Unplugging for a Vacation

This rainbow popped up after a storm last week.  I sat at the stop sign, rolled down the window, and snapped this shot.

This rainbow popped up after a storm last week. I sat at a stop sign, rolled down the window, and snapped this shot.

Next week there will be no posts.  I’m going on vacation, and I’m unplugging from all electronic devices for the full seven days.  If you aren’t doing this at least once a year, I highly recommend giving it a try.  I have the most amazing insights and creative ideas whenever I unplug.

Sure, unplugging for just a day or two is cool, but it takes a couple of days for your brain to settle into a different rhythm.  Do it for a whole week or more to get the maximum benefit.

Same goes for working out.  Twice a year minimum, please do yourself a favor and take a full week of rest.  Don’t workout at all and eat whatever you want for a whole week.  If you aren’t taking at least two weeks off each year you are over-training.

Now for the Cabal Fang WOD.

Dumbbell HIIT: Set timer for rounds of :40/:10 and select two dumbbells of appropriate weight (I used #10 and I weigh in at #138).  Complete 6 sets of the following exercises , completing as many as you can for :40 and resting for :10. Pump Curls, Squats, Plank Rows, Lunges, and Squat Presses (that’s 30 rounds, a total of 20 minutes).

Be back in a week!

Houseplant Tips for Horticultural Rubes

wpid-20150825_085155.jpgDespite the fact that I’m  a horticultural rube, I have lovely plants in my office (if I do say so myself).

The only thing I have going for me are my bush-craft skills.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from spending a ton of time in woods and wild places is that you look for plants in places where they like to be.  Look for Mint where it’s moist and partly sunny, Dandelion and White Man’s Foot in full sun by roadsides, and so on.  It’s all about the real estate.  Location, location, location.


Instead of buying gravel for the bottom of your pots, try putting a coffee filter in there. For me, seems to work way better than gravel.

So, tip #1: “Select plants suited to the environment.”  Examine the spot where you want to put a plant.  Does the temperature fluctuate a great deal?  How much sun does it get?  My office stays a constant 70° F and gets only filtered fluorescent light.  I have particularly great luck with Pothos, Philodendron, Spiderwort (Tradescantia pallida), Snake Plant, and Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum).  If your office gets a little more light, like maybe a sunny window, you might try a Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum).

Tip #2:  “Don’t over water.”  I would say that over watering is the single worst thing you can do.  For years I’ve been watering my plants only on Thursdays.  Works great.

Tip #3: “If all else fails, buy a Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata).”  If you kill it, give up and get fake plants.

If you want to get just a weensy bit more technical, or you want more ideas, here’s a solid article from Better Homes and Gardens called 24 of the Easiest Houseplants You Can Grow.

Crafts: Scroll box and Incense Burner

<<If you came for the Cabal Fang workout of the day, it’s at the bottom!>>

Lately I’ve been inspired by Mr. Watt to get back into making stuff.  Since I’m a creature of habit, I’ve been setting aside Sunday afternoons.  When the yard work is done I do a little crafting.

Yesterday I had three things on the list, but I only go to two of them.  The first one was to put latches and a handle on the old box we use to hold the membership scroll at my martial arts club.  We used to just hold it shut with a leather strap.

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I used a rusty spike and some leather scraps for the handle and added some brass chest latches (our martial art has an Early American, Enlightenment era, ancient lodge sort of aesthetic).  While I was at it, I hot-glued some tan corduroy to the inside for padding and decoration.  At some point I’m going to go back and put dots of epoxy over the screw heads and paint them so that they look more rustic.†

My next project was to turn a wine bottle into an incense burner.  I’ve been wanting to try this for a long time.  Finally did some research and got it done.  Quite simple really.  All you do is drill a couple of 7 mm/.25″ holes in the side of the bottle about 6 cm/2.5″ up from the base.  Yeah right — did you ever try to drill a hole in a glass bottle?

I used this bit and this method.‡  It was so easy that I made another one for my daughter.  I burned some incense in mine during this morning’s contemplation session and it worked great.

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Now for the Cabal Fang WOD.

Calisthenics: 6 x 15 of Wide Push-ups, Front Lunges, Steam Engines, Knuckle Push-ups, Side Lunges.  If you can get it done faster than 19:54 with good form, well you got me beat.

†When I was a kid I fantasized about being a movie prop master.  I used to make all kinds of stuff — replicas of objects, weapons and spacecraft from my favorite sci-fi tv shows, scale models of rockets and planes, “ancient” books, and so forth.  I still play around a little.  Like when I made these Firefly ammo boxes and storage crates.

‡ The fellow in the video uses a yellow rubber guide.  I made one from a scrap of rigid leather.  I just drilled a hole in it the same diameter as the glass bit.  Worked like a charm.

High Clouds, Low Kicks

wpid-20150819_170226.jpgDriving home from work last night, the sky was amazing.  I felt as though I could roll down the window, unclip my seatbelt, slide out the window, and soar like a blue jay into swirling clouds illuminated by the sun.

Are birds not angels?  If a bird were to come and light upon our hand and allow us to caress its wing, could we smell the dew of the heavenly clouds or taste the electricity of coming storms?  What unknowable, mysterious and majestic secrets must the songbird know?


wpid-20150820_072426.jpgThis morning’s Cabal Fang Workout of the Day:

Dumbbells: 4 x 15 of Military Press, Two-handed Squat Press, Two-handed Triceps Extension, Front Lunge, Swing-throughs.

350 Low Kicks (with full power and good form):  75 Lead Roundhouse, 75 Rear Roundhouse, 50 Lead Sidekick, 50 Rear Sidekick, 50 Lead Chassé Frontal, 50 Rear Chassé Frontal.   I strapped a heavy bag to my forging post with hand wraps and Karate belts.  The lower of the two red hand wraps marks the sweet spot just over knee height.

Super Cool News: Pentagons, Coffee, Islam, Bernie, and a WOD

First a magnificent miscellany of super cool news:

Now for your Cabal Fang workout of the day, one that’s a little more of a slow burn than the usual all-out ball-buster (I told you I was going to dial down the intensity a little).

PTDICE Half Pyramid‡ to 9 of: Steam Engines, Fist Push-ups, Back Crunches, Zombie Squats, Staggered Push-ups, Twisters, Regular Squats (this should take about 19 minutes).

Heavy Bag Half Pyramids: 5 x 3:00/1:00: Each round complete as many sequences as you can of 1 punch, 2 punches, 3,4,5, etc. up to 9 followed immediately by 1 kick, 2 kicks, 3,4,5, etc. up to 9 (dis-including the last 1: 00 break, this will take 19 minutes also).


See the training DVD in the background?  I had the chance to train with Mssr. Dubreuil a few years back and it was a real treat. He’s a wizard with a stick and a true gentleman.

A Half Pyramid is 1 of each, 2 of each, 3 of each, etc. up to the max count. A Half Pyramid to 9 is a total of 45 exercises. Where p = the peak, the formula is p(p+1)/2.  In this case, that would be 9(9+1)/2 = 45.  Math is super cool.

Wine Bottle Guitar Slide


Yesterday was a productive day. It had to be.  Because, before I could do the fun stuff, I had to get my chores done.

It was Sunday so, as usual, I slept in till 6:00 instead of getting up at 5:00. I got my writing quota done over coffee (a few hundred words on a booklet I’m going to be selling on PTDICE.COM that’ll be called “52 Fit-up: How-to Get Fit with an Ordinary Deck of Cards”).

Then I took the plunger upstairs and unplugged the sink in the main bathroom.  Didn’t know about the clog until my wife told me last night right before bed.  I always use the master bath.

imageNext I installed a fancy new sink sprayer in the kitchen.

Felt hungry, so I had breakfast and more coffee while watching some news on the boob-tube. I resolved a year ago not to watch TV news because it kills my creativity and its a waste of time, but sometimes I slip.

Went out, edged the yard and cut the grass. Threw the rechargeable weed-eater in the truck, zipped down to the park, and trimmed up the area where my martial arts club meets. They cut the grass out there once a month, but they never edge.

Chores done, I came home, drank water, and ate a bag of roasted peanuts. Now for the arts and crafts – making a guitar slide from the neck of a wine bottle!  The actual bottle I cut was clear glass.  For better visibility I used a blue bottle in the pictures below.

First I built a quik’n’dirty jig to hold the bottle and the glass cutter. Notice how I made the arm long enough to be able to put a big rubber band on the end. I figured that would approximate firm hand pressure.

The jig worked like a charm. The bottle projected out the back just enough for me to be able to turn it with my right hand while holding it down with my left. Turned it until it was scored to the depth of the cutter and all scritching sounds ceased.

Once it was scored, I heated the neck over a candle flame for thirty seconds and plunged it into a cup of ice water just like this guy did. As predicted, it cracked right along the scored area. One light tap and the neck fell right off. Emory paper took care of the nasty edges (a palm sander made this easier).

If you try this at home, wear eye protection.

All chores and crafts done by 2:00 pm.  Only one thing left to do — a nap in the recliner before dinner, of course.

Grandkid Playdoh Madness

Last night was playtime with the grandkids. Grandma said we played for over an hour, but it seemed more like fifteen minutes. Doesn’t get much more fun than this! For some reason the boys kept making angry faces for the camera. What’s up with that?

(In the pictures below, I’m the one with the glasses. My granddaughter made the amazing ice cream cup, my grandsons the pizza and milk shake, and I made the Spongebob characters.)