The Self Pruning Peach Tree

poor-peach-tree-oct-2013 (1)I have never cared for a fruit tree.  I grew up with a cherry and pear tree in the yard of my youth.  The pear tree never produced anything of value and the cherry tree was stripped clean by the birds before I ever got a cherry.  I paid little attention to them as did my parents.  As an adult I decided I wanted a fruit tree in my yard.  I love tree ripe peaches.  I went to my local nursery and purchased a sapling that poor-peach-tree-oct-2013 (2)seemed to have all the qualities I wanted.  I carefully researched how to plant it and insure it had everything it needed to get a good start.  My research into establishing the tree told me not to let it bear fruit until the third year.  I was very careful and waited with excitement for the time it would be able to bear fruit.  The year came and it was full of plump ripe peaches.  We canned 36 quarts as well as ate poor-peach-tree-oct-2013 (3)our fill that year.  I was over joyed.  My little tree continued to grow and flourish.  I anticipated an even larger yield the next year.  We ate our bottled peaches throughout the year and looked forward to the next year of ripe peaches on the tree.  The new year came and I had moved my home office to the back of the house.  I was able to watch the peaches grow and my anticipation with them.  The braches of my wonderful tree began to bend with the weight of the peaches.  I did not think much of it at first.  The first time it had produced peaches the branches had bent, even to the point of the tree growing in a weeping willow shape.  But this year it was a bumper crop as anticipated.  I began to worry about limbs breaking.  To my horror one morning I discovered in the night one of the major branches had broken off under the weight of the peaches.  I was sick.  I quickly used lumber to prop up the other branches.  I thought I had it covered until one evening while eating dinner we heard a loud, crack!  The center trunk about 6 feet up broke off and fell over.  Once again I was sick that my wonderful peach tree was damaged.  I thought for sure that was the end of the damage.  I had the other limbs propped up.  But the worst was yet to come.  In rapid succession all the propped up limbs broke right at the place the prop was set.  My poor peach tree had pruned itself.  I at last realized there was more to be done than just planting my tree correctly.  I began to ask around and research what I should have done.  I found out that a peach tree should be pruned in the spring.  I learned that there is a correct configuration to prune it in.  I learned that after the flowers are pollenated and the green fruit has appeared I should remove extra fruit leaving a fists space between each.  There is still hope for my tree.  I will learn over the winter how to properly prune it for this coming spring.  I will give it the husbandry it needs this time.  I hope it will be forgiving enough to still produce its succulent peaches for me.

ASINLookUp and Me

A few years back I got the idea of providing a service that enabled you to look up Amazon’s ASIN id for inputting into associate links.  I got a domain, ASINLookUp.com, and wrote something to interface with Amazon and display the result of searches.  It didn’t get a whole lot of traffic until one day it went crazy with 20k hits.  It was going to start costing me money to pay for the bandwidth.  I figured a bot was doing it because I didn’t see why a sudden spike would come up after sitting for a year.  I turned it off and then turned it back on some months later hoping to throw the bot off.  It sat for a month or so and then, wham, I got 20k hits in a day.  So because I wasn’t making any money with it I turned it off again and then about a year later let the domain expire.

Last night I go $100 in a donation to my PayPal account.  I was sure it was a mistake and I began to investigate.  It turns out someone was paying a attention.  A man had bought ASINLookUp.com and done just what I had with it but taken it one step farther.  When you clicked on that ASIN you got a display of the object and you could buy it.  The owner of ASINLookUp.com of course getting a commission.  I can only assume the guy was so happy with my idea and his tweaking of it he looked me up and sent me some of the profits.  I e-mailed him my congratulations last night but no reply as of yet.

I hope this either inspires you to do something cool you have been thinking of or gives you a good laugh.

Treasure Hunting in Utah

mine.utahToday my claim filed with Utah State Treasurer Unclaimed Property Division was approved!  It was like my own little treasure hunt.  Here is how it played out.  I checked out mine.utah.gov and found my father had 3 unclaimed properties.  So I got all excited and filled out the form and mailed in the supporting documentation all in my mother’s name.  You see my father is deceased and therefore my mother is the rightful heir.  It took a little footwork to get her to the notary and get copies for her of all the supporting documents like my father’s death certificate and proof they were at the addresses the claims showed.  But once it was all done I mailed it in and waited.  At first I was excited and checked every day to see on the site the status of my claim.  But nothing happened.  So I read the FAQ and took its advice to give them 2 weeks.  Well, 3 weeks later nothing still.  I called and was told they were 6 weeks behind.  At 6 weeks, still brimming with enthusiasm I called again.  This time no one retuned my call.  I decided to wait a little longer, just as long as they hadn’t lost my claim, I could be patient.  Today I could wait no more and decided if I didn’t get a response it was going to be nagging time.  But to my surprise I got a call back in an hour and was told I was short one piece of documentation.  How long had my claim been waiting on it?  I was a little upset that no one had told me either by phone, e-mail, letter, or update on the site, where I checked regularly, that I needed more documentation.  I decided to remain cheerful with the agent as getting upset wouldn’t help any.  I quickly e-mailed in the document needed, an obit of my father, and was approved.  Now the big moment had come!  My mother’s rightful claim to the property established I asked the big question, “how much money are the 3 claims for?”  Well, . . . it was not millions or thousands but $300 was good enough for my treasure hunt and will make my mother happy when she gets it.  You might want to check and see if your state has an unclaimed property division and see if you or a relative have some money waiting for them.  This is what I found out.

DYI–Walking Desk Day 6

The feet got a good rest over the weekend.  I was involved in my normal activities and with 4 kids on a Easter weekend its was not sitting around watching the grass grow.  My lower back is less tired today too.

As I was walking today I remembered some exercises I did in physical therapy once.  It’s a side stepping motion that helps strengthen the hips.  I could not do it typing but maybe during conference calls.  I tried it and nearly did the splits.  It seems my poor excuse for a treadmill could not handle it.  The tread just flew when I pushed off and the next thing I knew that foot was off the end of the treadmill on the ground.  It is a good thing I am tall or I might have done the splits.

As the days go on its becoming more and more obvious what the weak link in my design or planning is for the walking desk.  Take my advice and do a lot of research and physically try your treadmill before buying.

I assembled the matching Zentra Book Case that goes with my desk this weekend.  It fits nicely in the corner of my already cramped office.  I also added some pictures on the walls from my old office.  Its coming together and looks better and better.  I will post another picture soon.

I stopped at Kohl’s to try on some Skechers Shape-Ups.  I am hoping they will help my feet.  The sales agent told me they do not make them any more because of to many law suites.  A quick search of the Internet reveled SkechersSettlement.com.  She was right about the law suite part but it seems you can still buy them.  I am not sure if I want them now or not that is What I Found Out.

DYI – Walking Desk Day 5

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Day 5 went better then expected.  That one day of rest really did my feet good.  I would say I got a solid 6 hours in walking today.  As you can see from the picture I am sitting but that is only to demonstrate how tight my hamstrings have become over the years of sitting for most of the day.  Can you believe it!  I am sitting at 90 degrees and they are stretched as tight as I can stand.  I plan on taking a progression of pictures over time to see if my walking and stretching helps loosen me up.

Another advantage I have noticed with my walking desk is I have everything very ergonomically setup.  I have noticed I can type a considerable amount more without causing pain or tiredness in my wrists.  In essence I am avoiding carpal tunnel, something that is very prevalent in my line of work.

My feet are doing much better today.  They still hurt but not near as much.  I am able to walk longer today then any other day so far.  When they do start getting too distracting I have tried a Wooden Foot Roller my wife found.  It does an good job of giving me a quick foot rub to get things feeling better again.  No matter the situation, I have avoided using a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory so far.

Part of my plan was to place my power back-ups and tower away from me to reduce heat.  They were under the desk in my old office.  I have moved them away but I am finding it did little good.  You see heat rises and I am up high with a low ceiling.  You can add to it that I am generating more heat as I walk.  I am near sweating with the fan in the window blowing cool spring air in.  I am afraid I am going to have to pull in the small space air conditioner keep things cool.  So much for not using it to off setting my electrical use with the treadmill.

I am drinking more water.  With the increased exercise and heat I am finding I have a thrust for more then the occasional glass of water I used to have.  I would say I am drinking about 3 to 4 more glasses a day now.

I have got to get a chair worked out but the prices for them are absurd!  I have some ideas of how to DIY.  I will share What I Found Out in my next post as I will not be walking all day over the weekend.

DIY–Walking Desk Day 3 and 4

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I am going a little backwards on this.  I am starting with day 4 because I had to drive into the office.  I am a telecommuter but every now and then I have to spend a day in the office.  Day 4 was a good rest for my feet.  They are suffering the worst of it.  I think if you are starting hardcore you should consider a day of rest for your body at some point.

Day 3 was the hardest yet.  I found that my feet are hurting much sooner each day.  They are tender on the walking surface.  Which is to be expected but I wanted to point out that my feet do not hurt in entirely just where “the rubber meets the road”.  I am looking into buying a pair of Skecher Shape Ups.  I have a friend that swears by them.  My present shoes are just average cross trainers.   I think a walking shoe might help.  I have averaged about 4 hours a day walking so far.  If my lame treadmill would not stop turning off and losing my stats I could tell you how many miles I have gone so far.

The small of my back cramps and gets tired but I stop and stretch it out and I am good to go again.  My back was one of the motivating factors for doing this.  Sitting in an office chair all day for years has started taking its toll.  I find I am sleeping better now that I am walking.  Yes, I have traded back pain for foot pain but it should only be temporary as my body toughens up.

Day 5 has started off well and I have noticed a recovery in my feet after resting on Day 4.  Man, my legs are white!  Yes, I’m a geek too.  Tomorrow I will share more of What I Found Out.

DIY Walking Desk Day 2

I woke up after my first day without any ill effect from my first walking marathon.  But by the end of today the soles of my feet really hurt.  My wife asked me why I did not just stand instead of walking.  I said it was like hot potato, each time I step the other foot gets a rest and I can keep going.  I thought that my feet were going to hurt all night but after getting back from my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class they feel normal.  I want to make it clear also I have not taken any pain killers or anti-inflammatories at this point.

Here are some changes I have noticed I need to make in my desk.

  1. Move the treadmill read out/control panel were it is easier to see and use.  I cannot monitor my calorie burn to give me some positive feedback on how I am doing with it under the desk.
  2. I need something to hold my cables on the desk.  For example, the cable to charge my iPhone.  I am looking at buying Quirky Cordies Desktop Cable Management for power cords and charging accessory cables (Gray) .  I think this will server to hold them on and not leave glue or some other adhesive residue.
  3. The treadmill is not jerking any more when I walk.  It must be broke in.  It still continues to just stops every so often with no warning and resets all the stats.  It also has to small a deck to walk naturally for me.  I may need to get a different one.

Warm up exercises I have found are essential.  After the first 15 minutes or so I have to stop and do some stretches.  I can feel the muscles tightening with increased blood flow.  This all gives me a pleasant euphoria feeling that comes from light exercise.

My back is still feeling great but I am noticing it does get tired too.  I am hoping all this standing will start strengthening everything from the top down.

My DVI-D 15ft extension cable and USB 2.0 16 ft. extension cable arrived today.  Tomorrow I will use them to move the tower next to me back into the server closet.  I will be one more step closer to perfecting my office.

I cannot wait to see what tomorrow brings and what I find out.

DIY Walking Desk Day 1

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I finished getting all of my walking desk together this weekend. Here are the pictures of it.  Today was my first day working on it (25-MAR-2013).  I spent about 4 hours walking and 6 hours standing all together.  Yes, my feet and legs are tired but my back feels great.  I felt more alive and awake during the working day.  I was able to easily type and work while walking.  I have heard but do not not have confirmation that you burn 200 calories an hour just walking.  I will have to pull out my Body Bugg to see if that is true.

Here is a break down of what I used to make my walking desk:

  1. 3 Ergotron LX Wall Mount LCD Arm ( 1 did not have the extension arm.)
  2. A Zentra Glass Desk from Office Max
  3. 2 steel cabinets I got years ago.
  4. A Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill BLACK (Which I would not recommend.  See my post – DIY Walking Desk Part 1)
  5. A Plugable 5 Meter (16 Foot) USB 2.0 Active Extension Cable Type A Male to A Female
  6. A StarTech.com DVIDDMF15 15 Feet Dual Link Monitor DVI-D Extension Cable – M/F
  7. A Tripp Lite PDUMV15 PDU Metered 120V 15A 5-15R 16 Outlet 5-15P Vertical 0URM

The PDU (Power Distribution Unit) was a key feature I had to investigate.  I did not want my power backups near me this time.  They put out to much heat and just get in the way.  The PDU made it possible for me to have a way to remotely plug everything into my UPS.  A PDU is not a power strip.  You can see it in the picture spanning the two cabinets.

The desk having a glass top was important to me.  It gives me the feeling of more space as I see through it.  It is just cool too!  Its tempered glass and is rated for 125 lbs.

The monitor arms free up space on the desk and give me a large degree of flexibility in how I want to position and move my monitors for different reasons.  For example, the central monitor is 24 inch wide.  If I choose I can turn it vertical and change to landscape mode for more vertical real estate to work with.

Next I will move the computer tower away when my DVI-D extension cable arrives.  I had no idea they can be as long as 16 ft. without signal loss until this made me research them.  The extension cable for the USB 2.0 will be used to connect a USB hub to the tower enabling me to keep USB hardware I want close.

I will also need a chair of some kind.  The treadmill folds up and can slide farther under the desk so as to be out of the way.  I have realized today that I cannot go cold turkey and just start walking all day without doing some sitting.  I have years of office rot from sitting at a desk all day.

Follow me each day as I customize the desk and blog about the changes for good and bad it brings me as I share with you “What I Fount Out”.

How To Get Glue Off Your Knife Blade

The other day I noticed a lot of gunk had built up on my knife blade from opening packages with masking tap or other adhesives.  I tried to use rubbing alcohol and some of the typical things you find in a house cleaning cupboard.  But nothing worked.  I started looking in my tool chest and found Liquid Wrench.  I decide “what the heck” and sprayed it on.  Nothing happened at first so I started scrubbing it with the paper towel I had used under it while spraying.  The wet part of the paper towel took all the stuff that had built up right off.  In no time my knife blade was clean.  I am sure there are some other solvents that might do the job better but this is what I found out.

DIY Walking Desk – Part 1

As my family expands I have had to start working on a new office.  My wife has sighted many reason why I should create a office that allows me to stand and walk more.  I have decided to humor her as all of this sitting is getting me down.  Ok, bad pun.  I started by looking at a number of sights she gave me.  Here is my favorite: 15 Ideas to Buy or Build Your Perfect Standing Desk.  While looking on Amazon.com I came across the Confidence Power Plus Motorized Electric Treadmill.  It looked over priced and very simple but there were pictures of others using it for the same thing I wanted.  It was compact and the control panel could easily be removed and placed on your desk.  I decided to go for it.  It arrived in no time from Golf Outlets of America, the seller on Amazon.  I noticed as I unwrapped it that it had sustained some superficial damage in shipping.  Those UPS guys are really rough on things.  I quickly unpacked it.  I turned it on and placed the safety magnet on the control panel and tried it out.  My first thoughts were, “I should have gone with my first instincts”.  Every time I stepped down the friction was too great and it produced a jerky motion that caused me to look like I was tipsy as I walked.  There was no way I could type and walk on this.  I didn’t want to go to all the work of sending it back.  I guessed that the bottle of clear liquid that came with it was some kind of belt lubricant but there were no instructions on how to apply it.  I turned to Google for help and soon figured out how to lube a treadmill’s belt at YouTube.com.  After I had lubed by treadmill it worked better, maybe even enough that I might not send it back.  The next thing to try was weight.  I had my wife try it.  I weigh about 225 lbs.  I cannot of course give her weight or I would suffer a horrible death but suffice to say she weighs a lot less than me.  When she walked on it there wasn’t any friction trouble.  I have decided to keep it and as I lose weight it will get better.  But my advice when looking for a treadmill is first to try it before you buy it.  In the next post I will talk about my desk.