Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Resurgent Zack!

This evening Zack and I had one of the most amazing conversations that we have ever had! It started on our way home from the hospital and our visit with Nancy. During our short visit in the hospital, I had given Zack a pretty hard time as he was totally self absorbed and just wanted to play his video game. I scolded him because his grandmother was laying there in the hospital bed wanting to talk to him and he essentially ignored her. I told him that he was being selfish and he needed to get outside of himself. Though this was harsh criticism, I think this caused him to start to think outside of himself.
After we left the hospital we had a number of errands to run and since it was late I decided we were going to eat out. Shortly after we got in the car, Zack surprised me by saying something that I am sure has been in his head for years but he has never verbalized. He said... "Dad, when Mom was sick, I sometimes imagined the worst case scenario happening. (i.e. Patty dying) I am worried that my thoughts caused Mom to have bad mojo". Wow! Something like that had never come out of his mouth before. He had always sought to drive away his thoughts of Patty's sickness and death. This was the first time he had acknowledged his processing of these thoughts.
I figured it was time to really try and crack open the thoughts in Zack's head and really get this subject out in the open once and for all. I proceeded to tell Zack of many of the thoughts that had passed through my head during Patty's illness and subsequent death. I told him of my anger. I told him of my sorrow. I told him of the blame I had placed on Patty for not trying hard enough. I told him as much of what I could remember.
This became a great opening to talk to him about what else he had felt. Had he been angry at Patty? Had he been full of sorrow? While we ran our errands and then went to dinner at Claim Jumper, we talked. A lot of it was me talking and then asking him questions. But he answered for once and didn't melt down into his own anxiety and fear. In the end as we sat in our booth at Claim Jumper, the tears fell from both of our eyes.

(Yes - you can tell Zack is being raised by me! He's two fisting his meal! Drink in one hand and slab of pizza in the other!)

Right before our food came I suggested we head to the restroom to wash our hands. Zack because he has been suffering from a really bad cold for the last several days went into the restroom and blew his nose over and over again. When we got back to the table Zack said to me. "Wow Dad we sure got a lot out of me". He then burst into laughter as he had was referring to two things at once. He had gotten a lot of snot out of his nose in the bathroom and he had gotten a lot of emotion out on the table about Patty's death. After we both finished laughing about what he had meant, he said in a very serious voice "I really feel better Dad". I was totally overwhelmed by this as it was really the first time Zack has been able to verbalize so much about Patty's death. I can only hope this is the beginning of him finally coming to grips with what has happened and forever leaving his fear and anxiety behind him. As I lay here in my bed tonight typing this, I am so very proud of my son!

For those of you who want to know how Nancy is doing, here's a quick update. She should be getting out of the hospital tomorrow. She was going to come home tonight, but then she started experiencing a severe headache. Given she has just been placed on a blood thinning medication, her doctor wanted to have an MRI of her brain performed to ensure that she wasn't experiencing any bleeding in her head. Given that I didn't hear anything from either Nancy or the hospital, I would assume the test came up negative. I will assume she will be getting out of the hospital tomorrow - which will make for an interesting day as I need to be in Boulder for work for the entire day. Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Clean Sweep

One of the things that bothers me the most about my life is that I am a disorganized mess. I am not exactly sure how this came to be as for much of my younger life I was anally organized. I think it started to break down when I had a place to live in Pittsburgh but I was never there because I travelled all the time. As a result, I kind of viewed my home as a dumping ground. And since I was only home 48 hours a week it just didn't seem to matter. Fast forward 18 years and the habits that I developed back in 1992 are still with me. As a result, my house is a disorganized mess. Basically I am sick and tired of it. So I am working, working, working to change this. Yes - it is taking a large amount of time but it is something that is worth it for me. In the end run I think it will make me feel much better about life once my house is organized and the clutter is gone. (Now keep in mind I have Kathy and Kellie come every other week to clean, so the house stays clean - it is just a disorganized cluttered mess!) I literally have spent most of today organizing and pitching stuff. I am going to be making the garbage/recycling guys very unhappy with me because of the quantity of stuff they are going to be picking up. The folks at the local charities are going to be happy because of the quantity of stuff that I am giving away! I literally intend to make a "clean sweep" of my house and get it totally and completely organized in the coming weeks. I am just hoping I can find the time as work is really kicking up a notch and I am working much more than 40 hours per week. So... hopefully, I will be able to get it done in the near future! On a totally different note - I know some of you who read this blog personally know Nancy - my late wife's mom. She is in the hospital again. She has pneumonia and has also been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She went in yesterday morning - once again I made her go as she wasn't doing the best. Hopefully she will make a full recovery and be out of the hospital later this week. Til later - thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"For God's Sake - Blog!"

So this evening I was sitting here in front of my computer reading MSNBC.Com and I came across an article titled "For God's Sake - Blog!". Being someone who has been know to like to blog, this article immediately caught my attention. Once I began to read it the whole topic engaged me beyond belief. The article was written and distributed by Reuters to whom I must give credit as I wanted to quote the first two paragraphs of this article. The first two paragraphs read as the following: "VATICAN CITY - For god's sake, blog! Pope Benedict told priests on Saturday, saying they must learn to use new forms of communication to spread the gospel's message. In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Communication, the pope who is 82 and known not to love computers or the Internet acknowledged priests must make the most of the "rich menu of options" offered by new technology." There are many different comments to be made about some of these statements by the pope. The first is - I wonder if Benedict truly understand the genie that he might be letting out of the bottle by his desire to have priests begin to use this "rich menu of options". The level of openness and introspection that is intrinsic to the Internet does not typically sit well with the hierarchial nature of the Roman Catholic church. On top of this I don't necessarily see the message that the Roman Catholic Church is teaching is flexible to fit the personal nature of the Internet. The message sent by the Catholic Church is of one monolithic faith with little "personalization" of belief. On the flip side of this you have the "born-agains" who believe that everyone's salvation is driven by their personal "re-birth" in Christ. Therefore, I don't see what the personal messages of priest and other Roman Catholic luminaries as reflecting much other than the standard orthodoxy of the church. (Heck if a priest were to get too personal in his viewpoints about the religion he could get ex-communicated!) I am sure many will say that this viewpoint is driven by the fact that I am a non-religious person. I don't see it that way. I feel that this viewpoint is born of an in-depth understanding of the Roman Catholic Church and a strong opinion about the authoritarian tendencies of the current pontiff. Just a few thoughts on what I perceive to be an interesting subject! We hope everyone is having a great weekend so far! Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Visit While on My Business Trip

Several weeks ago when I knew I was going to be coming to Raleigh I called my brother Paul in Charlotte and let him know I was coming. Originally I was going to travel through Charlotte and see my brother and his family then. As things moved along it became apparent that wasn't going to work. The key reason was due to the cost of the airfare and the amount of time it would have taken me to drive from Charlotte to Raleigh. I ended up flying into Raleigh and made a plan with my brother to meet for dinner half way between Raleigh and Charlotte on Tuesday evening. I was concerned that my work schedule was going to be a bit nuts and I would have to forego my trip to meet Paul. As a result I worked my proverbial ass off to get everything done on Monday that I possibly could. I handled conference calls, e-mails and every report that I could get done that was due on Tuesday so that my workload would be reasonable. Somehow I managed to pull it all off and was able to walk out of the office shortly after 4:00PM EDT. We had tentatively agreed to meet somewhere around Greensboro, North Carolina. Greensboro is about 90 miles to the Southeast of Raleigh. Thankfully there was no major amounts of traffic and I was able to get on the road and moving very quickly. We finally met up in a little town called Thomasville - I think it is where they make the Thomasville furniture. There aren't too many places to eat in Thomasville other than the normal fast food places. There was one sit down restaurant - a Ruby Tuesday's. So we decided upon that. We had a nice conversation over dinner. It had been close to a year and half since I had seen Paul so the opportunity to see each other was great and was really appreciated. I am hoping that in this coming year I can get more time with my family. As we get older the occasions we have to get together seem to get fewer and fewer. So any chance to see one of my brothers or sisters is a good thing. I hope everyone is having a great week! Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Night = Travel Night

As Yogi Berra used to say... "It's like deja vu all over again". It sure feels that way as I am spending a Sunday night out of town and in a hotel again. It is like I have been transported back in time to the 1990's or early 2000's. Back in those days, I would be home for maybe 72 hours a week and I would spend the rest of the time out of town for work. This Sunday finds me in a similar situation.
Instead of my old haunts of San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia this Sunday I find myself in Raleigh, North Carolina. To reach Raleigh at a reasonable hour from Denver, I had to leave my house around 9:00AM Sunday morning. I left Denver on a 11:42AM flight headed for Washington DC. On key difference between now and then is back then I would have definitely been flying first class for a three and half hour flight. Now adays without any status on any airline I am back in cattle car country - sandwiched in between people in seat 9E. At least it was better than my first originally assigned seat - 21B which wasn't even in the economy plus seating. Economy plus on United at least offers you a few extra inches of leg room!
I got to fly on one of my favorite types of planes for the flight to DC. It was a Boeing 757. I am not exactly sure why a B757 is one of my favorites exact for the fact that it seems like it has a lot of power. But I like it! One the flight from DC to Raleigh the plane was an Airbus A320. Unfortunately I got stuck in another center seat as my flight into DC was overdue and so my window seat on that flight was given away - and I ended up in a center seat again - yuck!
One of the other things I was thinking about today as I was flying was how much time I have spent in the air during my life. I really do not like flying. In the past I had an intense fear of flying and significantly struggled every time I had to get on an airplane. I am no longer at that point in life - as my fear of flying has greatly diminished. I think my fear has diminished simply because I have spent so much of my life on airplanes. As I waited for my flight to depart Denver today, I counted it up and I realized that between the 2 major airlines I have flown in my life - United and USAirways - I have flown over 1.1 million miles! Think of that... 1.1 million miles on airplanes. That doesn't even count all the other airlines I have flown like Northwest (at least 50,000 miles), American and Continential (at least 15,000 per airline), Lufthansa (at least 40,000 miles) and countless others for an unknown quantity of miles.
If you figure an jet goes on average 400/miles per hour I have spent approximate 2750 hours in the air which translates out to 114 entire days. The assumption of a jet travelling on average 400/miles per hour I think is a pretty generous estimate and I am sure the average is probably lower. That also only include the amount of time in the air. That does include taxi time or time spent on the ground waiting and waiting and waiting.
So what is the point of all that... Not much really. It is just kind of fun to think about the amount of time we spend doing different activities and to break it all down. As much as it might seem silly I do look forward to the day in which I can claim my 1 million mile level on United. (Still got 400,000 miles to go, but I do think someday I am going to get it!)
I hope everyone has a great week ahead!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.
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Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Plan for 2010

So we are now officially half way through the first month of 2010. Over this last 2 weeks I have been working to define my goals and plans for the year. Now that my b-day has come and gone it is time to finalize my goals and plans. For the last 14 years or so, I have set a pretty agressive group of goals for myself each year. I am anal retentive about it and document these goals in a spreadsheet. I have used the same spreadsheet year-after-year adding a new tab to it every year. As I added my tab for 2010 I realized the wealth of data I have collected over the years. The data reflects the things that have done that are important to me. I don't know why it is important for me to collect this information, but.... it is. I guess it reflects to me all that I have accomplished! So here are some of the plans for 2010. - Take hikes and walks that total over 500 miles. - Ride my bicycle for over 1000 miles. - Take part in Death Ride 2010 on July 10 outside of Reno, NV. - Read 25 or more books. - Read 5 books on my list of the greatest books ever written (I have a list of 100 books that I consider the greatest books ever written I am attempting to read.) - Write over 200 posts for this blog. - Continue to climb Colorado's 14,000 foot mountains. Summit at least 3 of them this summer. - Travel, travel, travel. Take one major international trip during the summer of 2010. The leading candidate place to which we plan to travel is Iceland. - Complete hiking along the Highline Canal trail in Denver - Make sure the people who are important in my life know how I feel! Those are just a few of the goals I have for this year. I hope 2010 is a busy year for me. I want to continue to live life to the fullest and take advantage of every opportunity life affords me. And as always I will continue to exclude the most positive and optimistic outlook on life. I will try and laugh pretty much all the time - cause life without laughter sucks! Hope everyone is having a great weekend! Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

National Western Stock Show 2010

Yesterday Zack and I took our yearly pilgrimage to the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The National Western Stock show has been around for over 100 years and is one of the largest stock shows in the entire country (it might be the largest - I just don't know). For those of you who don't know what a stock show is, it is an exhibition of ranch animals - from cows and horses to llamas, yak and elk. On top of the exhibit of the animals there are rodeos, exhibition of farm equipment, kids exhibits, countless vendors selling farm/ranch related material, contests (fiddling, blacksmithing, etc.) and many other things. In general it is like a severely overgrown state or county fair. Saturday was the opening day for this year's stock show and I wanted to attend on this particular day because of two key events - the llama show and judging and the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza.
My desire to see the llama show is obvious due to my plan to buy a llama. I didn't go to the show with the intent of buying a llama - but I wanted to spend a bunch of time talking to people who raise and care for llamas. Seeing the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza is a yearly tradition for Zack and me. A Mexican rodeo is a lot different than your typical rodeo as there are a lot of entertainment activities involved as opposed to an "American Style" rodeo. There are feats of extreme horsemanship, comedy routines, dancing and singing (all in Spanish of course!).
We were quite rushed to make the llama show as it started at 4:00PM and Zack had a cub scout activity - earning his Aquanaut Activity Badge to do earlier in afternoon. We didn't finish at the Highlands Ranch Eastridge Rec Center until almost 10 minutes after 3. So we had to head home and change quickly before heading towards downtown Denver and the National Western Complex where the show is held.
(Zack saying hello to one of the llama in the competition for best of show.)
Arriving around 4:15PM we headed directly to the Event Center stadium in which the llama show was being held. There are 4 or 5 different stadiums within the National Western Complex. The largest of them - the Colisseum can seat almost 10,000 people. The others only seat between 1000 - 5000 people. This stadium can probably seat about 2000 people - thankfully there weren't many people there for the llama show and judging so Zack and I were able to get right down to the edge of the stadium floor and see the llamas very close up.
(Zack hamming it up with another llama.) After we were done looking at the llamas in the show we got some food to eat and then headed down to the paddock area where the livestock is kept when not in their shows. The llama section of the paddock was easy to find and spnt a good hour or so wandering through the hundreds of llamas that were there. I talked to quite a few owners and breeders and I was able to get the scoop on how easy llamas are to care for. In general, the conversations left me feeling that taking care of a llama won't be that particularly hard. It sounds like they are about as easy to take care of as cattle as opposed to horses - which seem a bit more needy. Next we moved on to the exhibit hall so Zack could spend some time hanging out in the "petting farm". Kids mobbed the entire "petting ranch" so I let Zack go in and I hung back drinking a beer. The National Western Complex allows you to carry open alcohol containers throughout the entire place so that makes the visit there that much more fun! Zack had a great time playing with all the animals. (Zack exploring some of the farm equipment on display.) We wandered through the exhibit hall for a good bit of time seeing all the exhibits and playing around on the farm machinery that was on exhibition. There was an ironsmithing competition going on in out of the open air tents so we stopped an investigated that. Though I don't think you can see the detail on the website, the photo I took of the ironsmiths in action I think is pretty cool! Look for the sparks flying through the air from the work the guy in the foreground is doing.

(Ironsmith competition in progress. Notice the sparks flying - thought that was really cool!)

The Mexican rodeo was our last event of the evening. As always it was really good and some of the acts of horsemanship were outstanding. At times it seems impossible what people can get these very well trained horses to do. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a Mexican Rodeo I do highly recommend it.

That wrapped up our visit to the 2010 National Western Stock Show. But if Zack has his way we will be going back at least one more time to see some more shows.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Very Bad Day

To say that I detest January 9th is an utter understatement. There are many historical reasons why I don't like this day, but there has been new fuel added to the fire with this January 9th. The person who meant the most to me has written me out of her life. I shared so much of who I was with her and now.... it just hurts! It doesn't make any sense to me - but it hurts and aches. Somehow I have to try and pick up the pieces and move on. Why? That is all I can say at this point.