Monthly Archives: April 2019

I’m on Cozumel, where it’s hot.

Unless you’re diving, and then it’s not πŸ™‚


This is my friend Paul, and I, on Shamu run by Blue XT Sea dive shop. I’m pretty sure that this is during a surface interval.

We’ve been here ten days now, and we have ten days left.

In the meantime, back home, the builders are putting up walls and about to start on the trusses; our housesitting friends are still there, and apparently so are the dogs (seems bribery didn’t work).

Here on Cozumel, I can see now why we don’t live here. The diving is great, but the beaches – not so much. We don’t have an Episcopal church, and the local AA group cancelled their Big Book study in favor of an “As Bill Sees It.”.

Nope, can’t live with that, at all.

I don’t believe that we’ll wind up in Whitefish, because the last six homes that we bought that we thought would be the last ones – well, obviously, WEREN’T.

I think that I’ve figured out that we’ll probably wind up in Waimea town, on the Big Island, because Ethel fell in love with it – great meetings AND a great Episcopal church, and great beaches – diving, not so much.

But before long, we’ll be too old to dive or ski. So we’ll probably wind up in Waimea. (rememberΒ  – you read it here first).

Of course, Waimea is way, way more expensive than Whitefish.

So I reckon I’m gonna have to keep working for a long, long time.


We’re down here at Casa Mex on the Malecon in Cozumel.

Ethel looks cute in straw cowboy hats πŸ™‚


We dove Monday. Yesterday was working out and touring. We’re diving tonight, Thursday and Friday. Remarkably, diving wears me out.

I’m trying to do my workouts in this heat, and do all of the stuff that “vacation” seems to require. It’s wearing me out.

When we used to go to Florida for vacations, Dad wanted to go do stuff, and Mom wanted to lie on the beach. I’m starting to think that I have both of their chromosomes – I want to do stuff, and lie on the beach.

You can’t do both. At least, not the way that I “do stuff”. I tend to push limits.

And I’ve noticed that my training seems to always have “long course triathlon” hidden in it as an unspoken assumption. I don’t know how to get rid of that.

We spent this afternoon getting our Nitrox certification. Now we go do a night dive, then I’m supposed to get up in the morning and do my Thursday run, then go do two dives, then go to the gym for my Thursday ride and lifting.

It may not all happen. I might have to accept that. I may finally turn into that wallowing, pulsating mass of Puckettplasm – just existing in a corner, being fed and having my waste products carted away.




Today is my last day at work for three weeks, and it’s the day that we’re getting ready to go to Cozumel for the aforementioned three weeks.


And, this time, we’re not taking the critters to the kennel; we’re having house sitters, instead.

And it’s Good Friday.

So it’s a busy day. Get whatever work gets done, done; get ourselves packed and ready for a 6 AM flight tomorrow morning. Get the house ready for the house sitters – which basically means “sanitize everything”, if I understand Ethel’s instructions correctly, as well as make sure that all doggie supplies are in good standing and readily accessible.

And it means go to church at noon, and watch The Passion of the Christ tonight.

I’m already worn out πŸ™‚

This happens to me every year, I believe – I tend to get worn out by the travel that I’m about to do πŸ™‚ The last few years, we’ve flown into Cozumel direct – which has meant that we’ve left Whitefish in an afternoon or evening flight, and then spent the night somewhere – Dallas, Dallas and Detroit – and then flew directly into Coz. It was more expensive, and more convenient when arriving, but NOT convenient getting off the plane and going to a hotelΒ (and getting back to the airport – international protocols – the next morning).

So this year, we’re flying to Cancun instead, and taking the bus to Playa del Carmen, and the ferry across to Cozumel. Less total travel time, but more inconvenience. And less expensive.

It’ll be an adventure.

But now that I’m 60 years old, I might be too old for adventures πŸ™‚

This year, Ethel started us off by saying “Don’t underpack. Last year, I told you not to overpack, and we both wound up underpacked, so this year, don’t underpack.” And we bought a second large roller, to support us in not overpacking.

But we also now have our own BCDs, and more SCUBA gear than we used to have – so now the SCUBA gear takes up its own full-sized 50 lb roller.

So now that we didn’t underpack, Ethel is going back through the pile, pulling things out so that we can still get all of it into our luggage – but then she just reversed herself AGAIN and said that we’re only taking one carry-on roller.

(People sometimes ask me – “Jim, why do you twitch like that?” πŸ™‚

(She just reversed herself again about the backpacks.)

Right now, it looks like we’ve got two 50 lb checked bags, one roll-on and two backpacks. Watch this space πŸ™‚

UPDATE – nope, now we have two backpacks, two roller carry-ons and two 50 lb checked bags. Watch this space πŸ™‚

Progress. We have walls.


I’m glad to see the walls. I only have one regret.

See the one window that has the wrapping cut out? That’s on the south side of the house, and the reason that they cut it out was because they need to have a window to toss stuff out of the house for the trash while they are working.

But they are only doing that for ONE window, because they don’t want to have the wind blowing through the house while they are working.

I would rather that they had done that with the main window in the great room wall, so that I could see what my view is going to look like πŸ™‚ I think that’s pretty much the definition of “self-centeredness” πŸ˜‰

These are exterior walls, with the big 2×6 studs; interior walls use 2x4s. I’m sort of excited about seeing the interior walls go up, as well, because – well, frankly, the house, right now, looks sort of, well, small to me. The builder, Matt, told us that that would happen – that sometimes it would look huge, and sometimes it would look tiny.

When they dug the hole, it looked pretty dang big. But then when they put down the floor, it started to look much smaller – I’d look at the area that it seemed would be the “bedroom”, and think, “dang, that looks small”. Ethel says that she’s compared all of the rooms on the plans to the rooms that we currently have, and that everything is much larger, but it’s difficult for me to see.

(Might actually have to wait until there’s furniture in there to see how big the rooms really are. This is where I would say that “well, by that time it’ll be too late to do anything about it”, but – guess what? It’s ALREADY too late to do anything about it πŸ™‚




We have a floor at the house.


That’s been there a couple of days – I think that they finished it on Friday. Since then, they’ve done stuff – they’ve poured the garage floor, and chalked in on top of the floor to commence framing.

(I think that they are actually framing up there today; we see activity and I think that they might be building walls, but they haven’t actually erected any yet. It’ll be a big deal, I reckon, when walls actually go up).

I remember thinking that we’d be able to look up at the house and see what they are doing from my back yard or my deck – and, yep, sure enough, that’s the case. However, it won’t be the case much longer; in four days, we head to Cozumel for three weeks.

When we get back, the house will probably be framed in, and once they get the walls up and covered, we won’t be able to see much happening (other than, of course, the siding and roof going on).

Standing on the floor brings things into perspective; now I can see just exactly what my view will look like from various places in the house – well, actually, I’ll be standing 3/4 of an inch higher, because this is, after all, the “sub floor”. The FLOOR will be hardwood, carpet – or tile, in the bathrooms.

I admit, I’m stoked to see what it’s like when they get the east walls up – then I should be able to look out my “window” πŸ™‚ I’ll take a camp chair with me up there so I can imagine sitting in my living room.

So, the house is, actually, going UP, and life is going on.

Yeah, we’re leaving for our annualΒ  SCUBA-and-cheesecake jaunt to the Island of Swallows in the Mexican Caribbean – staying at our favorite hotel, diving with Blue XTSea, and getting a three-week membership at the Ego gym. This trip, we won’t be renting a road bike; I’ll just do my workouts on the exerbike at the Ego gym. I’m not yet sure that I’m going to be doing any long-course triathlons this year, so I’ll just keep things under three hours until I’m sure.

Training is going on – I’m “running” again. I shouldn’t put that in quotes; I did manage today’s run at a pace that started with a 9, so that’s good – and that’s after the one-hour ride working on my VO2Max. And my swim yesterday was surprisingly good – it had been five weeks since I’d done a swim, and although I’ve lost some stamina, my pace was still nice and fast (for me).

Work is ongoing – I’m still the dumbest guy in the room, of course. This is an interesting week on my job – it’s the middle of April, which means that it’s the first big stock payout of the year (the way our vesting works, April is a big month in terms of my income). It’s also – since I’ll be gone for the next three weeks – the week in which I’m supposed to get my annual review; I haven’t heard anything about it, other than that it’s supposed to happen; it ain’t been scheduled yet.

If they fire me, you’ll be the first to know πŸ™‚

And Lent is coming to an end; this year, we’ll wake up on Easter morning in Mexico, which means that we won’t be at an Episcopal church on Easter morning, which is not what I would want – but that’s the way that it is. I reckon that “Jesus Christ is risen today” applies below the Tropic of Cancer, just as it does above the 48th Parallel πŸ™‚

(Ethel just ran out onto the deck to check – still no walls πŸ™‚


So now it’s time to study for our Nitrox certification.


“Nitrox” – aka “Enriched Air Nitrox” – means air that actually has LESS nitrogen than regular air, although to my ear “Nitrox” sounds like it would have MORE nitrogen. That just goes to show the extent of my prejudices.

The atmosphere contains right at 21% oxygen, but the most common Nitrox mix is 32% oxygen. That’s a pretty big difference – it means 50% more oxygen. And that’s cool, because we like oxygen – but the most important thing is that it means less nitrogen, and that’s the whole point.

The main reason for doing this is that it allows one to stay underwater at depth for longer period.

When one is at depth, then the higher pressure causes nitrogen to dissolve into the bloodstream as small bubbles. When you surface, then the nitrogen has to come back out of the bloodstream – and if that happens too quickly or violently, then that’s what causes decompression sickness, also known as “the bends”. This can be avoided by doing a “decompression stop” at a mild depth like 15 or 20 feet, just hanging out and blowing bubbles while one’s bloodstream pretty much does the same thing.

The amount of time that one can stay at depth without having to do a “decompression stop” is called the “no deco time limit”. And nitrox changes that, a lot. Just think of it as doubling the “no deco limit”, and you’ll be in the ballpark.

But TANSTAAFL – with this benefit comes a risk.

There’s also a thing called “oxygen toxicity” that has all sorts of badness associated with it. Now, diving with regular air, you’d have to go down to 220 feet to risk oxygen toxicity – and if I’m at 220 feet, it means that something blew out and I’m dead already.

But “enriched air” means more oxygen, and that means more risk of oxygen toxicity. And it can happen at depths that I might possibly explore.

(N.B. – I believe that my greatest-ever depth was 124 feet, and I went that deep by NOT staying with my partner (Ethel) and, instead, following the other folks in our dive group – who were, as it happens, diving with nitrox).

So that’s why we have to know the EAN mix (anywhere from 32% to 40%) when reading dive charts – and we have to enter it into our electronic dive computers; so that we know when we’re at risk.

(Now, just between you and me, nitrox doesn’t really help me that much, because I burn through my air faster than my maximum no-deco time anyway. But I hope to get better at saving air; the best way to do that is to dive more.

The best way to do THAT – dive more – is to move to Mexico. But don’t even mention it. Ethel gets mad if you mention it πŸ™‚


Today I’ve been sober for 12,395 days.

Accordign to, that’s how long Phil was stuck in Punxatawny:


I don’t know if I agree with their analysis, but I might as well. They’re smarter than I am.

I’m in a place right now where I’ve pretty much figured out that just about anybody is smarter than I am πŸ™‚

Work these days is a constant reminder that I’m not even as smart as I used to be. I’ve also been taking Lent as an opportunity to not share in meetings, unless directly called upon to do so (with the exception of our Thursday night book study, for which Ethel and I feel a responsibility) – and sitting there shutting up, I’m aware of just how well I know the words in the Big Book, and just how poorly I’m implementing them in my life.

It took Phil Connors 12,395 days to learn French, ice sculpture, ragtime and classical piano, chiropractic, card throwing, changing a tire, CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, and all the answers to that day’s Jeopardy game show. In addition, he also learned selflessness – which was the whole point.

In the last 12,395 days, I seem to have gotten DUMBER. I’ve learned a little Spanish and forgotten it. I’ve learned some banjo and mandolin, but keep forgetting the chord charts. I’ve learned how to ski – okay, that one I’ve retained! I got a degree in Computer Science with a Mathematics minor; as far as the math goes, I might be able to do a first derivative of a simple function, but I couldn’t integrate anything at all.

And based on what I’ve bumped into this week on the job, what Computer Science I learned once upon a time doesn’t seem to apply anymore.

And, no, I haven’t learned selflessness. I have, I suspect, learned how important selflessness is, but learning that hasn’t kept me from being completely self-absorbed (much to my dismay – but that very dismay is me saying “why can’t I learn it?” which is self-pity, which is…there we go again).

This morning, I woke up and did my morning “meditation”, which is this case turned into worrying while reading spiritual books. There’s some stuff happening at work that may result in my retiring a little quicker than I would have wanted. More self-absorption; nobody cares about this but me*, and perhaps Ethel.

It’s day 12,395, but I’m not going to be released from my repetitive cycle of learning. As I understand from those who’ve done the reading in ancient Hindu or Buddhist texts, it’s supposed to be more like 10,000 LIFETIMES, not 12,395 days. I suspect that, in Phil’s case, it’s more obvious and apparent that he’s being shown the same lessons over and over, since he doesn’t even get the illusion of time passing; with the rest of us, we forget – from year to year, or from lifetime to lifetime (if that’s the case)** that we’ve made this mess before in the same way.

But, at least, I’m not stuck in northern Pennsylvania in February πŸ™‚


*apparently I haven’t learned English, either, because that grammar looks wrong as heck to me. It LOOKS like it should be “nobody cares about this but I”, but that sounds really weird. But, then, the spelling of “weird” looks weird, since it breaks the “I before E” rule.

**I’ve made a conscious decision to go ahead and “believe” that man is sentenced “once to die and then the Judgment”, out of the New Testament, but that decision is based not on any revelation, learning or intuition, but just because – I’m tired, dang it.

This is the last pile of snow out in front of the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Whitefish, which is where our local AA group meets.


If you think that that looks cold and grey and damp, then you are correct. But it won’t be long now until that whole area is green and lush.

That phrase – “won’t be long now” – has been much on my mind of late.

I can remember a voice in my head that used to say that. I would be working out or finishing up a run or stretching, and there would be a voice in my head that would seem to almost whisper “…won’t be long now..”. It felt confident, patient and sure, this voice – like the voice had been watching for a long time, and was certain in the flow.

It always felt like, if the voice were to keep talking, it would be saying “…before I’m back into shape”.

Every winter, my running would take a hit because of skiing – well, and winter in general, of course, because even if I ran a good bit, it was never as much as I’d be running in the summer. And I’d always gain a layer of fat in winter that would melt away in the summer.

So I’d be working hard in the spring and early summer, but I’d be sure of the outcome – that voice in my head kept reminding me, quietly and surely, “…won’t be long now…”. It was the voice of hope – or, maybe, even faith.

It was a confirmation that the effort that I was expending at the time would pay off – that at some point I would turn the corner, and things would be faster, and easier.

Well, that’s not what the voice says anymore.

Now, it says this – and it says it a lot – and it says it all year long:

“I’m ready to give up and quit”.

I had initially typed “I want to give up and quit” but that’s not what the voice says – it always says “ready”.

I hear that when I’m finishing my climb up to the third floor office to go back to work, or when I am getting off of the treadmill after a short run, or when I’m climbing on the bike for my Tuesday/Thursday morning workouts. It seems to show up any time that I have to expend effort – “I’m ready to give up and quit”.

It’s funny that it says both “give up” and “quit”. It never just says one or the other. I think that sometimes it might say them in the other order – “quit and give up”.

It’s a tired voice. It’s not a hopeful voice – it’s despair. It’s discouraged and it wants to be heard – it’s not making any DEMANDS. It’s merely expressing a state of readiness. It’s not “I want to quit right now”. Just “I’m ready…”

I would say that it’s the voice of an older person than that other voice – but that doesn’t seem right. It seems to be the same entity doing the vocalization. But that entity seems to have gone through some changes.

And, yes, I know that the “entity” is ME – but it’s not my conscious self. Apparently my conscious self is still getting on the treadmill and riding the bike and walking up to the third floor to go to work.

But there’s a piece of my subconscious that has found a crack into the light of the conscious mind, and it’s got something to say.

So now I’m trying to redirect that voice – by CONSCIOUSLY saying “It won’t be long now” when I can catch it saying “I’m ready to give up and quit”.

But you know what? I think that may be dishonest.

I think that the first voice went away because it stopped happening. I STOPPED getting back into shape. The effort STOPPED paying off. All that happens now is that maybe, if things work, and I don’t get injured for very long, I can hold back the darkness – or at least slow it down. “Slow down the rate of slowing down”.

Hard to make a subconscious slogan out of that.

Here’s how the project looked this weekend:


Those were heating mats that they tossed over the newly-poured concrete to help it cure over the cold – and wet – weekend. Now they’ve pulled those mats off and are sealing the concrete on the outside, prior to “backfilling” – i.e. pouring the piles of dirt back in around the outside of the foundation.

Then they start on the subfloor.

I’m a little bummed today – I reckon this diary entry will be a bit sadfaced. I haven’t been sleeping well lately; every night, I’m up for several hours, it seems. My job is not any fun right now – and the fact that I have nine more days until three weeks of vacation seems to only make each day longer.

(That’s not how I’m used to operating. I NEVER want to be in a “let’s make time pass” mode. But right now, that’s my emotional state, although I’m doing my best to keep it from being an operational state).

Yesterday we played cards with our closest friends here in Montana. They are Alabama fans, and Episcopalians, and sweet people, and we spend more time with them than anyone else (except for the folks that we see in meetings). When we were considering moving to Mexico, Judi was lamenting it and asked us please not to move – and they were all excited that we were building a home because it meant that we wouldn’t be moving to Mexico.

So yesterday they told us – they are moving back to Texas.

I don’t make “friends” that easily. I like everybody, and I love everybody, and I’m glad to see everybody – but I’m an introvert, and there just aren’t that many people who seem to want to spend that much time with me, or that don’t wear me out if I spend that much time with them.

But this couple from Texas are friends – and Jerry was my friend from the first moment we met; I knew right then that I liked him, and I’ve never gotten tired of hanging out with him.

But they are leaving – and I’m somewhat flummoxed that they are doing so after asking us NOT to move; Ethel swears that this had no influence on her decision to stay in Whitefish, but Ethel’s not the greatest at knowing why she does stuff.

(I, of course, know exactly why I stayed in Whitefish – I’m here because Ethel told me to stay. I’m not at all confused about that – if Ethel said, right now, “Let’s go to Todos Santos and buy Casa Luna” then we’d move to Todos Santos and buy Casa Luna, and I’d just assume that the 30K or so that I’ve spent on digging the hole is wasted money. I’m just like that).

So now we’re going to be here without our best friends. I reckon that’s just the way we roll; Ethel will pretend that it doesn’t matter to her. She has a remarkable loyalty to her decisions; once she makes a decision, it seems that she has to prove that it was correct by never second-guessing it; I, on the other hand, am able to tenth- or fifteenth-guess any decision I’ve ever made with no difficulty at all.

Fat lot of good it does me, though. We’re stuck here now.

(yes, there are plenty of other reasons to stay in Whitefish – every reason that we’ve considered before is still operative. But it’s not going to be as much fun with Jerry and Judi).

I noticed this sign this morning on the exerbike at the Workday gym, while doing my ersatz Eichorn sweet spot workout:


That just seems…woRng, somehow….

Of course, it my be my own ignorance; perhaps the machine might need assistance. But there’s a piece of my brain that is sure that what is meant here is “need attention“. As in, something is wrong with it.

This is probably one of those times where I’m just being silly and provincial – like all those times, in the last three days, when I’ve heard people giving presentations say “processEES” – when did “processes” start being pronounced with a long E? That sounds like an affectation…

Those three days – I’ve been in Pleasanton for a conference. I’m worn out. And my knee has been hurting enough that I’ve had to take at least one half of a pain pill every day – that helps to wear a fellow out. Which is probably why I’m so irritable; I’m just sitting here at a table in the concourse at Salt Lake International; you’d think I’d be fine. But my body is tired, and achy, and something happened to the flight schedule – the flight that I’ve always taken that left at 3 and arrived in Montana at 5 is not going from 3:48 to 5:37, so I’m going to be even later getting home.

And I didn’t sleep well last night – I went to the 6:30 AA meeting in Pleasanton, and got myself a HUGE mug of decaf – and I was 3/4s finished with it before I realized that they hadn’t actually bothered to make decaf in the decaf pot.

So I was up until 10:45.

I want to be home, on my couch, in my pajamas, with my sweetie girl beside me – a big glass of iced tea on the coffee table, and my puppy somewhere nearby.

I need assistance.