USA in the Morning

Mr Mike's Musings

Category: Life

Workout Excuse #1: No Time

Work. Work. Work. Isn’t that everyone’s mantra? It isn’t so bad, however, when you like your job. No matter which way you are leaning, a little respite is always in order. Then you can go back to the old grind. For some it is lazing on the beach or by the pool, for others it is a mini vacation to the mountains or lakeshore. For me, a little extra time in the gym is just what I need to unwind, tone up, and relax.

The problem is always finding available time. Days fly by and there are all those obligations. There is teaching, directing the band, errands, some social life, a visit to the dentist, and a bit of food preparation. It is mighty handy if you have a home gym and can avoid the travel. I have yet to indulge.

My ideal gym would be in the immediate vicinity, maybe in the basement or the spare room where I could spread out. I would have a treadmill first and foremost. Space not being a problem, I would add one of those total home gym combo machines that has everything built into one unit like those by Powerline or Bowflex. There are lots on the market so you can customize as you like. It is often a matter of budget.

I can see everything in my mind: the weight plates, the chess press station, the leg extension bar, and all the assorted pulleys. It would be a beauty. My problem is motivation. I don’t have the time to go check models out and see what suits my needs. I don’t even know what my needs are. I don’t have a fitness program: just no time.

I would like someone to do all the preliminaries and have the selected equipment delivered. Then they would have a timeline of fitness exercises and goals that would keep me in the peak of health. They could drop in now and then to supervise and make sure I am performing my curls just right. I could use a few tips and tricks. Think of the time I would save having everything directed and controlled.

I know you are thinking, “excuses, excuses.” You will never get started. But I beg to differ. Just having these thoughts in my head is a good beginning. How does anyone get motivated to use up a big chunk of your early morning or evening after dinner, not to mention weekends? How do people stick with something that is physically demanding? Does it take away mentally from other aspects of life?

Medical experts say no way. They know of what they speak. Exercise energizes you and helps you accomplish so much more. So if you are not working out, you are not productive. Plus there is the issue of longevity. You don’t have to have fancy gym equipment either. Lifting a few weights, running, power walking, and swimming, for example, can fill the bill. I think that if I want to maximize the benefits, I should go all out. I need to do circuit training using all the requisite gear. I will fine tune my body like a musical instrument. If you don’t play it, it won’t have a purpose.

What NOT to do with a Pressure Washer

Mr. Mishaps is my middle name. Believe it! Not when I am teaching or directing the band. There I have a solid reputation. Not when I am in the midst of any activity at school. I am a trusted employee. I am so designated at home doing certain chores that test my mettle. One such is using a pressure washer.

In spite of issues that arise, I wash the patio or garage floor if needed. I touch up the driveway and sidewalks. I address accumulated grime on walls, fences, the shed, and anywhere dirt shows its ugly face. But…I have been known to have my troubles.

For one thing, I bought a deluxe model that is heavier than I expected. Oh, my aching back. Plus, it has an extra-long hose in which I can get easily entangled. On top of that, my favorite nozzle is a hell of a spray if you don’t control it, making you thoroughly drenched right out of the box.

Playing even a tuba was never this hard. In spite of the testimonials of the thing that promised it was user friendly, it is a bit of a challenge. Sure, I read the manual and did a test run, but it didn’t help when it came down to the matters at hand. After a perpetual battle with the brawny monster, I finally get results.

So the things NOT to do with a pressure washer are as follows:

  • Do not ignore the instructions
  • Do not use the machine when you are tired
  • Do not expect people to help you
  • Do not give up and call a professional
  • Do not buy the biggest one in the store
  • Do not think you know how to fix a gas-powered engine
  • Do not use the wrong kind of detergent or cleaner
  • Do not leave the hose unwound for someone to trip over it
  • Do not expect hot water with all models
  • Do not get a battery-powered version if you neglect to change or recharge them
  • Do not be in a hurry. It will encourage mishaps.

On the other hand, I have some suggestions from the peanut gallery.

  • Do buy a good brand such as Karcher, Campbell Hausfeld, or Cam Spray
  • Do think about electric versus gas power. It makes a difference
  • Do learn what PSI and GPM mean
  • Do consider portable or handheld for smaller jobs
  • Do consider stationary or wall mount
  • Do expect durable inlet and discharge tubes
  • Do opt for a stop system that halts the motor and pump when the spray trigger is released
  • Do your homework always before making a final decision

If you are concerned about water as a resource, the best pressure washers use less gallons per minute than a hose. Just be sure you are getting all the necessary regular features such as an on-board detergent tank, at least a 30 foot power cord, a built-in active hose reel, and sturdy wheels. Make sure your machine can take wear and tear and require little maintenance. Above all, buy one that minimizes problems if you are a Mr. Mishap like me.

Bonfire Night!

Bonfire night at school is a big event before the homecoming game. Everyone within a radius of several miles looks forward to it. It blazes with the glory of our institution like a giant outdoor fireplace that burns with a special warmth. It is all about a communal spirit that blossoms on a cool fall night. Everyone turns out: the students and the regional fans.

Building a bonfire is quite an enterprise and a bit harder than stacking wood in a wood stove at home and lighting it in seconds. It takes a specific skill in order to be safe and protect those around it. If you want a fun event, you do not want any accidents. If you prepare in advance, things will go smoothly and you can spent your time cheering the team.

First and foremost a bonfire is big. Think campfire a thousand fold. There is nothing like one at a pep rally to get the local spirit going. You do have to abide by government and local regulations for such things and get a permit. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to consult with the fire department.

You pick a spot that is centrally located but not unduly close to any buildings or vegetation. An asphalt area with an earth bed is best. You then bring in bags of gathered dry leaves, twigs, and wood sticks of any size. Since you need a lot, it is best to do this job on a previous day. Leaves and twigs burn super fast and the wood lasts a bit longer.

If there is an earth bed for the bonfire, you don’t have to dig a pit. In any case, the area should be as big as the fire you want to create. Bonfires vary and they are not all towering infernos. The earth area or pit will then be surrounded with large stones or bricks to contain the fire within the prescribed area. You then take your fuel wood and arrange it in a teepee formation or a pyramid shape. You then ignite it when all safety measures have been taken.

The leaves at the bottom of the pit will burn first and spread upward. Now you and the town can enjoy the blaze and gather together to support the team. There no doubt will be some cheers and school songs to boot. When the evening is over, a team of volunteers should be in charge of dousing the fire to make sure it is 100% out. It might burn down on its own to a few lonely embers or you can dump water on it from a nearby hose or a bucket brigade. You then should throw sand on top and stomp on it to extinguish it completely. By the time people are leaving for their cars, it should be cool to the touch.

There is nothing as much fun in the fall as bonfire night, even Halloween which is a close second and in some parts of the country, this holiday merits its own event.

Maybe I oughtta hire someone…

I like to do things myself. I consider myself a practical man with good hands. They can do more than direct a band or play an instrument. They can repair things around the house – minor things mostly – and help save money. We all have budgets and they tend to be a little short on maintenance. No one expects much to happen to basic appliances and fixtures.

I had been experiencing a leaky faucet for some time, but was just too busy to address the problem what with band practice and performance during the peak season. It seemed to be getting worse, however, and was practically shouting “I need to stop!.” I contemplated the matter and decided to change the washer. Simple job.

That didn’t work oddly enough. Not only did it still leak, but it started to spray, sometimes getting me right in the face as I bent over the sink to brush my teeth. It was like announcing a challenge that I had to answer. I looked up faucet repair on line but was left in the dark. I wasn’t sure the best approach at all.

I could buy a new faucet and really go hog wild on a state-of-the-art fixture. They cost a pretty penny if you want a really nice finish. I was willing to go this route, but doubted by ability to install it. So I decided one thing at a time. I went to the local Home Depot and cased the faucet section carefully. With the help of a kind salesman, I select the best kitchen faucet (within my budget) that would do the job nicely. It was leakproof, so he promised.

He also offered ways to install the thing and pointed me in the direction of plumbing tools. I trotted over on my own and also cased the section carefully. There were ratchets and wrenches and pliers and all kinds of nuts and bolts. I reminded myself what I had noticed long ago: my handyman skills were rather limited. Maybe it was time to hire some help.

Add at least $50 on to bathroom expenses for that and you have a couple hundred dollars committed. I knew that if I tried to install it myself, it would be worse and the plumber would need an extra hour. I succumbed to the temptation of using experienced labor and asked the salesman for a referral.

Let this be a lesson to anyone with a leaky faucet, which is symbolic here for any home repairs. You cannot always do it yourself. Plumbing seems easier than wiring, for example, but it isn’t. It has to be done precisely according to prescribed methods. These methods are not known to the vast majority of people like me who have other chores on their hands.

By the way, I do love my splashless, water saving, energy conservation, shiny new faucet. It’s a beauty for sure. It has a nice long warranty so I won’t need that plumber any time soon unless the kitchen faucet goes awry.