Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Uniqueness Of A Moment

Several weekends ago Zack and I spent 2 days at our condo in the mountains.  Zack didn't have school on Friday so we headed to Silverthorne on Thursday evening and stayed until Saturday.  When stay at the condo each day we take the dogs out for several long walks through the forests and fields behind the condo complex. 

Japanese Pine Bark beetles have killed most of the pine trees in Summit County where our condo is located.  The forest behind the condo became a graveyard of dead and dying Lodge Pole pines over several months in 2008.  In order to provide a defensible space against forest fires in these masses of dead trees, most of the forests around the residential areas in Summit County have been cut down.  As I walked through this area late on the Friday afternoon that we were in the mountains, I came upon the most marvelous sight.  The sun was setting behind Buffalo Mountain and the position of the glowing orb was illuminating a "teepee" of cut tree trunks that will be burnt once the weather turns colder.

The sight was truly awe inspiring.  What was even more remarkable to me than the sight itself was that it only lasted for 20 seconds before the sun sank behind the Buffalo Mountain.  This one small moment in time was unique in so many unfathomable ways!  When the sun was setting the following day it won't be in the same place, or perhaps a cloud would obscure the sun - it staggered my mind to think of all the impossibly large number of variables that came together to create this one unbelievable sight!  And then in 20 seconds it was gone and land was plunged into the shadow of the mountain as the sun slipped behind it.

(My cell phone was the only camera equipment I had on me at the time.  I did my best to capture this beautiful sight with the iPhone's camera.)

Some day when you see a beautiful sight like this, realize all the things that came together at that exact moment to make it occur and realize how fleeting it might be!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful week. It's half over!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

It's Getting Awfully Cloudy

Yesterday I decided to take a quick trip to Best Buy to peruse the latest in electronics.  My walk through the store demonstrated the fundamental shift that is happening with today's technology.  This fundamental shift is that most "content" and "data" is moving to the "cloud".  The rows that used to be filled with software are growing smaller and are being replaced with little cards that are used to go the Internet and purchase a 365 day "pass" to access the software.  Aisles that were once filled with music and video CDs, DVD's and Blue-Ray discs are now being removed.  Instead of going to the store to buy a physical disc all content is now being access through services like Netflix, VUDU, HULU, iTunes, Pandora, etc.  

The concept of what is now called the "cloud" has been around for as long as the Internet has been running.  In it's simplest definition the "cloud" is data storage that is accessible from any place on the Internet.  Whether a person is located in the United States, Mongolia, Antarctica, Russia, or on the International Space Station - anywhere there is an Internet connection, the same data can be accessed. The "cloud" frees data from being dependent upon a specific computer, tablet, cell phone, etc.

Though the concept of the "cloud" has been around since the early days of the Internet there have been technological advances in recent years that have enabled this concept to become the backbone of commerce today.  Some of these changes have been; the ever increasing capacity of hard disc storage at lower costs, the ability to transfer greater volumes of data across transmission media and the increased efficiency of data compression algorithms.  All of these factors have created a situation in which it is as effective and cost efficient to store massive amounts of data in remote locations far away from where they will eventually be used.

For software companies and content owners the use of the cloud to manage data and content is a boon.  No longer will a company like Microsoft get a one-time payment for the purchase of the Office Suite of products, they will now get a yearly revenue stream from every person who uses their product.  Microsoft will no longer be at the whims of whether or not a person decides to upgrade to the next version, it will simply be forced to them through the yearly usage charge.  If you choose not to pay the yearly usage charge, then you won't be able to use their software at the end of the 365 days.  It's a great way to assure an ongoing revenue stream. 

All of this is great for the companies that produce the data and content but what about you the user?  To me it seems that as the trend towards the cloud gets greater, the user will lose more and more control of the things they own.  What is going to happen if you spend hundreds (or thousands) of dollars building up a video library on VUDU and then for whatever reason VUDU goes bankrupt and ceases operation?  What happens to those movies that you have purchased?  An example of this has not yet happened as far as I am aware, but the best guess is that you will just be out of luck and your movies will be gone.

Another issue with all of this is the simple question, where is your data and who can access it?  Do the companies that host your data have adequate safe guards and audit procedures in place to tell if one of their employees is accessinf your data?  Here's a horrible example of what could happen.  A well meaning person takes pictures of their little kid and stores them a cloud website  - it could be any of them, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google, etc.  An employee of that company who works in some far off country routine searches files stored by the company and grabs a copy of the kids photos and post them to some horrible website.  The parent may never even know it.  You place your files on one of those services and you are effectively giving up control of them.

Additionally with all the NSA and governmental snooping that is going on these days you can be darn sure some one or some program from big brother is looking at your data.  If you put some really attractive (nude or even non-nude) pictures of your girlfriend/wife out on one of those cloud website, you can probably bet some oily faced twenty-something "NSA Analyst" is probably looking at them. 

My personal preference is to avoid these cloud based services and data storage mechanisms as much as is possible.  There are certain ones I can't avoid, such as Fitbit where all my data is stored in their corporate cloud somewhere.  And sometimes I use cloud based data storage for ease of sharing data with friends and family, but I don't put anything important out there at all.  Unfortunately no matter what you and I do, more and more of our data and information will end up on the cloud and will be vulnerable to prying eyes or plain and simple destruction if the company hosting it goes belly up.

Those are my interesting thoughts for the day!  From a personal perspective, Zack is now one month into his freshman year of high school and so far so good.  There are some things that he needs to improve upon but in general he is doing well.  Tomorrow, Friday, September 20th is a day off of school for Zack so we are heading to the mountains tonight.  Instead of our normal I-70 route we will be taking Highway 285 into South Park and then taking a dirt road the over the continental divide at Boreas Pass and down into the town of Breckenridge.  It's a trip I have wanted to take for a long time and today is the day.  If we don't do it today, in all likelihood the route will be closed by snow the next time we head to the mountains.

It also looks as though my time of being an unemployed wanderer is coming to an end.  I'll find out for certain early next week, but the pull of making money is significant and so in early October I will go back to work as an independent consultant.  Once the deal is finalized I will write a bit more about what I will be doing.  It will be good work and it will take me back to my roots in the professional services industry for which I am very happy!

Sorry it's been so long between posts, but life has been busy and I have been focused on other areas of my life.  My next post shouldn't be so long in coming.

Until then - thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fitbit versus Body Media's Bodybugg - Take II

About 4 months ago I wrote a blog entry in which I compared the Fitbit Flex to Body Media's Bodybugg.  At the time I had only recently purchased the Fitbit Flex and was uncertain as to its accuracy, durability and overall ease of usage. My knowledge of the Bodybugg on the other hand was extensive as it was an old trusted friend that I had been using for years.



 

There has been significant interest from my readers about the comparison I made between these two devices.  The hit counter built into this blog allows for the referring URL to be determined and there have literally been hundreds if not a thousand or more hits that have come to the blog from the Google search "Fitbit vs Bodybugg.  Therefore, now that I have a lot more experience with the Fitbit it makes sense to re-visit this subject.


The key discovery from the extended usage of the Fitbit is that the Fitbit does not seem to accurately reflect the amount of calories expended during a day.  Though the Fitbit does an excellent job tracking the distance walked each day, it has a hard time turning non-walking activities into an accurate calorie burn.  Even when the activity log function is used, the Fitbit seems to discount the amount of calories that are burned for non-walking, non-running activities.  Bike riding is clearly one of those areas in which the Fitbit does a horrible job calculating the number of calories expended.  I use multiple instruments to track/estimate the number of calories I burn during my bike rides and the Fitbit routinely under counts the calorie burn by 20 - 30%.  This inaccurate calculation of calories burned is the most significant drawback to the Fitbit.

The Bodybugg on the other hand is extremely accurate in it's calculation of calories burned in any activity.  The drawback to the Bodybugg is the awkward manner in which you must wear it.  While the Fitbit is a relatively "bland" bracelet that you wear around your wrist, the Bodybugg is worn wrapped around your bicep.  Not only does it look dorky, it must be worn in very close contact with the skin which makes it feel tight and uncomfortable.

The real decision point between the devices comes down to the user's need.  Is accuracy the most critical feature for the wearer?  If it is, then the only choice is the Bodybugg.  If the accuracy of the caloric burn isn't extremely critical and the wearer is more interested in steps taken, or comfort then the Fitbit is the device of choice.

As for me - I retired my Bodybugg shortly after I purchased the Fitbit.  Despite the accuracy issue I am sticking with the Fitbit and using my experience with caloric burn rates to compensate for its inaccuracy.  I'll follow what new advancements Body Media comes up with and if they can package the Bodybugg in a different way so that it is more comfortable, I will definitely make the switch back.

Given it was a holiday yesterday, it is a short work week - yay!  I hope every one has a great rest of the week ahead!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Climbing Elephant Butte

A unique feature of Denver that very few people know about are its Mountain Parks.  In the early 20th century, the leaders of the young city of Denver concluded that it would be in the city's best interests to preserve tracts of wilderness outside of Denver's boundaries.  This decision was driven by the idea of setting aside land that might otherwise be developed so that it could be used by the people of Denver for recreation and to allow the city dwellers to escape into the wilderness.  What started in 1910 has continued and grown.  There are now 22 properties, holding over 14,000 acres of land that make up the Denver Mountain Parks system.  Many of these properties are parks in which trails, picnic shelters and other facilities have been built.  A small number of these properties have remained untouched and undeveloped.

Elephant Butte is one of the Denver Mountain Park properties that has remained untouched over all these years.  According to everything I could find on the Internet, there are no trails in the Elephant Butte property.  In the center of this preserved space is Elephant Butte, which is an 8,400 foot rocky point that looms over the Jefferson County mountain town of Evergreen.  Located to the southwest of downtown Evergreen, Elephant Butte is "sandwiched" between Evergreen Lake and the Jefferson County Open Space - Alderfers Three Sisters Park.

(Elephant Butte as seen from Blue Bird Meadow Trail in the Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space)

Each time I have gone to Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space to hike, I have looked at Elephant Butte in the distance and told myself that someday I was going to climb to the top of it.  This past Tuesday, after getting Zack off to the bus, I set out on my journey to climb Elephant Butte.

Driving to Evergreen I encountered the typical morning rush hour traffic along highway C470. It honestly wasn't that bad as Denver's rush hour traffic is no where near as congested as other cities.  Thankfully most of my journey was on the winding roads of Bear Creek Canyon.  Though traffic was sparse the sharp curves and steep inclines ensured that I kept my speed in check.

I arrived at the parking area of Three Sisters/Alderfer's Open Space and realized based upon the lack of cars that it was pretty likely I would have the trails to myself.  Looking towards Elephant Butte to the north, I reminded myself that the looks of a mountain are usually quite deceiving, as it didn't look like it would be a hard climb.  Assuming a mountain is an easy climb is a great way to get yourself into trouble!

In preparation for this climb I had done a lot of reading about Elephant Butte.  There wasn't one article in which a trail to the top was mentioned.  It was going to be an off trail bushwhack to reach the top of this mountain.  From the parking area I would strike out on the Bluebird Meadow trail and then link up with Mountain Mulhy trail.  Following this trail for about 8/10 of a mile, I would cross Buffalo Creek and then move off trail to cover the last 3/4 of a mile to the summit of Elephant Butte.

The first part of my hike was wonderful as I meandered along the trails.  Moving steadily down hill towards Buffalo Creek, I entered a small valley still in the early morning shadows.  The cool morning air was still and calm.  It seemed as though I had entered a different world removed from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.  This sense of peace and calm was further emphasized when I came across a pair of mule deer quietly grazing on the banks of Buffalo Creek.  They startled me more than I startled them and I stood there for several long minutes looking at them as they assessed whether I was a danger or not.

Letting the deer to graze in peace, I continued my journey down to the bottom of the valley and Buffalo Creek.  Taking a last look at the trail to ensure I could find my way back, I struck off into the bush.  I was able to follow a faint path along the pine needle strewn forest floor.  Eventually the heavy forest cover and the trail petered out and I found myself along the steep flanks of Elephant Butte.

To climb this mountain, I would need to carefully navigate my way up the steep slopes without putting myself into a perilous situation.  The method I use to bushwhack my way up a mountain like this is to "follow the green".  That is, I try and follow the areas in which trees and bush grow up the side of the mountain.  If a tree or shrub can grow on it, then it usually means that the ground isn't too steep to walk upon - usually.

It seemed like it took forever but I finally arrived at a point on the mountain right below the top slab of the mountain and it was there that I came across a path.  Coming across the path was both reassuring and annoying.  It was reassuring in the fact that I would be able to get my way off the mountain without having to go back they way I came and it was annoying in the fact that there was obviously a path that ran the whole way up and down the mountain.  I spent all the time and put myself in peril to reach this height on the mountain only to find that there was a path the whole way up it!

Following the path to the top was difficult at it was not a formal, well constructed path.  There were several points in which the path seemed to fade away but it was because there was an abrupt turn that wasn't marked.  Eventually I gave up on the path and got down on my hands and knees and climbed the last several hundred feet to the top.

Obtaining the summit presented a marvelous view in all directions!  I could see clearly for many miles.  Though the climb had been difficult, it was well worth it because of all the wonderful views.



 (Some of the views from the top of Elephant Butte.)

There were several peak registers in a plastic container stuffed in the hollow of a dead pine tree near the summit.  Of course I had to stop and sign the register and read what others who had come before me had written.  It is fun to see the thoughts and comments of those who have scaled the mountain.

After spending about 30 minutes enjoying the view at the top, I started back down.  Shortly after I left the top I ran into an older gentleman walking towards the summit.  We stopped and talked for a short bit and I asked him about the trail.  He was able to provide me with a couple of reference points so that I could follow the trail the whole way down.  Needless to say that made my return trip down the mountain so much quicker!

To help those who scale Elephant Butte in the future I used my GPS to mark where the informal trail to the top of Elephant Butte starts.  This trail branches off of the Mountain Mulhy trail in Alderfer Three Sisters Open Space at these coordinates -  N 39.37.736 W 105.21.609.  The branch point is not obvious at all and unless you are looking for it, you probably will not find it.  If you intend to climb Elephant Butte, use these coordinates as it will make your hike so much easier!

Elephant Butt is just one of the many hikes and climbs that I have been doing in the two weeks since Zack went back to school.  I have many more of these hikes planned in the coming days and weeks.  As the weather and the leaves begin to change, I'll be heading further into the mountains to see the wonderful colors of autumn.

I hope everyone is enjoying there long weekend and has a great day off tomorrow!

Thanks and peace to all!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Lex!

Ten years ago today, a little brown puppy entered this world along with his litter mates.  He didn't have a name on that day and won't take on his moniker as "Lex the crazy dog" for another 8 weeks when I picked him out of a scrum of puppies running madly around a small room.  What caught my eye about him as opposed to all the other puppies was that he was the most hyper-active, crazy of them all.  He ran around that room so fast, that he couldn't keep his footing and slid head first into the wall.  Yes - he was truly the puppy for me!

We brought him home with us that day and he has been part of our family from that day.  Even when he did extremely crazy and wild things we loved him and cherished him.  Some of the things that Lex has done over the years have indeed been crazy and out of control, but they were never done with a bit of anger or malice.  He did what he did just because he was and still is a pup who loves life and thinks that world is his to own.  If I could tally the expense for all things that he has destroyed or damaged, I am sure it would be enough to buy a nice car.  But it doesn't matter one bit as he has continually brought happiness and joy to our lives.

Even during the dark times we went through between 2006 and 2008, he was always there waiting to greet us when we came in the door.  Wagging his tail so hard that if it hit you a welt would immediately appear on your skin, Lex has made us know everyday that we are the most important things in life and he loves us no matter what.

Unfortunately we don't know how much longer we will have our "crazy boy" in our lives.  The cancer he was diagnosed with in June is a very bad cancer and there are no guarantees.  Yet he is still a very strong dog and he has an unbelievable determination to live.  He should have died that day in June when the tumor pierced the blood vessel in his spleen.  But he didn't, even despite losing over 2 liters of blood.  Regardless of the prognosis, Lex is alive and enjoying his 10th birthday.  Even as I sit here writing this post, I can hear him in the living room chomping on his rawhide chewy that I gave him for his special day.  Lex, my crazy, wonderful, happy, always hungry dog may you have many more years to spend with us!  We love you puppy dog!

(Lex arriving at our house for the first time.  Wasn't he such a cutie-pie!)  

 (It's almost hard to see Lex as he is practically being smothered by our older Lab Bailey.  What is so funny is that when we brought Lex home, all Bailey wanted to do was hangout with Lex and play with him.  Years later after Bailey died and we got Finnegan, when we introduced the two of them - Lex and Finnegan, Lex wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with Finnegan.  Of course all of that has now changed as Lex and Finn are the absolute best friends.  They can't stand to be apart!)

 (Bailey watched out for Lex so much when Lex was a pup.  Lex showed Bailey his "gratitude but torturing him with bites,nips and constant pestering.  Actually, I think Bailey loved it because he just wanted to be with that little puppy at all times.)
(As you can imagine, a certain little boy became fast friends with Lex!)

(This is an utterly classic picture of our boy!)


(This is one of my all time favorite pictures of Lex.  I took this about 3.5 years ago when we were out for a walk at Cherry Creek State Park.  It shows Lex's true spirit and his joy of life.  He is an unstoppable force that embraces all that life has to offer and enjoys every single second of it.)

I tried to get a birthday picture of our crazy boy, but he is just too absorbed in his chewy to listen to anything I say.  Well - I'll just have to update this post once he has devoured the whole thing and will pose for a picture!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to Work!

After a summer of fun and enjoyment, tomorrow is the day that the world becomes serious again and the focus returns to work.  Zack will attend his first full day of classes as a freshman tomorrow and I will embark upon the new career I have chosen.

Our schedule this school year is going to be an early one.  At one point I was used to waking at very early hours as I was continuously working with my team in India, however over the last 8 weeks or so I have grown use to a more leisurely wake-up time.  Tomorrow that needs to change as Zack will have to be out of bed at 5:40am so that he can catch his school bus at 6:20am.  His bus stop this year is 4 tenths of mile away which is much further than his middle school bus stop.  Therefore he is going to need to be out of the house by 6:05am. This early daily routine is now going to be our normal day-to-day life.

My work for the next two months is going to be focused on completing several projects around the house and gathering a ton of background material for my writing.  For Monday my schedule is pretty well planned as I will be getting up at 5:30am to make sure Zack is awake.  As he gets older I will turn the responsibility square over to him, but for his freshman and sophomore years of high school, I anticipate getting up whenever he needs to be awake.

I'll hang out with him while he has breakfast and gets ready for school.  Given it is the first day of high school, I will subject him to having his picture taken quite a few times!  I might take pity upon him and drive him to the bus stop.  After that I am off to do a 5 - 6 mile hike through the Jefferson County South Valley Open Space.  My goal is to hike as many mile of the trails in this open space as possible as I want to capture a lot of good information for writing.  In addition to my normal trail supplies of food and emergency gear, I will be carrying my camera to take lots of photos, a notebook to take notes and my GoPro video camera so that I can go back and look at the film if I forget any of the details of the hike.

After my return from the hike, the entire afternoon is going to be spent working on my garage.  Later in the fall I will be doing some more in-depth home renovation projects and I need the space in the garage for a work shop.

As this summer ends I look back upon all the different changes that have happened.  The biggest change of course was moving on from the corporate rat race.  That change was anticipated for the future as I had only planned to continue to work in the corporate arena for another 2 - 4 years.  Even though this change occurred earlier than I had planned it has been a wonderful opportunity!  The timing of the change was exceedingly good for a variety of reasons.  Most importantly it is giving me the extra time to spend with Zack while he goes through the transition to high school.  My financial position, along with the generous package I received from my employer has allowed me to voyage into this new opportunity without a care in the word and without the pressure to get back into a corporate position.

 (A picture from one of our summer adventures, at the top of Capulin Volanco in New Mexico.  It's a national monument located about 40 miles west of Raton, New Mexico.)

There is no life without change and there is some massive change coming our way in the next several days.  It's time for us to buckle up and get ready for the ride!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

There's a High School Freshman in the House

fresh·man

[fresh-muhn] noun, plural fresh·men, adjective
noun
1. a student in the first year of the course at a university, college, or high school.
2. a novice; beginner.

The day that many parents dread has finally arrived at our house - Zack is officially a high school freshman.  He registered for classes this morning at Cherry Creek High School and he begins his high school journey tomorrow at 6:20am when he will board the bus for freshman orientation.  

It's obvious from today's registration that high school is going to be very different than middle school.  Parents are not allowed to accompany their kids through the registration process.  The students must do it by themselves.  Zack seemed surprised by this but was very OK with it.  He was more displeased with the fact that registration was taking much longer than expected and from where he entered the line it was a 45 minute to 1 hour and 15 minute wait.  He did manage to survive the wait!  I didn't want to hear him whine about how boring it would be, so I left him there to find people in line with whom to talk.

The differences between the high school of my youth and the high school of today are amazing.  From my perspective it seem as though high school is more like the experience I had attending college in the mid 1980's.  Students of today's high schools are expected to come to school and really drive their own educational process.  Not much is force fed to them and their path through school is really self determined.

Even the selection of courses that are available to high school students of today is significantly more diverse.  Instead of the generic "gym" or physical education courses that we all took in the 1980's, there are now a plethora of choices.  For Zack's first semester of physical education he will be taking a weight lifting course.  Before I know it, he is going to have more physical strength than do I.  That will be a very interesting change in the family dynamic!

Without a doubt I will be penning many more stories about Zack's days in high school.  There are many more "firsts" yet to come.  The next four years are sure to be an interesting and exciting time for us!

Hope everyone has a great Friday ahead.

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adventure Time - Zack's 15th Birthday At Water World

It is tremendously hard to believe that Zack, the young man who I once referred to as "my little Zackie" turned 15 years old yesterday.  Zack is definitely now a young man. He is only an inch or two shorter than me.  He needs to shave at least once a week or he starts to look like a shaggy beast.  It seems as each day his strength and muscles grow larger.  Despite his size, muscles, beard and mustache in my heart he is and will always be "my little Zackie".

For Zack's birthday celebration this year Zack and I along with two of Zack's best friends - Jess and James, headed to Denver's Water World water park.  Water World is one of the largest water parks in the United States.  It features over 49 different water slides, pools, surfing features and even a water based roller coaster. 

I had hoped to be on the road to Water World around 9:15AM but we had a couple of delays (mainly me sleeping in) that didn't see us on the road until almost 9:30AM.  I felt like a school bus driver as I made stops to pick up Zack's friends.  The water park is about 20 miles to the north of our home in Centennial so we didn't end up arriving until almost 10:20am.  The fact that one of his friends was still sound asleep when we arrived at his home also slowed us down a bit.

Once through the gates we quickly found an excellent place next to the largest wave pool to set up shop.  I made sure each of the kids covered themselves in sun screen as I didn't want any of them getting sun burnt and then we were off to have fun.

Zack and his buddies mainly spent their day in the Thunder Bay wave pool.  This pool is a monstrous sized wave pool that is capable of generating massive 5 - 7 feet tall waves.  I had rented each of them the large inner tubes that that are available at the park.  They loved hanging out in this pool riding the waves all day. I on the other hand took off and hit just about every attraction that is available in the park.  (You didn't expect me to spend the day hanging around with Zack and his two best geek buddies in the world did you?) I tried to do at least one of each type of attraction that is available in the park.  I even did the "pipeline" slides that rise over 6 stories into the air and plunge you down almost vertically into a shallow basin of water.  I don't know how fast you go on those slides but they are incredibly fast and you definitely experience a free fall sensation as you go off the top.  As I stood at the top looking down, I did question why I was doing this crazy extreme thing.  But once I was on it sliding downward, I loved it.

The Gang of Geeks - They call themselves geeks - it's just not me!

We spent the entire day at Water World.  Leaving there at 5:00PM we immediately ran into rush hour traffic which made the ride home very long.  Going home we dropped off Zack's friends and stopped to pick up Nancy.  For Zack's birthday dinner he wanted pizza and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.  After we got Nancy to the house I left to get the pizza and the cake.

The evening was as enjoyable as the rest of the day.  In addition to Nancy, my brother and Lisa and her youngest son all came and had dinner with us.  Zack got several very nice gifts and we all enjoyed a very tasty dinner together.  The pizza was from our local pizzeria located in Willow Creek - Mama Roma's.  I am not sure why, but they do have some of the best pizza in this world.  They also make a really tasty Italian dressing for their salads.  The dressing is so good that we always get an extra 2 or 3 servings so that we can dip our pizza in it.  It is so yummy!

Zack lighting up the candles on his b-day cake.

The birthday boy and me

Tomorrow (Friday) we embark upon another adventure as we are headed to New Mexico for the day.  We'll be getting up very early as we intend to visit the Capulin Volcano National Monument and the Cimarron Canyon before picking up one of my nephews and his buddy from the Boy Scouts of America Philmont Scout Ranch outside of Cimarron, NM.  It should be another great day with lots of new and exciting sights for us to see.

Hope everyone has had a great week so far!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer Time Photos

Without passion, writing is a burden to be borne like a yoke on the back of an ox.  Lacking the drive and the passion makes it hard for the words to flow and the ideas to spring unbound from your mind.  Right now I seem to lack that passion to write this blog.  My day-to-day thoughts are instead turned to the projects on which I am working and the helping Zack continue his growth.  I will eventually rediscover the passion for blogging, but for now my writing efforts are focused almost exclusive on those projects that will get me published.  I believe I am close to that goal and I will of course announce it here on this blog the day that first article or book is accepted for publication. 

For now instead of a long narrative of our adventures and fun that we have had I will post these pictures that capture some of the beauty we have seen this summer.

 Hiking into the prairie at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
 Don't mess with the big guys at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (RMANWR)

 Water fowl habitat at RMANWR.

Big Sky at RMANWR

Hiking in unique rock formations at Staunton Ranch State Park - Colorado's newest state park.

 An interesting array of wildflowers

 Gorgeous scenery at Staunton Ranch State Park

 Hiking the wetlands at Flying J' Ranch Open Space

 Water break!

I love trails like this through the deep forest!
Zack on the ropes course at his Outward Bound Expedition

Zack climbing high on a cliff face during Outward Bound.  Never would have believed he did this until I saw the pictures!  I am very proud of what he accomplished on Outward Bound!

Zack and his team ready to do some serious hiking.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.

Friday, July 12, 2013

And So Begins A New Chapter....

Today marks the end of one chapter in my life and the beginning of another.  After 14 years, today is my last day of employment with my current employer.  I began work at my current employer on April 5, 1999 when I started a new job with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Consulting.  In October of 2002, PwC Consulting was sold in it's entirety to my current employer.

In the years since 2002, I have had many different roles and responsibilities with my employer and I have endured through many reorganizations, shifts in corporate direction and layoffs.  When my employer announced their financial results for the first quarter of 2013, the results did not meet Wall Streets expectations.  To help meet Wall Street's expectations going forward, my employer also announced with its financial results that it would spend over $1 billion to reduce the work force and re-balance staffing between more expensive countries and less expensive countries.  Little did I know that I would get caught up in this work force re-balancing.  On June 12 I was offered severance package I couldn't refuse and today is now my last day with my current employer.  I can feel nothing but gratitude for the people who I have worked with and the company that has given me so much over the last 14 years.  It is bittersweet to leave after so long, but it is also something that will inspire positive change in me and will allow me to grow, learn and expand my horizons!

This might seem like a bad situation but instead I feel that it is a tremendous opportunity.  I am now free to pursue my passions of writing and photography without the need to spend 8 - 12 hours a day working for a corporation.  Now I will be working directly for myself, doing the things for which I have a passion! 

Over the last month my thoughts and efforts have been focused around the changes that come as of today and as a result I haven't very little.  I have even been silent on Facebook if you can believe that!  But now that all the pieces have come together the time available to write is returning - so there is much more to come.  I hope you all will continue to follow this blog in the days, weeks, months and years ahead as adventures are just starting.

Thanks and peace to all! ~J. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer 2013 - Outward Bound for Zack and Bicycle Tour Colorado for Jerry

It's hard to believe that summer is upon us!  Zack finished school on Monday and now has 10 weeks of summer bliss to look forward to.  Unfortunately for me the work schedule will continue on the same as it does every other month.  However with Zack out of school we will be doing some things like spending more time in the mountains.  As a matter of fact, I am writing this blog entry from there as we left home early this evening and are now hanging out in our condo in Silverthorne.

With the summer season comes plans for summer vacations.  Unlike last year we do not have any international travel planned for the summer of 2013.  I considered taking a trip to Ireland for a week, but the economics of it given all that we had done to the house in 2012 just didn't make sense.  So instead we are staying close to home and pursuing a different sort of vacation.  In fact, Zack and I will be taking separate trips!

Zack's trip is an Outward Bound Expedition.  For those of you who might not know of Outward Bound, it is an organization that is dedicated to providing young people and adults experiential trips into the wilderness.  They describe their purpose in this way on their website.  "Outward Bound is the premier provider of experience-based outdoor leadership programs for youth and adults. Outward Bound courses change lives and give you the tools to see further, climb higher and know your way."

Both Zack and I are hoping that he will gain some valuable life experience and internal confidence from taking part in one of their expeditions.  We discussed a lot of different options as to what kind of course he would take, as there are options for backpacking, mountaineering, canoeing, etc.  After our discussions we decided that he would take part in a backpacking expedition that was specifically for kids who have suffered some in-depth loss in their life.  Both Zack and I felt, along with the Outward Bound counselors that this kind of course would give him the best opportunity to grow in specific areas that deal with all the trauma the he experienced with Patty's illness and death.

The expedition he will taking part in is in the middle of July and will take place in Collegiate Peaks area of Colorado.  It will be a great experience for him.  He has experienced a good amount of camping in his life so that won't be a shock to him.  Additionally, in past summers we have done a lot of hiking in the Colorado high country, so that shouldn't be much of a challenge.  What will challenge him is doing both at once and sharing the experience with a group of other kids.  He won't be able to put off doing things and will be part of a team seeking to accomplish a series of goals.  It really should be a great experience for him that will hopefully help him grow and come to terms with all that he has experienced in life and all that he has lost.

As for me, I have big challenge ahead of me.  I will be riding in the 2013 edition of Bicycle Tour Colorado.  This year the Tour will be a 483 mile loop starting in Canyon City.  A total of seven days will be spent biking through the beautiful Colorado scenery.  The first day takes us 86 miles from Canon City to Buena Vista.  Day 2 goes from Buena Vista to Carbondale covering a distance of 91 miles.  From Carbondale we will travel 58 miles to Paonia on Day 3.  The next day we will have a choice of routes to reach Crest Butte.  We can travel 47 miles, including 26 miles on dirt over Keebler Pass or do 111 miles and stay on paved roads.  After the tough ride to Crested Butte we get a day off to enjoy that beautiful town before taking on a 99 mile ride on Day 6 of the tour to Salida.  The last day takes us on a short 55 miles jaunt from Salida back to Canyon City.

(Bicycle Tour Colorado Route for this years ride.)

It should be a great ride if my body will cooperate and stop hurting!  Surprisingly as I have been ramping up my biking throughout the last month my back has responded very well.  For reasons unknown to me however, my right elbow and wrist have been killing me.  Unfortunately, this makes some of the motions I go through while riding my bike very painful.  Based upon the symptoms it seems like it is the proverbial "tennis elbow", though I don't play tennis.  My doctor has me on steroids to help resolve the situation.  Worst case, each morning with my breakfast of energy bars I will eating a bunch of Advil to shed the pain.

The tour takes place from June 22 - June 29, so hopefully the weather will be good and we will not yet be into the really hot days of July.  My prior experience riding the BTC in 2008 was fantastic and I am looking forward to the experience this year.  I will be doing the ride with my college roommate Allen.  Even though we only see each other at most once a year, we still have the same easy go lucky friendship we had in college.  So I am sure we will have a good time!

Zack's school came to an end on Monday, with the 8th grade class picnic at Elitch Gardens Amusement Park in Denver.  I can't believe that he is on the verge of going to high school!  It seems so strange to me as I still think of him as my "little Zackie".  He is anything but these days as he is only about 2 inches shorter than I am and is becoming built like a brick wall.  You always hear people say it but you never believe it, our kids do grow up so fast!  Though I miss those days when he was a little kid, I am so proud to see my son growing up and becoming a young man!


House of Death

This article was forwarded to me by the volunteer coordinator at the hospice at which I volunteer.  The subject matter is relatively profound and explains something that very few people every talk about - so I thought I would share it.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/01/house-of-death/

For those of you who don't know, I volunteer at a Hospice in my town.  There were a bunch of reasons that got me to start volunteering there over 2 years ago.  I don't need those reasons now, as I have come to enjoy the work that I do there and find it very fulfilling.

The hospice at which I volunteer was the place in which my mom died back in 1999 and though I didn't agree with the philosophy of hospice back then, I have come to see it as so important in terms of helping people leave this life with some dignity and on their own terms.  Additionally, after all that I went through when Patty was sick and dying, I really feel like I understand what the families feel and experience.  So being able to just give even one family the understanding of "you aren't alone" is a great thing.  I wish so much when Patty was so ill, I had someone to give me that understanding.

If you would, take a read of the article and understand how important hospices are.  And if you have the gumption,  how about finding you local hospice and think about volunteering or helping out.  Chances are, it will leave you with some pretty deep but good feelings.

Thanks for reading! ~J.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Bridges of Summit County

In the woods of Colorado, you can always hear a stream long before you see it.  The sound of rushing water fills the air for what seems to be miles around each and every stream.  As soon as that sound comes into ear shot I begin to wonder what I will find when the stream comes into view.  Will it be a little stream joyfully flowing through a flower covered meadow?  Or will it be a torrent rushing down the mountainside carrying the melting snow of the last 6 months of winter?  And then my mind quickly jumps to the next question, how will we cross this stream.  And then many times in the midst of this wilderness tract, I am surprised to come across a man-made bridge that crosses the stream.

On Saturday as Zack and I made our way through the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area, we were following the course of two very significant streams - The Middle and South Forks of Willow Creek.  Though they are called "Forks" each of these watercourses is a major stream in it's own right.  Our hike weaved in and out of the water sheds of both of theses streams.


We crossed and re-crossed both of these streams numerous times.  Each time there was an unexpected surprise in the fact there was a bridge for us to cross these raging torrents.  Coming across these bridges is just the most marvelous experience.  I am not sure why they elicit such a feeling of surprise and amazement in me but they do.  Here's a few of the many bridges that we crossed yesterday.  By these pictures you can tell that the Gore Range is definitely one of the more wet mountain chains in Colorado.












Zack and I usually have no problem crossing the rushing streams on these bridges.  The dogs however, clearly do not like it.  Despite the extreme frigid temperatures of the water, the dogs will frequently plunge head first into the torrent to escape the difficulty of crossing the bridges.  Maybe it isn't so much that the bridges are hard for them to cross, it could also be that they just love being in the water!

Hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Moose on the Loose...

I had a totally different subject that I was going to write about this evening but instead, I am going to write about our close encounter with a moose.

This morning when Zack and I went out for a hike, we hiked into an area of the Gore Range that is known for having a population of moose.  As we hiked through the dense forest we crossed and re-crossed the middle and south forks of a stream called Willow Creek.  Due to the spring snow melt, these streams are full to the point of overflowing their banks.  In many places the streams have spilled out and have turned meadows into marshes that are just filled with dense green vegetation.  This got me to wondering if we were going to see any moose while on our hike as the conditions were exactly what moose like.  But unfortunately we did happen to spy any moose.  Bummer.

After our hike we went back to our condo and spent the afternoon relaxing.  Both Zack and I managed to take naps.  It is almost unexplainable how great it feels to take a nap at the condo.  After a day of strenuous hiking it is the greatest thing.  My bedroom faces towards the forest and when I take a nap, I open the blinds and the window.  This allows me to get a nice breeze into the bedroom and see the tops of nearby aspen trees swaying in the wind.  Sunlight floods into my bedroom in the morning, but by the afternoon it is deep in the shadows.

It was almost 5:30PM when I awoke from my nap and got about the rest of the business of the day.  There wasn't really anything major to do except feed the dogs and taking them out into the forest so they can do the things that they need to do after eating.  Given the amount of space around and the fact that my dogs normally listen when I call them, for the most part I leave them off leash for these walks.

As we were coming back to the condo after this evening's walk, I was focused on calling the dogs and keeping them close.  For whatever reason as we get closer to the condo they tend to be less obedient, but today they were following my directions very well.  Given the focus I had on the dogs, I wasn't concentrating too much on the situation around me.  That lead to the big surprise.  As we were getting close to the steps to go up to the condo, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a massive shape coming around the corner of the building.  It was big enough that it caused me to do a double take and quickly realize that it was massive bull moose!  Once all this dawned on my brain, I practically jumped out of my skin.

Thankfully the dogs were close at hand and I managed to quickly grab them by their collars to keep them from rushing him.  Lex didn't seem to care at all.  He stared at the moose and didn't do a thing.  Finn on the other hand, decided he needed to make a fuss.  He got down on his haunches and started to growl.  At that point, Mr. Moose decided he wasn't too pleased with me and the dogs.  He gave us a thorough stare down and started to make some snorting noises.  The end result of all of this was that I kept a strong hold on the dogs and got them up the stairs to the condo!


 Once I had the dogs on the steps up to the condo, I called out to Zack to let him know what was going on.  He came out of the condo and stood on the deck.  Of course he was utterly amazed when he saw the moose in the courtyard below.  When the dogs were safely in the condo we both went down to the deck of the unit below us to look at this amazing and beautiful creature.  Our neighbors, having heard me call out to Zack about the "moose in the courtyard" all came out to get a look.  Everyone stood around watching this massive animal feast on the lush green grass and dandelions that fill the courtyard of our condo complex.  It was amazing to watch him tear massive amounts of foliage out of the ground and devour them.  If he decides to keep coming back to our condo complex, our management company isn't going to have to mow the grass this summer!

video

He must have stayed in the courtyard gorging on the plentiful grass and dandelions for a good 30 - 45 minutes.  All of our neighbors were respectful of him and no one got too close.  He seemed to feel safe, comfortable and not threatened as he kept munching away without a sideways glance towards anyone.  When he was done with his meal, he causally meandered over to a small grove of aspen trees, lay down and chewed his cud.  It was an amazing experience to see all of this!

I managed to take a whole bunch of pictures with my camera, but unfortunately I do not have my memory card reader with me.  Instead, I can only post the pictures I took with my cell phone and a bit of video footage.  Regardless, I really wanted to share this story with you all!

I sincerely hope everyone is having a safe, happy and fun Memorial Day Weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~J.



Friday, May 10, 2013

Another News Story to be Commented Upon: Why Vultures Devoured Hiker's Body in Minutes

Why Vultures Devoured Hiker's Body in Minutes

I must really be in a verbose mood yesterday and today, as I keep wanting to put things out there.  This one is gross but that isn't the real point of why I am commenting on it.  I have seen this story on several websites in the last 2 - 3 days and whereas most people feel revulsion by the whole story, I think there is a wider lesson to be discussed.

First off, here are the first couple of paragraphs as written on NBCNews.com.  (For the entire story, click on either the main title of this post or the line at the top of the entry.)

"A flock of vultures devoured the body of a woman just minutes after she fell to her death while hiking in the Pyrenees Mountains in France. 

The woman, 52, had been hiking with two friends when she fell about 1,000 feet (300 meters) down the side of a steep mountain. Police believed she died from injuries sustained during the fall, the Daily Mail reports.

Vultures are known to be able to sniff out the gaseous chemicals emanating from a dead body more than a mile away.

"When we first went out in the helicopter looking for the body, we saw numerous vultures, without realizing what they were doing," said Maj. Didier Pericou, of the local police, as quoted in the Daily Mail.

But by the time the police reached the body, there was little left to recover.

"There were only bones, clothes and shoes left on the ground," Pericou said. "They took 40 to 50 minutes to eat the body."

The Griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) that consumed the body have been under considerable stress, as their primary source of food — the carcasses of cattle or other livestock — are no longer available throughout much of Europe."

Ok the story is gross.  It's not a pleasant thought to be eaten by a vulture.  Though on an interesting side note, for followers of the Zoroastrian religion that is how they traditionally depose of their dead.  However the Zoroastrianism tradition of placing their dead in "towers of silence" and letting vultures come and eat them is ending because in many countries where there are Zoroastrians, vultures are dying off in unprecedented numbers.  (If you are interested, here is a link to an article on the Zoroastrian "Towers of Silence".  Please be aware there are a couple of graphic photos of a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence in the article. Don't read the whole way to the end if you are squeamish. Zoroastrian Towers of Silence)

The key thing I took from reading all of this was the fact that you have an entire species of animal that are so desperate for food that they are beginning to stray from their pre-programmed genetic instincts just to survive.  Think of how desperately hungry those birds must be.  It's utterly horrible what happened to the woman who died.  (I need to make sure everyone understands that!)  But in a world that we humans are recasting as a man made creation, an even greater tragedy is occurring as an entire species is fighting for survival.  What will our world be like if it loses yet another species?  It is really sad to think.  And as much as vultures are gross-looking, scary birds, think of what it must be like to be one of those individuals - starving and finding no food.  The whole story is just a difficult one to read and process but I thought I need to share my thoughts.

The picture below is a Griffon's Vulture, which is the kind that ate the woman in France.  The funny thing is, they aren't that bad looking, they are actually kind of cute.  Usually you think of vultures as the kind that are always shown in movies with bald heads and totally black feathers.  In reality, the kind shown in movies seem to look more like California Condors rather than vultures.



Hope everyone is having a great Friday!!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

TimeLapse

It's late on a Thursday evening and it's been a busy day - lots going on with work today, lots going on with Zack, had dinner with a friend of mine and Lisa stopped by after an evening out with some of her friends.  So I am quite surprised by myself in the fact that I am writing a blog post at 10:55PM!

The post is going to be short and sweet.  I was reading the headlines on NBCNews.Com and I came across this article that I thought was really amazing and I wanted to share with my readers.  The article, which you can find at this link http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/09/18150228-time-lapse-map-chronicles-decades-of-global-change-as-seen-from-space?lite, is about a new website launched by Google and the people who operate the Landsat satellites.

A brief background on Landsat is provided by the following selection, taken from Wikipedia.  "The Landsat program is the longest running enterprise for acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth. On July 23, 1972 the Earth Resources Technology Satellite was launched. This was eventually renamed to Landsat.[1] The most recent, Landsat Data Continuity Mission, was launched on February 11, 2013. The instruments on the Landsat satellites have acquired millions of images. The images, archived in the United States and at Landsat receiving stations around the world, are a unique resource for global change research and applications in agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, regional planning, surveillance and education. Landsat 7 data has eight spectral bands with spatial resolutions ranging from 15 to 60 meters; the temporal resolution is 16 days."

This website called "TimeLapse" presents time lapse imagines of major changes that have occurred on the earth's surface in the last 40 years as captured by Landsat satellite imagery.  Some of these time lapse movies are amazing.  One of the more interesting ones that I watched  was the development of the City of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.  In the first images seen, Dubai is nothing more than a sandy desert.  Over time you can see the increasing presence of buildings road, trains and other man-made structures.  Much more significant change can be seen in pictures dating from the early 2000's.  In those images the development of the artificial made island chains called the Palm Jumeirah, the Palm Jebel Ali and the Palm Deira can be seen.  To me this one of the most remarkable changes that can be seen in entire world - the development of entire chains of islands.

Other images that were developed in time lapse imagery include; the deforestation of the Amazon River Basin, the growth of major cities like Las Vegas and Shanghai, environment and way of life destruction with the development of Alberta's oil sand and deep rock coal mining occurring in Wyoming.

Spending some time looking at this website in any way might knock you right out of your socks due the shear magnitude of the changes that are occurring in the world today.

The bottom line is that many people of a right viewpoint, will view this website as just dragging  the Amercian public deeper into the hand of the left.  Seeing some of these images will be certain to drive the against the idea of more development.  How much development is constantly needed if we can already see and record these changes from space.

Here's the website for the Maps in TimeLaspe format.

http://world.time.com/timelapse/

Well - I really better get to bed.  I decided to write this on a whim after I had readed it on MSCBC.Com.  My body is still trying  to catch up from having only a few days this week in which I got a proper sleep!   Don't want my lack of sleep to linger on into the weekend as that would be not fru at all!

Please excuse the type and spelling errors in this post, as they are occurring because I definitely lacking sleep to.

Thanks and peace tol

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Changing of the Guard - Goodbye BodyBugg, Hello FitBit

Zack and I are some of the biggest technology wieners there are.  We are constantly using technology in our everyday lives and are always researching what is taking place in the development of technology.

Each of us have our various areas within technology that we like to use and research.  Zack's primary technology focus is obvious, video games and video game platforms.  He is able to give you an almost blow-by-blow history of the development of various video game platforms (i.e Playstation, Wii, Nintendo DS, etc.)  He can tell you the years that they came out, what their main features were and how successful they were.  The same holds true for various video game franchises.  For example, one of his favorite video game franchises is Nintendo's Mario Bros.  Zack know each of the many games in the series, who are the main characters and what platform for which it was released - Nintendo 64, Nitendo Game Cube, Wii or the WiiU.

Personally, I wish Zack had some other technology area of intense interest other than video games.  But given he is a 14 year-old boy, I guess it just is what it is.  I am sure as the years pass he will develop other, more worthwhile interests in technology.

As for me, my primary tech interests are GPS technology and body performance tracking.  GPS technology is pretty well self explanatory.  Body performance tracking is not so self-explanatory.  This term is not necessarily even an industry accepted term, instead it is just a term I use to describe what I attempt to do.

Body performance tracking is how well your body is working to accomplish a goal.  For me the goal that I want to track is how well I am getting to or maintain the weight I want and ensuring a high level of activity to meet fitness goals.  The tool that I use in this effort is my trusty BodyBugg.  Essentially, the BodyBugg is a wearable microprocessor that tracks how active a person is and then translates this into how many calories they are burning.  My first notice of the Bodybugg was when I saw a clip of the show "The Biggest Loser".  I noticed that each contestant on the show was wearing a band around their biceps.  Not sure of what it was I asked person who I knew watched the show if they were aware of what it was.  They were, and told me all about the BodyBugg.  Given that I am such a numbers guy, the thought of tracking all the things that the BodyBugg tracked was an instant hit with me and I knew I had to have one.  Luckily for me, the BodyBugg was sold by the health club chain I belong to, 24 Hour Fitness.  So for Christmas of 2009, I got my first BodyBugg.

Immediately taken by all the data the BodyBugg provided me, I set out to track as much information as I could about myself using the device.  Ever since I first slipped that band around my arm in December of 2009, I have rarely been without a BodyBugg on my person.  I did stop using it for about 7 months from the time of my leg surgery in October 2011 until after my final back surgery in April of 2012.  But other than that period of time, I have tracked how many calories I burn, how much I walk and when I burn the most calories through my BodyBugg.  I am currently on my third device as being on my body 24 hours a day, with the exception of when I shower, tends to beat the crap out of them.  Based upon this constant usage I have expected to buy a new device once a year.

Despite my love of my BodyBugg, I recently made a fateful decision that it was time to replace the BodyBugg with a different device.  My decision to do this has been driven by the fact that the BodyBugg hasn't evolved much over the last 4 years.  Whereas there are other types of equipment that are entering the market place that capture even more information about you, the BodyBugg hasn't really changed over the years that I have owned one.

After doing some research I made the decision to migrate to the FitBit Flex technology.  I won't be able to transfer my old BodyBugg data to FitBit but so far none of the companies in this space have focused on making your data very portable.  So the transfer of data hasn't really played a major part in my decision.  (I mention the transfer of data, because it is something that I will discuss in another post this week about GPS's.)

The were several factors that made me decide upon the FitBit as opposed to another platform.  The first is that it is a wrist worn device.  The BodyBugg has to be worn around your bicep and it looks kind of goofy.  The elastic band by which you wear the BodyBugg is notoriously crappy.  Velcro is used to clasp the band together, but the Velcro patches are secured to the band with a sticky glue that doesn't hold too well.  The end result is that after about 4 weeks of wearing the band, the Velcro patch comes lose and then you either have to get another band or jury rig something to fix it.  For me, this has meant wrapping this patch in duck tape, which is not an attractive option.  With the constant pressure of the band around my bicep over the years, my arm has gotten to a point that it hurts, therefore I wanted to move to a band that sat on my wrist.

Another factor is the data that the FitBit tracks.  In addition to  how far I walk it also tracks things like how well I sleep each night.  The BodyBugg has no similar capability.  There are also a variety of different reports about how well your body performs available on the FitBit website.  Along with these reports, the FitBit does a much better job tracking your "Lifetime" statistics than does the BodyBugg.


(The old - my well worn BodyBugg.  Notice the silver duck tape on the strap.)

(My brand new FitBit Flex, notice how much smaller it is as compared to the BodyBugg.)

It's been a long run, but the time has come for me to bid my BodyBugg adieu.  I purchased my FitBit Flex on Saturday and for now I am doing a side-by-side test between it and the BodyBugg to understand the differences between the two and how they are calibrated.  Neither of these tools is 100% accurate, you just need to try and understand how they are different in the nuances by which they capture the data.

This has been somewhat of a mundane narrowly focused post, but it is something in which I have a tremendous interest.  If anyone ever wants to know anything about BodyBuggs or FitBits or any kind of body performance tracking - drop me a line as I might be able to help you out.

In a completely different line of thought, I haven't mentioned the H7N9 Bird Flu in over 2 weeks.  That's because there has been a let up of the news coverage of what is occurring.  If I were all "conspiracy theorist" I would say it was because the situation is out of control and the Chinese government is working with the UN to keep a lid on how bad it is.  Thankfully I am not a conspiracy theorist!  The reality is that according to all published reports the spread of this flu has slowed.  Hopefully it means that my alarmist blog posts of 2 weeks ago were wrong!  Though more people have died and the World Health Organization has pretty much admitted that over 40% of the known cases seem to have been caused by human-to-human transmission.  I am hoping that the news article that popped up today isn't indicative or more flu activity and deaths!

Happy Tuesday to everyone!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekend Re-Cap!

It's Monday evening and another weekend has flown past.  It is really unbelievable to me how quickly time can go by when you are not committed to doing things for work.  For most people when it comes to work, time seems to crawl.  I guess that is indicative of whether or not you love your work.  You can be the judge of what I think of my work.

Our weekend was busy and fun.  We had a bunch of things going on and we made it active.  The weather was great - though a little chilly for the beginning of May.  At least we did not have any snow as our May 1st snow storm has left most Coloradans wanting for the snow to end.

Saturday morning started bright and early with our first activity of the weekend - The Denver Furry Scurry.  The Furry Scurry is a fundraiser for Denver's Dumb Friends League (DDFL) which is the largest animal shelter in the metro area.  Basically it is a two mile dog walk around the lakes at Denver's Washington Park.  It's not a race or anything like that.  You just bring your dogs, give your contribution of however much, get a T-Shirt and walk around the park.  Of course there are hundreds of vendors hawking anything and everything that has to do with dogs.

From the estimates on the DDFL website it was anticipated that there would in excess of 5,000 dogs and their humans at the park for the event.  Have you ever walked two miles in the midst of 5,000 or more dogs?  It is an adventure!  All the dogs were exceedingly well behaved and every human was armed with several bags to pick up whatever the pups left behind.  So it wasn't crazy from either of those viewpoints.  It was crazy from the perspective of trying to keep your dog walking in a coherent manner when there are so many other interesting thing (many other dogs) around.

Both Finn and Lex did well.  I had imagined that Lex was going to be a handful, but once we started walking he was calm and well behaved.  Finn on the other hand gave Zack a workout.  (I was handling Lex on his leash and Zack had Finn.)  Finn just wanted to investigate everything!  He was amazed by all the smells, sounds and sights around him and had to check each one out.  In no way was he bad, he was just rambunctious.  Lisa came with us, so it was a very enjoyable early Saturday morning activity for all three of us!

(The pups, the boy and me.  Zack is only about 2 1/2 inches shorter than me!!)

(Zack and Lisa)

After the Furry Scurry, Zack and I spent some time at home just getting things done around the house.  In a departure from the normal, Zack actually agreed with me and did his homework on Saturday as opposed to waiting until Sunday.  I was truly amazed.

For Zack, Saturday evening's activity was unfortunately an over 21 affair.  Chris Hardwick the comedian from Comedy Central and the host of AMC's Talking Dead, was performing at the downtown Comedy Works on Saturday night, and Lisa had gotten tickets for us and her oldest son.  The three of us headed downtown around 5:00PM so that we could have dinner before the show.  We ate at a restaurant to which I had never been before called Tom's Urban 24. It's located right in Larimer Square in the same building as the Comedy Works.  They have an eclectic menu with a wide variety of choices.  It's a good restaurant, and we will go back again I am sure.

After dinner we spent some time wandering around the Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop.  It was fun to see all the old time candy and all the very unusual kinds of soda that they have.  They actually sell a Buffalo Wing flavored soda!  I love Buffalo Wings, but that just sounds gross to have in a soda.  Needless to say, they have just about every flavor of soda under the sun in the store - some good, some bad and some just horrible, like the Buffalo Wing flavored soda.

(Buffalo Wing Soda... Really???)

 (Love the name - spaz juice)

After getting some laughs looking at all the weird sodas and vintage types of candy, we headed over to the Comedy Works.  The place was absolutely packed as everyone seems to think Chris Hardwick is one funny dude!  The guy who was "hosting" the show really sucked if you asked me, but that could just be me.  The two opening acts were good.  They kept us laughing a lot!  Chris was in a league unto himself however.  I've seen numerous live comedy shows before, but he was unique in the fact that it seem he walked on stage with out knowing what he was going to say.  Yeah - he probably had some themes or ideas flushed out, but most of his act really involved in playing off of the audience.  He was amazing in terms of how quickly he could respond to something put out by an audience member with a really funny take on it.  Anyway - he was great and all three of us really enjoyed the show.

That was it for our Saturday.  Sunday wasn't as eventful of a day. Our only major activity for this day was going to see Ironman 3.  Having heard different reviews about the movie - some people liked it while others didn't, I was surprised to find that I liked it no questions asked.

After the movie, we caught a quick dinner at Noodles & Company with Lisa and her one son and then it was home to hunker down and get ready for the week.  Though Zack never likes when Sunday night rolls around, he was happy to note that he only has 4 more weeks of school remaining before summer break arrives!

I hope the week has started well for everyone.  And as always - thanks for reading!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.