Sunday, January 29, 2012

Surgery, Two Trips Ahead and Icelandic Road Conditions!

At last it is upon me, tomorrow is surgery day!  I am very excited at the prospect of no further pain.  However due to what this surgery involves I am some what trepidacious about the whole thing.  There is always some risk in the easiest of surgeries but this surgery won't be one of the easiest.  The fact that it is performed by a neurosurgeon instead of a regular orthopedic surgeon is telling.  Oh well - there isn't much I can do about that so as always I just need to suck it up and deal with it.

The details of the surgery are that it is scheduled for 9:00AM Monday morning at Littleton Hospital.  Unfortunately it is not an outpatient surgery and I will be stuck in the hospital until Tuesday.  There is a chance it could be longer than Tuesday, but I am hoping not. If the surgeon finds evidence that there is spinal fluid in the area surrounding the herniated disc, then I will be required to stay in the hospital for at least 3 days with two of those days spent on my stomach without me moving.  Hopefully that won't be the case as I think I would go crazy under those circumstances.

Well enough about that!  It is time to move to a more enjoyable subject.  One of the things that I forgot to discuss in my plan to get out of my rut is travel!  Over the next 6 months Zack and I have two international trips planned.  The first is occurring the last week in March and will take us to Costa Rica.  We will be traveling to Costa Rica to see a bunch of different areas of the country.  My good friend Ruben lives there and he will be tour guiding Zack and me around the country.  We will be doing a variety of different things from hitting the beach, to seeing the volcanoes, to visiting the rain forest, to experiencing San Jose (the capital) to experiencing some of Costa Rica's other cultural hotspots.  We are going to try and see it all!  We will leave Denver on March 24 and return on April 1.  I have already purchased tickets for this trip and we are quite excited to go!  It will be great to see Ruben again and I am sure Zack is going to love the experience!  The only possible down side is if my recovery from surgery takes longer than expected.  It could derail this trip - thankfully I bought travel insurance with my airline tickets.

In June we will be heading to Iceland for at least 10 days.  As of now I haven't purchased our tickets yet, but I hope to purchase them by the middle of February.  We are planning to leave Denver around June 18 as this will allow us to get to Iceland for the celebration of the summer solstice.  This year the summer solstice takes place at 12:09AM, June 21 local time in Iceland.  One of the best things about being in Iceland for the summer solstice are all the parties and fun events that happen!  Since darkness really doesn't come that day, most young people in Iceland stay up all day and night and just party their brains out.  I am not sure that we will get to do that given Zack's age - but we will participate in many of the festivals and celebrations that take place that day and through the following weekend.

The plan for the trip to Iceland is still evolving as I am continuing to read about where we should go and what we should see.  The overall plan is to rent a jeep and spend most of the time touring around Iceland on what is called the ring road.  The ring road is a road, and that might be a loose term for it, that circles the whole way around Iceland.  I say road might be a loose term for the ring road as from what I have read there are long sections that are just gravel or even dirty roads.  In a country of only 318,000 there isn't the need for a lot of paved highways.  The conditions of the road system is one of the reasons that we would be renting a jeep as you need 4 wheel drive to make it through a lot of the landscape.

The following are some examples of road conditions in Iceland that I pulled off the web.  In general when you head out on a long distance trip in Iceland you have to be prepared as you might face all kinds of conditions.  Furthermore, once you are out in the middle of no where, you are kind of on your own!)

(A good section of road in Iceland, but then you have to deal with other issues...  Like the gigantic ash plume from a volcano that is obstructing the road ahead.  It is not advisable to drive through ash plumes!!)

(Another common Icelandic road hazard - a sheep on the road.  Sheep in Iceland outnumber the people by a substantial margin.  Hopefully the sheep never decide to rise up and overthrow the humans as the people are outnumbered!)

(An example of roads in Iceland that are in less than stellar shape.  I won't have wanted to try and ride that rode on a motorcycle.  It looks very painful to me!)

(Another example of the dirt roads of Iceland.  Notice the washboard effect on this road.)

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to these trips.  Zack seems to be excited about them too.  But for him they still seem so far away that he isn't thinking too seriously about them yet.  Though I have been to Costa Rice before I am really looking forward to that trip as it will allow me to explore so much that I didn't get the chance to see when I was there before.  And as for Iceland - this has been a place that is number two on my all time list of interesting places that I want to go.  Number 1 on that list is Mongolia and we will get there eventually, but given Icelandic Air is starting direct flights from Denver to Reykjavik (the capitol of Iceland) in May of this year, it something that we just have to do.

There is not much to say about our day today.   We got up relatively early this morning and I made a special breakfast for Zack - a cinnamon butter braid.  I had to take it out of the freezer last night and let it defrost and rise, but wow was it worth it, as it tasted so yummy!  Early this afternoon we went out to the movies and saw "The Adventures of TinTin".  It was a pretty decent movie - but the most important thing was that Zack liked it.  The rest of the day has been spent here at home working to make sure everything is ready for tomorrow.

I am not totally sure how tomorrow will play out as Nancy was supposed to come here and watch Zack on Monday afternoon/night.  She is not feeling well today so we might have to go with a fall back plan that Zack and the pups go over to my brother and sister-in-law's house for Monday night.  Not sure how that is going to play out, but I should know by later this evening if Nancy will feel up to leaving Cranbrook tomorrow.

I guess that is about it for the day.  To all the friends who called, texted or e-mailed me today to wish me the best tomorrow - thank you!  Your thoughts and concerns are greatly appreciated.

The next part is harder to write...  Shelly all I can say is that I wish you were going to be at my side tomorrow, but I know that is not part of our lives right now.  I wish it was the last time I was having surgery - made things won't be like they are now if we relived that time again.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend and is looking forward to the week ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"And he has a plan...."

For anyone who watched the SyFy channel's series "Battle Star Galatica" several years ago you will recognize today's title as a play on the words from the opening lines of each episode.  But the fact is I do have a plan.  Though fortunately I am not a cyborg or robot fixated on the destruction of the human race.

Over the last 2 - 3 months you all have read me complain about being injured - from my leg injury to my herniated back and you have heard me talk about being in a rut.  The fact is I am in probably one of the worst ruts I have ever been in during my entire life.  It is time for me to come out of it.  Realistically my extraction from this rut won't begin until I have the surgery on Monday. 

I do have a plan to transform my life and get out of this rut.  As I have laid awake at night or while I have laid around because I am in too much pain to do anything my mind has been in constant motion.  So I have laid out a plan that shortly after my surgery I am going to put into action.  It is specific and actionable, not some pie in the sky thing that isn't going to get me anywhere.  Here are the components of this plan.

1 - Escalate the purge of things from the house.  With one exception the house has been cleared of excessive clutter and now only the garage remains to have clutter purged.  I have to give myself some time to recover after the surgery, but the extensive purge of the garage will be completed by Spring Break (March 24th) of this year.  Though I have purged the excessive clutter from the rest of the house I want to take things a step further - I want to minimize my overall footprint of the possessions I have.  Yes - you heard it right, I want to embark upon a minimalist lifestyle.   It is hard to quantify a percentage of things I will purge but my expectation is that at least 30% of what I own will be purged between now and the July 1, 2012.

2 - Complete a design and decorating plan for the remodeling of my kitchen and family room by March 15, 2012.  I have two resources lined up who can help me with activity.  The first is a professional kitchen designer who I got through a friend.  References through the work that people have previously done is the best way to go.  Besides the professional kitchen designer I have a friend who is an excellent interior designer to guide me through the selection of what materials to use, the style of the rooms, etc.  My goal, providing it aligns with the schedules of the kitchen designer and my friend is to have the design complete by March 15th.

3 - Buy a substantial new portion of my wardrobe by April 1, 2012.  I tend to go through different styles of clothing at versus times.  For the last 2 years I really haven't had much of a style as I have gotten lazy and have been in jeans and short mode.  It is time for that to change.  I want to create a new image for myself and dress in a much nicer way.  This will help propel me out of my rut by just doing things differently like wearing a new style of clothes.  I won't be getting rid of all my jeans, shorts and t-shirts by far.  But what I will be doing is adding a new element of stylish clothes to my day-to-day rotation of stuff that I wear.  In general I will be a better dressed person and I will do a lot more to wear nicer clothes on more occasions.  Furthermore I will have the clothes tailored to my specific fit.  My build isn't exactly large and sometimes it is hard to find clothes that fit perfectly.  The sleeves are too long or the shirt is too wide - so whatever I buy is going to fit and fit really well.  Dressing nicely is a way to make yourself feel better about who you are and to draw positive attention to yourself.

4 - Select a contractor and get the kitchen and family room remodeled.  Once the plans are all drawn up it is just a matter of getting the work done.  Though I won't have the plans finished until mid-March, efforts will begin almost immediately to select a general contractor to get the work done.  I have a couple in mind and I intend to use the Colorado Home and Garden Show - which is held sometime in February to find some more companies I can look into.  All things remaining equal I would like for the remodeling to kick off by April 15th.  I am not going to put a target end date out there, because it really depends upon the contractor who is selected, the lead time for cabinets and the lead time for granite and other relevant materials used in the construction and decorating.

(These 3 pictures are pages out of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine about kitchen restoration.  I don't have any plan for the kitchen yet, but the kitchen shown in this article is absolutely gorgeous if you ask me.  This is the an example of the vision that I would like to create for the kitchen once it is remodeled.)

5. Rejuvenate the landscaping the whole way around the house.  This will be a project that I mostly do on my own.  I will use some contractors for specific activities like the removal of 2 large dead trees in the back yard.  Much of the rest of the work would be stuff that Zack and I could do.  It would be a fun experience for him as it would teach him a lot.  This would be a lot term project that would take me through the end of July to complete.

6. Diversify my assets and pay off all temporary debt by March 31.  Despite the fact that I have very good insurance, I have unfortunately gone through a large number of medical procedures in the last year.  As a result there has been a fair amount of temporary debt that I have built up.  Financially there is no problem to pay this debt but at times I have managed to get very favorable interest rates on keeping some of it around.  For example my one credit card offers 0% financing for all debt that you transfer to that card.  This definitely makes things worth while to keep some debt around.  Regardless as I finish what I hope is my last round of surgery I am going to pay all of this temporary debt off.  Additionally, because of negative market conditions I have kept some of my retirement funds invested in a number of European mutual funds.  Now that the market has recovered somewhat it is time for me to get my money out of Europe before it totally implodes and come up with a much more streamlined, diversified and balanced portfolio.  I am considering seeking professional advice to try and increase the overall return on my investments that I am getting.  This will allow me to do a number of specific things like pay for the kitchen and family room remodel, take action on the next action item I discuss below and then undertake what I will consider a "black box" spending program.  (The black box is a special program that I am considering that could pay serious dividends but it is not something I am talking about yet.  If that "black box" spending program comes to fruition I will write some lengthy blog posts about the entire program.  Until then....  it's a black box - LOL!)

7 - Though this next activity is not specifically needed because of any physical defect or mechanical issue, it is needed for my own sense of self.  By March 15th I want to have traded in my 2001 Honda Civic and purchased a new car.  I have a pretty good idea what I am going to get, but I am still uncertain so I don't feel like putting it out there and then having to pull it back.  This is something that is distinctly for me and that I have thought about for a while.  Yes - there might be a little bit of a flash to this car and no it is not a mid-life sports car for me.  I absolutely hate sports cars.  That is definitely not who I am.  More on this one later as when I purchase I will certainly be posting pictures

So that is the plan for the next six or so months to pull me out of my rut.  A big item that I didn't add to this list but is something I will really be thinking of is whether or not Zack and I will be staying in this house or buying something that is smaller.  I still don't really know where I am going to go with this decision.  But many of the steps that I am taking by seeking to minimize things and redoing my kitchen and family room are all aimed at allowing us to move forward to a new home if that is what I decide to do.  The unfortunate thing I face for the next year is that I want to remain in a place where Zack will be able to go to West Middle School.  So this does limit the places that I could purchase and perhaps keeps us in this house until Zack is completed with middle school.

We have all found ourselves in ruts at one time or another in our lives.  There are many people who have made significantly larger changes to get out of their ruts.  I remember reading a story in the newspaper several years ago about a guy from the UK who sold all of his possession and then took every cent of money he had and went to Las Vegas.  There he bet absolutely everything he had on one spin of the roulette wheel.  He put all of his money on black with a straight 2 to 1 bet.  Fortunately for him he won.  When asked why he did it, his answer was "I needed to make a change to my life".  I am never going to get that crazy in terms of making changes to get out of this rut, but I am going to do things that shakes stuff up and creates a new reality for Zack and me.

Thanks to everyone who sent me positive messages after my meltdown post of Wednesday night.  Your thoughts are definitely appreciated.  Stuff like that comes up every once and a while and I from what so many others who have lost a spouse or someone very significant in their lives it is normal.

I am down to about 60 hours til surgery.  Dear god, I can't wait.  The pain and absolute stiffness in my back, hips and leg seems to be getting worse.  I will be counting down the hours until Monday morning and when I head into surgery.

We have absolutely NOTHING planned for the weekend except one psychologist appointment for Zack.  I intend to keep it that way and just use the weekend to stay off my feet and try and keep the pain at bay. 

Well - I hope you all have a great weekend.  It will be very low-key for us but that is totally and completely OK in my book.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


There are days in which you feel nothing of the loss you have experienced.  Life continues and all is good.  Then there are other days in which the stupidest of things set you off and all the loss you have experienced comes rushing back into your head.  As the tears pour from your eyes and the hurt rips your heart apart there is nothing you can do to stop the pain.

This evening all the pain and loss was brought up in my head by a TV show of all things.  I was watching an episode of the show "Criminal Minds" and at the end, one of the main characters is shown talking with his son.  I had never realized it before but this character's wife had died.  In the episode the character is shown talking to his son and they were talking about his late wife and his child's mom.  I don't know why but it brought up every single solitary emotion I have experienced about Patty's death.  There was no way to stop the emotional tsunami that hit me in that moment.  All I could do was try and get my breath as my emotions exploded in a torrent of tears.  Why? Why? Why?  Why did she have to die?  Why wasn't it someone who didn't care about their spouse?  Why did it have to be Patty that died?  What a fucking horrible thing!  Did I do enough to help her?  Did I do enough to save her and prevent her from dying?  Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

I can scream and shout as much as I like as I live in a house that is practically deserted.  It's just me, Zack and the dogs.  The dogs don't care what kind of sound I make and Zack is sound asleep.  So I can shout, scream, curse and yell all I want and no one is going to hear me.  NO ONE.  You get it Jerry - no one is going to hear.  No one is going to care!  All of that went away when Patty breathed her last - no one gives a flying fuck so you can rant and rave all you want at life's misfortunes and it isn't going to make a whit of difference.

So what do I do?  I can't call anyone - it is too late to talk to the few people that will care.  I can't sleep because I am now like a cat on a hot tin roof.  So I decide to drink.  But there isn't enough alcohol in the entire house that is going to make me forget what I am feeling.  So I turn to my f'ing blog.  Yep - put it all out there where a bunch of strangers for the most part can read about it and say to themselves - "Dear god, I am glad I am not that messed up individual".  Oh well - I am sure that's what many will say - but at least I get it out of my system for now.  Well - maybe I get it out of my system as I have been crying so hard that the snot is just running down my face and on to the key board.

(Was looking through old pictures last weekend and I found this picture of Patty.  She was so beautiful!)

As a friend of mine who lost her husband told me (yeah - Brenda that's you if you read this thing) you will never 100% get over it.  You'll think you are OK and then it will come raging back on you one day when you least expect it over the stupidest thing.  That's the truth!!

Now that I have written this maybe I will sleep - probably not as I think I need to finish my bottle of wine first.  Where ever you are Patty Rae, please look out for me as today is one of those days in which I just don't think that I can do it.  To this day I am not sure why you had to die.  I would have rather traded places with you 100 times over and died on that July day of 2008 then be here trying to raise Zack on my own.  It is the hardest thing I have ever done and I am failing miserably!  You should have never died - it should have been me as Zack would be doing so much better.  If it had been me who died, it would have been just like I was out of town on a long business trip.  He was used to that.  He wasn't used to you being gone.

(A picture I took of Zack a month after Patty died.  We were in downtown Denver waiting to catch the light rail home.  I think this picture captures a lot of the sense of loss he has felt since Patty got sick.)

And besides messing up Zack what have I done since you died Rae?  Not anything good that is for sure.  I fell in love with some one who doesn't love me anymore and it has made my heartbreak even worse. 

(Why didn't it ever work out between us Shell? I wanted to give you the world!  How silly am I as I still do?)

There is no peace tonight for me.  But for those who read this I hope you can find the peace that eludes me.

Good night.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six Days til Surgery!

Mornings around our house follow a pretty standard routine.  The alarms goes off and I allow myself the luxury of hitting snooze twice before I get up.  After that we are off to the races.  I get Zack up and free the puppies from his room.  Zack runs downstairs and feeds the pups while I follow him and get his breakfast ready.  As soon as his breakfast is ready it is on the table along with his medications that he takes every morning.  When he is eating I let the dogs outside and then select some clothes for him to wear.  Though he is in seventh grade I do select his clothes because if I didn't he would end up wearing stuff that goes together like oil and water.  After that it is all him as he gets dressed, brushes his teeth, puts his contacts in his eyes, checks his backpack to ensure he has everything, gets on a jacket and heads out the door.  Sometimes he will even make a semi-decent attempt to comb his hair.  But that doesn't happy too often because he is a boy and just doesn't seem to care about that.

Once he is out the door things slow down dramatically.  I'll let the dogs in the house and then sit down in front of my laptop and start the daily routine of checking my e-mail and calendar and preparing for whatever meetings I have that day.  Normally this work is done while I am sitting at the kitchen table or at the desk in my office.  Then there are mornings like today when I allow myself to indulge in a more relaxing routine.  Instead of working from the kitchen or my office I will take my laptop and head upstairs.  Then I will burrow down underneath the covers and spend the next hour or two working from my bed.  I usually do this when I am feeling cold and I want to get warmed up.  This morning was one of those mornings in which I was freezing so I went upstairs and crawled underneath my covers.  I have a lap desk so I prop my pillows up against the headboard of the bed and use the lap desk for my computer. Our house is typically much cooler these days than in years past.  Prior to Nancy's move to Cranbrook I had to keep the temperature a good 3 - 4 warmer than I do now.  If I didn't she would be freezing all the time.

About 5 minutes after I had settled into a good working position on my bed, I heard the jingle of the tags on Finnegan's collar as he walked up the steps.  He came into my room and stood by the side of the bed looking at me with pleading eyes.  I gave him the OK and he jumped on the bed as quickly as you can say lickety split.  Then he did what I love so much, he came up to me and put his head on my lap while he contorted his body into an unbelievable shape.  I petted him until he curled up in a ball at my side.  It was like shear heaven sitting there working with my little pup curled up beside me.  After just a minute he was sound asleep and I could hear his breath reach this steady quiet cadence.  It was so wonderful it almost lulled me to sleep, but that couldn't happen as I had a ton of work to do.  Regardless of my work, it was one of those small little pleasures of life that makes so much worthwhile!

As of today there are 6 days remaining until my surgery.  Never in my life have so looked forward to having surgery.  Due to the fact that surgery is only 6 days away I can no longer take Advil as it acts as a blood thinner.  My supply of oxycodone is almost at an end so I have been rationing them.  The end result is that the pain levels have built up to the point that it is difficult to walk.  So I am tending to not do a whole lot physically right now.  Despite the fact that there are some risks with this surgery, I just can't wait.  When it is over and I am awake, you can be darn well sure I am going to post some joyous happy blog entry! 

On the other hand I am doing a lot mentally.  Since my stress fracture occurred back in March of 2011 I have really been restricted in what I can do physically.  The things that I want to do physically have been piling up ever since.  My mind has been in constant motion planning these things and thinking hard and long about all the steps I am going to take to "transform" our lives once I have recovered from the surgery.  I expect that I am going to be one very busy person once I have healed since I have been laid up for so long.

Massive and radical change is needed to put my life back on a track that I feel good about.  Because of the injuries and because of all the other changes that have occurred, I want to do something very differently than I am doing them now.  I feel like I am in the biggest rut I have ever been in during my life.  I want to break out of that rut and live differently.  It's very hard to articulate all that I am thinking along these lines, but big change is needed for me! 

One of the reasons why I talk about change and doing things so differently is because I have been laid up for so long.  In the olden days this blog was more about the hikes and trips that Zack and I would take then anything else.  Since my injury it has been impossible to write about these things because I am not doing them.  Most of my activity has been limited to doing my "company" work, writing and sitting around.  Just the thought of the freedom from the pain and physical limitations makes me giddy with joy.  My doctor told me within several days of the surgery I can doing pretty much anything I want with the exception of lifting heavy weight.  Regardless of the weather, I will be out walking throughout the neighborhood by late next week.  I cannot tell you how good that is going to feel! 

I got somewhat of a please surprise yesterday.  The surprise occurred in my yearly review with my manager.  I didn't know what to expect from this year's review as this was the first year I had worked for her.  She has been an effective manager and has done some things for me that have gone over and above.  This past year was a challenging year from an overall work perspective and so I did not expect a stellar "grade" coming out of my review.  I was pleasantly surprised by the "grade" that I got.  So it was a great discussion with my boss.  My company distributes bonuses in March so hopefully this is going to translate into a good bonus.

Time for me to go for the evening.  Finnegan has brought me one of his "foosas" to play Finnegan's Foosa Fetch with him.  Zack and I call any of Finnegan's stuffed animal toys a "foosa".  A toy I got him awhile ago looked like an actual foosa.  Both Zack and I thought the name was cute so it stuck for all his stuffed toys.  Then I thought of the phrase "Finnegan's Foosa Fetch".  So whenever I now say that, Finn runs and gets one of his toys.  He is really good about playing fetch, as he goes after everything I throw for him and then he actually drops it for me.  He is the first dog who I have ever had that will drop whatever you are playing fetch with.  Devon, Bailey and Lex just refused to drop their toys.  Nowadays Lex is too "snobby" to even consider playing fetch! 

(This is a picture of a real live foosa.  They only live on Madagascar - yeah just like in the movie.  I tend to think a real foosa would use Finn as a fetch toy as opposed to the other way around.  Just look at the claws on him!)

Have a great rest of the week folks!  As I indicated earlier I am not doing a whole lot these days so I am not even sure if I will have anything interesting to blog about.  Yikes - that is saying something for me the person who can't normally shut up.

Thank you all and until later - peace! ~ J.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Social Media, The World and the Drawbacks of Single Life

There is a lot to write about today.  My brain is full to the exploding point of numerous things that I want to write about.  And thankfully it is a Sunday and so I can make use of the day as I see fit.  It is one of the very last remaining football Sunday's of the 2011/2012 football season, so I do anticipate that I will spend a good part of the day on the couch watching the Division Title games.  I'll put the fireplace on and the family room will become nice, warm and comfy.  Then I'll tune in the football games and curl up with my laptop on my lap.  When the games get boring I will just revert to doing some writing on today's blog.  It will keep me busy and happy.  The only one who will not be exactly happy will be Zack because he will be outlawed from playing any video games today.  Sorry Zack - but when it comes time for football - you lose all privileges to the TV!

I wanted to start today's blog entry with some thoughts about a conversation I had on Friday evening.  The conversation was with one of my oldest friends, someone who I have known for 25 years and the person who introduced me to Patty.  She lives on the east coast so we never see each other but we do talk every week or so.  For whatever reason we got on to the subject of social media (i.e. Facebook and it's ilk) and we must have spent about 30 minutes talking about the advantages and disadvantages of it.

The focal point of our conversation really came down to how much and what you should or should not share via social media.  My friend has the opinion that she doesn't want to share anything via social media as opposed to me who likes to put my life out on social media.  My friend doesn't even have a Facebook, Google Plus or Twitter Account so she really doesn't know what it all involves.  I countered her points about not sharing on social media with the question of "what is the harm".  It is not like I put my social security number out there.  Though I have my hometown out there it is not the town that I was born in so a hacker can't find my social security number that way.

To use social media properly I really do think that you need to apply a rule to what you post by asking yourself "is this something that I would discuss around the office"?  Or is this something that you would only discuss with your closest friends in the utmost of secrecy?  If it is the latter - it doesn't belong on social media! 

There is also a line of thought that is held by many people concerning social media that by posting stuff you are just calling attention to yourself.  I can't really dispute that line of thought.  Social media is exactly that - social.  By posting stuff I do call attention to myself.  If I just exist on a social media network and lurk and watch what other people are doing, I have no really interaction with others.  But if I post stuff then I do spark interaction and conversation with others.  The way I would compare it is being a member of a social media network is like showing up at a meeting of a professional organization to which you belong.  You can go to that meeting and sit there and listen to all the speakers and then after the speakers are done you can remain sitting and listen to all the conversation that occurs at the happy hour that follows.  Yes - you have participated in one way by being there.  But won't your participation be much greater if you got up and started to speak to people and introduced yourself to people you didn't know.  Doing those actions helps to draw attention to yourself from others.  Is calling attention to yourself in that way self-centered?  I personally don't think so.  I think posting stuff on social media is the exact same as involving yourself in those conversations at the professional organization you belong to.

There are a couple of points in recollecting this conversation.  First - I think it is beneficial to post things on social media, but - and here is the key point - you need to be conscious of what you post.  For example, I have a nephew who is applying to colleges this year.  He has posted pictures that put him in a dubiously light - imagine with certain kinds of beverages in his hand that perhaps a 17 year old shouldn't yet be drinking. Those are the kinds of mistakes you need to avoid because perhaps the college you want to go to can see those pictures because you messed up the privacy settings.  This is important for the subject I am going to cover at the end of today's entry.  I could go really raw and raunchy with that subject, but I won't because for all I know my boss actually reads this blog and I have my yearly performance review this coming week!  So Jerry's golden rule - put as much out there as you can but keep it clean and remember anyone can be reading this.

Second - though social media does force you to call attention to yourself there are good things that can come of it.  For example, over the last several months I have made a number of posts on Facebook about how messed up my back has been.  I got a lot of sympathy from people saying "I hope you feel better", etc.  But the other thing that came out of it was I got several e-mails from friends who at one time had the same back condition.  They provided me with lots of good advice as to what treatments to seek and when to just cut bait and go with the surgery.  It was very helpful.  Without Facebook I won't have those connections and I would not have gotten the great advice that I got.  On top of all that, when it's your birthday and you get dozens of birthday greetings - it really makes you feel good!  Last weekend when it was my birthday it sure made me smile to have friends from long ago sending me birthday wishes.  It was really nice and made me feel special!

Third - Guess what?  Almost 1/7 of the world's population has Facebook accounts.  Yes that is right Facebook is approaching 1 billion members and is estimated to exceed 1 billion sometime this summer or autumn.  If you want to find old friends, potentially make new friends, explore the cultures of other parts of the world, find new hobbies, join new groups - Facebook is really the place to be.  If you are a business you really must be on Facebook because all of your customers are there.  If you have a Facebook page and can draw your customers there, it is essentially free advertising.  What is better than that!

Whew!  That is a lot about social media and Facebook!!  But moving onward....

Do you have any idea of how many countries there are in the world?  It is a tough number to keep track of!  Depending upon where you live and your political agenda the number you count may vary slightly from someone else's number.  Ultimately if you try being non-biased and look at it from a neutral standpoint, the best number seems to be around 196 countries - this is the number maintained by the United Nations. The reason your outlook and where you are from influences this number is because some "countries" are not universally recognized as countries by everyone.  Some examples of this are Taiwan, the Palestinian Territories, the Russian breakaway territory of Chechnya and Kosovo.  Furthermore new countries are frequently coming into being.  The newest country in the world, South Sudan only came into being on July 9, 2011.  Over the next decade there are potentially new countries that might come into being like Kosovo, Scotland (if they split from the UK), Guadalcanal (if they win their civil war against the Solomon Islands) etc, as the list goes on and on.

(This map is an excellent example of new countries coming to be.  The area that was once the former Yugoslavia became 6 separate countries and territories after the civil war that started in 1991.  These countries are Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.  The final status of Kosovo has yet to be determined as it is still under the protection of the United Nations.)

The reason I am talking about that number of countries in the world is since last Saturday when I started keeping track, people from 43 different countries have read this blog.  This reminds me of when I was a kid and I would sit around listening to my shortwave radio.  I would try and listen to radio stations from as many different countries as possible.  Back then you could write to the radio stations and tell them you heard them and they would send you a "QSL" card acknowledging that you heard them.  Of course I am not going to get anything like that from my readers from around the world, but I think it is pretty wild that people from that many countries have read the blog.  Here's the list of the countries from which people have read the blog: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico (technically part of the US!), Russia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.  I know this doesn't mean anything to anyone but me, but I think it is cool so I just had to write about it!

On to the last subject of the day....  Yeah the most interesting subject of the day - "The Drawbacks of Single Life".  Why I decide to write about this subject is because I was thinking of this while I was lying in bed this morning after I woke up.  As I lay there I just thought of how different my life is as a single person from when I was married or I had a long term girlfriend.  And to be honest it sucks!

I have learned to live as a single person because I don't have a choice.  Well - I guess I do have a choice, as there are a lot of different things I could do.  But the fact is, I don't want to a lot of those things.  The thing that I miss the most being single is just the overall intimacy that I used to have with my partners.  That sense of intimacy and closeness is now gone.  There are of course different types of that intimacy.  There is the mental closeness that you feel when you have a partner and you know that you have a best friend to whom you can tell anything - you can make yourself feel utterly vulnerable in front of them and they will accept you and love you.

Then of course there is the physical intimacy - sex.  I don't think I really have to describe what it is to live without that.  As an adult who has spent the vast majority of your life either married or in long term relationships you take sex for granted and consider it part of your day-to-day life.  When that is gone it really sucks!!

There are so many other drawbacks it is silly.  I think I could create a list that is pages long but instead of doing that I will just highlight a couple other drawbacks of being single or things that at least I miss!  Whenever I host a get together of family or friends at my house I notice how hard it is to do when I am single.  I figured it out at Christmas and the reason it is so hard to do as a single person is the fact that you have to do all the work.  When you have a partner you split the work between the two of you.  It is not all in your hands to make all the food, set the table, open the wine, get everyone drinks, etc, etc, etc.  It was always so much easier to host a party or a dinner when I had a partner because you didn't have to do it all.

Over the last 2 months I have really experienced this next drawback because I have had 2 medical procedures and I have had to go to the Emergency Room.  When you get sick you have no one to rely upon who is right there besides you to help.  Yes - in all the situations where I needed help I was able to get it.  I have my brother, sister-in-law, friends and many neighbors to rely upon.  But it isn't like all you need to do is just tell your partner - "Hey I am sick take me to the ER".  I don't know I always feel weird having to call upon some one else - family, friends etc.

So there are many drawbacks to being single in my mind.  When you talk to other single friends about it they either get what I am saying or they don't.  If they have been single for a very long time to them these drawbacks don't necessarily seem like drawbacks.  Many people consider some of these "drawbacks" to be advantages.  On the other hand people who are recently single seem to get it and understand.  Many times you will get a lot of feedback that you don't need a partner.  Many of my single guy friends will ask me "why do you need to be in a relationship to have sex with some woman".  Ouch is all I can say to that one.  I don't know I am just one of those people who doesn't do well with emotionless sex.  For me the true satisfaction and enjoyment of sex comes from being able to know your partner and understand their desires and needs.  When you do a one-night stand with some one that just doesn't exist.  When all is said and done, it just feels weird and leaves you feeling really pathetic.  At least that is the way I feel.  I know for some people it is a big turn on and they just put another notch in the head board of their bed.

(Some famous artwork showing two lovers sharing a kiss.  I don't know the artist for the painting on the top but the lower painting is by Gustav Klimt.  This painting is very famous and very expressive if you ask me!)

For me the even bigger thing is the lack of mental and emotional intimacy.  Being single I really don't have anyone who I can just blab to.  I tend to like to talk a lot.  I talk about everything and anything.  Whatever comes to my mind I tend to spout out of my mouth.  Sure I can do that to some extent with friends - but it just isn't the same.  There isn't that sense of intimacy that you wake up and say good morning to the same person to whom you said good night.  When you have a partner they come to understand what you are going to blab about.  Perhaps they are blabbers too.  There is nothing better than that connectedness that occurs when you are with someone for a long time.  It is special, it is unbeatable and being without after a while sucks.

There are a lot of drawbacks to being single.  I suppose I could date a lot and just find someone to be with as I am a pretty easy to get along with person.  But that isn't what I want.  I know what I want but it may never happen.  I will keep the faith but I will continue to adapt.  I am not going to compromise on key principals, feelings and beliefs.  I will be constant and I'll get through being single and someday I will be together with the person I love.  It's worth the wait!

What do you all think of this.  I know there are a lot of other single people out there - what do you think about what I am saying?  Am I full of crap or does it have some validity?  Seriously let me know - whether you are single or involved in a relationship leave a comment and tell me what you think.  You don't have to leave your name you can leave the comment anonymously.  I'd just like to hear what other people think about all that I have spewed today.

Whew - I have covered a lot of ground with this blog entry today.  I can tell I have been typing for a while as I am sitting on my couch with the laptop on my lap and my legs are starting to fry as the laptop has been sitting on me for so long.

I really enjoyed writing this post as it covered a lot of ground and discussed stuff that was on my mind.  I might re-visit some of these subjects again as I think they are interesting.  I hope you all enjoyed what I have written and that it has provoked some of your own thoughts.

As for our day - there isn't too much to be said.  I went to Cranbrook and picked Nancy up so that she could come and watch the football games with me and also hang out with Zack.  The games were pretty good - though I didn't see the end of the NFC game.  Did some grocery shopping, made a nice meal for Zack and Nancy and then I took Nancy home to Cranbrook.  So it wasn't anything out of the ordinary but nonetheless it was a good day.

Have a great week ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Oh and by the way - Happy Birthday T!  Hope you had a great day!!

A Quick Bounce back from Anxiety for Zack

Despite today being a Saturday, Zack had an appointment with one of his psychologists today.  His one psychologist - Dr. Stein is so busy that it is difficult to get an appointment with him regardless of the day.  As a result most of our appointments with him occur on Saturdays.  What was astounding about this appointment is what came out of Zack's mouth and head.  Today Zack opened up in a way that he hasn't opened up in 4.5 years of therapy.  He communicated to Dr. Stein one of the deepest level fears that he has that has driven his anxiety complex for much of the last 5 years. 

I don't want to go into the specifics of what Zack said because it is something that is relatively personal to Zack.  Ultimately digging through all the meanings of what he said, his biggest fear has to do with death and how Patty's death came about.  I really thought I knew everything there was to know about Zack and his anxiety complexes but this one really took me by surprise.  Even more surprising was the fact that he was willing to put this topic on the table only 2 weeks after he suffered a major anxiety meltdown.

What this tells me is that the new medication Zack is taking - Abilify is doing some significant good for Zack.  The amount he has been fear mongering has diminished substantially.  He is now able to go to school and function much better than before.  Additionally, this past Wednesday he was able to stay at home by himself for 4 hours while I went and did my volunteer work.  This evening I was able to go out for 2 hours and meet with several friends for a happy hour birthday celebration.  So he is really making some progress with his recovery from his anxiety meltdown.  All I can say is I am very proud of him for the strides he is making and the ownership he wants to take to rid himself of his anxiety.  His brain chemistry seems to be on the upswing and his eyes are again bright!

After his appointment we headed downtown as I had a bunch of Nugget tickets that I needed to pickup at the Pepsi Center Box office.  We visited with Nancy at Cranbrook for a while and then we headed home.  The rest of my day was spent working on the giant purge.  I have been working at organizing things, cleaning things up and purging lots and lots of things.  Today I got rid of a ton of stuff and I have a huge pile of things I want to send to Goodwill.

This evening I headed out to the Rio Grande restaurant in Lone Tree to meet up with a group of friends.  Since the end of things with Shelly I have been trying very hard to build a social circle that includes a lot of different people.  As such I have reached out to many old friends from my younger years.  Tonight was a chance to catch up with several old friends as we got together for some drinks and dinner for a birthday celebration.  It wasn't anything big, but it was nice to reconnect with friends from long ago.  I don't know when I will have the chance to do this again, but at least it was good to re-connect with people if only briefly.  And I will say it takes a lot of work to build a strong social circle.  I know being single you really need to have this strong social circle so I will keep up the effort to reconnect with old friends and make new friends.  Because Zack was home alone I only stayed out for 2 hours but he did very well.  He called me two times to ask me questions but otherwise he did fine.

The rest of this evening has been spent playing World of Tanks and watching TV - not exactly a productive evening. Even though I had gone out I was home by 9:00PM and Zack got to bed at 9:15PM.  Since he has been going through his anxiety meltdown I have been trying to ensure he gets a lot more sleep.  The funny thing is that he is not fighting me about it.  Normally in days past he would be so angry if he had to go to bed before 10:00PM on a weekend night.  Now he willingly goes to bed at 9:15PM - utterly amazing!

Tomorrow will be another working day here around the house.  Though my back is killing me I am trying to get as much stuff done as is humanly possible.  I have goals that I want to meet and purging stuff is a key part of those goals.  I don't know exactly why but I do feel very driven to accomplish stuff.  Well - I know why but I talk about the situation so much that some days I just need to let it rest.  I don't know if doing all this work is going to get me closer to the goal I have, but in my heart I have hope it will.

Well it is late as I have spent too much time this evening playing my World of Tanks game so I am going to wrap it up for now.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday Night with Frank

It is kind of late on a Friday night.  I have been up late watching shows on TV.  Well I got Zack to bed at 9:45PM and then I spent a bunch of time playing my video game "The World of Tanks".  The best players seem to come out on Friday night so there was some intense competition tonight.  After that I watch the Channel 9 10:00PM news and the Discovery Channel show Gold Rush on DVR.  It is so nice to watch these shows on DVR as you can watch them in literal 2/3 of the time.

Then it was time to come up to bed since it was approaching 1:00AM.  I have a sleeping buddy for tonight as Lex wanted to sleep with me not Zack.  So when I got up to bed I was still fooling around with my laptop and I decided to enter another quick post for tonight.  The post for tonight are all about Frank Sinatra songs.  There are a few of my "peeps" (I think that word is so funny I don't know I have ever used it before) - actually one "peep" in particular who might enjoy these songs, so I decided to do a quick post with some Frank Sinatra songs embedded.  Enjoy!!!

And to that one particular peep who really enjoys Ol Blue Eyes - I hope it brings a smile to your face. It brought a smile to my face putting this out there for you.  Anyway - enjoy - as you are thought about big time!

Come Fly with Me

Fly me to the Moon

I've Got You Under My Skin

The Way You Look Tonight

New York, New York

Thanks and enjoy!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fridays and Reality TV

Thanks for all the feedback that you all gave me concerning my video blog!  It was something that was fun to do but the end result is that A Dad And His Boy blog is going to remain a written blog.  There might be the occasion or two when a video blog entry seems appropriate but the written word just seems more elegant and appropriate in this case.  Furthermore one of the big outcomes of writing the blog is that I get a chance to write and write a lot.  One of my future dreams is to get good enough at writing that I can get something published.  Keeping up the practice of writing just about everyday will help me realize that dream.

I do think I am going to do a lot more with video however.  It won't necessarily end up here on the blog except for the interesting pieces.  When my back is finally fixed and I resume my hiking I will be taking my GoPro video camera with me.  My goal will be to edit that footage and put it into a nicely viewable format.  I did a bunch of that kind of work back in 2008 and 2009 when I used photos taken while hiking to create some really nice video montages.  I will be getting back to doing that.

In some ways I don't have a lot to say today, in other ways I do.  It's kind of an interesting dilemma as there are things that I would like to say but I just don't feel like taking the time to work through the right way to say them.  Part of my issue I guess is that I am really getting frustrated with my situation - not being able to do much of anything.  The overall pain level in my back has increased recently and the number of available pain pills I have continues to go down.  So my ability to take the number of pills I need does not match the number of pills I have!  I just need to be able to hold on for 10 more days!  I had all my pre-op work done today.  They took a bunch of blood and did and EKG.  It wasn't anything too amazing!

Besides the fact that it is a Friday evening one of the things I really look forward to on Fridays (or usually Saturday's until I watch it) is the TV show Gold Rush.  I religiously DVR this show and then either watch it very late on Friday night or sometime on Saturday.  It is one of the reality shows on the Discovery Channel.  The show follows the fortunes of 6 out of work guys from Oregon who head north to Alaska and then the Canadian Klondike to work gold claims.  The first season they worked an existing claim called Porcupine Creek which is in Alaska.  This season, the second they had to move further north into the Klondike because the first claim was bought out from underneath them as they were leasing it.  (They had to give the owner 20% of their take.)

So far their fortunes haven't been very good.  In the first season they invested something like $200,000 and only found 9 ounces of gold - worth about $20,000.  This season they are doing better but they still haven't hit the big pay streak for which they were looking.  On last week's show they mined and ran over 1000 yards (cubic yards) of dirty through their "wash plant" and they only found 5 ounces of gold.  That is a huge amount of work to do for 5 ounces of work.  Personally, I don't know how these guys survive other than the fact that they are being filmed for a reality TV show.  The show gets very good ratings so I am sure these guys must make a darn good bit of money off the TV rights in addition to their mining income.

I think Gold Rush is a pretty good show but some of the reality shows that they have come up with are just insane.  I didn't watch this one but I saw it advertised, it was called "Lady Hoggers" and it was about a company made up of women down in Texas that went out and hunted down wild hogs.  Umm...  that just doesn't sound like quality TV to me.  Even some of the more popular reality shows like Pawn Stars just seem so staged it is ridiculous.  I can't get into those shows at all.  At least Gold Rush doesn't seem to be as staged but I am sure it probably is.  What will they come up with for new reality shows next?

On a totally different note for this evening, I have to say that Finnegan is the most fun puppy ever!  This evening my back has been hurting a lot so I have been lying on the big couch in our family room playing with him.  He has this dumbbell like squeaky toy that he loves.  He will chase it any where in the house.  I throw it into the kitchen for him and he takes off running to get it.  As soon as he brings it back to me, he drops it right on my lap.  I then torment him with it by squeaking it in his face - it's really not a tormenting him as he loves the game - he tries to steal the toy from my hand.  If he gets a good grip on it we will have a tug of war for it.  When he is trying to bite at it I will hit it up against the side of his muzzle.  It makes a ton of noise and it gets him all excited.  I then throw it for him again and we will do the same thing.  I am not sure who has whom trained - do I have him trained to fetch it or does he have me trained to throw it for him?  Perhaps the pups are smarter than we think!

On last note about Finn.  He has continued to get bigger.  He is now almost as tall as Lex.  He is no where near as broad as Lex as he hasn't even began to fill out.  But he is still so darn cute.  I always call him our baby puppy, because he still seems so much like that little puppy that emerged from his kennel on Christmas Eve 2010!  We love this little dog!  Not that we don't love Lex because we definitely do, but Lex has his own unique personality and he is quite happy to spend his days snoozing on the dog bed in front of the fireplace or on my bed.  His muzzle is pretty much solid gray so he deserves his time to rest, sleep and relax.  Regardless Lex we still love you too!

Not a whole lot else to say for the day.  We don't have anything going on tonight but tomorrow I have a birthday celebration to go to for a friend of mine so that should make the evening a little more lively.  A bunch of us are getting together for drinks and dinner - so it should be good.

I also think that Zack and I are going to go out and look for a new car this weekend.  We currently have 2 cars that are both over 10 years old.  We have "The Beast" which is our 1998 Ford Explorer.  Despite it's age, this car is in very good shape except for the fact that Lex has ripped the carpet off the back cargo area.  The Explorer currently has 130,000 miles on it but it's engine is in great shape. This car seems to be a keeper as I believe I can get another 120,000 - 150,000 miles out of it.  Our other car is a 2001 Honda Civic.  It only has 92,000 miles on it, but I just haven't treated it well.  The body is a bit messed up and the inside took a beating from when Zack was a little kid.  I can't even begin to count the number of times he either puked in it or spilled the entire contents of a sippy cup in it.  Though it is a younger car and has fewer miles it just seems like it is much older than the Explorer.  I am giving serious thought to trading it in for whatever it is worth and getting another small sedan-like car.  It will only be another 3 years or so until Zack is driving and I would like to have a car that has the most modern safety gadgets in it and now just seems like a good time to do this.  Not that I am all about buying new things as I am not, but to be honest with the overall mood that I am in, a new car might just perk me up a bit.  I refinanced the house back in November so each month I am now saving enough money that I could take on a car payment without adding any financial stress to my life.

Oh my...  I wish, I wish....  I wish I had my best friend at my side.  Kind of funny as I was thinking about the evening back in January of 2010 when the two of us came close to burning my friends apartment down.  We didn't even realize it until there was a pillow fully engulfed in flame.  Gees...  those were the best of times.  I miss them a lot.  I'll never have a best friend like that again - you only ever have one like that in your life.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Attempting something new tonight.. A VLOG format!

Today's blog entry is a VLOG.  Yes - a video blog.  Please, please, please tell me what you think.  If you never want me to do this again, tell me!  I had fun doing it, but if my audience hates it, I am not going to do it!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Photographic Study of Krakow Poland

When this blog started, I always had a lot to write about.  Back then Zack and I were getting out and having "adventures" almost every day of the weekend.  During the week days when we weren't getting out for an adventure I would be writing about our plans for the next adventures we would have.

With my injured back our ability to have adventures is practically nil.  Today with the Martin Luther King holiday we didn't do much.  I had a number of things to do for work and while I did those Zack worked on homework, read a book, watched TV and played video games.  Late in the afternoon after I was done with my work I felt very weary as the pain medication I take to diminish the pain in my back tends to make me sleepy.  On top of that I don't sleep very well as the positions I naturally sleep in are some of the most painful ones for me.  I am typically awaken by pain several times throughout the night even if I take an Ambien.  The end result is that I am tired a lot and we don't have a lot of adventures for me to write about.

Instead of writing about any adventures today, I decided to post a series of pictures I took in Krakow, Poland in 2005.  I posted one of these pictures this weekend as my cover photo on Facebook and I got a lot of complements on it.  So I decided I would go through the entire series of photos I took back then and post the best.  The pictures were taken over a period of 3 months when I was working and traveling back and forth from the US to Southern France and Krakow.  In the end I spent 3 - 4 weeks in Poland which gave me the ability to do a fair amount of exploring throughout Krakow.  One of the more interesting aspects of my time in Krakow was it was shortly before and shortly after Pope John Paul II died.  During my first visit to Krakow he was extremely ill and there were quite a number of church services taking place in the main Cathedral to pray for his good health.  The numbers of people in the church at all hours of the day were pretty amazing.  Then during my second set of trips to Poland in April, it was shortly after the pope had died and the city was still in a state of mourning.  It was a fantastic experience to be immersed in the middle of the national state of mourning for Pope John Paul's death.

Anyway - without further adieu here is my photographic study of Poland from 2005.

(Winter scene in a park in the old city of Krakow.)

(Trams or trolleys are the way most people get around in Krakow)

(Typical street scene with cars and Trams)

(There is very little room on the streets in old city Krakow as the streets are very narrow)

(A courtyard in one of the many colleges that are in Krakow)

(Tower in the central square of the old city)

(The central market in the old city town square.  This is one of the large town squares in all of Europe.)

(St. Mary Cathedral which is the seat of the archbishop of Krakow.  Notice all the people outside - they were in line to get in for a mass that was being said for the health of Pope John Paul.)

(Florian Gate - which is part of the walls of the old city)

(Detail of the sculpture on the Florian Gate.)

(Fortifications that were part of the old city walls)

(Watch tower that is part of the old city walls.)

(Central market from another viewpoint)

(Small little church right next to St. Mary's Cathedral)

(Hallway inside the central market)

(Looking out one of the hallways from the central market out on to the old town square)

(Krakow's airport terminal.  Note the name Jana Pawla II - that is John Paul II in Polish after the pope.)

(My airplane back to the US on the tarmac)

(Trip in the spring - stayed in the suburbs this time.  Notice the nasty looking Soviet style apartment blocks)

(View of St. Marys from within the Central Market)

(Notice the nuns - there are priests and nuns everywhere in Krakow)

(Street performers in traditionally Polish garb)

(A nun looking out for someone's baby)

(Chapel within the Wavel castle which was the court of the princes who ruled Krakow in ancient times)

(Part of the Wavel castle)

(Living quarters of the royalty within the Wavel castle)

(Another view of the large courtyard in the royal living quarters)

(Main entrance to the church/chapel within the Wavel castle)

(View from the top of the Wavel Chapel tower)

 (Huge bell in the Wavel Chapel tower.)

(Another view from the top of the Wavel tower)

(Me hoping the bell won't fall on my head)

(Huge section of the Wavel Castle from near the walls)

(Pope John Paul's residence when he was the archbishop of Krakow before he was elevated to the papacy)

(A priest walking past John Paul's residence.  There literally are priest and nuns everywhere!)

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures as much I enjoyed taking them.  The first set with all the snow in the pictures wasn't that enjoyable to take as it was freezing cold outside - almost zero Fahrenheit and I had just returned from 3 weeks in India.  Needless to say I didn't have a lot of warm clothes with me and I froze my butt off!

Tomorrow Zack will be going back to school.  I am not sure if the Abilify is starting to work or what is going on but his anxiety levels have been significantly reduced.  He is still doing his silly, irrational OCD rituals, but on Friday he was doing them constantly, now he is doing them much less.  I believe the Abilify and the extremely high dose of Lexapro that he is taking have started to change his brain chemistry back to normal.  Now he can control the anxiety and hence I am pushing him harder to stop the OCD rituals and I am getting a much better response from him.

As for me and my life, there isn't too much going on.  I am sleeping a ton because my body is being exhausted by the pain I am in and because of the pain medication I am taking.  So my sleeping habits have changed drastically as I am now normally in bed by 10:30PM or 11:00PM and asleep very shortly there after.  Even when I go to sleep at that time I normally sleep in until my alarm goes off at 6:30AM when it is time for me to get Zack up.  On the weekends I will sleep in until between 8:30AM and 9:00AM.

One other note that I am really starting to notice.  I miss having Shelly to talk to and tell all my little mundane stories of life.  I tend to talk a lot.  One of my key social outlets is utterly gone and I really, really miss having that outlet and having that sense of closeness to tell her exactly all that is going through my head.  With some of the things that go through my mind I really can't tell them to too many people - as they will get intensely bored or they will think I am crazy.  So it something I really miss about the close relationship we had.  I have no one to listen to all my useless trivia and stupid facts that I can spout about almost anything.  :-(

I got all the paper work today for my pre-op blood work, x-rays and EKG's.  For whatever reason the whole back surgery thing has a lot of precautions around it that I haven't experienced before.  When I had my leg surgery none of this stuff was done.  I know that this surgery is seen as being more serious and risky and it is giving me a little pause to think.  Maybe I should say it is making me a little bit more fearful.  It has made me fearful enough to force me to write a will.  That is saying something for me!  Oh well - it has to be done and I will endure!

Well - that's it for the day.  Hope everyone's week is off to a great start!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Will

There are activities in life that you really just don't want to do.  These activities vary from person to person of course as we all have our likes and dislikes.  There are some tasks though that I think no one really wants to do.  Doing these tasks requires us to face up to our mortality.  The time has come for me to complete one of those tasks.  I really need to write a will.  This is something that I have put off for a very long time.  Once you become a parent you have the responsibility to ensure your child is taken of regardless of what happens to you.  Writing a will is part of ensuring that your child can be taken care if you were to die.

On January 30th I will be going through my 3rd surgery in 3 years that will require me to be anesthetized with general anesthetic.  I always think general anesthetic is risky to a small degree. The first surgery happened in March of 2009 when I required emergency surgery due to an abscessed tooth that lead to a massive infection in my neck.  I remember driving myself to the hospital for that surgery kicking myself because I didn't have my "affairs" in order.  I told myself then that I would get things taken care of and write a will.  Stupidly I did not fulfill my promise to myself and let things go.  This past October when I had surgery for my broken leg, I remember sitting there in the pre-op area cursing at myself because I still didn't have a will written.  I kept thinking "What if I don't wake up from the general anesthetic - what is going to happen to Zack".  Now that I have yet another surgery scheduled for 2 weeks from tomorrow I am going to ensure that I get a will written.

I tend to only think of writing a will when I am going through something that makes me consciously think about "what happens if...".  Situations like surgery, international trips for work (when I am going alone and Zack is staying home), getting caught on the side of a mountain during a major thunderstorm and other occasions where something scares the crap out of me all make think I need to write a will.  Besides writing a will I need to ensure I have documented where all my important financial accounts are and how to access them.  In this day and age when you do so many of your financial transactions online, you really need to do something to document your account numbers and how you access the account.  If not, the people you leave behind could be high and dry when it comes to retrieving your money.

On top of financial matters, I have written so much stuff on this blog and other places I want Zack and my family to know what my passwords are so that they can retrieve everything.  Furthermore I don't think anyone is even aware of all the writing and family history research I have done over the years.  I don't want all of this information to be lost if I have a bad day and get hit by a falling piece of space junk while I am outside.

Tomorrow evening I will begin work on my will.  My intention is to use the online service offered by LegalZoom.  They used to offer wills for $75 - but that was several years ago, I am sure their prices have gone up.  There will also be complexity to the will as there will be the need to set up trusts and things like that so Zack is financial taken care of, but also so that he couldn't do something crazy with the money before he really knows what he is doing.  Therefore I am sure it will cost more than $75 dollars but it should still be reasonable priced.

Let me be clear about one thing - just because I am writing a will and saying this stuff it doesn't mean that I think I am going to have problems with my back surgery.  On the contrary, I think it will go marvelously, I am just owning up to something I have to do that all adults should do!

Today was kind of another "wasted" day.  Since I can't do much where my back doesn't hurt, we frequently end up staying home.  I call today "wasted" because it was such a wonderful day outside and I can't go out for a hike or a even a decent walk.  I got plenty of work done around the house today but it would have been so much nicer to be out for a walk instead.

Since there were two football games on today, I turned them on so I could at least listen to them while I did stuff around the house.  There were plenty of clothes washed and folded, bills paid and mail gone through.  So a lot was accomplished while I listened to/watched the football games.

This evening we went out to dinner with Tim, Celinde, Cole and Celinde's parents.  Nancy did not come as she still is not feeling well.  I can't really figure it out with her.  She is telling me she doesn't feel well, but she is still spending most of her time out and about at Cranbrook.  She is also telling me she doesn't like it there but yet she spends most of her time socializing.  So I really don't know what the story is.  Regardless she didn't want to come to dinner with us at Maggiano's.  We went to dinner tonight because Cole had a birthday party to go to last night and Tim and Celinde went out to a show.  So we did the family B-day get together today instead of on my actual birthday.

(Celinde's parents Bill and Doerga, Celinde and my brother Tim)

(Cole and Zack at dinner)

(Me with the plate of unbelievably tasty lemon cookies from Maggiano's)

After dinner we headed over to Tim and Celinde's for a cookie cake and so that they could give me a present that they had gotten.  The present wasn't too much of a surprise since Tim had asked me what I wanted.  They got me a remote controlled model airplane.  It is one that I have to finish building and buy and put an engine into it.  Deciding upon the type of engine to use will be the first key thing - I can either use a gasoline or electric engine.  I'll need to read up on the differences and decide what kind to go with.  But it will be fun building it and then taking it out to fly.  I probably won't be flying it until April once the weather warms and the model airplane airfields aren't covered in snow.

We are back home now for the evening.  I am going to sit down and watch some TV with Zack before he has to head to bed.  He already had his Ability tablet for the evening so I know he will be getting sleepy soon!

On another note, I have started to track what country visitors to this blog come from.  I started doing this yesterday evening and I can review the last 500 visitors to the blog.  This took me from January 14 back to January 10.  I can review this information via the counter that I have embedded on the blog.  It keeps track of where (country and city) people are located who read the blog, their IP addresses and what time they access the blog.  The absolutely amazing thing is in the 4 day span from January 10th to January 14th I had visitors from over 29 countries (30 if you include the USA).  I don't know but I think that is pretty darn amazing!  I remember when I first started the blog I personally knew everyone who read the blog.  I could figure who blog to each IP address that accessed the blog.  Now it is absolutely impossible to figure that out.  On average the blog is getting between 100 and 120 hits per day.  Just my subscription base to the blog is over 130 people - there are 90+ people subscribed through blogger's notification service and then another 40 or so subscribed through the Feedblitz e-mail notification service.  The bottom line is the blog is starting to get busy (lol - I don't mean get busy like that!).  It's going to be interesting to track all the different countries people who read this thing come from.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.