Monday, May 30, 2016

Stormy sunsets are awesome!

We sat and watched on Friday night as pockets of rain caught the light from the sunset and moved across the valley. This picture from my phone doesn't do it justice, but it was absolutely beautiful and amazing!

My advice is to take the time to watch a sunset when you have the time. It is time that cannot be deducted from anyone's life.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The rumors and the truth about my faith

Since my wife Ann has confided in several people and for other reasons (maybe things I've said or posted), rumors are beginning to swirl around about my abandonment of Mormonism. I'm not one to let speculation continue in regards to my personal beliefs. I've never liked one-sided stories, whether they are told by the liberal media, or whether told by individuals, my wife included. I love her and she's doing what she needs to do to find comfort and commiseration. I fully understand those feelings. However, there are always two sides to every story.

The truth is, I have left the LDS faith. Some of you reading this right now just had your collective jaws hit the floor, because you haven't heard of any of this. Some of you will never comprehend why I've left.  I fully expect this revelation will cause several of you to drop me as a friend, possibly on Facebook, possibly in real life. I hope you don't feel that way, but I fully understand how you might think and feel about it, especially based upon one of the temple recommend questions. But let me offer you my experience of what happened the last time I went in for a recommend interview, in the fall of 2014. When asked if I associated, affiliated with, or agreed with anyone who's teachings were contrary to the church I told them that I had friends who I associated with who believed and taught things contrary to the church. The counselor in the stake presidency kind of chuckled and said, "we all do".

I have written a paper, originally intended for Ann, that explains in detail my reasoning. You can find it here: clickety-click. The paper can come across as a little bit harsh and sarcastic in parts of it. Please realize that I originally wrote it after being severely criticized for my choice and that I was trying to defend my reasoning. I mean it as no personal attack against anyone. Then again, when I was a member, I used to think even slight accusations or condemnations of the Church were all-out anti-Mormon rants. I'll let you know without reading it that I still believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and as the Lord God omnipotent, come to earth in the flesh. The paper also includes my current beliefs and witness. Needless to say, in order for me to go through the ordeal it is to leave the church (especially within my own family and circle of friends), I must believe I'm right.

I hope we can all remain friends and that I can continue to associate with you whom I love. My love for you has not diminished, though you may no longer know what to do with me  and I may wonder what you're thinking. So be it. A man has to do what he believes is right. Here's a very good article, by the way, on how to respond to one of your friends who is leaving the church: check it out.

May our gracious God bless you all.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Identity theft is a pain in the behind

Sometime in 2014 or early 2015, someone opened our mailbox and took some mail. A few months later, we began getting notifications from our health insurance company (Blue Cross Blue Shield) of how much they paid on certain bills--always in my wife's name. Unfortunately, the bills they were paying were for someone who was masquerading as my wife, up in the Seattle area. My wife Ann hasn't ever set foot in Washington State.
As we continued to get more insurance statements we reported them to the fraud people at BCBS. One time, the employee of BCBS told us that the woman who was using Ann's name was checked into a hospital at that very moment and they could catch her red-handed.
Sadly, that must not have happened because we got a statement of the hospital stay, amounting to over $51,000. I called the fraud line immediately, but had to leave a message. The next day we received statements for ambulance service, and a couple of checks amounting to over $1600 in the mail to pay for those services. Okay, we're not stupid enough to cash those checks, and we're not going to do anything with them until I talk to the guy from the fraud department who returned my call when we were gone, and by the time I could call him back, they were likely long gone for Memorial Day weekend.
All I need is to start receiving actual bills from these hospitals, ambulance companies, doctors, etc. I don't understand why, with the number of times we've reported this woman, that they haven't caught her. How is it that you can use someone else's name for a hospital stay, then we call the fraud line right in the middle of that stay, and they still can't catch this woman?
If they don't solve this soon, I may need to call Vito to take care of it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Fitness: It's much easier to get out of shape, than into shape

I have found, through sad personal experience, that it's much harder work to get back into shape, once I lapse and let myself get out of shape. Here's my real life example. I had posted some pics as I reached or nearly reached my fitness goals last fall. I was in very good shape, physically. As a mail carrier, last fall, like every fall in the history of the U.S. Postal Service, business picked up because of Christmas. Beginning about mid-November, I personally became so busy, that I was making it to the gym only 1-2 times per week, when prior to that, I had been going a minimum of three, and more usually four to five times per week. By December, it was down to 0-1 times per week.
As the only bread winner of our family, as the year ended, I found myself needing to get more hours at work to help with some upcoming expenses. So I signed up for the overtime list. I knew going into it that doing so would have an effect on my ability to exercise, but I felt that our needs were more crucial and that I could withstand the three months that I'd be on the list (we are able to sign up each quarter). My trips to the gym followed the same trajectory as they had done during the Christmas season.
Sometime in March, it became unbearable and I removed my name from the list with two weeks to go in the quarter (though we can only sign up on the list at the beginning of the quarter, we are able to remove ourselves from it at any time). I thought that this would create the opportunity for me to get back to the gym on a much more frequent basis. At first, this is exactly what happened. But starting the next quarter, I got back on the list for my own work assignment. There are basically two levels of O.T. that we can sign up for. One is to work only the O.T. on our own routes, and the other is to work O.T. on any route. Since I am a T-6, I do five different routes on their days off, thus, any one of those routes constitutes my own work assignment should there be a sick call, or one of them on vacation etc. Generally, when I have been on my own work assignment, I have gotten far less overtime than when I've been signed up on the other list. That wasn't the case this time.
Our office has had a veritable cornucopia of vacancies over the past few months and this has moved people who would generally have filled in the gap on sick days and vacation days to other routes, and left me (because I am on the "own work assignment" list) to do those routes when needed. The bottom line is, I'm still going to the gym quite a bit less than necessary to get back into shape, let alone reach the fitness level I had achieved back in October.
All these months of not being able to workout like I should be have taken their toll. I'm experiencing physical ailments that I should not be experiencing and wouldn't be if my health regimen was in place. It has not only physically effected me, but mentally, as I have recognized what's happening, but been powerless to change it. I spent several months a few years ago unable to do vigorous exercise because of a shoulder surgery that wouldn't heal properly. So I know all the signs of poor fitness.
I have a solution to that. I have put in a bid on another route, a single route this time. I will get less overtime if I get that route, but I will have much more time to get to the gym and I will take advantage of it. I should find out sometime next week if I get that new route. Likely, I will and I will need to make adjustments on spending and/or retirement withholdings in order to make ends meet. But the peace of mind I feel will be well worth the sacrifices.
Just so you know, my exercise of choice is walking or hiking. I do a lot of running only because of limited time and I can get a lot more calories burned and cardio done in a far less amount of time. Actually, hiking burns a lot of calories fast too, but I don't have mountains close enough to do it frequently enough. I don't like running, and never really have other than when I've been in really good shape, it was fun to run and test myself against other runners. So, I'm doing something I don't especially like, because of the results I get by doing it. It's quick, and it does the job. But if I had the time, I would walk or hike for fitness.
My advice is this. Find an exercise you'll do and do it. Get in shape and stay there, but if you find yourself in a situation like mine, don't lose hope. With determination, you too can get back in shape. I'll be waiting for your pics once you do.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Every which way but loose

Who could ever forget this song? It's an oldie from the movie of the same name. I think I'd actually like to see that movie again sometime.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Injured, but chipper

Apparently, on a recent hike, I re-injured a part of my body that I had initially injured while skiing in January or February. The pain of the ski crash had never fully gone away and I had already been thinking I would see a doctor about it. Today, I called in sick because it hurt to move my legs.  Lifting my right leg up, such as in putting on a pair of pants, or rolling around in bed, hurts like crazy. It was hurting yesterday and got increasingly worse. I couldn't imagine getting in and out of my mail truck as much as I would be doing today.
I'll try to schedule an appointment with my usual guru for injuries, Jim McIntyre, hopefully for today if possible. If not, I have a day off tomorrow, so maybe then. I'm thinking that if I can get in today, and it checks out as just something that needs time to heal, rather than surgery, I'll still go to the gym tomorrow, but not do any exercises that hurt the area affected.
I'm upbeat about it. I'm not dead or dying. I'm actually feeling great other than this particular wound, so I'm anxious to get back into the gym and continue my workouts, which have by the amount of overtime I've gotten over the past six months, been severely curtailed. This isn't really a setback and I'm thinking it's kind of minor, but the fact that it hadn't healed in several months tells me that it may have been a bit more egregious than I originally thought. I'm fairly certain though, that if I had the inclination, I could still do plenty of stuff today that requires upper body strength--you know, like canoeing or kayaking. Well, I could, but I never call in sick to go play.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Hiking: Taking joy in the journey

As a young man, whenever I would go out hiking, my goal was to get to the destination as quickly as possible. There was always some sound reasoning for that--either the destination was a lake, and there was good fishing to be had, or the destination was a mountain peak and I was expecting a magnificent view. But the third reason, pride, was no real reason for my rush to the end of the trail.
The thing I've learned over the years is that there are still times to get up, hurry, and make it to the lake before the good fishing is done. On the other hand, planning ahead, hiking in the night before, and being at the lake when the good fishing begins, is a much better plan. I can still make it to the top of the peak, even if I take time to enjoy the views along the way.
Nowadays, I hike much slower. It's why I don't join various hiking groups who state such things in their "you can join..if" statements as, "you must be able to hike at least four miles per hour", or something like that. Yes, when I'm at my peak, physically, I can keep up with those kinds of hikers. But is is worth it to me? No it is not. Because hiking, to me, is exploring. It is taking the side trails a little ways, or studying animal tracks, looking at cavities in rocks, and finding mushrooms. It is sitting and picnicking and talking with your friends. That's all part of it for me. And planning to come back to a place that's real exciting some day, is also something I do.
Because at the end of the hike, I want to say, I have no regrets. I want to say that I'm not sorry I took the time to do those extra things, because those extra things are part of an adventurous life. So is racing to the top, by the way, but you miss so much along the way. And that is what I mean by regrets. There are things I have done along the trail that if I was racing to the top, never would have happened. And that, would have been something to regret.
Yours truly near the Deseret Peak Trail.