I’m a Jew. Who knew?

So I had my DNA tested by 23andme.com, and it broadly confirmed what I knew/assumed; I’m mostly of Scandinavian and Eastern European stock. I was surprised to learn that I’m 0.3% Ashkenazi Jew, though. Not quite as impressive as Elizabeth Warren’s claim of being 1/16 Cherokee, but still not too shabby. I also have more Neandethal DNA than 98% of 23andme’s customers. That may explain a few few things.

You can check out my ancestry summary here, if anyone’s interested.

One of my early ancestors.

Winter Prep Ford Explorer Day 1

Paint Decontamination

I decided to do a full-blown winter prep on my 2005 Ford Explorer with roughly 81,000 miles on the odometer. It’s in decent shape, not a beauty by any means; it has a few flaws, dings, scratches and nicks, even a gouge or two in the plastic trim, but it’s mechanically very sound and has no rust (any more). I spent a couple thousand fixing a slight rust problem in both rear door jambs (common on this model) and repainted the roof due to peeling clear coat (also common on this model – apparently 2005 wasn’t really a good year for the Ford Explorer). I also did  a full undercarriage rust treatment this spring (I actually did it myself).

From 10 feet or more away the car looks very nice. I’m not one of those guys that compensates for a small penis (not that mine is small, mind you) with a macho car; I’m quite happy driving around in a geezer-mobile so long as it looks halfway decent and is reliable. I am also quite comfortable not having car payments to worry about. The Ford Explorer is in my opinion one of the best buys for the money in its class.

Of course it needs to maintained. I’ve had my share of clunkers in my life time that just disintegrated beneath me from lack of basic upkeep. I don’t want that to happen to my current ride (in fact I have committed to keeping it until 2020 at which time I’ll reevaluate), so I do stuff like spring- and winter preps. Basically getting under the car evaluating the state of the union and do what needs to be done (thanks to Powdermilk Biscuits, Heaven, they’re tasty!); decontaminating the paint, taking care of scratches to the best of my ability and doing a general polish if needed, and also applying a fresh coat of some kind of durable sealant.

This is Day One of this years’ Winter Prep. I know the undercarriage is in good shape since I went full Macintosh in May with a full scrubdown/degrease/pressure wash followed by rust converter treatment for some light surface rust spots and sprayed everything (including cavities and internal frame) with Noxudol 300 Under Body Coating and Noxudol 700 Cavity Wax using an air compressor and a spray gun. I may, just for the heck of it, soak everything underneath with Fluid Film for some extra peace of mind once we get closer to snow-and-salt season—it’s a one-hour job.

So I started out with paint decontamination, which basically means cleaning the paint really, really well so that when time comes to apply a sealant, it sticks to bare-naked paint for best adhesion, protection and longevity. This is what the car looked like after the decon. (Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures during the process, will try to do better in the future). It looks pretty much the same as before because it was already clean and you can’t really tell the difference from pictures. But whereas the paint was slick before, there is now some drag to it, because all the waxes, sealants etc. that I in my OCDness have put on it since the last decon are now removed. The paint is completely unprotected at this stage.

I started off by doing the wheels and wheel wells. It’s just a best practices thing for me when I wash my car. Hot water (yeah, I have hot water in an outdoor spigot due to a lucky plumbing accident), Dawn dish soap, brushes and elbow grease.

I then rinsed off the entire car and foamed it up with a foam cannon attached to a pressure washer, again using Dawn dish soap (yeah, I know you normally shouldn’t use dish soap on your car because it can strip the wax, but that’s kind of what I want to achieve here). Rinsed it off and went at it with a traditional two-bucket method, a microfiber noodle mitt and, again, lots of Dawn in the bucket. After rinsing off there was amazingly still decent water beading on the paint.

Now I moved on to tar- and iron decontamination using TRIX from CarPro. This product is supposed to dissolve tar and embedded iron particles in the paint that normal wash doesn’t get. Either my paint didn’t have any tar and iron contaminants, or the product didn’t work very well. I couldn’t see any chemical reaction on the paint from dissolving particles (should be pretty easy to spot on light silver paint). I’m guessing my paint was so well maintained that this step was unnecessary. I just wasted $15 and added an hour to the job removing dirt that wasn’t there (I did see some iron dissolve on the rims, but there are other products that do it better). Well, better safe than sorry.

Next was a good “claying” using Nanoskin Autoscrub sponge fine grade, the next generation of above-surface decontamination technology. Used Chemical Guys Clay Lube (no free link to Chemical Guys since I don’t like them as a company, but they do have some decent products) as lubrication for this process. The Nanoskin sponge replaces the clay bar that would normally be used. It may have picked up some minor particles (I could feel the paint smoothen out slightly as I worked the surface), but not so much that I couldn’t have done without. Again, abundance of caution and whatnot. I’m not at all sure I like the new-school sponge better than the old-school clay. Sure, it’s faster and easier, but you can’t see if you actually lift any dirt off the paint like you can with clay. Whatevs.

Rinse off, towel dry, blow out any standing water from cracks and crevices, mirrors, emblems, wheels and door jambs with Marianne’s Metro Vac Master Blaster and call it a day. Tomorrow starts with taping off trim, inspecting paint to identify any areas that need extra attention, and formulate a plan of attack with regards to compound/polish, pad, and machine combinations.

I can’t believe I started this. Why can’t I be one of those guys who runs his car through an automated car wash twice a month and be happy with it? I also promised I’d do the whole thing for Marianne’s car as well. At no cost to her, I might add. My back hurts. And my head.

All in all I put six hours into it today and I’m pretty confident that nobody could have done it better. Faster? Sure.  Better? Nope. The main ingredients of my efforts of Day 1 are pictured below.

A houswife's and a auto detailer's best friend.

The housewife’s and the auto detailer’s best friend.

muscle-anatomy

While heavily muscled, this guy doesn’t have a dick at all. He probably drives a Hummer.

Confessions Of A Neophyte Car Detailing Hobbyist — Super Quick & Superficial Product Review

My experience level is: I have watched weeks worth of YouTube videos, read volumes of how-tos and articles, read a lot on the boards (but haven’t participated actively very much). I’d say I know more than enough to get myself in trouble, but not enough to really know what I’m doing beyond the basics.

I am the fleet manager of exactly two cars: a 2005 silver Ford Explorer and a black 2014 Hyundai Tucson, but I’m only the boss of the Ford. My friends1 think I’m taking it a bit too far, but our cars look much better than theirs, so there’s that.

This is a list of some of the car detailing products I’ve accumulated and tried in the ~18 months since my awakening. Here we go!

CATEGORY 1: Products that I like very much and will probably buy again. There is plenty of overlap between products in this category.

  • Garry Dean Infinite Use Detail Juice waterless/rinseless wash
  • Chemical Guys Eco-Smart waterless wash
  • Chemical Guys V07 quick detailer
  • Adam’s Detail Spray
  • Blackfire Wet Diamond Polymer Spray quick detailer
  • Adam’s H20 Guard & Gloss drying aid and sealant/gloss enhancer
  • Optimum Opti-Seal paint sealant
  • GTechniq C2 V3 Liquid Crystal paint sealant
  • Nanoskin Rain glass sealant
  • Optimum Opti-Bond tire gel
  • Stoner Invisible Glass glass cleaner
  • Chemical Guys Black On Black vinyl and trim dressing aerosol
  • Chemical Guys Mr Pink car soap
  • Chemical Guys NonSense all purpose cleaner (APC)
  • Stoner Trim Shine vinyl/rubber/trim dressing
  • Adam’s Deep Wheel Cleaner

CATEGORY 2: Products that I like and may buy again. There’s plenty of overlap here as well, both within the category and with Category 1.

  • Optimum ONR rinseless/waterless wash
  • CarPro Perl Plastic & Rubber Protectant
  • Diamondite Perfect Vision glass cleaner
  • Menzerna Endless Shine quick detailer
  • Chemical Guys Afterwash drying aid and sealant
  • RainX 2-1 Foaming Glass Cleaner
  • Chemical Guys Glossworx car soap
  • Meguiar’s Plastic And Vinyl Coating aerosol
  • GTechniq Silo Seal paint sealant (discontinued, sadly)
  • Chemical Guys Inner Clean interior APC
  • Chemical Guys Silk Shine Dressing interior dressing gel

CATEGORY 3: Decent enough products but too much overlap with stuff in categories 1 & 2 that I think might be better. Also stuff that I’m just not sure about but don’t hate. I probably won’t ever buy any of these products again.

  • Ultima Wash And Wax waterless wash
  • Duragloss Rinseless Wash
  • CarPro Hydrofoam car soap and sealer
  • Sonax Polymer NetShield paint sealant
  • Griot’s Garage Spray Wax
  • Griot’s Garage Speed Shine
  • Meguiar’s Last Touch spray detailer
  • Meguiar’s X-Press Spray Wax
  • Chemical Guys InstaWax + spray wax
  • Sonax Brilliant Shine Detailer detail spray
  • Sonax High Speed Wax spray wax
  • Meguiar’s Ultimate Quick Detailer
  • DoDo Juice Red Mist detail spray
  • Turtle Wax Jet Black detail spray
  • Chemical Guys X-Treme Body Was & Wax car soap
  • Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing vinyl/plastic/rubber dressing (almost went in cat. 4)
  • Chemical Guys Bug And Tar Wash car soap
  • Chemical Guys Grime Reaper all purpose cleaner/degreaser
  • Chemical Guys Blue Guard II vinyl/rubber dressing

CATEGORY 4: Stuff I didn’t like and won’t buy again either because I thought it was a bad product, severely over-hyped or over-priced.

  • Flash Brown Royal Wheel & Tire Cleaner
  • Optimum ONR Wash & Wax waterless wash
  • Garry Dean Juice Boost paint sealant/waterless wash additive (specific to the Garry Dean line of products)
  • CarPro Spotless water spot remover

The list is not exhaustive. I have plenty of other products that haven’t been included, either because I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, or have used them so little that I can’t form an educated and informed opinion. These include glazes, polishes and compounds; lots of interior detailing stuff including leather care products; paint coatings, and also paste waxes. Quite a few tire dressings didn’t make it because they were so junky and I don’t even remember their names.

Final thoughts:

  • I have too much time on my hands and need to get a hobby.
  • I need to learn better self control when it comes to clicking the “add to cart” and “place order” buttons.
  • I may have to mark promotional emails from AutoGeek as spam, because this is getting expensive.
  • My kids will never go to college.2

  1. I don’t have any friends, but if I did, this statement would be true.
  2. I don’t have any kids, but if I did, this statement would be true.

Vacation Time

My wife finally took a week’s much deserved and needed vacation from her demanding job as chief bunker (fuel) buyer for a leading Greek shipping company. She has spent 100% of it (waking hours only, of course) swearing like an angry, drunken sailor under the hood of her 1996 Ford Ranger. Good times. Right up there with our early ’90s three-week trip to Izmir (formerly Smyrna of classical antiquity, currently ground zero for suicidal Syrian refugees launching the invasion of Europe) in Turkey, including a three-day excursion to historical Ephesus with its well preserved Roman ruins, walking – quite literally – in the footsteps of St Paul.

Ephesus, Turkey vacation ca 1994

Ephesus, Turkey vacation ca 1992.

Ford Ranger vacation 2015.

Ford Ranger vacation 2015.

My Professional Home Gym Is Finally Gone

Everything is gone, the entire home gym, save for the mirrors, and I have a semi-firm commitment from a guy that says he’ll come by and pick them up on Tuesday (election day, don’t forget!).

All the bars and bumper plates went to a guy who owns a strongman-themed gym in New London, CT. The power rack, leg press, large dumbbell set and other varia went to a male nurse (I think – not the maleness, I know the guy’s a dude, but him being a nurse) from Hartford, CT (you still need to pick up the rest of the dumbbells, Rob). The small dumbbell set and various plates went to a doctor from Shelton, CT. A cop from Massachusetts bought a pulldown/lat row machine. All the rest was just picked up by a Ghanese lawyer and his buddy currently living in MA who are buying up stuff left and right for a planned commercial gym in Accra, Ghana (I kid you not).

When all is said and done I figure I got the minimum I was willing to accept when I first advertised the home gym for sale back in August (not counting the damage to my garage caused by the Ghanese lawyer trying to back in a van that just wouldn’t fit), and I got figuratively raped on several occasions.

Thanks to everybody who came to my house whether you bought something or not, and to those who did, I hope the equipment will bring you joy and happiness and big muscles and stuff (a free banana for the first person who gets the reference). To those who made an appointment and never showed up: SUCK A BAG OF DICKS!

This marks the end of an era for me. At 54 (55 in a few weeks) I have abandoned all ambition of making any sort of comeback in the bodybuilding field. I’m just too fucking old and have too many injuries. Not to say that I’ll never work out again, but I have nothing left to prove. I’ll be content being a moderately fit senior citizen. There’s a new Edge Fitness location just a few miles down the road from where I live and I might just sign up. Even if I hate chain gyms.

Student Loan Reduction

I just received a robo-call informing me that my student loan had been flagged for a payment reduction plan. That’s wonderful.

And fucked up.

The last remnant of my student loan (issued by the the Norwegian state’s Student Loan Bank (yes, there is such a thing, Socialism, doncha know!)) from my brush with academia back in the late 80s/early 90s was paid off in full more than a decade ago.

I smell a fish, and it’s been laying out in the sun for too long.

Stident loan scam dead fish.

If it looks like a dead fish, smells like a dead fish, and walks like a dead fish, it’s probably a student loan reduction scam. Photo credit: Check the watermark. I found it in a ditch by the wayside on the Internet.

Monster Sized Home Gym For The Serious Trainee For Sale

Due to old age, poor health and general lack of motivation, the following semi-pro/pro gym equipment is for sale. You would definitely have the most badass gym on your street, or you could supplement your professional/commercial gym.

  • Dumbbell set #1: 15 – 140 pounds in 5-pound increments. ***SOLD***
  • Dumbbell set #2: 3 – 60 pounds on 10-pound increments. ***SOLD***
  • Rack that fits all dumbbells. ***SOLD***
  • 10 (ten) 45-pound olympic bumpers. ***SOLD***
  • 24 (twenty-four) 45-pound olympic steel plates. ***SOLD***
  • 4 (four) 35-pound olympic steel plates. ***SOLD***
  • 4 (four) 25-pound olympic steel plates. ***SOLD***
  • 10 (ten) 10-pound olympic steel plates. ***SOLD***
  • 8 (eight) 5-pound olympic steel plates. ***SOLD***
  • 4 (four) 2.5-pound olympic steel plates. ***SOLD***
  • 4 (four) 1.25-pound magnetic disc plates. ***SOLD***
  • Power rack w/ various attachments (see photos). ***SOLD***
  • Angled, counter-balanced Smith Machine. ***SOLD***
  • Selectorized lat pulldown/seated row machine. ***SOLD***
  • Plate loaded lat pulldown/seated row machine. ***SOLD***
  • Plate loaded upper body/chest/triceps machine. ***SOLD***
  • Plate loaded seated shoulder press/side lateral combo machine. ***SOLD***
  • Heavy duty plate loaded leg press machine. ***SOLD***
  • Plate loaded leg extension/leg curl combo machine. ***SOLD***
  • Selectorized bicep curl machine. ***SOLD***
  • Selectorized internal/external shoulder rotator machine. ***SOLD***
  • Adjustable incline/flat/decline bench. ***SOLD***
  • Flat bench. ***SOLD***
  • Seated straight-back bench w/foot supports. ***SOLD***
  • Sit-up bench. ***SOLD***
  • 2 (two) olympic plate racks. ***SOLD***
  • 1 (one) 7-foot Ivanko olympic bar. ***SOLD***
  • 1 (one) 7-foot cambered safety olympic squat. ***SOLD***
  • 1 (one) 7-foor olympic EZ curl bar (fits on power rack). ***SOLD***

All plate loaded machines are for olympic plates.

Also:

  • 3 (three) 6′ x’4′ thick (1/4″) mirrors w/beveled edges. ***SOLD***
  • 2 (two) 5′ x’4′ thick (1/4″) mirrors w/beveled edges.

(I’ll probably list the mirrors separately elsewhere.)

I would VERY MUCH prefer to sell everything in one go (and will give a very good deal in such a case), but will consider splitting up. I will NOT, however, sell a few plates here and a couple of dumbbells there. “Logical” chunks only.

Please understand that I’ve been a gym rat my entire life and know the value of this equipment. I am, however, a gentle and reasonable man and will consider any reasonable and sincere offers. Time to haggle!

Local pickup only: Zip 06482

 

I Think I’m Going Bald (The Ballad Of Lars Dahl’s Bald Spot)

I’m developing a distinct, but not severe (yet), bald spot aka alopecia areata (AA). I never knew since I’ve shaved my head regularly (2-3 times/week) for the past 10 years or so. While performing that task today I checked the stubble on my noggin closely in the mirror and the truth is in the picture. Undeniable. Truth.

Lars Dahl's Bald Spot

The proof is in the pudding. A picture speaks more than a thousand words. Lars Dahl is going bald.

What hurts most is that my wife kept it a secret for all these years. I was thinking of letting it grow out again some day, but clearly that’s not gonna happen. Better bald than a combover. Oh well. If you have the opportunity please link to this post using the search term “Lars Dahl’s Bald Spot“. Being #1 on Google would be a consolation for me in my hour of distress. Go Rush, they know what I’m talking about!

Bald Man’s Creed (An Homage to the Bald Spot)

This is my bald spot. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My bald spot is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My bald spot without me, is useless. Without my bald spot, I am useless. I must polish my bald spot true. I must polish shinier than my fellow baldie who is trying to out-bald me. I must lose more hair than him. I will…

My bald spot and I know that what counts in life is not the follicles we lose, the futile scratch of our combs, nor the clogged bathtub drains. We know that it is the flakiness of the scalp that counts. Scalps will flake…

My bald spot is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its gloss, its softness, its smoothness, like a baby’s butt. I will keep my bald spot clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…

Before The Celestial Tea Pot, I swear this creed. My bald spot and I are the defenders of my dignity. We are the masters of our domain. We are the defenders of my noggin.

So be it, until the science of medicine discovers an actual cure for male pattern baldness, there is no ally but Rogain!

State Of The What?

Anybody watching the constitutionally mandated infotainment show on TV tonight? I’ve just gotten into binge watching The Killing on Netflix (no affiliate link), so I don’t know. The Killing has an interesting plot that keeps you guessing, but is very low key and understated, kinda slow moving and dark themed. The show on The Hill, conversely, is noisy, fast paced and glamorous, but the acting isn’t very convincing; like a scripted reality show (I say this based on previous experience). It’s a tossup. I could go either way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m on the fence about the whole thing. Choices, just too many goddamn choices on TV these days. Not really. They guy (gal?) who invented DVR is probably doing quite well financially.

state-of-the-union-2014

Paid actors rehearsing the pre-game show of the State of the Union Speech.