Archive for the Random Stuff Category

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.

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.

Ode to Chloe

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , on January 21, 2012 by brianestover

You run around in the yard all day
but on our walks “8 houses that’s all” you say
these walks we do would go by much quicker
as a side benefit it’d also improve your ticker
Your snout is short your airflow is restricted
it seems that boxers are not running gifted
daily I try to get you to run
but for you though it seems to be no fun
unless it’s after your rope that I throw
it seems my luck at getting you to run is a no go
maybe one day we’ll make it more then a quarter of a mile
I’d wager a guess that if we did I’d smile
maybe if you didn’t insist on carrying the leash in your mouth
running would be easier so you could breath though more then your snout
one of these days maybe it will work out I hope
although if I had to wager I’m betting on Nope.

Ode to Cyclists

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by brianestover

Cyclist with your kit so bright
logos out in plain sight
all kitted up and looking rather spent
wafting about your after ride scent
Emptying your pockets you didn’t bother to do
gel wrappers arm warmers and wtf you were even wearing your cycling shoes
when you drive to eat and I know you did
maybe some shorts, shirts and sandals instead of bibs
think about what wear into the store
little kids then would not run in fear
of you slipping in your cycling shoes
busting your ass leaving a bruise
adults would not cringe and plead
for you to have some decency
in the future please plan ahead
cycling kit in chipolte is fashion sense plain dead

coming soon odes to my dog and garmin.

Goodbye Holidays

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2012 by brianestover

The holidays have come and gone. It’s back to the real world tomorrow. Life in the fishbowl is over.

My neighborhood goes ridiculous during the Christmas holiday. Lights everywhere. It took two cranes to get all the trees strung with lights. One guy does a mini Bellagio thing in his front yard with water shooting up 20 yards. Thousands of people stroll through the neighborhood. Every single night for 3 weeks. It’s nuts. Except for drive nights. These are the three nights they allow cars in the hood. My cul de sac turned into a parking lot. No one moved for 15 minutes. It ridiculous, comical, over the top, outlandish and people litter. A lot. My house was underwhelming compared to many. If I could find my camera I’d post pics. On a plus side, I was able to get to know many of my neighbors, never ran out of beer when walking my dog at night and it was interesting to see a thousand people walking around the hood.

I also managed to get in some working out. I ran just over 29.5 miles last week. That surpasses any months total from August through December. That’s right, I ran less then 25 miles each of those months. I rode less then 60 miles each of those months. Half of those rides were beer/mountain bike rides with the neighborhood guys. With one or two exceptions, there isn’t a lot of horsepower in the hood on a bike. But they can drink some beer.

All in all though, I lost a few pounds, feel a lot better if not a bit tired, read a few books, my dog and I walked together roughly 25 miles over the break and best of all, I didn’t do one bit of real work that entire time. My Fed Ex package for tomorrow’s conference call isn’t getting opened until 8am. Let the stress begin then.

Winter Camping Trip

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , on December 10, 2011 by brianestover

If you go camping in the winter you better be prepared. You’re going to need a fire to keep you warm. Bigger is always better when you are discussing fire. You’re going to need a sleeping bag. Not on of those two pieces of cotton sewn together stuffed with cotton. But a down or synthetic bag that keeps you warm down to 0F or so. You will need a pad to place between your bag and the ground to insulate you from the cold. You should also bring your favorite pets. Camping with your dog and cat is always better then camping alone. You can be assured that your dog will stay beside you all night. The cat, well it’s a cat after all.

Last week, I loaded up the sleeping bag, dog, cat and grabbed some padding to stick between me and the hard ground and made the long trek to our favorite camping spot. My living room. Yep, you read that correctly. I went camping in my living room. It makes complete sense. Your close to the fridge, no need to worry about food and a cooler, the fridge is 30 feet away. If you have to go to the bathroom, no bathroom is better then your own. Plus you think that fire lit itself on fire? You can do it on a week night, don’t need reservations anywhere and is environmentally friendlier then driving and camping all other things being equal. It really takes a complete badass to pull it off and pull it off I did.

First I chose a prime location next to the fire. Then I laid out my pad, which was a carpet remnant from when I had some carpet replace, tossed the bag on top and was ready to crawl in. I’m not going to lie, even with the carpet the ground was pretty hard. I grabbed a few blankets and put them under the sleeping bag to soften it up a bit.

Ready for Sleeping

The dog and cat settled in on their respective sleeping spots and off to sleep it was.

Chloe

Chloe falling asleep

Gravey

Stop with the photos, I'm playing Xbox

With the heat off in the house the fire place was our sole source of heat. This is the view we enjoyed from our prime camping spots.

The glow of the fire reflecting off the floor

Thanksgiving Weekend

Posted in Random Stuff with tags , , , , , on November 26, 2011 by brianestover

I love Thanksgiving weekend. This is the best holiday of the year. It’s four days off work, there is no pressure like some holidays. You always get Thursday and Friday off. The holiday never falls on a Tuesday like 4th of July. It’s a weekend filled with food, fun, fires, friends, family, dogs and beer. Can’t forget the beer. A case of Guinness never disappears as fast as it does over this weekend. It’s best to have a backup case or two.

This Thanksgiving was the first that I’ve held at my house. My Dad is in town, Sarah and her Mom came over as well as the KGB’s. I fired up the smoker and put on the bird a bit later. I had to make some modifications to the R2D2 smoker to get it fully functional. Nothing a little ingenuity won’t fix. A few bricks here and few bricks there and presto, the smoker is smoking, the bird is cooking and deliciousness will have to wait for five hours or so.

Smoker + bricks = Super Smoker

I may be a bit biased, but that bird tasted damn good. The breast meat was juicy thanks to the brine I soaked it in. The dark meat melted in your mouth. A hint of smoke flavor in every bite. Maybe it was the beer I poured in the turkey, maybe it was the apple juice in the drip pan. Maybe I’m just one bad ass turkey cooker. What ever it was, it was some rather tasty turkey.

Even the dogs had a great time. Sarah brought Sam over and the KGB’s brought Katie over. Chloe had her first big sleep over. By 7pm the dogs were wiped out. I guess when you’re a dog, running around the yard, playing frisbee and tug of war for 7 hours can be tiring. These dogs didn’t move all night long. They just curled up on the dog beds in front of the fire and slept.

Dog Tired

The fire was warm, the leftovers plenty and it was time to play games in front of the fire. I got crushed in Yahtzee…by an eight year old.

Thanksgiving Fire

Before dinner we filled out things that we are thankful for and hung them on the Thanksgiving tree that one of the kids made. Most of us take our health, fitness and well being for granted. Over the past 10 days I’ve been reminded not once, but twice that life is a pretty precious thing. Actually now that I think about it, I’ve been reminded five times this year that life is precious and not to be taken for granted. Just over a week ago in the Philly Marathon, Chris Gleason passed away while racing with about a quarter mile to go. About that same time, Darrell Maxey passed away from complications during heart surgery.

I never met Chris, we’ve only chatted in emails a few times about triathlon stuff and the fact that he looked like my old roommate. Darrell and I used to train and race together some way back when. Here are two guys, really fit, in great shape, healthier then the above average healthy person and now they have both passed away due to heart issues.

Needless to say, it was pretty easy to write what I was thankful for on the Thanksgiving tree.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Thanksgiving Tree