Monday, January 23, 2017

2017/01/23 - How much bullshit you got?

The year was 1969. I was sitting on a curb next to my best friend "Little Steve", waiting for a ride. Little Steve was 6'1", but nevertheless one inch shorter than I, Big Steve. 

We were just outside Kansas City Kansas and had been sitting and suffering in the hot summer sun, waiting for a ride, for over 4 hours. Earlier in the day were had been escorted off the highway by the Kansas State police, with a warning that we were only allowed to hitchhike on the entrances to the highway. Unfortunately very few cars were entering the highway using the entrance where we were waiting. 

After what seemed like an eternity, a car stopped and the driver rolled down the passenger side window shouting "How much bullshit you got?" Steve and I looked at each other, wondering what he was asking. I suspected he was inquiring if we had any drugs. We were pot heads, but smart enough not to hitchhike across the country "dirty". And actually most of the rides we got were from hippie-types anxious to turn US on. 

'What do you mean?" I asked, and he replied "I need to be at work in Denver tomorrow morning. If you guys can talk and keep me awake for the next 8 hours, you got a ride!" We jumped in his VW Beatle, and proceeded to tell that driver every story we knew.

The next morning Steve and I woke up in the living room of the driver's beautiful condo in Lakewood, CO. He had already left for work and left us alone, trusting us in his home. He left a note saying "Help yourselves to coffee and breakfast and please be sure to lock the door when you leave".

This was our first day in Colorado and we were already in love with the state. We were young and ready for adventure. Although our cardboard sign said "California or Bust", we spent the rest of our summer vacation from college in Colorado. I swore someday I would return to live there. 


Friday, January 6, 2017

2017/01/06 - 14erWorld Memories

A friend recently forwarded me the guest list for the upcoming "Gathering", a direct descendent of the "14erWorld Gathering" which was a huge party that I hosted every Fall for the members of my online website business. It's been about four years since the site has gone away, but the event has survived, albeit downsized from the extravaganza it was years ago when I was giving away calendars, climbing books, pizza, had guest speakers, raffles and vendors.

I no longer go to the event since I've become the bad-guy for shutting the site down. All of the assholes who ultimately caused me to be fed-up have been forgiven or have become heroes in the world of trolls. 

Every outdoors person dreams of making a living doing what he or she loves most. I was no exception. I dreamt of somehow making a living hiking, climbing, and taking pictures. 

But unlike most dreamers, I actually tried it. I quit a very high paid job as a software developer and gave it my very best shot. 

Unfortunately I had no business experience, no financial backing, and only enough cash to survive a few years. Add to that some bad business decisions, an aggressive competitor, and a little bad luck, and it was no surprise that the business failed.

But I came a way with a pride in the fact that I followed my dream, and I did get seven fantastic years of hiking, climbing, and taking pictures. Except for watching myself go broke, I was living the dream. 

I don't think about it much nowadays, for I have recovered nicely and "moved on" so to speak. But as a I read over the guest list, I'm once again tortured by the incredible potential that was wasted. 

Trip reports were the heart of my business, but it seemed like the members who had the most value to offer, gave the least. I had recruited almost all of the big-shots in Colorado mountaineering, but besides for a few notable exceptions, they were more interested in using my business as a platform to sell their own products, rather than adding value to 14erWorld. 

I suppose this is understandable, but I think they missed out on a golden opportunity, and this is what tortures me. I gave them a voice to promote themselves and their brand, through their adventures and they didn't take advantage of it. 

These climbers regularly climbed hard routes. They climbed unique routes. They climbed obscure peaks. They hiked in winter. They hiked in horrible conditions. They had pictures to share and stories to tell that would have members on the edge of their seats and would have ultimately kept the site alive and thriving. Instead they just chose to be vendors, too busy or too arrogant to share their adventures for free with lowly 14Worlders. 

Ultimately I am to blame for the demise of 14erWorld. A better man would have figured out how to realize the potential. I had a tiger by the tail, without the skills to hold on. 

But as one of my members so aptly put it, when 14erWorld was at its peak, it was like "catching lightning in a bottle".


Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017/01/05 - Strava Art

Strava lovers are going to love this. It's art created by GPS tracking an activity like cycling, hiking, running, etc. 

Check it out

Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016/12/29 - Horace, Alex & Lucille continued, 100 mi/wk goal

As the months past, caring for Lucille got easier and easier. Her Alzheimer’s symptoms seemed to lessen, and Alex started to suspect that she might not have Alzheimer’s at all, that she may have had a stroke, or a mini-stroke. One piece of evidence supporting this suspicion was that on the day that her symptoms began, the right side of her upper lip started drooping.

Over the past few months, her doctors removed her Alzheimer’s medication, then her high-blood pressure medicine. After that, her confusion and fear stopped and she started acting more and more like a normal 87 year-old. And once her appetite came back she started gaining weight and strength. Soon she was going up and down the stairs multiple times a day without assistance.

This was all great for Lucille, but Alex was starting to realize that he was in for the long haul. The woman that came to him four months ago looked like she wouldn’t live out the year, now it looked like she might outlast Alex.

But Lucille still could not be left alone, and Alex and Aida started to feel like prisoners in their own house. Sadly the stress was weakening an already shaky marriage.

Aida felt like she was loosing her life and that Lucille was slowly taking over her place in the family. Arguments between Alex and Aida became more and more frequent until finally she came to Alex saying, “I want a divorce”.

Alex thought of a scene from "My Cousin Vinny".


Today I achieved one of my 2016 cycling goals; averaging 100 miles per week for the entire year. It was only a year or two ago when my friend Carol was congratulating me on my first 100-mile week and I thought it was a big deal.

I have to give credit where credit is due. If it weren’t for the amazingly good weather in Jefferson County Colorado, this never would have been possible for me.

I’ll post my entire 2016 cycling stats on January 1st.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016/12/25 - Christmas Eve, Dad's mind, Blowing smoke

Ho Ho Ho... Merry Christmas. Actually I think Jesus would be turning over in his tomb (that is, if he hadn't risen into heaven) if he knew what was going on in his name. I can just see him at Wallmarts on Christmas Eve yelling "STOP!"

Here's a picture of our living room after last night's present opening session:


Card games are so challenging because normal people find it impossible to memorize 52 cards, especially game, after game, after game. 

But there are some people who can. 

My dad was one of them and it really sucked to play cards with him. We would play Gin Rummy and towards the end when I would think I was getting close to knocking or to getting Gin, he would know exactly what I had in my hand and say something like "Don't think I'm going to give you that Jack you need for Gin". 

I'm not just blowing smoke up his arse, he eventually achieved the title of "Grand Master" in bridge. 

Have you ever wondered where the expression "Blowing smoke up your ass" originated? 

It turns out that years ago blowing smoke up someone's ass was thought to revive a person from drowning. There were even stations along some river in France, containing a pipe and tobacco specifically for this purpose. 

But afterwards when it was proven to be unfounded, it became a common joke. 


Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016/12/24 - Holiday people, Peas, Doctor Joe

People come out of the woodwork on holidays. I'm seeing whole classes of people in my local King Soopers supermarket that I never see all year long.

Yesterday this guy was ahead of me on line for the register and he looked like he walked right off of a James Bond movie. He was actually the best dressed man I've ever seen in King Soopers. I felt like taking a picture of his casual outfit for future reference, but that would have been way too gay.

My guess is that he was from out of town visiting his parents for the holidays.

I'm also seeing people who look like old hippies or meth addicts, people you would typically see at Walmarts before dawn. I'm not sure what is bringing these people out in daylight during the holidays.

Have you ever wondered how they split the peas?

Yesterday I read some alarming news about my veterinarian, "Doctor Joe". I'm actually still in shock. I've known Joe for over 15 years, and have always thought of him as a kind gentle man. He was loved by the community, in fact the whole town of Nederland donated funds to help pay for his many surgerys years ago when he caught a flesh eating virus  in the hospital.

He treated my dog Satchmo all his life and we cried together when we had to put him down.

But I also knew he had a history of addiction, and easy access to serious drugs. That's a scary combination.

Funny thing, the last time I saw Joe was about a year ago for Trixie's vaccination. As a loyal customer, and friend, I still travel all the way to Ned just to see him. He didn't look good. He looked a little sweaty and nervous. I actually whispered to the nurse afterwards "Is Joe all right? She replied the he was just getting over the flu. I suspected he might have been "off the wagon."