Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Post of Year and The First Snow of the Season

Whew...  2010 is coming to an end.  Because of plans for New Years Eve this is likely to be my last blog post for 2010.  So I better make it good!

Snow has at long last come to the Front Range of Colorado!  This morning dawned beautifully with a clear sky and lots of sunshine.  Our morning was quite hectic as I had to have Nancy at the doctors at 8:45AM while get a project for work out the door by 8:00AM.  (All of this followed a hectic day yesterday of an unplanned doctor's appointment and tests at the hospital for Nancy because of chest pain.  Thankfully that whole situation turned out OK.)  When we all left the house around 8:30AM the sun was still shining but there was a gathering cloud front to the north.  The clouds were gray and ominous and gave the feeling that a major storm was coming.

By the time we pulled back into the driveway at 10:15AM the sun was gone and small flakes of snow were beginning to spit from the sky.  We had a vet appointment for Finnegan at 11:00AM and by the time we left for that at 10:45AM the snow was beginning to come down in earnest.  However due to the warm roads it didn't really start to stick.

By 2:00PM this afternoon the fury of the storm had broken upon us.  Snow filled the air and every had pretty much turned white.  Zack and I were out most of the afternoon running errands and we started to find that the roads were getting snow packed and slippery by the time we arrived home.  Unfortunately for me I had to run out around 5:00PM to go pick up dry cleaning and stop at the grocery store.  I saw many vehicles skidding and spinning their wheels as they negotiated the road throughout my neighborhood.  Thankfully for me my little Honda Civic has a lot of go power and I had no difficult navigating the short distance from home to the Willow Creek shopping plaza.  Now we are all snug at home with no plans to journey out until sometime tomorrow!

Our adventures in dog raising have continued over the last several days as Finnegan has become used to our home.  The first 2 or 3 days that he was here, he was uncertain of himself and definitely a little scared.  He has come out of that shell much to Lex's discomfort!  For whatever reason Lex is just not comfortable having a puppy in the house.  He is very different than Bailey who loved having a puppy around and acted as the puppy's mother.  Lex got so upset about that for 2 days he didn't even want to eat at all!  He even threw up!  When we took Fin to the vet today, I asked Dr. Stone if Fin could have introduced a virus or bug into the house that Lex picked up.  After describing Lex's symptoms Dr. Stone smiled and said it was most likely stress that was causing Lex to feel sick.

 King Lex on his royal dais in the family room avoiding Finnegan

To help reduce Lex's stress we have showered him with love and attention.  These last couple of days have all been about dogs around our house.  Ever second you need to keep an eye on Fin so he doesn't go off and do something he shouldn't - either have an accident or start chewing on an electrical cord.  (It is exactly like having a baby in the house.)  On the other hand you also have to give Lex lots and lots of love to keep him happy and his stress at a reduced level.  Thankfully this phase will only last for a little bit I am sure as Lex and Finnegan will eventually bond and they will become best of friends.

Zack has been enjoying his days off of school.  He has made the most of his time off and has been in constant motion - either riding his bike or playing and doing something around the house.  He has gotten together with his cousin and some of his friends so all-in-all he is having a good time.  Though he is experiencing his end of the year anxiety.  It seems every year since Patty got sick he has exhibited a lot of anxiety around the holidays.  I am not sure if it is because of the transition to another year or because he has missed Patty's presence.  Hopefully, this seasonal anxiety will diminish as he gets older.

We hope everyone has a safe New Years Eve.  I look forward to blogging my way through 2011 and having you all as my readers.  To each of you I wish the best and hopes for a happy and joyful New Year!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finnegan's Lunch!

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at:

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!
As promised the other day - here is some video of Finnegan.  It isn't the video when we first got him as the quality of that didn't turn out too well, so I need to spend some time editing that video if I want to post it.  I am sure this is just the first of many video's that I will post that feature the fantastic Finnegan!

We had a very nice Christmas holiday.  Christmas Eve was spent at my brother's house as Tim and Celinde were having a party.  I didn't do a formal count but including kids, I would guess that there were close to 25 people there.  Most everyone were our neighbors from Willow Creek so it was a very low key gathering but very pleasant.

Christmas morning started relatively early as Finnegan was in his kennel telling me that he needed to go out and was hungry.  So the day started with getting the little pup outside and then quickly getting him some breakfast.  Like the video shown above he scarfed that down as quickly as he could.  From there we moved into the "opening of presents" part of Christmas.  Zack of course was utterly into getting out to the Christmas tree and opening the gifts.  This year there weren't as many gifts for him as in previous years as we are making that transition from childhood Christmas to teenager Christmas.  It won't be an easy transition as he was none to thrill about getting clothes of all things for Christmas.  He made me laugh over it.  He did get a bike and a basketball hoop (one of the portable ones...).  Those were the big gifts he got. 

After gift giving time, I quickly moved into food preparation mode as I was hosting Christmas dinner at my house this year.  My menu included prime rib, cheesy potatoes, green beans with buttery garlic sauce, my cucumber/pepper/tomato salad, rolls and a lemon bundt cake for dessert. I also had lots of appetizers for us to eat before the main meal.

Tim, Celinde, Cole and Celinde's parents arrived around 4:00PM.  We didn't have that much time to sit and talk before eating the main meal because the prime rib was done shortly after they arrived.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and we all ate tons.  Of course after the meal we exchanged gifts and we all got some really cool stuff.

After the gift exchange we all sat around in food coma's talking for a good bit before it was time for our guests to leave.  Zack and I then proceeded to watch one of his gifts for the year - "Despicable Me".  I feel asleep on part of it as I was exhausted.  Bedtime came right after the movie and that was our Christmas Day.  It was a busy day but it left us feel full of warmth and joy to spend all the time together with the people we love.  (Of course for me there was one central person missing....)

We hope everyone had a great Christmas and is looking forward to the New Year ahead!

Thanks and peace to all!


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to All... And Introducing Finnegan!

First of I wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone!  I hope that you all can spend this time with family and friends and that you can relax and feel the spirit of the season.  My you find peace and happiness for these next several days and may that peace and happiness reside in your heart the whole year round.

Though I am keeping today's blog entry short due to the fact that it is Christmas Eve and we will shortly be leaving for my brother's house, I wanted to introduce the newest member of our family - Finnegan.  Fin is a 10 week old dog who we adopted from the Max Fund Shelter.  He is a combination of some kind of Heeler (Blue Heeler or Australian Heeler) and some other kind of dog - we really don't know.

Tomorrow I will have more time and will tell the whole story of how we came to adopt Finnegan.  I'll post some video of him tomorrow.  But for now I will at least leave you with a few pictures of our new pup!

Merry Christmas to all!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

The busy days before Christmas.... And Figuring out Cuts of Meat!

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at:

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!
It's been 2 days since I have updated my blog!  What is going on?  That is not at all like me.  Why reason for not updating is that I have just been so busy trying to get ready for Christmas.  I really didn't start any Christmas preparations til the beginning of this week.  Bad idea Jerry!!!  So now I am playing a bit of catch up.  I have made some good progress this week but I still have a good bit to do.  I need to buy gifts for my brother and sister-in-law who live near us, a couple more things for Zack, a gift for one my nephew and then a gift for a friends of the family - Bill and Doerga.  So I definitely have my hands full.
Regardless today and tomorrow will be fun days as I get prepared for the big day.  Tonight I have a very special dinner to go to which will be the best part of the day.  Having a great dinner with people close to you is always the best part of the holiday.  Forget about the gifts, forget about all the running around it is the time spent with the people who are important in your life that is the big thing.
I will be cooking Christmas Dinner at my house this year.  Most years I have hosted Christmas eve.  But this year my brother and sister-in-law wanted to do Christmas Eve so I am doing Christmas Day.  I have learned a huge lesson about "cuts of meat" from hosting Christmas Dinner this year.  I am cooking prime rib and I just did not have any idea that there were so many different cuts of meat that could be considered 'prime rib'.  Heck - I needed an education from my brother on what specific cut to buy.  I never would have imagined that there were like 6 or 7 different cuts of meat that constitute the classification of "prime rib".  Gees - I felt like such a goober having to ask the question.  But now I have been 'meat educated'!!
I hope everyone's Christmas preparation is going well!  Have a fun and happy day!
Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, December 20, 2010

First Day of Christmas Vacation

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at:

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!

The first day of Christmas vacation started off with bang.  Actually I suppose it was more like a ring - of my cell phone.  I was lying on the couch shortly after I got up just hanging out with Zack when my cell phone rang.  Who was it...  It was a fellow transition manager from work!  Yes - on day one of vacation I got a project dropped on my hands.  Hopefully it isn't going to be anything that takes up too much of my time - but it is stuff that needs to get done so that hopefully my company can win a major new contract.

So the first several hours of today were spent trying to get a clear handle on what I need to do for work.  Originally it looked like I was facing a Wednesday deadline to have this work completed, however it now looks it will be sometime next week - which is much better!

Much of the rest of the day was spent on errands and Christmas preparation.  I got out and did some Christmas shopping which is actually the first Christmas shopping I have done - yikes!  Of course most of my shopping effort is focused on Zack and then my nieces and nephews.  For Zack this year I have told him not to expect an ocean of presents.  I am trying to reset his expectations from that of a child to that of a teenager.  I think he is going to be so excited about his one present that he will not even think about how many presents he gets.  The premiere present of the year is going to be a puppy.  (Zack doesn't read the blog, so it will stay a secret.)  Though I have been thinking about a puppy for a while a good friend suggested it to me and I decided it was the time to go for it!

So besides shopping I spent a bunch of time visiting the websites of various animal shelters in the Denver area.  Though I won't know until I see the pups for sure, I think I have limited my search to a couple of pups.  Of course it could be like the situation when we got Lex.  I walked into that situation expecting to get a female dog but ended up walking out with Lex - a male, simply because of his personality.

Zack enjoyed his first official day of the vacation, but he was none to happy that I made him go out and run errands with me.  "Too bad" I told him as he can't expect to spend every waking minute having fun!

All-in-all it was an OK start to the Christmas break for both of us.  Though it looks like I will have a good bit of work to do in the next 2 weeks - that will be alright as I will still have plenty of time to spend with Zack and those who I love.

I hope you all are almost ready for Christmas!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Different Day Than Expected

So...  Today didn't turn out the way that I thought it was going to turn out when I woke up this morning.  Zack and I were in the mountains at our condo and I fully expected that we would spend the day snowshoeing or just hiking.  Instead we are back home in Denver.

After waking up and accessing the day I realized that I had a case of the blahs, was depressed and really didn't feel like being in the mountains.  The weather was very bad which added to my general feeling of malaise.  So much snow was coming down it made it impossible to really go outside and enjoy snowshoeing or hiking.  So by 8:30AM I had made the call that we were going to head back over the continental divide and return home.  That way I could at least spend the day chilling out on the couch watching any football game I wanted.

The drive to the Eisenhower Tunnel on the Divide was absolutely ridiculous.  They were not the worst conditions I have driven in but they were darn close.  I say other 4x4's sliding around unable to stay in control.  There were at least 7 or 8 cars and tractor trailers disabled in various lanes on the Interstate on the way up to the tunnel.  It was crazy.

Once we got on the eastern side of the tunnel conditions improved pretty quickly and by the time we reached Georgetown about 20 some miles to the east of the tunnel, the road was just wet.

Not much else to say for the day.  Since we arrived home I have spent the entire time on the couch watching TV.  I can't even say that I am really into the TV or the football games but I am in a pretty darn depressed mood.  Some days life looks positive with a lot of hope and then other days it just appears pretty blah and dark.  Today is definitely one of the blah and dark days for me.

Anyway - I hope everyone is having a good weekend and is almost ready for Christmas.  I have a long way to go to get ready and I will admit I have no desire to prepare.  Oh well - I'll get it done.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Solitude of Snow

Late this afternoon Zack and I departed Denver and headed to the mountains to spend several days at the condo.  Zack is officially done with school until the New Year and I am planning on taking much of the next two weeks off from work, so this weekend and early next week offered and excellent opportunity to spend some time in the mountains.  

The drive to the condo was relatively uneventful except for the fact that the last 20 miles were through some pretty bad driving conditions.  The snow was coming down fast and furious and the room was totally covered with snow, slush and ice.  I switched the Explorer into 4 wheel drive mode and went slow – so in the end it really wasn’t a problem.  Though the ski traffic heading back to Denver certainly did not look good as there were several accidents and the Eisenhower tunnel was periodically being shut down.

We arrived at the condo around 4:30PM as the daylight was beginning to fade to the gloom of twilight.  After all the normal chores were taken care and we were settled in it was time to feed Lex and get him out for a walk.  

Zack wanted to stay at the condo so Lex and I headed off into the grayness of the snow.  As soon as we passed beyond the last condo complex, the world of civilization was lost in the pall of the falling snow.  The world became silence as every sound seemed to be drowned out by the intensity of the falling snow.  It was a world of solitude that only Lex and I inhabited.  

It brought back many memories of similar walks with Bailey and Devon.  As we walked deeper into the snowstorm I called out to their spirits to join Lex in his joyful romp through the snow.  You might not believe that dogs have spirits and souls but I do and I hope that sometimes when I call out to them – Bailey and Devon come and join us.  

When the snow is falling like it is today I think there is a magical quality that is created by the solitude of it.  All sound is deadened and the world around becomes distant and blurred.  This is one of the reasons that I love spending time in the mountains during the winter.  It is not the skiing or sled riding or anything like that – it is just the experience of being her in the snow storms and feeling the solitude it creates.  Of course it would all be much better if I were to be sharing this with Shelly – but that is not the case at this point.  

Besides our trip to the mountains I had another “long run” for team-in-training.  I can feel the effects of the threshold training already starting to take effect.  My pace for today’s run was slightly over 10 minutes per miles.  This is down from between 11 and 12 minutes per mile that I ran last week.  I think my body is beginning to adjust to running again and I am gaining strength and stamina.  Today’s run was the longest run from both a time and distance perspective I have taken in over 10 years.  I ran for 1 hour and 3 minutes and covered 6.04 miles.  (Yes – with a GPS you can be very precise in terms of how far you run.)  

That was pretty much our day.  Not much else occurred besides chores around the house.  This evening Zack and I went to the Mint Restaurant where you get to cook your own steak.  Even though Zack didn’t have a steak, he loved helping me cook mine!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend so far!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Watching TV on a Thursday Night

Tonight I sat on the couch and I watched several episodes of the Starz TV series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand".  This has to be one of the most violent TV series I have watched since the HBO series: Rome.  There seems to be a continuing fascination in our society with the life of Roman society.  I wonder if that is because we are in a similar situation - a dying empire.  (OK - I won't go into the political commentary tonight.)

Spartacus, despite the amount of blood and gore, is actually a pretty good show.  It has a good plot and the acting is pretty good.  It stars some of my favorite actors and actresses: Lucy Lawless and John Hannah.  I had never seen Andy Whitfield before but he plays a pretty darn good Spartacus.  It doesn't have Kevin McKidd in it who is my current favorite British actor (he star in HBO's Rome), but in general the cast is pretty good.

On top of the job that Andy Whitfield does playing Spartacus, you have to feel somewhat sorry for him due to his health issues.  In the spring of 2010 he was diagnosed with non-Hodgin's Lymphoma and underwent a series of chemo treatments and was set to be back on set for season two of the show, however his cancer returned in September of this year and he is currently undergoing another round of treatment.  His illness has caused season two of Spartacus to be re-written into a prequel which does not feature the character of Spartacus.

I suppose that is enough of my viewpoints on television for the night.

I suppose there is a lot more I could write for this evening about myself but to be honest, I am just not in the mood.  I had an appointment today with my therapist to talk through things.  It was a good appointment and there was a lot that I learned but I just don't feel like putting it out there tonight.  Just know that I am working the hardest I can to move beyond the current point in my life and to improve myself!

The weekend is almost upon us!  Yippee!  I think that Zack and I will be heading to the mountains for at least part of the weekend.  If we do so, I plan that we will go skiing at least one day and then we will do a big snowshoe hike the other day.  We have been out snowshoeing in two winters and I am very much looking forward to getting out there and making some tracks in the deep snow.  I think for our snowshoeing we will head up Ute Pass which is one of my most favorite places in this world to go snowshoeing as it is utterly beautiful.

(On a totally messed up note...  I just reviewed the log that shows me where people are located who read my blog and I just had some one read it from Guyana!  What the hell!  Who is gods name would be interested in reading my blog from Guyana.  That is by far the most outlandish place from which anyone has ever read my blog.)

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

By the Firelight

Tonight I am working in my office in the basement of my house.  I know I have probably described my office about 3 or 4 different times on my blog but since not everyone has been reading my blog forever I figure I will describe it again.

My house has a walk out basement.  So the basement really doesn't seem like a basement.  The southern side of the house is lined with a total of 3 windows and one sliding glass door.  The windows are absolutely huge.  They are 3 feet wide by 4.5 feet tall.  They start not too far from the floor and go the whole way to the ceiling.  So being in my basement is like being in any other floor of my house.  It is open and airy and filled with natural light.

My office occupies the far eastern end of my basement.  In between my office and the western end of the basement there is an open space that has in the past been part of Zack's play area.  On the far western way is my fireplace.  It is actually more like a wood burning stove as opposed to a fireplace.  I guess the actual description of it is a wood burning insert that is very efficient.  Having a fire burning in there heats the entire basement.  It is really a good efficient burner!

Being in my office at night I have a very clear view to the fireplace.  So as I sit here at my desk tonight I see the glow of the fireplace dancing across the ceiling.  I burn oak wood in my fireplace.  It is a strong, solid burning wood that provides a lot of heat.  The wood I burn is the leftover wood from the production of railroad ties.  Before the railroad ties are coated with cresote, they are cut to size.  All the wood that is cut off is usually recycled into other products.  However some of it is sold off to the firewood industry.  Several years ago I bought a cord of wood from a guy who buys from the railroad tie industry.  As much as I try to burn it all every year it never seems to go away as it burns so strong for such long periods of time.  So tonight the glow of my fire is being produced from the by products of the railroad industry.

Being in my office on a cold snowy night like tonight is very comfortable.  It is very warm due to the fire burning in the fireplace.  Additionally, the glow of the fire and the light from the stained glass lamps I have here in my office provide a very warm glow.  It is just a comfortable place to be.  When I get tired of sitting here in at my desk, I can retire to a huge reading chair with an ottoman that I have here.  I can not begin to tell you the number of times that I have fallen asleep in that chair due to how comfortable it is.  I sit down and I being to read and I am dozing within 5 - 10 minutes.

The only thing that would make any of this better is to have my love here with me.  Yes - you all know who I am talking about as I have talked about her so much.  But she isn't here and I don't know if she will ever be here again.  Oh well - I need to learn to be comfortable in being alone and knowing that my spirit, my soul is with her and maybe someday she will return to me.  Maybe...  but then again...  maybe not.

Enough said - Hope that everyone's Wednesday has been good!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Art of Running in the Dark

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at:

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!
Tonight we had our first "track night" for Team-in-Training.  To say that it was a bit of an adventure is an understatement!  When I first heard about "track night" I assumed that we would be running under the lights at some high school track.  I was wrong!  We were running on a track but in the DARK.
In reality running in the dark wasn't too bad!  Our eyes quickly adapted to the dark and it was pretty darn easy to see where we were running.  The more difficult aspect of "track night" was what we were doing.  Technically it is called threshold training, but from my days running track in high school I remember it being called interval training.  The training plan was to run one full lap of the track at about 80 -90 percent maximum speed and then walk a half lap.  This pattern was to be repeated 8 times so that we would cover a total of 2 miles running and 1 mile walking.  The purpose of this exercise is to increase the max speed that you are able to run over a distance.  
To say that this exercise was hard is definitely an understatement.  It was brutal.  Running a quarter mile at near full speed is killer and each time you are complete with one lap you feel like you want to puke.  Thankfully no one in our group this evening puked, but we did push ourselves very hard.  In the end, running in the dark turned out to be pretty tough but an excellent exercise.  I am looking forward to next Tuesday to do it all over again.
Besides running Zack got some help this evening getting Christmas presents for Nancy and me.  He was so thrilled with what he got - I thought he was going to blurt it out.  He has a really tough time keeping secrets like that.  But now that the excitement of the shopping is done I think he will calm down a little about it and be able to keep the secret of what he got us until Christmas day.
Hope everyone had a great Tuesday.
Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Music, Controversy over Llamas and RIP Richard Holbrooke

The house is quiet as Zack is in bed, Nancy is in her room and Lex is of course snuggled up next to Zack.  So it is only me and my thoughts and my music.  Tonight I sit at the kitchen table writing and listening.  My spirit being soothed by the calming sounds of Baroque music coming from my Internet Radio.  (Remember the day and age when Internet appliances were going to be the next big thing?  Well, I actually have one of those things - an Internet Radio.  All it does is stream music from just about every radio station that broadcasts on the Internet.  It is a technological fossil but it actually really cool.)

My music is my salvation in the silence of my house.  Since I no longer have Shelly's lovely voice and presence to keep my company I can only go with what is available to me - which is music.  Every night I sit and listen to some kind of music.  I fall asleep every night to the strains of Gregorian chants coming from my iPhone docking station/alarm clock.  I have actually gotten so used to hearing my music that when the play list finally ends for the night I usually wake up with start.  If that happens then I just re-start the play list on the first Gregorian chant and fall right back asleep.  Without my music I am quite sure I would still be back in the times when I did not sleep at all.

On a totally different note, I had no idea my post of yesterday about contributing to Heifer International would create a controversy.  Yes - I do realize that all food production centered around producing meat is in the end wasteful and destructive to the environment.  Heck - look at what our cattle farming does here in the United States.  It destroys a lot of land.  But regardless, I will do what I can to support raising people up out of poverty even if it does involve a meat based production system.  I don't know if many people know this but my late wife was a vegetarian and she was passionate about protecting animals.  We discussed this same situation many times but even she realized that we can't change human nature and the bottom line is that most people prefer to eat animal based protein as opposed to plant based protein.  It is just the way it is - that is why we are omnivores.

I will publish just about any comment that is leveled against my opinion.  (I think in the over 2 years I have been writing this blog there have only been a handful of comments that I haven't published.) I would ask just leave some kind of identification of who you are as opposed to leaving it anonymously.  I try and operate this blog in a pretty fair and open way so if I disagree with your comment I will post it but I will also tell you I disagree with it.  Anyway...  Just a thought...  because if you leave a comment anonymously I will still publish it.  (See I am just an old softy.)

One last point - I just heard a little while ago that Richard Holbrooke had died.  I don't know why but I always liked the guy.  I think I liked him because he was the person who finally got the craziness and slaughter in Bosnia to stop.  The whole world stood around and watched while the Serbs just slaughtered the Bosnians like sheep.  Holbrooke finally managed to get the blood letting to stop by twisting everyone's arms at the negotiating table.  He seemed like the quintessential diplomat who could negotiate anything.  It is a shame he is gone since he was so involved in helping sort out the mess in Afghanistan.  RIP!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

So I Finally Bought a Llama - Sort Of....

Please consider supporting my effort to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through participation in their Team-in-Training program.  I am training to run in the Canyonlands Half Marathon on March 19, 2011.  You can support my effort by pledging contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my Team-in-Training web page at:

All contributions are tax deductible.  THANK YOU!!!!!!
As many of you know I have been interested in buying a llama or two for last year.  My reason for wanting a llama has been simple.  As I am getting older I am finding it more stressful on my back to backpack with a large load on my shoulders.  I tend to hike a lot but the loads that I normally carry do not weigh more than 20 pounds.  However as I want to take my nature photography to higher standards the amount of gear that I should carry should be much heavier.  For example, I have an inexpensive camera tripod that probably weighs a grand total of 1 pound.  For really good pictures I have should have a much more expensive and much heavier - 10 pounds or more tripod.  On top of that when I go to take pictures I should be taking numerous lens, filters, light meters etc.  All told I would estimate that I should have a kit that weighs in excess of 60 pounds.

Carrying 60 pounds of photographic gear can be done, but then my back and shoulders will be screaming at me for days because of it.  Hence the need for a llama to carry my gear.  Llama's for small loads under 120 pounds are great pack animals.  They are relatively compact, don't require a huge amount of food and are relatively nice.  Well - there are some that are known to be big spitters and biters but mine won't be like that.

So last Tuesday I decided to bit the bullet and get a llama.  Now of course he/she isn't in my backyard.  As a matter of fact they aren't even here in North America - the llama is somewhere in Peru.  My sort of buying a llama is I bought one through Heifer International (a charity) and the llama will be donated to a poor family living in Peru.  Heifer International makes a big push during the holiday season to gather donations like this.  Beside llama's they also do donations of flocks of geese, goats, sheep, cows (heifers - hence the name), water buffaloes, pigs, etc.  Water buffaloes are expensive!!!

Anyway - just some humor to some degree about me purchasing a llama!  Our weekend has been very low key.  I done a ton of chores around the house and got a bunch of Christmas decorating completed.  Zack got a new pair of tennis shoes as his old pair was totally shot.  My team in training group run on Saturday morning was especially grueling as we did an hour of solid non-stop running.  I figure it will take me about 2 - 2.5 hours to run the half marathon so I am approaching being able to run 1/2 of the time required for me to complete it.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for the week ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Friday, December 10, 2010

New Technology Everywhere - And A Walk Down Memory Lane

My internal clock is definitely not what it used to be.  In the past I used to stay up until all hours of the night.  I would routinely go to bed between midnight and 1:30AM.  Now no matter what I do it seems as though I am falling asleep by 11:00PM but then waking by 4:00AM.  I think much of this has to do with my state of mind and depression/anxiety I have experienced over the situation with Shelly.  The loss of your fiance to your own stupidity is traumatic beyond bounds.  So yet again I am making a very early morning post.

What I was thinking about this morning as I lay here was how much new technology there is everywhere.  I comment on this simply because in the last 3 - 4 days my life has been filled with new technology experiences.

The first new technology experience came in the mail over the weekend.  I had renewed my "Colorado Pass" ski pass offered by Vail Resorts in mid-November.  This was the first time in 2 years that I had purchased a ski pass.  Normally when I renewed my pass I simply got an e-mail that said my pass was renewed and unless I had lost the physical pass, just use the old pass.  This year however they sent me an entirely new physical pass.  The reason for this is due to the fact they have integrated technology directly into the physical pass that is part of their "Epic Mix" package.  The "Epic Mix" package is technology that allows Vail to track exactly where I ski.  At the end of my ski day I can log onto their website and see a map of where I skied and how much elevation I gained/lost etc.  Some may consider this new technology an invasion of privacy but...  I think it is really cool.

My second "new technology" experience came when I recorded Zack's choral concert on Wednesday night.  The battery in my camcorder was dead and I didn't have time to charge it.  So I took my Digital SLR camera and the manual and recorder the concert with that.  The interesting aspect of that was that the video portion of my SLR camera is so technologically advanced it records everything in High-Definition which is the reason I could hardly get the video uploaded to the web yesterday.

Because of the difficult of uploading the video to the web, when Zack was at his swim lesson on Thursday I swung by the Best Buy at the Streets of South Glenn and looked at the newest version of Adobe Premiere Elements (a video editing software).  I practically fell on the floor as I read the outside of the box and saw all the tools that were now part of this software.  A couple of years ago these kinds of tools weren't even available to the movie studios in Hollywood!

Lastly (and thankfully Zack doesn't read the blog) I was out looking for one of his Christmas presents at REI - an outdoor gear store.  (Zack is getting a new bike for Christmas!)  Of course given my fixation on GPS's I wandered by that section of the store when I was there.  Oh my god!  They things they are now doing with GPS's and other small electronic gear for the outdoors!  I saw the coolest stuff.  The thing that impressed me the most was in that same section they had miniature cameras that you can now attach to your helmet, wrist, where every and record everything you do when skiing, biking, kayaking, whatever - all in high definition.  These things only weigh a couple of ounces.  Incredible!

Given that I am such a technology geek I could help but think of these things as I lay here a wake this morning!

Something else I was thinking about was all the various videos I have uploaded to YouTube since I first signed up for it over 2 years ago.  I first signed up to post the memorial montage I did for Patty's memorial service.  Since then YouTube has pretty much destroyed that video because I used a copyrighted song in it.  But...  there are a bunch of other videos that are pretty good that I decided to embed in my post this morning just as a trip down memory lane.

This first video I took in the Grand Canyon when Zack and I were caught in a massive wind storm and almost blown off the side of the canyon.

This second video was immediately before the windstorm video.  It shows Zack and my descent into and ascent out of the canyon.  You can kind of tell the wind is gathering strength in this video.

These last 2 videos are nature videos that I compiled from various hikes Zack and I did from late 2008 through the summer of 2009.  I haven't done one of these in a while - I think I should.

I will admit one of my frustrations with YouTube and all the different Google services these days is that they used to be all separate services so I have different accounts for them.  For example my YouTube Account is mtnclimberx13.  It is associated with my e-mail account of but I don't know if I can get rid of the mtnclimberx13 account on YouTube and just use my account.  (Of course that is different because YouTube used to be a separate company back when I signed up for the service.  All I can say to that is Argh...  With all the new technology why can we have a single sign on for just about everything on the web.  There was a story on the news several nights ago that they average person has over 20 different passwords and accounts that they need to remember for the web.  How frustrating!)

Anyway - I hope everyone has enjoyed my walk down my video memory lane.  If I have some time over the weekend I might create a new nature photo montage and post.

I hope everyone has a great Friday ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Zack's Winter Choral Concert

This evening Zack had his first choral concert as a sixth grader at West Middle school.  He did a great job in my opinion.  I recorded a good bit of the show using my camera.  I tried to get this uploaded as soon as we got home but I had a good bit of difficulty.  So when I woke up way early this morning around 3:00AM, I decided to try it again - this time from the Mac as opposed to from the PC.  I had better success with the Mac.

I think Zack did a great job with his singing.  The concert was conducted in the school gym.  They had risers set up facing the bleachers.  I was sitting in the bleachers about 7 or 8 rows up almost right in front of Zack.  From where I was sitting I could actually even hear his voice distinctly mixed in with the other kids.  Regardless of anything I was very proud of him and the job that he did!  Though I will admit at times he was pretty darn fidgety.  Not exactly sure what was going when he was fidgeting so much.

(For those of you who don't know what Zack looks like - he is in tan pants, has a dark long-sleeve striped shirt and glasses.  He is usually the focus of my very poor camera work.)

After the concert we headed to the mall and got a quick dinner of Sbarro's at the food court.  We then got some candy (bad idea) at the Sweet Factory before heading to Borders.  Zack insisted we had to go to Borders as he was officially out of books to read.  Gees - he is a mass consumer of books.  We go to the library, Borders or Barnes and Noble all the time to keep him in books.  So we made a quick stop at Borders to pick up the most recent "Children of the Lamp" book for him.

Argh...  It took a while but I think I finally got this thing uploaded!  I had to put it on YouTube because it kept timing out every time I tried to upload directly to Blogger.  Oh well - I got it out there.

I hope everyone has a great Thursday!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

On Being Alone

One of the things numerous people have said to me throughout the last 2.5 months since Shelly and I broke up has been “Learn to be OK with being alone”.  Alright – I just don’t get this statement.  It runs 100% counter to human nature and the way we should be as people.

I think there has been way too much made of psychology and the internal human thought processes about being alone.  This is not how we evolved as a species.  In the very olden days if your partner was eaten by a saber-tooth lion, the chances are you were picked up as a partner or picked up a new partner the very next day.

Even in the not too distant past of 100 years ago if your partner died you were normally remarried within several months.  When my great-grandmother died in May of 1911, my great-grandfather was not only dating and seeing someone but remarried by August of 1911.  So where does the thought process come that we need to be OK being alone?

I will tell you very simply and frankly I am not OK being alone.  I HATE it.  I hate every single solitary second of it.  When you have a partner or are married you know that you always have someone at your back.  You know that you always have someone to whom you can tell anything.  (Well – at least that is the way my partnerships have worked.)

So what is the importance of “being OK with yourself and being alone”.  I really think this entire concept has set people on a course to be unhappy and self-indulgent.  When you tell yourself that it is OK to be alone you are much more apt in my mind to be unhappy because you are alone with your thoughts and loneliness much more than some one who has a partner.  I know this issue has been argued back and forth as to what is better for men might be different than what is better for women.  I don’t know specifically as I can only comment on this based upon a man’s position.

Anyway – just some thoughts based upon a sleepless night.

I hope everyone has a great day ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Monday, December 6, 2010

School Concert Season

It's that time of year already.  It school concert season!  Today Zack and I had the honor or attending Cole's winter band concert.  The kids did a great job with all the songs that they played.  Cole definitely has an unusual job in the band as he is the only Tuba player in the entire band.

The concert was a lot shorter than I expected.  They only played 6 songs and they were all pretty short.  I had expected a lot longer concert, but in the end run six songs was just enough.  I wasn't sure if Zack was going to enjoy it or not, but at the end of the concert he asked me if he could switch from chorus to band.  So I guess he enjoyed it.

Zack has his chorus concert on Wednesday of this week.  I am greatly looking forward to hearing it and seeing the Z man sing.  I am sure he will do a great job.

After work this afternoon I got all my exterior Christmas lights hung up on the outside of the house.  The house looks pretty good but I still have a few other little decorations that I am going to get out.  I have a pair of pure white Christmas trees that I put right in front of the house.  I will get them up tomorrow.

My experiment with my PaperPort software is still underway.  I have about 1.5 Tetrabytes of data to index, so the indexing processes is taking just a bit of time.  I expect it should be finished by tomorrow this time.  Once that baby is done, I should be able to find any piece of data that I have ever created.  I am very psyched about it.  I do have a back up of everything has I have a network disk drive in which I keep everything in addition to my primary computer's hard drive.

Happy Monday to everyone.  I hope the week has started well for everyone.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Day of Rest, Paperport and Christmas Lights

Sunday is officially the day of rest in the Team-in-training scheduled.  I broke the rules today and went to the gym very early this morning and got in a 30 minute work out.  Not only am I training to complete the half marathon I am also training to utterly transform my body.  In 2011 I will turn 45 years old and I am determined to put my body into the most excellent position it can be in as I really start to enter full-fledged middle age.  My workout wasn't too bad so I won't disrupt tomorrow's Team-in-training schedule.

I have spent a huge amount of the day setting up a new program I got for my computer called PaperPort.  The whole purpose of this software is to organize all of your electronic files so that you can find the things that you want.  To help declutter the house I have been turning most of my paper files into electronic images (PDFs) of them.  However the problem starts to become when you have thousands and thousand of documents - how do you find exactly what you are looking for.  A good file structure certainly helps but it still doesn't answer all the problems.  That is where a piece of software like PaperPort comes in.  It indexes every single file you have.  So now if I type in Zack Report Card - it will bring up every PDF copy of one of Zack's report cards we have every received.  I can also store credit card and bank statements like this.  (Actually I never keep those...  you can also get copies of those from your bank/credit card company's websites.  The software is made by a company called Nuance and it is definitely worth the $99 I spent on it as it will make my life so much easier.

It has taken me several hours to get it all set up, but slowly but surely I am getting all the necessarily indexes put in place that I want to use.  I am looking forward to how it is going to simplify stuff.  (It even works with picture files too!)

On top of that I got all my outside Christmas lights ready to go.  I didn't hang them up today as I will probably do that tomorrow afternoon.  But I have all my icicle lights and the white Christmas trees ready to be put in place.  We are still working on getting all the ornaments on the tree as we literally have hundreds of them.

On another note I continue to feel absolutely devastated by the lose of Shelly.  The drugs that I am taking are helping, but I still feel so desperately in love with her.  Argh...  This is going to one long and tough winter.  I continue to look at eHarmony but I just don't have the heart to pursue anything. It sucks!!  If you are reading this Shelly - which I now totally doubt that you are - I miss you!!!

Posting early this afternoon as the Steelers are playing tonight and it is a huge game for them against the Ravens so I will be watching that this evening.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Long Run And the Parade of Lights

If I weren't running a ton during the week I am not sure that I could even begin to keep up with the pace of the runners on these weekend Team-in-Training runs.  Today's run was pretty brutal - for me anyway.  We did something like 4 miles in under 40 minutes.  I was actually able to keep up pretty well.  I kept pace with a woman in front of me for the whole entire run.  She was running roughly 10 minute miles and so as long as I kept right behind her I did fine.

On top of that I took my iPhone with me this morning and listened to music throughout the entire run.  As I always say - life is so much better with a sound track.  I even picked up a new song from one of my running compatriots - "Move Along" by the All-American Rejects.  It is an inspirational song for where I am in life right now so it was a good pickup.

The rest of the day was spent doing a lot of errands.  Zack and I made a big shopping trip to Costco today.  We picked up tons of staples that we need for around the house.  We practically filled the entire back of the explorer up with stuff by the time we were done shopping.

After we got home from our shopping trip we really didn't have that much time until it was time to go and pick up Cole and head downtown for the Parade of Lights.  Cole is hanging out with us all evening as Tim and Celinde have and office Christmas Party to go to.  We left the house around 3:30PM so that we could get downtown and have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe before we saw the parade.

The timing worked out perfectly as we were done eating right around 5:50PM just in time to get out and get in position for the parade.  We first started watching it from the 5th floor of the Tremont Parking garage until we were told by a security guard that we had to leave - boo as we had a really good view from there.  Oh well - we have to follow the rules.

We enjoyed the parade but after about 40 minutes we headed back to the car as we could see the parade route from the car.  It was much warmer and cozier in the car then standing outside to watch it.

We got home about 20 minutes ago and Zack and Cole are hanging out in the family room playing video games.  Tim and Celinde are supposed to be here to pick up Cole in about another hour and then I think Zack and I will try and hit the hay early!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


The Future Has Changed

For those of you looking closely, the name of the blog has changed.  I am still not sure if I will leave it at what is is or change it again.  But for now it is "My Life Revolution".  I have earned my redemption but I will never get want I want so it is time to move onward.

I am not exactly sure what that "onward" holds so for now we are going to leave the tag life as "My Life Revolution".  When the summer is back and Zack and I are travelling and hiking it might go back to A Dad and His Boy Living the Life.  But for now it is all about figuring out where the ship of life is going to be taking me.

Hope you all are sleeping well as I am posting this!

Peace! ~J.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Report Card Day at Last!

It seems like it has been months in the making (well I guess it has) but Zack finally got his first report card of 6th Grade today.  I am very pleased with the grades he got through there is still room for improvement.

In the end run Zack got 4 A's, 2 B's and 1 C.  The C is the very frustrating grade as he got it in Gym - yeah PE.  Had he just shown up and participated the way he should have he would have gotten an A.  Oh well - there is lots to be learned from the first trimester of middle school.  Overall his GPA was a 3.4 which I don't think is too shabby.  It gives him lots of room to grow and improve in the second trimester.

Given the way this trimester started out, he did a great job coming back from some bad grades and doing an excellent job. After the first month of school he had 2 F's 1 D, 2 B's and 2 A's.  I really had to work with him to teach him some of the basics of how to study, so I am very proud of the progress he made.

I will make sure he gets something special this weekend for the effort he put.  It might be a video game or might be as simple as taking him out to see a movie.

Another Friday night and not much going on.  I am sitting here in the kitchen typing, Nancy is in her room and Zack is up playing in the computer room.  Tomorrow will probably be the busiest day of the weekend as I have my 8:30AM Team-in-training session at the Nazarene Church off of Hampden.  Cole is coming over for a good bit of the afternoon and evening.  Zack, Cole and I might go downtown to see the 9News Parade of lights - that should be fun.

We hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Trying to Work...

Today was the third day that I have gotten to take the new anti-depression meds that I started to take on Tuesday.  I will say they do see to be having an effect as I don’t seem to be as anxious as I was previously.  I always say – I can deal with depression but I can’t deal with anxiety, so thing are a little bit more bearable today with the anxiety being knocked down a bit.

I am doing at things for work trying to get a lot of things wrapped up as tomorrow is officially my last day on this project.  I have started to prepare some reports and documents for my new position but we will see how that goes per the discussion I mentioned in my post of yesterday.

I got our Christmas tree up yesterday.  I have a bit of re-wiring to do as one string of lights has burnt out.  But in comparison to past years that is not bad!

As I attempt to rebuild my life and recover from this depression I face such a horrible choice.  I will readily admit I like being in a relationship with a woman.  It has now been over 2 months since Shelly and I broke up.  I have not dated anyone or anything like that.  In many ways I want so badly to be in a relationship as I think it would make me feel so much better.  On the other hand – I just can’t do it!  Even though I know Shelly is never coming back to me, I am still deeply in love with her and I can’t get over her.

I have received many e-mails from loyal readers of my blog to forgive myself and move on.  I can forgive myself to some degree but to some degree I can’t.  I can’t because I love this woman so much and I screwed up so that I lost her.  So it is easy to say – forgive myself and move on, but it still hurts so badly that I can’t do it.  Maybe I won’t ever be able to move on – that is what I am starting to believe.  I have signed up for eHarmony and I get my matches and I read about them and I no interest.  Even if they request communication and I answer the questions, etc – I just have no interest.  All my interest remains with Shelly.

Oh well – I know much of these statements sound like whining and they perhaps are.  But as people always say – depression is a disease and I feel like I have to talk about this so that I can get through it.  I apologize if it is not a pleasant thing to read.

As for the leave of absence I discussed yesterday, I haven’t made any further progress in regard to that.  My new manager is going to be out of the country for most of next week so I think it will probably be until the following week I can have an in-depth conversation with her.

I managed to get in a very good 4 mile run today as I ran the entire perimeter of the Willow Creek neighborhood.  Our community is one square mile so each side is one mile long.  It felt good to get out and run and I have now run roughly 1/3 of how long the half marathon will be.  I can do this and I can succeed. 

Zack had a bit of a scare at school today.  They were playing a game in PE that involved the use of rackets.  He accidentally hit a kid in the head with a racket.  He didn’t get in any trouble or anything but with getting suspended back in October, he was very upset that this happened.  Once we talked about when he got home I managed to get him reassured.  (The gym teacher wasn’t even upset with him and used the phrase “accidents happen” but Zack was still very concerned he was going to get into trouble.)

Zack also continues his “biking” ways.  I have allowed him to change his routine after school since it is getting dark so early.  He can come home and ride his bike until 4:20PM before he has to start his home work.  Normally I always had him do his homework first.

Well that’s all for the day!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Big Decision in the Making...

Since the weekend I have been considering a big decision.  I have been considering taking a Leave of Absence from work for the next several months to get some things in my head straightened out.  I had the first discussion about this today with my direct line manager and we came to some preliminary agreement regarding it.

Given it is IBM I need to have several other conversations about this before anything is final, but as of now I do plan to move ahead with this decision.

Everything concerning this came to a head on Monday night.  I found myself in a very unhappy mental state.  It was so bad that I immediately made a doctor’s appointment for Tuesday as soon as the doctor’s office opened up.  (Let me be clear – I wasn’t thinking of killing myself.)  I just didn’t sleep for one second on Monday night/Tuesday morning.  I was in to see my doctor on Tuesday afternoon and she put me on a bunch more medication.  I am hoping that some of this starts to work.

My doctor thought the leave of absence idea would be very good for me.  She even indicated that I might quality for disability because of the severe nature of my symptoms (i.e. not sleeping for days on end, etc.).  I don’t think I will look into disability but instead just take the leave of absence option for the next several months.

As much time as I have spent talking to my psychologist, it isn’t helping.  Instead I really need the medication as my brain chemistry is severely messed up.  I think with some of the stuff my doc put me on it will help as it has already calmed down the “adrenaline dump” that seems to happen to my body several times a day.

Regardless, until I can get my mind worked through I am thinking the leave of absence is the best thing that I can do.  I figure if I keep trying to work while going through this hell I am eventually going to crash and burn and lose my job and potentially my sanity.

Yes – this is a difficult decision to make and in many ways it is selfish.  Much of what is going on in my head involves Shelly of course – other parts involve the death of Patty.  Shelly unfortunately doesn’t have the option to take a leave of absence for the hell she is going through as she runs her own company.  I wish she too had this kind of opportunity.

I have to realize too that I will never get Shelly back.  It’s not her fault – it’s my fault.  She deserves a man who is better than me.  Though I will remain devoted and in love with her, I know she will never re-enter my life.

Anyway – that is the latest for the day.

PS – Please remember I am in training for the LLS Team-in-Training.  Please going to my team-in-training website and make a contribution.  The web site address is:

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.