It’s been over a year since I last posted and a lot and a little has gone on with MIMW2 since then.
The Executive Summary in a Shade Over 200 Words.
Since the last post, my consulting business dried up, I suffered a bout of depression that led to isolation, gaining weight and generally doing nothing. In May of 2013, I got a full-time temp job that was supposed to last for 3 months, but kept getting extended. At the end of the summer, feeling that long term employment was more secure, I bought a “new” car (2004 Volvo XC70) from a friend to ease the pressure of commuting on my aging 4WD Toyota (it still runs great, but at 237K miles, it’s going to need some work, soon). I also met someone who has a 5 y/o daughter, which is both enjoyable and challenging. I just got back from a week exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion NP’s as well as Cedar Break NM. Tomorrow that temp job that kept getting extended ends as the company is hiring me on as an FTE. I’m planning my next adventure – a longish weekend (6 days, if I can swing it – it’s odd having to “ask” for vacation, now; the plus is that I get paid for it) involving taking the motorcycle up to Portland for my friends annual Talk Like a Pirate Day party.
That about brings us up to the present. Now, some detail
The End of the Business
My business has always relied on taking overflow from the other independent consultants that had too much work to handle. This was also in addition to having a steady 2 to 3 day/week gig in order to keep income flowing while awaiting payment for the other jobs. While somewhat tenuous, this model worked well, and allowed me to plan and execute my random outings (backpacking, motorcycle riding, training for hiking Half Dome, etc…). True, I had to rent a room in a house in order to keep expenses low, but that was a worthwhile tradeoff, in my opinion.
In early 2013, two things happened: My steady 3-day/week gig ended and the independent consulting dried up (to which nobody knows why). As a function of this, one of my main sources of work decided to quit consulting and go back into the corporate world. Basically, all forms of income stopped. So there I was, burning through the cash I had on hand, waiting for the checks from my last jobs to come in and applying for jobs (which I was doing, anyway, but now with increased purpose).
Interesting thing I learned about applying for jobs: It’s virtually impossible to contact a person, even just to put a name on the cover letter. Resumes are sent in to an unnamed recruiter, who feeds the resume into a bit of software that matches up key words. If you get enough matches, then you go to the next round; if not, then not. That’s it. During the first round, no one actually reads the resume to look for transferrable skills, or understand the work that has been done and interpret data. It’s all software-based.
The pisser is that more often than not, you hear nothing back – even rejections. So it’s equivalent to calling out into a canyon and not even hearing an echo. Aggregated, that lack of acknowledgement can play hell on your well-being.
Depression and Anxiety
Do I need to explain how lack of income, dwindling savings and the looming threat of having to move back home can lead to depression and anxiety? No – of course I don’t. But, as I tend to do, I isolated and – as I don’t drink – turned to food. Not proud of this, other than the fact that I did not go into the bottle, but it’s something that I did. In retrospect, I could have done some things different, it’s true. But when you’re in the middle of it and can’t see past your next failure, you’re not up to planning good times.
Probably most depressing was the stacks of unread magazines that I threw away: Outside, Backpacker, Runners World, Men’s Journal. I could not even bring myself to read about any of that. While I had plenty of time for an adventure, I did not have the money; as always that’s an elusive intersection.
The New Job
This is where networking saves the day. Someone that I did some work for, got a call for a 3-month temp gig doing hazard reviews on a construction project. While it was significantly less than her rate, it was right in my range. So I went from zero work, to working 40-hours/week, just like that. Hell, I can handle that for three months. I’m sure during that time, consulting will pick up and after the job is over, I can go back to my phoney-baloney bullshit lifestyle. …and pick up, it did: In the middle of 2013, I started getting calls from other consultants asking if I was available to help out with work. But by that time, I was fully-booked, but told them that I’d be available after August, sometime.
…or, not. Apparently, I’m good at what I do as my boss kept extending me. First another three months, then six months. Always a good thing, but there’s always that end on the horizon, when doing a temp job. So you enjoy yourself now, but try to put a little away for when it ends and don’t make any big plans.
Some People Claim That There’s a Woman to Blame
The SO is a fourth grade teacher, which means she knows exactly how to deal with the likes of me. She works with the wife of a close friend and I had actually met her a couple of years earlier at a party. At the time, she was in the middle of a bad marriage, so not much happened. Last year, they finally separated, and we started dating. She’s smart and well educated, which I like. More importantly, she likes my sense of humor, which is good. Also, we seem to travel well which – if you ask Bill Murray – is most important, I’d guess.
New to me is that she has a 5 year old daughter. She’s cute, sweet and a sociopath. Of course, when I say that to others that have kids, they just nod their head and say “Yep, that’s how they are” so I guess that’s normal behavior for a 5 year old. At least she’s not an outlier.
While she does like her Barbies (I’m talking about the daughter, mind you; not the SO) she likes to go outside and play. While tree shopping during Christmas, the SO and I were hauling the tree back to the car, I turned to see the girl on the ground playing with rocks – so that was a good sign. Another good sign: Recently, I rode my motorcycle to meet them for dinner, after which she wanted to see the bike. A couple of days later, I came over to visit and she had a toy motorcycle and sidecar (as in The Mouse and the Motorcycle, I believe) that she was playing with, to which I responded: [Fist pump] “Yessss!”
Of course, her mother was not as thrilled as I, but mothers can be that way.
Also, we recently took the girl camping for the first time which – in between meltdowns due to being five – she thoroughly enjoyed.
Chris Rock did a bit about how a fathers number one goal is to keep his daughter off of the Pole. I figure I can improve upon that in avoiding the creation of another Kardashian (Read: Nothing wrong with being pretty, but don’t make that your only skill; be able to do stuff, too). I think I’m well on the way as far as that is concerned. But just to be sure, I’m planning on taking her to the climbing gym.
The New Car
My friend bought a Volvo XC70 in 2005, which she loved for nine years. But, she’s fickle and likes to change cars ever four or five years, so she was done with the LTR and bought a new S60 (which they flew to Sweden to pick up – plush, no?). She offered me rights of first refusal and a killer deal. Mind you, there was nothing wrong with the Toyota and I wasn’t looking to get rid of it, but it had 234K miles at the time and I wanted to be able to roll it into recreation duty and not just drive it to death on the commute.
Whenever I imagined myself owning a European car, I always saw it being a Porsche (Boxster S, to be specific; I don’t care if Porschephiles don’t like it), not a Volvo. Especially not a wagon. Yet, there it is: At age 42, I own a Volvo wagon and you know what? It’s awesome! Probably the nicest car I’ve ever owned. Not a speed freak or a great handling car, but just great.
Also, it feels so adult driving it. Case in point: I took the SO to Mendocino for her birthday. Driving home down Highway 1 we were listening to Jazz and just enjoying the ride. At some point I assessed the situation: Jazz, coastal road, European car. I said to her “I feel like an adult.” She replied “Yes! I was thinking the same thing! This is so grown up!” Then we high-fived. Mind you, we’re 42 and 46, so it’s funny that we experience this feeling now.
So that’s it for now. I’ll cover the Bryce and Zion trip and the upcoming Motorcycle Adventure in separate posts as this is running a bit long.
So, I haven’t been posting much so far this year, as I haven’t done much so far this year. I attribute this to a combination of injuries and poor weather. But then again, we’ve had some really good weather in The Bay Area the past few weeks, so even that isn’t an excuse, really. In fact, it isn’t an excuse because folks – me included – have gone out and done stuff in bad weather and fared just fine.
So – what the hell’s going on with me? Well, if I look at my activity levels historically, I peak and trough with varying frequencies and amplitudes. I reckon I’m in a trough right now. The irony is that my work schedule has been light so far this year, affording me gobs of time to go and do stuff, yet the energy/motivation has not been there. The year started out quite nicely – I was hitting the gym 3 times a week and running to train for a ½ marathon (which incidentally was held today; I did not run). Then in February I fell hard on my ass while snowboarding. I didn’t bruise the tailbone, but did enough muscle trauma back there I had to stop hitting the gym for a while. After my butt got better, I then developed IT band and hip issues on my right side. Sigh.
I find that I go through this pattern: I get in to a nice groove of working out and eating right, then something happens – injury, illness, vacation, work schedule, visitors from out of town, alien abduction, LSD-spiked Cool Whip – and I get knocked right out of the groove, which leaves me in a funk (see: Malasiness). It then takes forever to get back in to it again. So, here I am, in funkytown. I know I’ll get back to it, eventually. If nothing else, I’ve applied for a lottery to get put on a list to see if I can even get permits to hike Half Dome in September…that’s going to require some training.
I have been getting involved with the motorcycle however, as of late. This is for two reasons: 1) Without running and cycling and gym and rock climbing and whatnot, I now have time to ride, and 2) I expect to pick up a 3 day a week gig which will require an 80-mile round trip each day – so it’s much more economical to ride than drive (or take BART, for that matter). Also, I enjoy riding.
What I’m doing now is getting more into the maintenance/repair part of motorcycling, as well. It used to be whenever I’d need work done on the bike, I’d drop it off at the Triumph dealership in Mt. View and pay the freight to get things sorted out. Recently, however, I discovered a place about 15 minutes from home called Moto Shop. Moto Shop is a cool concept – basically, it’s a do-it-yourself repair shop. They set up several repair bays with lifts and tools and compressed air and such and then rent them out by the hour. What’s better is that they give DIY classes – basic maintenance, front fork rebuild, suspension adjustment, chain and sprocket replacement (which is what I’ve taken), brake repair, engine rebuilding (I hope to get in on this in the future), valve adjustment and a couple of others. With these, not only do you get your bike fixed/maintained, you also learn how to do it – which will save you a small fortune the next time a repair is needed. Also, the owners and the customers are cool, which is important.
So, with my re-discovered hobby, I rode up to see some friends about 60 miles away this weekend. Many years ago, we all lived on the east coast – I lived in central New Jersey; they lived in Delaware. He and I worked for the same company back there and were effectively going through work-related hell, to put it mildly. So, to help keep our sanity, about once a month I’d go down to their house and we’d do “Mafia Weekend”: I’d make nine-hour spaghetti sauce, we’d drink booze and watch mafia movies. Some days, we’d watch non-mafia movies, but there was always spaghetti and booze. Now that we’re back in CA and our lives have changed for the better; we still do mafia weekends, but now there’s less booze (he doesn’t drink as much and I quit altogether). If nothing else, it gives us the opportunity to hang out and catch up.
Recently, my friend has gotten in to guns. Now, before we go any further, this is not an editorial for or against gun control. Yes, MIMW2 owns a gun, but it does not define him (even when he’s referring to himself in the third person). The same goes for my friend – he owns guns, but to him they are a hobby. So while I’ll spend money on boat stuff or SCUBA diving or motorcycles or bicycles or whatever, he spends it on guns and shooting supplies. With that, we headed to the gun show.
Gun show. To be honest, I was a little apprehensive, as I really did not know what to expect. I was bracing for hyper-aggressive, anti-Government, super right religious in your face, jam-it-down-your-throat folks. I could not have been more incorrect. Everyone was polite. Everyone was friendly. No one tried to pin my down on my stance on the political issue of the day (If they did, I was going to channel Frank Zappa and reply “Never discuss politics in a disco environment” and leave while they were still stunned). In fact, the only cause for agitation was the sheer volume of people as the place was packed – and that’s because of me and the gray squishy thing between my ears. Other than that it was…well…boring. There were some older weapons that were interesting to look at. A couple of shotguns and a machete piqued my interest, but that was about it. That being done, we headed to the gun range for about an hour of shooting. It was good to shoot as I hadn’t done it in a while…at least 5 years, if not longer, I’d guess. He’d gotten a couple of new guns, so we tried them out. It was a good time and we determined that if paper silhouettes’ ever attack us, we’re going to be perfectly fine.
The rest of they day was general catch up: Talk, check the sauce, watch James Bond films (like I said, we don’t always watch mafia movies), check the sauce, watch for helicopters, more movies, eat, watch Big Bang Theory, talk, sleep. This morning was less ambitious as we didn’t go through the effort of loading the DVD player and we just flipped through the channels, had breakfast and watched the season starter for Moto GP (A duel between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez for second and third place might have gotten my friend hooked, so I’m thinking we should plan spaghetti weekends around the race schedule, now).
It being Sunday, the end of Spring Break for the kids and the end of vacation for him, they needed to get ready for the week. I wanted to get on the road as a) Watching motorcycles gave me the itch to ride, and b) regardless of how much I love these people, I had my fill of human interaction for a bit and wanted the peace and relative quiet of wind noise and engine sounds. I took the longish way home: Across the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, down across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the coast to Pacifica and then over the hill to home where dirty clothes were washed while I engaged in a brisk nap.
The cloudy cold weather we’re having is expected to blow out by Wednesday or so, giving us something in the high 70’s to low 80’s – could be a good day for a walk or a bike ride. I’m thinking that with a little bit of luck, this might have been enough to knock me out of my funk.
So, in 2005, I ran for Pope after John Paul died. I lost out to John Ratzinger because he had an in-depth knowledge of the bible, whereas my knowledge surrounded drinking heavily and the finer points of the Cheerleader Pyramid.
Now that Ratzinger is stepping down, I’m throwing my [tall, pointy] hat back into the ring. To sweeten the deal, I am throwing in 11 more commandments (raising the total to 21) because some things need to be written down. So, for your perusal, please find Pope Guido XXXXVI’s (or G46 – either is acceptable) Commandments 11 through 21:
11. Thou shalt deal with the fact that there are folks in the world that are different than thou.
12. Thou shant try to manipulate, subjugate or otherwise control said individuals in #11, above.
13. Thou shalt not expect to not be offended in life.
14. Thou’s deeds shalt be in alignment with thou’s words.
15. Thou shalt mind thou own fucking business (MTOFB).
16. Thou shant be a dick.
17. Thou shalt seek to improve thouself, or at least be an improvement on thou’s prior generation.
18. Thou shalt face thy problems, not Facebook them (Credit: Unknown).
19. Thou shant cock block (or the female variation thereof).
20. Thou shant hijack threads of others. (added by special request)
21. Thou shalt keep it in thou’s pants whilst around children or others that are not interested in it.
Sincerely, Pope Guido XXXXVI
So, I was going to do a video review of the Hoo Rag, but the video function on my camera…well…it sucks. So, you’re getting prose instead.
First off – a Hoo Rag is basically a tubular bandanna. You can learn more about it here: http://www.hoorag.com
I got the paisley red Hoo Rag, because I have no imagination, whatsoever. It’s fairly durable – I mean, I wouldn’t use it to tie the boat to the dock, but it could be used for light bondage, were you so inclined.
Surprisingly the tube configuration is somewhat adaptable (which, admittedly, is demonstrated on the HR website.) It can be used as a neck gaiter, a beanie or a sweat band (which is convenient if you’re Apollo Anton Ohno…or Willie Nelson…or Mike Reno from Loverboy.)
Feeling antisocial? Well, just pull the rag over your head and cover your face and people will leave you alone. I can see this function being useful while riding mass transit because really – who’s going to mess with someone that has a rag over their face?
Finally, I guess it would be apropos for me to point out that it can be tied into a pirate rag, as well.
The Hoo Rag is made of fairly lightweight material – lighter than the standard bandanna. Because of this, I can wear it while running in “cooler” (50 to 60 degrees) but not “cold” (below 50) temps without over heating.
In these temps, it does a fairly good job of soaking up sweat, though I wonder how it would perform in warmer temps. A couple of weeks ago I was on a hike and managed to soak it fairly well on the way up. On the way back down, I was able to ring it out and it was back to being reasonably dry (dry enough to provide warmth) in about 10 minutes.
As for cleanup, I toss it in the washer and dryer like normal – no fuss, no muss.
Admittedly, I would not have considered buying one before, but now that I have one, I can see that it’s good to have for running on those not too cold/not too warm days.
So, there it is: The Hoo Rag. Buy one. Or two, if you’re going to put one on both wrists.
First, Happy New Year! Though, as I’ve said in an earlier post, there is nothing astronomical that actually happened last night. Time is simply a construct that man uses to understand nature; nature itself does not know anything about time. Case in point: You never see a Giraffe wearing a watch.
That said we like to use this point to review the prior year and set some sort of plan for next year. Well, not all of us, I’m sure. I’d reckon some folks think they are living at the zenith of their existence I (“zenith” as in the highest point, not the TV set, though I’m sure there are some folks for which that would hold true, as well).
With the upcoming year plans, folks tend to go overboard with what they want to do. The year starts with lofty goals: Lose 60 lbs, get a college degree, start building a boat, save $500/month, get over the ex, write that novel, feed the hungry and find a cure for the common cold. 12 months later, none of which has even been started, save for $1.67 that has been socked away for a rainy day. This, of course, leads to an even longer list the following year. The past couple of years, I’ve been sticking to less than 5 goals for the upcoming year. Last year, it was 3:
- Continue on the path that I started in 2011. This will include meditation, healthier eating and exercise via the 17 thousand million activities that I participate in.
- Hike Half Dome. This was attempted in 2011, but was thwarted by (ironically) the only snowstorm to hit the region.
- Let myself off the hook more. This involves both personal and professional flubs – as yes, they happen. I’ve gotten better at this in the recent years, but there are still improvements to be made. The important thing that needs to be focused on is the lesson in each failure; beating oneself up incessantly is not going to do an inch of good.
So first, a year-end review:
#1 was moderately successful. Overall, I eat better than I did, but I still have my forays into the unhealthy, but oh so good, foods. Exercise was taken off step due to an illness that knocked me out of commission for 3 months. Combined with holidays, birthdays and travel, I’ve lost some ground. I think I meditated maybe 20 times.
#2 did not happen. I realized too late that access to Half Dome now has an added step: Now, not only do you have to buy permits 2 months in advance, you now how to register for a lottery to buy the permits.
#3 is what I’ve been the most successful at. I still have had my moments when I’d let my head get wound up about things only to realize that I was wound up about effectively nothing. But I can say that the frequency and magnitude was a lot less in 2012, so that’s a big win, I’d say.
So, what about 2013? An interesting question as I’m entering 2013 in a state of flux. For the past 9 months, I’ve been working at a temporary spot at a local biotech company. Well, temporary jobs are…well…temporary, meaning that assignment ended yesterday. The good news is that I’ll be working on a project tomorrow, with another one in queue. I’ve also have had a phone interview with one of my customers that I’ve done work for in the past – seems that they need an EH&S guy. If that works out, it will lead to a big change (which is good). If not, I hear of a couple of potential spots opening up in the near future. Also, I know that there will always be more project work. So now it’s a matter of taking a Buddhist approach and going with the flow and not fighting what I cannot control. Or, as renowned Buddhist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson once said: “All energy flows according to the whims of the great Magnet. What a fool I was to defy him.”
So, considering that, here’s the list for 2013:
- Regain the health/fitness ground that was lost at the end of 2012. I understand that this was partially my doing and partially due to uncontrollable factors, but the fix is all up to me.
- Improve on eating habits. Not just work on eating more mindfully, but continue to focus on vegetables. I’m even considering a [short] juice fast (I’ve heard they’re good to do every now and again).
- Be more focused about the gym, specifically weight training. This is going to be a challenge because I’d much prefer to run than anything else. That said, since I’ve turned 40, I’ve been told that weight training is more important in preventing all sorts of structural collapse in the later years.
- As a very specific part of this, I need to work on chin-ups. While I’m embarrassed to admit this, I’m woefully behind on this. I can do a couple of pull-ups (underhand grip), but the chin-ups escape me.
- Meditate. For the life of me, I do not know why I don’t meditate more. It’s not painful and I feel better after I do it, but for some reason, I have a problem with getting myself to sit quiet for 15 minutes a day.
- Backpack more. I only got out once in 2012. A 33-mile trip, mind you, but still. There are enough open weekends that I can haul off and go somewhere local.
…and that’s it. In review these focus on health, wellness and fitness – not bad goals. Not bad at all.
Happy New Year.
As of late, I’ve been getting hit with random thoughts. Nothing bad or scary. Just things that elicit the “…and just where the hell did that come from?” response. Mind you, I’m not on any meds that I’ve been made aware of, and I’m going on almost 2 years sans booze, so it can’t be that. But every now and again, they pop up. To wit:
- Helicopters are aerodynamically suspect.
- Wait wait wait wait wait…are you telling me that’s NOT butter? I can’t believe it…
- When the French go to change a tire, do they use a Jacques?
- For some reason, the word “residue” makes me laugh….I’m sure subconsciously my mind is thinking something nasty, but it’s not sharing it with the rest of my brain…
- I just realized that planes don’t have horns (like trains, cars or buses). I figure it’s because by the time two planes are close enough to warrant the use of a horn, both guys are screwed so it doesn’t matter…
- I think sweet potatoes are just Yams that are in the Witness Protection Program…
- I think tonight’s debate should be moderated by Alex Trebek. That way after every time Obama or Romney state their piece, they can say “…so suck it, Trebek.” Yes. That would be optimum.
- I just realized that when a boat leaks, it sinks; when a house leaks, it doesn’t. Which is a good thing, because IKEA furniture does not handle water very well…
- I just realized that The Earth is the largest planet in the world…
- Here’s a great name for a band: Maximum Squish
I’m actually sort of happy with these thoughts because they all fall in the odd/funny category (to me, anyway) – I just sort of wonder how these come about and if anyone else thinks things like this…
[This is something that I posted on TheBarefootRunners.Org]
I started to regain feeling in my feet after about 1½ miles. Up to this point, they were fairly numb due to the cold; after all it’s Thanksgiving Day. Well, maybe I should qualify that: The numbness was due to the “cold”. I have to put that in quotes because cold means a lot of things to a lot of people – so if you live in the Northeast, cold means temps are hovering around 0 F. But I wasn’t in the Northeast, I was in San Jose running the 8th Annual Silicon Valley Turkey Trot and temps were in the mid 50’s. Me and 8039 other folks were tooling through downtown San Jose, trying to make a caloric dent in forthcoming grotesque exercise in extreme gluttony to commence later in the day. This is the third year I’ve run this.
Overall, the run was good. I’d run 10K before BFR, but that was a trail run; this was all pavement. I hedged my bets by carrying a pair of Invisible Shoes with me, lest the road surface be too much to tolerate. Fortunately, they were not needed.
Also, I applied [ahem] “Nail Paint” to my toenails to make them aerodynamic.
Orange and brown seemed to be somewhat seasonal, but folks did not notice my nice Earl Scheib-quality paint job (or if they did, they felt awkward saying something). Regardless, bolder colors for maximum “Dig Me” effect are in order.
Interestingly, it took a bit before I was able to settle my mind into just cruising down the road. Normally when I run, I’m somewhat familiar with the surface, but this was all new. In addition to that, I had 8000 other people to contend with. So it was a lot of random thoughts: Watch out for the pothole; run in the center of the road at the top of the crest; the manhole cover has drain holes in it, don’t get your toes stuck in one; pass this dude; pass that dude; pass this chick….no – wait – let’s hang back behind her, what’s the rush?; I can run on the painted lines if the road surface is too rough; I think I just stepped on a LEGO; that guy has a tattoo of either Pat Robertson or Andy Rooney on his calf – can’t tell which one.
I’m not positive I was the only one running barefoot, but I would not be surprised if that was the case. At first, while waiting for the race to start, I’d get the random sideways glances, or someone would whisper something to their friend who’d turn around and look at my feet. After the race started, more folks felt comfortable saying something. I’m happy to report that the comments were along the lines of “Hardcore!” followed by a fist bump, or the general “You’re running barefoot!” I’d ask if they tried BFR – some had, some hadn’t but said they wanted to – fair enough. I happened upon a couple of folks wearing min shoes but they weren’t up to chatting too much about footwear. I must have intimidated them with my aforementioned hardcoredness.
In the end, I’m happy with the outcome – I did 10K in 1:08:14, which gave me 10:59/mi. Being that shod, I normally run 10K in about 62 min, I can live with the 1:00/mi slower time. All this got me back to my friend’s house in time to start setting up for a meal that could choke Henry VIII.