Thursday, December 29, 2011


This year was carbonated - it fizzled. I pretty much lost steam in life back in April. After years of realizing my relationship days are long gone, and then things at work went terribly wrong - unjustifiably - my morale hit the pits. Not much seemed worth any effort. I normally am a very enthusiastic person who throws his passion into everything. I'm creative and fast-moving. I'm extremely effective.
But I lost all my steam.

The politics of this country and direction it's taken, and how far in debt its gone makes me believe there is no way this country is going to survive. The only question is how long the death-throes will take. And how many other countries will die with us in this global economy?

My job looks like a dead-end. I am loyal to the core, but there have been too many times where certain key entities have basically told me "wait", don't", "do this instead" (knowing full well some other entity will have my ass if I do). I'm between a rock and a hard place. Damned if I do and damned if I don't. It's the worst mess since I got hired. But at least I still have a job, even if the joy is completely gone.

My brothers hope some day we'll have a ranch near Buena Vista. We're trying to figure out how we can afford it, and how we'll make a living. It could be many years away.
One of my brothers has been unemployed for years now. Heck, people we're hiring at work were unemployed for 1.5-2yrs on average.
My son can't find a job. He's going back to school in June - I hope I still have a job and I can still afford his tuition.

My right foot has been pretty bad since early Fall. It shows no sign of improvement. As far as I know, my foot will hurt until the day I die. I'm just glad I can still run some. It's bearable.
I have too many injured friends. Ultra-running can be cruel if you pretend you're invulnerable and just like everyone else. Some do fine running 100's their whole life. Others die from health issues. Most of us are in-between, and we should admit it. not too quickly, mind you - too many people accept limitations too soon and give up. If you accept excuses, you'll never achieve anything - you'll never be all you can be. But it's a dumb thing to cripple yourself for the last several decades of your life, like many of my friends have done.

My life feels like I'm backed into a corner and there's no way out. It's not the worst "corner" a guy could find himself in - I still feel fortunate as hell. I'm still pretty healthy and employed. I'm not about to lose the house. I'm not going hungry and not worried about how I'm going to feed myself. That's some degree of hope.
But it isn't happiness.
That pretty much sums up 2011 to me. Sorry for the downer, but it's all I have. It could be worse.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Winter Runs

A storm had just blown in and covered everything with 6-12" of fresh, dense snow.

The Wednesday night run at City Park was in big-puffy-flakes falling down. I love running in this kind of snow-fall!!!

This week's DTR Thursday run was done on South Table Mountain. By then the snow was harder to get through. I wore my Atlas racing snow-shoes. It was a lot of fun.

On the way back, I found myself running alone. I heard a coyote around the bend. As I came around, I slowed and looked in the direction of yapping. I didn't see the coyote, but I saw a mule deer trotting up the mountain with obvious fear. No doubt there were a couple of other coyotes who were not yapping. The yapper corrals the deer while the others move in from the sides and try to ham-string the deer.
It was really cool to happen onto such a scene! Think of all those sorry saps sitting at home watching TV and I was watching real coyotes hunting real deer in a beautiful winter wonderland!

In Buena Vista last weekend, while trial-running, I decided to explore off-trail. I didn't stray far because there were boot tracks and I was afraid a hunter might shoot me. However, I saw the biggest freakin' canine tracks I've ever seen in the wild. They were as big as my hand. There are some people who break the laws and have wolf-dog hybrids. Too many hybrids attacked people, so they're confiscated when found and sent to refuges, or killed. So maybe this was a hybrid? Or, maybe wolves, which were re-introduced to Colorado many years ago (and my brother and I found a carcass of one with a tracking collar near Idaho Springs), have worked their way down south far enough to be wondering the hills around BV?

There were tons of deer around BV and Salida. They practically walk right up to you. They aren't "tame". They're used to a particular distance. If you look at them, or move the wrong direction, they bolt slowly away. I've found that if I whistle from a high-note to a low-note, it calms them. In fact, when I was younger, I could lure deer within 20 feet of me by wallowing in the grass and whistling. Curiosity could get them killed. Some deer can't resist checking out such a bizarre display. If I had a bow, they could be venison steaks.

Straight Razors

I had to buy some new razor cartridges, and was pissed that they cost so much. Less-expensive ones were higher quality, but had all sorts of plastic and packaging added. It pissed me off. So much disposable and over-priced crap! The modern shaving razor market is a "racket". Stop the train! I want off!

So I used Amazon to find a straight razor. I decided on a Solingen stainless steel straight razor with a cheap plastic handle. All the handle does it cover the blade when stored. When you shave, it has nothing to do with the job. So I spent all my money on the blade and didn't give a hoot about the handle.
Some people take great pride (arrogance?) in the whole religious shaving thing, and they want the prettiest straight razor this side of hell. Me, I just wanted to stop filling the land-fills with stupid plastic and wasting my money. Sorry Gillette - kiss my consumer ass.

The Solingen was nearly impossible to sharpen. For weeks, there was no noticeable progress. All I managed to do was scrape skin off my neck. I was extremely exfoliated, for sure.

Then when I was coming home from my vacation, I stopped in Leadville and visited the big antique shop. I found an old Blue Ring straight razor for only $84. Victorian-age, in the box, and as far as I could tell it was never used. You can tell because the rounded spine ends up with a flat side the more it's sharpened. From the factory, there's very minimal flat. It came in the original box, greased. A 115yr-old brand-new straight razor for less money than I paid for my stainless steel modern one. Wow!
With very little sharpening, I was able to shave with it.
I ended up buying a straight-razor sharpening stone and strop, since I had such a hard time sharpening. Wouldn't you know it - the instant I spent the money, the Solingen started shaving.
When the new stone and strop came, it didn't help - it actually dulled the blade, so I went back to my old stone.
I started with my diamond file, from my machinist days. Then I graduated to my fine-grained dark Arkansas stone. Apparently the Arkansas stone is the very best. It seems I wasted my money on the strop and razor stone.

With two straight razors, plus paraphernalia, I wasted lots of money, but I hope the landfills never see anymore garbage from me from shaving. And eventually I'll end up saving money. It'll take years, though - I already have about $290 in this new shaving gear.

Salida & BV

Some day, I might move to the Buena Vista area - or Salida. The locals, especially the ones who were born there, cringe when they hear yet another city-slicker is moving their way. Well I'm certainly in Denver, but a city-slicker is not very accurate for a guy who spent most of his life in tiny towns and whose only idea of fun has been to head into the woods.

I took a four-day vacation to scout out the area. Instead of doing a race or climb or camping trip, I concentrated my efforts on the towns. Previous visits used towns only as bases to launch my fun from - I never took them seriously. But this time I was looking at real estate, jobs, etc.

Of course, while down there, I used the shooting range twice, the hot springs once, and went trail running twice. I spent the night in the back of my Subaru.

The Proving Grounds coffee shop in Leadville is gone. City on the Hill coffee and espresso is the new name. All the usual faces are gone. Most of the new employees show very little personality, yet the food is just as good. Maybe the food is better - I had a pesto turkey sandwich that was awesome! At least one guy, who might be the new owner, has plenty of personality and is really cool. That makes up for the somewhat boring other people.
I can't help missing the old crew, though. But the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and that sandwich is working on my allegiance.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

El Chubbo 2011

The annual El Chubbo Grande run near Fort Collins was every bit as fun as I'd hoped. After months of getting fat and slow, I let my legs stride out.

It was colder and definitely snowier than last year. There was even several scary patches of ice below Horsetooth rock, but I managed not to wipe-out. The snow slowed everyone down, and only the most elite bothered to go the full 50k distance.

I carpooled, and our driver wanted to get back by 4pm, so I grabbed a ride back at an aid station after only 21 miles.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Commuting, Work, Dreams

I don't know about blogger etiquette, but they solicited everyone to link to their blog anyway, so I have their consent.
This post is so dead-on, and covers just about every tiny facet of fiscal reasons why living close to work is important. Any how you should buy a car, which car, why, etc.

The True Cost of Commuting

When I was 20 (some time in the last century in a land far, far away), my car broke down and I had to hoof it to work. That was crazy long and hard. So I bought a 10-speed for 10$ at a garage sale. Even biking took its toll on me (I was no athlete back then [how ironic that this older version of me can run circles around my younger self]). The lesson was learned: Always find work close to home so you have the option to walk, run, and/or bike to work - or take public transportation.

I also refuse to buy cars with a loan. If the money isn't in the bank, I can't afford it. People say that's crazy! It sure has saved me several thousand dollars in interest over the past few decades. Also, many insurance companies charge you higher rates if you have a lien on your car. If you get a loan on a car, it should be to boost your credit rating. You don't need to take the full term to pay it off. You can pay it off a couple months afterwards and your credit rating will soar.
But if I want a higher credit rating, I'll do it with a lower-interest loan, and do the same thing - pay it off after a couple of months. Auto loans charge the highest interest rates of any loan you can get.

I currently work 5.4 miles from work, if I drive the back-roads, which are safer and more predictable.
If I take the highway, good luck with the traffic-jams, but it's only 5.3 miles. It's more reliable going home, and some days I can get home in only 5 minutes.
But if I ride my bike, that's dangerous as hell. The area between home and work is a cluster-phuk of interstate highways, one-way streets, railroad tracks, Lightrail tracks, and clogged streets. So to ride my bike the safest way, I have to go the wrong way in many places to avoid the most dangerous sections. This takes me through Washington Park, then along the Cherry Creek paths. The air quality is horrible, especially in winter, so someone with asthma like myself is not actually getting healthier by biking to work.
Light-rail requires that I walk/jog 3.9 miles round-trip, so public transit isn't fast. There's a way to take your bike on Lightrail, but seriously, at the times I go to and from work, the trains are sardine cans. There are times a train stops and the doors open, and its all the passengers can do to keep from spilling out - there's no room for more, much less an entire bike. If I have to wait for a later train, I'm late for work.
We need more trains, but they're spending all their money expanding the tracks to newer routes east and west and diverting jammed-up trains from busy routes to new routes, leaving even fewer trains for the busy routes. Yikes! Suffice it to say that Lightrail hasn't worked out for me.

I know several people who live in Colorado Springs, Boulder, Ft. Collins, yet they work in Denver. They spend all their free time (and money) driving. I won't judge too harshly - many had the perfect formula, work and home close, they start a family, then they lose their job. To keep the house, and to provide for the mortgage, the kids, and everything, they are desperate.

My dream is to work from home. How's that for a commute? I could go home for lunch every day! I want a two-car garage-sized shop that I can work in, and an income from my shop, and income from my technical skills, some through the Internet and some from making house calls to fix computers or set up Internet/networking stuff. All I would need is an Internet connection, UPS/FedEx, and a workshop.
At that point, I'd be extremely mobile and could live just about anywhere. My dream is to move to Salida, Colorado, or somewhere like that, with a lot of land to play on.

It snowed Thursday, and I had a beautiful run in Elk Meadow. Now Saturday, it's snowing again. I love fluffy new snow! I like walking through it and the unique "smunching" sound it makes.