Monthly Archives: January 2021

With This Ring.

Things move fast over here, kids. I’m not one to just sit around and let life pass me by – and to that end, I’ve been turbo-busy these first almost-three weeks of 2021.

I’m not quite as fat as my clothes of many layers make me look. Not *quite*.

Last weekend, a great hike – and reconnecting with one of my best hiking friends I haven’t seen in a long time – at McGill Creek and Graysville Mountain. It was cold, windy and gray, but still, a really good hike. I just recently read about the new bridge across the Creek, and any chance to go check out a deep woods bridge, I jump on. The plan was only to do about 5ish miles to the bridge and back, but you know me – it ended up being an 11-mile marathon. After the hike to the bridge, the decision was made to scale Graysville Mountain to find the waterfall and overlook, both of which were accomplished. It’s be a while since I did 11 miles in one shot, and it felt pretty good.

Sunday, reconnecting with someone else I haven’t seen in forever for some light trekking in North Chick Creek Gorge. After Saturday’s adventure, I didn’t really feel like doing a long one – plus, I had to go see my pals at Home Depot and flex that plastic a little bit (OK, a lot). Pretty good weekend – in fact, one the better weekends I’ve had in awhile. 2021 is treating me OK – so far.

I’m a lumberjack and something something…

Now, this weekend – well, your ol’ pal here very nearly went to sing with the choir eternal. You’ll recall I mentioned a couple of dangerous trees that needed to come down, right? Well, I decided to tackle one of them, in between my many other projects. Let me tell you, dudes and dudettes, I thought I had pressed my luck on this one – life flashed before my eyes and everything (and yeah, I was bored). To make a long story short, the Big Dead Tree didn’t want to come down. At all. I’ll spare you all the physics and safety lectures, and obviously I survived – but if that tree had been about 6 feet taller, it would have driven me into the ground like a plastic tent spike. That’s the downside of doing something like this without a spotter/little helper. One of these days, I’m definitely gonna get killed to death in the yard.

The upside is that I now have a big brush pile for burning, suitable for your finest vestal virgins, Viking funeral or whatever. And before I piled up all the brush, I shovelled out the fire pit – 3 big loads in my wagon, from years and years of burning. I’ve been burning a lot lately, and the next suitable day, I’ll be out there again. Until then, I guess I need to get out there with my mighty stump grinder; as many trees as I’ve taken down, I’m now flush with stumps that need to be removed (and I’ve already ground down probably 20 of them). Fingers crossed, that thing doesn’t try to kill me again.

Anyway, I now have a nearly clear view all the way down to the bottom of the driveway, which was the goal, because reasons. Even one of the Ring cameras can see down there now.

And speaking of the Ring cameras, well, I’ve kinda gone a little nuts with the Ring gear. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and to that end, I now have eight Ring floodlights scattered about, along with 6 Ring cameras (and more on the way). I’ve spent more Benjis than I care to think about, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. The Ring stuff is the bee’s knees – basically, if any camera detects motion, all the lights come on (and can probably be seen from space), and any adjacent cameras start recording (and boy, howdy – the things they’ve seen). Equally, if any light detects motion, all the lights come one, and the cameras in that area start recording. It is super, super cool. Installing all that stuff was a chore – especially single-handedly. Up and down the ladder, fetching tools, having one hand too few in some cases – seriously, I need a little helper. But I’m used to doing things on my own (or for others – there are people out there that treat me like God; that is, they ignore my existence unless they need something).

Hello, ladies.

That’s not all – I added 8 TP-Link Kasa smart plugs, to go with the half-dozen Kasa bulbs, exterior rope lights and my pimpalicious Kasa LEDs I put on the back of my headboard. Between the Ring stuff, Kasa stuff, numerous Alexas, smart fan, Logitech bridge, Roomba and my mastery of IFTTT, before long, I’ll never have to get up. Next on my list, to tie the Kasa plugs/bulbs into motion sensors, because why not? Oh, and I’ve decided I’m leaving my holiday lights up in perpetuity. I’m gonna be festive, dammit – and they actually look nice on my deck, especially with the rope lights (and yeah, I added rope lights to the barn, as promised – for reals, my yard looks like Las Vegas).

Not a bad view every morning.

Now, I can finally stop to catch my breath. For a minute. There’s a lot of other stuff going on right now – planning a paddle, hoping to return to the Dragon (maybe even on the BMW), thinking about heading south for some much needed beach time. Never a dull moment.

Tomorrow, the iPhone 12 Pro will be here, so I’ll be geeking out on that, I’m sure. Clearly, I dig the gadgets.

Oh, and admit it – when you saw the title of this post, you thought I got engaged or something, right? Yeah – I don’t see that happening. I think I’ve learned that lesson.

All The Leaves Are Brown.

Well, here it is, 2021. Only 4 days in, but my 2021 has been pretty good, which is a big plus considering how bad my 2020 was, and especially how bad it ended. Not that I’m surprised – you know that axiom that goes “he died the way he lived”? Well, that was 2020. It was bad on so many levels, if it had ended any differently than the rest of the year, I would have been stunned. However, predictably, it ended in a complete and utter shitshow. Don’t care; it’s over now, and despite a truly awful NYE, there was at least a glimmer of a bright spot from a totally unexpected place. Plus, I made the whole affair a little better by spending some much-needed quality time with my Best Gal over the weekend. More on that in a sec.

But to kick off the New Year, there was much yard work. I can’t believe how much I got done, especially since I was – as usual – doing it all by my onesies (Little Helpers, apply now!). Not that I mind; and the upside is I don’t have anyone yelling/telling me I’m doing something “wrong”. I cut down several of my big dead trees, ground down stumps, mulched many a leaf, and my bonfire burned bright for 4 straight days. But I’m not done – there are several more trees to bring down, two of which are just gonna be…dangerous. They call them “widowmakers”, but that would imply that if I drop one on my cranium, I would leave someone who’d, y’know, care. Anyway, they’re gonna be challenging, especially without a spotter. What’s the worst that could happen, right? I’m a lumberjack, and I’m…OK.

And there was shopping, because of course there was. I splurged on a new iPhone 12 Pro (plus a Ghostek Nautical case, natch). I’m on the 8 Plus now, and it’s fine, but the 12 Pro is supposed to have a much, much better camera, and that matters to me, especially with upcoming activities/adventures. And there’s the usual upgrades – faster chip, more storage, all the usual Apple bells and whistles. I don’t have signal issues or any of that bullshit (so, I never use “I was out of range” as a convenient excuse to cover my tracks), but I am looking forward to taking 5G for a spin. The boxes should start rolling in this week, but the phone itself may take a couple weeks, because iPhone are awesome and they’re in high demand. Luckily, upgrading isn’t the ordeal it used to be – swap the SIM, plug into iTunes, and abracadabra, I’m slightly more cool. Slightly. Anyway, 1200 of my American dollars later, and I’ll be able to look at all the cat pics I like at lightning speed.

I’m also in the process of replacing my exterior door that goes out onto my deck (from my bedroom). I found one I really like, with a window, which the current one lacks. I’m pretty handy, so I’ll probably do it myself; I’ve done doors before. My one concern was picking the thing up (RIP, big black truck), but it turns out my neighbor has a trailer that I’m welcome to use any time I want, so, delivery charges averted. Now, just have to wait for slightly warmer weather, since there will be no door for half a day. No need to heat the entire neighborhood. Oh, and before you ask, of course I’m gonna put a smart lock on the thing (especially since it appears I have to actually keep the door locked now). Hi, have we met?

In other shopping news, Bowflex finally has a new treadmill available, and my finger has been hovering over the “Buy Now” button for a couple of days. I think I’ve found a place to put the thing, but I need to be sure, because at 300 pounds, once it’s there, it’s not moving. With things the way they are with the COVID, it’s not like I’ll be back at the gym anytime soon (but I think I’m going to go one day this week, just to check it out), so I need to do something about my giganto-ass. Speedo weather is just around the corner, y’know.

Speaking of the COVID, it’s bad here. My county keeps breaking records for the “worst day ever”, and I honestly can’t wrap my head around how anyone (anyone with a conscious, soul, compassion, intelligence or self-respect, anyway) could be out there socializing and slinging their DNA around. I cannot believe the stupidity and/or selfishness of people.

Who am I kidding? Of course I can. 2020, remember? And people are assholes. Some people more than others.

I read an article the other day about how purposeful lack of social distancing can be considered assault. That is, if you tell someone to keep six feet away and they don’t, they are assaulting you. Makes sense. Of course, it would be hard to prove – well, unless you had it on video. I understand people zoning out a bit in the line at WM and not realizing they’re getting a little too close, but if you explicitly tell someone to maintain distance and they refuse, well, that tells you everything you need to know about that person, and a legal remedy may be required. This article – on WaPo – went on to detail how quarantining and social distancing are affecting couples, when one follows the guidelines and the other doesn’t care about those recommendations. I guess there are a lot of people out there who are seeing some true colors as a result of all of this. Sigh, never let it be said that humanity isn’t a colossal disappointment.


In their infinite wisdom, Warner Brothers is releasing all their new films on HBOMax at the same time as the theatrical release. This is a great move, to help keep the idiots that refuse to social distance from being tempted by a tentpole film (but I’m sure those idiots will find some other way of fucking over the people they claim to care about). So, part of my weekend was spent with the aforementioned Best Gal – Gal Gadot, to be specific. Wonder Woman. Pretty good film, especially all the 80s throwback stuff. I had a discussion with the Rocket Scientist about the economics of Themescyria – like, how did they get the materials to build that stadium? Who’s responsible for smelting all the metal needed for those uniforms? I know, I overthink; at least about stupid stuff. Things I should be thinking about, not so much. Anyway, next up on the schedule, “Dune”.

Hawaii 1988, my last really good Christmas

Sunday, there was more yardwork, a few errands, more online shopping (how many Ring devices can I add? The answer is “plenty”), stuff around the house. Did I mention that I finished replacing the platform under the bathroom vanity? I did, and it turned out great. I knew it would, but still, it’s gratifying. Anyway, there was also football. NFL football, that is (college football is a complete joke, especially SEC ball). I used to be really into Sunday football day, but I made the decision years ago that I’d rather be outdoors doing things on Sunday. Nonetheless, after the chores were done, I caught a little. My partner in Hawaii was really into the Browns (being from Cleveland; I seem to recall she tried out as a cheerleader, but ended up moving to Hawaii), so I’ve always had a soft spot for them, and now they’re in the playoffs. Hopefully, she was watching. Additionally, my Washington Football Team won their winner-take-all game on Sunday night against the hated Eagles, so they are playoff-bound, as well. Now, I really don’t care too much about any of this, but it would be hilarious if a team that doesn’t even have a name went to the Super Bowl. I’ll be pulling for Cleveland, though – for old times’ sake.

In addition to the 27 other things I accomplished so far this year, I also did some work on the kayak, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Old Harrison. This is one of my favorite paddles, and it’s been a couple years since I last went to there. Always a great trip, exploring the ruins of the town that existed before the dam was built in the ’30s, even though it will no doubt be cold and windy. However, the lake level is only low enough in January/February to see the old roads and foundations, so now or never. Completely worth is – plus, Patten Island is in the vicinity, and that’s always an awesome place to visit.

Oh, and the best part of the New Year (so far)? The new Starbucks is now open. Nice way to start an early morning out, especially when it’s cold. Of course, after the complete train wreck that was 2020, my bar is set pretty low for what’s good, but I’ll take this as a win. Hey, at least no one yelled at me or anything. In fact, 2021 has been completely yell-free, and I intend to keep it that way. Got big plans for this year, after 2020 being a complete waste, and I’m gonna start it…right now.

Lastly, if you need to be reminded, you can drop dead at any time, with no warning. The last thing you say to someone could actually wind up being the last thing you to say to someone, so keep that in mind the next time you call someone an asshole or whatever. Life is short and fragile, and the days you waste are days you’ll never, ever get back (unless, possibly, you’re an Avenger). But for the record, right now, I feel pretty good.