Category Archives: Personal

See Obama Being Elected

I got this in email this morning and really liked it. Give it a try.

“….stay  at the center of the circle and let all things take their course….” Lao  Tzu

The  year is 2016. We glance at the television one morning and see Barack Obama  having another of his many press conferences. He has now been in office for almost 8 years.

It hasn’t been perfect, but  things are way better than when he took office in January of 2009. You  notice that his hair has whitened and he still has that winning smile and  that take charge/positive energy that he had when he was campaigning way  back in 2008.

You remember back to how  concerned you were about whether or not he would win in 2008 and you feel deeply contented that  he has been safely in office for such a long  time.

He and Congress have done much to address  global warming, health care, development of alternative energy sources and a  variety of other important matters to the country and the planet. You feel  deep gratitude for the past eight years and how things have  unfolded.

See it…

Feel  it…

Breathe it….

Pass it  on.

Lets stop fighting against McCain and Palin, and  start working ‘for’ Obama-Biden. Lets stop driving ourselves crazy with all  of the outrageous mind upsetting details about them and start remembering  all of the wonderful reasons we want  Obama.

THE CHALLENGE: take 30 seconds right now. Close your eyes and imagine exactly what  our country will feel like with President Obama.

Imagine  how good it will feel.

Imagine  whatever it is about him that you desire.

Imagine  the pride.

Imagine  the diplomacy.

Imagine  the peace.

Imagine the wind mills and the clean cars.

Imagine  the citizen groups.

Imagine the earth being healed and revitalized.

Imagine  being very proud of your country and its leader.

Imagine  whatever it is that draws you to support Obama.

Imagine  what your life will look like.

30 seconds. Do it several  times a day. We can shift and change the vibration of this country with  positive visions just like this. It’s only 30 seconds a few times a  day.

Dad Update

This directly from Mom:

Today he walked down the hall with a cane. When he comes home Friday, there will be no wheel chair as was first planned on, just the walker. Today we had a conference with the Dr., an OT, a PT and 2 social service folk to get info and ask questions. Got a few instructions. He will have therapists come to our home every couple days. They will inform the Dr. regarding his competence, etc. They will also suggest how to make his life go well here. He has recovered remarkably well. Will have to keep him moving to have it continue. Maybe some walks around the bridge table. We should be playing in a short time.

He’s doing really remarkably well. I returned him to the hospital Sunday night after his furlough. Other than being ready to catch him if he needed it and pushing his wheelchair, I did not help him at all, not even transferring, not even changing his clothes.

SOLD! One Down, Two to Go

I just got back from Preferred Title, where Josh completed the sale of his house. The new owner seems pretty great; she definitely appreciates the house, yard and neighborhood.

Two to go, meaning that we have to finish my house and sell it, and buy our house together. We looked at our first house the other night. We like it, yet it needs work.

I’d like to work a few hours today and take the afternoon off to work on the house.

Dad Had a Stroke

Mom called me around Midnight Tuesday to let me know that Dad was on the way to the hospital after experiencing what seemed like a stroke. He was taken to UW Hospital, for which I was very grateful. It wasn’t a dramatic stroke–he was mainly experiencing weakness on one side.

I visited with Josh after work the next day and Julie was there as well. Stroke is something unfamiliar in our family, so she didn’t know what to expect. His writing is not very readable (but he can write!) and his leg and arm are weak (but not paralyzed!). He was able to sit up and eat right-handed, albeit slowly. There appars to be no cognitive damage–he still remembers that McCain and Palin are running mates on the Republican ticket, and he thinks that Palin was an excellent choice (that’s not a sign of new brain damage–he would have thought that anyway. ;o)).
Mom was pretty concerned about how she was going to help him at home, since she’s not strong enough to help him ambulate. Well, I just spoke with her this morning, and she is much relieved. Dad will be staying in the hospital for a week getting rigorous rehabilitation. She was afraid of how she was going to help him when his right side is too weak for him to walk. They’re already having him sit for a couple hours at a time and walk the halls with a walker.
They determined from the CAT Scan that the stroke was caused by a small blood clot, but I think she said they said it was moving or had moved through. His brain would have to heal from that, then his body. A physical therapist suggested he’d be a lot stronger by the time they went home.
Dad really wants to go home. He’s jonesin’ for a cigarette. Mom is overruling him–he’ll be staying for treatment. The doctor talked to Dad about smoking very likely being the cause of the stroke. He doesn’t care. He’s not interested in a program to help him quit. And he won’t be smoking for at least another week.
I’m very grateful for his current state, and that the prognosis looks so good.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

I’ve been a ba-a-a-ad blogger lately. Eesh–June 16.

Lots has been going on. Josh and I have been working madly to get his house ready for sale. While it’s been going well overall, things are, uh, happening. It’s like the house knows what we’re doing, doesn’t want him to leave, and wants to get me out of the way. Seriously–it’s like a bad horror movie I saw once about a house that killed the family that lived there! With all the flooding a couple months ago we’ve spent a fair amount of time in the basement; we’ve installed two new sump pumps (impact drills are a BLAST!), and Josh, mostly, cleaned and painted the floors and walls.

JUST when we got done cleaning the floors I go upstairs to get ready for a shower. I use the toilet and flush it. I hear Josh yell downstairs. The capped-off drain has water coming out of it. What the… We thought maybe we broke the cap with the stuff we used to etch the basement. Josh paid a plumber to come in to put on a new $4 cap. 😉 However, he suggested the cap wasn’t the problem, as there shouldn’t be enough pressure to force the water out. He suggested the line needs roto-rooting.

During all this time in the basement, I was continually attacked by venting. Josh has a low basement ceiling and ducts that hang even lower. I have numerous scars on the top of my head now. I guess you could also consider that I’m just too stupid to learn to bend down enough.

Yesterday Josh put in the last piece of trim, completing the last wall upstairs. And not without a fight. The last piece needed to be cut at an angle, and of course the miter needed to be flatter than 45°, so we had to do lots of improvisation with the chop saw. My visual mind comes in quite handy for stuff like this, so it turned out pretty well–it just took an inordinately long time.

On my way out the back door at one point I caught my ankle on the corner of the storm door, and it put a nice little gash on my right ankle. Great–the house has already tasted my blood in the basement, and apparently wants more. Will I get out of there alive?

We met our Realtor, Connie, a few weeks ago. She’s great. We planned out all the stuff we want to leave in the house for staging, and what’s going–either into the garage, to my house, or St. Vinny’s. I did all kinds of cleaning this weekend while Josh worked on other projects.

And this brings us to the big change: Josh is moving in to my house tonight, along with his two cats, Feliz and Maggie. So I’m doing something I’ve never done before at age 41: living with a partner. And we have to do the whole protocol on combining feline families; his girls will have to stay in a bedroom for a full month.

I’ve been so looking forward to out living together, because I’m really tired of having to cross town to spend time together. And I realized last week that there’s some anxiety about that as well. I’ve been used to living alone (maybe with a roommate, but that’s not like a partner) for many years. What will this be like? Add the stress of combining cat households and it gets more significant. That didn’t go so incredibly well when Raja came to live here, and he and Butterscotch never were truly friendly–the formed a sort of detente.

So, after church we go back over to Josh’s house to do more cleaning and moving stuff. There’s more to write, but I’m starving for pancakes.

What a Knob

There are a number of basic truths that I’ve learned while working on my house. Here’s one.

I’ve learned that to be most successful, it’s best that one has experience in doing this type of work.

I don’t.

Next-best is having a level of intelligence to figure things out and think ahead.

I’ve learned time and time again that I’m often a moron about this stuff.

Next-next-best is to have high standards for the work.

Oh, this I have. And it’s a blessing and a curse. Quite often my standards surpass my ability to meet them, and I end up frustrated or re-working things ad nauseum and still not reaching the level of quality I want.

Next3-best is to be stubborn.

OK, now we’re getting somewhere. I have this in spades.

Let’s look at tonight. What’s on the agenda? Touch up the paint in the third bedroom and finish painting the door and install it. I’m touching up the paint, and I’m noticing that there a funny smudges of paint appearing on the floor. Huh? I cleaned those up last night. ? They’re so flat that almost look like– Oh. I stepped on paint on the drop cloth and I’m walking around the room. Take off shoes. Scrape up paint.

Now to the door. I’ve already gone through the whole thing of stripping the old paint, during which I gouged the door in a few places. To fix the gouges? Wood filler. Great! It’s dry, I sanded, here we go. I paint the door white… and it bleeds through. Second layer–bleeds through. Third layer–bleeds through (remember the deal about being stubborn?). Finally I checked with Josh, “Did you prime it?” Uh, no; I didn’t know I needed to. So last night I primed both sides. *sigh* ok.

Tonight. I paint the last coat with the color I want. Great. It’s covered. It’s done. Great. I install the new strike plate I bought. Doesn’t match the other hardware, but whatever–it looks good. At least it’s not painted over like it was (all the hardware: strike plates, hinges, etc. were all painted over! They looked like crap!). I’m replacing it all.

Next step: install the new door knob. OK, think now, Jay. Do this right so you don’t have to redo it. I have pretty good spatial skills, so this shouldn’t be a big deal. I imagine the door. I imagine standing at the door in the room. OK, this is right. I get out the door knob. Oh look, it comes with its own strike plate! *sigh* OK, well the other ones I bought can go to the Re-Store…

I’ve never installed a door knob before, although getting the old one off was a b****. It was the old kind with the cover plate, and I ended up using a straight-headed screwdriver, which took forever.

I read the instructions. Easy enough. Put in the thing, add the knobs (think, Jay: lock goes on the inside. Check!). Then put in the screws. What the– How do you easily screw in screws on a doorknob?! Answer: there is no easy way. I even tried Google searches. Nothing. I even bought one of those angled screwdriver things, and it was a pain. I was simultaneously stripping the screw head and scratching the knob with it.

I seem to notice repeatedly that it’s never the big things that slow me down. It’s always the little, piddliest s***** things that hang me up.

I finally ended up–you guess it–using a straight screwdriver and coming in at an angle. Whew. ok. Done. The screw is a bit stripped, but I’ll never have to take it off, so who cares (you’re smart enough to see where this is headed; smarter than me, obviously).

Next, the hinges. I bought these nice hinges that match the knobs. They have square corners instead of rounded ones, so I screw them in, then use a utility knife to mark the parts I have to carve out. I thought that was pretty smart, actually. I like doing these kinds of things empirically. It worked well. I need to fix some of the paint, but so be it. I installed both hinges on the door. Great.

Next, let’s install the door. I take it in to the room and– Wait. Why is the knob so high? Oh, cuz I’m a jackass is why–when I was visualizing the door I had it upside-down. That means I (!#$%*$#$%) installed the door knob with the lock out! (^%^#$%~#$!#$!) OK, deal with that in a second. First get empirical again: put the door on the jamb, and take a scraper and hammer it at the edges to mark where I need to trim.

Next is the knob, but I need another success first. A little one will do. I take off the shiny brass strike plate and put on the matching one. yeah. a success. far out.

Now take off the door knob (forever), switch it around and install it again (forever and a day). OK, time I’ll never get back in this lifetime, but the knob is right now.

Then take off the door and trim the wood. Put the door back on. Hm. The paint isn’t perfect. Maybe a light sanding, but NOT TONIGHT.

Apart from that, just the shelf and rod in the closet and closet doors. although the opening is 3-1/8″ larger than the standard door size. I’ll get frustrated with that tomorrow…

Water Levels Rising, Captain!

Parte Un

While I don’t mind water, what my house does with it pisses me off.

I have a couple of big trees over my house; they are forever depositing crap onto my roof that, therefore, ends up in my gutters.

Now, these are new gutters that I had installed after I (yeah, myself with friends) reroofed the house. The guys who installed the gutters and downspouts have an ingenious method for installing the downspouts in such a way that they are SURE to trap every leave, helicopter or dust mote, thereby clogging my gutters. They cut an “X” in the gutter, bend the four flaps created down and out (but not to 90 degrees), then secure the downspout by screwing a 1.5″ nail IN so that there are now SIX sharp objects available for trapping debris.

WTF?

It literally takes about 5 leaves for the whole thing to come to a screeching halt. With huge trees over my house, how often do you think that happens? Yes, less than a day.

The gutters I had when I bought this house were rusty–even rusted through on the front (CLUE IN JAY). I had new ones installed, and thought that they were using extra-large downspouts. Imagine my dismay when I’m laying in bed one morning during a gentle rain, hearing the rain slosh over the sides of the gutter and pouring onto the deck. @#$%@#$!

So, fine, I went up and cleaned them out. Oh, and those sharp corners and screws? Of course I cut myself. Once.

So they were full again this weekend. We didn’t have time before church, so afterward we came back and I got up on the roof (don’t worry, I have a great ladder) and cleaned them out. That was around noon. I then worked at Josh’s during the day getting stuff out of his basement so that he can clean and paint. I get home at 5:30 and they’re full again! @#$%@#$%@#$! So, in the pouring rain I went up again and cleaned out the few little leaves that were blocking. *Sigh*

My brother Jim, who’s an engineer and genius to boot, put pieces of screen over his gutters so that water would flow in and debris would stay on top. I think that would work for leaves, but I’m not sure about the smaller stuff. I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve heard that Gutter Helmets are useless with trees above the house. I’m also going to go back and do it right (as with so many other things in this house) by removing the downspouts, bending out the “X” pieces at a full 90 degrees, and reattaching the downspouts with a little bolt with the ROUNDED END on the inside. Would that be so freaking difficult?

If anyone else has a great, even easy, suggestion for me that works great, I’ll buy you lunch. I’m not kidding.

Parte Deux

After I clean out the gutters and have just finished making the window frame square in the third bedroom (another correction of past sins…), I get a frantic call from Josh: his basement is filling with water and he’s pretty upset. He has two basement rooms, one newer than the other. The new, smaller laundry room gets water in it that he needs to shopvac out when the water table is high. Well, last night the big room was filling. Luckily he has his stuff elevated.

When I get to his house I find the basement with inches of water in it. I brought my two water pumps. We worked for several hours, me pumping and bailing water, and him patching as much of the wall as he could with Quickcrete. However, with the water table that high, it’s not a winning battle. The back yards in this block are all lower than the fronts and there was a small ocean in them. Josh’s neighbor Bill usually pumps out the lake to the street with a huge pump he has, but even Bill’s garage had stuff floating in it. An amazing amount of water.

We knocked off at Midnight after I printed several different sets of instructions for installing a sump pump. Josh purchased two today and will jerry rig them for now until he can get them installed correctly. He was so grateful that I dropped everything and came over.

Hey, that’s why I’m here.

Hm. I guess that kinda puts my gutters into perspective…

Flipped

Given: I have a great memory for some things: language, syntax, numbers.

Given: I have a horrible memory for some things: anything related to history such as dates, times, places; what I had for lunch yesterday; where I put my keys; etc.

Therefore: I like systems. A lot.

When I was a kid I’d misplace things and get really frustrated a lot. I discovered that if I did things in consistent ways, I wouldn’t lose my stuff. Further, if I took steps so that I couldn’t help but use the system, I’d be much better off.

Here’s an example: if I need to remember to take something to work, leave it on the counter, under my keys (of course, I always leave my keys on the counter).

Another: Since I have a flexible work schedule, I set all work reminders to the previous workday (24 hours during the week, the previous Friday if on Monday), so that I will remember to be in to work for a morning meeting.

Well, here’s another system I have: when I’m done with, say, a jar of vitamins in the bathroom, I turn it upside down and put it on the shelf in front of me. This is my signal to get more.

Well, imagine my surprise the other night when, in low light, I find that my toothpaste (Mentadent–it has its own little stand) is upside-down! How odd… And later I see the kleenex on the toilet is upside-down. How odd… [Warning: I’m kinda slow.] Sunday morning I hear an odd noise in the bathroom, and see my little piggy bank is upside down; Josh says he’s playing with it. That morning while getting ready, I realize that EVERYTHING on my bathroom counter that doesn’t have an impossibly high center of gravity when turned upside-down is flipped! Yes, Josh has been surreptitiously flipping everything in my bathroom. I laughed and laughed–first at his thinking to do that, second at how long it took me to clue in. And I’m thinking about the time I’ll be at his house alone, and will flip everything in his fridge, kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, etc…

Josh doesn’t “waste time” on the internet, so he’ll never read this. So please don’t tell him.

Flying

I had a flying dream last night. I love flying dreams.

When I was younger I began to have these dreams, but they started oddly. At first I’d dream that I could just spread my arms and put my head back and I’d begin floating up. But I’d often be stopped by power lines or something. As time went on I was actually more and more successful at flying. I also had dreams as a kid where I could breathe under water, but those are much more rare.

Several years ago I was doing intense personal work. During that time I had flying dreams pretty consistently. I’ve never really known their significance: are they a wish to be free? Are they a representation of being free? Dunno.

Last night’s dream was interesting. Where sometimes the flying isn’t completely reliable, last night it was. I tend to fly about head height in my dreams–going too high (over 100′) can feel dangerous. Well, last night I was flying at head height (that would be about 5’10” for me), and it occurred to me I was being silly–I could get there faster if I flew higher instead of following the sidewalk. : ) After all, that’s what Superman does, right?

So I did. Although (and here comes some random dream-noise, I’m convinced), I ended up flying inside this VERY TALL building that was an exclusive club. Why did they have doors 40′ feet high? Dunno. The ‘bouncer’ guy didn’t want me entering, and he somehow grabbed onto my legs. I told him he’d better let go as I could fly higher and it would be dangerous. He wouldn’t let go until I left the building.

Back outside, I then flew higher to get there quicker. But, just like using Google Maps with satellite-only view, I had a hard time telling where I was, so I went back down to street level. : )

Is this a grand metaphor for my life? Who knows.

Success at Madison Half-Marathon!

All set for the raceFor about six weeks I’ve been sharing information about running and my plans to do the Madison Half-Marathon. I first decided to do it after running with Ryan at the McNaughton run. Today is the day, and not only did I survive–I did pretty well!

I’ve been struggling with some injuries from over-training in my left leg involving my IT Band and Posterior Shin Splints. As a result of them, I’ve done basically no running for the past two weeks with the exception of 20 minutes this past Monday. I was pretty nervous (just ask Josh) about what was going to happen when running 13.1 miles, which, by the way, is the furthest I’ve ever run in my life. Even in training I only got up to 9 miles in the Dells.

I picked up my race packet yesterday at the Alliant Energy Center and perused the products offered by the merchants at the trade show going on there, although I didn’t buy anything because I have set a near-moratorium on spending unnecessary money while working on the house.

I lined everything up last night and felt nervous like a kid before his first day of school. Do I have what I need?

I didn’t sleep very well—I was awake and a little anxious between 3 and 4:30 I think. I also woke up in a sweat.

I did some research about what to eat the morning of a race, and opted for my normal routine: protein shake smoothie with fruit and fiber.

Josh and I got to the Alliant Energy Center (where the race ends) to park by 6:15, and were on a shuttle to the Capital Square (where the start was) in a few minute. A really well-run event! Josh was going to carry the backpack with stuff in it, and take my last warmie from me before the race started. I stretched and we waited in line at the porta-potties. LONG LINES, and I made it just in time for the start of the race.

You can see my playful-nervous face at right when they shot the gun for our race. OK, so maybe I wasn’t completely being playful. ;o)

My strategy was to shoot for 5.5 or 6 mph during the race while I ran, and to do cycles of running 20 minutes and walking 5. If I was going to make it through the race, I was going to have to be reasonable and give my body a break from time to time, or my leg wouldn’t allow me to finish. There were several groups of pace setters whose job it was to do just that–set the pace. One carried a sign with the total goal time and goal time for each mile. I stuck with the 2:20-total group (I think it was 11:47/mile time).

I had a little shock after running about a half mile when I realized in the excitement I’d forgotten to put an ace bandage on my left calf to support the shin splints! Oh well, too late to do anything about it. I focused a great deal on my body, ensuring I was running with a good, smooth form. After about 2 miles I walked for 4 minutes (it felt like enough), and then walked mainly on uphills only. My breathing and energy levels were great. My left IT Band began to tighten up after a few miles, and I just stayed as relaxed as possible. It was OK.

The run was really fun. It reminded me of doing the Devil’s Lake Sprint Triathlon with Rachel and Adam in 2002 (I think). I had a dumb smile on my face most of the time. I am so used to running alone with just my iPod that it was a lot of fun to be surrounded by a bunch of people! Also, the folks along the way who cheered for runners were really great. Since they put our names on our race numbers, people often called specific encouragements, “Way to go, Jay!” which felt really fantastic.

After we got to University Avenue, my leg was getting tighter and I walked again. It was at this point that I realized it was more painful to run up hills. I ran up Monroe Street very carefully (I couldn’t walk all that way–too much time), and downhills were much more pleasant.

There were police officers along the entire route to direct traffic (or stop it, primarily) and ensure we were safe. I had a lot of gratitude for them.

As I got to mile 10 things were getting more painful. I had to stop at one point to tie my shoe, and starting was a bit difficult. So I decided to not stop again–logical, right? : ) At mile 11 I realized that my ‘tank’ was beginning to feel a bit empty, so I pulled out the Gu (energy stuff) that I got at the Mile 6 aid station, and ate it. Mmmmm–chocolate! That helped.

Sometime around Mile 11 or 12 the pain in my lower calf started to hint at me, and my focus on my form and body were critical at this point. It was at this point I discovered I could not run up hill–it was too painful. I decided once I got to Mile 12 to pick up the pace and end strong. I hadn’t saved very much during the race in terms of total running ability. Had my legs been in good shape I could have run faster. So I picked it up for the last mile.

As I got nearer to the finish my excitement was building. I could hear the music, and the cheering increased. And then I saw the finish line. I picked up the pace again grace a the adrenaline coursing through my body. It was a pretty moving experience. For so many years I’d said that I “hated running” and didn’t consider myself a runner. I was now completing 13.1 miles, which, again, is the longest distance I’d ever gone. It felt great to break through a barrier of limiting belief. I’m going to call myself a “runner” even if I don’t feel it completely. I think running a Half-Marathon allows me to qualify for the descriptor.

I crossed the finish line ensuring I stepped on the mat so that the sensor on my shoe registered! I was done. I got in line to have the chip taken off my shoe, then started looking for Josh. I couldn’t find him, yet found Brian, a fellow I’d met at Friday Night Dinner two nights ago. I walked right up to him and said hi, and had to remind him who I was. : ) I asked to borrow his phone, and called Josh. He was just on the other side of the exit. I went out and he gave me a big hug and just held me for a minute. It felt very good. I then went back into the finish area and grabbed some food, and saw Brook and Libby, who ran the 10k. I came back and ate with Josh, then Ryan finished his race. Josh took a couple pictures of us talking.

I’m impressed that when I got home, the results were already online! Here’s how I did (full results):

bib number: 3575
age: 41
gender: M
location: Madison, WI
overall place: 2201 out of 2866 (23rd percentile)
division place: 140 out of 161 (13th percentile)
gender place: 1076 out of 1238 (13th percentile)
time: 2:20:17
pace: 10:35 (5.67 mph)
mile 6: 1:03:59
mile 8.5: 1:30:40
chip time: 2:18:42

Are the times fantastic? Nope. And while I tend to be perfectionist about many things, that doesn’t matter to me. My only goal was to finish, and that I did. I would have been happy had I averaged 5 mph, so for a first crack at it, I’m very pleased. Any race/run I do next I will be in better condition with no injuries, and can then find out the next limiting factor to work on.

Josh has been so wonderfully supporting through this whole thing, and especially today by getting up earlier, playing the roles of pack mule, boyfriend support and photographer. I also appreciate the support of many others in my life as I’ve shared the ups and downs of my training and challenges with my leg. I’m very grateful for all of this, and after I take a break and recover, I look forward to taking it easy and running for fun, both alone and with groups…

…until I decide whether I’ll be doing another Half, or a full Marathon next.

See all 10 pictures in my Picasa Web Album