Archive for the Stuff Category

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by brianestover

A bomb at the Boston Marathon. Sports, the one event where no matter your religion, nationality, color or particular bent, it’s the one place, at least at the worlds greatest sporting events, where everyone joins together and differences are put aside. When I think of sporting event that do this I think of the World Cup, Pele and billions of people tuned in to watch the final match. People holding their breath on every shot waiting for that magical moment when someone launches a shot across the penalty box just out of reach of the goalie’s outstretched fingertips and puts the ball in the top far corner just inches from striking the cross or side bar and falling harmlessly to the pitch. I think of the Olympics, where people get out of bed or stay up to all hours of the night and day. They do this to watch their favorite sports and athletes. They also do this to watch for obscure sports. It’s the one time in four years where people stop what they are doing to watch events like table tennis, canoeing, ski jumping or curling. I also think of the worlds great marathons, London, Rotterdam, NYC and Boston to name a few. Boston, the Monday Marathon. The marathon is a test not only of the swiftest but of the smartest and the riskiest. Can you take that flyer from 20k to go and make it stick? Do you hide in the pack hoping to launch a move that brings you glory, can you reach deep inside and embrace a new level of pain and suffering to literally go the extra mile before breaking down and falling off the pace? Sometimes that roll of the dice, just sometimes it pays off.

But now that great tradition has been soiled. It’s not just a great Bostonian tradition or American tradition but a great worldwide tradition, it belongs to all of us. Over 90 different countries are represented in Boston, all of the major religions and many of the minor ones. An attack on the marathon is an attack against all of us around the world. It’s designed to rip the fabric that binds people together no matter where you live. Your beliefs may be different, but your belief in the suffering required to do Boston is the same. You may race someone down to the wire, but cross that line and it’s high fives. You each are better than you were because of that race.

Endurance athletes are bound together, it’s literally in our blood. We can look at any race anywhere in the world and instantly sympathize with those on the starting line. We know their toils, their sacrifices, the time spent suffering through the miles. If you meet someone at a race, no matter who they are you have a common bond. This is what we can not let someone take away from us. That shared sense of community that being an endurance athlete brings, that shared sense of community that the biggest sporting events in the world brings. That togetherness knowing that right then, while you are watching the final match in the World Cup, or you are running miles for That race, that someone else, somewhere else is doing the same thing.

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Time, Choices, Organization & Habits

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by brianestover

Time. I had a friend of mine tell me you can’t stop time. Which is true. No matter what is happening it has to end sooner or later. Tick tock, there goes your clock. As an athlete time is a precious commodity. The more time you exercise odds are the better you will be. But no one is fortunate to have unlimited time. If it’s 15:00 and you find yourself 2 hours behind, you can’t stop the clock, you can’t rewind it and start over. This is especially true if you are a triathlete. It’s already a time consuming sport with training, especially if you are doing long course races. Add in work, a family, social obligations and suddenly it may seem that all your time is accounted for. If you want to spend more time doing A, that time has to come from B or C or D, or from all of them. You can’t invent more time, you can only spend it more wisely. You can’t avoid spending time, so spend it very wisely.

Which leads to choices. Everyday you to make a choice. You have to choose how to spend your most precious commodity. Think of it as your bank account. In and out, debit and credit. You have X and can’t spend X + Y. There is no overdraft fee. You can choose to spend more time working out but you have to debit it from something else. You can choose to spend an extra 30 minutes in bed, but how will that impact the rest of your morning or afternoon? What is something goes wrong late in the morning. You’ve chosen to spend 30 minutes sleeping in, now something is choosing for you to debit you another 25 minutes. Suddenly it’s 2:30 and you realize it should only be 1:40. You spent 50 minutes that you can never get back. No overdraft fees to save your ass. Now you spend all afternoon rushing around, trying to get everything done and you are forced to spend even more of your time in the evening catching up. Your initial 30 minute investment in sleeping in became a debit in your time account for later in the day, or your family time account or your work account or your working out account. After you add in depreciation you might have actually spent an extra 30 or 45 or 60 minutes all because you choose to delay what you could have done straight up. Before you choose to spend that time you will never get back, you should spend 1 minute thinking about the ramifications of your choice. What happens if A or B happens, how does that impact others, what negative connotations will this have what positive connotations will this choice have? Maybe you still choose to sleep in, maybe you choose to get up, what ever you choose to do, choose to spend carefully.

Since you have a finite amount of time, what are a few things you can do to help you spend less and/or get more for the time you do spend? Get organized. Don’t delay, do what needs to be done now and do it now. Don’t cut corners. I never really appreciated my grandfather, Dad or Mom telling me to do it right the first time. But now the wisdom of those words are clear. Spending an extra 3 minutes now can be like an interest bearing checking account, you get 5 minutes back since you’re not going to have to spend another 6 or 10 minutes fixing what you should have done the first time correctly. You should figure out a system that works for you. I use a white board, actually I use a couple. But on my daily white board I have every one listed I need or want to call or email that day. I have every schedule that I need to write that week. There are notes jotted down about what needs to happen, what needs to be accomplished. I’ve put down appointments like going to the dentist, or if I’m heading out of town. The white board becomes a living extension of my day, add and subtract to keep me on track. This helps me so I can make the choices I want on where to spend my time instead of being forced to choose where I want to spend my capital.

Finally developing a few habits can help you in your organization, the choices you have to make, where and how you are going to spend your time. Do you drink coffee every morning? Fill up the coffee maker, set the timer and have it ready for you so you don’t have to do it every morning while you are trying to workout then get to work. In years past I used to wake up, run, walk the dogs, boil water for tea while making breakfast, then eat in the office while doing email and my computer work. I would get home in the evening and always had about 10 minute of work left to do on the computer. I did it in the car. Once done I never had to worry about spending my most valuable asset on that computer work in the evening. it became a habit. That habit enabled me to put a credit in the time account to use before bed.

Now you’re probably thinking that sounds great but my life is chaotic. I have news for you, everyone lives in chaos. It’s how you choose to handle that chaos. You can be rational or you can screw yourself by adopting a whoa is me attitude. You can be disappointed about how your days went or you can choose to make yourself more habitual, choose to spend wisely. You can choose to be more organized and give yourself a greater chance of spending your time the way you want to.

The Beginning of a Beginning

Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2013 by brianestover

We use Dec 31 as a marker to end a time period. But it’s really just an arbitrary marker. Things most likely don’t get better or worse just because you’ve rolled into a new year. If you’re in some complicated project or completing a task, the changing of the year really is just another day. Most things don’t abruptly just end because one second ticked away. It’s easy to use the 1st of the year as the beginning of a training log or a starting point for something. It’s a great time reference. It gives you an anchor to set goals, it’s very black and white. That was then, this is now. Boom, start of a new year, start of a new something.

I always have some trouble with the new year and the start of things. As a coach I think in seasons starting with the down time that begins after the final race. Seasons could have 47 weeks in them or they could have 58 weeks in them. Where it ends for me is after the last race. I’ve been labeling schedules with 2013 for over a month now. The work now is for 2013 and beyond, not 2012. Sometimes I’ll have two or three seasons planned out due to an athlete’s goals, with the calendar year only as a reference.

2013 will be a little different for me, at least I think it will be, a little bit anyway. I filed what I think is the last of the estate paperwork, something I started on July 22, 2011 when my Mom passed away. That seems like an eon ago yet it also seems like it could be classified as just an age ago. It’s definitely been an era of the most continuous bit of stress I’ve ever dealt with. Sometimes a lot of stress, made more difficult by things out of my control or people getting in the way, sometimes the stress has been lessened by the overwhelming kindness shown by people I’ve never met. On the whole I’m a big skeptic of the human race, but several people over the last 17 months have restored a little sliver of faith. I can see an end to this process. Unless I’ve missed something, there are two or three things left to do, most of which consist of me signing my mother’s name, then writing the word by, then signing my name then writing the word executor.

There is a weird thing that bad stress does to you. I can look back on some very bad stressful times of my life – divorce, my dogs passing away, the death of one of my favorite people, going through a few rounds of layoffs. I look back at those periods of time and realize all that stress, all the shit that comes with it really did help prepare me for what I was going to have to do. Making the decision two times to put your dogs down is nothing to explaining to your mother, the person that gave you birth, that had been there for you for 39 years, and as a RN knew, had seen the consequences many times of the decision that you were about to make to pull her NG tube. The tube that was keeping her alive. You, her son, were about to condemn her to death sooner than she probably would have died. And she knew it and you knew she knew it. Then you have to explain that not only to her, but to your family why you are doing it. Since there was a communication gap due to neurological problems from the shunt, she was unable to 100% communicate if that was the right or wrong decision. I still grapple with that decision. What did Mom really think of my decision and thought process? Did she think I was wrong? That I should have waited? Did she think I just wanted the process to end? What did she think? While I didn’t realize it then, having to make the decision about the dogs helped frame the thought process. Sometimes in life though you will never know if the decision was the correct decision or if you made a decision that directly impacted someone’s life and they disagreed with you. It sucks.

As I look back on the process of wrapping it up a few things come to mind. Look losing a parent is never easy but the paperwork involved with death makes living so much better. Don’t die, it’s really the best advice I can give you. If you insist on disobeying my orders get all your paperwork signed, notarized and handed out to those who need it. Only then should you even consider kicking the bucket. Here’s another tip: live in the same time zone as the person who is going to be the executor or executrix. While flying back and forth the country numerous times has it’s perk’s, it’s not all glamour. All that flying did allowed me to get back in touch with some friends, which was great. I spent a lot of time in NC hanging out with friends that I rarely get to hang out with. It was also a time saver. Instead of continuing to spend a ton of time online looking at dogs at the shelters, then having to drive there, pick out the one you want, drive back a few days later to pick them up, I just inherited a dog. It’s pretty cool to have a dog that think’s your her best thing other than breakfast & dinner. I think the biggest thing it’s given me is the ability and confidence to know no matter what, it’s all going to work out. My Mom’s dying allowed me to shed the silver shackles that bound me with no fear of failure. The reality is I’ve made the two hardest decisions a lot of people have to make.

Now I have the beginnings of a new period of my life. Even though it’s January 1 and the beginning of a new year, my new beginning isn’t tied to the calendar. I can see it well above the horizon, close at hand, but it’s not quite here, yet.

Christmas in Lights

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 27, 2012 by brianestover

My neighborhood goes a little nuts during the holidays, in both a good and bad way. It’s good because every single night during the holiday season there is a party going on in my neighborhood. I walk the dog at night and it’s an endless supply of free beer on our 1.6 or 2 mile loops. You can’t beat that. It’s also awesome because everything is lit up and no cars! We don’t allow cars in the neighborhood unless you live here except for a couple of drive through nights. I’m not kidding, every entrance in or out is manned by police and has barricades across it. It’s like we live in a compound, a good compound, happy, full of holiday cheer compound not a Waco like compound. We charge people a can good to get in the neighborhood. We raise several tons of food for the Community Food bank to help feed those less fortunate. You like karaoke? We have it. Live music? That also. Community theater? That as well. Bright lights? Big cities? Gingerbread houses? Check, check and check.

Did you know the first Community Food Bank in the world was started in Phoenix AZ? Neither did I until I volunteered at that food bank a few months ago.

One of the drawbacks of being in our neighborhood during the holiday season is running around your house naked forgetting the blinds are open and 1000+ people are walking through the neighborhood each night. Of course you typically only do that once per season until you realize that at any given moment there are 5-250 strangers standing in front of your house staring at your lights and taking pictures. Nothing like adding the full Monty to your holiday display. On the two nights they allow cars, my cul de sac becomes a traffic jam. I try to put a good movie on for them to watch as they sit parked in front of my house for 10-15 minutes at a time. Next year Episode 6 of Star Wars, mark your calendars. It took me 12 minutes to drive the quarter mile up my street to my house. I might be able to still run 2 miles in that time if I had to. But fortunately we have police at every entrance. I just have to run there if someone is chasing me.

One of 5 cranes that set up the hood

One of 5 cranes that set up the hood

The weekend before everything kicks off we have cranes running around stringing lights on every tree that can support lights. When I say we, I mean my neighbors not me just so there isn’t any confusion. Some people take this way too seriously in my neighborhood. Not to mention two or three cherry pickers and more ladders then Home Depot stocks at any one time. You actually have to reserve one of these cranes, well in advance, if you need it to string lights in your trees. Demand is that high.

What does all this madness look like? Out of the 125 or so houses in my neighborhood only about 10 don’t have some display set up. The displays run from needing their own coal fired power plant to keep them on to somewhat more environmentally friendly. Here is a small sampling of what it looks like at night. If you go into space I’ve heard rumors that Nasa can pick out my neighborhood. We even spread cheer to astronauts.

I should star planning the Star Wars/Grinch theme’d display now to get a jump on next holiday season.

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California Dreaming

Posted in Random Stuff, Stuff on November 28, 2012 by brianestover

I’ve always wanted to move to California. It’s something I think about a lot. Every. Single. Day. I even know where I want to live. You could start in Sacramento head west to the ocean, turn left and head all the way down to San Deigo, turn east and go to the I5/I8 split. Stop there. But where I want to move isn’t the focus of this blog post.

I had a dream last night, a dream so vivid I could smell, hear, and feel it. Dreaming is something rare for me. As someone who has struggled with insomnia for over a decade, I’ve found that certain sleep meds stop me from dreaming. Some by themselves, others when used in combination with each other, usually with out my doc’s tacit approval. But lately I’ve been dreaming more and sometimes it freaks me out.

Maybe it was the stress of my previous job. The pressure to always produce, to always hit the numbers. Maybe it was because there were 11 of us that contributed to my managers numbers. I should have been just over 9% of her business. But I was closer to 18% and was the largest percentage of my managers business for the last 6 years. I can’t say it was a bad thing. I rocked it. You want drugs sold? I had no problem with that or doing that. In that time I averaged 104.67% to goal. Increase my numbers? F*ck you. Go ahead. No worries, I’ll deliver. The pay was good, the stress was bad. It’s only now that I’m starting to see how much stress there really was.

But the job helped me meet some of my dreams. In college I always wanted to go to Yuma Arizona. My first job selling drugs included Yuma. After two days there I had no idea why anyone would want to live in Yuma. I could see a few scenarios. You’re a snowbird, or you are in the military doing hot weather equipment testing or you have one of a few select jobs and wanted to make a killing.

Now that I’m removed from the job by a month, I find myself still struggling to sleep. Not as much, I’m actually sleeping less but I’m waking up feeling better and more rested. My sleep drug consumption has also decreased. With a decrease in sleep drugs, one of the unintended consequences are dreams. It’s not like I had stopped dreaming completely over the last decade plus. But it’s rare when I would wake up and remember any dream. Maybe once a month or twice a month. But not weekly, not daily. It took me a while to realize this once I started taking sleep drugs. At first I was grateful just to be sleeping through the night. I felt a lot better after sleeping 7-9 hours than I did after 4 crappy hours of sleep. While I still have crappy nights of sleep, more often than not but I now have dreams.

Last night dream was, well, I’m not really sure how to describe it. This dreaming thing is in some ways new to me. But I was around a lot of people I knew many, many years ago. I could hear their voices, sometimes I’d hear their voice before I even saw the person. The feel of their skin when we hugged. I could feel their hands when shaking hands, see their eye colors and the difference between person A or B’s brown eyes. I could recall certain articles of clothing that were unique to people, color patterns, textures. I could smell what they smelled like. One person, who I ended up driving around with, I could smell the occasional cigarette they would smoke, how it mixed with their breath, their hair, their laundry detergent. It’s a unique smell. Most athletes abhor the smell of tobacco. But I really enjoy it in a few context’s. The first is right when a cigarette or cigar is lit. The initial smell of burning tobacco. After that it reeks. The other is the tobacco barns we used to run by in college. You could run down the hill on 14th Street, and on the corner of 14th and Evans there was a tobacco barn where they sold tobacco in the fall. It was always stacked in block like arrangements. The dried brown leaves. There was this smell associated with it. The sweetness mixed with the heaviness of the smell. It was the perfect blend of heavy and light.

Maybe this is old hat to those of you who dream, but I’m like a kid discovering things for the first time again. And it’s unique as well as a bit odd at times.

Racing Against Hunger

Posted in Stuff, Triathlon with tags , , on November 6, 2012 by brianestover

An Accelerate 3 athlete recently helped organize an event to fight hunger in children. Daniel belongs to a LA area tri club, Fil-AM Tri Club. This club has an event called Tri for Bantay Bata. This years event helped raise over $1500 to feed hungry children in the Phillipines.

Fil-Am Tri Club Post Race

While I don’t really know much about this club, I do know that getting together with your team mates to organize, set up a race then raise funds for a good cause is a great thing. It’s something that I can get behind and help promote. Next year if you are in the LA area in October, think about getting in a low key race, meeting some new friends but most importantly helping some children have a better life.

Bantay Bata

Cutting Down the Family Tree

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , on March 21, 2012 by brianestover

I went to sleep last night knowing that my Nana wouldn’t be alive when I woke up this morning. She passed away about 7:30am. It wasn’t unexpected. She had fractured her leg about 5 weeks ago when she was moved to a new nursing home. Her diabetes was not as well controlled at the new home either. The reality is I lost her several years ago. Dementia ravished her brain. I bet an autopsy would find significant amyloid plaque build up in her brain. She’s been battling that beast for at least 6 years now. In many respects, death is a better solution then staying alive.

Nana and I

In the last 13 months, I’ve lost my entire genetic giving tree on the Jastrzemski side of my family. First my Granddad last February. Then Mom on my birthday in July, and now one day short of 8 months later, my Nana.

But in the big picture, I’ve been rather lucky. Not many 39 year olds can say that they still had 3 out of 4 grandparents alive. I got a lot of time with my grandparents, and at 40, while I’m down two, I’m still getting time with one of them. Most of the people I know my age, haven’t had that blessing. The majority of people had at most, two grandparents alive when they were 30.

Goodbye Nana. Say hello to Granddad and Mom for me please.