Monthly Archives: June 2019

(EDITOR’S NOTE – this was supposed to be posted on Saturday, June 29th – apparently it got stuck in the pipeline. But you should read this one before you read the one about Snuffleuppaguss).


This, if you can believe it, is Ethel standing in line, in the rain, for the chance to pay four dollars for an Icelandic hot dog.


It wasn’t worth it 🙂


It’s been a long day – it started yesterday morning at around 4:50 AM. We got up then because we wanted to make sure that we’d sleep well on the plane. That didn’t work as well as we had hoped.

By the time we got here this morning, we felt the effects – it was 3 AM by our body clocks, and 9 AM locally. We went to the hotel and got an early checkin and got a nap; about 90 minutes later, we got up and headed out to see some Iceland.

The guide books said that this place had the best hot dogs ever tasted. I’m willing to assume that somebody else might think that; as they were definitely DIFFERENT. But I’d rather have one off the rolling rack at the local convenience store.

For dinner, we went to a “street food” restaurant billed as having the best fish and chips. Those were, indeed, pretty good.

The day was rainy and overcast, and we’re jetlagged. So we’re probably not getting the bang for our buck – and, lemme tell ya, they do, indeed, take our bucks while providing whatever bang results. This place is more expensive than anyplace else I’ve ever been.

I’m willing to assume that it might not get dark tonight, which is why I came – but, then, it never really got LIGHT, either, so I’m willing to go ahead and just sleep tonight.

This morning, we had pastries at Braud (which I think means “bread”) and then headed for the Snæfellsnes peninsula (I had to cut and paste to get that dipthongy vowel thing) to see some Iceland.

We saw us some Iceland 🙂

The first cool part of the trip was hitting the tunnel under one fjord – a tunnel that was six kilometers long. Only time I’ve gone farther than that was the Chunnel.

(editor’s note: we were driving along in a rented Hyundai when we approached the tunnel. Ethel said, “Hey, we’re in a fjord!” I said (wait for it…) “No, this is a Hiyunday” (spelling changed to indicate the pronunciation necessary to make this a good joke. Fact that I’m explaining it means – never mind) 🙂

Of course, we wore ourselves out trying to say Snæfellsnes, so we just said “Snuffleuppaguss”.

We drove out on the south side of the peninsula. Pretty quickly, I noticed that the mountain range to the north had a LOT of waterfalls. I kept saying “Hey, let’s go hike up to that one!….okay, then, how about this next one?” until Ethel finally got tired and pulled over, and we hiked one of the falls.

It was pretty nice 🙂


I kept wanting to hike more waterfalls, but the next hike we took was up to a slot canyon at Rauofeldsgja – it was like the ones in Utah, only it had moss on the walls. Lovely!


I hiked further up in this one than Ethel cared to go, and while up there, it occurred to me that the walls were so gnarly and knobby that I could probably climb up and out. However, I didn’t think that I could DOWNclimb those walls – so there I’d be, up on the plateau, and Ethel would be down at sea level, mad at me. So I didn’t.

We stopped and had fish and chips at a food truck in Anarstapi, then drove through the national park – I wanted to go up and see the glacier, but we knew that there was an English-speaking AA meeting back in Reykjavik at 7 PM, so we were starting to concern ourselves about the passage of time.

So we didn’t drive up to the glacier. And Ethel voice something that will stay in the Puckett lexicon for the rest of our married life – “I’m not stopping at every waterfall in Iceland!”

But we DID stop at Kirkjufell – something that I had on my agenda. And that I’ll remember.


I think that the Pixel 2 takes pretty good pictures.

As soon as I started looking at pictures of Iceland, I kept seeing this mountain – “Church Mountain” is what the name means, but it just snagged my attention. Turns out that this was used in some “Game of Thrones” story line – I dunno, never seen GoT. But I’ll remember this.

We did make it back for the AA meeting, which was nice – lots of nationalities in that little room. And now we’re back at the hotel, cleaning up before dinner – although we’re still pretty full of fish and chips (“fiskur og franskar”). I wanted a salad tonight, but no luck. I don’t think that they have salads in Iceland.

When’s the last time that Google dropped something?

The last time I used this acronym in our development team’s slack channel, Google recognized it correctly – BMBaCMaB means “Butter My Butt and Call Me a Biscuit”.


But this morning, I used it, and one of my co-workers went looking – and it couldn’t find it.

So, for the first time in my memory, Google’s reach has actually SHRUNK. Something that I could look up before, I now can’t find.

(Google did find several usages of “#bmbacmab”, but nowhere that the acronym was explained. I call that a loss).

I figured I’d go ahead and post this, by way of associating the acronym with the phrase. I hope it works.

I do know that Google knows about Fat Charlie’s Diary; when I google for “no huhu, cobber”, the first two links are leads to MIAHM pdfs, but the third is an old FCD post. I have no idea whether or not other folks seem the same thing when they google that phrase; I’m not other folks, and I’m not interested enough to find out 🙂

The first time I heard the phrase “Butter my butt and call me a biscuit” was, I believe, in the movie Cars – I’m sure that it was Tow Mater who said it. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it used other than that in any mass media.

(N.B. – I’m only talking about this because I don’t want to talk about anything else today. Thursdays are always a one hour Eichorn bike workout, 40 minutes to an hour run or ellip, and a core workout; today, none of that happened. I’m a bit sick to my stomach today; I even found myself drinking some Pepto. But I don’t think that that’s the problem. I wonder if it’s depression; could be stress. It can’t be fatigue – I haven’t done enough in the last week for this to be fatigue. So I’m sort of in avoidance mode today – I’ve felt it, and I’ve prayed about it, but I ain’t done anything about it. In the meantime, I’ll talk about stuff that doesn’t matter).


I reckon I’m done.

Unless I get revitalized, and/or my brain clears up, or my company suddenly decides that they want to pay me to lay in a hammock, play golf and train for triathlon, I will be retiring in July.


I’m taking this trip to Iceland, and who knows? Maybe I’ll come back smarter and with more energy.

I’m also supposed to see the doc tomorrow about Hormone Replacement Therapy, where – as I understand it – they might decide that I’m a quart low on this or that, and stick testosterone pellets in my rear end (that’s as in “under the skin”, not “a suppository”) and maybe that will make me smart again.

But, failing all that, I reckon my last day will be July 19th.

I don’t want to put in my notice yet, because I keep hoping that Something Will Happen™ and I’ll be happy and productive again. But if not, then I’ll put in my notice as soon as I get back from the tundra.

I’m at peace with this. I’ve tried to beat it, you know. But plain ol’ prayer hasn’t worked, and the Golden Key hasn’t worked, and self-discipline hasn’t worked, and stopping training to give more energy to devote to work hasn’t worked – and, to quote Chapter Three, “…we could increase the list ad infinitum”.

Kim’s going to keep working – her job is going great, and she has stuff that she wants to accomplish before she leaves WGU. But I already feel like all of my accomplishments are behind me; it’s time to take a nap. And play some golf. And maybe get that dog trained.

July 19th – that’s the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 reaching the moon. Just think of this as “…Houston, the Puckett has landed.”

Back in October, in Kona, I bought a pair of Garmin Vector 3 power meter pedals.

I wanted them because they are supposed to be, like, good and stuff – they tell you what your power output is on the bike. I do my training with a Wahoo Kickr that both controls my power output, and records it.

Today, I put the Vectors on my training bike, and did a Wahoo workout. Apparently, the Vector 3s seem to think that I am a puny ectomorph with skinny legs.


The Given 110 percent is the workout as recorded by my Wahoo. The “Indoor Cycling” is the exact same workout, except I was recording it using the Vector pedals.

The Kickr says that I averaged 167 watts. The Vectors said….106 watts.

Well, there’s $800 that I’ll never get back.

I suppose I could do some troubleshooting – but that seems so far off that there’s no way of saving the *&^%$#@! things.

See, the idea is this – I can do my workouts on the Wahoo Kickr, and then, on race day, Corch will look at my workouts and say “Okay, for this half Ironman, I want you to stay around 170 W normalized power”.

That’s just fine – unless, of course, the power meter on the bike is so far off that you can’t even do arithmetic to compensate.

I’m going to keep training on the Kickr – of course. That’s what it’s for. But I have no idea what I’m going to do with the Vectors. Probably try to sell them on E-Bay or something.

Or maybe throw them at passersby. They are reasonably heavy and have fairly sharp corners, at least for such purposes.

We’re getting ready to go to Iceland while working full time, and while I’m training for a half Ironman and Ethel is training for a Century.

Here is the Graph of Life:


I’ve never actually drawn this graph before, but I’ve described it a few times. It’s basically giving the levels of Time, Money and Energy that most of us will have over our lives. (I’m not talking about trust fund babies, people who never choose to go to work, or the chronically ill, or Ian Hersey. Nor does it apply to folks like my Millennial friends at Workday, who work at a high paying job for a few years, then “just take some time off”. This is for regular folks).

There are five Life Events used as X-axis points in this graph – Birth, starting School, Graduation and beginning work life, Retirement, and Death. I trust that these are self-explanatory.

Money – as far as “money of our own to spend and control”, we start out with nothing; we slowly get an allowance, maybe start doing neighborhood chores, get a minimum wage part-time job – and then, when we graduate from whatever level of schooling we attain, then our income takes off – until retirement, then it drops.

Time – we start off with all the time in the world. Then suddenly we’re in school – what happened? Then, when we get out of school, then we have to work – what happened? Then we retire (at least; that’s the theory. I have yet to experience that part*) and have plenty of time, suddenly .

These values are shown as step functions – they don’t have a lot of “curve” to them.

Energy – I’m not talking here about the first few weeks, when we sleep all the time. I’m taking about right after that, when we start keeping our parents awake. Then the “energy” graph is a smooth curve, from “near infinite” down to 0 at death.

The basic problem about living in this world** is that we normal folks can never have all of these – Time, Money and Energy – at the same time. When we have plenty of time and energy, we have no money (and no freedom to use that money, should we have it). When we have money and energy, we have no time.

And then, when we finally have plenty of time, and some money, we have no energy.

Right now, I’m near the right end of that graph – just before retirement, when money is at the max, time is at the minimum, and energy is becoming the limiting commodity.

On Thursday, we decided to go Iceland. We can do afford to do that; the money’s the easy part.

However, we’re only going for one week, because of vacation time – it’s a pretty expensive flight, but we aren’t maximizing our time there because we need to get back to work. Not much free time.

On Saturday, I took a nap so deep that it felt like “sticky sleep”. I then slept over 8 hours on Saturday night, then took a hard hour nap yesterday – and last night, slept over 9 hours.

So the week in Iceland might not feel very good, because we may not have enough energy to recover from the jet lag and still do stuff.

But we’re doing this now, because later, after retirement – when we would have the time – we won’t have the disposable income for jaunts on a whim. And at some point, we won’t have the energy to go galavanting off to the tundra.

Right now, I’m wishing that I had graduated five years earlier and just hitchhiked to Seattle,  so I could have been in that first generation of Microserfs that all got to retire wealthy in their mid-to-late-30s. But I didn’t know 🙂

I’ve had it all, but just not all at the same time. I reckon that’ll have to be good enough.


*retirement is still theoretical. However, unless something changes, I may be retired in three weeks.  Watch this space.\

**“in this world..” – the only real problem is selfishness, self-centeredness. But that has to be dealt with using spiritual tools. When I am referring in this writing to problems “in this world”, I mean those that one might choose to see as problems that could be dealt with in the material sense.

When I was a child, we lived in North Alabama – home of heat and humidity.

I just lived with it, and didn’t give it much thought – that’s just the way that life was. It wasn’t until I moved to Arizona in July of 1994 – and noticed how much more comfortable I was in Arizona than I had been in Alabama – that the insanity of it all really struck me.

Especially in one aspect – so I called my mother back in Decatur from a phone in Sierra Vista, AZ, one day, and I asked her – I said, “Momma, tell me something. When I was growing up in Decatur, we’d make it through May. Then we’d suffer through the heat and humidity in June. Then we’d just survive the awfulness until mid-July – and then…and then…


Momma just sort of shrugged her verbal shoulders and said, “Son, that’s just what we did.” We went from hot and humid Alabama, in July, to the only place in the country that was worse.

Well, I’m glad that those bad old days are over. We ain’t doin’ stupid stuff like that no more.

Today, here in Montana, many of the localities woke up this first day of Summer with snow on the ground – in Yellowstone, it was bad enough to cause the roads to close. Here in Whitefish, though, it was just cold, cold rain – a high of 50 and wet. We turned the heat back on on Tuesday – we’ve been lighting the fireplace off and on all week.

But that’s okay – because, WE’RE GOING ON VACATION NEXT WEEK!!!


We’re going on vacation – to ICELAND?!” Every day there’s a chance of rain, with highs in the 50s 🙂

Today we went to Sportman’s Ski Haus and bought waterproof pants and water-resistant LONG hiking pants 🙂



So a week or two back, I told Ethel, “Let’s go see the midnight sun this summer, before I’m dead”.

So now we’re going to Iceland 🙂


We won’t actually see the sun stay above the horizon for 24 hours; there’s only a small piece of Iceland above the Arctic Circle, and we won’t be there during the time that that will be in effect. But it won’t be dark while we’re there – daylight the whole time. And due to time zones, the sun will still be up after midnight where we are – it will set very briefly shortly thereafter.

We’re going to Reykjavik (Reykjavik? Dang near killedyavik!) I really don’t even know what we’re going to do there – other than just drive around and look at Iceland and Icelanders. This is purely a whim.I want to see the sun at midnight. I want to be way up there somewhere, and we’re going to do that.

Ethel can now mark this off the “Puckett Bucket” list she’s been keeping. (I’m not sure what else is on that list. I hope some of the stuff is cheaper 🙂 Since I wanted to see the midnight sun before I die, I now need to stay alive until we get there.

We almost didn’t go – one issue was that Ethel could only find one English speaking AA meeting. Turns out that there are five. Then it turned out that we couldn’t sit together on the flight back – but now we’re booked on aisle seats on the same row; I won’t be beside her, but there won’t be anybody between us.

The flight there will be rough – we’ll arrive at 9 AM. That’s just the way it is. If you’re gonna go that far, it’s gonna be uncomfortable. But the flight back will be much better – arriving around 2 PM on a Saturday.

I was going to book us a hotel in Reykjavik, and then realized that any hotel that I book will be the wrong one. (I’ve been married a long time). So I’m just signing checks and saying “yes, dear”.  I mean, “Já elskan”.

Last night, I was having dry sobs – choked up, with tears working up to my eyeballs, but not quite leaking out.

Those who’ve read the last few pages of this book will understand.


Such sweet sadness – or sad sweetness!

Pirsig, in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“, talks about looking at a stone wall in Korea; he says that he can tell that the people who were building the wall had peace of mind, because the wall reflects such craftmanship that there’s no way the folks could have had their brains in an uproar while doing it. This book has that level of craft; it’s simply impossible to imagine how it could have been better written.

The subtitle on the cover says “His classic, Hugo Award winning novel of libertarian revolution”. And, yeah, that’s true – but incredibly incomplete. It’s like saying that the Declaration of Independence is “a group memo with some spelling errors”.

I’ve been living in my Nook for a few years, rarely reading any actual paper, but recently on a friend’s suggestion (and because, right after the suggestion, some other friends gave it as a gift) Tracy Kidder’s “House”. That was excellent, and very topical, since right now we’re building a house (I might have mentioned that).

I had stopped in the middle of the last Michael Connelly novel that I was reading that simply had not gotten my attention (which is a singular statement; it’s the ONLY MC novel that I’ve read that didn’t get my attention) so, after an aborted attempt to go back to that, I picked up RAH’s “Have Space Suit, Will Travel”, which was, well, just lots of fun. And, once again, I was struck by how much my speech and thought were formed by Arthur, Issac and Bob in my youth – but always, especially, Bob.

(editor’s note: when I google “no huhu cobber”, the first two links I see are from PDFs of MIAHM – but the third one is a link to an old Fat Charlie. Ipso facto, QED).

Then I picked up the above from my shelf, and – Church was Out.

Please don’t take, from my comments above, the notion that this is a sad book. No! It is a life-exploring, and life-affirming book, in many ways! But, as Counting Crows said, “The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings”. There are things that happen at the end of the novel that remind us that all things must pass – and, in a meta way, I got sad just because the novel ended, as well.

But that’s okay. Just a few hours later, I picked up “Glory Road” 🙂

So I’ve been thinking that I’ve been suffering from decision fatigue.

Even though we thought that we’d made most of the decisions that were necessary before they ever dug a hole, we kept getting bombarded with questions – things that simply couldn’t even be seen as issues until the builder reached that point in construction.

For instance, “where do you want the speaker wire run to in the five rooms that will have Sonos?” – uh, put it up there…


(You may, like me, be wondering why there seems to be an extra 20 feet or so of speaker wire right there. I have no idea. I’m just glad that they didn’t ask me “What do you want to do with the extra speaker wire?)

Now, I’m not complaining about my builder (and electrician, and HVAC guy, and plumber) asking these questions; they should be asking them. No huhu, cobber.

But I am complaining about having to answer them 🙂 It seemed to be wearing me out – even though most of these decisions didn’t take any real work or study. Many of them could be answered immediately.

And I was thinking that my problem was decision fatigue.

But I’ve since decided that I was wrong. (Being wrong is always better than being right, because if one is right, then one is stuck, but if one is wrong, then one gets to change, and change always involves the possibility of improvement).

Here’s what the Big Book has to say about my day-to-day life:

We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.

That’s from Step 11.

It seems that the problem isn’t making decisions – it’s making decisions about what I want. That brings self-will into the equation, and self-will is a beast.

In Step 3, I actually admit that self-will is my real, and only, problem, and I begin – with God’s help – to take actions to diminish selfishness, self-centeredness. In fact, that’s what every one of the action Steps does – none of them have anything to do with alcohol. They are all radiation treatments, aimed at the cancer of self-will that has run rampant in my being for my whole life.

And Ethel and I have been working the Steps for many years, and have made a lot of progress. We both are well aware that the problem isn’t whether or not we are getting our way – the problem is that we have a way, that we are silly enough – still – to listen to the voice in our head that tells us, as it says on page 61, that “…we can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if we only manage well”.

So, now – enter the world of Building A Custom Home From The Ground Up.

Every single decision – from picking the piece of ground that we wanted to build on, to the cap on the top of the chimney – has been asked from one viewpoint – “what do you two want?” Over and over again, we’ve been asked what we want, rather than (say) what might be best for anybody else, or what might be God’s will.

And that’s just plain rat poison, for a drunk like me.

And then there have been the problems that have come up – and “problems” in this context means “you’ve already made decisions about what you want, and now there’s been an issue from the standpoint of plans, materials, time or cost – so now we have to discuss how to still get what you want, how to manage things to get your way, how to rearrange other things to accomodate your desires and priorities.” Holy mackeral.

These situations often devolve into conflicts – between two things that we want that now are causing each other problems. And, worse, sometimes we find at these junctures that Ethel and I, when faced with these collisions, want to solve them in different ways – and when that happens, then MY wants and HER wants collide.

I’m surprised that we’re still married. Or even still standing. It’s really amazing that we’re still both sober.

Well, the problem now becomes – what do I do differently? How do we do what the builder wants, without focusing on our own wants – especially when the problem is that the builder wants to know what we want?

I do know how I can get out of this – I can just defer to Ethel – “Whatever you want, dear!” That way, I won’t be caught up in the cycle of desire and frustration.

But the Big Book also says that we cannot recover at anyone else’s expense; and laying all of this on her might be doing just that.

I think the best plan is to simply jump in the truck and go hide in Mexico until the house is finished. But, then, that would be doing what I want…. 🙂