Monday, May 28, 2012

Fun with a GoPro

It's Monday evening on a long holiday weekend.  The holiday has come to an end and we are now into the unofficial start of summer.  Tomorrow is a work day and for that I am quite sad.  Yes - if I could, I really won't go back to work tomorrow, but I suppose I don't have a choice in the matter.  At least the weekend has been enjoyable and though I have no desire to go back to work, I at least got 72 straight hours off.

For the first day of the weekend, Zack and I journeyed to our condo in the mountains.  We have not been there in a very long time as my broken leg, leg surgery and 3 back surgeries had essentially made it so that I can't do much of anything in the mountains.  I haven't been able to hike, ski, snowshoe or bike ride for over 7 months.  So there has been no reason to go to the mountains.  Our trip to the mountains was all about cleaning the condo.  There was 7 months worth of dust over everything in the condo so it was good to get there and do laundry, dust and sweep the carpets.

We left for the mountains around 4:30PM on Friday afternoon.  Traffic getting out of Denver and onto I-70 near Morrison stunk as usual.  We didn't get to our place until around 6:00PM and then we had to feed the dogs and get them out for a walk.  After our walk we made a quick trip to Target and then headed to the Dillon Dam Brewery for dinner.  The rest of our evening was low key and we didn't do much of anything.

Saturday morning we awoke to the smell of wood smoke and a thick layer of smoke in the air.  Visibility was greatly restricted and most of the mountains were hidden from view.  At that point we had no idea where the smoke was coming from but later in the day I learned that it was coming from a massive 80,000 acre blaze in Western New Mexico.  The winds were blowing such that the smoke was sucked up from New Mexico into Central Colorado.  

I spent most of the day cleaning the condo before we headed down to Denver for the evening.  It was good to get everything clean as now when we come up to the condo later in June it will be all nice and clean.

Beside the smoke in the mountains we faced some out of control winds.  As we were driving down from the mountains the winds caused the car to be almost swept off the road.  There are several places along I-70 where the wind is funneled through canyons and the gusts can be pretty intense.  Near the small town of Georgetown and as we crossed through the hogback near Morrison, the wind gusts pushed the car so hard the steering wheel was jerked around in my grasp.  I really hate when that happens!

Saturday evening Zack spent with his cousin and I went to dinner with Lisa.  It's wasn't anything too wild and crazy - just Pizza Republica at the Landmark center.  It's one of my favorite places for a causal dinner.

Sunday was a very big day for me as it was "Tattoo Day".  I had wanted to get my second tattoo last weekend, but the tattoo artist who I wanted to do it wasn't working last weekend.  So I waited for this weekend.  Unfortunately he wasn't working on Sunday, so I ended up going with another artist.  Due to the size and coloring of this second tattoo, I only had the outline done.  I am going to let the outline heal and then I will go back sometime in July to have the coloring added.  I had spectators this time as both Zack and Lisa went with me.  I think they were both amazed at the process.  Zack refused to look most of the time and only wanted to see it once it was done.  I will take a picture of the tattoo later this week and post it here.

The only other major event for Sunday was Zack had a sleep over that turned into a sleep "under" for me.  He ended up staying up until almost 2AM and kept coming to tell he that neither he or his friend could fall asleep.  I wasn't particularly thrilled about that situation! 

Today has been a relaxing day for the holiday.  There was a special lunch at Cranbrook so Zack and I went and had lunch with Nancy.  She was very happy to have us there and we got to meet or re-meet many of the people with whom she hangs out.  After that we did some shopping and then spent the day doing some work around home and relaxing.

One of the things I spent my day doing was playing with video I have shot with my GoPro video camera.  The GoPro camera is a very small, but high quality video camera that can pretty much be mounted to anything.  These little cameras don't cost a lot but they take really high quality video.  (These cameras have revolutionized how many reality TV shows are shot.  If you have ever watched "Gold Rush" on The Discovery Channel, they use these little cameras all the time.)  I had hoped to use a car mount for my GoPro this past weekend and then drive over Boreas Pass on the way home from the mountains, but Zack was really not into it so I scrapped that plan - though I will do that yet this summer.

Despite not doing my planned drive and video capture I decided to do some simple editing of footage I shot last summer.  The video below is an edited version of some of the raw footage I shot last Memorial Day when we went to South Dakota and rode the Michelson Bike Trail through the Black Hills.  The sound track I have used for this video isn't necessarily the best, but I was just playing around and I figured what the hell.  If you get a chance take a look and see what you can do with these GoPro cameras.  They are a ton of fun!

I really didn't do much editing to this video other than adding the sound track and increasing the speed at which it plays.  There is much more that I can do with my raw video to turn it into something really fun.  Unfortunately posting the video here doesn't allow for it to be viewed full screen.  I really need to find another site to host video as this site - Blogger, doesn't do a good job.  Posting my videos to Youtube is always a pain because they do the whole copyright check for all components of your video and I like using good songs for my soundtracks.

That's it for this weekend.  I really hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and is ready for the short work week ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Things

Life is often described as a circle.  The circle of life many people are apt to say.  In that circle that is our life there are many different cycles that we seem to spiral through as we progress from youth to old age.  For now the cycle of my life is one of goodness and happiness.  The dregs of the past are behind me and what is once old is new again.

There are so many ways in which this is playing out.  I could go on and on regarding each and every one of them.  The details aren't that important, it's just that there is a sense of contentment and satisfaction in life that I haven't experienced for many years.  The same can be said for Zack.  There is a sense of happiness in him and a lack of anxiety that I haven't seen in many years.

Even though the physical pain of my messed up back hasn't completely faded, I feel confident that at last I will earn my freedom from this imposed inactivity.  To get back to the days of wandering field and mountain, stream and canyon will make my heart sing and my soul smile.  Just the thought of climbing a mountain and feeling that familiar sensation of breathlessness as the treeline slips below me will be cause for joy.

In two weeks I get to start physical therapy on my back.  After 4 weeks of physical therapy the restrictions upon my activities will be lifted.  I have been good so far and I haven't done anything outside of what the surgeon has told me that I can do.  I will continue to be good about this and I will only escalate my activities at an appropriate pace, but I am going back to everything I used to do.  I can't live as a shadow of myself and I won't be happy until I am back being a hard core hiker, biker and even a runner.  It's going to take time but what is now old will become new again!

There is something totally new in my life these days.  The something new is actually a person.   It has been a fairly long time since I have been involved in a dating relationship.  A number of weeks ago after I had gotten my tattoo I decided it was time to put myself back into the dating world.  For whatever reason I decided to do that right at the time I did.  In doing so, I just happened to cross-paths with a very attractive, very unique woman - Lisa.  I don't think when either of us decided to meet we had any real anticipation that our "date" would turn into anything more than your typical first date.  (i.e. meet up, talk for a bit and then probably never see each other again.)   But our expectations were shattered and we hit it off in a great way.  Since that first date we have started to spend a good amount of time together and have found that we have very much in common and we have a true bond between us.  I can't say enough to express how happy I am that I have met Lisa as she is a person of true grace, compassion  and caring.  On top of all that she is damn attractive!  She is petite, in shape, has long blonde hair and killer blue eyes.  There is no pressure between us, there is no stress.  We are both confident in our own lives and we enjoy being active together but yet are very comfortable to share silence and down time between us.  She and I will see where things go but we seem to work well together and we are having fun being together. I am looking forward to having a really fun summer and beyond being with Lisa.

For the first time in a very long time Zack and I are going to journey to the mountains this weekend.  I don't even remember when I was last at our mountain house.  But today after Zack comes home from school we are going to pack up, get the dogs in the car and head to Silverthorne.  We are only going to stay through end of the day Saturday as I want to be good and not do too much.  And since I have to put the dogs on the leash to walk them in the mountains I don't want to give Lex the chance to rip my arm off and hence hurt my back.  So we will head up Friday evening, spent Saturday around the condo getting a bunch of work done and then head back down Saturday afternoon.  The rest of the weekend will be spent in other activities down here in the "flatlands".  Saturday evening I am going to dinner with Lisa.  Sunday I will finally get my second tattoo.  It was supposed to happen last Saturday, but my tattoo artist was on vacation and wasn't in the shop - so it is happening this Sunday.  As of now we have no plans for Monday - so I think we will have to find something to do!

We do plan to have some fun while we are in the mountains.  Since I haven't been hiking or biking in so long, it has been a long time since I have used my GoPro camera.  We're going to put it to some use this weekend.  I bought a car mount for it and we are going to mount it to the Explorer for a trip up and over Boreas Pass.  The road over Boreas Pass is pretty much a 4-wheeler road, so I am thinking we might get some interesting video out of it.  I am then going to edit the video so it plays at 2x or 3x and add some music to it.  It should be fun to do.  If it turns out well, I will post it here!

The house construction has pretty much stalled out this week as efforts to get the permits and have the inspections take place have been crawling.  Word finally came Thursday afternoon from my general contractor that the City of Centennial has issued the permits and inspections will take place on Friday.  As soon as that happens things will start moving in very quick order.  I am not sure if all the work will be done before Zack and I head to Iceland or not, but I am very much hoping that it will be done.

Things are starting to wrap up for Zack's seventh grade year in school.  This week he had 2 different choir concerts.  He has come so far in the fact that he now takes part in these concerts and he doesn't fidget much and just performs well.  I captured a bunch of video from his concert last night and I figured I would share it here. The sun played havoc with the kids as it was shining in there eyes for a good part of the concert.  Additionally, I shot this video on my point and shoot camera so the quality isn't the greatest.  But you still can see Zack and hear the singing.

That's about all for today.  I wrote most of this on Thursday evening and I wanted to make sure I posted it before I headed to the mountain because I am not taking my laptop with me for a change. That is pretty unusual for me to do that, but sometimes it is just good to get away from it.  I'll still have my smart phone, so I won't be totally without Internet access.

I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The King of the Garden Gnomes

It's that time of year.  The time when flowers are planted and the perennials begin to bloom.  Our home is no exception.  Somehow between all the ungodly amount of work that I have been doing this week, I managed to get out during a lunch hour and buy flowers.  Over the next several evening I got them planted and have installed our garden gnome as King of the Gnomes.  He stands supreme over his small little garden at the front of our house.

(Zack just had to get in the picture!  Look how stinking big that kid is getting!!)

 (Our king of the garden gnomes reigns supreme over the world of flowers!)

There will be more flowers purchased and planted this weekend.  In particular I will be getting to hanging baskets to hang from the brackets at the front of the house.  Given all the construction happening at the back of the house, we won't be hanging any flowers there as they would likely be killed by construction dust.

At long last it appears that things will quiet down for work tomorrow.  I submitted the final financial forecast this morning that will be reviewed next Monday by the executive vice-president who runs our business unit.  This is the first forecast cycle in which I have totally own the forecast from beginning to end.  Needless to say it will be interesting to walk this file through the meeting on Monday.  The really cool thing out of it all is that I found several key errors in the file.  Why is that cool?  Because it wasn't my file until this past Monday - so I am going to be creating a new financial forecasting process to ensure we don't have these errors in the future.  This will give me quite a visible profile at my employer. 

Though work has calmed down for the week, I did get some unfortunate news that I will NOT be heading to San Francisco next week.  There is a significant personal commitment that must be fulfilled next weekend so I am postponing our trip to San Francisco by at least several weeks.  We won't go until school is out, which in some ways is good as we might be able to stay in the city longer than 3 days.  As long as I have my laptop with me for work it doesn't matter from where I work.  Additionally, going later in June might allow us to have a better chance at good weather in the city.  I always hate going to San Francisco and having to negotiate through the fog!

One last major point from the day is that I spent my lunch hour today at Granite Importers with my kitchen designer.  We selected the granite that will be used for the island and eating area in the kitchen.  It is an absolutely unique piece that looks like a work of art that was created by nature.  I decided to choose this piece of granite and scrap the granite I had picked for the perimeter cabinets.  Instead I will be looking for that over this weekend.  In all likelihood I already know what kind of granite I am going to choose for the perimeter, I just need to select the specific slabs.

Construction on the house continues at it's slow and steady pace.  Today, the day was consumed by the electricians doing the rough-in electrical.  The only thing that has yet to be done before the framing and rough-in inspections is the rough-in plumbing for 2 gas lines - one to the gas cook top and one to my bed room that is going to be used for the new gas fireplace there.  Hopefully that work will be done tomorrow and my general contractor can get the inspectors in to do the inspections early next week.  If that can happen by Monday or Tuesday, then the new door and windows will go in and by the end of the week, dry wall installation will be occurring!  Yay!  On top of that the new cabinets are supposed to arrive on Monday - which means I need to sell the old cabinets and get them out of the garage by then.

And the weekend starts tomorrow!!  This will be a special weekend as I am planning on getting my second tattoo.  This time the tattoo will cover a significant chunk of my left arm.  For those of you who have seen the movie "From Dawn til Dusk" the look that I am going for is the tattoo that George Clooney sported in this movie.  Here's a picture - not a very good one, that shows what George Clooney looked like in this movie.  If you have never seen the movie I highly recommend it.  It's just a plain, good ole vampire movie!  But it has an impressive cast - George Clooney, Salma Hayek, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis.

Somehow I am also trying to incorporate a quote from Shakespeare into the tattoo.  Not sure if it can be done but we shall see - I'll let my tattoo artist Puma figure it out.  The quote is from Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 1, line 273 and is said by Marcus Antonius.  Any guesses as to the line?  It is "Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war".  Why this line...  because it symbolizes to me so much of where I have been and now that I am finally through those stages of hell, I will never return to them.  As such the next time I face a challenge like I have for the last six years, there will be no holding back.  I will face the situation and bring every single ounce of my being to bear upon it.  I will be forever on watch of going down the black hole through which I journeyed for oh so long.

I'll be sure to post an update with any kind of info about getting my tattoo this weekend.  It will be a peach I am sure!  :-)

Have a happy Thursday evening!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Counting the Days

Numbers are an intrinsic part of my world.  I record the number of just about every kind of major athletic activity I do.  I can tell you how many miles I hiked every year going back to 1998, how many 14ers I have climbed, how many "centuries (hundred mile bike rides) I have done and so many other useless facts about my life.  Why do I track this stuff?  I don't know.  My mom was a college math professor and my dad had a thing for recording stuff - I guess I just picked it up from them.  The good thing about today's day and age is that you can buy devices and services that can track most of this stuff for you and you just upload the raw data to the web and go to a website to see it all.  I do that with my BodyBugg, my Garmin GPSs I have for my bike and hiking and of course I do that with financial information via Quicken.

So what's the point about numbers?  I mention numbers today because there are a ton of future events that are happening to which I am counting down the days.  Silly I know - but it keeps me in such great anticipation of all the stuff that is going to be going on this summer.  Here's a quick run down of the key dates for me and Z.

Big Event                                                               Days Til The Big Event!
Jerry gets his 2nd tattoo                                            5 Days
Trip to San Francisco                                               11 Days
Zack's Last Day of School                                       23 Days
Physical Therapy For My Back Starts                      23 Days
Restrictions on my Physical Activity are Lifted          40 Days
Days Til We Leave for Iceland                                 42 Days
Kitchen Construction is Finished                              44 Days
Paul Oakenfold Concert!                                         54 Days
14er Weekend (Bross, Lincoln, Cameron Planned)   82 Days

After this things get a little hazy except for one other significant event.... I am planning my first running race after my back and leg injuries to be the Bear Chase Trail Race on September 30, 2012.  I can't stay away from running, I know that!  The only thing that is going to prevent me from being in that stinking race is if I am going to do more damage to myself in the long term by running.  I can run through pain - I have proven that before.  Pain isn't the issue with me.  The only issue that can possible keep me from my outdoor sports is if I am going to do further damage to my body that will prevent me from being active as I age.  The good news on that front is that both neurosurgeons I have worked with are convinced that my body is strong enough that I am going to bounce back 100%.  As long as I really focus on re-developing my core strength the feeling is I can continue to be crazy active until far, far in the future.  Here's hoping that is going to come true.

With only 23 days left in the 2011/2012 school year, Zack has finally decided to turn on the academic after-burners.  Zack's grades are updated daily on a Cherry Creek's Powerschool website.  In the last 5 days he has increased his overall scores in Math, Social Studies and Science by an average of 10 percentage points per class.  He now has solid B's in Math and Social Studies and is working hard to get an A in Science.  The great thing about this situation is that he has taken ownership for these grade increases.  Earlier this quarter I basically told him I was washing my hands of helping him maintain focus on his grades.  If he wants to get good grades he has to take responsibility for doing his homework, studying, etc.  I will no longer prompt him to see if he has his stuff done.  It's all his responsibility to sink or swim.  He is actually starting to achieve on his own!

Not much else going on except for settling into my new job responsibilities that I got on Friday.  It's going to be a busy couple of days with work.  Things are slow on the remodeling front right now as work is starting to stack up and become dependent on the completion of a couple of key areas - roughed in electrical and plumbing.  Once we get those two behind us, then inspections can start.  When the rough-in inspections are complete, thing are going to start moving fast!

It's time to be off to watch some TV and then get some sleep.  Didn't sleep well for some reason last night and three hours of sleep for one night makes me tired the next day.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

When Books Are Made Into TV Shows or Movies..

It's Sunday and for some relaxation time today I decided to catch up on my viewing of past episodes of HBO's series Game of Thrones.  I have written about this show before.  I first saw Game of Thrones some time in the fall of 2010.  Based upon the first episode of the first season I decided to undertake the reading of the series of books written by George Martin.  The name of the series of books is different than the show as it is called a "Song of Fire and Ice" however, the first book is called "The Game of Thrones".

Reading the entire series of these book is not necessarily an easy activity as each book is one thousand pages or longer and in the end there will be seven of them.  Presently only 5 of the books have been written and published.  HBO decided to turn the books into a multi-year series of shows.  Season two of the series coincides with Book Two which is called "A Clash of Kings". Reading these books is not like reading "War and Peace".  They are not difficult reads, it is just the shear amount of time that is needed to complete each book.

Up to this point I have been relatively OK with how the show has been adapted from the book.  There haven numerous little things that I have said to myself "didn't happen that way in the book".  For instance today I am watching either episode 3 or 4 of season 2 - as I have lost track of the episode numbers.  At one point in this episode the evil king (Joffrey) and his entourage are attacked by the people of the capital city.  In the show, the king and his crew are on foot walking back to his citadel.  In the book, it was a much larger party of people and they were all mounted on horseback traversing a long distance within the city.  Something like this is what I would call a minor distraction from the writing in the book.

There is a really blatant deviation from the book that is driving me crazy however.  One of the other kings vying for power in this turbulent time is known as King Robb of the North.  In the book they totally and completely gloss over how Robb comes to marry his wife who is the daughter of some lowly noble.  There is no interaction between these characters written about in the book.  In the end it is just presented as fact as Robb is married to this lowly noble.  Whereas in the TV show they are showing him interacting with her and building into a pivotal part of the story.  To say that I am disappointed by the stuff that they are adding is a bit of an understatement.  It kind of ruins the show for me, because it is made to attract the largest audience as possible as opposed to being true to the book.

In the last 10 years I really think filmmakers have done a great job adapting some "classic" books to movie and TV show formats.  In particular, I think the adaptation of the Harry Potter Books and Lord of The Rings were pretty darn good.  I think the Lord of the Rings was particularly hard to adapt to a movie format as it was so huge and epic, but Peter Jackson stayed relatively true to the books.  In Harry Potter the producers and directors similarly did a good job - my only complaint about those movies was that they cut what I considered to be some really interesting ancillary plots that were in the books.  But in fairness to the Harry Potter Movies had they not done that those movies would have run for 4 - 5 hours each.

I guess my complaint about "Game of Throne" is that instead of cutting things - which I can understand, they added something that didn't happen in the book.  That is just something I can't understand!  Oh well - I am not a movie maker so I guess I should stop the criticism.

Speaking of "Game of Thrones", Peter Dinklage the person who plays the Imp, the dwarf, the half-man, whatever you want to call him on the show was featured last week on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.  The character he plays in the show - Tyrion is probably the most complex and interesting character in both the HBO Series and the books.  What makes it interesting is it would seem from the interview in Rolling Stone that the actor and the character have many things in common.  I am not normally a huge fan of Rolling Stone, but the profile article done on him was truly interesting.  I guess the key thing from the article is how the actor is a person that doesn't necessarily fit in to the world around him.  Regardless - he has done an amazing job building his acting credentials and to top it off he is hilarious as hell!  So if you get a chance to read the article is worth a look.  I couldn't find a web link to it or I would have posted it here.

It's been a long and busy Mother's Day today as Zack and I had a bunch of things to get done and then we spent a bunch of time with Nancy and the rest of my family.  It's now 10:20PM and I will say I am really tired by I still have a bunch of things to do.  Oh well - it will be another typical Sunday night without a lot of sleep.

I hope everyone had a great weekend and was able to spend time with their families on this Mother's Day.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Life Revolution!

Back in the days in which I did more client facing work for my employer, we used to have a saying that many of our clients “were drinking from the fire hose” due to the amount of change that their organizations were going through.  I feel like I am doing the same in my life and it is finally bringing about My Life Revolution.

The first major thing that is changing is obviously the physical aspect of our world.  Some days it seems like chaos shall reign supreme in my life as I wake up, walk into the main floor of the house and see all the craziness that is a foot.  Each day my general contractor brings another group of workers in to tackle this aspect of the work or that aspect.  It is easy to get frustrated with the physical change as it so utterly upended our day-to-day lives.  (Dinners are eaten using my desk in my office as our kitchen/dinner room table.  We have to go outside most of the time to access our laundry room because the kitchen is impassable. Etc, etc, etc.)  Despite that feeling of potential frustration, we always keep it together and make the best of the situation.

Today we put some of those principles of change into action.  We literally sent the entire day out at various showrooms picking new things out for the kitchen.  I narrowed my selections of granite down to about 4 or 5.  I am considering using two different kinds of granite in the kitchen.  The first will be a mid-cost granite that will be used for all the cabinets on the outside perimeter of the kitchen.  The second type of granite will be the high-cost, absolutely beautiful and unique granite that will be used for the center island and eating area.  The combination should make for an outstanding interaction of color and underlying styles.   Selecting appliances seems to be a much easier job, but I still have some issues in that area that I need to work out.  What rocked my world was the price of the refrigerator I want to purchase.  Really - does a refrigerator have to cost the same price as a small car??

My work is also continuing to change on a day-to-day basis.  The manager for whom I work is one of our “industry vertical line of business” general managers.  Working for my manager is like trying to make sense of a scene that is continually shifting and changing.  That isn’t meant as a criticism, it is instead that fact that the business environment in which we work is shifting so radically.  My manager runs my employer’s Healthcare Services Industry group and healthcare in the United States and around the work is changing so rapidly.  As a result, it feels like at times I am the Dutch boy running from the leak in the dyke to leak in the dyke.  But then again, there are other times when I feel unutilized.  There are so many new projects coming down the line to ensure all of our service delivery centers meet regulatory requirements in how we manage and treat personal data, medical history and payment information.  This Friday I received my 3rd position change/ promotion/whatever you want to call it in the last severn months.  Yes – it is crazy but it is what we have to do for now just to keep our heads above water.  To be honest the position change I took yesterday was the best one so far.  It’s gonna be kind of cool!

On top of all that change, it is like every aspect of my thinking and life is also changing.  What I do on a day-to-day basis is different.  Zack is now really reaching an age that I don’t need to be with him 100% of the time when he isn't in school. Last weekend he had a sleep over with his cousin in which I wasn’t around.  It was last Saturday evening and I was going out in downtown for Cinco de Mayo – and I didn’t even worry about getting home to put him to bed.  I figured he and Cole could figure it out themselves and they did.  When I came home at 12:30AM, they were fast asleep.  Of course they did pretty well trash the entire basement…  but they made up for the next morning when I made them clean it all up.

Life can be truly revolutionary if you let it.  If you are willing to dig yourself out of your old ways and open your mind to new things it bring real change into your life.  That change for us is on it’s way in so many different ways – good and bad I suppose but we are going to ride the bucking bronco of change and see where and if it throws us off!

One last great example of change…  I am embracing the whole idea of travel as a major pursuit in my life.  Last night I decided it had been 6 years since we had been to San Francisco – so are going to San Francisco over Memorial Day Weekend.  Yep – kind of spur of the moment decision, but why the hell not?  I had a couple hundred dollar credit on Southwest Airlines that made the airfare palatable – so why not?  It’s going to be a great time seeing all the sights again that inspired me when I worked there for so many years.  Still debating the car rental and whether we are going to head to Point Reyes or not, but I am thinking that is a must do.  Last time I was at Point Reyes, I vowed that every time I was in San Francisco I was going to go there.  I guess I need to make good on that promise!

(The beauty of Point Reyes National Seashore.)

(I absolutely love this view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the north!)

Any way – hope everyone is having a great weekend.  It is time to be off for a Saturday evening.  I am going out to watch the Nuggets game at Champs.  Of course the one stinking year I have season tickets and I don’t buy playoff tickets…  The Nuggets are going to end up going to the Western Conference Championship.  Does anyone want to bet me on that?  You pretty much can predict Nuggets success based upon if I buy playoff tickets or not.  If I buy them…  they are out in the first round.  If I don’t buy them…  they make it to the Western Conference Championship.  It’s like flibbing clockwork!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Mid-Week Post

For the last several days I have been crafting a "masterpiece" blog entry.  Since I am still working on it I obviously haven't posted it yet.  It's not the typical piece of writing that I do.  It is some what of a statement on the current state of the world and in particular the worlds economic and political situation.  Much of what I am writing was inspired by the supposed "world-changing" events that occurred this past weekend with the election results in France and Greece.  The basic point that I am writing about is that nothing changed as the result of those elections - just as nothing changed in the United States after the notable elections of 2006, 2008 and 2010.  The world is stuck in neutral and there is no difference between the thought of the political parties in the US or in any country around the world right now.  It's taking me a sometime to finish my manifesto on realism, so I won't publish it for a bit.

Since I haven't written in about a week there is a fair amount to update.  The changes in our home are dramatic!  Though they won't really show up on picture as most of the work has been done around structural framing that is needed to construct the new space.  Several smaller walls have been removed, a central beam that huge and supported part of the weight of the family room has been removed and replaced with much smaller, hidden structural support.  HVAC and water lines have been removed and rerouted.  To me it is a huge amount of difference and is setting the stage for the next part of the job - the addition of 2 new windows and a new sliding glade door to the deck.  Once those changes occur the improvement in the space will become obvious!

The chaos in the house right now definitely sucks however.  The first floor of the house is pretty much unlivable as we have the contents of the kitchen and family room spread all over and on top of that pretty much everything is covered with a fine dust from the destruction of the kitchen.  At this point, aside from sleeping we are totally living in the basement.  The great thing about that is the basement is now set up as home movie theater and is very comfortable.  Over the weekend and early in the week, the temperatures were so cold here that I lit a fire in the wood burning fire place in the basement and we kept ourselves toasty roasty warm even despite the high temperature of only 47 degrees on Monday.  Despite the chaos in the house, it is good to get this done as I really can't wait to experience the new kitchen and family room. 

As of today I am now 2 weeks out of my back surgery - yay!  I have had to deal with some complications concerning the healing - but it has finally totally scabbed over and now looks OK for no infection.  I still have another 4 weeks or so until I can really start resuming all my major activity.  This past weekend I was down town on Saturday - it was Cinco de Mayo of course and I did a lot more walking than I should have done and I paid the price on Sunday.  On Sunday morning I awoke to the exact kind of back and leg pain that the surgery had relieved.  Thankfully once I got a warm shower and loosened up my muscles in my back, the pain went away.  But somewhat of a lesson learned for me - I have to keep the activity under control for yet another little bit.

It's hard to believe but Zack only has 4 weeks of school left until he is done with his 7th grade year and is on to being an 8th grader!  In some ways that is so awesome, but in some ways it is oh so scary!  I can't believe how quickly his schooling is going!!  Next year is his final year of middle school and then on to high school.  I am already beginning the mental debates of what high school to which to send him.  Right now I am pretty much 100% certain I am sending him to Cherry Creek High School.  However several families - who know Zack well - have recommended he go to Denver Academy.  They have offered up some really good points of why Denver Academy would be good.  My feeling right now how is as long as he still has an IEP then he should go to Cherry Creek.  However, we are having a review meeting with the school on Thursday to review if he still qualifies for an IEP.  I have been told in advance by the coordinator of the program at West Middle School, that they anticipate with drawing a lot of the support that has gotten in the past as he no longer needs it.  Tomorrow is decision day on that - so it will be a hot topic the next time I write a blog post.

With the coming of Spring and some Summer, our trips to the mountains are going to increase.  Depending upon the construction schedule for the house, we might attempt to get away for part of the weekend and get up to the mountain house.  Can't say for sure right now but if there is a lot of construction taking place this weekend I would rather be here than not.

That's a quick update for the week.  I hope everyone is doing well and making it through the week OK.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Music of My Life - Spring 2012

There is a very strong viewpoint about life that I have.  It's really nothing serious but it can make a huge difference in my life when I truly follow it.  This viewpoint is kind of simple and it is "Life is always better with a sound track".  When my mood is negative and things are weighing me down, there is almost nothing better than listening to music to make things better.  My musical tastes are geared towards just about any kind of music you can imagine with the exception of - country, hardcore rap and smooth jazz.  Other than those 3 categories of music I pretty much listen to anything.

What I listen too at any given time is driven by many different factors.  But regardless of what determines it my musically choices change about every 3 - 6 months.  For me this means that the songs at the top of my playlists on my iPhone/iPod are continually evolving.  Here's some of the songs that are at the top of my playlists these days.  I can always add - Move Along by the All American Rejects as that stands up there along with any song by New Order and Coldplay as one of the all-time favorites of my life.

My early morning visit to the surgeon's office turned out to be somewhat of a non-event.  They were concerned that my incision from the surgery it is still oozing a fair amount of fluid, but they at least ruled out that I have an infection.  Given standard procedures though they did put me on antibiotics.  Dr. Elliot feels that it is continuing to discharge fluid because of the extensive nature of the surgery.  If the fluid continues to "weep" from the incision into next week then they will figure out some way to reopen the incision and then put sutures in so that it will close up.  Given the alternatives they were fearing I am very glad for the outcome I received today!

The other big story in our lives today is that the work on the kitchen got started late this morning.  Around 8:30AM I received a call from the general contractor telling me that he had a crew available to start the demolition if I was ready.  I jumped at the chance to get things started.  Here's some pictures from the first day of the demolition.  I am in a fair amount of disbelief at all that is being ripped apart in such short order.  Hopefully this means by sometime next week they will be moving forward with laying the new floor!

(Family room before it was emptied and demolished.)

(Kitchen before it was emptied and then demolished - yeah, I know it looked messy!)

(The emptied kitchen.)

 (More emptiness...)

(The family room after 8 hours of demolition.)

(The kitchen after 8 hours of demolition)

(My former window seat that is on the verge of becoming the new sliding glass door to the deck.)

With all the changes now starting on the house all I can say is I am so excited.  As the days and weeks speed by as we approach summer I am getting so excited for all that is going to be going on!  Besides the kitchen work I am so utterly excited about our trip to Iceland.  Today's count until we leave is just 54 days!!!

Now that I have the trip to Iceland pretty well planned out I am already starting to think of the trip after that.  The next trip won't involve as much travel as Iceland but it will definitely be colorful and adventurous.  I am going to try and get tickets to the Burning Man Festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada in late August/early September.  I have never been to Burning Man but I have read so many interesting stories about it.  Additionally, I didn't realize how quickly the tickets sold out.  As of now all the tickets are sold out, but I am hoping to acquire some through the San Francisco version of Craigslist.

Going to Burning Man is not the easiest of things to do as you must bring all your supplies to be self-sufficient while you are there.  If you can figure it all out and brave the daunting nature of it all, the rewards are pretty amazing as you see some of the most interesting and amazing art.  The festival lasts for a week from the Monday before Labor Day until Labor Day itself.  The big event of the festival is the burning of "The Man" on Saturday evening. "The Man" is a 40+ foot structure in the shape of a man.  It is reminiscent of the wicker men built and used as sacrifices to the gods by the Druids of ancient Great Britain. 

Realistically I don't know that I will be able to acquire tickets, but I am going to do my darnedest to get my hands on at least 4 of them.  Two for me and Zack and then I sure I can find 2 other people to go with us. I have a few people in mind who would make the trip even that more fun! If we get to go, it will be a great way to cap off what could be the most fun and exciting summer Zack and I have had in a very long time.  I'll keep trying to get tickets through the end of July and if I haven't gotten by then I will give up for this year.  But that means for 2013 I will be online, in the queue the minute they go on sale!

If you would like to learn more about Burning Man check out their websites at the following urls.,

As we begin the countdown to the end of the 2011/2012 school year, Zack continues to rise to the challenges that are being placed in front of him.  Next week we have a review of his IEP to see if he still qualifies.  I have a feeling that the IEP will continue into next year, however the amount of support that is being offered to him is going to be dramatically decreased.  He has made so much progress this year already, that the school has withdrawn much of the support he received.  Zack is being held accountable to all the same standards and expectations to which all seventh graders are held.  For the next school year he is applying to be a "Web Leader" which is a role by which he acts as a mentor to a group of incoming 6th graders.  I am very proud of how he has grown and changed this year.  His grades still need a little work, but his overall demeanor is so much different than a year ago.

One last note: Saturday is Cinco de Mayo!  Lots of good community events are going on to celebrate the holiday.  Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated as widely in Mexico as it is in the US?  From Wikipedia here is a common definition of the holiday:

"Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a celebration held on May 5. It is celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla).  The date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is actually celebrated on September 16."

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life Underground

It's official.  We have now moved underground.  No we aren't on the run from the authorities or anything like that - lol!  Instead, the main floor of the house is now non-livable.  I suppose we could still be using that level of the house but the contents of the kitchen and family room have been dispersed thoughout the other 3 room - the living room, the dining room and Nancy's old bedroom.  If you have ever watched the show "Hoarders" on TLC or Discovery Health or whatever the channel is, the first floor kind of has that hoarder's feeling about it.  To get from point A to point B you have to follow specific paths to get there. 

To make up for the loss of all the prime living space we have moved into the basement.  We still sleep in our bedrooms on the top floor, but most of the time we are not sleeping is going to be spent in the basement.  The setup down here is pretty good as we have a lot of space.  There is a giant family room into which we put one of the couches from the 1st floor family room.  I had the big flat screen TV from the 1st floor family room moved down and connected to DirectTV.  I have two built in cable hook ups here in the basement so the technicians from DirectTV only had to relocate the DirectTV receiver and hook it up.  No ugly holes or long strings of coax cable were required to hook it up.  It all looks pretty good and the space is wonderfully comfortable.  It doesn't feel like we are living in a basement as the basement is a walk out so we get tons of light.  It couldn't make for a more comfortable set up while we go through the construction.

Today is one week since I had surgery on my back.  The back/nerve pain is for the most part one hundred percent gone.  There was a little bit of pain into my left leg yesterday, but it was transitory and wasn't that painful.  The incision however is being a little bit troublesome.  After 3 days you are supposed to take off the dressing and let the wound be exposed to the air.  Unfortunately the incision has continued to ooze some fluid and blood.  From what I can see of it, there aren't any huge signs of an infection.  Additionally, I had my sister-in-law check it out last evening and she didn't see any signs of infection.  However she strongly recommended that I got in to see the surgeon and get it checked out.  I call the surgeon's office this afternoon and left a message with the surgeon's medical assistant.  She called me back within a very short amount of time and told me that I needed to come into the office early tomorrow morning.  The only reason she didn't have me come in this afternoon is because Wednesdays are surgery days so the surgeon and all his staff are out of the office.  I am hoping there isn't anything seriously wrong with the incision as I really don't want to have a surgical infection as they can be very bad.  Hopefully they just put me on some antibiotics and stitch the area that is still oozing and everything will be fine.

Since everything has been emptied out of the kitchen and family room there is a great opportunity for me to really clean things up and get rid of a ton of stuff.  I anticipate that I am going to be getting rid of a lot of things as I intend to upgrade most of my cookware, flatware and kitchen gadgets.  The cookware I have is a good ole American standard - RevereWare copper bottomed pots and pans.  For the most part all of it is in good shape.  However since I am getting a gas stove, I figure I might as well upgrade the cookware to be a little bit higher grade.  Yep - I will probably pay some cash for all the new stuff, however I intend to be kicking my cooking up a notch when the kitchen is complete - so it will be worth it.

It seems like I had a million things I wanted to write about today but as I have sat down to write I have forgotten a bunch of them.  I do so much hate when that happens!!

One last point for today's blog and then I guess I will call it quits since I can't remember anything else I wanted to write.  Sometime during the weekend of May 18th I will be underneath the tattoo artist's hand again.  I'll make an official appointment this time and if anyone wants to come and watch this dumb ass - (i.e. me) get another tattoo you are more than welcome.  My plan is to stop by Celebrity Tattoo sometime this weekend and spend a few minutes talking to the guy who did the owl on my arm.  I am going to ask him to do a special tribal design for my left arm.  I really looking forward to getting this second tattoo as I am purely doing it for myself and I think it's going to look great.  So the more the merrier when it comes to getting a tattoo.  And if anyone is interested in getting a tattoo I am sure we could get a really good discount on your tattoo. 

Last point and it is then time to run.  I found the absolute perfect profile picture for my facebook page yesterday.  It really reflects the true me.

I just love that picture!!!

Hope everyone is having a great week so far.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.