May 25 2014

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Well, I finally got the other three corners done.




All in all, the rest of the joints turned out well. A few small gaps, but on the whole, I’ve made a lot of progress. There was one tiny bit of splitting, so I had to go back and pare that half pin down just a bit. Should be fine.


Referring back to the original plan, it’s now time to start prepping the middle divider / handle piece.


My plan was to just run a 3/16″ deep groove down each of the sides for the handle to slide into. A cross-grain groove like that is known as a dado or a housing dado. If this tote was going to be used for anything heavy, I’d use something stronger, but for pencils and scissors, etc. I think this will be just fine.

First step is to mark out the dado. I made a knife wall on one side of each dado, and a pencil wall on the opposite side as a guide.


Next, I need to mark the depth of each dado. I do that with a marking gauge. Set it to 3/16″ and scribe a line on each side. This shows me exactly how deep to cut that groove.




Next up is going to be a bunch more chisel work, so I sharpen those babies up.


Then, using that knife wall, I start alternately chiseling down and paring away, until I get down to depth on one side.





With one side chiseled down, I put an actual piece of wood in there and mark the other side with the knife. Then do the same thing on that side. Now I have a groove with a big hump in the center.





So next up is to reduce that hump a bit with a chisel and get it semi-flat.



Then I clean it up with a router plane. This is like a short chisel bent 90 degrees stuck in a metal plate. I set it to 3/16″ and use it to completely clean up the bottom of that dado.





With that done, those dadoes are perfectly flat and square, and exactly the right size to fit that center piece. These came out perfect.







Now I need to make and fit that center piece. It’s got to be taller than the rest of the box, so I had to edge glue a couple of pieces. These are gluing up now, so that finished up my work for today.


Onto Part 4!

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May 24 2014

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Now to cut out the pins. This is the make/break point. The tails, which I cut yesterday, need to be straight and square, but if you’re off a bit this way or that way, no big deal, because you cut the pins based on the tails. If you’re off on the pin cuts, you wind up with big ugly gaps.




Then chop out the waste with a chisel. Alternately chopping and paring down to the cut. Some people use a coping saw to get out a bunch of it first. I just use the chisel.



Eventually, you have a breakthrough, literally. This is a good thing.


Pins chopped out, now need to clean up the edges. Last photo here still needs some sneaking up to the lines.





After a few tests and finessing, we have a dovetail!





This is pretty damn good for me. Definitely the closest to perfect that I’ve yet achieved. Some parts are sticking up beyond the surface, which is actually what you usually want. They’ll all get planed down smooth later after glue up. In the meantime, I have 3 more of these to do.

Look! Part 3 over here!

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Making a Thing

May 24 2014

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

Making some stuff for wife and daughter. This is going to be a tote type organizer, by my wife’s design. Something like this:


Start with some half inch poplar.


Knife walls for the first cut.


And the cut…


Plane the edges completely square on the shooting board.



Cut the next piece, use the shooting board. Now we have two pieces exactly the same length.


Now cut the sides, same deal.



Now we have a box.


Surface and edge plane all the pieces. Now everything is flat and square.


Start laying out the dovetails with a divider.


Marking out the tails.



Cutting the tails.



Tails all cut.


Cut out the corner pieces.


Now chisel out the pin recesses.


Clean it all up, make sure everything is straight, smooth and square.




Now lay out the pins.




Ready to cut. But I’m going to call it a night. Not bad for an evening’s work.

Go to Part 2.

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Baystate Marathon 2013

Oct 21 2013

Not a whole lot good to say about this one, but I’ll stay positive and say that I completed my third marathon, and from the viewpoint of me, say, five years ago, that’s pretty amazing. And, out of the three marathons I’ve done, it was not the worst time, merely number two.

First I’ll give a recap of the race, then do an “analysis”.

The Baystate Marathon and Half Marathon both run along the Merrimack River, starting in Lowell, MA. The half marathon is a two loop course, down the southern side of the river and back on the northern side. The full marathon goes about 8 miles down the river, through Chelmsford and into Tyngsboro, crosses the river, then back about 5 miles, then looping around back to Tyngsboro then back to Lowell.

The run started OK for me. But just OK. In running several longer races – three marathons, two halfs and a 20 mile race, I’ve seen that sometimes there is a “magic” that happens on race day. And, sometimes there isn’t. I don’t mean magic like crystals or horoscopes. Just that all the training, your physical condition, diet, weather, mental attitude, and a score of other factors all come together just right. This has happened in three of my five longer races, so it’s not something rare, but neither is it guaranteed. This Sunday, I did not feel the magic.

In the last few weeks of training, I’d been having a lot of tightness in my left quads and in my right achilles tendon. Actually, the achilles had started acting up very early in the year and caused me to take a few weeks almost totally off of running. It had gotten better, but with the increased mileage had started tightening up again. So I was worried about these two things, but it turned out they didn’t cause me any problems at all throughout the marathon.

Again, it was all OK for the first half of the race. Nothing bad I could put my finger on. But maybe felt like there was a bit more effort to keep the pace than on other times I’ve run. At the Eastern States 20 Mile Race in 2012, I was amazed at how fast the miles were going by. It felt like every time I turned a corner, there was another mile marker. Yesterday, it seemed like those miles, even in the first part of the race, were a whole lot longer.

I’d lined up at the nine minute marker in the corral. The 4:00 pacer was there and a bunch of us were chatting with her. I kept up with her for a while, but I was doing around 8:46 per mile and she was pulling well ahead of me, indicating that she was doing significantly faster than a 4-hour marathon, which would have been around a 9:00 pace. I let her go and settled into an 8:50 pace. At some point the pacers switched off and I wound up catching up to the new pacer who was doing a more conservative pace of right around 9:00. I followed right behind her until her shift was done, and the original pacer came back. She held on at the same pace for a couple of miles, but then started speeding up again, so I let her go.

Around mile 15, I started getting pretty bad nausea. I was eating those chomps – gel chewey things. I’d used them in the Cape Cod Marathon and the Eastern Stated last year and did well with them. I’d also trained with them for those races. But I didn’t train with them this time around. I was also carrying and drinking Powerade, while I had done all my training with Powerade Zero. Cardinal racing rule number one broken: don’t do anything new on race day. So, every time I ate and drank, I’d get a wave of nausea that would last for 5-10 minutes. That lasted from about mile 15 through the rest of the race. Actually, I couldn’t eat anything until a few hours after I got home. The result of this was that I was not able to get enough fuel into my system during the run itself. Which meant I hit the wall nice and early.

The other thing that happened around mile 18 was that my abs just locked up. At first I thought this was just a stomach ache to go with the nausea. But it was actually my core ab muscles cramping up. If you’ve ever done a whole bunch of situps or crunches – more and faster than you’re used to – you might have experienced that sudden painful clenching of those same muscles for several seconds. This was like that, except it just went on and on. Extremely painful. My plan for this was to just keep going and hope that it went away. Surprisingly, this plan worked. I did have to start taking short walk breaks in mile 19, but by mile 21 or 22, the ab muscles had relaxed a bit.

But between the nausea and ab cramps, I felt my sub-4:00 slipping away. Actually, I think I knew it was gone pretty early on in mile 18 or so when the abs started acting up. But by mile 21 or 22 I knew it was gone. There was still the chance of a PR if I could beat 2:06. But I think by mile 23 or 24 I knew that was probably not real either. At the same time, I knew that unless I stopped running altogether, I’d still be able to beat my first marathon time of 2:26. So there wan’t really any goal to try for at that point. I just ran as much as I could. Took a lot of short walk breaks and ticked off the last few miles. It wasn’t fun at all. For the most part I tried to keep the walk breaks short. Either 30 seconds by time, or 0.05 miles by distance. And tried to give myself goals of running 0.3 or so miles between breaks. But near the end, the walk breaks were closer together, and some of them may have gotten a bit longer. It wasn’t pretty. Even in the last half mile, I couldn’t rally to a non-stop run. Blah.


My wife took this photo a block or so before the finish line. Don’t let that smile fool you. I was dying.

Crossed the finish line at 4:11:18. Five minutes longer than my Cape Code Marathon time, though this was a MUCH easier course. 15 minutes faster than my Hyannis Marathon time. But this mirrored my Hyannis run in so many ways. The 15 mile breaking point, the nausea (I was using gels in Hyannis and nearly barfed the last one up – haven’t had another gel since), the abs tightness, the early hitting the wall around mile 19, the death march of the last 4 miles.


Earlier I used the word analysis in quotes. Because it’s not really so much of an analysis as much as viewing the obvious factors that were in my face.

1. Don’t do stuff on race day that you haven’t done in training.

2. Pick a race fueling plan before your training, train with it and then race with it.

3. Core work. Strengthen those abs.

At this point, I know that I can run (or mostly run) a marathon. I can make it 26.2 miles on my own power and cross the finish line. I’ve done it three times. I can do it again, I’m sure. There’s nothing to prove there anymore. I would like to:

A. Finish a marathon in under four hours.

B. Finish a marathon without walking, or maybe just walking through a few water stops, but avoiding the death march.

To do this, I think it’s a matter of training smarter, not just harder. I know that sounds like a mindless cliche, but it means a very specific thing and is very real to me. Not sure what my next marathon will be yet. Right now I’m a bit burnt out on marathons. But there will be more, and I know what I need to do.

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Reboot accomplished!

May 07 2013

To recap, 15 days ago, my wife and I set off on a dietary adventure, using the 15 day plan at This entailed 5 days of eating and drinking only fruits and vegetables, followed by 10 days of juice only. It was far tougher than either of us imagined. In the beginning, we were thinking this would be something nice to do 3-4 times a year. By the end of it, I don’t think either of us wanted to think about juice again for a long time.


It’s such a subjective thing. It’s tough to say. Thinking back to two or three weeks ago and trying to imagine how I felt back then and assess how I feel now and objectively compare the two – tough if not impossible. I wont say it was life changing or that I have some massive new sense of energy and feel like a kid again. I definitely feel healthier. I wasn’t exactly on death’s door 15 weeks ago anyway, but I was eating a lot of junk, not running because of my sore achilles, and putting on weight. But I was also working out at the YMCA 4 or 3-4 days a week, and eating vegetarian this whole year. So I wasn’t really expecting a life change.

What I was expecting was a reboot. Coming from a computer field, I know the term well. To “boot” a computer is to turn it on and start its operating system. The OS is really just a set of programs that run on the computer that show the desktop, allow access to the file system, let you run other programs, etc. The difference between the OS and other programs is that most programs require some user action to launch – clicking on an icon for example. The OS is set up to start itself up when the computer turns on, so the computer runs the program that will run the computer. In that sense it echos the paradoxical phrase “pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstrings”. Hence the name “boot”.

A “reboot”, in computer terms, is when you boot the computer again after it’s been running for a while. This can be done simply by turning it off and back on again, pressing a reboot button, or by some system command programmatically invoked. This causes all running programs to exit and clears all system memory. Usually rebooting is done after you’ve installed some new software or hardware or updated some part of the OS. Or it is done when the computer is running poorly or erratically due to corrupted memory or some out of control process running somewhere messing things up. Rebooting allows the new hardware or software to go into effect, or puts an end to the problems that are going on, starting anew.

Thus, “reboot” has gained the non-computer sense of a fresh, new start, either with new positive behavior added, or old bad behavior cancelled out, or both. And this is exactly what I was looking for out of this program – to stop my bad eating behavior, shut down for a bit, then restart with new positive eating habits.

So in that sense, the last 15 days has been the shutting down, the exiting of bad programs, the clearing of memory. The real reboot starts today.

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Reboot Days 8-11

May 03 2013

We’re still at it! Entering our 7th day of juice only. It’s been tough, but we’re going to make it. Amazingly, I actually have seen some return of energy. Not bouncing-off-the-walls type of energy, but I got through that period of being exhausted all the time and now feel almost normal. Day 10 was my best day yet. I felt really good all over. But then yesterday, day 11, I was in a bit of a mental funk and had headaches on and off all day. Not big ones, and they wouldn’t last, but it’d bother me for a while, then go away, then come back a while later. Digestion-wise, everything seems completely normal, which is kind of baffling. Other than that one day where I couldn’t stray far from the bathroom, everything has been surprisingly normal.

One thing that has happened over the last couple of days is that we’ve been rethinking our vegetarianism – or more properly, our ovo-lacto-pescetarianism. We started that at the beginning of the year, so had 4 months solid of no meat. I think it’s a good thing, but I also think it was more of an experiment for us. Neither one of us was wholly committed to doing this for the rest of our lives. Not that I’m craving beef or chicken, but the concept of NEVER having them again isn’t appealing, and to put myself on a guilt trip if I do eat some meat some time seems silly. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to having meat as a daily part of my diet. But if I’m in an Indian restaurant I’m going to eat chicken tikka masala, and I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it, guilt-free.

Worth mentioning is that I’ve lost just shy of 10 pounds in the last 11 days. Losing weight while on this program was not a specific goal, though I guessed it would happen and I’m certainly happy for it. Also, since I’ve been working out at the gym 3-4 days a week at least, I’m sure I’ve gained some muscle mass, so a high percentage of that loss should be fat. I think I definitely look slimmer these days. Maybe even a glimmer of some abdominal muscles showing through the flab.

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Reboot midway point

Apr 29 2013

So here we are 7.5 days into the program. The last two and a half days have been juice only. Time to update status.

In my last posts I stated that my energy seemed to be returning and digestion was good. About an hour after I wrote that, I became exhausted and spent a large part of the rest of the day going back and fort to the bathroom. Luckily, the latter part of that stabilized by end of day and since then things have been back to normal. But the energy level is LOW. Same with my wife. We’re both just dragging ourselves around, having a really hard time getting up in the morning. I guess you could attempt to attribute to this to some kind of detox effect, but I’m thinking it’s just lack of calories and carbs. We still went to the gym and had a nice workout this morning, so it’s not like the lack of energy is anywhere close to life threatening or anything. But it’s quite noticeable.

Other than that, I guess things are going just fine. It’s hard to really say I feel healthier when I feel tired all the time. But I know that my habits are undergoing a major change. It really does feel great to drink those juices now. And I don’t think it’s just hunger, it’s a feeling that what you are putting into your system is really good for you. I don’t think I could immediately go back to eating any kind of junk.

The cravings hit big time yesterday. My wife started planning a post-reboot diet and was reading it to me and I was salivating, particularly at any mention of anything containing carbs. She said “brown rice” and I had a physical reaction. Last night I had two more food dreams. Well sort of. One was about rice balls rolled in salt. I could taste the in my dream and they were delicious. And I still remember the taste from the dream. The other one was actually beer. In it I was drinking some less-than-stellar beer, something like Miller Lite maybe. But it was delicious. I couldn’t understand why people thought it was inferior beer because it tasted heavenly.

Another thing we both noticed is our teeth. They feel like they need brushing a lot more than usual. I brush in the morning and by mid-afternoon they feel like I haven’t brushed in days. My wife says this is due to the lack of chewing. The friction of chewing helps to keep the teeth somewhat clean. Since I haven’t chewed anything since last Friday, crap just builds up on them really quick.

Finally, it dawned on me that this is not an inexpensive adventure. Unfortunately in this society, junk food is cheap and healthy food costs. We’re drinking 6 large juices a day – both of us. You know how many vegetables it takes to make 12 large juices? A LOT. We’ve been buying organic stuff at Whole Foods, which doesn’t help either. My wife estimates this whole venture will cost us about $1200 in food for the 15 days!!! I was shocked. But hopefully it’s worth it. Below are some time-lapse shots of our grocery cart filling up. And some more juice.

Oh, and by the way, beet juice makes your pee red.

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Reboot through Day 5

Apr 27 2013

Well, we made it through the first 5 days. Onto phase 2!

The diet for days 1-5 consisted of quite a variety – berry apple bake, sautéed greens, salads, soups, smoothies, juices, and more. But as it progressed, it transitioned into more juices, less solids. Yesterday there was only a salad at the end of the day – last solid food for next 10 days. From here on out, it’s all juices – no smoothies, no soups, no solid food.

This video talks about why juice only, and not smoothies.

As for physical/mental progress, personally I do feel really good. Day 4 I woke up with almost no energy. It was a struggle to get out of bed. But I did eventually get up and went for a 3 mile run. I assume my calorie count is really low, so it wasn’t the most energetic of runs, but I got out and got it done. Day 5 I was also tired waking up, but not as bad, and this morning wasn’t bad at all. I did a 4 mile run today and worked out at the gym yesterday. So it’s not like I’m completely drained, just the waking up is tough – but getting better. I actually enjoy just about all the juices and other stuff now. Even the ones that originally I grimaced slightly at now taste good and it really feels great to drink them. (Luckily, there will be no more Shamrock Smoothies – those were just nasty).

As for feeling hungry, during the first 5 days, that in general was not a problem. The meals were quite filling, and a couple hours after meals you’d be drinking a big smoothie or juice. But often at night I feel pretty hungry. In fact, last night I had no less than 3 food dreams – one of chicken, one pasta and one of a large bowl of peanut m&ms! So yeah, at night there is hunger. I woke up once to go to the bathroom and really felt so hungry I thought I could not finish the program. But of course I feel more optimistic in the light of day and with a stomach full of juice.

Now that I’m in juice only mode, I’m going to try to go without any black tea, i.e. caffeine. I’ve been having a cup a day. The headaches have diminished to almost nothing. So hopefully that will be ok. And as far as digestion, all systems normal. Stomach feels fine all day and beyond that, everything seems totally normal, surprisingly.

So, 5 and a half days done. Things are looking good. Will continue to report.

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Reboot with Joe, 3 days in

Apr 25 2013

As mentioned the other day, my wife and I are doing a nutritional “reboot”. It’s based on a plan by Joe Cross of “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” fame. It’s the 15 day plan here:

One thing about that page is slightly misleading. The description of the 15-day program says, “… 5 days of eating and juicing fruits and vegetables followed by 5 days of juice only. End with 5 days of eating and juicing.” But when you download the free PDF plan, you find out it’s actually 5 days of eating and juicing fruits and vegetables followed by 10 days of juice only. Not sure if that’s a big deal yet since we’re still in the first 5 day period.

For the most part, it’s been ok. You start each day with a cup of hot water with ginger and lemon. I’ve actually gotten to like that in just a few days. The first couple of days breakfast was a berry apple cinnamon bake. You dump a bunch of berries and cut up apples in a pan with a bit of cinnamon and allspice and bake for 45 minutes. That simple, and it’s delicious. I could have that every day. But I see that throughout the first 5 days, you are being weened off solid food. So no more of that yummy stuff.

Morning snacks are one kind of juice or another. Some of these have been quite tasty. Others… not so much. Today’s breakfast was a “Shamrock Smoothie”. This is made with lettuce, cucumbers, coconut milk, avocado, banana, lemon. Actually, we skipped the banana because I’m allergic to them. So far, this was the worst of the lot. Maybe the banana would have saved it, but the coconut and the cucumber taste mixed to create this slimy… gross feel and taste. But we both got it down without incident. But others like the Green Lemonade juice and Carrot Apple Ginger juice have been very nice.

Lunches have been mostly salads or sautéed greens  and some kind of soup. But by day 5, this will be just soup. These have been mostly fine, but chewing all those greens can get pretty tiresome. I start to feel like I’m some beast out grazing in a pasture. Today’s lunch included a squash and apple soup that was absolutely fantastic. I could eat that regularly.

More juice for an afternoon snack.

Dinner was salad and greens and sweet potato and carrot fries the first day, and soup and roasted acorn squash stuffed with mushroom and sage for days 2 and 3. This too was delicious. One of my favorites.

Then, you get some herbal tea for an evening snack, and plenty of water. I’ve drunk about 64 ounces per day so far, which is what’s recommended.

Picture Time!

So, how do you FEEL???

That’s the big question, right? Actually, the first couple of days it was a bit of an effort to gag down all that juice and munch all those greens. My stomach definitely felt bloated and most of day 2 I felt a little bit nauseous. Also, late afternoon on day 2 I started to get a small headache. But by bed time, this was a pretty bad headache and I had to sneak a couple of Advil to get to sleep. This is most likely caffeine withdrawal. I’ve been cheating by having a cup of English Breakfast tea each day, and the wife hasn’t been able to go coffee-free either. But I used to have at least 3 cups of tea daily, plus 2 or more Diet Cokes.

Today, overall I felt great all day. Went to the Y and had a good workout. Stomach has been completely fine all day. Now, early evening, I think I have the start of a slight headache again, but it’s coming later and less powerful than yesterday, so I may be getting through this.

Some people report that doing this kind of thing, erm… “cleans you out” in a very direct manner. As in, don’t wander too far from the bathroom. I can’t say that has been an issue for me yet. All systems normal. But I’ve got to guess it’s only a matter of time. I may or may not keep you updated on that.

I can’t say that there’s been any huge resurgence in energy or well being or anything like that. But to be honest, I’m not really looking for anything like that. I am not totally sold on the whole concept of “cleansing” and/or “detoxing”. Not that I don’t believe it exactly, but I believe that most of what is out there telling you about it is a lot more pseudo-science and new-agey than real factual biochemistry. So I hesitate to tell people I’m on a detox or cleanse. I do like the name “reboot” as that’s what I consider it. I’ve been eating a lot of junk and this is a 15-day time out to overload my body with 100% awesome nutrition. Detox or no, that’s gotta be a good thing. And as much as it’s a physical and nutritional reboot, it’s a mental reboot. 15 days of this will break the cycle I’ve been in. When I get done, I’m sure I won’t dive back into my unhealthy habits. Of course eventually I’m sure I’ll slip here and there. But I can always re-reboot.

Thanks to my wife, Miranda, for readily agreeing to go along with this harebrained idea. I couldn’t do this alone. And she’s been doing all the cooking and juicing. I swear she hardly leaves the kitchen these days! She also just informed me that in the last 3 days, we’ve consumed over 80 carrots in total. Don’t even ask about kale. Luckily, I recently started a new job where I work from home. This makes the whole endeavor much easier as well.

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Apr 22 2013

Last December, my wife and I watched a few videos on nutrition and vegetarianism, one being Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which really impressed us. For a New Years Resolution, we decided to try vegetarianism. Technically, lacto-ovo-pescatarianism – we still eat eggs, dairy and fish. This has gone amazingly well. Other than a few minor slips, we’ve cut out meat from our diet, without all that much drama about it. We’ve discovered a lot of new foods and have sought out lots of new recipes. It’s actually been fun.

One thing I discovered though, was that simply not eating meat does not equal eating healthy and losing weight. Though in general we’ve been eating healthier, there are still plenty of “legal” unhealthy foods. Last week I was out in Palo Alto for my new job at Disney Interactive. A full week of living out of a hotel took its toll: breakfast at the hotel’s buffet, catered lunch and often dinner at Disney, and various restaurants, plus a vast overabundance of snacks. I’m sure I gained a few pounds and came home feeling physically bloated and … not quite sick, but knowing full well that my body didn’t like all that junk.

We had recently re-watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and the idea of doing a juice fast seemed very attractive. When I got back, I put the idea to my wife and she enthusiastically agreed to try it.

Joe Cross, the star/creator of the movie, has a site offering guidance on this: . After looking over the site, we decided on the 15 day Juicing Plus plan: . This involves 5 days of juicing along with eating various fruits and vegetables, 5 days of straight up juice fasting, and 5 more days of eating/juicing. It’s a pretty thorough plan – a 51 page PDF file. For each 5 day segment you get a shopping list, a daily meal plan, and complete recipes for each meal/snack/juice you are to eat. We hit up Whole Foods yesterday and literally got stares at our shopping cart, heaped to overflowing with veggies and fruits. Yet, nobody looks twice at a cart filled with sugary cereal, snacks, meat and soda. Sorry, not trying to preach here. 🙂

Anyway, we are all set now and beginning Day One. I’ll try to post regularly with progress. Should be interesting.

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