How to make it look like you skinned a watermelon

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Baby beluga whale photobombs Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy

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This film should be excellent

First Look: Bryan Cranston is Unrecognizable as LBJ in HBO’s ‘All the Way’

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This Much Will Kill You

A lot of things can kill you – but here are some surprising ones!

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No One Talks About Hug Club

From what I read, Jared Fogle was not a camp counselor.

An activity at a popular central Ohio summer camp is under scrutiny by both parents and the leaders of an area church.

Camp Akita is operated by the First Community Church, in Grandview Heights.

Last Wednesday, church and camp leaders notified parents that a group of 9- and 10-year-old boys were introduced to what is being called “Hug Club.”

Loosely related to the movie Fight Club, church leaders state the children were instructed not to discuss the “Hug Club.”

As one letter to parents indicates, the “Hug Club” was initiated after regular camp hours and not sanctioned by the church or the camp.

Nicolls’ letter goes on to outline the six types of hugs the counselors demonstrated by stating, “The most concerning of which, was demonstrated as putting your hands on the other persons waist and rocking your hips back and forth.”

Full nbc4i.com Article

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Bag of Randomness for Wednesday, September 3, 2015

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  • I forgot to mention when we were on top of the Guadalupe Peak summit, WifeGeeding was able to get a strong enough signal on her phone we Facetimed with her parents and our children.  She’s a Verizon Wireless customer if you are wondering, and they are missing out on a tremendous advertising opportunity.
  • Even though my phone was off during our flight to El Paso, my smart-watch displayed the elevation change from take-off to landing, as well as the climb.
  • Right before the drive, WifeGeeding’s best friend handed my some Starbursts and said, “Your wife tends to get ‘hangry’ easily, you’re gonna need these.”
  • Thoughts about several climbers we encountered at Guadalupe Peak:
    • We passed two East Texas men on our climb up who were taking a long rest.  They expressed to us they hike all the time in Arkansas, but this climb was killing them and they were regretting carrying so much on their backs and were planning on camping on the mountain side.  We passed them on the way down before they got to the campsite.
    • A shirtless man wearing jean shorts and a backpack was hiking back down drinking from a beer can in a koozie greeted us and said, “This is the high life.” I thought I was in the middle of a beer commercial.  Some of you may remember those old Miller high life commercials.
    • A man close to his sixties was hiking in black socks and hiking sandles.
  • It’s been a total of five days since I’ve checked my RSS feed for any blog material, and it’s been a bit liberating. Normally, I keep all unread content to zero by the end of the day.  When I opened it up yesterday I had a total of 794 unread items.  I just decided to clear all of them and make it a fresh start.
  • My favorite comment from yesterday was from Crackers, our escaped turtle, “Hey Keith, it\’s me, Crackers. How\’s it going? My journey to the beach is going really well so far. Just wanted to say thanks for the head start you gave me by dropping me off in the neighbors yard across the street. You saved me literally 3 days of walking and it\’s one less street I had to pass over. I hope your kids bought the story about me getting \”lost\”. LOL. Well, according to my GPS I only have 18 years, 245 days, and 12 hours before I make it to Galveston. Should be a fun journey! I\’ll check in from time to time along the way. Tell the Geeding Family I said hello.”
  • I also want to express my thanks and appreciation for those of you that took the time to comment about my birthday and climb, it meant a lot to me.
  • ‘Texas Country Reporter’ is about to enter its 43rd season and Bob Phillips will now have a co-host – his wife, Kelli.
  • A Sam Houston State University student tweeted that Houston Deputy Darren Goforth deserved to die, and she was later arrested for outstanding warrant.  Somewhat related:  It’s my understanding that the Houston Sherrif Department is larger than the city’s police department, which is rare – why is that?  Jurisdiction between the two have always confused me a bit.  It’s my understanding that police deal with city matters and the sheriff department deals with county matters, but since the city is within the county that throws me off a little.
  • In other Houston news – Teen accidentally kills himself while taking gun selfies, police say
  • Wooden shoe boat on a river transporting a tiny Darth Vader
  • Researcher Finds Jesus in Ancient Planetary Alignment – Somewhat related, but I can never see any constellation, they all look like a Rorschach test to me, or one of those 3-D pictures where you stare and something is supposed to stand out, which never did for me.
  • Our latest electric bill was $275.
  • That period of time when the cashier is getting my change and me putting it in my wallet always feels a tad awkward.
  • Charged her as an adult for being a minor – NC Law: Teens who take nude selfie photos face adult sex charges – After a 16-year-old Fayetteville girl made a sexually explicit nude photo of herself for her boyfriend last fall, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office concluded that she committed two felony sex crimes against herself and arrested her in February. The girl was listed on a warrant as both the adult perpetrator and the minor victim of two counts of sexual exploitation of minor  
  • This series of instagrams of a toy Storm Trooper from Star Wars going around Disney Cracks me up, especially when he’s looking at Spaceship Earth.
  • She already won an Oscar for portraying one Hollywood star and she might just do it again – Kate Blanchett To Take on Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin-Scripted Biopic
  • Google Sheets (YouTube link), their version of Excel that works online, has a new feature called Explore that charts and graphs your data for you with one click of a button help you analyze the data better.  Google also has other enhancements to their Google Docs that you read about here, which includes long-form voice transcription.
  • Verizon has a new logo.
  • How People With Disabilities Have Sex – For people with disabilities, sex and sex education remains an accessibility blind spot. Activists and educators are working to change that.
  • BBC – Culture – The mysterious origins of punctuation
  • Today’s dose of ‘MURICA!
  • If you are a fan of our local sports radio station The TICKET, you have to check out Drop Toons TV.  Some guy took TICKET audio (I DON’T WANT AUDIO) and made cartoons to go along with them, and it’s pure greatness.  The best one to watch, because it includes so many of the radio personalities, is the Ragonk 15 for 15.  The cartoon Craig Miller cracks me up the most.

 

 

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My 40th Birthday

Continuing from where I left off yesterday . . .

Sunday, August 30, at 4:10 AM, I woke up as a 40-year-old man in El Paso, Texas so I could make a 5:45 AM flight back home.  Actually, I was born sometime during the 5:00 AM hour, but then again this was Mountain Time Zone, so I’m not sure of the exact moment I turned 40.

Why the early flight? Thanks to a dear friend at Southwest, she gave us passes that would allow us to fly for free if space was available, and this was the only flight that gave us the best chance of getting back home that day, and the ride to the airport would take half an hour.

Despite the short amount of sleep, I was feeling pretty good other than my aching feet, but once you start moving around a bit the pain mostly goes away.  WifeGeeding’s best friend, who drove us to the airport, said something that cracked me up.  She said people will often ask if you feel any older on your birthday, and after climbing that mountain, I must feel much older.  To a certain extent, she was right.

We made it through airport security with ease, but I lost my wallet.  To try to speed things up, and I realize this is a mistake looking back at it, I took out my driver license to go through security and placed my wallet in a pocket in my overpacked carry-on.  When my bag went through the scanner I noticed a zipper pocket was unzipped, which is where I thought I placed my wallet, and it wasn’t there.  We talked to a TSA agent, who couldn’t have been nicer or more professional.  He first asked his colleagues to look around for it, called lost and found, and had one agent to look at the security footage to see if the wallet fell out at any time.  All those were dead ends.  He then called several people on the other side of security to retrace my steps, as well as lost and found, but no luck.  Right as we were about to give up on finding it, he had this idea of running my bag through the scanner one more time to see if his agents could spot the wallet, and sure enough, there it was.  My gosh did I feel sheepish for wasting their time.  It’s a new bag and the pocket I put it in isn’t really a pocket, but more of an opening that provides entry to the entire bag and the wallet slid down to the bottom.  For some reason, I couldn’t find my wallet when I rummaged through my carry-on before talking to TSA, but as embarrassing as it was, I was extremely thankful for how they handled my snafu with such grace and not making me feel like an idiot when it was found.

Despite the slowdown due to my wallet misplacement, we made our flight and were on our way home.  As we were walking through Love Field, we were surprised at the amount of passengers at all the gates at 8:30 AM, and even more surprised to see how long the line was to go through security.  We thought early Sunday morning would be a slow time at the airport, but we were dead wrong.

We hopped in our car and started to make the hour-and-a-half drive to East Texas to pick up the kids.  At this point I started to think of all the driving I did this weekend:

  • Friday: Lewisville to East Texas and back home, which was about three-and-a-half hours.
  • Saturday: El Paso to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and back again, which was about three-and-a-half hours.
  • Sunday: Dallas to East Texas, East Texas to Lewisville, somewhere near three hours.

When we arrived at the home of WifeGeeding’s parents, she hurried in before me to remind the kids to tell my happy birthday as soon as they saw me.  We packed up their things and was about to leave when her parents gave me a very precious gift, a painting of the mountain I just climbed.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever been given such a thoughtful and timely gift.  El Capitan is in the foreground with Guadalupe Peak right behind it.

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Along with the painting, I found out my father-in-law gave the kids a small pet turtle, something like six to eight inches long.  DaughterGeeding decided to name it Crackers.  I think she got the name from a Franklin the Turtle book we read last week in which he cracked his shell and had to go to the hospital for an operation.

On the way home we stopped at one of my favorite burger places, Haystack Burgers and Barley, where I got my favorite drink, the Haymaker, a frozen concoction of flavored tea, lemonade, orange juice, and Maker’s Mark whisky.  It’s the only alcoholic beverage other than sangria I’m willing to drink at a restaurant.

When we finally arrive home, WifeGeeding allowed me to take a nap, which lasted about three hours.  All that climbing and driving wore me out. After my nap, I got a foot and chair massage, and then it was dinner time.

We ate at Pei Wei and a noticed a woman was also celebrating her birthday, so I wished her a happy birthday and mentioned that it was also mine.  She was very kind and offered me half of her birthday cake to take home, but I knew there was one already waiting for me.

After dinner, I was presented with my favorite birthday cake, an ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins, made of white cake and cookies and cream ice cream.  As we were waiting for it to thaw, I opened up cards from the kids and then WifeGeeding presented me with close to 30 envelopes.

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WifeGeeding contacted my friends, some blog readers, my childhood pastor, my childhood neighbors, cousins, my past college professors, former co-workers, parents of my childhood friends, and others with a letter, a Happy 40th postcard, and a self-addressed stamped envelope.  She asked them to write their favorite memory of me and to mail it back.  She was also pretty clever with this because she had the cards sent to a neighbor.  When I turned 30, she was trying to throw a surprise birthday party for me, but I found out because a friend moved and the postal service returned the invite and I just happened to be checking the mail that day.  She knows I can’t stand false sincerity and compliments so generic that they could apply to just about anybody, so I was extremely touched by what she did asking for them to give me something so unique and personalized.  One person was so kind that he overnighted his postcard from Boston just to make sure it arrived on time. I’ve talked about how I now try not to put any expectations on people because they will only fail to live up to them, and that I really don’t have a right to do such a thing in the first place.  She apologized that only one of my closest friends, the ones I meet once a year to pick a scholarship winner, returned a card, but I told her it was no biggie.  I’m touched and thankful for those that did take time out of their day to do this for me, and while it would have been nice, I didn’t expect them to come through, and I love and accept them warts and all.

As if all this wasn’t nice enough, WifeGeeding gave me one more present that had a lovely amount of symbolism.  She gave me a canvas print which contained lyrics to the U2 song, “40”, which is based on Psalm 40, for my 40th birthday.

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The only downer of the day was that Crackers escaped.  We let him out to crawl around the backyard, and when it was time to bathe the kids, everyone thought someone else was going to put him back in his container and that little sucker pulled a Dr. Richard Kimble.  DaughterGeeding was devasted, BoyGeeding didn’t seem to care one iota.

It was a grand day to cap off a grand weekend and it has been a grand life, and I want to do what I can to make the rest of it grand.  Thanks for allowing me to change things up for the past three days, the Bag of Randomness you are accustomed to shall return shortly.

Lastly, here’s another video.  I’ve written about the greatness of Google Photos before, and I’m going to do it again. I love it because it backs up every picture and video I record on my phone, and every picture you’ve seen was taken by my phone.  It also will surprise you from time to time by making a GIF, collage, storybook, or a video from a series of photos and videos taken over a period of time or from a certain area.   During our climb I took a lot of pictures and recorded maybe ten short videos, and below is what Google Photos created from the entire batch – I didn’t edit one thing, add one special effect or filter, or add any music, Google Photos did all of this on its own.  Even though the music is a bit cheeky, I prefer you listening to it rather than my labored breathing.  And if you are curious what one of their story books look like, you can check out the one they made of our trip here (I’ve had a little trouble with the link, so bear with me).  I like it because it added some special things like a map and animated arrow showing our flight and then our drive as well as some other goodies.

Note: No selfie stick was used, I just stretched out my arm.

Posted in Personal | 4 Comments

It took 39 years and 364 days, but I finally decided to climbed a mountain

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The Inspiration

Not quite a year ago I learned of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas wth an elevation of 8,751 ft and a prominence of 3,029 ft.  That makes it about a third less of Mount Everest, and if you were to list it compared to the highest point in each state, it would come in fourteenth.

But what really captivated me was the stainless steel pyramid at the summit. It was put there by American Airlines in 1958 to commemorate a stagecoach route that passed south of the mountain. It also displays a U.S. Postal Service tribute to the Pony Express Riders, as well as a Boy Scouts logo. At the base of the pyramid is a summit register contained in a metal ammunition box.

There was something about that pyramid that was calling my name, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Anyone that knows me will tell you I’m not a fan of the outdoors, and I have this bad joke, which no one ever gets when I tell it, “There’s a reason why God made the indoors.”  But for some reason, I wanted to shake things up a bit.

Their website states the round trip distance is 8.4 miles and should take six to eight hours.  To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a mountain and have never hiked.  I’ve never attempted anything like a 5 or 10K or any kind of marathon or any running event.  When it comes to cardio, I do what I can to avoid it.  Despite all of this, I just felt like this was something I had to do, it was a calling, I had to touch that pyramid.

I contacted my closest friends to see if they wanted to make a guy trip out of it, but there really wasn’t any interest, so I put it off.  But then my birthday started to creep up and I started to think about all the things I didn’t accomplish in life, things that I was disappointed in when it came to my past, and thought it might be kinda cool if I was able to climb a mountain and reach the highest point in Texas before I turned 40.  Sure, it doesn’t compare to some of the great mountains in the U.S., but the journey was on.

Note: Click any image to see a larger version.

Logistics

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Guadalupe Peak is in far West Texas and pretty much in the middle of nowhere.  The closest hotel is in New Mexico.  The two closest airports are in El Paso, about an hour-and-forty-five-minute drive, and Midland, which is about a three-hour-drive. If I was to drive from Lewisville, it would take close to eight hours.  Fun Fact – Guadalupe Mountains National Park is off U.S. Route 180, which goes through my hometown of Mineral Wells.  It was a bit of a shocker the first time looking at the map and seeing that, I had no idea.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park has no lodging or any showers, but flush-toilet restrooms and potable water and there are numerous campgrounds.  As much as I don’t like the outdoors, I thought about camping and starting the hike before sunrise.  Interestingly, the forecast showed afternoon temperatures in the high seventies to low eighties, and high sixties to low seventies at night, so sleeping outdoors wouldn’t be all that bad despite bad allergies.  But, how do I get there?

Preferably, I wanted to make the climb on Sunday, August 30, my actual birthday and be home so I can spend time with my kids.  But looking at all my options, it didn’t look feasible, and WifeGeeding demanded to be part of this trip.  Not to mention, DaughterGeeding is now in kindergarten so we needed to have the kids home at a decent time on Sunday.

Driving and camping didn’t seem like it would work, no matter how we tried to plan it, and we really don’t have the funds to purchase airline tickets, but I reached out to a team lead I used to work for at Southwest and she was kind enough to get us a buddy pass which allows us to fly for free if the space was available.  We looked at flight options to both Midland and El Paso, and WifeGeeding stated her best friend (since childhood) is now living in El Paso.  She works for the FBI and she was transferred from D.C. earlier this year, and she offered us use of their vehicle, CamelBaks, and lodging at their new casa.  For you handful of Baylor Law grads that read this blog, she’s one of your own.  Random Fact – El Paso and Guadalupe Mountains National Park are in a different timezone than Dallas, for the longest time I thought all of Texas was in one timezone.

Our flight options were very limited with what was available and us working things out with our children.  Beggars can’t be chooser, and I’m very thankful for this opportunity, so we gladly made reservations for an early morning Saturday flight and a very, very early returning flight on my birthday, Sunday, August 30.  In retrospect, this works out better because instead of climbing a mountain and reaching the highest point in Texas on my actual 40th birthday, I got a chance to accomplish that feat before I turned 40 and arrive home early enough to spend time with my children.

After school let out on Friday we drove almost two hours to WifeGeeding’s East Texas hometown to drop the kids off at their grandparents, who were gracious enough to watch them on such short notice.  On the way home, WifeGeeding said I had to check out the new Buc-ee’s, which seemed like the Super Wal-Mart of gas stations but cleaner and nicer.  We only got a snack there as we were on our way to Pecan Lodge for some great BBQ, which didn’t disappoint.  They worked out some kinks in wait time. The last time we were there the line was just out the door and the wait was close to an hour.  This time, the line was the same, and I thought it was about 15-minutes before we got to the register, though my bride would tell you it was closer to ten.

The Journey Begins

We arrived at Love Field about 45-minutes before our 8:35 AM flight, and were pleasantly surprised at how well Love Field has been renovated, it’s pretty darn classy.  Thankfully there was room on the flight and after a breakfast purchase, we were on our way.  We spent the last three days making sure we were well hydrated and full of good nutritious foods for the trip, sans BBQ.

The hour and forty-minute flight to El Paso was much better than a car trip, and I thought I spotted a restaurant at the El Paso airport that serves placenta, but I just didn’t read it close enough.  Once we walked out of the airport, WifeGeeding’s best friend and her husband, met us curbside at passenger pick-up in two different vehicles.  They kindly gave us the better of their two vehicles, two CamelBaks full of water and ice, Gatorade, energy bars, gummy electrolights (it’s what plants crave), and a few other items.  Her husband insisted on driving us to the road that is a straight shot to the national park and then turning over the car.  I thought this was a great idea and told WifeGeeding to ride with her best friend so they could at least spend a little time together.   They turned the vehicle over to us at a CVS, where we picked up a few other small supplies like sunscreen, stopped at Whataburger to get a little more food in us, and we were on our way.

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There’s a lot of nothing on the way to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and other than having to have our vehicle inspected at Border Patrol Checkpoint, the trip wasn’t that bad.  There were a few large spots of nothing but white sands, and at one point I felt like I should be driving a 2004 Pontiac Aztek.   And in all seriousness, and I wished I snapped a picture of this, but I spotted a tan RV in the middle of the desert with nothing around it.  But I didn’t spot any man in whitey-tighties and a lab apron.  We lost radio and cellular phone reception early, which was actually nice, it cleared the mind for what was ahead.

We arrived at Guadalupe Mountains National Park close to 12:15 PM Mountain Time, changed clothes, made a very necessary pit stop, and paid a total of $10 at the visitor center for our hike.  The ranger gave us plenty of safety warnings and stated there was a 30-40-percent chance of rain, and as disappointing as it might be, to head back down if it started to shower because of lightning.  We could see dark clouds ahead, and were hopeful they would avoid us.

The Climb

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NPS.Gov – The trail is very steep, but is well established. Some areas are exposed to cliff edges. It is rated strenuous, with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The round trip distance is 8.4 miles, and generally takes 6-8 hours.

You will encounter the steepest part of the hike in the first mile and a half, as the trail switchbacks up the first steep slope. The views will get better with every switchback you climb. After about a mile and a half, the trail will become less steep as it passes a cliff and then turns around to the north-facing slope.

Leading up to this event, I tried to prepare myself physically, but I was still fighting off the tail end of stomach bug and was battling a hip pointer and my bum knee.  I know the trail is described as “strenuous”, but I thought they might just be rounding things up for liability concerns or what have you.  They weren’t kidding that it was strenuous and that the first mile and a half was the steepest.

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It was a big surprise at how rocky the trail was.  When I read it was a rocky trail, I just kinda thought of pebbles in a lot of dirt and such, but didn’t put together that most of the trail is full of ankle-turning rocks, uneven and around three to five inches wide and long.  Oh, they were painful and it was hard to maneuver around them, and I couldn’t help but think what our soldiers in Afganistan are going through in those much worst mountainous and rocky terrains.  I’m glad I invested in a good pair of hiking shoes with thick gripping rubber.  Hiking on something thin-soled would have been havoc on my feet.  Thankfully, I remembered an old Barry post that talked about the greatness of Merrell shoes, and I’ve been breaking those in for the past month or so.  Man, did those serve me well.  I need to research some of the geology of the area.  During our climb, I thought the trail was full of broken glass, but it was actually full of quartz, and when the sun hit them, they sparkled.

As I stated, the first mile-and-a-half is very steep. Within the first fifteen minutes, my heart was beating out of my chest and I was out of breath.  I was embarrassed and didn’t want to stop for a break so soon into the hike, I didn’t want to admit how fragile I felt in front of WifeGeeding after all the planning we did to get to this moment.  Thankfully, about fifteen minutes into the climb, she asked if my heart rate was high because her’s was.  I told her mine is insanely high, thanked her for asking, and said it would be a great time to a rest.  She’s a trooper, very healthy, and does a boot camp workout three times a week at five in the morning.  I thought this would be fairly easy for her, so it felt kinda nice to know that it wasn’t just me suffering so early in the climb.

After the break, the climb was back on, but we kept wondering when it would get less steep and easier.  Occasionally we’d greet another person that was on their way down, and they all looked so happy.  WifeGeeding would ask how much longer until it gets less steep and they’d just tell us we still have a ways to go.

It’s not even an hour into the climb and I had a lot of give-up and quit in me.  I’ve kept this trip a secret from many because I didn’t want anyone to give me that look as if I couldn’t do it, just like my neighbor who watched our dogs asked, “Are you sure you can do this?” People have doubted me all my life, and I’m afraid I’ve given them plenty of reasons.  There was also a part of me thinking about “well done is better than well said.”  It’s one thing to say it, it’s another to actually do it. I’ve failed and quit enough in life, and I wanted this climb to be a defining moment, a chance to leave my failures and shortcomings behind.  Every time I got to a point of exhaustion and quit, or when my calves started to cramp, or when there seemed to be no end in sight, I started to go over things that have bugged me over the past thirty-nine years and three-hundred-and-sixty-four-days, thinking each was a motivation, and as I thought about them, I was dropping them and leaving them behind on the trail, one by one –

  • Those things I said to my parents that I can never take back.
  • Not having a better career and making more financially so I can better provide for my family.
  • That pass I didn’t catch for a for-sure touchdown in a high school football game my freshman year, which would have changed everything and gained the coach’s confidence.
  • The time in college intramural softball when I was the last person at bat, took the pitch without swinging for a strike three on a full count, leaving the tying run at third, and winning run at second.
  • Never obtaining a PhD.
  • Never entering the military.
  • The times I was bullied, and the times I did the bullying.
  • My low SAT and GRE scores, and the score I got on an Air Force officer’s test.
  • All the insecure and overly romantic things I did to get a girl’s attention.
  • Never having a decent body.
  • No one understanding my intentions.
  • Being made fun of for being half-Asian and all the Asian jokes that go with it.
  • Flexing my Internet muscles.
  • That job I never got.
  • All the times I bought things not for myself but for what I hoped others would think of me.
  • The lies that I’ve told and the things that I’ve stolen.
  • That time I didn’t get the recognition.
  • Following the crowd despite having reservations in my heart and not being brave enough to ask questions.
  • Having the confidence to say I disagree.
  • All the times I didn’t keep my honor and lowered my standards, like when I purchased that Milli Vanilli tape or sat through RockyV.

The list could go on and on and on, but you get the point.  The climb was tough, but I did my best to keep my humor.  I told WifeGeeding if I die on the way up, to cremate me and spread my ashes at the top, completing the journey for me.  I went on to say how that sounded like a very Texas politician thing to say, “When I die, take my ashes to Guadalupe Peak, and from the highest point of Texas, throw them up so I can fly all over this great state and see it from God’s eye.”

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Even though WifeGeeding was with me, I lead most of the hike and climb so there was a lot of just me and nature, it was full of solitude and me thinking about the past three-hundred-and-sixty-four-days. I made sure not to get too far ahead and stopped often for her to catch up.  This was actually a good thing as I tend to push my body too hard and end up suffering for it later.  But this actually had another benefit, when you hike and climb, you have to stare at the ground to be sure of your footing.  If it wasn’t for the rests, I wouldn’t have stopped to take in the views and just listen to the peace and quiet of nature.  Interestingly enough, I’m not sure I’ve ever been on a mountain before, and so for the first time I got to hear mountain wind.  You’re probably thinking that the wind just sounds like regular ‘ol wind, but the wind that was going through these mountains was a peaceful sound I’ve never heard before, it was almost spiritual.  A whole, “Be still and know that I’m God” moment.

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And of course, there were a few U2 lyrics that were going through my mind that kept me motivated:

“Where The Streets Have No Name”

  • I want to feel, sunlight on my face
    See that dust cloud disappear without a trace
  • We’re beaten and blown by the wind
    Blown by the wind
    Oh when I go there
    I go there with you
    It’s all I can do

“Kite”

  • I’m not afraid to die
    I’m not afraid to live
    And when I’m flat on my back
    I hope to feel like I did
  • Who’s to say where the wind will take you?
    Who’s to say what it is will break you?
    I don’t know, which way the wind will blow

“40”

  • He set my feet upon a rock
    And made my footsteps firm

And as the hike and climb got longer and longer with no goal in sight, I modified the song “40”, singing “how long must I climb”.

Vertigo (no the song) did get the best of me a few times.  There were some very sharp drop-offs and some very narrow paths.  I don’t normally cramp and was keeping well hydrated, but I read that’s a side effect from my blood pressure medicine, and my calves started to get the best of me.  I was so close to the top, I didn’t want to give up and was wondering how might I get down if I’m still cramping.  And just when I thought I couldn’t push myself anymore, I saw the mountain top and the metal pyramid, and the adrenaline kicked in.

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I have some video of me and WifeGeeding making it to the summit together.  A few steps before I got there I told her that I’m going to wait for her and hold her hand so we can do this together.  I should post the video, but you’ll tire quickly of all my labored breathing.

But we did it, and we did it together.

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And just to make it legit, I added our name to the record book.  We started the climb about 12:45 PM and reached the summit around 4:00 PM.

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Here’s what I wrote in case you were curious.  Don’t judge me on penmanship, phrasing,  or grammar, I was too tired for anything to come out well.  About 29 other people had their names recorded for that day, the most interesting being from Israel.  Also inside was a small booklet from the Outdoor Gratitude Log Project.  Here’s the first page of the project and what it’s about, and read some entries here, here, here, here, and here.

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As for what’s on the side of the pyramid, click here, here, here, and here.

And yes, the view was fantastic.

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And then I had to tell WifeGeeding I had an ulterior motive for her accompanying me, I wanted to dance with my wife at the top of Texas.

We spent about a half hour at the top until another couple arrived and thought it would be prudent to give them their time alone at the top to soak it all in.  They were a very friendly young couple and I offered to take their picture, but oddly, they acted like that was the last thing they wanted.

The trip down took us about two-and-a-half hours, and in some ways, harder than ascent.  Our feet were sore, not so much from the hiking, but from the impact of all those rocks and loose surfaces.  It was also painful feeling your sore toes hit the end of your shoes on almost each step, and fatigue played a factor and we are both lucky we didn’t wipe out.  I think we cheated death a few times.  I was never so happy to see a parking lot in my life, but it was one long journey from actually seeing it to getting to it, and it never felt so good to take off a pair of shoes in my life.

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I used some apps on my smartwatch and phone to track steps, elevation, total hike time, actual hike time, average speed, and all sorts of other stuff, but I’ve already gone in too much detail for today.

On the way back to El Paso, I caught this cloud which cause a shadow to go up instead of down, it made me think God was giving a high-five since the shadow looked like a hand.

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The tip back to El Paso took longer than expected due to rain and slow cars on the two-lane highway.  As my father taught me, when someone lends you their car, always return it back with a full tank, and I held true to his lesson.  WifGeeding’s best friend lives on the opposite side of El Paso, which added another thirty-five minutes to our journey.  We arrived at her house close to 10:30 PM.

WifeGeeding’s best friend and husband are both laywers and moved from the DC area, so they were able to afford a better house than what they had in DC.  It’s in a gated community in a brand new sub-division, and as I entered their home, it remined me of the home of Walt’s business partner in ‘Breaking Bad’ that struck it rich – it was one huge floor plan with lots of open space done in an “El Paso” and “Albequerque” modern achitechture.  It was just beautiful.  Unfortunely, our flight was scheduled for 5:45 AM and there wasn’t much time for chit-chat, but were thankful she was gracious enough to drive us to the airport at such an early time.

Others have climbed this mountain and have climbed ones greater and grander, but this was a personal accomplishment that I’m proud of and have taken some life lessons away from it.  I literally could only put one foot in front of the other at my weakest and most vulnerable times.  This hasn’t inspired me to climb any other mountain to spend more time in the outdoors, but there’s a bit of fulfillment in saying that I did something out of my comfort zone.  And I can’t remember the last time I spent the entire day television and Internet free, which was kinda liberating.

Well, that’s enough for what happened the day before my birthday.  I had some really cool stuff that actually happened on my actual birthday, Sunday, August 30th, and I’ll give you those details tomorrow.

Posted in Personal | 16 Comments

This is 40

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Today I can finally say that I’m a man. I’m 40.  And in all honesty, leading up to this day, I haven’t dealt with it all that well.  Hitting 20 was fun, and 30 still gave me a feeling that I have a chance to accomplish something or make my mark, but 40 makes me feel as if I’ve come up short professionally, financially, educationally, physically, and as a man capable of extending grace and living with integrity. As I look back at my 40 years, there’s a lot of regret and embarrassment, and unlike many others, if I had a chance to go back and do things differently, I definitely would.  I’m surprised at how quickly life went by, even though I’ve heard the adage plethora of times.  ‘Tis true, the days are long, but the years are short, and only life and experience can make that adage feel harshly true.  My perspective may be a bit different than most 40-year-old Americans, having lost both parents and my closest friend somewhat early in life, the feeling of invincibility faded quickly and the realization that the likelihood of me already living more than half my life is now soundly valid.  I feel the frailty of life and see it every day, and while I don’t fear death, I do fear dying with gas left in the tank.

More than likely there won’t be any blog posts tomorrow.  If things work out as planned, I will have reached the mountain top, kissed a cloud or two if I’m lucky, and be at peace with nature and hopefully myself.

But for now, I leave you with 40 random thoughts and lessons I’ve learned in my 40 years.  Don’t think any are directed at any one person, this or more like a conversation with myself.  And in no particular order.

  1. Success is not measured by the IQ but by the “I do”.  My geometry teacher had that handwritten on a poster board in her room, and as one that has never scored well, it’s proven as a source of motivation all my life.  I need to track her down and let her know I still think of that after being out of her class about 22 years.
  2. Careful to not say something you can’t take back. An apology will mean little later, the damage is done, and often times, repair doesn’t take minutes or hours, but months and years.
  3. Well said is better than well done.  It’s one thing to tell others you are going to lose a certain amount of weight or run a marathon, it’s a whole other thing to actually do it.
  4. If you are going to suggest something, be prepared to follow through with implementation, you might just get assigned the task.  When my career first started I remember telling my manager it would be easier if the process was changed.  He agreed, and instead of him implementing the change, had me put together the proposal to department heads for approval and then start the implementation.
  5. As much as you try, it’s impossible to replace your childhood and college friends. Those bonds were created during formative years, which makes them exceptionally unique.  You’re at a totally different stage in life with more perspective, and while you may create new friendships that are special in their own right, it’s just not gonna be the same.
  6. Some of the people who upset you the most, especially in your teens, you’ll never see again. With that in mind, it was silly to let them get under my skin and think about them as much as I did.  And that lesson can apply to other parts of your life. Did someone cut you off in traffic or flip you the bird?   If you are never going to see a person again for the rest of your life, don’t waste any time or energy on that person or the situation.  Don’t seek some sort of petty revenge or fret about it a second longer because you are allowing someone you’ll never encounter again to take time away from things you want to commit your time and energy to.  You weren’t specifically targeted, they would have acted like a jerk to anyone, so don’t take it personally and go about loving life, not fretting about it.
  7. I only thought I knew what it meant to be able to take a joke or laugh at yourself. It really means letting go of ego and pride, and any thought that you are better than someone else.
  8. Quitting only gets easier each time you do it.  To try something and not like or come up short is one thing, but giving up is another.
  9. Every family is messed up, that’s what makes them all unique. There’s no perfect family, and if you think you’ve spotted one, realize it’s only the limited perception you have of them.  Appreciate what makes your family unique, understand all families have skeletons in he closet, and you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors.
  10. Tap the breaks on thinking your brand of Christianity is the best way.  Even though you may not say it, you secretly lived that kind of faith. You may not agree or feel comfortable with a certain denomination or stream of the Christian faith, but understand they have their reasons, their interpretations, and in most cases, schools of theology and history (some centuries old) that support their reasoning.  It would also be wrong to simply hear something and totally dismiss it as right or wrong, most of these things have many layers. There are many layers of grace, many layers of predestination, and so on and so on. Take time to research and see it from their point of view, respect it, and form your own conclusion.
  11. Not every question and not every decision needs to be made quickly. To go along with that, very, very rarely is a deal is so good you can’t put it off until the next day and sleep on it or find another comparative deal.
  12. Seek first to understand, then be understood.  Showing understanding of a another person’s issue will gain their respect, and then their ears, and hopefully their heart.
  13. Just because someone or something is of another faith/culture/ethnicity/background, you can still learn from them and uphold your Christian faith.
  14. I can just now admit that I’ve always cared more about what others thought of me than I have about my own happiness and well-being.
  15. Nothing on the television, radio, or the Internet  is so important you can’t look someone in the eye when they are talking to you. The lack of eye contact shows you care more about that than you do the person.  Also, infomercials and As-Seen-On-TV commercials can be highly entertaining, but rarely are they worth spending money on.
  16. My wife has taught me that a lot of times, no response is the best response of all.
  17. The overflow of the heart, the mouth shall speak.
  18. Your body will change even though your younger self said it wouldn’t.  At one time you tanned, now you easily burn.  At one time, you could lose ten pounds in a week easily, and now your slower metabolism changes that.
  19. Spending a lot of money on clothing isn’t worth it in most cases, as a lot of clothing serves the same function for about the same amount of quality.  I’ve gotten the same amount of wear off of a $10 t-shirt as I have a $35 t-shirt.  However, don’t skimp on shoes, you gotta take care of your feet.
  20. Don’t put expectations on people. Not only will they let you down, but it’s not like your are  rarely is one qualified to put expectations on anyone. Along with that, trust no one. That sounds harsh, but in the long run, Fox Mulder is right.
  21. Silence and solitude are needed more than you think.  You don’t always have to have background noise doing chores or going for a walk.
  22. Apologizing can be hard and even awkward, but the fruits of a sincere one will reap a harvest.  The same can be said for admitting when you are wrong instead of defending a boneheaded stance just to be right.  Both will earn you more respect than holding ground ever will.
  23. Don’t compare yourself to others or what God is doing in someone’s life.  Just as you are, they were made by the great creator to be exceptionally unique, and they were born to a totally different set of parents with different circumstances and backgrounds.  They process and handle things in a way you can’t fathom, and they to you.  So if you admire how someone doesn’t sweat under pressure, just know a lot of things happened for that person to get there, and he or she may just admire how you are able to be at your sincerest at those moments.
  24. If you know you are going into a tense situation, think it through and know what your desired outcome is.  Whether it’s calling customer service or engaging with a person that’s wronged you, first know what you want when the encounter is finished, think about ways to accomplish it, and prepare your response for their most likely reaction or defense to anything you say or do.  Doing so helps prevent any surprises and helps you process things better.
  25. The response you desire is often times related to your approach.  If you start a conversation yelling, more than likely your intended point isn’t going to come across.  The person at the other end is just going to understand you are angry, and not what you are angry about, and will most likely reply back with anger.  And when anger gets involved, logic leaves, and it turns into a pissing contest, which wastes time and energy.  It’s easy to just state you are upset and explain why in a respectful manner, and usually respect is returned, emotion is removed, logical thinking comes to play, and a conclusion is reached sooner than later.
  26. People make mistakes, just as you do, so take it easy on them.  We’ve all changed lanes and almost hit another vehicle and them immediately felt bad about it. Responding with some hand gesture in your protected environment is something you’d do if you were in a grocery store and someone accidentally stepped in front of you.
  27. You can’t change people, but you accept them, warts and all, and learn how to work around those warts, and maybe become accepting of them.
  28. There’s not much difference between college football and politics when it comes to looking at things objectively.
  29. As tempting and as satisfying as it might be, don’t burn bridges.  The future is unpredictable, you never know when you’ll have to charter that path again.  Not to mention, people and organizations (and the people that run them) change, just as you have and will.
  30. Dreaming is good, and it’s okay to shoot beyond them, but be realistic and cognizant of what it will take to actually achieve them.
  31. A lot of life is about perception.  You may mean one thing or intend the best of things, but it’s all in how it’s going to be perceived that matters.
  32. Don’t rely on your memory, write things down, and be sure to organize things well enough that you can easily reference them.  A lot of life isn’t about what your know, but the ability to find answers.
  33. Be careful of what you put in an email, you have no idea who it might get forwarded to, and the results can be both rewarding and devastating.  This logic also applies to social media and stuff that actually goes on paper.
  34. It’s always better to arrive early than late, so make it a practice of showing up early, and just not on time.  It’s also best to use the restroom before any meeting or event.
  35. Before any overnight travel, clean the house and do chores before departure.  Coming home to a clean house and nothing on the immediate “to do” list is a reward in itself.  And when it comes to traveling, look at a map first and get a general lay of the land before you dart off, even if you have a map on your phone.
  36. More often than not, when you throw a grenade in the act of vanity or selfishness, you hit innocent bystanders.
  37. You may love someone and appreciate certain things they do, but verbally tell them so they know you don’t take them or what they do for granted. If they took the trash out or made the bed before you could get to it, or if they cooked dinner, thank them.  If you get a kick out of they way your spouse laughs or how they have a certain funny habit or trait you treasure – tell them.  Also, You don’t have to wait for a birthday or special occasion to give someone you love a gift or tell them how special they are to you.  It means more when “you don’t have to”.
  38. If you see a need, fill it. I’ve told many people that’s purpose in life, and I think I’ve mostly held true to it.
  39. You only tease the ones you love, so if you are being teased, cherish it.
  40. Most life lessons aren’t learned immediately, usually it comes slowly through experience and reflection.

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Posted in Personal | 14 Comments

Transforming Birthday Cake – Optimus Prime

My boy asked for a Transformers cake for his 6th birthday. I decided to up the ante, my wife did the actual cake.

Posted in Cute, Pop Culture | Leave a comment

Something for those that enjoy teacher meetings, Les Misérables, and flash mob type stuff

You may just want to skip ahead to the 1:18 mark . . .

While the West Des Moines Community School District Superintendent was beginning her speech to the staff of WDMCS at the district-wide welcome back meeting, the teachers of the district created a flash mob to the enjoyment of their unsuspecting colleagues. With only one more day of preparation left, the teachers shared their talents by performing a parody of the song, “One more day” from Les Miserables.

Many thanks to the teachers and staff members (only 12 are music teachers) who voluntarily came to school to rehearse in June and July to prepare for this performance!

Posted in Goofy, Pop Culture | 1 Comment

Bag of Randomness for Friday, August 28, 2015

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Posted in Personal | 6 Comments