Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The yard work workout

Let me just remove any possible comment of pretentiousness, because I am not that. This project which I call a workout, is what some very hard working people do for a living, day in and day out, with much more efficiency than I have. 

A few months ago we hired a company to remove some tall palm trees from out backyard that provided no shade and managed to dump everything right into our pool. It only cost $100 per tree to remove except for the stumps which were cut to as flush to the ground as possible. To remove them would cost $300 a piece because they would have to do by hand. No way to get equipment through the gate. We declined. 

Here is the start.
One stump, the closest to our pool was on a raised pile of ground about a foot high, surrounded by rock. I decided to let the grass grow over it and create a little hill. Which it did. The problem became how to mow this mound of rock and stump with without bottoming out the blade on the incline. Couldn't be done. So I decided to take out the stump myself using an eight pound maul and a shovel and using the project as an excuse to work on my ax swinging skills.

I roughed out the work area with help from the former tree's decorative brick border as a guideline. The project dimensions are six feet long, and four feet at the widest. This alone took several hours of maul strikes and shovel work due to the fact that unlike a normal tree stump, a palm tree stump is made up of thousands of fibrous roots. This made work slow going to say the least but provided hours upon hours of swinging away with the eight pound maul just trying to shatter the root system.

(good visual of a palm tree root system)

A decent side view of the stump with a better visual of how high this was off the ground. I had to chop out sections by chopping length wise, then width wise. Then because the fibers snaked all over it wouldn't just pop out. I had to chop at the bottom to get each piece to release it. Somewhere in this horizontal chopping I strained my rib a bit. You can see how the root system just snakes around the center. I suppose a roto tiller would have made this work easier. But where is the workout in that?

(Finally making progress)

At the beginning of Day 4 the end was in sight. Over the first three days I had spent approximately 17 hours chopping and digging. Certainly had I paid the professionals to do it, it would have been significantly faster, probably to better results, but the exercise was incredibly rewarding. The entire stump above ground and four inches below ground has been removed. I also tilled the ground approximately four inches deeper the old fashioned way, hundreds of maul swings to remove more root fibers and break up the ground.

I realized too late that I had removed too much soil, so I had to add top soil to bring up the ground level and level the area out. This involved several five gallon buckets of top soil that I had left over from another project. Bucket carries only added to the final workout. The end result was laying all of two pieces of sod. So much effort for such a small piece of ground. But I am now almost twenty hours of non stop exercise into my week.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Protect the head in style

I've been pretty open about the fact that I have had a lot of head injuries and a few of those have been extremely violent, which may not be the perfect adjective but it is apt. Recent theories suggest that the more concussions a person receives the more susceptible they become to receiving them in the future, maybe as much as 3x the greater than a non Traumatic Brain Injury person. Thus I have been very conscious of wearing head protection. 

Now look, I am not some rabid helmet advocate that demands a law in every state that a motorcyclist wear a helmet or every time a toddler gets on their trike to ride around the cul-de-sac that they need to have a helmet on. For me personally, I always wear a helmet when I am cycling or mountain biking for fitness or recreation. I also wear a helmet when I horseback ride, ATV, 4 Wheel, paintball, airsoft, an occassional attempt to water ski, when I boulder, rappel or encounter Class 3+ hiking trails. (If you enjoy any type of hiking, read that link for some good information) Even when I am on a ladder putting up Christmas lights or changing a light bulb in our house. That last one might seem a bit over the top but, considering I got my last concussion hitting my head against a wall in my house while I checked the tire pressure on my bike tire. True Story. 

For years I have worn a Pro Tech skating helmet (right) and it has done a great job of protecting me from random bumps and knocks. I've got a few scuffs to prove it. Last Christmas I got a GoPro Camera to capture my adventuring and endurance pursuits in glorious 5mb/1080 HD frames. Because lets face it in the digital age, "No pictures, didn't happen.".  The provided helmet/headband strap has worked well, bounces a little, so I went looking for a way to mate the GoPro to my helmet and kill two birds with one stone. Maybe that is the wrong analogy to use. 

I found that Pro Tec has started marketing a line of military helmets. It would be a great way to platform a helmet camera with mounted lighting options, a requisite American Flag velcro patch slapped on plus protect my head from whatever I, someone else or gravity, decides to throw at it. I think I will pick one up in the near future. It would really come in great during my NightOp training sessions.

 For those looking for general head protection for yourself or your child without looking out of place in a multi-colored cycling helmet for you or some embarrassing brightly colored kid show sponsored brain bucket for them look into a multi sport/purpose helmet. And if its tactical or even tacikewl, it works for me.