Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I don't like new Orleans, a short novel.

I've only been once, here is my experience. Unfortunately it's all true, no tall tales.

Way back in the day I didn't do much, if any company travel. I was just a guy who fixed the network, restarted computers, changed mouse batteries, etc. Since I was responsible for the system, I was sent to a convention to find out changes, price shop, and see what's new.
It was a last minute decision so most of the regular name hotels were sold out, but that was ok with me, I like different. I found an old hotel, one with history, it was an orphanage for children in the late 1800's (I think that was around the year). The technical term was asylum and how true that would be.

I arrived at the hotel and checked in, so far so good, the place had charm and character. I was directed to the elevator and headed in that direction. The first room I pass by is a kitchen... that's sort of odd but maybe they were making a run at the longer stay suites. There was a note on the kitchen door that said, 'Do your own damn dishes.'
The elevator appears and I get inside. Before I can push the button for my room (that's not marked) I see someone  has written in black marker, 'don't push more than one floor at a time or the elevator will get stuck.'

2 flights of stairs later I'm at my floor and I navigate around a woman who looks like she just busted out of her straight jacket.

I open my room door, hustle in and lock it.
No phone, no tv, no clock. The room is a little odd shaped and above the door is a ledge... with trash on it.
The carpet is yellow but I don't know if it was white originally or not. I have to get to the convention and meet the rest of the staff who flew out ahead of me. I always like to shower and change after I fly, so I get in the shower. No door on the bathroom, no door on the shower but there was a curtain to keep the room dry.
Hot water.. as in that's all there was. Really hot burn my ass water. Shit, this wont work. I'll just take a sink bath but that water is scalding hot as well. Damn, I've got to get going. I finish cleaning up as best as I could, minus a few layers of flesh and change.

The front desk tells me the convention center is 2 miles away, go down 4 blocks and turn right and stay on whatever street. Perfect, I can always use the walking so off I go. I'm wearing slacks and a dress shirt, my wedding ring and my Rolex. The watch was a gift to me from the family that owns the company I work for. It's from 1976 and had a good story and history, but they wanted me to have it since they consider me family. I'm proud to wear it, not to flaunt that I have an expensive watch, but I'm honored to have been given it.
I turn right after 4 blocks and realize I made a mistake. Ahead of me is a bad looking neighborhood, but I can see the convention center in the distance and why would anyone bother me, I'm just walking, I'm not causing trouble. A few minutes pass and I see some kids on bicycles come out of an alley and eyeball me. They start my direction and I put my hands in my pocket.

Do you know how hard it is to take off a ring and watch with one hand.... in a pocket. I have the watch insured but that doesn't mean I won't get killed before I can take it off and hand it over. Good lord, last time I was that nervous at least the Army gave everyone a body bag and you expected to die.

The bikes circle me and I'm actually afraid I'm going to get killed. I keep walking and try to look normal... not weak, not strong, just normal. The bikes peel off a few minutes later and follow me at a distance. I'm amazed when suddenly I'm at the convention center... well the back of it, another mile or so and I'm around the other side and safe.

Lets in the evening I was down at some bar for a hosted party by a vendor. I went down in a cab with coworkers. I left a little early and hailed a cab. I told the cabbie the address and he said it was a 5 minute walk. I told him that's nice, I don't want to die and I'm happy to pay him.

No sleep at the asylum, I'm too worried someone is going to bust the door down and I'm not sure the sheets are clean. The next morning I check out and take a cab around town until I find a hotel room at a real hotel and take a nap.

and that is why I hate New Orleans. When Katrina hit, I actually wished the entire place had went down the drain and vowed never to go back. This time I am staying at the Hyatt and I'm checking my knife so I'm not completely defenseless. Rolex and wedding ring are staying in the safe at home.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January mish-mash, happier as a runner

I've let a few weeks go by without reading blogs, news articles (besides what pops up for celebrities on my yahoo home page sliders), economy reports, etc. It was a nice break for the start of the new year, and now I'm back to full power once again.

Where to start...

Fat shaming... really, now we invented a new catch phrase on the news. Here at work it's called big girl bullying, and it's actually going to get people fired really soon. Growing up my best friend was a big kid but I never thought of his weight since he was my friend and we accepted each other for who we were. If you are happy and comfortable with yourself, nobody should make you feel anything different. If you aren't happy with (whatever aspect) then make a change. Don't do it for anyone else but YOU, unless it's something that will prolong your life with your family.

I destroyed my shoulder at the gym. I decided the 50lb. medicine ball wasn't heavy enough so I got an 80lb one. It's a great workout but combined with 2 days in a row on shoulders I had to take a few days off from upper body stuff. This gave me a chance to get out running, the 60 degree weather didn't hurt at all of course. I decided I'm a much happier person when I run, being alone out in the trees and earth can do wonders for inner calm.
The first few days sucked but I had been prepping for it on a treadmill whenever I went to the gym, so it wasn't really horrible. Yesterday I had a great run, almost back to my old pace. I did miss the start to the Broncos game but the are was almost deserted. I even ordered some new running socks as a gift to myself for finally getting back outside. I'll still hit the gym a few days a week, but not always going for the heaviest lifts possible.

Heading to New Orleans at the end of the week. Not a city I like, but I need to be there for work so I shall take advantage of the sea level and get some more running in. Sleep will be nice too, not needing to wake up every few hours for the dogs will be nice.

Talking about dogs, Luke has been sick for a few days, so I'm not sure what the deal is. If it continues I'll take him in and have some stuff checked. I had the talk with him that if it's time to go, then he can go. I wouldn't want anyone holding on for my benefit and I hope we have given him an amazing life. I think he's 10 (or 11 or 12, I really can't remember). Animals get sick, just like we do, hopefully he will keep his food down from last night. He is still happy and allergy-triggering.

Oh, it's MLK day. Great ideas but people need to want to make a change. If you are content at 'being held back/down by the man', you aren't ever going to rise above.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oh yes, it's winter again!

8 Inches of snow in just a few hours on a crisp Saturday morning. We cancelled all of our plans, we don't trust the other drivers enough to hit Denver, no matter how much we want to have a evening with some old friends.
Sunday was also the family gift exchange and lunch, so I decided to walk instead of drive. The walk was a great reminder that I should wear a hat that covers my ears, -8 and wind. I do love that people across the country are rushing to the grocery stores to stock up... heaven forbid they realize it's winter.

What would it look like if it was this cold and we didn't have power? We have enough propane for about a month of running the propane (indoor safe) heater. This would be placed in the basement to keep the pipes from freezing, all the water going upstairs would be shut off. Life would be miserable but we would be alright. The cold wouldn't last that long, it's going to be 50 degrees on Wednesday, but there should always be a contingency plan.
We also have plenty of fuel for vehicles to run other electric space heaters via. inverters.

This spring we will have the gas fireplace (it's more of a heater I suppose) replaced with wood and have a few cords of wood delivered and stacked up. That's the plan, we will see if it's allowed under code and insurance, etc. Worst case scenario we will buy everything we need (new stove, more piping and hearth pads) so we can just do it ourselves if needed.

I've been on hold for 30 minutes with the United Airlines, they cancelled my flight today and Friday, so they now get to refund me the flight cost AND the hotel. It's not my fault and they must have a crystal ball to cancel a flight in 5 days. So much for being in Houston for a few days.

I know it's cold all over so stay warm, shovel slow and post pictures of Moose (mooses?, meece?)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1, 2014; goodbye 2013

I just crawled out of the basement corner... the one we have been skipping getting organized and cleaned up. I need to get the shop vac and drag it in, the old basement vac just died and I need a break anyhow. I really want to open the floor plan up some more, so the walls are all shelved and filled up, with organized and easily identifiable bins.
The bins could have a label called spices, batteries, nails/screws, candles, etc. We figured this would be a great way to keep everything a little more organized than it is, and improve the lighting and layout. I want a table in the middle of the room so I can work from there on putting away newly purchased items.
This will also make everything a little easier next week when the new washer and dryer get delivered. Shortly followed by a gas water heater, and with the combo of all three it should lower the electric bill by 25%. I would like more but they just raised the utility rates again, the average home in Colorado Springs pays $200 a month for utilities (all year, averaged). Our utility bill is exactly $200 a month.
We have a lot to do in the next week.

So 2013 is over, and I finished it the same way I finished 2012, a nice long gym workout. I didn't have the gym to myself, I don't know anyone in management like I used to, so I worked out with everyone else. I finished up with 200 gym workouts, 20 hotel gym workouts, about 4 dozen runs, and around 8 strongman workouts. My only workout regret is that I didn't keep up my cardio endurance like I was hoping. I am hitting running again, and now that they finally opened the park and national forest above the house, I'll be able to get back into the swing of things easily.

We had a lot of fun playing on the ATV's, 4 wheeling around the state, a trip to Montreal and Barcelona, Florida and Vegas. We sold a couple vehicles to downsize the fleet and added a 5th wheel toy hauler camper. The kitchen remodel was finished and is working out great. We fell out of touch with some friends and made new ones. The garden was the best ever. A great year indeed!

In memory of my Dad passing away on New Years morning a few years back, I am going to eat this whole raspberry pastry (yes, well on the way). It tastes exactly like it did when I was growing up and when we could afford it every few months he would buy one. It felt heartwarming to not only buy it, but not even care about the cost, knowing all of the lessons and wisdom he gave me helped me be as successful as I am. Financially it was my best year and I owe my success to the work ethic that was drilled into me as a child.
Thanks Dad!

2014 is going to be a great year, one of becoming stronger both mentally and physically. We plan on purchasing some land at the end of the year, so we will have a lot of weekends driving around and camping while we search. The garden will be bigger and better, there will be dozen and dozens of things canned and put away for a rainy day. I'm not a big resolution guy but I have some goals:

Dead lift 400 and front squat 300 by May 1st
Run 1000 miles (made me laugh to type that since I was running 2500-3000) in 2014
Go back to N.H. and visit my Brother and friends
Triple our savings account balance
Have more fun adventures than we did in 2013