There are so many times that I see something, and I build up a story around it.

And I’m wrong.

Ethel had fasting labs on Friday, so she talked to her doctor about how to set it up. (This doctor is sort of unconventional). Then she left this note before she went to bed, by the coffee pot –


Now, I read this note, and I said to myself, I said “Wow, that’s interesting – apparently Dr. Lewison has found new studies that say that you can have these things before a fasting lab. Beef broth and banana extract? That’s interesting – but very surprising that one could have eggs!”

Then Ethel woke up and I asked here about it. She said “Uh, I wrote myself the “No Coffee!” note on a grocery list.”

Duh 🙂

Yep, this happens to me all the time. My mind wants to make sense out of things, so it tells itself stories about those things.

Now, when it’s a morning note on a grocery list, the impact of my self-storying is amusing and minimal. But when I see Joe look at me and then talk to Ted, and then I start telling myself that Joe has a resentment against me – and here’s why he’s wrong!! – then it can be crippling.

Or when I see my stock drop ten percent in a day, and I imagine financial ruin – or when I have difficulty working on a project, so I think it’s time to quit my job, those are situations where it’s pretty darn hard to distinguish reason from insanity.

Some years back, I saw my portfolio start to drop a good bit, and called my financial advisor to tell him that I wanted to liquidate everything to cash – well, we didn’t do it, and as it turns out, it would have been a good idea to do so. So how do I know, NOW, what to pay attention to, and what to ignore?

I also had a feeling that I should leave Go Daddy, some months before I suddenly was, indeed, leaving Go Daddy against my will.

But I also had a feeling that I should leave IDX in Burlington, VT, back in ’98, because I felt like I wasn’t making a contribution – but when I did leave, it turns out that they had me spend a day at a whiteboard, videotaping what I had been doing so that somebody else could understand it and follow up. So, again, how does one know?

Well, I reckon – one doesn’t. But One does.

Right now, I’m living in a daily quantum flux about quitting my job. As I’ve said here before – I know that if I quit, I will certainly regret it, because I will have stopped working because of my own defects, and I will be missing the income.

But going to work every day leaves me wishing that I wasn’t doing so – that I’m not contributing, that I’m too dumb, and being dumb makes me lazy. So, there’s that.

So I’m hoping that God makes SOMETHING plain. I really want – and ask – to do His Will.

I’ve also asked for His Will to be done in my life.

And I believe that it will be – that no matter what happens, it will turn out to have been what’s best for me, and everybody else, as long as I am asking for His Will.

At least – that’s the story that I tell myself…


“And the price of a memory
Is the memory of the sorrow it brings” – Counting Crows, “Mrs Potter’s Lullaby”

Saturday, at SLC Airport, I was looking at the mountains, like I always do – and it always makes me homesick for Utah. Always.


For a po’ boy from Flat Red Clay, Alabama, I’ve been allowed to do some cool stuff, in some cool places, with some cool people. And, hey, that’s cool.

But a result of all that joy, for a guy like me, is the sadness of knowing it’s gone.

We lived in Park City from 1998 until 2005, and then left for Arizona, and I remember that I could not believe that I had been dumb enough to leave Park City (especially to go to Arizona in June, but that’s not important right now). I felt for some time that I would be forced to wander this world in exile – that God, having given me Paradise, would not look kindly on me for having thrown it away.

Then, in 2013, we moved back to Park City.

And then, by the strangest set of circumstances….we left Park City YET AGAIN.

Now, it’s true that we left for Montana, which is much better than being slapped in the belly with a wet fish – and there were things about our return to PC that simply weren’t working. Kim’s job was forcing some strange constraints on us, and in addition, Park City had grown more than I could have imagined possible. So we left.

Before we left, though, we looked for someplace else in the valley to live, and that didn’t work. But all of the places in the valley that we looked at seriously afforded us a view – well, the view you see above.

And we left that.

Montana is gorgeous, and if we drive into Glacier Park, then it’s very dramatic – but the Flathead Valley, while being very beautiful, isn’t so dramatic. The mountains are there, but they aren’t…well they’re not in your face, like the mountains in the Wasatch Front.

Now, I’m building a ridgeline view home, and it’s only nine miles from the chairlift – there is no way that I could ever afford to do that in Utah. In the Salt Lake Valley, you’re gonna be 30-45 minutes away from the chairlifts in even the best locations, and anywhere in Park City, the home we’re building would be something along the lines of 1.5 million.

And Park City, again, has gotten so crowded that the traffic is terrible. And in those “best locations” in the Salt Lake Valley, you’ll need locks and security systems. And you’ll be sitting in traffic no matter which direction you drive.

But here’s the thing about memories and emotions – comparisons aren’t made against what might be, or what might have been. Comparisons are made between what IS, and what WAS. And the life that we had that first seven years in Utah was wonderful.

We couldn’t have the life that we have now in Montana back in Utah.

Now, full disclosure – I’m 21 years older now than I was when we first moved to Utah. My body won’t do now what it would do then, and it will never feel as good as it felt back then. So that tends to color my memory of the past, and to shade my perception of the present.

Going back to Utah won’t bring back my sub-1:30 half marathons 🙂 …and it won’t let me ski first chair to last chair after running in the morning, either.

But, I look up at those mountains, and…dang….

“If all you’ve got to live for
Is what you left behind,
Get yourself a powder charge
And seal that silver mine….   — Grateful Dead, “Half-Step Mississippi Uptown Toodle-Oo”

They’ve got up the sheeting on the exterior of the Dog House.

Now I can see what my main view will be like, framed through the main windows in the great room:


(editor’s note – that large post in the middle is temporary; that’s holding up the main beam at the top of the room. It’ll be going away soon).

There’s a similar battery of the lower three windows in the master bedroom, just to the south, and just to the north – in the dining room part of the great room – there’s an oversized glass slider.

We’re getting a house because Ethel has a dog problem. We’re building rather than buying because, in Whitefish, in this market, it’s cheaper to build than to buy.

But we’re building THIS house in THIS location – because of this view.

That room, across that wall, is 15’5″ (N.B. – I’ve never been able to figure out why feet are denoted by a single apostrophe, and inches by a double. I suppose I could just Google that, but sometimes the greater joy is in the asking). I originally thought that the room would be huge, and then – when we saw it framed in, but not sheeted – I though that it was way too small. Now I’m starting to think that it might be just the right size.

It is an amazing thing to watch this house go up. Seven weeks ago, it was a piece of ground. Then, briefly, it was a hole in the ground, then chunks of concrete. Before long, there were floor joists.

I remember how excited Ethel and I were to be able to walk around on the floor 🙂

Before we left, there were some walls framed in; when we got home, all of the trusses were up on the second floor, and we could walk around up there.

They’re sheeting the roof today, and we should have the windows delivered by the end of the week. After that, they put the exterior doors on, and then – wow. It will actually be locked when the crew goes home at night.

Then things start seriously slowing down, because we start waiting on the subcontractors – HVAC first, then plumbing, electrical, and insulation.

Then interior doors and trim, and then – drywall.

Amazing – the things that we are seeing right now started out as thoughts in our minds. We are watching them taking shape.

Just like our debt 🙂 Yesterday I looked at my Whitefish Credit Union balances, and I already owe more on the house on the hill than I still owe on the condo in the flat 🙂 And the damage is just starting.

On that note about debt, that leaves me thinking about work – last week, my friend Ronnie went on a “gap” (which is slightly different than my other friend, and ex-boss, Nathan, taking a sabbatical to go on walkabout Down Under).  Now, that was no fun, because Ronnie had become important to me in many ways.

However, I’ve had the same Product Manager since I moved from Assets to Core Financials in the spring of 2014. We’ve worked well together all these years; last year, when I took the Workday Scrum Master training, I heard horror stories from the other scrum masters about their PMs.

Before I left P-town that week to come home, I took Ammar into an office and said, “Ammar, I just want you to know that I know what a jewel of a PM I have.”

During my review, I told my boss and grandboss that if they ever took my PM away, I’d quit.

Guess what happened today?



We’re back in Montana!

Cozumel was great, but exhausting, and I have to admit that I got tired of taking three to four showers every day.

And, besides, the few Mexican restaurants that we have in northwest Montana don’t have large plastic camels in the dining rooms.


For my money, you can’t have too much of that sort of thing.

Dr. Bob said that we should emulate the camel:

” [Dr Bob] would explain prayer by telling how the camels in a caravan would kneel down in the evening, and the men would unload their burdens. In the morning, they would kneel down again, and the men would put the burdens back on. ’It’s the same with prayer,’ Dr. Bob said. ’We get on our knees to unload at night. And in the morning when we get on our knees again, God gives us just the load we are able to carry for that day.’”  — Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (1980), page 229

Here lately, I seem to be trying to get a double load, or avoid getting ‘loaded’ at all.

I’m pretty tired, coming back from this vacation. I have this notion that that’s not how things were in my parents’ generation – I think that they went on vacation and laid around and relaxed, and then came back and were rested and energized.

Ethel and I tend to wear ourselves out – in Cozumel, we did fifteen dives. I was working out three to four days per week – hard workout days, in pretty serious heat and humidity. We also made pretty much all of the meetings that they had available. And the trip back was not an easy day.

So now I’m very tired.

I’m also sore – I’ve added in some very limited strength training. Not the normal high-rep leg weight work and body weight resistance stuff that I’ve been doing for the past ten years or so – no, I now have six sets of actual, real, lifting – two sets each of bench press, squat and dead lift.

Currently the weight is light, but that doesn’t matter – when I start doing these exercises, they tends to make me somewhat sore. And, for me, “sore” at least feels like “tired”. So there’s that.

So I’m tired, and sore. And, I feel stupid. Just looking at the stuff that I’m trying to do at work feels overwhelming.

I can’t seem to get smart quickly, either. Not even caffeine can get me smarter. It just makes me jumpy and dumb, rather than just dumb.

So work is not fun today.

Now, it hasn’t been fun for a while. But today it is particularly unfun. I’m uninspired. I’m not moved. And apparently I’m not moving, either – I’m not making much progress. And I can’t get anyone to answer my pings in Slack.

So I’m this -> <- close to quitting. Just quitting.

Not because my boss is mean or my company is taking advantage of me or I’m underpaid. No, my boss is a great guy, my company keeps showing up in the top 10 lists of “best places to work”.  And I was overpaid already; I just got a raise.

No, it’s just because I’m tired. And I’m not having fun at work anymore.

Now, that’s pretty silly. Of course I’m tired. But “tired” doesn’t stop me. And who cares if I’m not “having fun”? That’s why they PAY me – to do something that isn’t fun.

When I talked to my sponsor about this, and he understood that Ethel has told me to go ahead and quit, he said “then why are you still working, if you want to quit and you can quit?”

I was able to come up with three things in my inventory:

* Because quitting is quitting.

* The longer that I were to work, the more that Ethel and I could have and do in retirement.

* Worry over converting our construction loan to a mortgage based on Ethel’s income alone. (for the period it takes us to sell this condo, we’d need a mortgage, until we could pay it off with the proceeds).

So, for that last one, I’ve got a call in to our guy at Whitefish Credit Union, to make sure that, were I to suddenly quit, we could still easily convert. That’s a showstopper. I wouldn’t want to pay the taxes I would have to pay in order to pull that much out of tax-deferred IRAs and such.

The second one – the bit about ‘the longer I work, the more that we can do and have’ – that one is always true; and the only trade-off is that if one keeps working forever, then one never gets to do anything “in retirement”.  So one has to stop working early enough to do the stuff – but one has to keep working long enough to have the money to do the stuff. The only way to optimize that trade-off would be to know just how long we were going to live.

The first one – that’s the tricky one. Quitting is quitting – and it means that I stopped doing something because I didn’t want to do it. And that’s sort of contrary to the whole Twelve Step way of life and thought.

The idea is simple – I grow through the things that I don’t want to do. When I don’t like something, it means that there’s something wrong with me – and I need to work on myself in order to fix me, and then the objectionable thing stops being objectionable.

So, if I quit, then I did so in violation of my own code. And then I’ll be laying in the hammock, or playing golf, while knowing that I am doing so by having violated said code. Kinda interferes with the whole enjoyment aspect of retirement.

I’m not sure just what to do about that…..

Well, we’re leaving Cozumel – in spite of my and Christi’s best efforts to keep Ethel on the island, she’s bound and determined.

And, in spite of Roberto’s best efforts, we’re leaving rugless.


This was at Oriental Bazaar, on the Malecon – the rug on the left is a “Dowry Rug”, which was supposedly hand-tied by a woman who spent many months doing this rug to sell for her dowry, and the one on the left is NOT a dowry rug, which means that it was $1300 less.

(yes, that’s the sort of price point we were looking at. Since we’re building the new house with the best finishings that we can afford, might as well do other stupid stuff, as well).

But Ethel decided that she didn’t want to spend quite that much on something that Juneau was quite likely to eat.

Now we’re up in the room, waiting to head over for the 9:00 ferry to Playa del Carmen, from whence we take a bus to the Cancun airport, and then fly to SLC – with a three hour layover, and we’ll get into Flathead County Airport at around 10 PM. It’s all so exhausting, I’m surprised that we couldn’t talk Ethel into staying.

But, we couldn’t.

And I am ready to be back in the cool Montana air again, now that it seems that the April showers are over.

But “ready to be back in Montana” is not the same thing as “ready to leave Cozumel”, although one condition is necessary to achieve the other.

On Monday, it’s back to work. That’s going to be strange, as well. One of my favorite Workmates has decided to skedaddle – Ronnie just, well, quit, and is taking something called a ‘gap’, which I think is Milennial for “sabbatical”.  I got married at 19, and so I never had that sort of luxury – and, anyway, back then, you didn’t do that. You worked.

…but, then, back then, we didn’t make Workday salaries, so that might make a difference, as well.

But Ronnie is a great guy, and smart – and often helped me figure stuff out in over-the-shoulder sessions when I got lost in XpressO. I’m gonna miss him.

Ooops – I have to stop typing. Ethel’s just told  me that it’s time to get moving for the ferry.

Saddest day on Cozumel….

Whenever we see an elephant, we, of course, say “Roll Tide”.  It’s a federal law – it’s not just a state thing.

But Indians (dots, not feathers) are not cognizant of this rule/custom/tradition/thing.

So they went ahead and got themselves a Roll Tide god. That’s him, up on the shelf between Ethel and Christi, with his elephant head.


Turns out that they DON’T say “Roll Tide” every time they see Ganesha. Or, at least, they don’t in Mexico. Folks do things different in Mexico than they do at home, so it’s possible that back in Bangalore, they have Ganeshas with houndstooth hats*.

Folks do things differently in Mexico, and Mexicans do things differently. For instance, at the Ego Gym most of the air conditioning units and all of the fans are on the lower floor, while the cardio loft is a hot, humid hell on Earth where I sweat worse than I’ve ever sweat anywhere.

In Mexico, they don’t flush their toilet paper (except in places like this hotel, which are built to cater to American tastes). Instead, they use it, and put it into a small trash can beside the toilet. This makes their toilets….well, Ethel would say “fragrant” but the first definition of that word always involves “sweet or pleasing odor” and it’s linked to “fragrance” which is always a positively connotated term – so, not that.

It seems that this practice is thought to be driven by the local plumbing conventions – smaller tubes, sharper corners and such. But it’s also possible that this is no longer true – that most of the plumbing in Mexico can actually handle toilet paper quite well. Also, modern toilet paper is designed to completely dissolve in water, so – why do they still do it?

Apparently it’s the same reason as making the downstairs at the gym a tundra, while leaving the folks upstairs to die from heat stroke. Or something like that.

No matter the reasons for the different customs, one thing is pretty certain – in four days, I’ll be on a plane to the States, where I’ll be flushing my toilet paper in air-conditioned comfort while saying “Roll Tide” at any elephant head that I come across.


*possible, albeit unlikely. But then, how likely is it that I would be a sixty year old bald sober alcoholic living in a ski town with a mutant dog? So, there’s that.

When Jimmy O’Donnell, the kid two doors down the street, took Latin from Mrs. Marshall at Decatur High, they used to ask her “Mrs. Marshall, why did the Romans go to Gaul?” just so they could hear her say “They went there for booty”.

(I took Latin two years behind Jimmy, and we never asked that).

Here are my booties in the dive boat.


Sometimes, at the end of a longer ski day, I’ll sit in the locker room at the Big Mountain Club and just stare down at my ski boots. At these times, I’m meditating with gratitude on the fact that I ski, and live in a ski town, and have a ski pass, and belong to a ski club – and that, of all things, a po’ boy from Flat Red Clay, Alabama, owns a pair of ski boots.

I was looking down at these booties during a surface interval with the same sort of ruminations.

A “surface interval” – mornings here are “two tank dives”, which isn’t what it sounds like – it’s actually two separate dives with one tank each. The standard dive profiles have us going deep for the first dive, then we have a “surface interval” during which the nitrogen bubbles are “outgassing”, and then we’ll have a second, longer, shallower dive.

Of course, eating Mexican food all day every day, there can be a lot of things “outgassing” besides nitrogen.

This week we’re diving Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, and that leaves MWF for workouts. I can’t run, but somehow I’m still able to make workouts hard between intense work on the bike, an hour hard on the ellip, and the core and resistance – in the heat and humidity.

There are only five meetings a week here on the island, so that drives the schedule as well.

I’m ready to go home so that I can get some rest – but why am I thinking that I won’t be resting there, either?…I need smarter hobbies. Easier hobbies. Cheaper hobbies.