Monday, August 31, 2009

Night of the Orange Moon

Tonight is a night in which I still had my digital SLR camera. I have been sitting on my back deck for a good bit of the night drinking beer just staring at the moon. It isn't a full moon tonight, but because of the wild fires in California, it is an orange moon. Honestly, it looks like a partial orange has been thrown into the sky in the place of the moon. It has a very interesting and haunting look to it. It would be very cool to take a time sequence picture of this orange moon as it transits the sky - so that is why I wish I had not dropped my camera and destroyed it. I should be in bed or doing something productive, but tonight the six pack of Corona beer that I have had in my refrigerator for the last month has been calling my name. So I sit here on the swing staring at this odd but beautiful moon. The fact that this beautiful moon is being created by the destructive wildfires is a downer as how could something so beautiful come out of such a horrible event. Is there a lesson in this? Umm... I don't know, as I am really not a philsophical person. I guess a person could search for a lesson in this and say "there is a silver lining to every cloud". Or perhaps the saying could be "even in destruction there is beauty". Regardless, it is a neat looking moon! So if you live in Denver and haven't looked at the moon, I would suggest you do it. Even in you are in your pj's get up and take a look at the orange moon as it is pretty neat. Last night's moon was surrounded by a halo of different colors, so it seems as though we are in for a show each night while the fires burn and we have lots of smoke filling the sky. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ten Years is a long time!

In the midst of dealing with Zack and his anxiety on a day-to-day basis I somehow forgot what yesterday was. I remember what it was on Friday, but then when Saturday rolled around I totally forgot about it. You all are probably wondering what I am talking about. Ten years ago yesterday, August 29, my Mom died. To me it seems like it was a million years ago. It is funny as I don't even really think about it hardly at all any more. Of course, ten years ago it was the center of everything that was going on at the time. It is interesting how ten years can change your perspective on an event and make it remote past history. I don't mention this anniversary because I want to call out any pain or suffering. I just mentioned it because it is part of my past and yet it is so utterly and completely removed from where I am today. My Mom died after a 14 month battle with pancreatic cancer so it was an event that was actually expected after a while. It was quite traumatic at the time, but given where I have been since there many been many greater traumas. My keep point in writing this entry is just to contemplate the difference ten years makes in your life. It is huge. The wounds of ten years ago are just the long distance memories of today. It is amazing how time changes everything. I hope everyone had a great weekend! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Lot of Hard Work Ahead

It has been several days since I last posted an entry here on the blog. I have slow to blog for a number of reasons. The first is I continue to deal with issues with Zack and his anxiety. Given how difficult this time has been for Zack I have just not had the desire to broadcast the situation across the world. Thankfully he has started to show some signs of improvement but we still have a lot of work ahead of us to get him back to a state of normalcy.
A second reason I have withheld my posts is that I am just feeling somewhat beat upon. I do try and put as much of my life on this blog as possible. But there are certain things that I just don't want to talk about. Additionally, I do put my "spin" on what I write. As a result, what I write is strictly my interpretation of events. It is not necessarily the same way that some one else may see events occur. I am not a reporter. Therefore, my viewpoints are just that viewpoints. I have had several people have problems with what I write and I am a tab bit tired of that. So please if you have problems with what I write, please do the following: 1 - Stop reading, 2 - keep it yourself, or 3 - start your own blog with your version of events. Sorry - this is just something that has bothered me since before we left for Europe.
I don't believe that the weekend holds any major adventures for us. I had contemplated going out for a hike today, but I was just too tired this morning and had a nasty sinus headache. So.... no adventures for me to write about.
We hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Epiphany

Today was Zack's first day of school for the 2009/2010 school year. With it the start of school today has brought an epiphany for me. In the last 2 weeks I have really struggled with the problem of Zack's anxiety. His anxiety levels have reached such dreadful levels that it has left me questioning my sanity. Today brought acceptance from me. I have realized that his anxiety is just a consequence of what has occurred since 2006. I just need to accept it, deal with it and move on. I think up to this point I have fought it tooth and nail. I have desperately tried to make it not happen. I have tried to avoid the reality of what my son has gone through. Well - that time is up. I have come to peace with what he is suffering through and have determined that I can handle it. I can deal with his countless questions of "Are any of my fears true". I can and will help him overcome this issue as opposed to just fighting him over it. Beside my epiphany the day has not provided a lot to blog about. One of the reason I have not had a lot to blog about is that work is taking up an increasing large amount of my time. I wish it weren't so, but we are now 4 months away from the deployment of a very large ERP system and my work load seems to be increasing by the day. However, I will find the time and wearwithal to continue my blogging. As I look at my blog entries for the last month I feel like I have let myself down and I need to do a better job. As always - thanks and peace to all! - J.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Behind on my blogging

I am sure you have all probably noticed that I have posted a blog entry in a couple of days. I am definitely behind that is for sure!
The reason for my delay in posting is that I have been dealing with some substantial issues with Zack. As many of you know Zack has had a hard time dealing with the death of his mom. The issues have manifested themselves in Zack having a relatively severe anxiety complex. At the beginning of the summer Zack's therapist felt we could really ramp down his treatment - as did I. In late July - shortly after the anniversary of Patty's death, Zack began to exhibit signs of anxiety again. During our trip to Europe he managed to cope with the situation pretty well with all the stimulus and excitement of being overseas. Unfortunately when we returned home last week his anxieties kind of exploded upon him.
All this week it has been a battle to get him not to be paralyzed by fear. This has taken an extraordinary amount of effort on my part to keep him going. We are now doing multiple sessions per week with his therapist order to get him over this current hump. I guess it is not unexpected that he would have difficulties. Zack and Patty were extremely close and he has really suffered a lot from her death.
The bottom line is that I will do anything for Zack to get these issues resolved. It is going to take some time and Zack is going to have to put in a lot of effort himself, but we will get over this current situation.
I hope everyone is having a great weekend.
Thanks and peace to all - J.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Purpose of the Journey

As I wrote last week upon our return from Paris, I intend to write a number of different blog entries about our trip. This is the first of those entries, but it doesn’t directly address the trip – instead this entry focuses on the purpose of travel. From an early age my viewpoints about travel were driven by stories of adventure and exploration. I wanted to travel to see all the different sites and go to all the exotic places that the world had to offer. Obviously this was probably a very na├»ve view about what travel meant.

As I got older and I found that my viewpoints about travel were still influenced by writers. In the last 10 years or so it has been the like of writers like Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Paul Theroux who have influenced my thinking. Theroux has had the biggest influence upon my views of travel. In its most basic form, his philosophy about travel is that it is the journey that matters and not the destination. In fact, very rarely if ever is his travel writing about a destination – it is all about the journey and ultimately what he has discovered about himself as a result of the journey.

For our trip to Europe I selected several books to take with me to read. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of them was the book the “Gold of Troy”. The other was Paul Theroux’s “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star”. This was a book that I had started back in March but I had put down to concentrate on some other projects. There wouldn’t be a better time to read this book than during our trip. I immediately launched into this book once we boarded our first on the journey to Paris. The thought 12 hours of time isolated to myself (well – with Zack in tow) during which I would have no interruptions, no phone calls, no e-mails was a grand thought. Despite being confined to an airplane I had this wonderful book to consume. It would be a good flight – and it was!

As I opened the book and began its consumption, my thoughts immediately turned to what is the real point of this trip and all the other trips I have taken. What do I remember the most of all these trips around the world that I have taken in the last 7 years? I would dare say my memories are not of the countless monuments, cathedrals, government buildings and historic sites I have seen. No – my memories are of the Czech soldiers with whom I shared a train carriage and whole lot of beer during a memorable train ride across the Czech Republic. My memories are of the toothless old man in a small town in India who invited me in to see the mosque of which he was the custodian. My memories are of the prostitutes in Frankfurt who tried to entice me with their “goods”. Those are the things that I remember the most – the people and the experiences that we shared. I still have my list of hundreds if not thousands of “things” I want to see in my travels. In reality I have several lists – one list is of the things listed in the “1000 Things To See Before You Die” book. Another list is of all the sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. I even have a list of all the National Parks in the United States. I will work very hard to check as many things off these lists as possible, but the purpose of my travel will be to learn more of myself – to take experiences, ideas and thoughts away from everyone I meet along the journey. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A New WITWIZ.....

Happy Sunday to everyone! This morning there is a chill in the air and it is starting to look like we are moving into fall already. The long term weather forecast for Colorado this year is that we might have an early winter. Some of the weather forecasters on the TV have actually said we might see snow in September or October! Yikes!
We really didn't have much of a summer in Colorado this year. The temperatures for the most part were much lower than normal and we had much more rain (and even snow) than normal. It is of course sad to bid farewell to summer but it is the natural cycle of things. We still have a week until Zack heads back to school, but we are already focused on what we need to do to get ready. Later this week I will be heading out to Target, WalMart or Office Depot to get Zack all of his school supplies for the year.
I still have a couple of WITWIZ (Where in the World is Zack) that I want to post. Here is today's... good luck!
Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to Normal Life....

First of all - the answer to the WITWIZ question from the other day is the Queen's Village at the Palace of Versailles. The Queen's Village is a reproduction of a French Village that was built on the grounds of Versailles at the request of Marie Antoinette. It was built near the Petit Trianon which was a palace at Versailles that she pretty much took over to be her own. It is very interesting to see this little "village" mixed in with all these palaces and signs of royalty. The village is maintained as a working farm so there are many different farm animals around - horses, goats, sheep, donkeys, chickens, etc. We are slowly but surely recovering from the jet lag. We are sleeping lots and going to sleep at early hours. But we will recover and get ready to return to the "normal" world on Monday. I am working on my writing from our trip but it will probably take me a while to work through everything and write it the way I want. I will post some more pictures here and on Facebook. On top of getting Zack ready for school, I have a ton to do in relationship to work and the house. These next several weeks are going to be busy, busy, busy as I try and get through all the things I have to do. But it will feel good to be concentrating on things here at home after our vacation! Anyway - that is it for this early Saturday morning. We hope everyone is having a great weekend! Thanks and peace to all! - J.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A brief thought on the journey and another WITWIZ (Where in the world is Zack?)

We are back in Colorado. After leaving our hotel in Paris at 8:30AM local time (12:30AM Denver time) Thursday morning we arrived home around 7:15PM. We are tired so I am quite sure we will sleep very well this evening. It was a great trip and we are sorry that it is over but it is also very good to be home. There is a definite reward in the journey, but there is also a feeling of happiness and contentment when the journey is completed and you once again rest in your own bed and own home. I plan to do a lot of writing regarding the trip but it will take me some time to organize my thoughts. I have taken notes and want to present a tale of our experiences not just as a verbatim playback of what we did on what day. Yes - if you want, travel can be all about checking a box to say "I was there", but I feel the heart and the soul of the journey is the experience, the people you meet and the thoughts and feelings that move through your mind with each new experience. In the meantime I have a couple more "Where in the World is Zack?" games to play. I have to admit, Zack and I are having a lot of fun with this so I am thinking of making it a regular addition to the blog. Once or twice a week, I'll play the game - at first with locations Zack and I have visited and then if you the readers continue to be interested in it, I dig up other locations. Anyway - for now here is the 4th installment of where in the world is Zack! Though it may look simple it is a famous place. I think this is the hardest one yet and I will provide clues tomorrow if no one gets it. Til later - thank and peace to all! - J. 1:00PM Denver time Friday - I have held back correct answer in the comments to see if anyone else can come up with it. For a clue I would say... "The residents of this village most likely ate cake".

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where in the world is Zack? This one is TOUGH!

So... Everyone has been able to figure out the other two "Where in the World is Zack?" photos. If you can figure this one out... Umm... You are darn good. Not that Zack and I are Francophils or anything, I just figure this one is tough. Good luck with your guesses!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where in the world is Zack - Part II - A little harder!

Zack and I are back in our hotel room after a good dinner at a little cafe in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Zack had a crepe with eggs, bacon and cheese and I had a beef dish that was a lot like beef burgandy (spelling). All-in-all a good evening meal, but then they have all been good.
We liked the "where in the world is Zack game", so we have added another picture. This one is tougher.... Until I was there myself, I would have never guessed it. A couple of clues... it is very famous (at least to some Europeans) and it is not necessarily near Paris. Good luck on your guesses - and thanks for playing - LOL!

Where in the world is Zack?

Zack and I thought we would play a little game. We decided to make it easy for this first one. So... Where in the world is Zack?

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Gold of Troy

Today Zack got a package in the mail with birthday gifts from my sister Lesley. Along with Zack’s b-day gifts there were 2 things in the package for me. The first was prosaic – a rugby shirt she had picked up for me during one of her trip to China. The second was something I had asked her for and is quite important to me. It was a book called “The Gold of Troy”. The book had belonged to my dad and had been left in my parent’s house after they passed away. “The Gold of Troy” is a book about an archeologist named Heinrich Schliemann and his quest to validate what had been written in the Homeric legends. Schliemann used Homer’s epics to find and excavate the legendary city of Troy in the late 1800’s. Up until Schliemann proved it, everyone had thought that Troy and the stories surrounding it were just legends and not based upon fact. Through his efforts, Schliemann validated much of what Homer had written and also found a marvelous hoard of treasure and gold in the ruins of Troy. I first read this book when I was a little bit older than Zack. As a kid I loved to look through the thousands of books that filled our home. Of all the books in our home this one fascinated me like no other. Though it was written for a much older audience I still picked it up and read it at the age of 12 or 13. I became captivated by it. I was entranced with what Schliemann had done and all the lands that he traveled through and visited to find the legendary Troy. This book was the first of its kind that I had ever read. I was so into it I remember coming back to it time and time again. It formed the foundation for so many of the other books that I read as a young adult. Besides giving me a foundation of books that I wanted to read, it inspired me deeply in my soul that I wanted to see the world. Not just Europe and the “safe places” – but the places that weren’t safe – the places that were exotic and out of the way. As I got older I read more and more about exotic locations. During the height of the Russian War in Afghanistan, I became interested in the writings of so many authors about the “Great Game” of the 19th century. The “Great Game” was the struggle for empire that was fought between Russia and Great Britain for domination of the Central Asia. This struggle, with the exception of the Crimean War rarely involved actual wars between the Russian and British empires. Normally spies and secret agents would use the tribes and feudal nations of Central Asia as pawns in this high-powered game. Once again – these books inspired me to want to visit these places. These were places with names like Samarkand, Bokhara, Kabul, Ghazni, Kandahar and Tashkent. Most of these places have faded from the viewpoint of the modern world. (OK – Kabul and Kandahar being obvious examples of places that have NOT faded from view. Or maybe I should say they have faded and have now come back into view.) As I got older, my desire to see these places didn’t necessarily diminish but was replaced with the reality of life. I had student loans to payoff, a career to start and a family for which I had to provide. Now that my life has utterly and completely changed, my desire to see these places is once again beginning to re-assert itself in my life. (Truth be told, I have seen a huge amount of world, including a large number of exotic places, but there is still so much for me to see! My last passport - before it expired, had just about every page entirely filled with visas and entry and exit stamps.) Our trip to France is the re-ignition of this lust for travel. I do need to take things slowly at first as Zack is only 11 years old. But we have to start somewhere. As we head into 2010 we will start to add more exotic destinations to our travel agenda – key place for 2010 being Iceland. By the time Zack is around 16 or 17 years old, we WILL journey to these lands and experience the savage beauty of these places. As I have always said, I can’t offer Zack the things that Patty would have given him had she lived, but I can provide him with adventure and an understanding of the world – and that is exactly what I intend to do! And if anyone is wondering - as we embark on our travels this week, I will be tucking that copy of “The Gold of Troy” in to my backpack and taking it with me.
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Destination France: The Plan

Our tickets are purchased for our trip to France. It was a spur of the moment purchase but I got the tickets and hotel at a very inexpensive cost. I could not believe how affordably I found these tickets with only a six day advance notice. So here is the plan.... We depart Denver on Wednesday August 5 at 1:48PM on United Flight 940 to Chicago. Our flight to Paris - Charles De Gaulle is United Flight 942 and departs Chicago at 6:48PM. We arrive in Paris on Thursday August 6 at 9:25AM CEST (Central European Standard Time). Our hotel for the duration of our trip is the Villa Pantheon which is located in the Latin Quarter about 1/3 miles from the Seine and Notre Dame. It is an area of Paris that I am pretty familar with and feel comfortable getting around. We return to the US on Thursday August 13th, departing Paris - CDG on United flight 915 at 12:25PM CEST and arriving in Washington, DC at 2:51PM EDT. We leave Washington on United flight 903 at 4:13 and arrive back in Denver at 6:16PM MDT that same day. That is going to be a long day!! During our vacation I am planning a day trip to Brussels and depending upon how Zack is feeling about Paris we might take a trip to Luxembourg. Given that we are only spending a week in France, I don't see the possibility of doing a ton of traveling outside of Paris. But for us, this is a good introduction to France, Europe and international traveling for Zack. This first trip is really meant to be the beginning of our international wanderings. As long as Zack is into it I want us to explore this world. I hope for us to see the wild and the exotic. I hope for us to see the unique and the prosaic. I just want for him to have experiences that allow his mind to grow and see things in a worldly manner. Speaking of travel... Yesterday evening (Saturday) we had a number of people over for a BBQ. One of our guests is the husband of a long-time friend. Peter a writer and is currently in the process of writing two books on issues that are plaguing Africa today. As research for these books Peter is leaving in two weeks for some of the really exotic (and dangerous) places of the world - the eastern Congo, Somalia, etc. I am not saying I would want to take Zack at this age to this places, but they are certainly places I would love to visit! Best of luck to Peter as he will be gone for a while and traveling through some dangerous places. Well - it is getting late and I am tired as it has been a long and busy day. I will write more about our trip tomorrow. Thanks and peace to all! - J.
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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stupidity of the morning - courtesy of Fox News

OK - There aren't too many times I feel I have to provide a comment like this, but this story on FoxNews.com struck me so wrong I just felt I had to comment about it!
The story was "Titled Born Again Christian Stars". Why does something like this even warrant a story? I read the story and it just revealed to me the bias that is showed by so many news organizations in this day and age. Granted I tend to find the things on Fox News a lot more offensive because of their political standings versus my political leanings, but so very few news organizations are free from this kind of political pandering.
Why this one struck me as wrong as it did is because you never see an article titled - "Movie Stars Who Have Mainstream Religious or Political Beliefs". Why does this news organization need to call out people who have religious beliefs that pander to their political agenda? And to be honest all the people highlighted in this article are all pretty washed up movie stars. Come on - Kirk Cameron and his wife are major stars? Ah... I think not. How about MC Hammer or Jane Fonda? Neither of them rank high on my list. OK - there was one "movie star" who I thought had talent - Gary Busey! But I must say I miss the crazy, drugged out Gary Busey who would star in anything and do the most crazy things. Bring him back - he had talent!
Well - enough of my ranting and raving for a Sunday morning! Sorry that I have to add the political viewpoint, but I just couldn't help myself this morning. I guess my idiot button is turned on this morning.
Til later!! - J.