Well I am officially a college graduate. While it is only a two year degree it is a degree none the less and I am proud of myself for finishing. It took me a long time, sadly there were a lot things that came up a long the way that caused me to put classes on hold for a year at a time thus making it seem to take forever. But after a long haul I am done. I finished with an Associate of Science and a 3.63 GPA. I worked very hard and I am glad I stuck with it. Now on to the next adventure.
My life has been crazy the last few weeks. I am finally coming toward the end of my college career, well at least for now. What a long a strange road it has been. It has taken a long time but the experience has been very rewarding and eye opening. I never thought I would love learning again as much as I have the past few years. Even though this process is going to leave me with only a two year degree I am very happy with the fact that I have stuck it out and stayed with it through some very trying times in my life. My next decision will be if I will continue on and work toward my 4 year. I am unsure what will do, but for now I am going to enjoy the feeling of accomplishing a goal that I set for myself strictly for self-improvement and self-knowledge. I am happy with that.
I have been doing some serious record shopping lately, I have bought a few things here and there, but last week I had a great score. I found a mint condition copy of The Wall. It was like the thing was never played. It was pretty sweet. I have a feeling I am going to ware that pile out. I love The Wall; it is my favorite Floyd album. I have almost managed to score a couple more friends’ collections. Good stuff. It is funny because people mostly just want to get rid of their records. I will take them. If you have any old records and are looking to get rid of them I will take them. I got my first Beatles record the other day, I was never a huge Beatles fan, but I am glad to have their greatest hits album, good stuff on there.
I wish it would snow. Right now there is nothing and it doesn’t really even seem like winter outside. Sure it is chilly but there are really no signs at all of winter and that to me is a bummer. I am looking forward to skiing again this year and maybe spending a bit more time trying to learn how to snowboard. If we head west this year I would like to try snowboarding out there. I think it would be a blast.
I am looking forward to Christmas. I love Christmas, I can’t wait to get our tree and decorate it. I really want to bake and decorate cookies. I am hoping that Santa Claus swings by the house this year. I like Santa.
The next big thing will be what we decide for out winter trip. We are kicking around some ideas. I am not sure what we are going to do, but I am guessing it will be awesome.
So I got my new phone, I think so far it is ok. I ended up getting the new iPhone 4s. I like it so far, it is really not that much different than my Android phone. I do like some things on the droid much better, but the iPhone is going to be fine. I do really like the Siri function a lot. It is pretty dang cool. I have used it a little bit and so far so good, I had heard people were having some trouble with it but so far so good. More later.
So let’s face it basically I suck at keeping up with my blog. It is not that I don’t have anything to say because I do have a lot to say and it is mostly important stuff as well, at least it is in my own mind. Anyway, life is good. I have 6 weeks left of school and let me be honest it cannot end soon enough. I am just so ready to be done with classes. I want to read my own books and not have to bring a laptop on vacation in order to log into classes. I have been at this a long time, too long in fact. But it is still something that I am very proud of even though with how long it has taken, I could have went to medical school, finished a surgical residency and gotten at least one but maybe two PHDs. But none the less it was a goal of mine and it will come true on December 14th when I graduate. Awesome, I can’t wait.
It has been a busy past few months. Melissa and I have done a lot of traveling this year; we just got back from our second trip to DC which turned out to be a whole lot of fun. We saw some things we didn’t see on our first trip out there in May so it was great to do that and we saw something’s again that we both really loved. I made a little memorial to my dad that had a couple of photos of him on it and some information about his service during WWII, I printed it out in color and laminated it and placed it on the Minnesota pillar in the Atlantic theater half of the World War II Memorial. It made me feel great inside to do that. After I place the page on the granite I stepped back and remembered him and watched as a few people walked by and bent over to read the page about him. I was glad to see people do that, they got to learn a little bit about a great man that was very proud of the service that he gave to his country. It was a neat experience. I was happy to have been able to do that for him.
Baseball season is over and it was a crappy year for the Twins. They lost 99 games and really had a bad year. It was really a bummer. Even though we had a great time at the ball yard it is always hard to watch the team that you really like do so poorly. Oh well, we are hoping for better things from them next season.
I bought a record player about a month ago. Yes records! Vinyl records, you know those things that kids born before 1980 listened to music on. Sad to think some kids have never heard the pops and hisses from a record. I have always wanted to get back into vinyl and the opportunity came when a co-worker of mine asked where she could sell a bunch of old records. I told her about Cheapo over in St Paul, but asked if I could have a look at them first and see if there was anything I might be interested in. She brought her collection in a few days later and I had a look and took all of them. Great old stuff, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and other great stuff. It was awesome, just like that I was back and had the start to a very nice vinyl collection. Since then I have been trolling the bins at Half Price Books and at Cheapo Records in St Paul and am putting together some great music. I have always been a huge music buff so this has almost been a religious experience for me. I bought a middle of the road turntable after shopping around. I didn’t want to drop a grand right off the bat for one until I knew that everything was going to be ok and that I was going to enjoy it. Anyway I seriously looked around a found one that was in a good price range and got excellent reviews and made the jump. It is awesome, the sound is pure and amazing and I am trying to figure out how I am going to swing an upgrade in a year or so. It is amazing to me that the market for vinyl is as big as it is. I am glad to know there are others out there that want the pure sound vinyl gives.
So I have been away for a while. Not really sure why because I do have things to say. I guess I just haven’t had the desire to say them. A lot has been going on since we last chatted. I have done a lot of fly fishing, been to Colorado, been laid off due to a government shutdown, booked another couple trips and watched a lot of baseball.
I have been doing a lot of fly fishing this year, and it has been great. I have always enjoyed fishing of all kinds whether on spinning gear or on spinning gear, but this year it has been all flies. I have fished locally on the Rush and the Kinni, the Poplar River in Lutsen and in a couple spots in Cordillera Colorado. All have produced fish in some fashion and all have been really fun times.
In early July Melissa and I went out to Cordillera Colorado and stayed at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera, let me just say that when we arrived home, within 24 hours I had flights booked and reservations for a return trip later in the summer. Everything about that place was perfect and we are looking forward to the return trip here in 17 days.
I had 19 days off due to a government shutdown in early July as well. Even though it sucked not having a job for the time, it was pretty fricking awesome to not have a job and not have to work for 19 days. I felt like a kid on summer vacation again. It was a nice chance to unwind, relax and do work on my summer classes. I now have officially two classes left, they start August 22nd and I graduate on December 16th I can’t wait to be done. I have worked LONG and hard to get this done, so I am excited to have finally accomplished this school thing. I am proud of myself for sticking with it over a few trying years.
The Minnesota Twins are having a terrible season, they are horrible. It is a bummer because they “should” be better than this. Oh Well, maybe next year they will be better. At least I hope. Melissa and I are still enjoying going to the games, but of course it is better when the team is winning.
I have started playing racquetball with my friend Scott at LA Fitness and we are having a blast. I love racquetball, I played a bit when I was younger and am enjoying get back into it now. Scott and I play at least twice a week for about 2 hours or so at a time. I am also going to join the racquetball league at LA Fitness which starts in early September. I am really looking forward to it. It is great exercise, but it is also have which exercise sometimes isn’t, so win-win I guess.
Summer is disappearing quickly, which is bittersweet. It has been mostly a crappy summer, it has either been a million degrees and super humid or it has been raining. We haven’t had very many nice days. So that is bummer I guess, but I am looking forward to fall and winter. I am planning on learning to be better on my snowboard this year. Melissa and I have season passes to Welch Village again this year. So I am hoping for good weather and lots of snow.
There are so many thoughts going around in my head today. So many that I really don’t know what to type. More random thoughts as usual.
Melissa and I are also returning to Washington DC at the end of September. We loved it there and I can’t wait to get back. I am planning on bringing a photo of my dad to the World War II memorial. I think that he would be proud of that monument, so I think it is important for me to do that. I was thinking I would make up a little thing with a photo and a little information about him. So others can know he was proud to have served his country. I am also looking forward to another trip to Arlington, I loved that place. It was amazing. I could have easily spent all day there; I look forward to going back.
Melissa and I returned from Washington DC last Monday evening and here is a short recap of our trip. DC was amazing in every way. We were incredibly impressed with the city we were both pleasantly surprised.
Our flight out of here was good, no major delays or anything; we arrived at Reagan International at about 11pm, hopped in a cab and were at our hotel about 15 minutes later, it was very easy. We got a good night sleep and woke up the next morning ready for some sightseeing. We headed down to the Metro and bought our passes and headed down to the Holocaust Museum. The DC subway was very clean and easy to use. We got in line for our tickets to the Museum and headed in, The Holocaust Museum was amazing, it was beautiful and sad, probably not the best way to start a vacation. But it was a must see and we were both glad that we went. The thing that sticks out the most for me was the room of shoes. If I think about it I can still smell that old leather smell that was heavy in that room it was very sad and made the whole thing seem more real, pictures are one thing being seeing all of the shoes that were left behind from Majdanek was something else.
After that we headed to Arlington National Cemetery. I loved Arlington it was amazing. The grounds are incredibly beautiful and I found it peaceful. We walked up to JFK’s grave site. It was very impressive seeing the black stone with his name on it and the eternal flame burning was a sight that I will remember. After JFK we headed to the Tomb of the Unknowns. This was by far the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Watching the Tomb guard do his walk of 21 steps turn, wait and repeat was incredible. We saw the changing of the guard. I luckily got down to the front row and had a great view, Melissa stayed back a few feet so she could stay in the shade. It was hot outside. Anyway the changing of the guard was easily one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. Everything was perfect, I wish I had an ounce of the discipline these soldiers have. I loved watching the changing of the guard. Looking back on our trip, it was easily my favorite thing I saw while in DC. After watching the changing we continued looking around Arlington, we saw Audie Murphy’s grave, the War Nurses memorial, and the memorials for both shuttle disasters. Arlington was amazing, I could have easily spent all day walking around there.
After Arlington walked across the Memorial Bridge and went to the Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial, the Wall was stunning. To gaze upon those 58,000 names was a sight to behold. It was sad there. Quite a few veterans were there and many of them were sad. It was hard to be there, but incredible to see. After the Wall we headed back to our room to relax and rest. We headed out for a nice dinner and back to our room to hit the rack. It was a long hot day of walking and we were both beat.
Sunday we got up and headed out on the subway, we went down to the White House to check that out, very neat to see it in person, it is quite the spot. The grounds were beautiful and I kept thinking how fun it would be to get a game of baseball going on that lawn. We were lucky enough to see Marine-1 leave the White House with President Obama aboard. That was quite the sight. After the white house we headed over to the World War II Memorial. As we walked up on the World War II Memorial I was instantly struck by sadness and a feeling of great loss. I felt my father’s presence there and it made me both sad and very proud. My dad was a WWII vet and it was great to see the Memorial built for his service. Walking into the oval, I had a hard time. I was incredibly overwhelmed with loss and I tried to hide my watery eyes. I felt close to my father there and didn’t want to leave. We sat down by the oval pool and I just remembered. It was a very emotional experience for me. When we return to DC I plan on bringing a photo of my dad to the WWII Memorial and placing it at the Minnesota pillar in his memory. After that we headed up to Hard Rock Café for lunch. Once again it was really hot outside and we both wanted some where cool we could sit, eat and relax. The FBI building was right across the street from Hard Rock so that was pretty cool for us. Melissa more than I is a huge X-Files fan, so I think it was pretty neat for her to see the FBI building. I got a picture of her standing in front of the building. It was fun. We looked for Scully and Mulder but didn’t see them. After lunch we headed to the National Archives and looked at the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. It was neat to see them and to think that everything his country stands for is written on those pieces of paper. We both enjoyed the National Archives. After the archives we headed to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. One of the things that I really want to see was Mr. Rogers’s sweater, Kermit the Frog and Archie Bunkers chair in the Smithsonian. I got to see 2 of the 3, sadly Mr. Rogers sweater was not on display that day, but Kermit and Archie’s chair were there so that was really cool. After a bit more walking around and taking in the experience of DC we headed back to our hotel and had a nice dinner at a little Chinese place that we found. Another awesome day. Monday we woke to another hot and humid day. We had a short day since our flight out was in the late afternoon. We headed down to the Marine Memorial that was really cool to see. It was way bigger than I thought it was be, the statues of the men raising the American Flag are huge. It was a cool memorial and I am glad we saw it. After that we headed back to the National Mall area, went to the Air and Space Museum and had a nice lunch. After lunch we walked around a bit more and then it was time to head for the airport for our flight home, which went off without a hitch. We got home at 8pm, and had time to unwind and relax before bed, and work the next day.
DC was amazing. We both loved it there. In fact we liked it so much we have plans to go back at the end of September. I can’t wait. There are a few more things that we both want to see and I really want to go back to the WWII Memorial and Arlington. If you haven’t been I highly recommend DC it was very impressive.
Yesterday was the anniversary of my mother’s death. I cannot believe that she has been gone for 11 years. Man time flies. I was thinking about her yesterday and how much I miss her. She was a great lady and I had so much fun hanging out with her. I miss our times together, but I have great memories of her and I am glad for that. I wish with all of my heart that Melissa would have gotten to meet her, they would have really hit it off. Bummer.
Lots of stuff has been going on. Melissa and I went to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak last weekend at the U of M. It was amazing. It was an incredible feeling for me to be in the same room with him, even if that room was a hockey arena. It still was a special time for me. He has a great sense of humor and it was just so thrilling to hear him speak and hear his laugh. You can tell that he is just a gifted speaker and such an intelligent person. It was truly an honor for me to be there and it is something that I will never forget.
Classes are done for spring! I am so happy. My two classes were tough this semester. Lots of papers to write. Over the 8 weeks I wrote 9 papers. Ugh, by the end I was ready for a serious break. I have 4 classes left and then I will be done. At that point I will need to decide if I want to continue on or hang it up for a while. I am not sure what I am going to do. I would like to go on but it might be nice to just take a break from school for a while and concentrate on some other things.
Melissa and I are going to Washington DC over the Memorial Day weekend. I am really excited about it and I think she is too. Neither of us have ever been there and I know for me it is somewhere that I have always wanted to go. I think it will be amazing to see all of the monuments and the history that goes along with all of that. We are only going to be there for 3 full days so it is going to be a whirl wind tour of DC. I am hoping that we get a good taste of the city and get to see some of the important things. I am hoping that if we both like it well enough that we will return another time to spend more time looking around. But either way it will be a nice chance to get out of town for a while and be together.
I finally got out fly fishing the other day with my buddy Bill. I met him over at a spot on the Kinnikinnick River in the River Falls area. It was a perfect day. We got to the spot and the trout were rising all around us. We both found spots in the river and went to work. I was fishing a little foam ant along the bank. Four casts in I had my first fish. The way he hit the ant I thought for sure it was going to be about a 15lb fish, but alias it turned out to be about a 4 inch Brown trout. Either way he was fun to catch and my first fish of the year so it was a great start. I moved around a bit on the river, sadly missed about 4 or 5 strikes before I had #2 fish on. I had made the switch to a small Elk Hair Caddis and caught the #2 fish almost right away. Again he was about the same size as the first fish, but again so much fun, man for a little fish they can sure fight. After moving around some more I found what looked like the perfect spot. I got my caddis fly into what I hope would be the perfect sport and boom, nice huge strike! I knew I had a bigger fish on. When I finally got a look at him he was indeed a bigger fish. I got him in and he was pretty, about a 13” Brown with some spunk, he put up a great little fight. He was not interested at all in being landed. But I assured him that I would simply get a photo and set him free. I finally got him in and took my photo and set him free. It was exciting! Fished for 3 hours, caught 3 really fun fish, missed about 9 strikes and had a blast. I can’t wait to get back out there and try again.
I think we all know that I am not an athlete. I enjoy sports but I am not very good at anything sports wise. I did a brief stint a few years ago in the running world and did a few races. The pinnacle of my running career was the completion of the Afton 25k trail race. After I ran that race I ran maybe 4-5 more times, but never in the form of a race and never more than a few miles. Last Saturday I came out of retirement to run the Goldy’s 5k at the U of M. It was for a good cause, most of the money went to the Amplatz Children’s Hospital and the entry fee was pretty inexpensive so I thought what the hell, I will give it a try. The one cool thing about the race was the finish was the 50 yard line at TCF Bank Stadium, basically you ran down the same tunnel that the Gopher football team does and run out on to the field. It was really a next way to finish. They even had a live feed running on the huge scoreboard screen so you could see yourself finish. I really enjoyed the race and was really glad I signed up. The course was great, nice and flat. It meandered through the U’s campus and finally worked its way back to the stadium for the big finish. I was really happy with my time. I finished in 34:10 which was great considering that I basically had forgotten about the race until a few days before so I really didn’t get out a run much at all. (read none) I am definitely going to try and do this race every year.
Baseball season is here once again. The Twins are starting out a bit slow and I am starting to get worried but it is a long season and I think they will come around. Melissa and I went to the home opener last Friday which of course was a blast, and the Twins had a nice come from behind victory and those are always fun. I also saw and old friend at the game which was pretty cool. In fact she was sitting right behind Melissa and I so we got a chance to chat a bit during the game. We have tickets to tonight’s game and I am looking forward to being back in our season ticket seats. I am interested to see if the same people will be in the seats ahead of us. Either way I am looking forward to a nice season of baseball at Target Field.
I am a little over half way done with my spring semester classes. I am taking two 8 week classes. They are going well. I really like one class, I am a little disappointed with the other, but it will be fine. I will be glad to be done with spring classes and have a few weeks off before summer classes start. I have 2 more classes set up for summer. Right now I am signed up for microbiology and pathophysiology. I am not sure if I am going to stick with both or change. I keep going back and forth on the pathophysiology class. It sounds really interesting but it might be a little much for summer. We’ll see what I end up with.
I am looking forward to starting up the fly fishing season. I was hoping to go this Thursday but it looks like the weather is not going to hold. Oh well soon!
Classes are well underway and so far so good. I am going to be busy with classes this semester, after reading the syllabi for my 2 classes they are going to be jammed packed with work. But it just brings me closer to being done. I have to take a review class this summer to prep for some math classes but after the prep class I will have 3 classes left. I am looking forward to being done. After that I have another decision to make, whether or not I want to continue on or if that will be good enough. I am guessing that after a short break I will continue on but as of today I am not sure. I love “college” and am bummed I waited so long to go back. I would have done things very differently if I could do it all over again, but that is OK. I am glad that I discovered a love of learning in this late in the game. The educational march continues on!
Baseball season starts on Friday. I am looking forward to another fun year. Melissa and I have home opener tickets again this year and we are both looking forward to the Twins first game at home, which is April 8th. Our first season ticket game is April 12th. Once again we have a 20 game package in the same seats we were in last year. I love our seats and we plan on keeping them for the foreseeable future. Hopefully the weather will be decent this year and the Twins will have a great year! I started tying flies last week. I have wanted to give it a try for a long while. I bought a few books and watched a few “how to “videos on the internet and decided to give it a try. I bought some basic tools and supplies and started with a couple “easy” flies. After a small learning curve mostly with technique and working with something so small, I actually figured it out and tied a few simple nymphs. It is super fun and incredibly relaxing. I also learned how to tie a Brassie and a Wolly Worm. Both turned out well and I am very happy with the outcomes. I am so excited to learn more about the hobby and actually catch some fish with my flies. I am making some plans to possibly fish with a buddy a little this year; I am hoping that it works out!
I saw my first robin this morning and although this pains me to say, I am ready for spring and summer. It has been an awesome winter, but I am ready for some warmer temps. *sigh* my favorite resorts out west are just getting crushed with snow. So that makes it hard, because I would really like to be there skiing powder and enjoying the mountains. But it is all good. I smile when I think of all of the skiers and riders having fun in all of that fresh snow. Ride on fellow snow riders, ride on!
So it appears as though winter is just going to go without a fight. It is surprising how fast the snow has disappeared. Grass is showing everywhere and the weather is getting warmer by the day. I am hoping that winter will give us one more blast before retreating to memory for yet another year. Our local ski resort closed yesterday. I was bummed. I feel like I didn’t ski every much this year. I had some awesome ski days this year, it just seems like there wasn’t enough of them. But I would probably feel that no matter how many days on the slopes I had. I guess now we have moved on to what we call mud season. Hopefully it will go fast; I have a few things that I am looking forward to getting going. I think I might be the only person that is sad to see winter go. I love the snow and have enjoyed this winter. I am hoping next year will be as good snow wise as this one has been.
I won a scholarship. That is kind of the big news. I applied for a few scholarships through my school and actually won one of them. It is exciting to me. It isn’t a huge amount of money but it will pay for a class and that is perfectly fine with me. I was really excited to read the email announcing the win. It really made me feel good. It is nice to be recognized for something that you have worked hard on. I am looking forward to using the money when I register for classes next time.
Speaking of school, my classes have once again started. So far so good. I think that I am going to enjoy both of them. They are short, only 8 weeks which means that a lot of reading and paper writing is going to be crammed into them, which is both bad and good. Good that they will be over quicker and bad that there is a lot of worked packed into those 8 weeks. Oh well, I am getting close to being done, I have a few classes left so it is going to be good!
I have begun looking at fly tying as way to enjoy my fly fishing a little more. The idea of catching a fish on something you made is pretty darn cool. Besides that the hobby fascinates me. I have been watching “how-to” videos online and it looks seriously fun. I am looking forward to looking into that a little more.
So lately I have become a little more into my “bucket list”, I have a list of 72 things that I would like to do before I die. A few of them I know that I will never do, like walk on the moon, own my own planet or meet an outer space alien, but there are a lot of them that are in reach and even a fair number of them that are done. I created this list 5 years ago officially, but I have been creating it in my head for decades. Anyway I wrote the list down in my secret Moleskine notebook while drinking tea with Melissa at the Tea Garden on Grand Ave in St Paul. I look at the list at least once or twice every few months and see if there is anything on it that I could achieve. I think everyone should have a bucket list. Sadly with the ski conditions at Big Sky this year I was unable to cross two things off the list, they were skiing both Marx and Lenin Bowls on the south face of Lone Mountain. I was pretty bummed that I was not able to cross those 2 goals of the list. Looking forward this year however I have a few things that are going to be taking off the list; at least as off right now it is looking that way.
The first thing is, Melissa and I are going to hear His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speak at the U of M in May. I am really excited about this. I admire him a lot and am really looking forward to hearing him speak, which could very well be the last time he comes to Minnesota. It promises to be an amazing time. For my practice of Buddhism this is a very big deal for me and I am sure it will be something I will never forget.
I am taking an Orvis fly fishing class in July this summer. This is something that I have always wanted to do and it is finally going to happen. I have been fly fishing on and off for 20 years and I love it, I wish I could (read should) do it more. Whether or not I catch anything it is always relaxing for me to be out on the water trying. The class is going to take place in Edwards Colorado over 2 full days. I am hoping to learn a lot and apply what I learn to our summer trip to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, which brings me to a couple other things in my bucket list and they are to catch a fish in the following rivers, The Madison, Henry’s Fork and the Snake River. All of which I am going to have the chance to fish this summer while we are on vacation. I am hoping to be successful in each of these rivers. I also have a couple other things in the hopper for next summer already; there will be more on that later. I am not going to jinx my ideas for huge plans.
Classes start up on Monday, I dropped a class and am back down to doing 2 classes. The thought of 3 eight week classes was starting to get a little daunting. I want to do well in the classes I have left and just thought that might be too much packed into that short amount of time. It will be ok though, I am still on schedule. I might have to do an extra semester but that is OK with me. Like I said I want to do well.
I hate to say it but I think winter is over. Looks like the temperatures are starting to get warmer, and there is no prediction of snow over at least the next 10 days. That means that the snow we do have is going to get really crappy and that sucks for skiing. I might be down for the year. *sigh* Oh well bring on next winter!
So I know they say that everything happens for a reason, I still have a lot of problems with that statement. I am still trying to figure out the reason that I was parent-less at the age of 29, but I digress. This weekend, the statement everything happens for a reason came into play and made me a little more of a believer. Since a whole chain of events happened for a reason.
Saturday started like most Saturday’s do at my house, lazily getting out of bed and starting to roam around the house deciding what the day is going to bring. This Saturday was going to be a fun day, Melissa and I were going to run a couple errands and then meet a friend down at the Metrodome for some rollerblading. We were also going to ask that friend to join us at Stella’s afterword for a beer and appetizers. But once again I digress, Melissa and I went out on our errands and during the beginning of our errands I got an email from our friend in which she canceled rollerblading with us because she was not feeling well, Melissa and I were bummed because we like this person and were sad that we weren’t going to see her and we like to rollerblade, but hence this started the things happen for a reason. After we got that email we changed our plan for the day and decided that we were not going to go rollerblading either and that we were going to go and have lunch and then go grocery shopping which we were not going to do before. After grocery shopping we came home and started to unpack the groceries and I made my trip down to the freezer in the basement to put the frozen foods away. I opened the door to the utility area and discovered that something was leaking and leaking badly, there was a lot of water on the cement floor. I panicked and yelled for Melissa to run down and help me move somethings that were sitting in water. After moving some stuff quickly out of the puddles and attempting to figure out what was leaking, was it the sump pump? The water softener? The Aprilaire thing? No of course not it was our 6 year old 50gal water heater. It was leaking slow but steady. Melissa called the number on the side of the water heater and 3 hours and $1100 later we had a new 50gal water heater… Melissa and I cleaned up the mess which luckily wasn’t too bad. We only had to throw a few things out that were water damaged. After we got the area cleaned up and a couple fans set up to dry the concrete we talked about how lucky we were that this didn’t happen a few weeks ago while we were on vacation. 50 gallons of water leaking for 11 days, it would have been A LOT worse!
I bring this story up because of the chain of events that lead us to find the leaking water. If our friend would not have canceled with us, I have no idea when we would have found the leaking water. It may not have been till Sunday and things would have been much worse. I find this chain of events very interesting and it brings into thought the bigger picture of life. Do things really happen for a reason? I wonder, sometimes it certainly seems like that is a big fat YES, but other times it seems like the answer would be a NO. I brought up in the beginning of this blog post about my parents. Both of my parents are deceased, my dad in 1994 and my mom in 2000. I was very close with both my parents and losing them was very hard for me. When my mother died I asked a lot of questions to men that were supposed to have the answers and all I have heard was, everything happens for a reason. What was the reason that my mother lost her life? Well, God has a plan. I claimed bullshit and that their answer was an easy way out of an answer that they could not give me in reality. I lost all faith and began what has become my personal quest for answers to my own beliefs and spirituality. I am still on the quest and all the while I have moved from one belief system to another, I still long for the reason that both my parents are gone. Sorry this post is a little heavy but sometimes I think, I try to link and then I think some more. I wonder about death and what happens, and truthfully I am scared of the thought of dying. I am not ready nor do I think that I ever will be. I am worried about it and it is always in the back of my mind. Morbid? Yes I know it is, but it is very important to me. I don’t claim to be an intelligent philosopher, or have the inside scoop to anything. I have a longing for knowledge about how things work and why things happen. This weekend, made me believe a little more that things do happen for a reason and sometimes it is a good reason.
One thing that we tried to do this trip that we haven’t done in the past is eat our meals at different places. In Bozeman we eat at our favorite places which I was more than ok with. Bozeman has some great little places and whenever we have gone we have stuck with the places that we know and love. In Bozeman we ate at the Pita Pit which is my favorite place in the whole world was on the top of the list, We ended up eating there 3 times total for the trip. I love that place, the pita sandwiches are just awesome and the place itself is a ton of fun. We also ate at the Montana Ale Works and MacKenzie River Pizza place. We discovered MacKenzie River 4 years ago when we were in Whitefish Montana. It is a great place and we enjoy going there. While we were in Big Sky we decided that we weren’t going to eat our main meals at places we normally eat at. So we started asking the locals for places to eat and as usual the locals were on the money. Here is the list of places that we ate at. Both Melissa and I enjoyed the food at each place.
The Lotus Pad – Fusion Thai Food, really good.
Choppers Pub and Grub – A cool place down in the meadow area. We had a nice lunch there.
Cinnamon Lodge – Awesome spot outside of Big Sky on the way to West Yellowstone, gourmet Mexican food. We ate here on Valentine’s Day and had a great meal.
Bullwinkle’s West – A little bar in West Yellowstone with great burgers.
Wild West Pizza – West Yellowstone – Awesome pizza, a little pricey but well worth the money.
Bucks T4 – This is the place we stayed but the restaurant there is actually one of the best in Montana. We had a very nice light dinner there.
Lone Peak Brewing Company – An awesome little brew pub that is all locals. We had a blast there. They had great food and good beer.
Once again this trip was a little different than others we have had to Montana, since we could not ski a couple days we found other things to do and really had fun doing them. I will say I did miss skiing every day, but we filled our time wisely and did some really cool stuff and had some other great adventures. One thing that I really enjoyed was using the beacon parks in both Bozeman and at Big Sky / Moonlight Basin. Melissa and I bought and wore avalanche transceivers for this trip, we were planning on skiing a lot in the trees and also on the south face of Lone Mountain. We did a lot of tree skiing but didn’t make it to the south face sadly. But any way the beacon parks are a place you can practice your search and probing skills in a controlled environment. In both beacon parks they had a number of beacons buried and a control box to turn them on or off. Melissa and I took turns, turning a couple beacons on and then using our beacons in search mode to find the buried ones. Once we got close using our beacons we would probe for the beacon under the snow. The idea is to simulate searching for a buried victim. We both had a blast practicing searching and probing at the beacon parks. While we are in no way ready for backcountry skiing we learned a lot about searching with beacons and how that all works. We agreed that we it was a good skill to have and that it was fun to learn.
It is hard to be back. It is nice to see my friends at work but during the day my mind seems to drift to the quietness of the snow covered nooks and crannies of Lone Mountain. I miss being there.
I am back... Need I say more? I guess maybe. Our trip was awesome. I fell in love once again with the mountains of Montana and the peace, quiet and fun they bring to my life once a year. Wow that is hard for me to say, "Once a year" There isn't anyone on earth that loves a place more than I love the Bozeman/Big Sky area of Montana. I seriously love everything about it, the people, the smells, the towns, the views and just the vibe in that part of the country is just so much different than here. No one is in a real big hurry and you can tell that people in general just seem happier. No traffic, no pollution to speak of and mountains to look at in every direction. It is truly a peaceful place. And as I go out there more and more I begin to question more and more why we do not just move out there. This is a question that I go over in my head daily while we are on vacation out there and still question further on days when I sit in traffic for an hour and a half to go 18 miles. I guess fear of the unknown is at the top of the reasons. That and the fact that Melissa and I are very comfortable here. We both have good jobs and lead a pretty easy life. And also maybe it makes going there so much more special to us. For now Bozeman and Big Sky will just have to be a place that I enjoy once a year.
Now for the trip recap. We made it to Bozeman with no problems at all. We arrived a little after 1230 on Friday Feb 11th which is my birthday. It was great to spend my birthday in Bozeman eating at the Pita Pit and bumming around the town going into all of our favorite little shops. The weather was warm when we arrived, in the mid 40’s they hadn’t had any snow in a few days and the temps were pretty warm. So I was a little worried that the snow was going to take a bit of a beating. We talked to a few locals and they told us the conditions at Bridger were getting pretty bad and that unless we got some fresh snow that they would just skip skiing there and just ski in Big Sky because the temps haven’t been as warm to ruin the snow. Sadly we did not get any fresh snow while we were in Bozeman so we did not ski at Bridger. I was a little bummed because I wanted to ski there again but after going up there and just checking it out we heard a lot of skiers talking about the icy conditions. So we were glad that we made the decision not to ski. Instead we had a blast in Bozeman and actually went down to Big Sky for the day on Saturday to watch the annual Dummy Jump. That turned out to be just a ton of fun and we were so glad that we did that. People built these dummies to send off a big jump to watch them fly through the air and then get destroyed when they landed. It was a hoot.
Sunday morning, we left Bozeman for our week in Big Sky; we checked into our hotel and headed down to Moonlight Basin to ski for the day. When we arrived we discovered that none of the lifts were running due to extremely high winds. I guess they measured a 97mph gust on the top of Lone Mountain! We ended up hanging around in the café area of the resort talking to people and enjoying the setting. After an hour or so we discovered that they were not going to open for the day because of the winds. BUMMER! What would have been our first ski day was cancelled due to wind. Oh well, nothing you can do about the weather. But during our time at the resort Melissa got talking to a lady that work at the Moonlight Spa and discovered that she was a massage therapist. So I offered to buy Melissa a massage with the lady for her Valentine’s Day present. She thought that was a great gift so we left the ski area and headed to the Spa to book her massage. The lady Melissa met had an opening that evening at 4pm so we booked it and planned for that. Now we had to find something to fill our time since skiing was out. We spoke with a couple of locals and they recommended a place to go for a hike. So we planned on that. We had lunch and then went to Ousel Falls. It was about a mile hike back to some really cool frozen falls. There were a bunch of ice climbers in the canyon by the falls so it was fun to watch them and just be outside in the really nice weather, it was sunny and the area was protected from the wind so it was nice. Even though we didn’t ski the day turned out to be a lot of fun. Melissa enjoyed her massage so that was good.
Monday we woke to windy conditions again, but I checked in with Big Sky and they were open, so skiing was on. We got ready and headed up to Big Sky and headed right to Swift Current lift with a plan on heading to the bowl, which we did. We made our first turns in the bowl at Big Sky. The snow was packed powder with a nice layer of windblown fluff on top so the turns were nice and soft and fairly easy. We learned that most of the snow had blown off the summit and that the run off the tram were very hard packed and icy. We decided not to venture up the tram and just stayed on our favorite runs. We were able to find good snow all over the mountain. It was so nice to be back at Big Sky, where the runs are long and the lift lines are short. We skied almost all day, we had a great Valentine’s Day skiing together and enjoying the awesome views from all over the mountain.
Tuesday we headed back to Big Sky and discovered that the conditions had gotten worse overnight, the wind had really taken a toll on the remaining snow on the runs. The few that we skied were hard and icy and frankly the conditions were horrid. We were bummed. We talked to a mountain host and he help us get a “Wind Check” with the high winds they were closing lifts and reopening them when the wind would seem to die down, it honestly wasn’t any fun skiing. So the “wind check” provided us with a free lift ticket for another day. Snow was in the forecast for Wednesday night so we were hopeful that things were going to change for the better. So we packed it in after just a couple hours skiing and decided to go down to West Yellowstone for the rest of the day and have lunch and bum around down there. It turned out to be the right decision. We had a very scenic drive from Big Sky down to W. Yell; I haven’t been down in that area since I was a little kid so it brought back a lot of memories when we arrived. The town was pretty quiet except for a few stores being open and a few snowmobiles running around. We went into Bud Lilly’s Fly shop while we were there and looked around at all of the cool fly fishing gear. I like to fly fish a lot. I am not very good at it but I have a lot of fun trying. I had a great time talking to the guy working at Bud’s and even asked for a recommendation for a place to have lunch. We made a call for us and sent us down to a little hole in the wall bar down the block that had great burgers. Melissa and I thought it was so cool he called! That would never happen here in the cities. I told him that we were thinking of coming back out in the summer and he told me to stop in and they would set me up with a few hot flies, a proper license and send me in the right direction to catch a fish. I got excited and am now counting the days till we go back this summer to Yellowstone. I told the guy that I just wanted to catch a fish, didn’t have to be a big fish, but just a fish. He said that would not be a problem. I bought a hat at the store and we headed to the little place he recommended for lunch. It was a cool little spot filled with a few local snowmobilers. We had fun sitting at the bar eating our lunch and listening to the other conversations. Even though the day started shaky with crappy skiing it turned out to be an awesome day spent at West Yellowstone.
Wednesday we woke to high winds again and Melissa and I decided not to bother with skiing which was a total bummer. We decided to head back down to West Yellowstone and spend some time doing a few things that were recommended to us. We got down there and went to the Grizzly and Wolf Center, it was cool, they had a couple huge Grizzly bears to watch in a habitat area and 2 separate areas for 2 small packs of wolves. I have never seen a grizzly that close or wolves for that matter so it was really a cool experience. We spent a couple hours watching the animals and looking at the other exhibits they had at the center. All in all worth the time there. We got a recommendation for a good pizza place in West Yellowstone to try so we found that and went there for lunch. And the best part, while we were there it started to snow! I could see outside from our table in the pizza place and it was snowing hard! Let’s hope that the snow had found its way 40 miles north to Big Sky. The pizza did turn out to be pretty dang good so we were glad that we went there. After lunch we bummed around a few open shops and then started back to our hotel. It snowed almost the whole way back to our hotel but about 5 miles from our hotel it stopped… NOOOO! When we got back to our hotel I could look out of our room window to the south and see the snow in the hills, it was a huge tease and not a good one either… Oh well, all of the weather forecasts were calling for some significant snow fall Wednesday night into Thursday so we were hopeful.
We woke up Thursday morning to 8-10 inches of fresh powder on the mountain! Finally fresh snow to play in. We got up, had a nice quick breakfast and headed up to Big Sky, today we had the Biggest Skiing in America ticket which meant that we could ski both Moonlight Basin and Big Sky on one ticket and what a day it turned out to be. All of that fresh powder and hardly any people. Melissa and I skied fresh tracks all day. We were the 10th chair of people up to the bowl so we skied a fresh line all the way down the bowl for the first time ever. It was so cool. It took us a few turns to get the powder rhythm going but once we did the turns were deep and effortless. The goal of a powder skier is to get snow deep enough that while you are going down the run you are getting hit in the face with snow. It is called a face-shot. Even though we were not getting face-shots, we were getting thigh shots, which was good enough for me. Feeling that soft snow hit me in the thighs was so amazing. We skied a few awesome runs at Big Sky and then made our way over to Moonlight Basin to do a few runs over there. We skied a few of our favorite runs at Moonlight, Powder River, Single Jack and Elk Horn. We also skied a few of the long green cruisers like Cinnabar and Lazy Jack. Moonlight was even less crowded then Big Sky so we had fresh tracks everywhere. It was awesome. After taking a break at Moonlight we decided to head back to Big Sky and have lunch and check out a tram lap, and do Liberty Bowl. We headed up the tram and discovered at the top the wind was blowing hard from the northwest. The mountain was protecting most of the resort from the wind so in most areas the wind was nice and clam. It was a very different story on the top. We decided to go for it, which turned out to be kind of a mistake. Liberty Bowl is the coolest run and it is the closest I come to feeling like a big mountain skier every time I have skied it, but this time I was a little nervous on it. There were a lot of bare spots and hard pack icy spots which makes for some interesting and scary skiing. Liberty Bowl is steep, huge and intimidating and the lack of snow in spots amplifies that by a lot. Even though we made it down, it took us a little longer then we wanted and we both agreed that was the scariest thing we had ever done. I was so bummed. I loved Liberty Bowl and I love to ski it. I have skied it 4 times before in other trips. It is huge, 3666 vertical feet worth of skiing and 6.5 miles back to the base area! But this trip the mountain just wasn’t showing us it’s good side. My goals of skiing a Marx or Lenin were shattered and it wasn’t going to happen on this trip… I was a little bummed and sort of felt disappointed. But I kept thinking about the amazing skiing that we had done and was excited for our last ski day on Friday.
Friday we packed the car since we were going to ski for about 5 hours and then start the long drive home. We arrived at the Big Sky parking lots at 930 and it started to snow basically right when we parked the car, it was kind of cool. It was like Big Sky was giving Melissa and me a good bye present. We used our “Wind Check” for our lift ticket and headed up. The snow was perfect. It was snowing steady and the flakes were nice and big. We skied a few of our favorite green runs on Andesite Mountain and they were all skiing well. Nice and soft. We moved quickly around the mountains getting in our favorite runs before packing it in and starting home. We skied a few new runs and headed over to the Shedhorn Lift which turned out to be a lot of fun over there. It was snowing steady the whole entire time we skied on Friday and our last run of vacation was down the 3 mile long green run Mr. K, it turned out to be one of the funniest runs of the trip. There was about 2 inches of soft snow on top of nice soft corduroy; the turns were amazing, so soft and effortless. I had a smile on my face the whole way down, as did Melissa, we got to the bottom and I looked at her and we both almost said at the same time how completely awesome that was. 3 miles of effortless skiing was worth all of the interesting things that we ran into on the trip so far. We were both very sad to leave and the walk back to the car was a long one. The drive home was fine, no issues at all. We talked and laughed the whole way home. We reflected on the trip and how much we both love it there.
While we ran into a few problems caused by the weather, the trip was awesome! We were bummed that a few of our plans didn’t happen due to conditions. We were a little bummed that we didn’t ski at Bridger Bowl and Red Lodge like we had planned, but were really glad that we stayed and skied Big Sky in the falling snow on Friday. Even with the problems we found some other fun things to do that we hadn’t done in past trips. I love Big Sky and I mean love it. Besides the few places here in Minnesota that I enjoying skiing, I don’t think I have any interest in skiing anywhere else but Montana. I just love it there; I love the people, and the vibe. It has everything that I want in a ski resort, no lift lines, good snow, fun runs, good places to eat and beautiful views. Home might be where the heart is, but my soul is on Lone Mountain…
There is a quiet group in every mountain town. They move through life under the cover of snow, rock, forest and river. They know all of the best ski lines, climbing spots, trail runs and what the special beer is on tap each week at the local brew pub. They explore the backcountry under a veil of secrecy, keeping the private stashes private and sharing hard won experience only amongst themselves.
I am back, well pretty much. I have been under the weather since last Wednesday and have miss 4 total days of work taking care of myself and trying to get better before leaving for our vacation. Today is the first day in a week that I am starting to feel better. Finally! It sucks when you are sick and you have a vacation coming that you are so looking forward to. I think it prolongs the illness because all I thought about was getting better and I was worried that I would not be better in time. Hopefully I am on the mend.
My birthday is now 2 days away, wow 40! I am having a hard time with that one. It is hard to sit down and think where did all of that time go? For me I really don’t know. I have so many awesome memories from the past 40 years. It is really scary the things I can remember from when I was really little. I think some of earliest memories are from I am about 4 years old. I remember a lot of stuff from my childhood which I think is really good. Some old memories I have of my childhood are vivid. I like to sit back and remember those times when I was little and didn’t have a care in the world. Man, sometimes I really miss that. Life was so much easier then. So much easier. Now days, everything is fast and computerized. I am an IT guy and even I get sick of how everything is so digital and cold now. Sometimes it makes me sad. I miss my toys, my Legos, my little green army men, my Tonka trucks and my Star Wars action figures. Man I had a lot of fun with that stuff when I was little. I had some pretty epic battles with the little green army men on my living room floor growing up. Life was easy. Now it is about work, bills, making money. Life was better when it was about little green army men and riding bikes, or going outside to play baseball or ride your skateboard all day long. Sometimes I wish those days were still here. But they aren’t and life is still grand, it is just so much more complicated now.
Although I will say I am so excited to celebrate my birthday with my best friend in the whole world in my favorite place in the whole world. Melissa and I are going to have a great day on Friday. We are going to be hanging around Bozeman Montana. We love to browse all of the cool little shops in downtown Bozeman. I can’t wait to get out there. I love the little town of Bozeman it is such a cool place. I am can’t wait to have my birthday dinner at the Pita Pit! I might have my birthday lunch there as well. Love the Pita Pit! We are leaving Thursday at about 1230 or so, and hope to make it to Billings, it will be a long drive, but it will make Friday’s drive so much easier, and I really don’t want to spend the whole day driving on my birthday if I don’t have to.
Life is good, vacation is almost here. Plans are set; it is going to be good!
I am a gear junkie. There I said it. But if you know me, you already knew that. But sadly it is true. I am also a steep and cheap junkie. Check it out here: www.steepandcheap.com it is both the greatest and the worse website all rolled up into one. It is the greatest for obvious reasons, item after item after item of things that I probably need and the worse because it is item after item after item of things that I truly don’t need, but hey at least I can admit my issue. So anyway I am writing this confessional because yesterday I received my 11th winter jacket in the mail. Yes, I have 11 winter coats. I have them because they all rule and I love them. I bought a Cloudveil (which I love) primaloft puffy coat and so far it is the best, well it is number 2 in my top 11 winter jacket ratings. I love Cloudveil gear and I mean love it! I love what the company stands for and I love the way their products are made. I know me and my new Cloudveil are going to have a lot of fun together. My favorite piece of winter outerwear is my Arc’Teryx gore-tex shell, I don’t think I could love a human baby as much I as I love that jacket. Seriously, every time I put that thing on I have tears of happiness in my eyes. It is a beautiful piece of gear. It is unbelievably bomb proof; it has a Recco reflector on it, good venting, a good amount of pockets, and just loves you back unconditionally by keeping me dry and confortable. Let me say that Gore-Tex is seriously the best invention since the all you can eat pizza buffet and the powder ski, now those two items are in no order because I could most likely write a dissertation about why each one of those things could be the best invention ever. But anyway I love winter clothes, especially jackets, they are my favorite. This is why I long for the endless winter. Now that I have that off my chest I feel a lot better. I sort of promised Melissa no more jackets… *sigh* I am starting to sweat and I think I am having heart palpations.
After much conversion between Melissa and I, and also after getting the opinions of sales people at REI and at Backcountry we bought avalanche beacons yesterday. Melissa and I are starting to ride steeper lines; lines that are in the low 30 degree range and also some slackcountry stuff. After a few inbound slides this year and a few deaths of skiers caused by tree wells, I brought it up and we thought it was worth money for the extra piece of safety gear. I have been researching avy beacons for a while trying to learn everything I could about them and after much thought I decided on the Backcountry Access Tracker DTS. I bought 2 of them yesterday, they will be here by Thursday, so just in time for us to practice with them out in the back yard to get familiar with how they work and also with our early arrival into Bozeman will give us time to practice at the new beacon park in Bozeman and again at the BCA beacon park at Moonlight Basin on Sunday. So we should have a few hours of practice under our belts before we ski the steeper lines at Big Sky and the Dakota Territory zone. Maybe it is silly since we are not going to be doing any hardcore backcountry skiing, but hey safety is a good idea and people have died inbounds due to avalanches and tree wells.
I am hitting the gym pretty hard and I am really enjoying it. I have a pretty good weight lifting routine that I have been doing. I think it is working. I went up 10-15lbs in all of my exercises yesterday. Today is my rest day, I am think I might go and do some cardio stuff, but I have to get my oil changed after work and then home to make dinner so I might just relax tonight.
So today is another day. I am great today. The vacation is coming up quickly; I have some really fun plans for the weekend. Work is going good and classes are still over a month away. My birthday is also coming up rather quickly as well. I have touched in a previous blog post that I am not looking forward to turning 40. Ugh, it just seems so old. Even though I know it is not, I just remember being a kid and thinking holy crap your 40! Man, your old, not that is going to be me. I am just not ready for that. Melissa and I will be in Bozeman Montana for my birthday. I am so excited. I love Bozeman. We are going to walk on main street, visit our favorite shops, and the highlight will be my much coveted birthday dinner at The Pita Pit. Sweet! The vacation plans have taken shape and I am now more excited than ever.
Here is the itinerary as of today:
Feb 10th Leave, plan to make it to Billings MT
Feb 11th Head to Bozeman MT for the my birthday.
Feb 12th Spend the day in Bozeman and surrounding area.
Feb 13th Head to Big Sky area and ski Moonlight Basin
Feb 14th Ski Big Sky, special Valentines dinner at Moonlight Basin
Feb 15th Ski Big Sky
Feb 16th Depending on the weather and snow conditions, back to Bozeman area for the day to ski Bridger Bowl
Feb 17th Ski Big Sky and Moonlight Basin with the combo lift ticket
Feb 18th Leave and head to Red Lodge MT and depending on weather and snow conditions ski at Red Lodge
Feb 19th Again depending on weather and snow, another day at Red Lodge or we start home.
We are hoping for good fresh snow daily. I just want to ski powder and hoping we get dumped on. But without a doubt this is going to be a great trip. I love Montana, the south west corner of Montana makes me smile even just thinking about it. I wish we could live out there, but I just don’t think we can pick up and move. Melissa and I both have really good jobs and it would be hard to leave that. But it is just so fun for me to dream about that somehow that makes up for it, even if just a little bit. I am bringing my little Flip camera and plan on making some little movies while I am there. Hopefully I will be able to share some of them with you. I have a few plans on movie locations; I am hoping it works out.
The weekend is looking like it is going to be a lot of fun, tomorrow Melissa and I are meeting a friend of hers at Louis Vuitton in the Galleria in Edina, Melissa’s friend is going to buy her first piece of Louis Vuitton and she wants to share her happiness with us. It is a long story, but it is going to be a fun day. Sunday Melissa and I are heading to the Metrodome to rollerblade in the afternoon. It sounds like me might have a friend or two joining us which will be awesome. I love rollerblading there so I am looking forward to it.
In other news, I think I have decided where I am going to build my little Buddha shrine, besides the likeness of the Buddha and I am going to add a Ganesha as well. Even though Ganesha is found mainly in the Hindu philosophy, I enjoy the association with Ganesha as The Lord of Obstacles.Ganesha is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. I wear a Ganesha pendant around my neck whenever I am facing a difficult task. Now I just have to find the perfect Ganesha for my little shrine. More news on that later.
Classes are coming up fairly quick, I start my next 2 classes on March 14th, I am taking a Math classes and a history of the Vietnam War class, I am looking forward to both. But right now it is so nice to not have to do any school stuff. I hope you have a great weekend.
Here is why working at the state can be so fucking stupid. Bear with me as I set this up.
On every floor in my building there are 2 kitchen areas with tables and chairs to eat lunch or have a quick meeting. In these areas besides the tables there are a couple of microwaves, vending machines and supplies, forks, spoons, napkins things like that. These areas are called community areas. The other day I went to heat up my lunch in the kitchen area that is closest to my cube. When I arrived I found both microwaves free and 2 people in there talking. One is an IT gal and the other a receptionist gal. I proceeded to throw my meal in the wave and get it cooking. I walked over to the cabinet to grab a plastic fork out of the box of 5000 forks in the cabinet and this conversion ensued:
Receptionist Gal: Eric you can’t have a fork.
Eric: I’m sorry what?
Receptionist Gal: Those forks or for ITS only.
Eric: I’m in ITS
Receptionist Gal: No you are in SSIS ITS and those supplies come out of a different budget then yours.
Eric: Are you serious I can't have one? And we have a budget for forks?!?
(at this point the other IT gal, looked down in utter embarrassment )
Receptionist Gal: Yes, those kitchen supplies come out of our budget. But you can have one this time, but just remember for next time.
(at this point I was in such shock that I wasn’t even sure what to say and kept waiting for a Sheldon “Bazinga!”, but sadly no such luck)
Eric: No that’s ok; I will just eat my stir fry with my hands.
Receptionist Gal: (silence)
I put the fork back in the box and wandered back to the microwave and finished heated my meal which had a few more minutes left on it. The 2 ladies continued to talk for another minute and then walked out of the kitchen area. 20 seconds later the IT gal came back, went in the cabinet, grabbed something and walked over to me. She held up a fork and gave it to me. And said, “Here this is my gift to you since I work in ITS.” Rolled her eyes, laughed and walked back to her desk. I said thanks, smiled and went back to my desk to eat.
This just shows how stupid and ridiculous some of the “rules” here at the state are. The budget thing here is so stupid that they make sure apparently that only certain people are allowed to use kitchen supplies in certain areas of the floor. I walked over to the other kitchen and discovered that apparently I am supposed to use supplies from that side. *sigh*
I have a love hate relationship with Lutsen, and I am beginning to think Lutsen is figuring it all out. First, I have been going to Lutsen since I was about 6 years old. My parents and I would go up there during the summer and we would stay at Lutsen Resort. It was a great time with lots of awesome memories. As a kid I would spend my day down on the beach throwing as many rocks as I could into Lake Superior. I would do this all day long. In fact when it was time to go home, my dad would say, “You threw so many rocks in the lake I think you caused it to raise a few inches.” Looking back it was pretty funny, because I believed I did raise the lake level… So the next time we were up in Lutsen for a family trip I would just throw more rocks. But more recently Lutsen was the place that I learned to ski. I took my first ski lesson there and I truly fell in love with the sport there. I spent many days perfecting my turns on Big Bunny and Ullr. I learned how to ski steeper lines on Split Rock, Chris’s Couloir, Cliff Run, and Raven. I learned how to ski the trees on Red Fox, Cedar Ridge, Red Rider and Moose Maze. Heck, me and a buddy even made our own run there once and named it, sadly Lutsen would not let me pay for a sign and have it become an official run, true story I asked. To me Lutsen is like my jealous mistress, it knows that it will never be first, it will never be my favorite, and it knows that some of its short comings frustrate me beyond belief… It know this because every single time I go there the weather is terrible, the conditions are bad, or a combination of the 2. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some excellent days up there, but I have had more disappointments then I care to count. While this weekend was not a disappointment it was cold, I don’t mind the cold, I have lots and lots of warm clothes but I hate the wind. That just ruins the day for me.
Let’s recap, Friday the drive up was excellent, We got into so little fluffy snow at about Hinckley and it continued snowing all the way up to Lutsen, there was maybe a very fluffy inch of snow on the ground when we checked into our hotel, but besides the nice fluffy snow, the temps were dropping it was -8 when we got our stuff unloaded and into our room, the one saving grace at the time was there was no wind, below zero is ok until the wind picks up, then it is just unbearable. We got a good night sleep and got up Saturday morning, ate breakfast and made our way up to the hill to ski. The temp was about-2 when we got to the parking area and got ready to go. We clicked into our skis and started across to the 10th Mountain chair we got right on and headed up to the runs on the north face of Eagle Mountain, these are my favorite runs, they are single and double black diamonds and they are a lot of fun. On the way up I was noticing there was some good snow around, untracked powder from the snow fall last night and from a larger one the area had, had a few nights before. We did our warm up run on KooKoo which is a really fun single black, we took that back to the same chair and went back up, over the next hour or so we skied Chris’s Couloir, Cliff Run, Raven and made pretty dang awesome powder turns on our secret run. I gave Melissa first tracks on our run, she cut some very nice powder turns, I followed and discovered nice soft snow. It was great. After that we headed to the gondola and took it over to Moose Mountain, we sat in the Chalet for a bit to warm up because of course the wind started to pick up and it was getting colder outside as the wind chills were dropping. We sat in the Chalet for about 30 minutes and warmed up and then head back out. We found powder on Grizzly which we skied twice and I found good snow on the tree run Bear’s Den. We had a great time on the long cruisers on Moose Mountain. We skied over there for about 2 hours, we decided then that we were hungry so we headed back on the tram to the main area and decided to have a sit down lunch at Papa Charlie’s. We had a nice lunch, discussed the day so far and warmed up for the rest of the afternoon. We headed back out after lunch and noticed that the winds had indeed picked up more and that it was getting colder. We decided to check out the runs on the beginner mountain Ullr. We could the Ullr lift up and Melissa skied Molly’s Folly and I skied Tony’s Tango. Melissa said Mollys was really fun and I had a great time on Tony’s, but we decided to hit the runs on Eagle again. We skied Expert’s Cutoff which turned out to be excellent and went back to a few that we had skied that morning. The wind was blowing out of the north and it was blowing pretty hard. The snow was blowing off the north facing runs so they were getting icy. We decided to call it a day about 3pm and hit the little shops that we like in the area. It overall a good day, but by the end of the day I was frozen and was ready to be done. We got in the car and headed back to the hotel and I said to Melissa, “Why can’t we just have a normal day here?” She thought the same thing, but we laughed it off and continued on with our weekend away. We had dinner at the Crooked Spoon in Grand Marais, it was pretty good. I think we were both glad we tried it but after I think we both would have wished we would have gone to the Gunflint Tavern which besides Sven and Oles pizza is our favorite place in Grand Marais to eat. We got back to the hotel, watched some TV, read and went to bed. Sunday met us with -11 below temps and light snow. The forecast was for warming temps and winds to pick up in the late afternoon, which was perfect because we knew we would be on the road about 2-230 to make the drive home. We packed up, had breakfast and made our way up to the hill, we got ready and jumped on Bridge Run. The snow had picked up a bit and it was looking like it was going to be a great day, we headed up to Eagle and did Kookoo, Cliff, Raven and our secret run, all skied well. We then decided to hit Moose and do a few runs over there. When we exited the gondola the snow let up a bit but it was still snowing. We decided to go into the Chalet and warm up for a few minutes. While in there the snow had picked up again, we headed back out and skied the top half of Grizzly and cut into the tress for the bottom half. We did a few more runs and the winds hit. Wait what, it is not late afternoon? It is barely noon. The wind started blow so hard that it instantly got cold and I mean really cold. We decided to head back to the main area and see if we could get out of the wind. Nope no luck, like I said Lutsen knows that I love/hate it and therefore gets me back by making the wind follow me whichever way I was going. On a couple runs the wind was blowing so hard that we were literally slowing down. Yeah, no fun. I looked at Melissa and said, “I’m done…” She agreed and we packed up and head for home. Booooo! I was disappointed. There was a nice light snow and gale force winds. Sucked. Oh well, we enjoyed our drive home and talked about the fun that we had. We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner in Duluth. We arrived home safely had a nice evening together relaxing and watching a movie.
Lutsen taunts me because she is not number 1 and I know this because I watch the weather. Last weekend it snowed a foot up there and the weather was nice. 15-20 degrees and light winds, this week I get there and it is the coldest weekend so far this winter. I left yesterday afternoon, today it is supposed to snow and the temperature is going to warm up to the low 20’s. Lutsen is a beautiful place, it is a great ski resort, the views from the mountains of the Lake Superior and of the north woods are nothing short of incredible. And I certainly cannot blame them for the weather. But I can blame them for the extremely high lift ticket prices and the, while very quaint and old school lifts, it is time to upgrade them. It is sad to me that I will be less money to ski at 3 resorts in Montana next month then I pay at Lutsen.
Will I stop going to Lutsen to ski, no way. I love and hate my relationship to much with her to do that.
I got a really nice email from a friend of mine yesterday about my blog, mostly I was glad to have gotten the email. But at the same time it was nice to hear that someone could relate to some of my ramblings. And that is what they are, ramblings. When I write a blog posting I sit down and write it. I don’t check spelling usually or even reread the post to check grammar. I feel that way I will not change anything, the post might read weird, but that is how my brain works. Weird and doesn’t make sense. So for the possible reader out there that thought, “Holy crap Eric is a really bad speller or his grammar sucks.” Now you know why, but at the same time please feel free to think that anyway.
Last night running at the Metrodome started up again, Melissa and I went down it was a great time. I went 8 laps which is 3.18 miles and Melissa went 6 which is 2.25 miles. I really enjoy running there and am so glad that it is back. After running we stopped at Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner. We have one right down the street from our house and like to go there once and a while for their salad bar. We are planning on going running again on Thursday.
I am going to take a break from working out tonight. I over did it the other day with weight lifting and now I can barely lift my arms. I also have decided that I don’t want to start my new leg routine tonight because I will fry my legs and with Lutsen this weekend I don’t want to screw that up but having my legs so sore I can’t even ski and that would suck.
I love travel guides. I have a few of them, I like the Lonely Planet guides the best. I even have a couple for places that I will probably never go, but it is fun to read them. I say that only because I got my New York City guide in the mail yesterday. I think I am finally going to break down and plan a trip for Melissa and I to NYC. I have never had much of a desire to go there, but I have a few friends that love it and have told me that I should check it out. I love Chicago and always thought that was about my limit for city size. Chicago is a big city, but to me it doesn’t feel big. When we were in London, I thought yup this is my limit on city size. So if you can see the progression here, I am guessing I will go to NYC and say, “Yup, this is my limit on city size.” Even though I would kill to live in the mountains I like living in the city, but I don’t like a big busy loud city… yeah, that doesn’t make any sense at all. But I think that is why I have such a hesitation to go to New York, because it just seems, huge, loud and dirty… But it looks like we are going to go. I looked a bit online and New York is like a little country so hence the guide book, I have no idea where to go or where to stay. But we will see what happens. I would like to go this summer and try to see a Yankees game while we are there; I think that would be fun. So plans are slowly being formed in my brain.
Melissa is becoming an expert at making fruit smoothies in the Vitamix. She made one yesterday before we went running that was seriously good. I love that thing. Seriously it is an awesome machine. If you don’t have one, go buy one right now. We made spinach pesto the other night in it and it was so damn good and really healthy. Tonight we are making Daal soup. I am interested to try it. The recipe sounds really good and I like soup so it is a win win… At least I hope it will be.
I love the show Whale Wars. We are watching season 3 right now and it is really amazing. I am very tempted to put in an application to volunteer on one of their ships. Melissa thinks I should. I am chicken but I think it would be great. I believe in their cause and even agree with their tactics. I think it would be the adventure of a life time and also a great way to see Antarctica. We are about half way through season 3 and I can’t wait to see how it ends.
It is said that once on a place called Vulture’s Peak, the Buddha surround by his followers sat quietly and all at once held up a golden Lotus flower. All of the monks looked at each other confused as they tried to discern the meaning of this gesture. Then, suddenly, the Buddha smiled. He smiled because someone in the audience smiled at him and at the flower. The meaning is quite simple, when someone holds up a flower and shows it to you; he wants you to see it. If you keep thinking, you miss the flower. The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled. If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.
I would really like to go winter camping. But I am lacking a couple things in the gear department, first is a four season tent and the other is a beefier sleeping bag. I have a nice sleeping bag but it is only rated to 20 degrees. I would like something that is rated down to at least 0 degrees, I guess I could rent the stuff but I like the idea of using my own gear. So for now that continues to be a pipe dream.
We are headed up to Lutsen this weekend as a last minute deal. Lutsen has been getting a lot of snow this past week so in theory the conditions should be really good for skiing. I am guessing we are only going to make one trip up there this year. I think we are going to try to get over to the upper peninsula of Michigan as well; they have been getting a lot of snow in the UP so it could be good and people say that the skiing is great up there, so I would like to give it a try. I love Lutsen but sometimes I really get disappointed there, they certainly cannot control the weather so it is more operational things that bug me.
I am in the throes of my new workout routine. I have been going to gym at least 4 times a week and I am really enjoying it. I am still working out a routine but I think I now have one that will work for me. I think once I get everything straight, I will be doing 3 – 4 times at the gym doing weight lifting and working out with the heavy bag which I am really enjoying. There is something very satisfying about punching something with all of your might. It is good. But the best news is that running at the Metrodome has started again. The dome collapsed a few weeks ago after a heavy snowfall and they still do not have it fixed, but they are starting up running and rollerblading again so that is great news. I will be going tonight for the first time in a few weeks so I am looking forward to that. I am planning on 3 – 5 miles tonight. Should be good.
I am really looking forward to our trip to Big Sky this year. Every time we have gone to Big Sky I give myself a goal of a couple runs to ski. The first time it was The Bowl, the second year it was Wardance and Liberty Bowl, last year it was to ski off the Challenger Lift, all of which I have completed, and let me tell you they all felt great, it is kind of fun for me to go out there with a goal, I enjoy the challenge that skiing out west presents me every time. I am guessing that to the average west skier those goals are pretty lame, but to me they are major. This year I have decided that if the conditions are good, I am going to ski the runs Marx and or Lenin. These are the big south face bowls coming down off the summit of Lone Peak, there are huge runs, steep and they look awesome. I have attached a photo of the runs from a distance so you can see the whole run from top to bottom. Marx is on the right and Lenin is on the left. Awesome!
You access them both off the tram via the yeti Traverse. I am hoping that everything works out for these two monster runs. I also have a few other smaller goals but this is my biggie. Plans are also starting to come together for other special things that we are going to do while out there; right now at the top of the list is Valentine’s Day dinner. I think we are going to eat at the very nice restaurant at Moonlight Basin so I am looking forward to the thought of that. Good Times!
Another week down and just a few more till we leave for our ski vacation to Big Sky Montana. I am really excited and can’t wait to get out there. That area of the rockies is really getting some nice snow so I am hoping that will continue so we can ski in that perfect Montana powder. I have already started packing in my mind which I guess happens every year but this year I think I am looking forward to getting out there more. I have some skiing goals this year so I am hoping to cross a few of those off.
Melissa starts her day shifts next week which will be awesome, no more working till 930 or 1130. Sweet! Even though she didn’t work those shifts real often, it will be nice for her not to have to work them at all. It will also be nice for baseball season. She will not have to miss anymore Twins games. Last season she couldn’t go to a few due to her schedule at work, it will be nice not to have to worry about that anymore.
Last weekend we bought a Vitamix Blender. So far the thing is awesome, we made soup in it the other day and it turned out really good. It cooks right in the blender. The blades spin so fast that it heats up the soup; it is really easy, healthy and good. It is pretty fun too. We are looking forward to using our Vitamix a lot in the near future. I have also used it to make vegetable juice drinks and fruit smoothies. We even made ice cream in it. It is a really cool machine. Even though it was a little pricey I can see the health benefits from the things it makes, so I think in the long run it will be worth the price.
I registered this week for what will be my fifth session of Mini-Medical School. Once again I am really looking forward to going. Sadly I am going to miss the first week due to being in Montana, but I will not miss any of the other sessions so it will be good. This session is on regenerative medicine. The schedule looks very interesting and I am looking forward to it starting up.
My birthday is right around the corner. I cannot believe I am going to be 40 this year. I think I am having a harder time with it than I thought I would. I was thinking the other day about times past and everything just seems so long ago. I miss so many things that I used to do when I was younger, things that unfortunately I am too old to do now. But I have a whole new set of things that I enjoy now so I guess it is sort of just a wash… Give up some things to gain others. I guess that is the way I need to start thinking. All in all I think it is just hard to admit you are old and can’t do some of the things that you could when you were younger, and I think I am one of those people. It is scary to think that 40 is the middle of one’s life and usually means that you are now on the decline, which to me is really scary. I have a lot more to do… The one thing about my birthday this year is once again I will be able to spend it in Montana. If everything goes as planned at least with the drive, I will be having my birthday dinner in Bozeman at the Pita Pit. I love the Pita Pit so I am looking forward to that…
It is nice to have a few months away from school; I have 2 classes that will start in March, a math class and a history of the Vietnam War class. I am looking forward to both. After they are done, I will have the end in sight.
I am looking forward to the weekend, I am hoping for a nice relaxing weekend. I hope you have a great weekend as well…
This is just a great post from the Big Sky blog. I know the power of this mountain and to read her story is really fun. I have been on the top of Lone Peak multiple times and know the beauty, the awe, the immense feeling of a connection to something bigger than you from the top of this beautiful mountain.
The second time I skied from the summit of Lone Peak down a run called Liberty Bowl, I stopped a 1/4 way down to admire the view. I ended up sitting down in the snow for about 15 minutes and looked around taking everything in, this amazing ski run I was on, this beautiful place I was in and then it hit me. I realized while sitting on the side of this gigantic piece of rock truly how small I truly am in the universe. It was the weirdest and most amazing felling I have ever had. In fact it had such an effect on me that I can remember it like it was yesterday, when actually it was 3 years ago. I think the thing that makes Lone Peak so unique is that it is kind of on it's own. (hence the name) It is an 11,166' mountain in it's own space. Sure there are other mountains around but none are really close, so it is just really neat how this mountain sits by itself away from the others...
click on line below to enjoy the Big Sky blog post:
So I bought we bought a cast iron dutch oven the night. Like I said in my last blog post I have a bunch of recipes to try and a couple of them called for a dutch oven. I did a little research online and discovered that Le Creuset was the king of the hill when it comes to cast iron dutch oven’s, but I had a really hard time spending $250 on a pot I wasn’t sure that I would get a lot use out of. We have really nice cookware at home and I know that it pays to spend some money on cooking stuff, but I continued to do some research and found another option. Fontignac cast iron is also made in France and gets really good reviews and is half the price, so we went that route. It seems like a nice pot, I am looking forward to giving it a try. The thing weighs like 50 pounds, it is crazy. Anyway, I think the first thing I am going to try in it is a Moroccan-style Lamb Stew. I am not sure I like lamb, but the recipe really sounds good and the reviews that people have written include a lot of “I never liked lamb till I had this recipe” stuff like that, so I am going to give it a go. I think Sunday.
Here is the recipe:
Cooking spray 1 (1-pound) boneless leg of lamb roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 1 1/2 cups chopped onion 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons honey 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1/2 cup dried apricots, quartered 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle lamb evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add lamb to pan; sauté 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove from pan.
Add onion; sauté for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic); sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in honey and tomato paste; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
Return lamb to pan. Add apricots and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally.
I don’t know, it sounds pretty good I think. Nervous about the lamb part...
In other news I went out snowshoeing yesterday. I was OK, the rain basically ruined the snow on the trail which was a total bummer. Now I am hoping for more snow to make the snowshoeing trails soft and nice again instead of hard and crappy. Oh Well…
Tonight Melissa and I are headed to Everest on Grand for dinner. I am really looking forward to going. I love that place. It is Nepali food and they have really good chow. Melissa loves the Yak Momos as do I. That’s right Yak… A Momo is a little steamed dumpling. They are really damn good. I am not sure what else we are going to get but their food is really good so whatever we have will be awesome.
I am heading out on my snowboard tomorrow after work, I think. I need to get out there and give it another go. I am thinking about buying a 3 pack of lessons from Welch to see if I can learn to ride before we head west. I think it would be really fun to ride in Montana a bit.
So I have decided to make some fairly major life changes this year. I know everyone say that, but I am not one for the resolutions thing. But this year something told me to make some changes. I think as I am getting older I am really starting to change my ideals, way of thinking, and thoughts. I am hoping that the year of 2011 brings me happiness, adventure, good health and a quiet mind.
Basically I have decided to rebuild myself. Not that I really think there is a lot wrong with me, I am very happy with the person that I am but there are a few things that I would like to change and make better. I think everyone can easily say that if they look at themselves there are things they would like to improve. I am certainly one of those people.
First I would like to improve my fitness level and lose some weight. My favorite jeans are a little tight and that makes me sad. I hate buying clothes because my clothes don’t fit. 2 years ago I started training for a 25k trail race and lost about 40lbs in a very short time. I changed everything, the way I ate, my exercise level and what I did for exercise. My goal for the race was to finish and not be last, (I know lofty goals) but I did finish and I wasn’t last and it felt great. I also skied like a mad person that next winter in Montana. My legs were so strong that I was able to ski what worked out to be in the neighborhood of 100,000 vertical feet in 6 days of skiing. So long story short, I am going to get back in the swing of healthy eating and a lot more exercise. It stinks because I was really enjoying the running at the dome this year until the stupid roof collapsed and they stopped the running there. I was running 5 miles twice a week, I loved it. I can’t run at all on a treadmill so that is out and I can’t run outside when it is so cold out so I am going to do snowshoeing, weight training and other cardio options at the gym I belong too. I think in the long run it will work out great! I have also been trying to change my eating habits, especially at work. Drinking a ton of water and trying not to graze in co-workers candy dished throughout the day. So far that part of the plan is going really good! I have been drinking about 64oz of water a day at work and having a sensible lunch, I have also been trying to eat breakfast every morning which I normally did not do, also working out well. For dinners I am going to try to make healthier better dinners at home. Melissa and I eat well, don’t get me wrong, we are not big fast food people by any means but we do enjoy going out for dinner. I have been working hard to come up with some fun recipes for things to try. A friend of mine gave me 8 old issues of Cooking Light magazine and I found about 20 or so recipes in there that we are going to try. It is going to interesting.
Second, I would like to get more into my Buddhism practice. I have read a lot of the Dhammapada and love the way it is written. It makes sense to me and overall Buddhism works for me. I want to build a shrine in a quiet room in our home and do more meditation, I think it will help quiet my mind and help me in other things. I truly long for a spiritual connection to something and I think my way to that is going to be through the teachings of the Buddha. This is really important to me, but I really don’t know how to get there. I am working on this.
Third, I will finish school this year. I can see the end. It has been a LONG and very slow road but it has been an excellent experience. I will always regret not taking my education more serious in high school and then moving on to college then like I should have. But for now I am incredibly happy with my cheesy 2 year degree that will have taken me almost (gasp) 8 years to get. But boy how my life has changed in those 8 years… I guess looking back on it I wouldn’t have changed anything about my life experiences to this point. But sadly I realized 15 years to late what I think my true calling is, and I am OK with that but it will always bug me a little bit. But overall I am proud of myself for at least trying to finish something I started on a dare 8 years ago all the while, working full time, going through what turned out to be a disaster of a first marriage, selling my dream house that I once owned, meeting and falling in love again and remarrying, and getting that relationship off the ground. So basically I have had to start and stop my education a number of times which is why this has seriously taken me so long to do this. Also take one or two classes a year doesn’t help. But that has changed and I will finish this year! I have it pretty much all planned out and it is going to be good.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very happy with my life and the cards that I have been dealt. Of course I have regrets. And often wonder what would have happened if I would have turned left instead of right a couple times but because of those right hand turns I am the person that I am. Life is good and gets better every day…