Today’s title is that of a story I read a long time ago by Ambrose Bierce. He was called bitter Bierce for the dark writing he produced. The particular story is very short and has a twisted moral tone not unlike much of his writing, however I do very much enjoy the moral and the implications in which the protagonist finds himself.
I thought of this story while hiking up Mt. Cuyamaca in eastern San Diego county. I hiked with Richard for the first time in at least a year thanks to his knee recovering from a prior injury. We had a great walk up the hill and it was nice to continue my mountain training even if I did not bring my bricks or even my Ruck. It is also always great to have a such great hiking partner to chat with and since we have known one another for 20 years we had lots to chat about.
The reason that Cuyamaca reminded me of the story is that the last time we hiked it was immediately after a forest fire in San Diego. Below are some picture comparisons that shows the immediate carnage followed by examples of way that nature heals from a couple weeks ago. This got me to thinking about the way that sometimes challenges can allow for growth. All of the things that cause us to fall down are opportunities to learn but sometimes the things that are the most devastating are actually a chance to start again and even become stronger. The small trees beginning to emerge on Cuyamaca will become just like those that are now just vestiges of their former selves.
After the hike was I was reading some management theory articles that reminded me of the complexity of office politics and the challenges to growth or re growth of an organization. One of the most important things I ever learned about business is that if you always carry yourself in a formal professional manner you will greatly reduce the amount of pain you suffer by not getting along as well as you can with your peers. We spend so much time together at the office that we undoubtedly become friends, lovers, enemies, and estranged colleagues but I will never understand why I see so many people who never learn to have professional disagreements with one another and let them be just that, a differing of ideas. Too often we see rumors or disagreements turn into enmity between people who have to get along in order to be successful as a team and as a organization.
Silos in organizations occur for these very reasons. Management sets goals for success and even if considered carefully they can drive a leader to make decisions that bring great success to their unit only at the expense of their peer managing another team. Having high thresholds and goals can also bring groups together but the more complex the situation the harder it is to measure how a goal impacts diverse needs across a platform rather than just in the unit whose success is tied to that particular goal. Thinking about how to over come silos is something that has been considered often and that many business leaders struggle with so my two cents are just adding to droves of other ideas but I think they may be worth saying. Over coming management challenges is not unlike nature healing, sometimes a chance to start over is better than trying to change course.
Driving change and a culture of accountability first starts with bringing people together and makes sure they treat each other with respect and dignity. Forcing strong personalities to work through difficult ideas or process without coming to blows is hard but if those people can be encouraged to work together to come to the best solution, the benefit to the institution as a whole should be abundantly clear. Teaching professionalism and accountability will go a long way towards making difficult interactions easier. There are far less rumors and whispers among a group of people who trust one another and who know that they will stand behind and support one another. I guess all these musings boil down to foundations. Whether your building a business, a charity, or a social club having people who interact well and encouraging them to play well together can go a long way toward avoiding an imperfect conflagration.
Another over night drive to the airport after a great few days in New England. This past weekend found me completing a Go Ruck event in the White Mountains in New Hampshire before heading up to Maine to see Mom and the family. GoRuck Navigator helped me to fulfill one of my goals of learning to properly use a map and compass. Knowing the basics seems like something everyone should know, in the age of the Internet and GPS just in case as well as to make sure we maintain some understanding of the way things used to be done. I say that knowing as I was trying to drop my rental car off one of the exits inside Logan Airport was closed and if all I had was a map and not Google maps it would have taken significantly longer to get to my gate. As it turns out I’m way too early so perhaps I should have used the map after all. For GoRuck we learned the map and compass, overland navigation through the back country, how to give an IV, proper ruck packing, water purification, water proofing, and even how to build a raft using just our gear and tarp. Was a great course and despite the rain the beauty of the White Mountains is breath taking. Our class even ended up killing and eating a snake so it was a pretty outdoorsy miss fit crew led by some of our nations current and former Special Forces professionals. I did not take a ton of photos but posted a few below.
After Navigator I headed to Mom’s house to spend a few days with the family for our traditional vacation, albeit, short this year. While up this year Mom and I decided we would hike Mt. Katahdin in Baxter state park. The day we chose could have been better but we had fun despite the challenge and the torrential rain.
I could not take any more photos after the rain really started and we reached a very strenuous section of the trail. We did not quite make Baxter Peak this year but given the conditions with water being ankle deep at times I think we did great.
After the drive home we had a lovely dinner with Aunt Mary before exhaustion took hold. To capitalize on every minute in Maine my last day was plenty of tree chopping in the woods followed by an art project. This years project was stimulated by my friend Ellie advising that my goal list needed to include something outside the normal for me. So self portraits was our project this year. I think mine looks very much like a painting by a 4 year old but we still had a great time and the challenge was indeed outside my normal efforts. Mom and Aunt Mary’s paintings came out so well so I hope next year when we try again I can show some improvement in my art skills.
Spending time with Mom is always so much fun and I always learn something. I think this time may have been learning to work together and access challenges and that if we work hard we can succeed by acting as if we will. In the the Ted lecture by Amy Cuddy, she summarizes the concept with the phrase, fake it until you believe it. During a chat with Mom I learned when one of my cousins decided she was ready to settle down she started acting more domestic and low and behold indeed is now happily married. Such a fantastic world we live in.
So much fun the last few days time to return to reality and get back to the office. Looking forward to a great
September, perhaps I will get some mail back from all these post cards?
Below is a pretty lazy post just with a few pictures from the last weekend of August. Finally road Hotter N’ Hell in Wichita Falls for my very first 100 mile ride. Beat my goal time by more than am hour and felt pretty good about it over all. Getting closer to being ready for Austin Half Ironman next month. Right after hotter n hell I headed out for a night of gambling in Las Vegas with the fellows so all in all the last weekend of August was pretty fun. Not as good as the first weekend of September but pretty close. Another post to follow shortly.
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After spending the weekend with my father and I brother I have had time to consider how lucky I am to have the family I have. For all my life my father has regaled us with stories of travels around the US. From crossing mountain passes in snow storms in the dead of night to getting trucks broken down in a NYC tunnel snarling traffic for hours. As children he gave us not only those stories but the experience, knowledge and, love of the traveling the United States by showing us much of the country by car. He followed up these stories by encouraging us to live our own stories. I realized that driving over Cottonwood pass in the middle of the night a few hours ago, as the headlights passed into the ink black night and I realized I was going a bit too fast for the switch backs on a dirt road.
This weekend was a reminder that his taking us all around the country before we were old enough to appreciate it, he still imparted a wanderlust. He introduced us to riding dirt bikes when my brother and I were little, no doubt to my mothers dismay, but all in all aside from my brothers broken collar bone in Baja a few years ago we are not any not worse for wear but by all means a more well rounded bunch. This weekend found us in the Colorado high country about an hour from Gunnison. We spent a few days together telling and hearing stories catching up on life, getting in a couple full days riding ATVs, took the rental off road, Dad got to fish, we found a brewery for me and just in general got away from the city lights and noise.
Having this love of travel and the outdoors coupled with the introductions we received to culture, art, literature, music, history, and hard work have provided what I think is a pretty well rounded frame work for life. We as a family never lack for new experiences or opportunities, whether those that find us the hard way or ones we seek out.
I hope to be able to provide even a fraction of the opportunity to experience the world that my parents provided to me. Given the right opportunity children will be able to achieve anything they desire which I am so excited to one day see. Guess until then just have to wait a couple years before my nephew will be ready for bikes on the trail or camping in the wilderness. Getting a blend of cities for culture and outdoors for nature provided me am interesting window into what I want from life at a very young age. I will dedicate a future post to just how nature and nurture shaped my young life and desires for the future.
This weekend I thought often of family far away, loved ones, and friends back home and abroad and managed to write a number of post cards to say hello and that of course made me want to do more. Build better relationships, tell people I care about them more often, and support my friends better since they provide such strength for me, even when I am off somewhere getting in trouble.
Despite the completely packed weekend I feel like this was such a recharge for me. I guess flying across the country, then driving across Colorado, only to spend 185 miles riding the trails as fast a fearless as possible before driving all night to make an early flight is exactly what I need to relax. Below are some photos all posted from AA flight to DFW.
Some are a bit out of order but if this post did not get finished on the plane it might sit for awhile since this week will be busy. Out of town friends, plenty of work and another week dog sitting should be fun.
After a rough, albeit short, work week it feels pretty good to be headed up to the mountains for a weekend of atv riding and fishing with my brother and father. As always sitting on a plane makes me reflect on the recent past. Work is always a zoo as we grow and learn what challenges accompany that growth. Personal life can be tumultuous at times and for a few weeks earlier this summer, I came to realize the pain that comes with a life lived constantly traveling and seeking new places, experiences and, challenges.
Working too much then being away from home or totally booked every weekend puts some strain on personal and family relationships. Trying to be thoughtful in my communication this summer I have taken to writing post cards, sort of the nineteenth century version of a tweet or Facebook post, how much can you convey to a friend, loved one or acquaintance in the space of just a few handwritten sentences? The responses I receive are always varied, some people read them and call me, some text, have even received pictures of the card I sent telling me they enjoyed it or were surprised to receive it. In each of these cases I think it makes people happy to get a letter in the mail so I will continue to write as often as I can. I think the post cards have actually decreased my blogging a bit but seems well worth while.
Over the last few weeks i have dog sat, run, visited snd worked and had such fun but makes me wonder if i should slow down a bit, spend more time at home. Perhaps rest more. Spending a week with a dog was fantastic and makes me realize how badly i miss having one since there has been a dog at home for a large portion of my life. Sammy was a blast to hang out with.
Thinking about one of my goal decisions to try and find some more artistic or creative outlets thought I would share a photo of what must be the most outrageous balloon hat I have ever seen. For Emma’s birthday the artist created this, little Irish, lots of birthday.
Last weekend I had the good fortune of visiting the small Texas town of Granbury which was great fun and made me realize how much of a Texan I have become. Seeing the shops, Texas trinkets, the town square, the beautiful running paths, the drive in movie theater and, the water skiers on the lake all seem so normal even though they can be so different from little towns in other parts of the world.
Almost landing time then a drive across the state of Colorado to meet the family. I will find some more post cards to say hello to more friends and loved ones but in the mean time will wrap up my 21st century communication. Hope any readers are having a lovely summer so far and watch your mail box.
Coming in from the airport the first thing you see downtown is the stadium. Good thing since that is where I was headed.
Cheap seats turned out to be a perfect spot on a beautiful summer afternoon to see the Rockies whip the Dodgers. Was pretty cool that I saw the Dodgers at the Padres the week before in San Diego.
After we went rafting we hit a cool pizza place for lunch and I had to run down the street to the Tommy Knocker Brewery since I did not want to miss it while I was there.
After lunch we headed to St Mary’s Glacier, a beautiful local hike. Short and steep was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon. Below are Libby and Connie trying there best high school graduation photo pose.
After a great dinner that evening in the Highlands neighborhood at Root Down, we got a good nights rest before the next days hiking and brewery visit. Below are some shots heading up the Gem Lake Trail, leading off with me goofing with sister of course.
After the beautiful hikes in the Rocky Mountain National park. I dragged everyone on the scenic drive from Estes Park to Fort Collins to visit the New Belgium Brewing Company. I have to credit Fat Tire Ale with really starting me on my craft beer kick so many years ago. Despite not getting to enjoy any beers since I was driving the place was such fun. We wrote post cards did some shopping and I did the brief self guided tour.
My fancy Fat Tire bike seems far less unique now. I did go ahead and pick up a bell for it to make it that much more authentic.
Just some people hula hooping outside since that of course is what I think of when I think brewery.
Before heading to drop most everyone off at the airport we made a brief stop in Golden for ice cream and a walk through the quaint old town and down by the creek that feeds the Coors Brewing Company.
The next day after my running with junkies experience we visited Red Rocks which is by far the most spectacular natural music venue I have ever seen.
The last evening was capped off with a show at Red Rock. Went on a pretty feminine “man date” with Joe to see Josh Groban and the Denver Symphony which despite being not great for a guys night was a pretty amazing show.
Our Saturday night on the town in Denver was pretty amazing and it was good to spend it with good friends. Thanks Denver!