Category Archives: Blackjack & Tonka

Adventures with the pups

Yesterday Was a Good Day.

A very good day, in fact. Today – Saturday – not so much. But I’ll power through it like I always do. Like I’m always forced to. And do you know what helps?

Journey. Journey helps. One of the few bands I’ve never seen (ditto Pretenders), and all it took was a tiny prod to give Ticketmaster and the boys (and Chrissie) 300 of my American dollars. So, assuming I don’t step in front of a bus before August, there’s that. That’s so far away, I can’t even think about it right now. Nonetheless, as it is written in the Albums, Departure 1:1 – Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it. Devotional meditation: Do I love to move? Do I love to groove? Do I love the lovin’ things?

What I can think about is my deck project. So, after driving around all night (again, which is a story of its own – let’s just say I’ve seen some sh*t; and over the past 9 months or so, I’ve logged a stunning amount of time just driving around aimlessly in the Wee Small Hours), I finally made it to the hardware store to get the lumber to finish up the steps. I’ve been wanting to get on this for weeks, but life kinda gets in the way of projects sometimes. But, now, done. Well, mostly done, anyway – I need enough lumber for a couple more steps and the banister. I’ll probably pick that up tomorrow, after a road trip, or Monday, after my home-away-from home time. (Monday addendum: except for a little sanding, the steps are done. So, would-be burglars, murderers, stalkers, whatever, you’re welcome for the much easier access – but be sure and smile for the camera.)

Steps are challenging. Lots of math and geometry, and very little margin for error. But I did it, without a single screw-up, nor a drop of blood spilled. Now, after, that’s another story – inexplicably, I got a really bad nosebleed. No idea why. Probably stress. Maybe it’s a tumor. Anyway, if I can build steps on less than an hour sleep, image the projects I could accomplish if I was well rested? I had debated hiring someone to do this, but why pay someone to do something I can do (probably better)? You just wind up with a shady contractor that does a half-assed job and it becomes a hassle. Do it right, do it yourself. Like me. Use your whole ass.

Now I just need to get my mighty pressure washer out and clean the deck. It’s always something, right? Right. Speaking of, I’ve ordered new sinks and faucets for my bathroom. No one sees it but me, but I still want it to be nice. Can’t stand a sloppy bathroom (or a sloppy house in general – I’m somewhat fastidious about my cleaning). I mean, come on. One thing I’ll never be accused of is being a slob.

Of course, I will pay my guy to work on the Jeep. Not because I can’t do it, but because I don’t have a car lift, and if you’re going to tear the suspension apart, a car lift helps move things along. Oh, right – I tore the suspension on the Jeep apart. Intentionally. I think I mentioned a while back that I ordered a lift kit and wheel spacers – well, all that finally came in, and because if a project is worth doing, it’s worth over-doing, so I went ahead and bought big new tires to go with it. In a word, it’s awesome. It looks so much better, and I’m sure will perform better off-road. Between the lift, wheel spacers, new tires, and the recently-added winch, I believe I’m ready to take my adventuring to the next level. Of course, it’s never done – next on the list is skid plates, and I’m having some custom tow hooks made for the front. Basically, to put the skid plates on, you have to take the whole front end off, and if I’m going to do that anyway, I might as well add the tow hooks, because that also requires dismantling the front. Gonna get them in yellow, to match the caliper covers. I’ve taken the back apart to install the tow package; the front should be basically the same. Being handy is awesome. And if you’re wondering, the inside of the Jeep is pretty spotless, as well. I’ll make someone a good wife someday.


I have also continued to add to my Ring camera network. I’m completely sold on it. I now have cameras covering all sides of the yard, the dog area, the barn, the Jeep and a few other spots I’m not going to divulge. Plus, of course, the Jeep itself is always recording – and I do mean always – it sees (and hears) everything, and I have a whole folder just full of…stuff. So, if you’re thinking about murdering me to death – or anything else – you better lure me away from the house, the Jeep and the motorbikes (I would suggest tasty, tasty donuts as bait). And keep in mind that I have Liam Neeson on speed-dial, and he has a very particular set of skills.

It’s that time of year again. My sweet Blackjack turned 8 years old. I can’t wrap my head around that. His birthday coincides with The Great Unpleasantness, so that means it’s been 8 years since that fiasco, as well. Yeah, there’s always some fiasco with me – but I’m working on it. I made it through the holiday season (officially, now), and I haven’t really celebrated a single holiday in a year – not Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s. Not even flippin’ Arbor Day. Because reasons. Oh, I wanted to, but like every year, it just didn’t happen. All that’s left is that thing of which we do not speak in April – although, truth be told, I’m trying to look forward to it this year. Probably spend it on the Dragon. Now that the Jeep is all souped up, I’ll have to get new photos up there – and, of course, gotta get the bike up there. Sorry, kinda wandered off-topic. So, BJ turned 8, and he had cake, as always. He’s doing really well – he had some hip issues last year, but the daily Cosequin really seems to be helping. Great advice from my vet. I don’t understand people who have pets and never take them for basic veterinary care. Pets are a responsibility; not just something to dump off when it conflicts with your social schedule or are too self-centered to provide basic health needs. Grr. Some people just don’t have a heart. Or a soul. More specifically, some people just suuuuuuck.

And good news for the puppers, there was snow. Unexpected, of course. At least we got one snowfall for the pups to play in. And the Jeep (but that was prior to the mods) and the BMW. I’ll take it. It was the best kind of snow; a lot in the morning, and gone by the end of the day.

Of course, now that the Jeep is all souped up, it’ll probably never snow again. But at least I got out on the bike. That’s something.

There’s been a little adventure, as well. Not much, but a little. I went back to Falling Water Falls, which is always awesome, and then returned to Signal Point/Rainbow Lake and Edwards Point. These are some of my favorite places. The hiking is amazing, the scenery is spectacular, and wrapping up at River Drifters is always a bonus (OK, not Hot Chocolatier bonus, but a bonus all the same). However, tomorrow, there will be adventure. Much needed adventure. Watch this space.

Now, I need to go wash all my hoodies. Because of course I do.

Links:
Falling Water/Rainbow Lake/Edwards Point Photo Album on Facebook

Handy, man.

I have a pile of lumber sitting in my yard. Yeah, I’ve gone a little nuts on the shopping, again. I have contractors coming today to install a new French door (‘freedom door’?), but the lumber is for another project. I’m gonna build steps off the deck on my bedroom, to make it easier on potential murderers and stuff to creep in in the middle of the night and do what they do. Actually, it’ll also be so I can pop right out when I go to the gym without waking the puppers at 3 AM. I need a project – but not installing a French door single-handedly; it’s a two-person job, and I don’t know anyone who’d make the time to take me to the hospital if I had a spear through my head, much less take a few hours to help me install a door (ironically, though, I know plenty of people who’d want me to install a door or something for them). I miss having projects. I was thinking about the house remodel I did just prior to the Great Unpleasantness, and that really was good times. Gutted and expanded a bathroom (jacuzzi – noice), remodeled the kitchen, my office – really, the entire house, including all the landscaping. I learned how to do slate tile, plumbing, hardwood flooring, HVAC, cabinetry, electrical, lighting and ceiling fans, foundations, plants – really, everything you’d need to know (and I already knew quite a bit). It turned out amazing. I guess I’m handy to have around, just ask – well, just take my word for it. Maybe someday, I’ll take on another major remodel, because it really was a great time, not to mention an awesome team-building exercise (if you know what I mean). Say what you will about *ahem* that person and what she did; she was an awesome remodel partner, and did a great job helping. Maybe that’s what I actually miss – the camaraderie of tackling a project as a team. Dunno. Perhaps I should start looking at buying a project house? Wouldn’t be any “team”, though, unless me and a box of doughnuts counts as a team. Team Fatass. Yeah, that works. Anyway, I’m looking forward to my little step project, although that won’t be a big deal. Just gotta find the time – I’m planning on going away this weekend, so maybe next week.

Now is the winter of our discount tent.

And that’s not all the shopping I’ve done. I finally got around to ordering the tent I’ve had my eye on, along with appropriate camping accessories. It’s nice – it’s a “blackout tent”, meaning it blocks out most of the sunlight during the day, and people can’t see in (because no one wants to see that). So, I’ve got to plan a camping trip – maybe that’ll be next weekend. Maclellan Island or Williams Island, via kayak, perhaps. That’s one of my bucket list items, anyway.

There was other shopping, but stuff I’ll probably just end up pitching. I’ve tossed almost as much stuff as I’ve bought in the past couple of months. You know how much personalized carabiners cost? Here’s a hint: a lot. Grr.

“Alexa, make my life not suck and order some Cap’n Crunch.”

Oh, I also got the new Echo Show – it’s the newer Alexa device with a screen. I have a bunch of these now – I ordered one as an ungiven gift last month, plus I already had several other Alexa devices. The beauty of the Show is I’ll be able to pair it with external cameras, so I can see what’s going on outside. I already have outdoor security cameras (and, boy, the things they’ve seen) plus cameras on the Jeep and Thing 1 (ditto – they’ve really seen some shit), so it’ll be cool to tie them all together. I’d really like to try the video chat functionality, but I don’t know anyone else that has one – besides, I’m pretty sure I have a face for radio.

I have also continued to dramatically downsize. I have too much junk. I think my sentimental days may be (finally) coming to a close. Not much point in that, really.

Hello, ladies.

As if all that wasn’t enough, it’s also that time of year again – pup pics with Santa at the mall. I think this year, I’ll forego being in the pics myself, and just let the puppers be with Santa. I know what I look like, and honestly, two fat guys and two dogs is just kinda sad. I’ve always hoped that it would be different, but it never is. Meh. Still, I can let the boys have their fun – and they are always a huge hit at the mall (yeah, we have to walk a couple of laps, mostly so the goths at Hot Topic can ask, “Are those wolves”?). The mall is doing the photo shoots 5 times this year, so at least I’ll have time for a do-over if I don’t like the final result.

Yeah, like you didn’t know.

I guess that means I need to get the “Naughty” Chuck Taylors out, as well. So, there’s one good thing about the holidays.

Oh, and someone sent me this: Stay Single Until You Find Someone Who Puts Effort Into Pursuing You Every Day. That’s a 12-piece bucket of truth right there (although the pronouns should be gender-neutral; I could easily replace “his” with “hers” and “boyfriend” with “girlfriend” and still have a good read).

My current jam:

Anti-Social Network.

I’m rapidly getting over the various social network platforms. Sure, I like pictures of cats doing stupid things as much as the next person, but seeing strangers insulting/arguing with each other, the non-stop parade of spammers, and every company out there trying to sell me shit I don’t need is getting old. And yeah, I realize the irony in posting that here. So, for now, anyway, I’m going to limit my online activity to my Movescount, which shows all the maps and selected photos from my adventuring. That’s about all that keeps me motivated anymore, anyway – well, that and binging Naked & Afraid (which I absolutely want to do).

Because I haven’t really posted anything here in months, there’s some catch-up to do. There have been adventures, despite my knee still giving me a hard time. Thankfully, the Winter of Our Discontent is over, so I’ve taken the kayak out, ridden the mountain bike, and been on both motorbikes. And, of course, hiking.


In no particular order, there was mountain biking at Edwards Point; one of my favorite places. It’s been a bucket list item of mine to bicycle through the woods to the Point, and it was worth it. Only about 17 miles, but all slop; mud, rocks, streams and poorly-marked trails. Now I have a much better sense of the trails and Jeep roads, so I’ll be going back before the weather warms up too much.

Click for larger, or Movescount data.

I also took the kayak out for the first paddle of the season. This, too, was one of my favorite places – the ruins of old Harrison, the town that was destroyed when the dam was built back in the 1930s. It’s super-compelling; in the winter, the water level of the lake is low, so old foundations, roads and other debris are exposed, and (to me, anyway), it’s really interesting. In addition, I landed at Patten Island, and had a more extensive hike than the last time I visited. Really awesome way to start the paddling season.

Click for larger, or Movescount data.

And hiking. Really, more than I feel like spelling out; I’ll just say that they were all amazing, challenging, sometimes dangerous hikes, with some visits to old spots (like Falling Water Falls), as well as new ones:

Mystery Falls (Movescount)
Raccoon Mountain Caverns (Movescount)
Mountain Beautiful Trail & Incline #1 (Movescount)
Spiritualist Campground (Movescount)
Skyuka Spring (Movescount)
Cloudland Canyon – Bear Creek Trail (Movescount)
Falling Water Falls (Movescount)
Mushroom Rock/Suck Creek Gorge (Movescount)
Persimmon Branch Dual-Sport Ride (Movescount)


There we go, all caught up. Oh, and all this activity has been incorporated into the Master Adventure Map – if you want to be impressed and/or tired, you should check it out.

I’ve also been going through a full-blown purge out in the barn, because reasons. Lots and lots and lots of stuff gone, and more still to go. The practical upside of this – well, one of them, anyway – is that I have plenty of room for the motorbikes, kayaks, mountain bike, unicycle, and other devices I’m in a perpetual state of trying to kill myself on. Who says there’s not a plus side to being compulsively neat?

click for larger


Now, after going to all the trouble of writing all of…that, the most important thing: my sweet BlackJack turned 7 years old in February. Not only does that mean that we’ve been best pals for 7 years (technically, 7 years next Monday, since he was 8 weeks old when he came to me), it also means it’s been 7 years since the Great Unpleasantness. I don’t know where the years have gone. I don’t know where they’re going, either, but hopefully it’ll be more interesting than just stomping around in the forest by my onesies. Nonetheless, Happy Birthday, BJ.

Links:
Edwards Point MTB Ride Photo Album on Facebook
Old Harrison Paddle Photo Album on Facebook
Mystery Falls/Raccoon Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
Lookout Mountain Photo Album on Facebook
Cloudland Canyon/Bear Creek Photo Album on Facebook
Falling Water Falls/Mushroom Rock Photo Album on Facebook

Fat Bastard.

…no, not Santa. Me. They say, “Don’t be fat and ugly, go to the gym and just be ugly”. I think “they” might have been onto something there. So, obviously, that time of year again – my only holiday tradition; Santa pics with the pups. I don’t want to say it was a trainwreck, but it was a trainwreck – because reasons. Still, a half-way decent pic this year; probably the best of the 5 times we’ve done it. It is practically impossible to get a decent photo of all 4 of us – me, Santa, Blackjack and Tonka. So, they shoot 5 or 6 shots, and I simply pick out the least-worst of the lot. Sorta like playing chess, when you know you have no good moves left. Nonetheless, it’s done, and I guess I’m glad I’ve documented us once more for posterity. I’d really like a great pic of me and the boys – I need to find a photographer.

Probably the best of the lot, not that that is saying much – click for larger

Probably the best of the lot (especially after my Photoshop magic), not that that is saying much – click for larger

These old ones – ugh. Turbo ugh. I think that girl who said I was single because I’m…unattractive might have been on to something. At the very least, I don’t photograph well, unless I’m wearing the motorbike helmet or a paper sack.

Who knows, maybe by next year, I’ll be prettier. I don’t think that’s how the Universe works, though, and sadly, Photoshop doesn’t have enough filters to help much.

Don’t Go Chasin’ Waterfalls, Part II

A long way down - click for larger

A long way down – click for larger

Not a huge amount of adventure this weekend, but some. There’s just so much other stuff going on – not really worth getting into – but I was still able to explore a little bit. In this case, Foster Falls, in the South Cumberland State Park. I’ve heard about this, had friends invite me out there, but never actually done it. I don’t know what I was waiting for – it was spectacular, and mile-for-mile, some of the best scenery I’ve seen.

It was a short hike – only about 5.5 miles circumnavigating the falls and the Fiery Gizzard Trail; just not enough time to explore much more (but I’m hoping to go back next weekend for a more intense trek – or maybe on my bike, since it’s 13 miles one-way). Got to the trailhead before sunup, and just piddled around until it was light enough to hit the trail. First stop, the overlook above Foster Falls – only about 100 yards from the trailhead. Hey, don’t put the cool stuff first! That’s like Van Halen opening for your local Journey cover band. Make us work for it, Mother Nature. But following the overlook, a somewhat challenging hike down into the ravine to the base of the falls. This was amazing, and I’m already looking forward to going back next summer so I can swim in the lagoon right to the bottom of the falls.

Foster Falls - click for much larger

Foster Falls – click for much larger

Following that, back up the “Climber’s Loop” to the top of the western rim, and a great view from well above the falls (the photo at the top, where I was – again – hanging over the side of the bluff; not the first time I’ve done this, probably won’t be the last). A little bit farther, and back to the trailhead. The loop was only about 3 miles, so I decided to explore the campground and surrounding area, just to add some steps and see what there was to see. So, all together, only 5.5 miles, but a really good 5.5 miles.

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

click for larger, or Endomondo data or Movescount data

Following Foster Falls, a few side trips. I checked out Denny Cove – near Foster Falls – which has it’s own trails and a waterfall (didn’t explore the trail, just found the trailhead for future reference); Ketner’s Mill; and the Haley Road entrance to the PCSF. The last time I was here, it was about halfway through a (at the time, personal best) 21-mile hike. Thanks to the Jeep, I explored the road a little bit; I’ll go back once my better wheels/tires are on the Jeep, and I’ll probably add skid plates, as well, because rocks.

No walking this time, kids.

No walking this time, kids.

So, not my usual crazy amount of adventure, but still, adventure, all the same. No complaints.

Maximum capacity: 2 pups.

Maximum capacity: 2 pups.

However, there was still Sunday, which brought the first real trip with the boys in the new car. Not a long one; just a quick trip down to our regular stomping grounds on the North Shore. The 7 Bridges Marathon was going on, so there were people and activities everywhere, and I think the boys were excited to be out for their first real adventure of the fall. They did just great on the drive – the back of the Jeep is so much different than the backseat of the truck; they have room to move around, so they have to kinda figure out what they most comfortable spots are while the vehicle is moving. And they did; it just took them a few minutes to get settled. Once they were, no problem. I’m thrilled – the ability to take the boys with me was one of the big deciding factors in what kind of car to buy (along with the ability to carry my kayaks and/or my bike; 4 wheel drive; and fuel economy). I think there are going to be some good times had this fall for me and the boys.

Link:
Foster Falls/Fiery Gizzzard Hike Photo Album on Facebook

Birthday Boy (Pup, That Is).

click for larger

click for larger

My sweet Blackjack is 5 years old today. That also means it’s been 5 years since The Great Unpleasantness (well, practically), and y’know what? Worth. It. I wouldn’t have imagined that a dog would so significantly improve my life, but here we are. Probably the most notable thing – apart from non-judgmental companionship, affection and lots of wags – is that he motivated me to get off My Huge Fat Ass™. A big, active dog needs big, active activities. It started with us walking, then hiking, then realizing I was going to have to get cracking if I was going to keep up. And cracking I did get.

His birthday hasn’t been all good, though. He’s been dealing with a bit of a shoulder injury for a couple of weeks; didn’t seem to be too major, no obvious pain or anything, just a little limping. So, I took him to see Doctor Pretty Vet on Thursday – luckily, no bad news, just some anti-inflammatory meds and a little rest. Most likely, a pulled muscle in his shoulder. He’s responding well; so well, in fact, we went for our traditional birthday walk on Saturday (with Mr. Tonka, natch). Not a long walk; didn’t want him to overdo it, but since I had to go out anyway to get his cake (yeah, he had a cake), I brought the boys along.

The cake was awesome, and the boys have been enjoying it – they’re just getting small slices at a time; it may be too rich to have all at once. In addition, I signed up for auto-delivery of their food from Chewy.com, and that showed up Saturday morning. So much more convenient that going to the pet store, and actually slightly less expensive. When you’re talking about $60 bags of food – twice a month – cheaper is good. And free shipping, as well. The boys are worth it. Of course, there were toys, as well, and lots and lots of birthday pets.

I was just telling someone today that I am basically a “love me, love my dogs” person. I’ve met people who’ve said to me, “You have dog hair on your coat (or whatever – their hair is everywhere, all the time)” in a kinda judgmental/condescending way. See ya! Love me, love my dogs. In fact, I don’t care whether you love me or not, but loving my dogs is non-negotiable.

Happy Birthday, Blackjack. I hope we have many, many more together.

Another Day.

wsb-new-550So, yeah. Meh. The usual. Every year, I say, “Next year will be different”, then next year comes, and it never is. I guess in an uncertain and sometimes frightening world, it should be reassuring that some things never, ever change. So, to that end, I was at the gym at 3 o’clock this morning, as always. Not a soul there – but I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. Normal people are with their families or sleeping or whatever at 3 AM, especially on a holiday. So, I just tell myself I’m pleased with my motivation and dedication, versus thinking, “Wow, this is pitiful”. At least I made good use of my time, and I’ve been keeping the diet on track for the most part – dodged a few bullets over the weekend, that’s for true.

And the pups and I had our traditional holiday walk this morning. That’s the other thing that’s consistent – a holiday walk with my boys (and of course, they had presents – gotta spend my money on something [that I don’t end up having to return]). On the WSB, basically me, a hobo or two, and one or two other pitiful and/or motivated people. To have 20K steps in by 9:00 AM – worth it. I was also lucky enough to get another awesome pic of Blackjack & Tonka. Like the amazing sunrise photo from a couple of weeks ago, shooting dozens of pics yielded a handful of good ones, and one that I was able to work my mad computer skills on to make something special (and you can click it for a larger version). In fact, I think I’ll take both of these, have them professionally printed (maybe on canvas) and framed. Ars Gratia Artis.

So, I guess if I want next year to be different, I’m going to have to make it so – it’s not just going to happen. Message received, Universe – I’m already on it. And in related news, someone sent me this today:

cost

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Random Access Memories.

coolidge-park-pups-622The boys and I had a nice walk this morning. It was flippin’ cold, but that’s when the boys like to get out. Not a long walk, just a breezy 3 miles from the North Shore to downtown and back (and, just occasionally, I get an amazing photograph, which I make even better with my mad Photoshop skills – click the pic for larger). Of course, the boys had to announce their presence to the waking world:


You should hear that in the middle of a dark, moonless night. I’m sure my neighbors love me.

hustleLast week, I took part in the Workweek Hustle Challenge with some of my FitBit friends. I love these challenges – super motivational (as you can see). I normally pull down between 200K – 250K steps per week (which is still pretty impressive; fitness guidelines say you should shoot for 10,000 per day/70,000 per week), but during the challenge, I got 316K steps in just 5 days, and I’m on track to hit 400K for the week – a number I rarely hit. Still need to get about 15K more tonight, so I guess I’ve got a date with the Bowflex. The Marquis de Sade of exercise gear. I love the Bowflex, but holy cow, that thing just kills me. I guess that’s the point – no pain, no gain, no size 29 Calvin Kleins. Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll be invited to join any challenges in the near future – I kinda left everyone in the dust, although a couple people told me I was helping them find their motivation. Whatever it takes, kids. Get off your ass. Do it now. Not tomorrow, not January 1st. Now.

Mac G4 - Weird, cool, and an awesome paperweight.

Mac G4 – Weird, cool, and an awesome paperweight.

The new computer is officially at 100% now, and it’s awesome. Crazy fast. Like, stunningly so. I picked up external 1TB and 4TB drives to make backups/recovery images of both the new machine and the new laptop, and it’s amazing to me how cheap they are. A 4TB external drive was $129. I can remember spending close to $500 for a 60 megabyte drive way back when, and my nerd friends being dazzled that I had that much storage. And these drives are tiny; about the size of a deck of cards. So, I’ll lock them away in my firebox and put them in the barn for disaster recovery purposes. I seriously have so many redundant copies of my data – the removable drives, my RAID NAS, an external cloud server, Dropbox, and if all that fails, my old machine, which I’ve packed up and put in the barn (along with the carcasses of at least a half dozen other machines). Speaking of the old machines, I’ve got a G4 that I need to do something with. It’s so cool, I can’t just toss it, but it’s completely useless now. Even my 5-year old iMac is practically useless, but that’s another story. So, I want to make an art project or something out of the G4. Not sure what – maybe load it up with Bluetooth speakers and sound-activated lighting and control it with my now-defunct (thanks to the FitBit buyout) Pebble smartwatch. Frick, I’m a nerd. Stay tuned.

So, anyway, in going through the computers over the past couple of weeks, I found so much…stuff. I’m a digital packrat. Tens of thousands of photographs, GoPro videos, every SMS I’ve ever sent or received. I have a box with a BlackBerry, 2 old iPhones, probably 4 iPods, and then my iPad, Galaxy Note, Kindle, Surface, blah, blah. So. Much. Stuff. Still, looking at all those photos, videos and whatnot was – I dunno – interesting. Memories, lots of memories. Sadly, more bad ones than good ones. Gotta work on that.

This week, I need to get cracking. I’ve been pretty good, diet-wise, but not as good as I should be. I think tomorrow will be a liquid diet day. Maybe a couple of days. We’ll see. Because of the cold and the rain last week (and a busted door), I missed a couple of days at the gym, but I’m back on track as far as that goes (buying new workout clothes helps with the motivation), but I’m still not doing too well at logging everything, and that’s when you get in trouble (and yeah, that cinnamon bun at Panera probably didn’t help, either). So, tomorrow, back to it. Hit the gym hard, mind my macros, and send stupid 2016 away once and for all – maybe 2017 will treat me with a little more dignity.

Oh, despite missing a couple of days at the gym, my Apple Watch streak continues. 121 days to go to 500 straight days. I’ve got this.

Ready, Set, Go.

365Well, there it is. A perfect year on the Apple Watch. I hit 365 total workouts last week, but not consecutively (because when I first got the Watch last year, I really didn’t know how it worked for the first week or so). To ensure I hit the number, I hit it double-hard at the gym this morning – got there extra early, worked extra hard, 1100 calories burned and 12000 steps taken, all before 6:00 AM. That’s how you do it, kids. You work. Hard. No shortcuts, no cheating. No juicing. No surgery. Just work your ass off. While cheating may produce the desired results, it’s not nearly as gratifying as simply putting in the work. No excuses. Excuses are for those who need them. Too early, too expensive, too far, too hard, too cold – whatever. I’d much rather try and fail than cheat and succeed. I dunno – I guess there are some people who want the path of least resistance, although I’ve always believed that resistance builds character (on the subject of which, please, dear Santa, make me a better judge of character [or lack thereof]). There are those who’d rather cheat than put in the work, because cheating is far easier than putting effort into something. But you get back exactly what you put in – if you don’t put forth effort, you’re not entitled to be surprised when it doesn’t work (and that goes for the gym, work, or anything else). Anyway, I hit my goal. And, just like the 100-mile bike ride and numerous other goals I’ve achieved, I did it on my own, with no brass band or confetti at the end. While the last year in particular hasn’t been the greatest, I refuse to let anyone or anything hold me back from the goals I’ve set for myself. I’m pretty good at shaking off the negative influences, and I intend to get better at it.

End of speech. Oh, and the next Apple Watch goal is 500 consecutive days – so, 135 days to go.

sweetsweatI’m trying a couple of new things. First of all, Bliss Fat Girl Six Pack. It’s a topical that is supposed to help restore skin elasticity and improve toning. Granted, my abs look pretty good as is – at least they don’t look like a topographic map of Utah, but when you lose weight, your skin may not “pop back” as quickly as you’d like (Another reason not to shortcut; dramatic, fast weight loss just wrecks your skin – watch My 600 Pound Life and see.). Anyway, I’ve only been using it for a week, so the jury is still out on its effectiveness. I don’t know if it would help anyone who desperately needed it, but for someone like me that just needs a little firming, it may do the trick.

Additionally, Sweet Sweat. It’s also a topical that enhances sweat production during cardio. I suspect it’s more of a short-term thing – that is, you sweat more, and lose water weight, but I don’t know how that affects fat loss (probably not much, but I’m willing to find out). However, combined with my Kutting Weight gear, it should give me a little nudge, and that’s all I’m looking for. As it is, my vascularity has dramatically improved, and I’ve even developing a nice V-cut, but when your body fat percentage gets really low, squeezing out that last little bit becomes harder and harder. I’m doing loads of ab exercises at the gym, and the muscle is definitely there – I just need to firm the skin and shake off just a tiny bit more subcutaneous fat. Once more, hard work. Good diet. No cheating. Every friggin’ day.

pupsYesterday, I took the boys on an early-morning walk. Like listening to The Go-Gos, you just can’t be in a bad mood when walking a dog(s), even when life is handing you lemons. So, a quick walk on the North Shore – just an easy 4 miles from Coolidge over to downtown (and a last look at the Nina and Pinta before they departed) and back. There was a race of some sort going on, so there were lots of people out, which the pups just love – they get so much attention, and they just adore it (and I don’t mind at all talking to people about them). I’m planning on hiking this morning, and I may take them, although I haven’t decided – I’m going to explore a new trail, and I probably should make sure it’s safe before bringing them along. We’ll see. Nonetheless, crushing it at the gym, hitting my numbers, and my two best pals, with whom I never have to worry about whether or not their tail-wagging is honest, or just f*cking with my head – all’s right with the world. OK, maybe not “right”, but not too bad.

32millionAddendum: Thanks to a 100K-plus step weekend, I crossed over 32 million lifetime steps on the FitBit. I’ve almost gotten to the point where I don’t pay much attention to the running total, because it’s just gotten so ridiculously high. Really, 32 million steps in 3 1/2 years? That’s just nuts. But that’s the kind of work I was talking about up there, and nothing worth having comes easy. If it’s worth having, then it’s worth working for – if you’re not willing to put in the effort, you don’t deserve it in the first place.