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Monthly Archives: July 2019

Well, it’s taken some finagling, but I’m finally in my hammock.

hammockikng

This morning was supposed to be a swim with the Coach On Deck crew at the Wave, but a friend who swims elsewhere asked me to swim with her at their club on Friday, so I moved my swim to then.

So I made the 7 AM AA meeting, and then worked up at the house painting the accent walls until noon.

By that time, my friend who had asked me to swim with her suddenly told me that she didn’t want to do that, which left me feeling slightly strange – so I considered going to swim then, but also considered a noon meeting.

But Ethel said “Go get in your hammock”. So here I am.

The hammock has been slightly reconfigured; I raised the leg end up just slightly, as the most expedient way to get the butt higher off the ground; this was necessitated by Juneau’s insistence on being out here on her cable if I’m outside, along with her propensity to bang her head or back into my rear end while it’s swinging. Finally beat that demon.

This is not the best week to hammock, since the highs are hovering around 90 F, which is ridiculous for Whitefish. But I used to live in Tucson and Phoenix; this hammock was actually purchased with the intent of using it at “our place” in Todos Santos or Los Cabos. So I can take the heat.

I don’t know how long I’m going to lay here – the aforementioned bluster notwithstanding, the heat may run me inside eventually. And I have prayed today, which means that I may receive inspiration to go ahead and head to the pool. And, at any rate, we have to go to the flooring and paint places this afternoon; got to pick up the Bama Crimson, get some existing gallons shook (or is it “shaken”?) and we need to check our vessel sinks against the background of the Black Taurus granite, to determine which ones we want to keep.

But, at any rate, it’s been 5.5 hours since I’ve had any coffee; right now, the temp is around 81 F and there’s a light breeze, and the dog is behaving herself.

So, for right now, it’s hammock time!

 

Retirement is not going well!

My friend Paul says “You must not be doing it right.” I suspect he is correct.

On Saturday, I did a 2.5 hour fairly hard bike, followed by an hour on the ellip, and then some core work and a short swim. This wore me out. Then, on Sunday, we hiked the Danny On trail at Big Mountain.

dannyon

About a mile into this hike – which was all uphill, a little over 2000 feet ofย  climb – my right Achilles and soleus decided to complain. Now, I was able to finish the hike – I just kept that heel on the ground all the way up the mountain – but when I got back to flatland, I was limping.

On Monday, I did my regular pull workout in the pool, then spent the rest of the day running errands, making meetings, cleaning house and suchlike, dragging my right leg behind me. Left me exhausted.

This morning was an hour hard on the bike, when 40 minutes on the ellip, and lifting. That left me even more exhausted, but I had more to do – including seeing my physical therapist, who tried to kill me, including dry-needling that calf and Achilles. So physically, I’m a wreck.

While this has been going on, my Workday stock has tanked about 6% in two days ๐Ÿ™‚

So I’m falling apart physically and financially. That’s a no-good recipe for retirement ๐Ÿ™‚

…I’m pretty sure that the Workday still will recover – no, wait. That’s a lie. I’m CERTAIN that the Workday stock will recover. As far as things in this world go, I have faith in Ethel’s love and devotion, my dog’s ability to poop six times a day, and Workday stock.

I’m hoping that I’ll recover physically as well. I’m nowhere near as sanguine about those chances – but I’m willing to be.

But the activity level in my retirement so far is just ridiculous. I’m even more tired, and yet nobody’s paying me for the things that I’m doing, which wasn’t really what I was expecting. I was expecting to be napping in my hammock – now, as tired as I’ve been, I’ve gotten some naps, but Whitefish is in the middle of a heat wave, with highs in the high 80s or even low 90s – what’s up with that? – so I’m not out there on the hammock.

Retirement, as far as I can tell, is exhausting.

So, apparently, I’m doing it wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

On Friday, I received a card from my coworkers in Pleasanton ๐Ÿ™‚

card.jpg

They had remarkably nice things to say.

Some time back, I pointed out how George Ritter had had an impact on my life – an impact that he never intended, and that I’m sure he still has not fully appreciated (because I’m not the center of his life). You never know.

It seems that some of my coworkers were positively impacted by my time in the Core Financials Team. I don’t actually know why or how this transpired, generally – but, then, that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?

As Paul said in Hebrews, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” One just never knows whom one is dealing with, or what may transpire for that person.

I learned many years ago that, when I am speaking with someone,ย  then God is in their ears, not in my mouth – but another consideration is that if one speaks in a way that makes people want to listen, they can hear their God in their ears much better.

So I’m not sure how I was helpful. But it does mean that Martha Puckett did not carry me for nine months in vaid. Some good things have resulted from her efforts.

….This is my first day of active retirement. I made a 7 AM AA meeting, then I had a good, hard swim workout; then I spent some time talking to other old dudes in the hot tub (today’s topics were weather and Whitefish living, which beats the heck out of politics or religion). After this, I came home, took a short nap, then spent some time trying to find a way to get the Alabama Crimson color in an interior paint (Home Depot used to sell NCAA colors packaged by Glidden; those colors are no longer licensed, so we’re reduced to trying to “color match” some of our Bama paraphenalia. Thanks, Mark Emmert).

After that, I got the dogs brushed, tanned at the tanning salon, went to the market, and made a noon AA meeting. Came home from that and did more dog stuff -threw the ball for Juneau, took Abby out for a sniff walk.

We have house stuff that needs to be done today, but we have to do that together, which means that I have to wait for Ethel. One of the conditions of my retirement is that I not pester Ethel to quit working and come play with me. SSMaS.*

Now I’m resting. Tomorrow is a hard workout day, and we are going to be painting at the new house. We have the builders painting the ceiling and most of the walls a nice golden color, but we’re painting the Foxy red, Relentless Olive green, and the Bama room ourselves.

I sort of expected retirement to be a little less active. I’ll keep working on that.

 

*”she’s so mean and selfish”

When we settled on a retirement date, Ethel scheduled dinner at Tupelo Grill – it’s owned by a friend, but we’ve never been there. So we’re going tonight.

Which means that today won’t be a keto day. So I did what old retired guys in Whitefish do – I went to a morning AA meeting, then went to swim at the Wave, and then went to breakfast at the Pin and Cue.

biscuits

Retired folks seem to like to go to breakfast. I’ve never understood this – to me, breakfast is this thing that you eat while you’re changing and showering after your workout before you start working for the day. But for retired folks, it seems to be almost a ritual, a ceremony.

(I also don’t understand paying that much for breakfast – heck fire, I’m retired now. The biscuit and gravy combo was $9.75 – who can afford that on a fixed income?)

I’m just taking it easy. Taking my time, being an old almost retired guy. I’m gonna do that stuff that retired guys do now; I’d better get busy. (except, of course, for the fact that “getting busy” is what retired folks DON’T do).

For instance, I’m gonna wear a hat, with the brim pulled down close to my ears, and big blackout sunglasses – standard retired guy driving apparel – then climb into my big, road-hogging truck and drive 15 MPH in the 35 MPH zones, and slow down at every intersection, as though I think it might be my turn, but I’m not sure….

I’m gonna wear my shorts up around my navel and my Crocs with socks.

I’m gonna stop people who look busy and just start conversations with them, telling them how we did things back in Ought and Sixty Nine – and then lose the thread of the conversation, but just when they think they are free to get away, suddenly remember what I was saying, and keep them captive a little longer.

I’m going to sit on the machines at the gym in between my sets, and just rest, and look around at all of the folks who are obviously trying to get their workouts completed so that they can get to work – and be completely oblivious to the fact that the thing that they are waiting on is for me to get off that machine.

…this is one thing that has always confused me about old folks; I sort of figure that, since they are old, then that means that they know that they are going to die soon. It seems to me like they should be in a bigger hurry than younger folks!

But I have a few theories to explain their leisurely pace. The first theory is the simple one – it’s just that they are just too tired to be in a hurry. I’m watching my energy level fall off a cliff just as I’m getting enough time to do what I want to do. How do you hurry if you’re exhausted?

The second theory is that maybe they don’t have ENOUGH to do, so they want to savor what they are doing, and so don’t want to rush anything; this may act in concert with not having as much energy. That means that even if they want to do 20 things in a day, they only have energy enough for 5 – so they take their time and enjoy those tasks.

The last theory is one of spiritual development; maybe they aren’t in a hurry because, having done stuff their whole lives, they already know that whatever it is that they are doing, it’s not going to solve any problem other than the problem they are solving. Often younger folks are in a hurry because they think that, as the Big Book says, they can “wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if they only manage well”. They think – when I make the money, when I get the house clean, when I finish these errands, then I’ll feel at peace.

Older folks may already know that peace never comes by getting one’s demands met – it only comes by dropping the demands. So they aren’t in a hurry because they’ve dropped the sense of urgency.

I like this last theory best – it’s looking up instead of down. It means more happiness instead of less – it means that maybe now I’ll get more spiritual growth. This theory sees people at their best, and explains a lot.

But it doesn’t explain wearing their shorts up around their navel ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s the sleep report from my Infernal Contraption, telling me that I finally had a good night’s sleep.

gadget.jpg

This is my CPAP – it’s strange that I never posted a diary entry when I got this thing. It was a sort of major deal. And turned out not to be – they thought that my apnea “events per hour” was 30. That’s because somebody misheard somebody else – it was actually 13, which sounds similar.

So I don’t wear it because of my mild sleep apnea; I wear it because it keeps me from snoring, so I wear it to improve Ethel’s sleep.

But I haven’t worn it since Saturday night, since Ethel was doing her annual trip to Vegas for Thunder Down Under, the All-Male Review a work conference. And, while she was gone, I was NOT sleeping well, at all.

Woke up at 1 or 2 AM every night. Eventually, if I lay there long enough, I would get some fitful dozing, but that was three rough days in a row.

But she came home last night, and I slept a solid seven hours – that extra half hour in the report was me just laying there, hoping to get more sleep. I’m happy with seven, but I feel like I need to catch up somewhere.

No, I don’t know why I wasn’t sleeping well. My sponsor says that I’m undergoing stressful events; there’s this retirement. There’s building that house across the street. There’s my injuries, and trying to rebuild my training base.

And, then, there was a missing Ethel.

This retirement – I’m not getting much done these last two days. I’m actually okay with that – I’m doing “knowledge transfers”, which means I spend hours preparing for a one-hour meeting. But that one hour is me talking, while trying to read the reactions of folks in Pleasanton on my screen to see if I’m conveying the information. For an introvert, that’s like a four-hour bike workout. It leaves me pretty wore out.

The house construction – things are in conflict, schedules are crossing, the concrete and asphalt folks suddenly got “backed up”, and now that the fence poles are in, the landscaper was going to get started, except the builder told him to wait four weeks. (The builder didn’t ask me about that). We wanted to get the sod on the ground, so it would be established when we move in. The whole *&^%$#@! reason for building the house is to give the dogs a place to run around.

We’re stacking up stuff here at the house – sinks and wall speakers and furniture we’ve bought for the new place and plumbing fixtures and whatnot.

Injuries and training – after four weeks of fixing my calves, only having to fix them again after I’d do two runs and they would seize back up, my PT decided that the problem wasn’t my calves at all – it was that my glutes “weren’t firing”. So now he’s got me doing butt things – bridges and clamshells and monster walks.

In the meantime, I’ve been doing my regular workouts, except doing the runs on the elliptical – but after the injuries and the training, I am in the worse shape of my life, so “doing my regular workouts” is pretty much the same thing as “working myself into an early grave”. Fortunately, I retire this week, and next week, I should be able to sleep all the time, which means I’ll get more recovery after these workouts.

“Sleep all the time” – I’ve been telling these dogs, for a couple of years now, that they mightย think that they are lazy, since they lay down for hours at a stretch. But they don’t know lazy – they’re gonna learn what lazy is, next week. A few weeks from now, they’ll be so impressed byย my laziness that they might not be able to nap – they’ll be all like “gee, how can we be as lazy as Dad?”

It’s gonna be a rough transition for them, as well. It might turn into a laziness competition.

I’ll win. I’ll need to recover from all this stress.

 

Here are three color swatches that Ethel put up on the drywall in the Dog House, for comparison.

splotches

What? You only see two colors? Why, I can’t believe that. You’re so stupid you make my head hurt!*

There were originally the two horizontal swatches – Compatible Cream on top, and the darker one below, whose name I can’t remember. We had these up in the living room west wall, and on the north wall of the bedroom, to see them in “different light”.

We had those up for a few days, and I had been rooting for Compatible Cream – mostly because it’s the color that we currently have, and I still have four gallons left over from when I was painting the house this time last year.

So Ethel settled on Compatible Cream, stating that the Unnamed Color was too dark. I was all hip on this – not only would I save about $160 on those four gallons of paint, but it meant that Ethel was finally agreeing with one of my color choices.

But then, somehow, she waffled, and decided that she wanted to see what Dakota Wheat would look like. So we went and bought a sample ($5.09 at Sherwin Williams) and she put it up on the wall in the living room, as a vertical swatch, and she couldn’t see the difference – so she said “well, I reckon I just wasted five dollars on that sample. I suppose we’ll stay with Compatible Cream” – and I did an invisible fist pump and said “yes!’ (but under my breath).

But then she went into the bedroom, and put the vertical swatch up on that wall – this is what you see above, on the left side – and then she said “Oh, well, now I see the difference. Yes, I think we’ll go with the Dakota Wheat! What do you think, honey?”

I smiled and shrugged. I could not see any difference at all – the only differences that I could see between Dakota Wheat and Compatible Cream were

* I wanted the Compatible Cream, and
* The Dakota Wheat would cost me at least $160 more, because of the wasted paint.

But, upon being pressed, I had to admit that it was *possible* that there was a difference; I mean, if I try hard enough, I can tell a “difference” between a Birmingham accent, and a Montgomery accent. (“try hard enough” in this context means “be told that there is a difference, so I think that I imagine one existing”).

So now we’re going with Dakota Wheat. I didn’t ask why we didn’t see if they had a Montana Wheat – I was already on thin ice for not being able to see the difference between the two current contenders. Sometimes it’s best to just keep one’s mouth shut.

People ask me, they say “Gee, Jim – why does your eye twitch like that?” …I tell them I have no idea. Everything’s fine. No stress here!

 

 

*I only see two colors, as well. I’m not sure that Ethel sees three colors, but you won’t hear me mention it. Out loud, that is.

Here’s the truck, sitting by the condo mailboxes.

paidfor

The title of this post is from an old bumper sticker somebody had on their junker. It’s reminiscent of one that one of my friends had in my teenage years – “Don’t laugh, mister. Your daughter may be in here.”

The truck is sitting by the mailboxes because I had just dropped off the payoff check. Turns out that Chase Bank won’t let you pay a truck off online – you actually have to send them a check. So I did so.

I’ve always said that that truck was a ridiculous extravagance that I could not justify. My two previous vehicles were a BMW and an Audi, and this truck is far more luxurious than either of them. Not to mention the fact that I can carry dogs in the back.

But that luxury, ride, and power comes with a price tag, and that came with a payment. Well, now that payment won’t be following me into retirement.

Contrary to the way Chase does things, Nissan Auto Finance will let you do a payoff online. So now Ethel’s car is also paid off, as of this morning.

I’m intending to go into retirement with nothing but the small mortgage on this condo; when construction on the Dog House finishes, I will then have a mid-sized mortgage there, until we can sell the condo, whereupon I’ll have a very small mortgage – until the next tax year, when I’ll get rid of that.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying driving around in a paid-for pickup.

Yesterday I rode with Big Mountain Walt. We starting in Columbia Falls and took back roads out to the Apgar Hill and back. It was my first outdoor ride this year; it was also my first ride with the new Vector3 Garmin power meter pedals.

It was a pretty hard ride; I was trying to keep up with Walt, who is a world class masters cyclist. That was just dumb. (It makes no difference that I was trying to “keep up with Walt” on what was for him an easy, short ride – after his riding at least 5000 feet of vertical every day for the last ten days. It was still dumb).

When we crossed the river where the North Fork meets the West Fork, we stopped, and Walt wanted to take a picture. I let him.

bikeguns

Now, you might ask yourself, “why would you show your biceps for a picture on a bike ride? Aren’t biceps completely irrelevant as far as bicycles are concerned? Aren’t they, in fact, a liability?”

And to this I respond – you are correct in every way! But that’s just the point. I showed my biceps for a bike picture because I am the athletic equivalent of the storied Chemical Patent Lawyer.

The Chemical Patent Lawyer in question has a degree in chemistry, and a degree in law. He knows more law than I do, and more chemistry. However, he doesn’t know as much law as most lawyers, or as much chemistry as most chemists.

Therefore, in self defense, whenever the Chemical Patent Lawyer is with lawyers, then he talks like a chemist. When he’s with chemists, then he talks like a lawyer. That way, nobody knows that he’s not that competent in either discipline.

I’m not a real cyclist, nor am I a real weightlifter. But I’m a better cyclist than most lifters, and I’m a better lifter than most cyclists.

So, if I’m taking a picture on a bike, I’ll flex my biceps. Were I to take a picture with some lifters, then I’d probably flex my calves instead – my running and cycling have given me bigger calves than most weightlifters ๐Ÿ˜‰

It was a hard ride for another reason. My Garmin Vector pedals register about 75% of the wattage that my Wahoo Kickr shows.

This is a problem for the same reason that, when I fly three time zones west, I forget to be hungry at what should be my mealtime – because then my watch shows me as three hours earlier. So I don’t really feel hungry until three hours afterwards. (If you could package that, it’d be a great weight loss program).

Since my pedals were telling me that I was pushing 180 watts, I just kept pushing – even though in reality it probably meant that I was pushing more like 240. The 163 watts of normalized power for the who ride is really probably 200 – which is almost 90 % of my FTP. What it really means is that I was pushing something like a tempo ride for 3.5 hours.

I KNEW it; when I’d look at the Edge showing me the wattage, I’d say to myself “I really should back off”. But I kept not doing that.

So I worked myself silly, and now I’m not at my best today. And I’m sorta glad that next Saturday, Walt will be leading a mountain bike ride – I’m in no danger of joining that ๐Ÿ™‚

 

25 years ago today, I left Alabama*.

We’d started skiing in 1992; January we went to Purgatory, and that later December we went to Crested Butte. By then, we knew that we wanted to move out west – but it didn’t become apparent that God wanted us to go as well until that summer, when I took a job (with a great increase in pay) in Sierra Vista, AZ.

We’d never been there, but I took the job. It was high plateau and mountainous Arizona, so twenty five years ago, today, I climbed in my red Plymouth Sundance, and headed west.

Pilgrimage

(Ethel stayed behind to complete the sale of the house and get things packed up for the move. At the time, we had Silas, who was two years old, and a cat).

It took me three days to get to Sierra Vista. I stopped in Oklahoma the first night (and went for a run, to add a state to my “ran there” list). The second night, I stopped in Albuquerue, and ran with some Dead Runners – one whom I’d met, one whom was a virtual running partner, and a couple of others.

The next day, I drove down the length of New Mexico, and went across into Arizona and down to Sierra Vista.

Now, remember, this was 1994; there was just barely an Internet (I got the job on the bulletin board called “Online Career Center” – wow. Haven’t even thought that name in many years. I think it turned into Monster) and there was certainly no Web – no Google. No Google Maps. No Wikipedia to check to see the population and demographics of Sierra Vista or the climate of Cochise County.

There weren’t even any cell phones. It was “grab a Rand McNally Atlas and drive”.

When I got to Cochise County, it was just steenkin’ gorgeous. Mountains, high desert, wonderful – and dry! No humidity! (Cochise County in July is much, much more comfortable than northern Alabama).

I got a hotel room, spent several days looking around, and found us a house to rent – in Bisbee, on the wall of Tombstone Canyon. Ethel came out a month later, and we lived there for eight months, before moving to Tucson.

For several years, we were sort of worried about a “rubber band” effect; some folks leave home for some years, and then wind up back home, and it seems almost unconscious; they just were drawn back home by whatever pull was there. We loved the West – and still do – but were worried that this might happen to us.

It didn’t ๐Ÿ™‚

 

*note: no banjo on my knee at the time. That came later.

 

Briefly, this morning, I thought maybe I shouldn’t retire.

One thing I’ve noticed – and envied – since I got to Whitefish is how all the retired guys at the gym finish their workouts, and then they just hang around – they go into the sauna, they read in the lobby, or they sit in the hot tub.

hottub.jpg

This morning, after my workout, I was sitting in the hot tub, and actually listened to these two old guys talking about the stuff that they were talking about. And one of them was explaining how he’d read this book by this rogue Mormon woman, and was explaining the LDS church (or, at least, the rogue woman’s view of it) to the other guy – and somehow the Masons figured into all this, as well.

It reminded me of what I once heard an AA speaker say, back in the late 80s – “Alcoholics get drunk and talk about really important stuff – like, ‘how many seats on a 747 airplane?’ ..and politics. Somebody said, ‘Nixon wuddent no good when he was governor of Tennessee'”.

So maybe I don’t want to hang around the gym and talk with the other retired guys after my workouts ๐Ÿ™‚

This is a blog, sure, but it’s also a diary – and one thing that a diary is for is for memory. And later on, I’m gonna wonder – why did I think I had to retire? – and so, just like when we left Bozeman for Whitefish, I want to have the reasons written down somewhere.

I had always sort of thought I’d retire at 65, but then, when we moved here, we decided to move that up to 62 – the earliest age at which one can draw Social Security. So why move it up to age 60 and a half? …especially, why move it up, when at the same time, I’m pouring money out like water building the Dog House across the street.

And the real reason is simple.

I’m retiring because I can’t do my job anymore.

Sure, I want to go walk around Northern Pines Golf Course, pulling my fancy pull cart behind me and just playing as much golf as I want to play. I want to ski 100 days again. I want to be able to train – swim, bike, run, lift – as much as I want, without having to make sure that I have enough energy to go to the office.

And I want to spend time in my hammock.

And I would like to try to learn both Spanish and German grammatically. I want to go back to taking piano lessons again, and maybe even guitar lessons.

All of those are good things to do when I retire. But they aren’t the reason that I’m retiring. They’re just things I’m telling myself will be nice about retiring.

If I could still do my job effectively, I’d keep on working.

But I haven’t been able to do that for a while – and it’s been getting worse, and getting worse faster.

My brain is just plain getting slower, and foggier. It’s harder to remember stuff, and it’s harder to concentrate. My doctor says no, it’s not dementia. So it’s just plain old aging.

While this is happening in general, my ADD is getting worse. I’m losing things all the time now.ย  So I can’t keep my mind on what I’m doing at work, and when I can, I’m not as effective at it.

For the ADD, I’ve tried going back on Strattera, and then going back on Adderall. All that did was grind my teeth down.

There have been quite a few times recently when I’ve found myself in a code review, and I simply could not figure out what the code was supposed to be doing. I’ve had to simply leave the reviews undone. Even when I’ve asked for walkthroughs, I’ve still been left with a huge case of the “huh?”s.

Coupled with this is the fact that my physical plant is going down fast.Training that I could do with impunity two years ago now leaves me exhausted. But, if I don’t train, then I feel groggy and puffy. So I go ahead and try to train.

Also, I’m not able to sleep nearly as much as I used to. Two nights of the last three, I’ve gotten up around 2 AM, after about four hours of sleep.

This means that I’m more tired, and tired all the time. And being tired and stupid is a no-good recipe for getting work done. In fact, it leaves me lazy. I start giving up and wandering off.

Stupid, tired and lazy. Can’t get the job done. No wonder I feel guilty about taking a paycheck.

Now, I’ve started this hormone replacement therapy. It might, someday, make some of ths stuff go away. It hasn’t yet, though. I did ask about just going on a leave of absence for a few months, to see if maybe rest and medication might improve my ability to get work done. But they weren’t interested in that.

I have even asked – twice – to have my job level lowered, from Senior Developer to Associate Developer, so at least I’d feel better about not being able to produce as much. They weren’t interested in that, either.

Later on, I’m going to look back and tell myself “Surely, I could have pushed on through. I could have been more disciplined.” So I need to leave myself a written reminder that, while I was in it, I wasn’t able to do it. Prayer and discipline and sleep aids. Tried all of that.

So, future Jim Puckett, when you start to think that maybe you shouldn’t have retired, and you get mad at your earlier self, come back and read this.

And go easy on me, okay? I was really doing the best that I could.