Staind did a song named “It’s been a while” – a song of recovery and appologies. This is not about that!

It’s not been a while since I was at the gym – just two days. Sue and I have been very good at going 4+ days a week – 5:30 – 6:30 or so (AM, of course). We start with about 30 minutes of cardio (treadmill), then do either legs, arms, or upper body. On Thurday, we skipped the cardio and did legs and half of the arms. Both of us have been pushing hard at night, making that 5AM alarm sound so loud…

Of course, it’s now Saturday and the body alarm clock went off as usual shortly after 5. Where is that body / mind snooze button?

We’re hitting the gym at 8 today with both kids. Jake needs to start his stairmaster routine to get ready for the summer. I just need to do the full 35 minute routine that Gwynne has set up for me. A little walking (2 min), then 6.3 mph run for 5, a bit of walking at a steep grade, the alternating between 6.3mph run and a 4.5 walk at 4 – 5% grade. With my current weight, it’s a 550 calorie routine. While I feel like crap for the first few minutes, I am able to get into the routine. I rarely speed up what I am doing, and slow it down to keep going. With the walking, I do increase the incline to boost the caloric burn.

4 weeks to go and we will be in Jackson Hole. Hiking will be much easier for us now, and I fully expect to be in the best shape of anyone of my relatives that will be there. I do know that Sue is looking forward to being in good shape for her Mom and brothers to see.

Pictures to come afterwards!

VD – short for Valentine’s Day, of course… What were you thinking?

Okay – I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with Sue, but I never ever know what to get or how much to spend. VD is a mere two weeks before our anniversary, so we have always downplayed it. This year, I was presented with an opportunity to do a nice job of being a loving husband. As previously stated, we joined the local YMCA. I always find that I do a much better job working out with music blasting in my ears – and help take the concentration away from the pain in my body. I obtained an iPOD Shuffle last year and use it whenever I work out (walk, etc.). Sue has no such device. So…. I bought her a new MP3 player and filled it with several hours of love songs. I think she was touched by the personalization (rather than just from the electronic device). She has used it daily since then, and really likes the music. As a side note, this player has an integrated FM radio that can be used to listen to the TV audio that plays as well. So, you can sit on your butt, watching TV – all the while you are cruzing on the stationary bike.

The last Saturday in January, I finally convinced Sue to let the family join the local branch of the YMCA. It is located above the grocery store that is 1/4 mile from home, and opens at 5:30 AM Mon – Friday, and at 8:00 on Saturdays. It’s closed on Sunday – so it’s a mandatory day of rest (or walking outdoors). I had told her that I was going to join myself if she didn’t want to spend the money for the family. I have been walking a little in the mornings, but with it getting colder and colder, that was both an invitation to injury or sleeping in. With the treadmills at the Y, I am able to work out in a conditioned environment. The same as walking outside – no, but close! The gym is crowded in the mornings, but I always have a treadmill if I get there at 5:30, and always see people I know. The one thing that I have going for me is my iPod shuffle. I have great tunes and it allows me to walk through the tough workouts. On Friday, I take a class that will show me the other equipment for weight training. For now, however, I know how to walk so the treadmill is fine. I wonder how many days you should go before taking a rest day. Well, there’s always Sunday!

Brewster – picked up from a coworker of Sue. Lots of potential for being a great family pet…

Genesis – Undertow

The curtains are drawn
Now the fire warms the room.
Meanwhile outside
Wind from the north-east chills the air,
It will soon be snowing out there.

And some there are
Cold, they prepare for a sleepless night.
Maybe this will be their last fight.

But we’re safe in each other’s embrace,
All fears go out as i look on your face –

Better think awhile
Or i may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you, [or]
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger’s past, i need not fear the icy blast again.

Laughter, music and perfume linger here
And there, and there,
Wine flows from flask to glass and mouth,
As it soothes, confusing our doubts.

And soon we feel,
Why do a single thing to-day,
There’s tomorrow sure as i’m here.

So the days they turn into years
And still no tomorrow appears.

Better think awhile
Or i may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then?

Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you, [or]
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees

Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger’s past, i need not fear the icy blast again.

A new year wouldn’t be worthy if it didn’t include a reflection on the past and a discussion about the future. In that light, I want to document my desires for this new year. Some call them resolutions, I call them encouraging words. I will review them during the year to measure progress, and make mid-stream adjustments hoping to keep myself on course.

1. Look out for my wife more
My wife is the most wonderful person. I take her for granted and must stop. She is the most giving, tireless person I know, and puts all of the energy into our family – and no time into herself. Treat her more and love her more, not letting her put herself behind all others. Buy her flowers and leave work early to make dinner. Take her out on a real date occasionally. Take her to an adults only movie – or just send her by herself (or with a friend). Have her take the night off. Have her actually be ready to enjoy herself on vacation this summer.

2. Look out for my children more
Spend time with them doing what makes them happy. Go on dates. Play. Go to the movies 1 on 1 so you have a special experience to talk about later. Teach your daughter how a man should treat her. Show your son how to be a man.

3. Look out for me more
I spend little time working on me – my body, my mind, and my spirit. I’ve somewhat lost my personal drive in my job. Exercise and sleep more, eat and drink less. Watch more inspirational movies and less garbage sitcoms. Read two good non-technical books this year.

4. Take a vitamin every day
Easy to do, yes. Keeping myself healthy is the real goal, and I think about these things when I take the vitamins. Eat out less, eat less junk. Take your lunch to work and spend time on improving some aspect of my mind during that time.

5. Spend less time working for “the man” and more time working for myself
I spend many more hours working in my head than actually at the office, but I will check in less mentally, so I can be more productive when I’m actually there. Stop work at 5 and go home. Your family is more important than any job is. Give it a full 8 hours, but not 9 and not 10. Sleep in on vacation and weekends, then give full attention to your family.

6. Exercise more
Knees withstanding, walking several times each week keeps my head clear. It provides room for random thoughts – the title of my blog, afterall. I listen to music when I walk and find that I enjoy the solitude. Walking is free exercise that takes dedication. Every day is a challenge, but every day is a chance for success.

7. Consider leaving the safety and comfort of my current job to find one more challenging and with better pay
Remember what it is like to have a passion for my job. Stop working with slackers. Stop putting up with coworkers that think that they are good at what they do when they are not. Stop putting up with a lack of career path. Figure out how to build your own career path since it will not be built for you. If this means going back into management, so be it.

8. Listen to comfortable music more
Add selections of Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, and others to the walking music. Remember that this is the music that you know, and that you can work while listening to it.

9. Allow new memories to replace old ones
Remember that stuff that happens today is more important than what has happened in the past. Friends of old are not your friends today. Love the memories they bring, but build new memories that blow away the old ones in satisfaction.

10. Talk to my parents, rather than keeping it burning inside
Ignore what your parents do if you can’t talk to them. Tell your mother what it is that bothers you – since you know that she just doesn’t know. She loves you but doesn’t have any idea how her actions make you doubt the love. Tell her that her grandchildren want to see her and know her – but that the time is rapidly slipping away. Fly your father up to see you and your children so they can see him outside of the choking experience his wife brings. Show him your wonderful, loving kids and let your son show him that you are a good father.

11. Play more
Find a hobby that has nothing to do with computers and attack it with a passion. Do something that you love. Do something that defines you. Be the best at that hobby that you can be. Share it with others – be a mentor.

12. Take care of my body
Besides what is said above, go to the doctor and your complete blood work done. You’re over 45, so you need to grow up and take responsibility for your own body. Make sure that you are not a burden on your children later.

My son’s new blog:
West End Rocketry’s Blog

It was apparently started (at least the content) while he was in school, on the county provided computer. Our tax money at work. Only one post to date — I’m glad it’s not consuming his thoughts. Now I need to wonder, are there other blogs he’s started?

We just returned from a couple of days in Williamsburg. We spent Monday heading there and browsing at a few of the crappy outlets (and a few nice ones). Got separated from half of the family but finally reunited hours later. I think we were at the biggest outlet mall around.

On Monday night, it stormed as hard has I have seen since living in Virginia. The lightning was centered in Williamsburg – lightning for hours and hours. The bathroom started leaking around the fan close to midnight, prompting a frantic call to the front desk to be moved. The resort was very quick (less than 10 minutes) and met us with a new key to the closest room they had. A quick dash outside and we were dry again. It was a difficult night to get sleep, though. Up at 6:30 again so we could fetch our belongings from the original room (jumping over puddles along the way), it made for a very short night. All in all, the resort handled things very well.

Tuesday, we spent the day at Busch Gardens. It is a great amusement park – very clean and lots of shade. It was a steaming hot day, though, so lots of water was consumed! We got there before anyone else (an early opening special), so got to ride a few rides with NO lines at all. I even rode Alpengeist for the first time (with no wait at all!). What a thrill. It is smooth, unlike the other coasters that bounce you around. Looking at it from the rest of the park makes it seem bigger and more dangerous than it really is. However, I have now ridden all four of the coasters at Busch. Pretty cool for this mid-40’s guy!

Wednesday was spent at Water Country with few crouds until late in the day. Our son overcame many fears and rode on some of the biggest non-tube water rides at the park, and had a great time. He’s really maturing and I think made great strides with the personal fears. I think he also realized that he can trust his parents to not push too far. Later in the day, we returned to Busch Gardens for dinner, a couple of quick rides, and “Imaginique” – a Cirque du Soleil style show that starts after dark.

Thursday was a short Water Country day before heading home. It was hot and had long lines and many rude people. More on that later. Sue is working for part of the day today, so didn’t get to spend much time at all on vacation. Time to look elsewhere for her since I’m staying for a while.

I ran across the following free online dictionary web site a few weeks back. I have used it for more things than other online sites, especially because it has a computer dictionary, a medical dictionary, a legal dictionary and links to other free sites.

So, if you ever had the hankering to find out what a SONET ring was, just look it up!