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Another month; another challenge

Purging, refreshing, renewing.  I think they call this ‘Spring Cleaning’.  My inspiration was this blog challenge:   40 Bags in 40 Days.

Confession:  I have not moved out a bag a day, exactly, but I have done this:

  • Made several donation trips.
  • Filled my trash bin each week.
  • Explored the nearby recycle center…and am building a routine for it.

Result:  My house is looking visibly better, with two weeks left to go in the challenge.

These past two months of non-blogging have been full of personal highs and lows.  I have a family member staying with me while he gets back on his feet.  If you ever get the chance to really get to know a sibling again, don’t pass it up.  ❤

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About the recycle center.  It is leading to a permanent change in this household.  Stay tuned for more details…

Recycling Center sign-RSR

And now the new challenge is:  April Challenge: 30 days of biking

‘Day 1’ of the bike challenge is in the books, with a bicycle trip to the recycle center.  See what I did there?  I checked off two boxes in one day. *grin*

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DIY Touchscreen Gloves–indulging my inner geek

My one coveted pair of touchscreen gloves, that came as swag in last year’s Run in the New Year 5k, were ‘accidentally’ carried off by my nephew at the end of that very cold but exciting night of college football back in November.  I’ve put him on notice that I will be coming to retrieve them.  But in the meantime, because I need to use my phone when bicycling and running in the cold, I experimented this week with diy options.

In searching online for diy touchscreen gloves, I learned about conductive thread, that can be purchased and knitted (or crocheted) onto the fingertips of an existing pair of gloves.  The reviews are mixed.  I have a hunch this is because people don’t make sure the thread goes all the way through to make good contact with both the fingertip and phone screen.  I considered buying a spool of the conductive thread, which would have made a lot of touchscreen gloves.  But then, I was at a Radio Shack store this past weekend, and happened to see this Graphite Conductive Glue.  radio-shack-conductive-glue

I forked over $6 for the tiny tube, and came home to try it out.  The result is, it was super easy and the gloves work great!

Here’s what I did:

First, I protected my fingers with ordinary invisible tape, because the label says the glue can be a skin irritant.

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Then I put the gloves on and carefully applied the glue in a circle on the forefinger and thumb contact points.  I used a circular motion to embed the glue into the fibers and make sure it would go through to the other side of the knitted fabric.  Conductivity from fingers to screen is the key, so a topical application of glue only on the outside of the glove won’t work.  glue-on-glove-rsr

To further insure that the glue would penetrate to the other side of the fabric, I pressed my fingers together.  I did this carefully, so as not to smudge the neat circles.  (I did smudge them a bit on the first pair.) embedding-glue-rsr

Once I was confident in my technique, I applied the glue to my most favorite old pair of mittens.  I’m happy with the result.  mittens-done-rsrThe glue took about an hour to dry to the touch.  Then I tested them on my tablet.  They work very well!  It’s now a few days later, and they are still working very well.

Here is a quick demo of my ‘new’ diy touchscreen gloves in action.

As you can see, I glued all of the fingers on the glove in the video.  I think this was a waste of glue.  I haven’t needed any fingers other than the thumb and forefinger for operating my phone and tablet.

About that skin irritation warning on the label…I suspect the warning applies only to the glue when wet.  I’ve sensed no irritation from the dried glue whatsoever.  But be careful; heed the warning and watch for signs of possible irritation on your own skin.  And follow the label instructions.  Here is the product MSDS sheet.

Additional notes:

  • The dried glue circles are hard, and not flexible.  I was able to restore enough of the fabric’s flexibility by gently bending and curling the dried glue tips.
  • After doing a total of five gloves so far, I think there is still a lot of glue in the tube.  So one $6 tube is enough to do quite a few gloves.
  • How the glue will hold up in rain, snow or the washing machine is still an open question.  I’ll report back when my gloves have been tested in wet conditions and laundering.

Can I do this?

I have to.  Every so often I need to find a new strategy for moving out the old and unnecessary stuff.  Where does it all come from?  I swear, I accumulate stuff even while on a purging mission.  Figuring out a preventative strategy, that keeps the stuff from entering my house in the first place would be the ultimate accomplishment.  Until then, I’m stuck with regular purging missions.  This looks like the one to try.  [40 Bags in 40 Days]  According to the ’40 Bags’ plan, I have until March 1 to form my strategy of purging a bag of stuff for each day of Lent.  Should I really wait that long?

Clutter is everywhere in my life at the moment.  In every room of my house, in my email inbox(es), in my ‘social media life’, in my office, and in my car.  My yard needs more of a cleanout before spring. And then there is my sewing project pile that is massively out of control.

Even my donation box is out of control.

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It is this book.  Which I realized is just more clutter.  Sigh.  I did read it and get inspired…that year.  Sadly, there are some more ‘decluttering’ books further down in the box from other years.  This year I resolved to purge the decluttering books, rather than adding another one to the stack.  This way, others can benefit from them now, as I no doubt did at the time.

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Everything in the box will go to Goodwill or the DAV, except for two items that will each go to separate drop off sites.

This knitting machine that I’d wanted my whole life has been the source of several experimenting attempts, but made only one complete garment in the entire two decades I’ve owned it.  *embarrassed*  It is going to the local non-profit creative studio.

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The warm boots will go straight to the homeless diner.  Someone needs a pair of warm boots.  Today.  boots-donation-rsr

Cleaning out is always a raw, unfiltered trip down memory lane.

“This shirt is the one I lent you,
And when you gave it back
It had a rip inside the sleeve
Where you rolled your cigarettes
It was the place I put my heart
Now look at where you put a tear
I forgave your thoughtlessness
But not the boy who put it there.”

It’s the start of the year, when a lot of purging goes on.  Very best wishes with your own projects.

Train, bus, bike, Uber, bike, Uber, train.

I had to spend several days in Topeka this week.  Normal routine would be to drive my car. It’s only a 2-hour drive.  But Topeka is on the Amtrak route…and has bike share.  And the weather wasn’t supposed to be too bad for January.  So I resolved to make the trip without my car.  Along with business attire, I packed my bike helmet, crushable all-weather jacket, fleece neck gator and good gloves.  In other words, these items again:

bike-cold-weather-gear-wAll went mostly okay.  The run down:

  • The city transit system got me from the train depot to my hotel, because my bag was too much to transport on a bike.  The Amtrak station attendant was great in helping me get to the right bus stop.  The bus drivers were all lovely and helpful.
  • Bike share got me from my hotel to meeting each morning.
  • Uber got me back to my hotel each evening.  (It was dark, the streets are not bike-friendly, and the bike share bikes don’t have lights.)
  • The weather was basically great the first two mornings.  The third morning was bitter cold (14F), but there was no wind, so I was fine biking in my layers, jacket, and fleece accessories.
  • The wait for the 12:29am train home at the end of my stay was several hours of heavy boredom.

Pros of going car-less:

  • Daily exercise and fresh air
  • Doing something fun and different

Cons of going car-less:

  • The time and hassle of adapting to the train schedule
  • The time and hassle of researching and adapting to the city bus schedule
  • The time and hassle of identifying bikable routes, and then finding out they weren’t so bikeable.  Topeka is substantially lacking in sidewalks and bike lanes.
  • Unpredictable weather

Will I do it again?  Certainly, when circumstances allow for it.  Do these alternatives to driving my personal car need to be expanded to be more useful?  Yes.  All of them.  Until then, most of the time I’ll still have to drive my car, alongside the tracks of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.

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Janathon is on!

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The Janathon format is simpler this year; daily exercise is to be posted on the Janathon Facebook page.  So, no repetitive daily posts here, to report that I ran, or bicycled, or did yoga.  But that is what I’ve been doing, and ta-da … week #1 is now in the books!  *Applause* to all Janathoners for keeping your daily exercise streak going!  Bicycling or yoga or both, has been my daily activity, since the New Year’s 5k.

My city escaped the snowfall this past week, but not the bitter cold temperatures.  I bundled up in layers for my bike commute, and stayed mostly warm against the single-digit temps.  But because I’m a wimp, I refused to ride against the wind.  Twice this week, I biked to work and then loaded my bike on the city transit bus for the ride home.  bike-cold-weather-gear-w

 

The music world has lost a beautiful singer-songwriter today, Peter Sarstedt.

A running start on 2017

Very happy New Year’s wishes to all!   Here’s to a fabulous 2017.  As for 2016…what the heck was that all about?  I wish peace to those who badly need it, and peace of mind to those who are worried about incredible changes on the horizon.

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It was calm and 32F last night at 11:45pm for the Run in the New Year 5k.  Because I’m a wimp, I dressed to stay warm while waiting to start.  Yes, I know the advice is to dress as if it were 20 degrees warmer, but I don’t care.  Being cold even for five minutes, is not my thing.  Which means starting to shed layers even before reaching the half mile point.

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The course followed our riverfront.

The race starts and ends at the Kansas Sports Hall of Famea super-inspiring place to look around before and after the run.

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Who could not be inspired by looking at Jim Ryun’s shoes and USA apparel?

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And beloved football coaching legacies, fambrough-rsr

and numerous other great Kansas athletes.

Back at home today, two kitchen appliances will not make the journey with me into 2017.

The bread machine died yesterday.  After I failed to break into it to try to repair it, it is now in the trash bin.

bread-machine-in-the-trash-rsr

This slow cooker that has never met my expectations or needs, is in the charity donation box.  horrible-old-crock-pot-rsr

The slow cooker has been replaced by my new love, the Instant Pot pressure cooker, to which I’ve pledged my devotion for 2017 and beyond.

instant-pot

Today I am listening to college basketball; cleaning out and reorganizing my home ‘office’ nook; and being inspired about 2017.

Whatever your goals and aspirations for the new year, I wish for you to enjoy the journey.  Yes, I believe in a better world.

 

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Thanksgiving report:

  • Drove four hours
  • Enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family
  • Drove four hours
  • Gave thanks for all of it, even though I hate that drive with a passion.

The highlight of the drive is the 4.2 miles I get to drive on Route 66.riverton-store-rsr-mark

No two of my family’s Thanksgiving gatherings have been alike.  I gave thanks for that, too.  Each one is precious and memorable, whether it is a large scale extended family gathering, or like this year–just us kids and Mom.  I took Lasagne Soup, to be heated in my horrible slow cooker.  I told my mom how much I despise my slow cooker, because it has four different heat setting buttons; but all of them are too hot.  There is no going off and leaving it several hours to ‘slow’ cook.  There is no ‘slow’ cooking with it.  But as I told Mom, I don’t use a slow cooker enough to justify buying a new one.

On my drive home, I saw this totally awesome motorized bicycle, that appeared to be on its own Route 66 journey.  route-66-bike-rsr-mark

Shopping report:

On Black Friday, I bought a Kindle Fire Tablet for the young girl I adopted for Christmas.  All I was given was her first name and age (14), and that she asked for “clothes, shoes, electronics or a mall gift card”.  No indication of shoe or clothing sizes, and no clue about what kind of electronic thing she wanted.  Thus the Kindle tablet, that can be used for fun and education, i.e., homework and checking out textbooks and library books.

On Cyber Monday, I bought myself an Instant Pot.  Woohoo!  So much for the frugal me who only four days earlier said I couldn’t justify spending for a new slow cooker.  So anyway, the Instant Pot will be here in two days.  Stay tuned for Instant Pot adventures.instant-pot

And coming back to the reason for my favorite holiday of the year. 

A conference win! And why I’m a home town college athletics fan.

I’m a fan because this was the view from my front yard as a kid.  That wall at the end of our block is the university’s football stadium.  If I didn’t attend the game, I could still hear the roar of the crowd when a touchdown was scored.  My parents turned our yard into a pay parking lot for extra income on game days.  Growing up here, I always knew I’d be athletic.  The inspiration to be athletic has led to a lifetime of fitness; all a gift from living on this street.  Every year, the autumn colors and the rustle of leaves on the sidewalk take me back to this street.

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Back then, a kid’s season football ticket was $6, which worked out to $1 per game.  I’ve been to a lot of games there.

Still, this week’s game was special.  It was the second win this season, after a winless season last year, under the new coach.  He’s the right guy, as is shown by the methodical way he is developing a talented, respectable team of future stars.  This was his first conference win, which he and the team accomplished with a most exciting overtime ‘walk off’ field goal.  (Do they say ‘walk off’ in football?  They need to for this game.)

At the winning moment, the fans rushed the field and swarmed the players and coach; an emotional ESPN interview with the coach took place among the ecstatic crowd; and then a goalpost came down and was carried up the hill to the university’s lake.

The crowd for the game was pitiful in size.  True it was a chilly day.  But not that chilly.  This picture is just plain embarrassing.

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Our defense was a force the entire game.  The offense came through to keep us in the game, and when we most needed it at the end of the game.  img_20161119_1739194_rewind-rsr-mark

Our kicker hit a field goal to tie the game with seconds to go.  img_20161119_1809279_rewind-rsr-mark

In overtime, an interception right away set us up to win the game with another field goal.  The winning field goal triggered the roar of the crowd, and an emotional rush onto the field to embrace the team and coaches.  All captured here, thanks to the phone in my shivering, excited, mitten-covered hands.

Next year I predict even more wins.

College football and another trip to the vintage clothing store

We had the lead for most of this game, and had some brilliant plays; one that went viral and was featured on ESPN.

But in the end, the ‘Clones rallied and denied us the win.

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After the game I headed downtown to the really cool vintage clothing store, where I made one great purchase and two gambles.

This fully-lined wool dress needs nothing done to it.  I can wear it to work tomorrow.  $20.

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This dress is too large in the chest and upper bodice, so I’m going to attempt to alter it from the shoulders.  This has potential failure, as I’ve never altered from that end before.  If I ruin the dress I’m out $12.50, and a potentially cute summer dress.

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The sweater is a $15 gamble.  It is huge on me.  Think of using a big lawn and leaf bag in a little kitchen trash can.  It is almost dress length but not quite.  I think I can make it work, over a simple knit dress.

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The summer I went to the ballpark seven nights in a row.

It was early August, and the annual National Baseball Congress World Series was underway.  The 81-year old tournament spans two weeks, and brings to town talented young adult players and teams from the far corners of North America.  I look forward to it each year, and try to get to at least a few games.  On weekends, they play round-the-clock.  I managed to stay until morning once … back in 2009.

This year an amazing thing happened.  A group of ex-MLB players formed a team and entered the tournament.  They called their team the Kansas Stars.

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National Anthem

We saw Roger Clemens pitch, with his son Koby Clemens as his catcher.

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Roger also played catcher one night, to ceremonial first-pitch thrower, Toby Keith, who also suited up and helped manage the team.

The games were sold out; the stadium was packed, and people were watching through the outfield fence.

Outfield Fence audience

We saw KC Royals World Series pitcher Jeremy Guthrie pitch…

… and 1st Base/batter extraordinaire and super-dad Adam LaRoche play first base and hit home runs.

Drake LaRoche was on the field warming up with his dad and other Stars.

The team roster of former pros who came to town tells the story.  Check it out.  I can’t adequately express my appreciation and admiration to them for coming.

But the thing is, with all of this star power, it wasn’t seeing the Stars play as much as it was seeing them form a team together, and being competitive again for love of the game, and for their fans’ love of the game, and love for a historic tournament.  The former MLB stars were personable and accessible; posing endlessly for selfies and signing autographs with complete generosity, taking their time with kids and adult fans alike.

autographs-and-selfies

On the field, they were competitors to the core.   Each game was a good one.  In the tournament semi-final game, the Stars fought for 17 innings against a young, uber-talented team from Hays, KS.  The Stars went through pitcher after pitcher; ultimately drafting players from the field to pitch to keep the game going.  Just after midnight, Hays sent the Stars packing, with a run that broke the 10-10 tie score.  The next night in the tournament final, Hays fell to the Santa Barbara Foresters.

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This special team and the tournament got a lot of attention in the press and in baseball blogs.  The final game of the tournament was carried nationally by ESPNU and WatchESPN.  Those writers and commentators have captured the magic of the moment so much better than me.  But for me it was a privilege to have experienced those seven straight magical nights in the ballpark in August 2016.  It was an emotional thing I won’t ever forget.

Summer is over, and we are well into a gorgeous Autumn.  But the Summer of 2016 is one of those I will hold onto in my heart.

Pure Fun at the NBC World Series

Former White Sox 1B/DH Adam LaRoche returning to the field for the NBC World Series

Roger Clemens, Other Former MLB Players Scratching the Itch

Roger Clemens takes the mound again, in Kansas

Roger Clemens among former MLB players to play in NBC World Series

There’s something cool about big-league has beens still playing ball

Roger Clemens, Adam LaRoche headline NBC World Series team

Larks knock off stars in 17 innings; advance to NBC title game

 NBC Mascot