream bed curving from near the top of the path, around our big tree, down to the sidewalk.  And, finally, we sprinkled various plants in the white stone areas.  We hope they will fill out and add a bit of color to the otherwise plain white space.
Many (not quite most) of the houses in our neighborhood have already done the same to their front gardens.  I don’t know how much money we’ll save, but every drop of water counts in this age of climate change.  Over 25 of the last 30 years have been drought years here in California, so our action is long past due.  Hopefully, better late than never…
And, of course, the best news is:  NO more mowing the lawn, while reducing the expense of our water bill.
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On This Day In:
2020 Was #IncompenentDonald Born To Be A Diplomat?
2019 Have You Planted Lately?
2018 Something / Nothing
2017 Kindness
2016 Dealing With It
2015 Too Many Choices!
2014 Vini, Vidi, Vici
2013 Heroes
Education, n.
2012 Who I Want To Be
2011 Mythic Forgetfulness

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Memorial Day

Monday 31 May 2021

Thank You, Veterans!

Some give more than others…

Some give all…

Memorial_Day_2021
[This weekend, when you are celebrating with your family, please take a minute to think about these soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who throughout our nation’s history have made the ultimate sacrifice for us all.  Please try to think of them, not as warriors, but as sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters… as part of a “greater” American family – which all (they and us) surely are.
I know that Memorial Day is specifically set aside to honor these brave souls in uniform, but please also take an extra minute or two to remember and be thankful for the over 3,600 medical and health care staff around the country who also fought the good fight – just doing their jobs – and who gave their lives in the last year defending us from COVID.   They too have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
All five images were found on the web.  No claim of ownership is intended or implied.
    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 At Least A Lot More Gray
2019 Walking The Lonely Path
2018 The Ultimate Trial
2017 Vain Expectations
2016 Or Of One Thought
2015 What’s In Your Future?
2014 Light In Darkness
2013 How ‘Bout Just Obeying The Law?
2012 Or Maybe Not
2011 My Interval Is Too Short!

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I’ve always remembered having a love for music and a desire to play a musical instrument.  Unfortunately, I’ve never had the funds to pay for instruction or the time to commit to learning how to play one.  I have owned numerous instruments, but in the end, always just sold them or given them away.
Recently, (December 2020), I decided I would like to finally learn how to play an instrument and I talked myself into it being guitar.  (I then talked my wife into letting me.)  In early January, I purchased an Orangewood Austen dreadnought acoustic guitar for a little over $200.  See image below…
20210108_Orangewood_Austen_USD200
I’ve been practicing with it almost daily and I am having a ball with even the simplest of accomplishments (tuning, scales and trying to get clean chords).  My fingers are slowly starting to callus and I’ve gone from “about” 15 minutes a day of practice to “about” an hour a day.  Per “everyone’s” suggestion, I forced myself to start slowly and build up the amount of time I’m actually playing.  I would estimate I’ve now practiced 40 hours (total “ish”) over the last two months.
I’ve also been watching a ton of YouTube videos about playing and maintaining guitars, and about music in general (as related to playing a guitar).
I’ve been enjoying this experience so much I decided to make another “small” investment.  I decided to treat myself to a birthday present of an electric guitar.  Although I feel like I will really continue this new hobby, my wife remains unconvinced, so she agreed provided I purchased another inexpensive guitar.  I decided on a Glarry GST “starter pack” which comes with a 20W amplifier for a little under $120.  Again, see image below…
2021_03_19_Glarry_GSTw20W_Amp_120
I ordered the guitar a couple of days ago and was advised delivery would be sometime around my birthday (next weekend).  Why green?  I couldn’t decide between the two other colors I “really” wanted, so I picked green because it was St. Patrick’s Day.  Lo and behold, it arrived today!  It’s beautiful and light as a feather!  It feels almost like a toy compared to my acoustic.  I’m dead chuffed over getting it delivered so quickly, so I decided to jump on my blog and post about it!!!
Anyway, it’s already early evening and I want to be able to devote a few hours to playing with it, so I’ve unboxed it and set it aside (for now).  (Play “with” it.  NOT play “on” it.  LoL!)  And… tomorrow is another day!
[I’ve recently become aware some countries require folks to disclose if a referenced item (product of value or other remuneration / compensation) has been received (by yours truly) as consideration for its being mentioned on my blog.  I have no recollection of ever receiving a “free” anything which I have subsequently discussed or reviewed on this blog. In any case,…
I have not received as a promotion any / either guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning either in this post to secure income for myself or the manufacturers of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about these items because I personally purchased them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2020 Repercussions For Health
2019 Chained To #45
2018 Some Men Make Their Office As Small As Themselves
2017 Too Many
2016 Not Yet, Anyway
2015 On Pornography
2014 Nudge, Nudge
2013 The Journey Will Be Joy
2012 Hopeful Flights
2011 Irrationally Predictable
Lawful Restraint

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And here is a photo of the Spring blossom of our backyard daffodils (Narcissus)…  These are the miniature variety.

Image of our Backyard Daffodils

Backyard Daffodils

Our Hil is not sure why, but our front yard daffodils didn’t really come in this year.  We got the green shoots, but none of the blooms / flowers.  Oh, well.  Maybe next year.
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On This Day In:
2020 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2020!!
2019 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2019!!
2018 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2018!!
2017 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2017!!
2016 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2016!!
2015 To My Special Lady
2014 Awakening
2013 Drowsy In Comfort
2012 Happy Valentine’s Day
2011 Own Your Bible

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Is there anything more badass / sexy than a lady out walkin’ her dog in sweatpants and her Caterpillar sh*t kickers?
Tell me they don’t SCREAM attitude…  LoL!!!
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On This Day In:
2020 Skyin’
2019 I Hope He Has A Lot Of Room Down There
2018 What Time Is It?
2017 Gifts
2016 30 Seconds
2015 Success
2014 Create The Fact
2013 Overpowering Curiosity
2012 On Planning The Invasion Of Iraq…
2011 This And That
I’m Bettin’ On The Bible

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A while back, I mentioned my wife still has her childhood teddy-bear: “Teddy”.  I also mentioned I think of Teddy as guarding our bedroom / bed during the day.  The other day, I was making the bed (well, straightening the bed) and my thoughts wandered back to the court scene from the movie: “A Few Good Men” and Colonel Jessep’s (played by Jack Nicholson) lines:  “You want me on that wall.  You need me on that wall!”  I chuckled to myself as I put “Teddy” on station.

Image of Teddy under the covers

Teddy “Under Cover” for Winter duty

Image of Teddy on top of covers.

Teddy In Summer Position

 

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.
   —    Winnie the Pooh
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On This Day In:
2020 Precious Life
2019 Nothing Is Too Difficult For Me
Patterns Of Caring
2018 And May Never Be
2017 Don’t Forget
2016 I Was A Percentage Man
2015 It Waits Patiently
2014 Unknown
2013 Explaining Love?
2012 Echoes of 1%
2011 Salaam, Egypt!!
Where Do You Learn?

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My “Do It Yourself” (DIY) efforts on setting up a home workout station are proceeding.  Below are some images of the yesterday’s progress…
Yesterday, I assembled my “double-double”.  Basically, it’s two striking targets attached at two ends.  The bottom target is roughly the height of a body shot (waist to lower ribs).  The top target is roughly the height for head shots (chin, front and side of the head).  You may notice a few things:
1)  the top attachment is vertical while the bottom is horizontal.  The bottom target would normally be either fixed to the flooring below or (using some type of rope or bungee) attached to a weight to stabilize the target and limit random / excessive swinging movement.  In this case, I had to work within the “command structure” of:  “I don’t want any of your weights damaging my concrete!”  So, I used a horizontal bungee (with a loop to keep the rope from sliding left and right).  The practical limitation to this setup is I cannot work around the target;  I am limited to the 180° on the front side.  Still, I can live with it…
2)  less obvious until you start hitting the targets…  They are not “fixed” within the netting.  There are gaps above and below the balls where they can move when struck.  The practical effect of this is they are not staying in the same place in the netting when you try to do a double-up punch (like two jabs to the head).  I will try to correct this by tying rope / paracord around one end of each ball / net to “lock” them into a more standard position within each net.
3)  FAR less obvious, (but which I have learned from recent experience,) is that these targets hit back at you – and from unexpected angles (at least up to now unexpected).  In my initial setup (prior to my wife’s objection), I had the bottom ball / net secured by weights.  This tended to produce reaction motion for both balls in a relatively circular motion around a vertical axis (much like an up-right cylinder).  After the modification to the bottom to include the horizontal bungee, a solid right punch to the bottom target resulted in a solid left hook by the upper ball to the right side of MY head.  My wife started laughing and said:  “It hits back!!”  (Note:  NotAre you okay, dear?“)  As near as I can tell, this is due to the back and forth (back to front) motion of the lower horizontal bungee and the circular (like a vertical cylinder) motion of the upper vertical bungee.  My response:  “I’m gonna need a head-guard.”  Her reply:  “You sure are!“, still giggling.  Fortunately (for me), there wasn’t sufficient mass / speed in the basketball to knock me out, because it certainly struck me full on the side of my head at roughly temple / cheek height.
My next brilliant (okay, obvious) idea was to attach the original horizontal double-end target (“bag”) and see what that felt like.  To my surprise, a “triple-double” and it is terrific!  I now had a target (the bottom ball) for body shots, a target (the middle ball) for upper-cuts and body jabs, and a top target (the top ball) for chin and head shots.  The only trick now is to find a way to attach the original double-end to the double-double which keeps them together (when used together), but which also easily separates so I can continue to use the single-double on its own.  The original horizontal “single-double” works as a “slip-rope”.  A “slip” is when you move your head side to side (like a metronome) to avoid an incoming punch.  It is frequently accompanied by a “bob” (up and down head movement).  Together, they are referred to as “bobbing and weaving”.  Basically, I stand next to one post and move to the other ducking under the rope with each step to the side.  When I get to the middle, I release an upper-cut.  I then continue to the opposite post.  When I reach the post, I turn around and start back, trying to time the steps so my next upper cut with be with the other hand.  (Always try to practice every punch with both hands.)  Anyway, there is still some tweaking to do…
The next image is what’s happening in the background.  I attached a “hook-screw” to the back post and then I just swing the weighted chain up to it and hook onto it.  The lat-pulley set up is then out of the way for the boxing.  It is adjustable for more clearance, but because of the angles, it (the chained weights) doesn’t have to be as far back as I initially expected.
And, finally, here’s an image of the “normal” lat-pulldown.  We timed the set up and take down and it takes under a minute to set up or take down!  It takes longer to put on a single boxing hand-wrap than it does to set up the station for boxing.
And so the adventure continues…
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On This Day In:
2020 Posting As A Continual Exercise
2019 Border Security – Yes, Border Wall – No
2018 Supporting Survival Values
2017 Inauguration Day 2017 [Sometimes, I hate it when I’m right! — KMAB]
2016 Or A Pot Of Gold After The Storm
2015 One, Two, Three…
2014 Lend Your Hand
2013 Amnesty, n.
2012 Best Resolv’d
The Clock Is Running
2011 Magic

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Some of you regular readers may recall I had a pull-up rack set up in a corner of my backyard.  Image below…

Pull-up Stand with Double-End Target

I was always intending to use the setup as a multi-function station for working out going forward.  My initial modification was the addition of two “eye-screws” to setup a horizontal double end punching bag.  As you see, I made it out of an old basketball, a basketball net and a couple of bungee cords.  This has worked out reasonably well…
The “main” goal of the setup was to have a pull-up station.  Unfortunately, it turns out I am FAR too out of shape to hang from the bar, let alone try to do a pull-up.  In my first (aborted) attempt, I nearly pulled my arms out of their sockets “trying” to hang.  I was able to hang for just long enough for me to remember my age before letting go (aka: “falling”).  Also, despite my interest in adding “DIY” boxing options, I will NOT EVER be boxing / sparring.  I have a heart condition and am on blood thinners which (technically) make me a “border-line” hemophiliac (a “bleeder”).  The boxing options are only for their fitness / exercise value.
To make a longer story short, I scavenged some parts from my old “Total-Gym” and have now set up a “Lat – pulldown” system which I can use to build up my strength until I can hang from the bar and try another pull-up.  Image below…

Image of Lower Bar & Lat Pulley Setup

Lower Bar & Lat Pulley Setup

A “Lat – pulldown” is an exercise which concentrates on the latissimus dorsi muscles.  These are the muscles used to pull something down from above your head or to pull your head and body up to something which is above your head / shoulders.  In this case, I am using four(4) ten pound weights.  At the moment I have completed day four(4) of a 30 day challenge to do five(5) sets of fifty(50) “reps” (repetitions).  After each set, I turn 45° and do a cross-body pull down Left to Right (50 reps) and then Right to Left (50 reps).  In all, 250 reps of the double and 250 reps per side.  As I get stronger (and less sore), I hope to get up to 10 sets per day.  Hopefully, by the end of the 30 days I will be able to suspend myself in a hanging position for a few seconds.  Then I can proceed to descending pull-ups, which will lead to actual “up” pull-ups.
I have an additional five(5) modifications under consideration:  1) adding a “slip bag”;  2)  adding a “heavy bag”;  3) adding a vertical “double-end, double bag”; 4) adding a “speed bag”; and, 5) adding a two-grip, low level pulley systems to create a “rower”.
So, that’s the progress.  And, that’s the future plans…  (Oh, yeah.  The posts and the rest of the back fence have to be painted / stained to help reduce / prevent weathering.)
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On This Day In:
2020 Still Crazy After All These Years…
2019 20 / 20 Foresight
He Knew Damned Well…
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Whoops!
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
Vive La Difference
Destiny
Completeness
Art

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Apologies to all of you putting up with less than ideal weather conditions…  Here in the San Francisco Bay Area it’s a comfortably warm 72°…  In other words…

Image of the hammock in our backyard

17 Jan 2021 – It’s Hammock Time!

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On This Day In:
2020 Still Crazy After All These Years…
2019 20 / 20 Foresight
He Knew Damned Well…
2018 Be Someone’s Kindling
2017 When The Moment Comes
2016 Changed Clothes Lately?
2015 Like Stone
2014 Resistance Is Futile
2013 Subtle Humor
To Look Behind Green Eyes
2012 The Path Is Endless
2011 Happy MLK, Jr Day!!!
A Factor Of Ten
Better Late Than Never?
Whoops!
Acceptable Beginnings
Slow Progress
Useful Confrontation
When Phenomena Are Different
Creative Avoidance
Thinking
Fast And Flexible
Surrender Certainty
Techniques
Vive La Difference
Destiny
Completeness
Art

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As of today, there have been 378,777 COVID-19 related deaths in the United States.  This post is about one of them…
Last week, while we (the nation) were going through a violent civil insurrection in the nation’s capitol, Joseph Beierly was engaged in his own personal “insurrection” battle.  Sadly, he lost his battle.
I met Joe back in 1962, through his older brother, Ralph Beierly who was in my grammar school class.  Ralph had five brothers (in order: Dave, Frank, Ray, Ralph, Joe and George) he lived with and two half-brothers who were already grown up and no longer living at home.  Joe was the second youngest of those still at home.  Joe / Ralph’s parents took me under their wings and it was not unusual for me to have dinner at their house more than once a week.
At some point, you realize the older and younger siblings of your friends (like your own brothers and sisters) become “real” people, instead of “big” or “little” brother / sister of… (whomever).  Sometimes this realization is sudden.  Frequently, it is not.  For me, this happened with Joe while we were on a “road-trip” to Canada.  Joe and I had gone up to Lake Shasta to water ski and hang out on another friend’s pontoon houseboat for a week.  Unfortunately, my other friend had a family emergency and had to secure the houseboat and return to the Bay Area, so Joe and I were left high and dry for the remainder of the week.
Joe Beierly on our trip to Canada

Joe Beierly on our trip to Canada

At the time, Joe was working for a telephone manufacturing company which was doing something in Canada and offering U.S. staff the opportunity to relocate if they wished to.  Joe asked if I would mind spending the remainder of the week driving up to Canada to “check out” the new location to see if he was interested.  With nothing else to tie us down, I agreed to split the costs and off we went.
Joe drove up to Seattle and then we boarded a ferry to Vancouver.  That’s pretty much it.  We saw a lot of greenery.  Joe and I rode our first car ferry.  (Why a car ferry?  Just because neither of us had ever been on one.  We drove back.)  We listened to a lot of music during the drives.  A couple of nights we camped and a couple we stayed in “inexpensive” (cheap) motels.  We mostly did just enough to keep the trip going.  Then we’d park and chill.  Did I mention we brought along seven cases of beer for the week we expected to stay at Shasta?  As I recall, we got through five of them and I let him have the remainder when we got back to S.F.
What did I learn about Joe?  Mostly he had grown up to be his own man while I was away in the Army.  He was a bit of Dave (he enjoyed working with his hands).  He was a bit of Frank (he could be a charmer when he wanted to be).  He was a bit of Ray and Ralph in music tastes and how he treated other people with respect – irrespective of their job / station.  Like his dad, he had a way of looking at things logically and figuring them out.  Like George, he had a “little brother” attitude: “You may be a bit older, but I’m nippin’ at your heels, and I’ll catch up soon.”  But mostly, what I realize now is that he had what I call the Beierly “give it try” attitude.  “If it doesn’t work out, we’ll fix it or try something different.”

Joe in his Dress Whites

I’m not sure if Joe ever got offered or accepted that job in Canada.  (I don’t believe he did.)  The next thing I heard he was in the Navy.  I was a bit surprised by that because Joe wasn’t one to take “instruction” from his older brothers (a mind of his own), but he took to the Navy like a fish to water.  Joe got married (to Ceal, the proclaimed love of his life).  He made a career of service.  And he raised a family which he openly cherished.  We were both raised Roman Catholics.  I’ve tended to fall off the wagon periodically, but Joe became a working Christian (“by their acts you shall know them”).  Unfortunately, with my living in Europe and his living around the world (and / or way over on the East Coast), I never got a chance to ask him about that.  I would check in with Ray before and after football season and Ray would tell me about Joe’s kids this and Joe traveling there and Joe helping these people with that.  All the things “family” talk about when you’ve known each other long enough to not have to say anything and you’re sure there’s always time to kick-it again in a few months.

Joe and Ceal

And now, Ray and Joe are both gone…
The world is a better place for them having been here.  My world is a little less sunny for their passing.  And once again I mourn the loss of a brother by another mother…
COVID-19 is just a virus.  It doesn’t care about how many lives it takes or the families and grief it leaves behind.  378,777 of our fellow Americans have died…  This post has been about one of them.
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On This Day In:
2020 Implications
2019 Just To…
2018 Still Going…
2017 Great Risk
2016 Robbery
2015 Humanity Plus
2014 Dinner For Two?
2013 Exercise For Those Over 50
2012 Tearful Joy!!
Except When He’s Left

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Each Christmas season, our tradition is to get our Christmas tree the first full weekend of December and to take it down the first full weekend after January 6th (aka: the “Feast of the Three Kings” or “Epiphany” or “Little Christmas”).  We have a secondary tradition of purchasing a representative decoration for each year.  Sometimes they are religious (angels, stars, etc.), sometimes they are Christmas but humorous and sometimes they are topical (StarTrek, StarWars, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, etc).  Anyway, we are getting ready to take the tree down next weekend, so I thought I’d post a few pictures of this year’s tree and ornaments…  (You can click on the image to see a larger version.)

For the X-mas movie geek (me)

Peanuts Anniversary

Doggie Ornament (will be Shiva when we can get a decent photo after the lock-down)

Our 2020 Tree

2020 Tree and our “Saudi Tree” in the right background

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On This Day In:
2020 Still Looking
2019 Too True
2018 Simon Says
2017 Next Cell
2016 Important Knowledge
2015 Are You Still The Exception?
2014 In Answer
Days Are Passing
2013 Opportunity
2012 Appropriate Qualities
2011 A Place To Hang My Hat

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