Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fifty-three miles and a new GPS capability

True to form I did not get out of bed at 5:40AM or whatever time for which I had my alarm set. I did manage to get out of bed around 6:00AM and was ready to head out on my bike ride by 6:30AM. Of course when I get up in the morning the whole house wakes up. Zack, Bay and Lex immediately bound up wide awake as soon as they hear me stirring. So everyone and everypuppy was up and about by 6:05AM. I took care of feeding the puppies and got Zack situation for what he was supposed to do while I was biking. He didn't want breakfast when he got up so I let that slide and let Nancy take care of that a little while later. I was out the door and messing around with my bike by 6:30AM and I actually hit the road around 6:40AM. My goal with today's ride was to do 3/4 of a circle around Denver. I started by hooking up with the C470 trail right near Park Meadows. From there I proceeded to ride to Chatfield and for fun and giggles I did a hill climb to get me on top of the Chatfield Dam. I am trying to do as much hill climbing as is humanly possible to get ready for Death Ride 2009. From there I headed back down to the Platte River Valley and hooked up with the South Platte Bike Trail. This part of the ride was fabulous as the South Platte is in full spring run off mode and is running really high. It was really enjoyable to ride along and look at the river running fast and furious. In several places the trail was detoured because some of the underpasses where under water. (That is a notorious problem with both the South Plattle and Cherry Creek Bike Trails in Denver - when the water is running high they are flooded.) When I reached downtown Denver I took a side trip onto the Lakewood Gulch trail for several miles. This trail has an infamous past as it was where a little boy and his Mom were swept into the raging creek during a flash flood. The Mom survived but the little 3 or 4 year old boy died. Today there is still a massive memorial to him along side this trail. (This horrible situation happened 2 or 3 summers ago.) I retraced my route along the Lakewood Gulch trail to come back to the South Platte trail. From there it was just a short 2 miles until I reached Confluence Park. At this point I had already ridden for 34 miles so I decided to take a short break on a bench. I drank a bunch of water, did some calculations to determine my miles per hour and just rested. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was averaging 15.2 MPH for this first part of the ride. The next section of the ride was grueling as it is really all up hill but at a very gradual slow incline. This section of my ride followed the Cherry Creek bike path out of Confluence Park the whole way to Cherry Creek State Park. I would go over another 17 miles reaching my final destination which was a light rail stop on the 9 Mile Line. I will be honest - there was nothing fun about this part of the ride as I was tired and since I had eaten nothing so far for the entire day my blood sugar was surely through the floor - and I could feel it! I burnt off almost 3000 calories during this ride so you can imagine how I was feeling from a blood sugar standpoint not having eaten anything all day. After the drudgery of this part of the ride it was shear bliss to reach the stop on the 9 Mile light rail line. A train came relatively quickly. I caught that train and went to the Southmoor station where I could pick up the E Line to get me home. Once I exited the train at Dry Creek I had another 1.7 miles to ride to get home. Those were the longest 1.7 miles of my day! It felt good to get that many miles under my belt today. Between riding my bike and using the eliptical trainer at the gym, I am really going to continue my insane workout program as I really want to do well during Death Ride 2009. The rest of the day was spent doing stuff around here and then going out to dinner with some friends this evening. Nothing too notable but a good rest of the day nonetheless. One a totally different note, I did manage to buy my Eye-Fi card for my digital camera today. It is so utterly cool! First of all it records the GPS coordinates of where the picture was taken. This works great with my new Mac in the fact that the picture application has a "mapping capabilities" that reads the geographic location of where the picture was taken. Being a GPS wonk as I am this... this is one of the coolest things possible. The other great thing about the Eye-Fi card is I will never have to take the SD card out of my camera again. It uses my WiFi network here in my house to upload all of my photos to my home network. That is so cool! It will make my job of organizing and managing my photos so much easier! Well - I am exhausted this evening. I am going to bed. A hard bike ride and long day takes a lot out of you! I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

An Essay By Zack

As I have stated in previous entries I am in the process of doing a ton of cleaning and organizing projects here at home. Though Zack is still in school for another 6 days I am starting the process of taking all his papers, documents, art work, etc from 4th grade and getting them into a storage box. I try and keep a large part of what he does every year as I think it will be a wonderful legacy for him to have as he gets older. I usually box each year up in one container and I have these boxes going back to Kindergarten. Anyway - long story short I have been sitting here working on this stuff today and I came across an essay that he wrote back in September at the start of the school year. I wanted to share it here for two reasons. First - I want people to understand the depth of what this child has been through. Second - he has come so far in handling everything and returning to the well adjusted sweet child that he was before Patty got sick. The purpose of this essay was for the child to tell about a person who has been important to them. They were supposed to give specific details of how the person has influenced or changed their life. Without further ado - Here is an essay by Zack. "One of the people who influenced my life the most was my Mom. If she didn't marry my Dad I won't be here. She fed me, she snuggled me and she loved me. Even though she is my Mom everyone gets sick. She got Leukemia influencing me a very negative way. I got my fears as a result of my Mom getting sick. My fears went up and down. I even remember my first fear. In second grade I thought I swallowed hand sanitizer. I thought I was going to die! The alien attack, the meltdowns and doing nothing but crying were the worst of days. Later my Mom died. That influenced me the worst. But my Mom is still influencing me even today. Thanks Mom!" I am not sure if Zack got it 100% right about when Patty died. Yes - that did hit him hard at first but it was also the launching pad for him to finally begin to recover from the depth of depression and anxiety. Through Patty's long fight to survive she gave us a gift that allowed us to adapt to her eventual passing. She also gave Zack and me a gift in that she made us strong. We are both capable of doing anything! Hopefully everyone is having a great Saturday! Thanks and peace to all. -J.

Tears in Denver Tonight

This is probably one of the latest "late night" posts that I have written.  I really didn't expect to be writing an entry tonight as I was sound asleep in bed around 12:15AM.  Unfortunately I had called a friend at 11:30PM and when I didn't hear back from them by midnight, I assumed I won't hear back until tomorrow.  Long story short, my friend had been asleep, woke up and saw I had called, thought it was important and decided to call me back.  So since I am awake I figured I might as well write a blog entry.
Why are there tears in Denver tonight?  Because the Nuggets lost and they have been eliminated from the NBA playoffs.  As a result there are many people weeping in their beers tonight.  In some ways I share that sentiment but in other ways I am exceedingly happy that they have lost.  Why would I be happy that they have lost?  Because now I think it will be a lot easier for me to get my season ticket packet to the Nuggets for the 2009/2010 season.  
Zack and I really enjoyed the going to all the Nuggets games that we went to in 2008/2009.  I had purchased a 10 game ticket package and it allowed us to see a total of 11 games.  (The ticket package came with one extra game).  Of the 11 games we made it to 8 of them.  For two games I gave the tickets away to friends and then we just simply skipped the other game.  So...  with the Nuggets losing tonight there will be fewer people on the "band wagon" come September when it is time for to buy our ticket package again.  So - we should be able to get some good seats this year at hopefully a reasonable cost.
Another reason for tears in Denver tonight is that the Colorado Rockies (our baseball team) have done one of the most stupid things.  They fired the most successful manager in team history - Clint Hurdle.  Now I am not a big baseball fan in any way shape or form.  However, I really like Clint Hurdle.  The guy is just a plain and simple good guy and I think he isn't a bad baseball coach.  He took the Rockies to the World Series in 2007 with a team that didn't necessarily have a lot of talent.  So unfortunately for Denver, I think the actions of the Rockies management have doomed them to be in the proverbial cellar of baseball for years to come.  Now mind you...  they'll still win the World Series before the Chicago Cubs, but they aren't going to be good for a long time to come.  Yes - there is no respected for the Chicago Cubbies!  At least Chicago has the White Sox!!  (Just some humor at the expense of the Cubs fans!)
Our day was kind of uneventful but good.  Today I went to Bonfils very early in the morning and donated 2 units of platelets and a unit of plasma.  Because of the amount of platelets they took off me I was in the chair for almost 2 hours donating.  That is not fun to spend that long of a time hooked up to one of those machines, but I always feel so good after donating knowing that within a day my platelets will be in a cancer patient's body helping them survive.
Work involved a number of conference calls that weren't necessarily fun.  This afternoon/evening I spent most of the time taking care of errands and doing things around the house.  That may sound boring but a lot of those errands resulted in me getting things that are important to me completed.  In particular, we got our new grill picked up a Lowes.  We went to Best Buy and used a number of "Reward Zone" certificates that were expiring this weekend.  Though I wasn't able to get my "Eye-Fi" GPS card for my camera today as they were sold out here in Park Meadows.  I got the rest of my flowers planted in the planter in front of the house and got a few more flower sets from Home Depot.  So it was a good day that left Zack and I both feeling happy.
With that I am going to go back to bed and hopefully fall asleep quickly.  My alarm is set for 5:40AM as I want to be up and on my bike by then as I am planning a 60 mile bike ride around Denver tomorrow.  Provided I actually get my ass up and out of bed and do the ride I will definitely blog about it tomorrow.
Til later - thanks and peace to all! - J.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Squirrel Torture

A couple of weeks ago Nancy got a bird feeder for Mother's Day from Tim and Celinde.  We debated where to hang it up for several days before deciding upon a hook that hangs from the roof of the back deck.  I filled the feeder up with feed 2 weeks ago.  It took quite awhile before the birds finally managed to find it earlier this week.  Each morning as I sit at the kitchen table working I have been treated to a show from Mother Nature.  For the most part the birds that have showed up at the feeder have been common birds - mostly sparrows and wrens.
Besides the birds we have had some other visitors to the feeder.  The squirrels have found the feeder and have found frustration.  There is just no way in this world that they can get at the feeder.  They have tried just about every way possible to reach the feeder and get into the bird seed.
I have enjoyed sitting there watching the squirrels try and figure out somehow, someway to get at the feeder.  You can tell from their actions that they are frustrated as all heck.  They have climbed up the red wood support beam for the roof and have tried to jump over to the feeder.  No luck!  They have sat underneath the feeder getting on their hind legs trying to reach the feeder - no luck again.  Everything a little squirrel could think of - they have done.  I think if they could swear I would hear lots and lots of swear words coming from the squirrels.
I don't like to torture animals in anyway shape or form.  But I must admit it is really humorous to watch the antics of these little guys as they try to get that bird seed.  Honestly though the squirrels are frustrated, the birds are helping them out by knocking large quantities of bird seed down to the floor of the deck.  So the squirrels are definitely getting their fill of the bird seed.
It is time for me to get off to bed as I am almost falling asleep as I type.  We hope everyone has had a great day.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

The Importance of Being Ernest

I wasn’t sure that I was going to write tonight or not. However I have a lot on my mind so the decision was made – I would write. The title of tonight’s blog entry is a reflection on the situation in which I find myself tonight. The “Importance of Being Ernest’ was a play written by Oscar Wilde in the 1890’s about a number of different characters who maintain fictitious identities to escape unwelcome social obligations. OK – I am not maintaining a ficticious identity, however I have certainly clothed my own personality in a number of different cloaks in the last several months to prevent my true feelings from coming out. We work through our issues in life and we come out of them stronger. However it is very hard for me not put myself out there and say exactly what I fell. If we do put myself out there and say what I feel I tend to get grief for what I say. Why is that? I really don't know. I have editted this entry numerous times and the line of thought no longer makes a lot of sense - I will admit that. For those of you who read it earlier it made much more sense. But sometimes, after re-reading what I write I just can't stomach it and hence it has to go. This entry was clearly one of those that I could not stomach. Bottom line is I will just have to figure all out myself. There are no easy answers in a situation like this. I just need to plow through and try and make the best of things for myself. All I can say is that it just sucks what life can throw at us at times! To those of you who read this blog each and every day – THANK YOU! The blog is approaching ten thousand hits in the last six months. In my wildest dreams I NEVER imgained that I would have almost ten thousand hits. Peace to all! – J.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lots of Adventure – Not all Wanted

First off, I missed writing yesterday because I was in the Littleton Adventist Hospital Emergency Room for a good part of the night. I was there with my sister-in-law Celinde. She has been undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer for the last 4 months and she was having some issues. Tim my brother and Cole my nephew have been out of town for the last 5 days and so Celinde needed some urgent help. Celinde called over to our house around 8:30PM and asked me to go to a Walgreens 24 Hour pharmacy and pick her up some medicine. I got the medicine to her house but she just didn’t look like she was in good shape so I decided to hang out there for a while with her. After about an hour things weren’t getting better so she decided it was time to go to the ER. I don’t want to go into all the details, but she was running a pretty substantial fever by that time. So off to the ER we went. I hung out with her until about 12:40AM when she talked with the ER doctor and decided it was best to be admitted. She is still in the hospital but things are looking better and hopefully will be discharged on Tuesday. Prior to the call from Celinde, Zack and I had a pretty good day on Sunday. We had started the day in our condo in Silverthorne. The weather was looking threatening from the time we got up, but the rain did hold off for several hours. We got up and did our normal routine of getting the dogs fed and out for a walk. Our walks in the morning have been abbreviated because Bailey just can’t handle it anymore. So we are doing walks that he can handle as opposed to our normal 1.5 mile loop that we would typically do every morning. After getting the dogs settled I got all of our gear packed up and we headed out the door. Our first stop was McDonalds in Silverthorne for a quick breakfast. Nothing too much as we knew we would be hiking a lot, but enough to get us going and give us some energy. We then headed to the trailhead for our hike. We were going to hike the North 10 Mile trail that starts right at the outskirts of Frisco and then heads to the north, penetrating deep into the Eagles Nest Wilderness area. The trailhead for this trail is located right off the I-70 exit for downtown Frisco. Once you get off of I-70 you go to the end of the exit and turn right into a gravel parking lot. The trail head is on the north side of the parking lot. The trail starts by following a small paved road that leads from the parking lot to a large water tank that is part of the Frisco town water system. The water tank is reached after walking for about 200 yards. From there the trail heads into the woods along what was once an old mining road. For the next several hundred yards of the trail you are walking through forest that has been destroyed by the pine bark beetle. All the trees have been cut down and it looks very similar to the terrain we covered on Saturday. This section of the trail is very easy and gradually slopes upward. However after about ½ of a mile, the trail gets much steeper and begins to ascend several rocky ridges. During this part of the trail the North Fork of 10 Mile Creek runs right beside the trail. Due to the large amount of spring run off, the creek is running with a tremendous roar. There are numerous cataracts and waterfalls as the stream tumbles down from the heights. One particular waterfall caught our attention as it was very dramatic where it fell through a crevice between two gigantic boulders. We spent a bunch of time just hanging out there enjoying the view and appreciating the fantastic waterfall. While we hung out at the waterfall a couple with a golden retriever came up and Zack and I spent a few minutes talking with them. Zack was totally taken with the dog. His name was Henry and Zack just played and played with him.
(Zack by the waterfall.)
Zack really loves meeting up with dogs on the trail. He does a really great job of always asking their owners before he pets them or plays with them. I was really impressed with how he handled a couple of situations on Sunday. In one case, the people cautioned him to be very careful around their dog as they had just gotten it from a shelter 3 days before and they weren’t certain how it would react to children. Zack cautiously approached the puppy (I say puppy though the dog was full grown) and got very close to the ground to make his profile much smaller. He tentatively put his hand out towards the puppy with his palm turned up right. He said a lot of soothing words and the puppy approached him and licked his hand. The couple was very impressed with Zack’s patience and care in approaching their dog. I was really proud of him. Once we passed the waterfall we had another ¼ of mile of steep terrain to conquer. After that the trail flattened out and the walking was really pleasant. On our left the rush of the stream slowed down as it passed through a series of beautiful meadows. As we continued to move further into the wilderness we came across several sites that bore evidence of past mining activity. At some point in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s much of the water in the stream had been diverted into a plume that funneled the water into several hydraulic mining operations on the side of Buffalo Mountain. You can see the remains of this plume right near the Frisco Main Street exit off of I-70. It is quite dramatic and offers evidence to the extent this area was mined in the past. We continued hiking north on the trail with the goal of reaching the intersection of this trail and the Gore Range Trail. About 1.75 miles into the hike we passed the boundary for the Eagles Nest Wilderness area. We were able to continue another ½ mile along the trail before we were forced to turn back by large amounts of snow covering the trail and extreme amounts of mud. Everyone we had passed heading back down the trail had warned us that we would eventually have to turn back and we found their warnings to be quite accurate! When we turned back we had gone only a very short distance when the heavens opened upon us. Thankfully it was not thundering or lightening so we temporarily took shelter in a thick stand of pine trees. After about 10 minutes we geared up in our jackets and took off down the trail. We had a very enjoyable walk back down the trail. We spent a bunch of time talking about how we wanted to come back and hike the trail further when things were drier. According to my GPS we covered about 4.5 miles. It was a great hike and we really enjoyed ourselves.
(Me in one of the many meadows along North 10 Mile Creek.)
(Zack on a walk way over a blog on the trail.)
We headed back to the condo to get some lunch and relax. I must admit we really didn’t do anything on Sunday afternoon. It was just a great relaxing afternoon. I didn’t even spend a lot of time cleaning up the condo. Around 3:30PM we packed up the car and began our trip back down the mountain. My original plan to get home was to go through Breckinridge and go over Boreas Pass. This would have allowed us to hook up with US 285 several miles to the north west of the town of Jefferson. Unfortunately we drove to where the Boreas Pass road begins only to find out that the pass had yet to open for the season. This meant we had to backtrack into Breckinridge and head south on Colorado Route 9. Going this way would take us over Hoosier Pass, through the small towns of Alma and Fairplay until we hooked up with US 285. Once on 285 we would traverse the entire length of South Park crossing Red Hill Pass and then going over Kenosha Pass. From there we would travel through a bunch of small towns over the next 50 miles until we came to C470. Needless to say, this route took us a lot longer than had we been able to go over Boreas Pass. Nonetheless it was a beautiful drive even though most of it was through the rain. We stopped in the town of Bailey and had dinner at the Coney Island Hot Dog Stand. This hot dog stand is somewhat of a landmark in Colorado. Originally it had been located along 285 in the town of Conifer but in 2006 it was lifted off its foundation and trucked 30 miles further to the south west and set up on the outskirts of Bailey. Though it is small and you often can’t find a place to sit, I always think it is a fun place to have a meal. Heck – where else do you get to eat on the inside of a hot dog!
Besides taking Celinde to the ER on Sunday night, I also received some other distressing news. Through Facebook I found out about the passing of a friend who I haven't seen in a number of years. He was only 48 years old and passed away due to a massive heart attack. He was part of the group of people who I call the "usual suspects" for holiday and dinner gatherings that we frequently attend at Tim and Celinde's home. My heart goes out to all the members of Ramon's family and to all those who were close to him.
Today has been a busy day for us. I spent most of the day running around. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is the start of another work week. Yuck – but it has to be done! We hope everyone has had a great holiday weekend! Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tenderfoot Mountain

The weather in Summit County this weekend has been very questionable. Since we arrived yesterday we really haven't seen much of the sun at all. This morning we awoke to cloudy grey skies that did not bode well for a lengthy hike.
We were awoken to the sound of dog puking this morning. Bailey was ralphing something up. I haven't a clue what. Because before I could get up and clean it up, Lex had already taken care of it. Yeah - you got to love that about your dogs. Needless to say, both Lex and Bailey were forbidden to give kisses for the first half of today! As a result of Lex's actions I only had a little to clean up. It was a lovely way to start my morning!
Once we got up we took the dogs for their morning walk/hike into the National Forest behind our condo. Given the weakness in Bailey's hind legs we have trimmed this walk down from over 1.5 miles in years past to slightly over .5 miles. The walk gives Bailey more than enough exercise to tire him out, but it tends to leave Lex unsatisfied and ready to go. Zack and I have determined we just need to work harder with Bailey each day and essentially do "physical therapy" with him to try and get his hind legs stronger.
After the morning walk we came back to the condo and got some breakfast for ourselves. Nothing elaborate - cold cereal for Zack and oatmeal for me. While we were eating I was going through one of my hiking books to determine a good hike to take for the day. Given the weather I really didn't want to do anything that would put us way out in the middle of nowhere in case a major storm came up. So I decided on the hike up Tenderfoot Mountain. This mountain is on the outskirts of Dillon and isn't that tall - only 11,000+ feet. The total hike is only about 3 miles round trip so I figure it won't take us much more than an hour which given the weather was good.
We got to the trailhead without any problem as it is located right near the Dillon water filtration plant. The first thing that we noticed about our hike was that the first 1/3 of mile wound through a totally and completely devastated forest. This area of forest had been hard hit by the pine beetle and so to protect the water filtration plant in case the dead trees burnt - every single tree had been cut down. Here in Colorado we are not used to clear cuts the way you sometimes see them in the Northwest, but given the devastation caused by the pine beetle, I think we are going to be seeing a lot more clear cuts in the future.
(Zack standing in the midst of the devastation from the pine beetle and the clear cutting.) After walking through this clear cut area, the trail takes a turn to the east and heads up hill on a much more dramatic angle. Thoughout the hike we had a great view of Lake Dillon below. Unfortunately we also had a great view of Route 6 as it heads toward Loveland Pass. I guess for an easy hike, I shouldn't expect too much in terms of a view!
(Zack looking to the south over Lake Dillon and Peaks 1 - 7)
(Me sitting on one of the benches along the trail. Zack took the picture - he is getting better at taking pictures!)
Throughout the hike there were several benches positioned at various along side the trail. These benches were in places where there were great views of Lake Dillon and the Gore Range to the north. We would stop at each one and take some pictures and just enjoy the view. In many cases the peaks of the nearby mountains were totally obscured by clouds and mist.
After about 45 minutes we reach the "End of the Trail". There was a sign there that read "End of Trail" even though a trail continues further up Tenderfoot Mountain. Zack and I had a good laugh over the sign and we took pictures of each other next to it. I thought it would have been funny if the sign instead read "End of the Line". But - oh well.
Our hike back to the car was quick and easy as it was all pretty much down hill. As we got closer to the car the weather became more threatening and I expect us to be caught in a deluge. But thankfully we reach the car without the rain starting.
After our hike we headed to Frisco so that Zack could spend some time playing on the Frisco "Funtastic" playground. We got there and within 10 minutes we were running for the car as it started to pour. We got somewhat wet but we it was OK. We then headed into downtown Frisco and went to one of our favorite mountain eateries for lunch - The Butterhorn. We had a great lunch in the warm comfort of the Butterhorn while the rain came down outside.
It was still raining when we left The Butterhorn, but on the drive back to Silverthorne the rain let up and stopped. We made a quick stop at the Target in Silverthorne as we needed some supplies for the condo. Once we got back to the condo - besides for taking the dogs out and getting a take and bake pizza for dinner we were determined to stay in and have a relax late afternoon and evening. And that is what we are doing now. We have a nice fire burning in the fireplace, I am working on my computer and Zack is using his Nintendo DS. The Denver Nuggets game is on the TV and we are having a good evening.
We hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

A Thank You

One of the things about life is that it never turns out the way you think, imagine or dream that it will. All of your best laid plans can and do frequently change. For Zack and I we never imagined that we would be living they way that we are today. As part of never imagining things would be the way they are, I never expected to be living in my house with Zack, my late wife's mother - Nancy and my two dogs. In some ways it is a very unconventional living arrangement. But I really need to step back and say "thanks" to Nancy. When I married Patty back in 1994 I could have never imagined a time when her mom would be living in our with house with us, let alone living with me alone. Let's put it this way, that is just not something that you typical ever imagine or think about. There is the typical "mother-in-law" kind of feeling that you see documented in some many TV shows. What is weird is that now I couldn't see it any other way. Though our family unit isn't the typical arrangement, it is so very good having Zack's grandmother live with us. Without Nancy there our home would seem that much more empty. When Patty first went into the hospital in August of 2006 the house seemed so much more empty than normal. I couldn't imagine how much more empty it would have been without Nancy being there. Over the last three years the relationship of all of us in the house has grown and changed. We all have our specific things that we do. As these years have passed I have found myself watching out for Nancy a lot more. She obviously has aged and the stress, anxiety and pain of losing Patty have made it all that much worse. The bottomline though is without Nancy our home would be that much less a home. I don't know if I say it frequently enough - but thank you Nancy for being part of Zack and my life. We appreciate all that you do for us and we are so glad to have you there with us. We hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day Weekend so far. I am sure we will have some adventures to report upon with my next post. Thanks and peace to all. - J.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

It is hard to believe that Memorial Day Weekend is already upon us.  That means that summer is almost near.  Can you believe that we are that far into 2009?  Worse yet can you believe that the first decade of the 21st century is almost complete.  All I can say is wow!  Time sure flies when you are having fun.  Hmmmm....  I guess that means I am having fun!
All joking aside we are working on our Memorial Day Weekend plans.  We don't have anything much planned per se.  We are planning to journey to our place in the mountains.  It has been a very long time since we have been there.  Though the weather this weekend is supposed to be pretty bad in the mountains it will still be good to get up there and enjoy the condo.
I am thinking that we will leave as soon as we can once Zack is done with school tomorrow afternoon.  I would love to get on the road early enough so that we avoid the parking lot that is C470 after 3:30PM.  Even if we don't beat the traffic we will still have a good drive.  Every time Zack and I go to the mountains we normally end up having some amazing conversations during our drive.  Usually we end up talking a lot about geology.   Why geology?  Because we see it all around us as we drive.   Zack is still into geology and it is always fun to talk about the boundaries between the plains, the foothills and the mountains as we drive.  He definitely keeps me on my toes in terms of the questions he asks and the conclusions he reaches.  I will admit I have to study before we head out on long road trips as he always asks a million questions.
Given the weather that we are supposed to have this weekend, I will definitely be stocking up on marshmallows as it appears it will be cold enough for us to have a fire in the fireplace.  And if we have a fire.....  then I am going to have to make toasted, roasted marshmallows for the Z-man.  He is getting to the point in his toasted, roasted marshmallow making that he will be making some for himself.  It has been awhile since he set a marshmallow on fire!
We will take a bunch of books and movies with us for the weekend as I am sure we will spend a lot of time just hanging out.  One thing that will be interesting with the weekend is to see how Bailey does in the mountains.  Though he continues to be in good shape you can tell that he is old.  Our condo is on the second floor of our building.  Given the elevation difference between here and there I am sure I will have to help him up the steps.  Regardless I am sure he will love being there!
We hope everyone has a great Friday and a good start to the weekend.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A First for this blog...

Yes - it is true, this blog is coming to you from a Mac!  I am sure no one would have really thought that to be possible even a mere few months ago.  But it has happened!
Late this afternoon after I was done with work I headed out to the Apple Store at the Park Meadows Mall.  I had made an appointment for a 'personal shopper' - which was an Apple employee to help me find the right Mac for me.  I pretty much knew what I was going to get but there were a bunch of questions I had.
I got all of my questions answered very fast and everything looked pretty good.  Then the guy (Daniel) who was my 'personal shopper' started talking about the photo features that are built into the Mac iPhoto software.  Once he did that I was totally and completely sold!
Some of the most interesting features of the iPhoto software have to do with it's face recognition software.  You can identify a person in one of the photos with the software and then it will search your entire set of photos to find all pictures with that person.  It will then 'tag' the photos so that you can find every one with that person.  Talk about cool!
Another thing that is great about iPhoto is that it supports geotagging.  Everyone by now knows that I am a 100% total and complete GPS nut.  I do everything with my GPS.  (What's the plural form of GPS?  GPS'S? - I just don't know.)  iPhoto allows each photo to be 'tagged' with the latitude and longitude where the picture was taken.  For all those iPhone users out there I bet you didn't know this one...  Your iPhoto tags every photo it takes with the geographic coordinates where the picture was taken.  So if you take some pictures that you shouldn't people can track down where you took them!
I am absolutely positive it is going to take me days and weeks to figure out all the features of this thing.  I am sure I will probably only scratch the surface using those features, but it is very cool to have this new little toy!
This doesn't mean that PCs and Windows are forever banished from our home.  I still have hundreds upon hundreds of software titles that I have purchased for my PCs over the years.  So for at least the foreseeable future there will always be a PC in our house.
Besides for the purchase of the Mac, the day has been relatively uneventful.  Work was as is becoming the norm - very difficult.  But I guess that is a good thing as I should really have to work very hard to earn my pay - LOL!  Some how, some way, Lex managed to do some serious damage to his nose of all places.  I found him out on the back deck with a pool of blood right in front of him.  I really have no idea what he did.  It wasn't bad enough for me to have to take him to the vet, but I did have clean him up a little bit before I would let him in the house.
Zack is now down to 13 days of school left for the year.  Talk about a year that has flown by!  We had his last Cub Scout Pack meeting of the year tonight.  After that we went to the food court at Park Meadows and got some dinner.  All-in-all an OK kind of day.
We hope everyone is having a great week and is looking forward to the long weekend!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Most Important Job

Today I have spent a lot of time thinking about the most important job I have in life right now – raising Zack. My thought process was inspired by reading an article about how important it is to provide structure, discipline and consistency to your children. Obviously Zack has faced a number of challenges in the last several years with Patty’s illness and passing. During the time of her illness much of the structure that we had built as a family disintegrated. The routines that had been established when Zack was very young were blown away by the need for us to do everything we could to support Patty in her battle to survive. Now that we are a good bit away from that time, Zack and I have been working to re-establish a series of routines in our house. I feel that it is utterly critical for us to have those day-to-day routines that we live by. For example, even though seventy percent of the time it is just Zack and I we still sit down to dinner at the kitchen table. Nancy will join us every once in a while, but she more frequently tends to eat dinner much earlier in the day, so Zack and I will eat alone. It would be very easy for us to give in and eat in the family room in front of the TV but we do not. In fact, we have a rule in the house that we can’t even watch TV while eating. (The family room TV is in easy sight of the kitchen table.) There are many other structures and routines that we have implemented for day-to-day life in our house. What I have found is that as these structures and routines are implemented, the amount of anxiety that Zack has faced has greatly diminished. Perhaps it is the length of time since Patty’s passing or perhaps it is the fact that we now have routine again. It is just wonderful to see Zack progress and move away from the anxiety issues. One of the largest challenges that I face is building a feeling of maturity and independence in Zack. During Patty’s illness his tendency was to seek a lot of comfort and support by relying upon me to always be there for him. Well – that now needs to change. He needs to grab life by the horns and do as much as he can to grow, become more independent and catch up to his peers. It has been fun and fulfilling to see Zack start to take on that feeling of independence. We go out to eat at Sweet Tomatoes and Cinzettis fairly frequently. These places are kind of like buffets. In the past, I always had to go with Zack to get his food. Now he is determined to do those kinds of things on his own. He wants to go and get food by himself as opposed to having me go with him. He will even tell me to stay at the table so that he can go by himself. In some ways it might seem sad to have your child start to assert their independence like that, but to me it makes me happy to see him fight through his fears of being alone and strike out to do things like that by himself. As I go through all of these development issues with Zack, it does take a fair amount of my time. I must admit that I have to work very hard with him to get him to take on some of these responsibilities. But it is so gratifying when he shows that he can be independent and work through the issues he faces. So yes – raising Zack is most definitely the most important job that I have. Our doings for the day were pretty much the same-old, same-old. I have had a ton of work to do in recent days. Zack had a good day at school and then he had Sylvan this afternoon. For dinner this evening we did splurge a little bit by going out to Dave and Busters. All-in-all it was a good day! We hope everyone is having a great week so far. Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Upchucking the Kool-Aid

A momentous event occurred in my life today. It was an event that I NEVER thought would happen. For years and years I have railed against this very day. But in the last several weeks and months it became unavoidable. Years ago this event would not have been as unthinkable as it is today. As a matter of fact it would have seemed very natural for me up until 1990. After 1990 slowly but surely it became one of the most unthinkable things ever. What is it that I am talking about? I have made a decision to buy a MAC! For years I have been one of the most bigoted Windows users that there was. I would have NOTHING to do with anything Apple-like. Then some changes began to occur that caused my resolve to crack. First there was Vista the train wreck of an operating system from Microsoft. My first exposure to Vista came with the laptop that I bought two years for Patty when she was in the hospital. There was only one choice for the operating system – Vista. After a few weeks of playing with Vista while Patty was in the hospital, I quickly realized that I did NOT like it. Up to this point it really hasn’t mattered that much. Zack and I have continued to use Patty’s laptop. It was plagued with a number of technical issues that I recently resolved. As I started to use the laptop more I really decided that it wasn’t that I just didn’t like Vista – I hated it. Unfortunately the time has come for us to get a new computer for most of our computing needs in the house. We have had a desktop computer that we use for most of our work and we have had it since January of 2005. That computer is no longer cutting the mustard. It just doesn’t have the horse power to get things done, so we need to get a new computer. I have been debating this several weeks and with the helpful direction of a friend who is a very proficient Mac user I have decided to take the plunge and buy a Mac. I used the Apple.com website to make an appointment with one of their personal shoppers for Wednesday evening. I intend to come home that evening with a new laptop.
(Of course this image is an Apple Copyright. So I got to mention that!)
One of the more difficult aspects of this is all the countless software packages that I have purchased over the years for my Windows based computers. I guess for now I will always have to have a Windows based machine in my house but I am not going to be spending a ton of money on them that is for sure. For now I will hold off buying a new Windows machine and concentrate on using the Mac. I didn’t write a blog entry yesterday because we were very busy. The day started with a 20+ mile bike ride for me. I will be ramping up my riding in a pretty major way in the coming weeks so that I am ready for Death Ride 2009 in July. After my bike ride Zack and I went to see Cole’s piano recital. Our afternoon was spent at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The evening was low key but I have a ton of working going on here at home so it seems I never have any time. Oh well – I just need to start working harder to fit my blogging into my schedule. Today has been all about work, work and more work. Zack had his field day at school and had a ton of fun. I have rearranged his Sylvan versus WCCK days at school for the last two weeks. Instead of Sylvan he went to WCCK. As a result, tomorrow – Tuesday will be a Sylvan day. Anyway – thanks and peace to all. – J.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Biking, biking and more biking is what I need!

Admittedly I am not doing what I should be doing these days. I should be out riding my butt off on my bike. In a little over 50 days I will be in Merkleville, California for one of the biggest physical challenges I have attempted in my life. On July 11, 2009 I will be out in the beautify of the Sierra Nevada’s attempting to ride 129 miles and gain over 15,000 feet of elevation during one day. I have done some pretty outlandish things on my bicycle in my life but this will be, by far the hardest thing I have done to date. So, have I been biking enough – NO! I have been doing a tremendous amount of working out. I have spent hours and hours in the gym in recent weeks and months but I haven’t spent much time with my butt glued to the saddle of my bike. This morning I am heading out for a ride that hopefully will re-ignite my bike training. Additionally, I am taking a very different approach to training for this ride than I did for Bicycle Tour Colorado (BTC) last year. Death Ride 2009 (the name of the ride on July 11, 2009) is all about climbing hills. Granted the hills in the Sierra Nevada’s are no where near as high as the passes I climbed with BTC, but there is still going to be a LOT of climbing. Though I will also do some distance training my major plan is to concentrate on hills, hills and more hills. Many of my training rides are going to be simple ride up the giant hill, ride down and then do it all over again. One of the rides I foresee doing a lot is the frontage road along I-70 going up Turkey Creek Canyon. This frontage rode runs from the Morrison exit off of I-70 to the top of Lookout Mountain. It is an intense ride because the grade is fairly steep. I guess one which everyone is probably asking is – why have I been avoiding doing my bike training. One reason – up until a couple of weeks ago the weather was so crappy. Now that the weather has improved I have no excuse. Another reason has been just because of where I am in life right now. That’s hard to explain, but my schedule just hasn’t been conducive to getting out and dedicating several hours at a crack to riding my bike. The bottom line is that I just need to make it happen. Well – it is Sunday morning and the weekend is half over. The weekend so far has flown by. Yesterday was spent doing a lot of work around the house, dealing with an aching tooth and taking a nap. Today will be somewhat the same though as soon as I finish writing this I am heading out on my bicycle and hitting the E470 bike trail. I will at least get 20 – 30 miles in this morning. I have some lunch plans for the day and then it is back home to do work, work and more work. Late this afternoon or early this evening I will make sure that Zack and I get outside and do something together. Maybe well spend an hour on the trampoline or maybe we will go and take a walk. Not sure at this point. Anyway – hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Dog’s B-Day Party and More Dental Fun!

It was finally Bailey’s 13th B-day! I think I was looking forward to this day more than anyone else. I haven’t the slightest idea why I was so excited for this day, but I was. I guess I just wanted to be able to celebrate a significant milestone in my puppy’s life. Next to my first dog Tara, Bailey is now officially the longest lived dog that I have ever had. Most importantly to me, I think he still has several good years left in him. My day started with a lot of fun. I had my re-root canal at 7:45AM this morning. Friday morning is the only morning of the week in which I don’t have a very early morning (6:30AM or 7:00AM) conference call. So the fact that I had to get up early this morning so that I could get Zack ready for school and then drop him off at Tim and Celinde’s before I went to the endodist was not a happy event for me. We were up well before 6:45AM getting ready. I dropped Zack off at 7:25AM and then was on the road to Broadway and Mineral Aves to the endodist. As soon as I arrived at the endodist they got me back and in a chair. This office has a ton of advanced equipment and the way that they injected me with the lidocaine was pretty neat. Instead of a typical dentist hypodermic they have a hypodermic needle attached to a pump so that they can deliver a very accurate dose of the lidocaine without have to use multiple needles. The root canal was pretty uneventful. I had my iPhone with me so I put on headphones and lay there listening to music. I closed my eyes and just didn’t even think about it too much. The endodist had to ask me several times if I was ok because I lay there pretty much motionless. I was in the chair for about 1.5 hours and everything went well. However what he found inside my tooth wasn’t good. The original root canal had been done poorly and there was one root of my tooth that was missed. Additionally, on one of the roots that had been done, there was a puncture in the bottom of the canal that went into my jaw. There is a good possibility that this puncture is what lead to the horrible situation I found myself in during March. An infection was in the process of starting up in the tooth again - which explained the pain and swelling I had been experiencing. As a result of that I am back on the really nasty antibiotics again - yuck! After the root canal was done I got home and got to work. During my lunch hour I ran out and picked up Bailey’s birthday cake at Pet Outfitters. As soon as I got home I couldn’t resist, I got out a knife and carved a tiny piece off the side. I was pretty surprised that it tasted as good as it did. Though it was birthday cake for a dog it was made from oatmeal and carrot cake. I was really surprised how good it tasted! Zack had his weekly psychologist appointment today after school as is normal. What was not normal about today’s session was this was potentially his last session for a very long time. We don’t even have any more sessions scheduled. The plan with Dr. Jane is for Zack to have one or two appointment over the course of the summer and then for us to reevaluate his need for psychologist appointments at the beginning of the year. This is huge! Zack has progressed to the point that he may no longer need to see a psychologist. I really can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Bailey’s b-day celebration was scheduled for around 5:00PM this evening. That was when Tim was going to bring his “cousin” puppies over to our house. They arrived shortly after 5:00PM and the fun and chaos began.

(Bailey's puppy birthday cake!)

First the pups got the birthday cake. Instead of just putting it down on the floor I cut the 9 inch cake into four pieces and put them in dog bowls. Bailey and Ray (my brother’s oldest and biggest dog) both decided that they would eat the cake in one bite. They tried as hard as they could to get the chunk of cake down in one gulp. It was hilarious to watch! Lex and Lulu (my brother’s other dog) were much more dignified in their approach to eating the cake. They managed to take bites and mouthfuls and in general ate in a much nicer way. Once the cake was complete, the main event began. I had purchased a bunch of plush dog toys. I took all the toys into the living room and just threw them on the middle of the floor. You can imagine the chaos that took place at that point. It was just so much fun to watch. All the dogs were going after these toys and they beat the crap out of each other as they went after them. Even birthday boy Bay got involved in the middle of things. I was very happy to see him playing and acting like a puppy. The pups played for the better part of an hour. Well all was said and done, Bailey curled up in a ball right under my feet at the kitchen table. A little while later I was sitting on the couch and Lex jumped up with me and put his head on my legs. It was very cute. Though Bailey really didn’t know it was his birthday, I am sure all of the dogs had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the cake and the toys. During the little party I shot a bunch of video. I don’t have time to upload it to Youtube tonight, but I will do so tomorrow and post a link here. It is actually quite funny to watch those crazy nut job dogs. Hope everyone has had a great Friday. Enjoy the weekend! Thanks and peace to all – J.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What not to Blog About...

Today I gave serious consideration to writing a blog about work. But I thought about it and decided it probably was not the best idea. Why? Because I am sure that there are many people from my company who read this blog. Who knows people there might even be people above me in the corporate food chain who read this blog. After thinking about those kinds of things, I decided it was probably best to not write about my work. Yes - I will always say when things are good and I will certainly say that my employer is a very good place to work. But when I have a tough time at work I am not going to spell it out so very directly. I'll allude to it, but forget about the down and dirty details, that is not going to happen. There have been numerous occasions when people have been fired from their jobs because of what they have written on blogs or other websites. I recently even heard of situation where a woman in Switzerland was fired from her job because she said she had a very bad headache and could not work on her computer for the day. So she went home to recovery from her headache. While at home she got on her computer and made some updates to her Facebook page. Her employer found out about these updates and was not happy since she had gone home because she supposed couldn't work on her computer because of the headache. She ended up getting fired. So even Facebook can get you into trouble if you don't follow the rules. Tomorrow will be a big day around our house. Our day is going to start very early as I need to get Zack up and ready for school before I head to my endondist appointment at 7:45AM. I'll drop him off at Tim and Celinde's and then he can walk to school with Cole. I can't tell you how glad I am going to be to get my tooth fixed! Unfortunately in the last day the pain has increased and I have noticed my jawline and neck are swollen near that tooth. So there is a good possibility the abscess has started up again. I just want it fixed for good. Tomorrow is also a big day for Bailey - it's his 13th Bday! My doggie b-day cake arrived at the pet store today so I will make sure I have time to get it before dinner tomorrow. I do want the day to be special for Bailey. I don't think he will really notice it but... it will still be good to do for him. Well - off to bed for me. I hope everyone had a great day! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

My Hate-Affair with Dentists

For those of you who have been reading this blog for the last 2 or 3 months you all probably remember my days as the “goiter boy”. This was when I had an abscessed tooth that led to a major infection in my neck which led to me having to have emergency surgery. Unfortunately those days are back! My infamous tooth has been acting up again over the last 2 weeks. A week ago I had an appointment with an endodontist because of on going pain in that tooth. The appointment was actually kind of cool as they had this new type of x-ray in which they don’t have to use film. They stick a probe with a flat panel in your mouth and then shoot x-rays at the flat panel. The image of your tooth immediately appears on the screen of a computer. There is no waiting to have the film developed and then put up on a light box. The x-ray of my mouth showed that the root canal that was done in March that lead to this entire problem was messed up. It looks like a substantial portion of one of the roots was missed – which could potentially explain the increasing amounts of pain I have been feeling for the last several weeks. What does all this mean? Well it means I get to do a lot of what I did in March all over again! How fun is that? So this Friday I am scheduled to have a “re-root canal” of the tooth. They are going to open up the top of the tooth, remove all the stuff that was put in as part of the original root canal and then re-do it all. Depending upon what they find, I will most likely have to have another go round of oral surgery. This time it will be much less drastic than the first time. This surgery would be done in the endodist’s office and I would not have to be sedated. Needless to say I am really looking forward to all of this – yippee! It is going to make for a fun Friday. I am just joking as I look at the situation and realize it is not a big deal. Yes – I will feel some minor discomfort for a little bit, but really it is nothing major. I am really just belly aching for the purpose of writing a pseudo-funny blog post. (Notice I said pseudo-funny as I realize my sense of humor is pretty darn poor if I have to attempt to keep a joke clean.) On a totally different note, I just wanted to say this tonight - I am so proud of Zack. Why am I saying that? There is no real reason. When I dropped him off at Sylvan late this afternoon, I sat there in the car and watched him walk into the tutoring center. He made me laugh as he walked in with such determination while carrying the latest book that he is reading. It just struck me as something very special watching him walk in there. He is an amazing strong and resilient kid and I am just so proud of him for all that he has accomplished. I have been parenting him by myself for the better part of three years and I have seen him grow and change so much. The boy is far from perfect, but despite all that he has experienced in life he is one of the most happy, loving and easy go lucky kids that I know. He just makes me proud. Another reason I am so proud of him is the way that he has accepted a number of challenges I have put out there for him. I have challenged him that he needs to take greater responsibility for things. He has always had chores and things to do around the house and I have always tried to run a very structured day-to-day life with him. But since January of this year, I have really asked him to step up to greater challenges and greater responsibility. He definitely has stepped up to these challenges and I am just so proud of him. I love my boy!!! It is time for me to get going for the night. It is late and I didn’t want to miss writing for a second day. Yesterday for the first time I had a case of “writer’s block”. (I guess I really shouldn’t describe myself as a writer – LOL!) There was nothing of which I could think to write. So for the first time in a long time I went a day without blogging – how unlike me! We hope everyone is having a great week! Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Shelly Dierking

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Art of Dancing in the Desert – Or Why Some People Will Think I am a Moron

The title of today’s post does have a meaning. Anyone who reads books about dogs might recognize it as a rip off the book call “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. I just got this book from the library today but because of the subject matter I thought it was apropos title for today’s post. The inside jacket of the “Art of Racing in the Rain” describes the book in this manner. “Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master , Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.” “On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three year battle over Zoe, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo come through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoe at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure to return as a man.” So why would I rip this topic off – because I am just spending a lot of time thinking of my precious Bailey. I know I have written about him several times before, but given how close we are getting to his 13th birthday, I am realizing how I have been blessed to have this wonderful soul in my life. Though Bailey can’t talk the way that Enzo can in the book he is still a font of wisdom and knowledge. As you look upon his countenance you can see the wisdom and experience in his eyes and his demeanor. You can see the wisdom in the way that he carries himself. It is hard to believe that Bailey has been part of my life for so long. Though he was born on May 15, 1996 – he came to be in our home on July 12, 1996 when he was 8 weeks old. So he has been part of my immediate family longer than any living person. He has been a joy to have and a constant companion. There is so much more I could say – but I have already said it so many times. I love my Bailey! Now – why would people think that I am a moron? Well – I decided that I am going to have a little party for Bailey on Friday – his birthday. So I found a pet store – Pet Outfitters at the corner of Holly and Orchard that sells birthday cakes for dogs. Yes – you got it – I ordered a birthday cake for Bay. With any luck I’ll be able to have some of his puppy friends over to celebrate on Friday. I know Bailey has no conception that it is his birthday – but I just want him to be as happy as a puppy can be because he has earned it. Thirteen years old – it is a remarkably age for a dog his size! Keep in mind that is 91 years in dog years! Our day has been busy as usual. There was lots of work for me to do. This week Zack is going to Sylvan on Tuesday and Wednesday so he went to WCCK today after school. I got the opportunity to go and meet a friend for a coffee break this afternoon at Starbucks. It was really good to get out of the house. Sometimes working from home can be so isolating! This evening Zack and I managed to get Nancy to go out to dinner with us at the local TGI Fridays. That was good as it has been a long time since I managed to convince her to go out with us. Late this evening I spent a bunch of time working in the back yard putting down top soil and grass seed. I have a fair number of dead spots in the yard because the watering was patchy last year. So I am taking advantage of this cool and wet weather to try and get the yard back in shape. We hope everyone’s week is off to a good start. Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone! I hope everyone who is a mother was able to celebrate with their children or those who are as close as their children. Today's entry is going to be short. It isn't that I am in bad mood or anything like that - it is just one of those evenings that I would rather spend with Zack and I don't have a good idea about which to write. Our day was TRULY uneventful. Except for going to the gym and the grocery store I didn't even leave the house. I had considered taking Zack to see the new Star Trek movie but then he got a call from Cole asking if he wanted to come over and play. Well - before you know it, those two had spent pretty much the entire afternoon together getting into all kinds of adventures around the neighborhood. So I decided that we would take a pass on the movie for today. Unfortunately we ended up with yet another wet and rainy day here in Colorado. April and May are the ONLY reasons I could ever thinking of moving away from Colorado. But every place has to get some rain/snow sometime so I guess I just have to deal with it. We can't have perfect weather all the time! Had the weather been better I would have been out on my bicycle today. It is only two months until Death Ride 2009 and I REALLY need to get biking. The good thing is I have been working out a lot and being very active. So even though I haven't been on my bike a lot this spring I have a pretty good base from which to start. Another busy work week is about to begin. I think this week will be a lot better than last week. I worked very hard and corrected a bunch of issues so I am feeling pretty good heading into this new week. Once again - Happy Mother's Day to everyone. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hiking to Brainerd Lake without Snow Shoes!

Today Zack and I headed out on our first hike since April1st when we hiked into the Grand Canyon. Instead of sticking to our normal stomping grounds in Jeffco and DougCo I decided that we were going to head to the north a good ways and explore some new terrain for us. The place I chose for today’s hike was a location along the Peak-to-Peak Highway not far from the Indian Peaks Wilderness called Brainerd Lake. This area is a designated recreational area that offers opportunities for hiking, snowmobiling, fishing, camping and many other outdoor activities. To reach the Brainerd Lake trail head, we first journeyed to Boulder and then headed up Boulder Canyon to the town of Nederland. From Nederland we took Colorado Highway 72 towards Estes Park. About 15 miles outside of Nederland we came to the small town of Ward and the turn off to forest road 112. From there it was another 2 miles into the woods along FR 112 before we reached the winter trailhead. The winter trail head is place where the road is closed to further access during the snows of winter. Our drive to the winter gate was uneventful but as we journeyed further along FR 112 it became apparent that there was still a lot of snow to be found at this altitude. The winter trailhead is located at approximately 10,100 feet above sea level in elevation. In years past the trailhead would have been free of snow by this point. However with the large snow storms that occurred in April, the trailhead was covered in snow. As we parked I realized with the sick feeling in my stomach that I should have brought our snow shoes with us. Oh well – it was too late for that! After parking the car we got out and took a look around at the various trails leading off of the trailhead and the various sign post maps. A quick look at all of this convinced me the best thing we could do to reach Brainerd Lake was to follow the road past the winter gate.
(Zack standing on a rock not far from Brainerd Lake.)
We quickly got past the gate and began walking down the road. At this point the road was paved. After about ¼ of mile we saw that the road disappeared into a huge snow drift. Thankfully the drift was pretty hard packed snow, so we were able to scale it without any problems. We didn’t post hole through the snow – which was really good given I was wearing shorts!

(The two of us with the Indian Peaks in the background.)

Our hike to the lake was going to take about 2.25 miles by way of the road. The hike was uneventful but we learned from people hiking out that we would face a challenging section of the road that was covered to a depth of 7 or 8 feet with snow and would go on for about ½ mile that way. Furthermore Brainerd Lake was still frozen solid with no sign of the ice yet breaking up. While we were hiking into Brainerd Lake we continued to gain elevation. Though the hike was uneventful, it was tough as neither one of us is currently acclimated to the 10,000 foot + elevation. When we reached the last ½ mile of the hike in, we came to our biggest challenge – the snow was packed to a depth of at least 7 or 8 feet. The going was tough as we kept on slipping and sliding. Some of the times we would slip and slide, we would post hole through the snow to a depth of a foot or more. This is usually not a big thing when you are wearing winter clothing. But with me in shorts it some time caused me to get a little bit cold shall we say.

(View to the west of the Indian Peaks.) Finally after about 45 minutes of hard hiking we reach the lake. To be honest there was not much to see of the lake except for a large flat spot covered with snow. However, the scenery was beautiful and I can see that in the summertime Brainerd Lake must be heavily used. We spent a bunch of time hanging out at the lake eating snacks before we decided to head back. The hike back was easy as most of it was down hike and we reached the car in a very quick manner. This was a good challenging hike for us to get back into the swing of things as we head into the summer. I think for the next several weekends we will probably stay at lower elevations or we will take our snow shoes with us as the snow at 10,000 feet plus isn’t like to melt too snow. On the way home we stopped and got some lunch at a fun little café in Nederland called the Savory Café. The food was good and it is always interesting to explore a small little café like this. I hope everyone has had a good Saturday and the rest of your weekend is good. Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Weekend Tradition - Big Bill's

Zack and I have a tradition that we carry out every other weekend. That tradition is that we get pizza or calzones for our kick-back night at home. Sometimes we combine this with our weekend movie night other times we just get pizza. Tonight was our night to do this. And we ended up with two wonderfully made calzones for dinner tonight. They were very good!!
In the past we always used to get pizza from the local Italian restaurant in our neighborhood - Mama Roma's. Mama Roma's is a very good restaurant and offers a variety of Italian food. We will still every once in a while get take out pizza there. However, for the most part we have changed our pizza allegiance to another local "pizza joint" - Big Bill's New York Pizza.
We decided to change our pizza allegiance for personal reasons rather than anything to do with taste. (I will make no comparisons to the pizza and food from these two establishments - they are both excellent but different.) So why did we switch to Big Bill's.... Well - it has to do with leukemia and lymphoma. The proprieter of Big Bill's is a gentleman by the name of Bill Ficke. Bill's wife Joanne suffered from lymphoma for many years. Unfortunately, it eventually reached a point where she needed a bone marrow transplant to attempt to cure her lymphoma. Joanne had her transplant at the same time as my late wife Patty. Joanne and Patty were in two rooms right next to each other.
Well you can guess what happened. Neither Joanne or Patty made it through the experience. Since that time Zack and I have come to know Bill on a personal level. He is a great guy and has done so much in recent years to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Each September 11th (in remembrance of September 11, 2001) Bill makes all the food at his restaurant free to his customers. The only thing he asks is that you make a contribution to the LLS. During the past several years Bill has raised literally tens of thousands of dollars for the LLS. He sacrifices the output of his business for an entire day to help raise money for a cause that is obvious near and dear to his heart.
Though it has been over 2 years since he lost his wife, Bill still routinely takes dozens upon dozens of pizza's into the Bone Marrow Units at PSL to provide a treat to the nurses and doctors. This is obviously something he doesn't have to do - but it is something that continues to fill his heart with joy.
Anyway - if you live in the South Metro area of Denver, consider paying Big Bill's New York Pizza a visit. They are located at the corner of Holly and County Line (in the plaza on the northwest side of the intersection).
Our day was busy as can be. We went to the Denver Zoo this morning as Zack was off of school. It was actually a really bad day to go and the place was just positively packed. There were a ton of school buses there so I am assuming a bunch of schools were having their kids go to the zoo as end of the year field trips.
After the zoo we rushed back here so that Zack could get to his appointment with Dr. Jane on time. The appointment was good and Zack has journeyed back from that stressful place he was in right after Easter. I talked over a lot of my plans with Dr. Jane to get Zack back to a maturity position that matches the other kids of his age. She thinks the plans I have developed are good and will benefit Zack greatly. (Because of all the things that took place between August 2006 and July 2008, Zack essentially lost two years of maturity and I need to work with him to catch up.)
After Zack's appointment with Dr. Jane we headed to Sylvan. This week was teacher appreciation week and Sylvan was holding a reception for teachers that the students had recommended as "Teacher's that Excel". Zack had recommended his teacher from last year at Willow Creek and had actually written a nice little statement about her. So we were there for the reception and the presentation. It was very nice.
We hope everyone had a wonderful Friday.
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

409 Ryan Gulch Road

I have been thinking a lot of my place in the mountains of Colorado. Why – I can’t quite say. I guess I am missing it as it has been several months since I have been there. The last time Zack and I traveled to our “mountain house” was for my birthday weekend back in January. For whatever reason, a lot of things went on this winter that prevented us from going there. I really hope with the coming of summer we will be spending a large amount of time there. Our “mountain house” is nothing fancy. It is a 960 square foot, two bedroom condo in the Summit County town of Silverthorne. It is located in a development called Wildernest that is built on the side of a well-known mountain called – Buffalo Mountain. We have owned this place for almost seven years. I purchased it in September of 2002. During these last seven years it has played a large part in our lives. However due to the various constraints of the last several years we haven’t spent as much time there as I would have liked. It is a one of 24 units in condo complex called “Deck Gore”. I have no idea how it got its name. It was built in the late 1970’s and has seen many changes during the last 30 years. Our unit is located in building 4. Due to a fire in 1984 much of our building was rebuilt. During the summer of 2004 we were on our way up to our condo when we noticed some smoke in Wildernest when we were getting off of I-70. We didn’t really pay it too much attention right away as it wasn’t that much. However, after making a very quick stop at the City Market in Dillon we knew something major was going on because of how much smoke was now rising above all of Wildernest. As we drove up the hill I went from saying “Wow something near our condo complex is on fire” to “One of the buildings in our complex is on fire!!” Sure enough as we approached our complex we saw that building 2 was fully engulfed in flames. It was a HUGE fire. It was so big and so hot that it had caught building 3 on fire also. Building 3 is located 30 feet away from building 2. Thankfully the Silverthorne Fire Department was able to get the fire under control before building 3 became full involved. Nonetheless building 2 was an entire loss. On top of the damage to the building – 2 dogs perished in the fire. It left us feeling very bad. Though our building wasn’t damaged at all, it put a pall on our enjoyment of the condo for that summer. The deck of condo looks directly out on Building 2 so there was literally nothing we could do to avoid seeing the devastation and destruction. It took about 10 months but the building was eventually fully rebuilt and is now much safer. (The fire was caused by a welder who was doing work on a new hand rail that was being installed on the steps. He didn’t use a spark arrester and a spark settled in the wood of the stairwell and eventually lead to the fire.) Despite the history with the fire in 2004, the condo is our sanctuary and place of refuge. It is amazing to me how all the stresses I feel in the world magically vanish when I walk in the door of the condo. It is like they are all gone all at once. The condo is just very comfortable. We haven’t put any large sums of money into the decorations or anything, but it is just very nicely done and provides a wonderful environment in which to kick back and relax. We have all the comforts of home at the condo. Plus we have a wood burning fireplace in the living room which enables me to make the most tasty toasted marshmallows! Yes – I am the ultimate chef of toasted marshmallows. Zack insists that I make at least 7 or 8 of them for him every time we have a fire. Slowly but surely I am passing along my knowledge of making the perfect roasted marshmallow to him. It will probably take another 5 years of training but I am sure he will eventually become a toasted marshmallow chef to rival even me!
(Zack roasting marshmallows in the fireplace.)
(Lex hanging out in the master bedroom.)
We use the condo as a base for our hiking adventures in the high mountains. There are so many wonderful and beautiful hikes within just a short drive or our condo. It is great to be able to go on some really great hikes and then return to the comfort of the condo instead of having to spend the night camping out in the high mountain cold. Additionally, if we walk out of our condo and head to the west for about 100 yards we reach the White River National Forest. From there we have access to literally hundreds of miles of hiking trails and dozen of 12,000 feet plus mountains. The view from the condo is pretty good. Unfortunately with the large occurrence of pine beetles the panorama that we see from our living room windows has become largely brown and dead. The view from the windows in our living room looks out to the east and north at the Williams Fork Range of mountains. These mountains are relatively untouched and much of the land in this range is part of the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness Area. I can spend the entire day sitting on my couch looking out at that view. It is gorgeous, though I do realize it is going to change for the rest of my life time as the pine beetle is doing such tremendous damage and is killing off all the trees.

(View from our living room windows out on the William's Fork range.)

As we approach the summer season I do plan to be there at our “mountain house” a lot more. I am sure I will be writing about a large number of hiking adventures that Zack and I have while at our “mountain house”. As for the day-to-day happenings in our lives – things have been very busy. For the last 3 days or so, I have been dealing with a very difficult situation at work. I have had a lot of work to do just to get things right with one of the projects I am leading. It is a complicated situation that would take way too long to describe. Thankfully in the last 24 hours things have been getting better so I am hopeful the corner has been turned with this situation. Tomorrow – Friday – Zack has the day off from school. I have a number of early morning conference calls that I must do, but after that I am planning on taking the rest of the day off and doing some things with the Z-man. Our current plan is to head to the zoo for a good part of the day. We then have to be back here in this neck of woods by 3:00PM for Zack’s appointment with Dr. Jane. At 4:30PM we then have to attend a reception at Sylvan. I am sure we will have a fun day tomorrow! Anyway – I hope everyone had a great day. Thanks and peace to all! – J.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

It's Ridiculously Late - But the Nuggets Won!

Yes - it is very late and I am now just writing my blog post for the day. Technically it is already Wednesday - but I haven't gone to bed so it is still Tuesday to me. My post is so late tonight because I went to the Denver Nuggets NBA Round 2 Playoff game. The Nuggets are playing the Dallas Mavericks in this series. For whatever reason the game did not start until 8:30PM. That was a very late starting game. I believe it started so late because of broadcast scheduling. I think the game was part of a double-header of games on ESPN. The game was not the best of games. It was a very physical, violent kind of game and there were lots and lots of fouls. The first 3 periods were very long and the teams just seemed to beat up on each other the entire time. Denver finally broke away and started to run up the score in the 4th period. In the end the Nuggets won by 12 points - 117 to 105. They now lead the series 2 - 0. This was the first professional sport "playoff" game that I have ever been to in my life. It was kind of neat to see as so many people were very excited. The place was packed and every one seemed totally and completely excited to be there. So it was neat to experience that! I took the light rail to and from the game and my ride home was very interesting. Because the trains were so crowded I took the first train heading south that I could get. This was a C line train that had I stayed on it would have taken me to Littleton. So I got off at the Broadway station so that I could transfer lines. The next train headed my way was an H Line going to Nine Mile. Though this put me closer to my destination, I would have to get off and transfer at the Southmoor station. At the Southmoor station I had another 10 minute wait until an E Line train showed up that enabled me to get the whole way to the Dry Creek Station and get home. Once home I had some things I wanted to take care of - an e-mail to an important friend and this blog post along with somethings I had to take care of - a series of e-mails for work concerning a communication problem with my client about a project taking place in Southeast Asia. So it is now 1:30AM and I am still awake - yuck! Tomorrow is going to be a very long day as I am sure to be very tired. As always - thanks and peace to all! - J.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Pawnee Buttes

It has been a long time since Zack and I have been out for a hike. The last hike we took was our trip down in the Grand Canyon on April 1st. So though I don’t have any recent hikes to talk about I thought I would write about a hike we took in the fall. During Zack’s fall break I was off of work the entire week. His fall break occurred during the last week of October. We spent part of the break at our mountain house in Silverthorne. We did some great hikes during that part of the week in Monte Christo Gulch above Breckinridge and around Lake Dillon. At that point the snow had not yet started to fall except above 10,000 feet. We came down from the high country on Tuesday of that week because we had a Cub Scout event at the Federal Court House in Denver. Zack’s den was getting to spend time in a Federal Court Room and got to talk to a Federal Appellate Court judge. So though it cut our time in the mountains short, it was definitely worth it. Since we came down from the mountains I decided that we were going to take a hike at the Pawnee Buttes in the Pawnee National Grasslands. The Pawnee Buttes are about 15 miles south of the Colorado/Wyoming State Line. To reach them you must first travel all the way north on I-25 to Fort Collins. Once you reach Fort Collins you head out onto the plains (heading east and north) for another 40 – 50 miles. For a while you follow a state route, but then you get off the state route and begin meandering through countless miles of prairie on all these dirt roads. Once on these dirt roads you are totally and complete lost and you are only relying upon the signs pointing to the Pawnee Buttes to get there. We left our house around 7:30AM so that we could miss some of the rush hour traffic but yet still make to the Buttes in a reasonable amount of time. On the way there we stopped in Thornton and picked up a friend to go with us. The ride up to the Buttes was LONG. It was much longer than I expected. It took on the order of 2.5 hours just to get there. We finally arrived at the Buttes around 10:30AM. The trailhead for the Pawnee Buttes is about 1.5 miles to the west of the first Butte. At the trail head you really can’t even see the Buttes as they are hidden by a series of low hills. From the trailhead the trail leads over these hills and then descends downward in a dramatic fashion. Much of these eastern edge of these hills are actually a cliff and you have to pick your way down a very steep slope to reach the point where you can head out towards the Buttes.
The Buttes rise in a very stately fashion from the plains around them. They stand alone in the midst of hundreds of miles of flatness. How exactly them formed and have weather the thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years is a mystery to me. I can only imagine the events that lead to their birth and formation so many millennium ago. We spent about 1 hour walking around the first Butte and exploring the mystery of its existence. You can tell there are many different layers of rock that were involved in it’s creation. But you have to wonder why did those layers remain standing while the plains around them eroded down to nothing. I am sure a geologist could provide us with some easy answers but then the mystery would be gone.
Our hike back to the trailhead parking lot was rougher than the hike in. Of course the fact that the temperature had risen by 30 degrees didn’t make things any easier! Our ride out was just as long as the ride in. However, I am determined to do this hike again and I am determined to do it when the sun is rising so that I can see the dramatic color of the sunrise set against these unique and mysterious geological landmarks! Our day was a pretty good one. There was a lot going on. I have made several updates to the Caringbridge site today because of something that I found. Please check them out at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/pattykromer. As always – thanks and peace to all! – J.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A favorite of ours - hanging out at the bookstore

One of the favorite activities that Zack and I have is to go to a bookstore and spend hours upon hours, browsing, reading and just being together. We are regular fixtures in the local Barnes & Noble and Borders. We most often head to these stores towards the end of the day after we have had dinner. Sometimes we will get a coffee drink or some kind of treat from the coffee shops that are located within the stores. Other times we will browse for a while and then we will head to our local Maggie Moos to get an ice cream or milk shake. The time we spend in the bookstores is a really special time for Zack and me. We will each find a book or two that we want to look at and then we will find one of those large chairs that are through out the bookstores these days and we will squeeze in the chair together and read. We are both avid readers and love books of all different sorts. Zack loves to read both fiction and non-fiction books. He is constantly reading through a fiction series of books and always has one or two science books that he is reading. Thankfully he makes very good use of the library or I think that I would go bankrupt keeping him in books. I go back and forward between works of fiction and non-fiction. When I last wrote about our reading habits, I was in the midst of reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith. I have just about finished that series of books and I have a number of other books in progress. Today we spent a bunch of time at Borders at Park Meadows Mall. We had a bunch of errands to run this afternoon but we both wanted to stop at the bookstore to look for some books. Zack was looking for the latest book in the “Seekers” series by Erin Hunter. I was looking for a book called “Modoc – The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived”. For some reason I am very interested in elephants. I always have been and I think I always will be. A friend recommended this book to me as a really good book about an elephant. So I just had to get it! The Borders at the Park Meadows Mall is a really nice store. It open a year ago – May 15, 2008 in the new area of the mall called The Vistas at Park Meadows. This section of the mall was built to compete with the new shopping area – the Streets of Southglenn that is being built a few miles away. The Vistas is an open walking mall where they have a bunch of restaurants and boutique shops. Part of the mall itself was restructured to accommodate this new development. In this Borders there are these huge plate glass windows that give you an excellent view of the mountains off to the west. There is a Seattle’s Best Coffee Shop in the northern corner against these huge windows. So it is always enjoyable to grab a book, get a drink and then sit there in the chairs near the Seattle’s Best and just relax. It makes for a very pleasant day. Zack and I didn’t do a full on afternoon at the book store today. We spent about 30 minutes looking for our books and browsing through the aisles. It was still enjoyable and made for a good afternoon. The rest of the day was about a lot of activity. This morning we got up and quickly decided that we were going to go swimming again today. So we called Cole to see if he wanted to go. He did so we ran by his house and picked him up and then headed to the Lone Tree Rec Center. We swam for a couple of hours before we headed home. On the way home we stopped for a quick lunch at Taco Bell. The rest of the day was busy with errands, the book store and then work around the house. I had to stop at Tim and Celinde’s because I needed to use a table saw for some of the work that I was doing here at the house. I don’t have a table saw so I always go and use Tim’s when I need to do some cutting. (I was repairing the bottom of a drawer in one of my filing cabinets in my computer room.) Zack decided to hang with Cole for the rest of the afternoon when I stopped to use the saw. So – he definitely got a lot of activity in today and as a result was very tired tonight. I hope everyone has had a great weekend! Tomorrow is Monday and the merry go round of the week begins anew. Thanks and peace to all! – J.

It's late - so what will I write?

My blog postings usually aren’t spur of the moment kind of things. Normally I spend a fair amount of time thinking about what I am going to put in them and then I write them throughout the day. Today I wrote an entry and I just don’t feel like putting it out there tonight. Given the day I had it is just not too important in the grand scheme of things. So… it is 11:50PM and I want to post something but I haven’t written anything worth posting. If I were a columnist for a newspaper, or a news blog - I am sure I would be able to come up with a pithy, witty entry in no time at all. Instead of being a columnist I am a pseudo-business dude, who masquerades as a pseudo-parent, who masquerades as a pseudo-blogger, who masquerades as a pseudo outdoors adventure dude, etc. (God – I used dude twice in the same sentence. What does that say about me?!) So bottom line – I have no talent for writing. So I guess this blog entry is going to be like a Seinfeld show – “a blog entry about nothing”.

(The author hard at work writing about nothing.)

But then again I am sure most of my blog entries could be said to be about nothing. Yeah – look at what I wrote about the “Family Guy” TV show. Talk about a worthless entry. That entry basically boiled down to one sentence that a 13 year old boy with a Beavis or Butthead voice could have said. “Hey - they said fart in that show”. Yeah – pretty darn worthless. Now that I have established that my blog is pretty much the equivalent of a large pile of do-do, I feel that I have accomplished something for the evening! As for the day – let’s put it this way, I am seriously re-thinking ever having kids in my house again – including Zack! Just teasing, but there was way too much kid action at the house today. I am complaining in jest as I do love when our house can be the hive of activity of having a bunch of kids here. That really doesn’t suck. While Zack played, I did a ton of work. I really am feeling like I am making a tremendous amount of progress in my efforts to “deep clean and organize” this house. It is going to feel so good when it is all done. Though the weather was gray here in Colorado, it was a good day and I accomplished a lot. I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Why we haven't had many adventures lately...

For those of you who have been reading this blog on a regular basis since I launched it six months ago, you are probably wondering why I haven’t had any outdoor adventures to relate recently. Well – the answer is simple – we haven’t been outside a whole lot in recent weeks. With the exception of a couple of days here and there the weather through most of April was just plain and simply – CRAP. Up until April started there had been almost no snow in Denver. Then during the month of April we got an entire winter’s worth of snow all at once. So we have not been out hiking during the entire month of April! How sad is that! May is unfortunately starting the same way. This first weekend of May is supposed to bring showers and cloudy skies all weekend. Ugh – is all I can say. I want bright sunny skies that are conducive to hiking for miles and miles. But it won’t happen this weekend. I have a bunch of hikes planned for Zack and me this spring. The tough thing about the spring is that much of the higher elevation is still unreachable due to the large quantities of snow at altitude, so we need to stay at lower altitude until later in the summer. Some of the hikes we have planned for this spring include: - Centennial Cone: Last time we were there I was feeling pretty sick and we didn’t do that much hiking. So we are going to go back and do the trail that traverses the open space from west to east. - Eldorado Canyon – We will need to get a new state park pass for this one, but the scenery in Eldorado Canyon is dramatic and I want to introduce Zack to it. - Barr Lake – I want to do this hike in the really early morning or right before dusk. The lake offers lots of opportunity for photography and I think Zack would have fun seeing all the birds that live there. - Pawnee Buttes – I want to return to the Buttes. We hiked there last fall but we didn’t have enough time to do the complete circuit around both of the buttes. I want us to get back there and experience their dramatic scenery when the grasses of spring and wild flowers are in bloom. - Chief Mountain – This is a mountain not too far from Idaho Springs. It will probably clear of snow by mid-May. So this should be one of the first peaks that we bag for the summer season. Our day has been OK. For me the day was all about conference calls and catching up on administrative activity for work. After I was done working I went to the gym and beat the snot out of myself so that I could work out some frustrations. This evening I went out and got sushi with a friend down in the city. I am still trying to figure out some very frustrating issues and I don’t know what I am going to do. Oh well – I guess I will just have to keep working at them. Zack had a really good day and I am very proud of him. He was one of the first kids out of the door this afternoon and he was his normal high energy self, but he was really happy. He was singing a song about it being a name and check mark tsunami day. (Ok – that sounds bizarre, but here’s what it means. When you get in trouble in his classroom you get your name written on the board. If you get in trouble a second time you get a check mark next to your name. If you get in trouble a third time you get a second check mark next to your name. If you get in trouble a fourth time a note gets sent home to your parents.) He was so excited because just about everyone in his class got at least their name on the board and most kids got their name AND a check mark. Zack didn’t get anything. I was very proud of him! We stopped and said hello to all of his teachers over the last couple of years. That is always fun for him to go back and see them. This evening while I headed downtown, Zack spent time over at Tim and Celinde’s. It was a totally and completely spur of the moment thing. As I was heading out to the gym Tim and Cole were driving by and we saw each other so we stopped to talk. Cole asked Tim if Zack could come over to play. Tim agreed and I agreed. So – Zack sent much of the evening with them. I hope everyone’s weekend is off to a good start! Thanks and peace to all! – J.