Test Post for email subscribers

Hello. I have had at least one subscriber mention that it does not seem like their email subscription has carried over from the old boneofcontention1.wordpress.com to the new home of the blog here at nickrenfroe.com. I think i did everything that i could to avoid these kinds of problems, but I am not a WordPress ninja. I don’t even think i have my white belt yet.

I will do my best to not have many of these test messages. Thanks you for your patience and understanding. Please accept this image of Lucas in a submission pose as Guthrey looms over him as a nuisance fee.

G+L.PA
G+L.PA

Merry Christmas Eve Day!

 

There’s no place like home.

Happy Holidays to you dear readers! Welcome to the new home of Bone of Contention. Despite things not being totally finished, I felt that enough was in place to invite you to my new easy-to-remember website/blog – nickrenfroe.com. The “work” area is still under construction, I intend to add a section on Community Service, and I want to have a section dedicated just to dogs – mostly pictures of dogs I know and love. More posts to follow soon…

M&M
M&M

Be safe during your travels whether brief or extended. My wish for us all is to find some peace and focus on the many positives in our lives during this season.

Good Guys
Good Guys

 

What’s the plan, Stan?

Howdy. That title is possibly misleading as I have not finished making the plan, but more on that at the end. Here are the things that I have kicking around in my head these days that I want to write about on the blog.

Mountain Sun
Mountain Sun

PCT
Brevity – as a methodology not a topic in itself. A recurring series exploring single topics in no more than 4 paragraphs
Epistemology – particularly the individually necessary Truth condition posited in the most commonly accepted account – “JTB”
Philosophy of Language – an exploration of why philosophy is done in stilted complex linguistic modalities instead of common speech
Leadership and emotional growth, or Happiness and effectiveness, or How to play and win without being a dick – it is all kinda the same thing…
Exploration of romance in my life, or more precisely, the vast lack of same, and a continuation of the look at/for some of the “why”
Assassination – why isn’t this a more commonly used tool? why do we as a species tend to have icky feelings about assassination but less icky feelings about more “standard” warfare methodologies? Some similar/related questions that seem worth exploring

Death and Life
Death and Life

I got more, but that should be enough to keep us busy for quite some time. I present this list to you, dear readers, because it really doesn’t make much difference to me which of these I write about here on the blog, or the order in which topics are addressed. I want to do another informal poll with you to discover:

1) What do you want to read about, any of these topics, or something else?
2) What kind of post frequency would you like to see? Once a week, once a month, once a day, a healthy mix of all, something else entirely? Bearing in mind that most of the topics listed will necessitate multiple posts for real exploration…
3) Do your feelings about post frequency change when a series is considered, or would you prefer one posting schedule regardless of the number of entires on a topic?

I am sure that other issues will arise that merit inclusion and there will be deviations when necessary. It knocks me out that there are real humans out there who read this blog and your interest, support, and encouragement mean a great deal to me. This is your chance to help shape what will appear here for your reading pleasure.

Right On!

Ramble Bits ©

Fair Warning for new readers – this is only PCT adjacent. If you just came for hikin’ talk, this probably isn’t for you. Feel free to hit the categories or the search options to find some hikey goodness! – Disclaimer Ends.

After about a month of staying up until 3 ish working on plans and general preparations and getting up between 5 and 9, I am almost back onto a hiker’s sleep cycle. In bed between 8 and 10. Up about 5. The next two nights, who knows. My brain is in a bit of a revolt the past week and i have not been able to muster the fortitude to keep it on track. I am even having trouble listening to my audiobook because there are too many thoughts in there and i don’t stay settled. I know this is temporary, and it has been nice for me listening to more music! Though it may be freaking the other folks at my gym out a little bit. When i am in the moment with the tunes, it is all i can do not to sing – but the dancing, air guitar, and head banging cannot be stopped m/. I actually have Rock Neck today from yesterday’s workout.

Casa de Luna (Joe's House) July 2012
Casa de Luna (Joe’s House) July 2012

I expect that my time in LA at Joe’s house will be a further aid to getting back onto a hiker’s schedule as well as finally giving me more hands-on time with my gear. I have only pitched my new tent twice and have never slept in it.  I know this is less than ideal, and it was definitely not the plan. But it is a good reminder that our plans seldom stand up to actual life for very long. I can’t wait to see Joe and Terrie and be in Green Valley again sleeping in the Magical Manzanita Forest! I plan to do a little hiking and might check out the path up to the aqueduct. I will probably hike out to the oasis as well. I expect that there could be some disc golf in my near future!!

Terrie, slightly confused Korean Girl, Joe
Terrie, slightly confused Korean Girl, Joe

My head is so very full of stuff to write about that it is difficult to pick a starting place. I may need to resort to the old outline and bullet point system for a bit to track the very divergent tales. One recurring issue that i have never figured out how to address is dealing with stories that are an integral part of my life but that may not really be mine to tell – or at least not in sufficient detail. Aside from the ownership of events, an admittedly not insurmountable obstacle, there is the impact on others to consider as well. In that regard i am more concerned about the business implications of full disclosure – which is why you have heard very few stories about my time in Doha and Thiruvananthapuram.

Me and Emily - June 30, 1996
Me and Emily Campbell (oldest niece)

Business and matters of the heart – how do you write about stuff without really writing about it? I have no idea. Maybe i am no good at writing that way because i am also no good at all at living that way. With everyone in my life, i always want to get to the point past all the surface crap, where you can be the real you without your defenses up.* Where you don’t have to worry about being misunderstood or causing offense because you have and trust the good feeling you share and because you know that you can work through miscommunications. I am an “all-in” kind of guy and i prefer to spend my time with people who are also “all-in”.  If you are not already nodding your head and saying “yes brother man, i get you”, i offer these simple examples. For me, the best example is the behavior of dogs. Dogs and their bipeds, dogs and each other, dogs and other animals. You always know where you stand with a dog. You know if they want to do what you want to do or if they are just going along because they like to be with you. You know when they miss you. You know when they would rather just nap by the fire. You know when they don’t like you and to what degree. You know when they do like you and to what degree. The other example i offer for those of you who are not well versed in dog is children. I don’t know kids as well as dogs, but i have spent a goodly time with many a youngster and there are some similarities. In that magical time before the conscious brain takes over, maybe it is before self-consciousness (not self-awareness now, that is something else), they leave it all right out in front of you. I like this. I don’t like that. I like you. That guy is scary. Let’s cuddle up and take a nap. I need a hug. I wish she/he would play with me. All of it just right out there in the open. I think that is a great way to live and i deeply mourn that so many of us lose this ability as we age.

Emily and Rachel
Rachel and Emily

Is there a line between boldness and stupidity? Evidence indicates that there is. I am finally pretty clear that such a thing exists. I am even getting better at locating it and abiding by it in business. But for other aspects of life, i am still not very good at these distinctions. I wanna live bravely, boldly, and in the open. I do manage that most of the time, the rough spots generally occur with “new” folks. I don’t know how much of this is normal and how much may be related to having a natural bias towards addiction – If one is good, more must be better. If once was good, all the time has to be the best, right? I am getting pretty good about controlling my relationship to substances, but i can get hooked on people too. How do you know what is really your heart and what is just some crazy expletive that the really freaky diseased part of you is excited about? Stupid heart never checks in with brain anyway. I  don’t know what that guy is up to half the time. But i do recognize him as one of mine because of how he goes about loving what he loves and that he wants to do it all Super Size!

Now that this post is firmly lost in the tall grass, it is probably time to stop.

I should have a more PCT related post coming in the next day or so about physical preparation!

Rock On Peeps. Be Bold. Live fully. Try not to hide!

n

* I am not saying that i always get to this magical place with everyone, but it is my goal, and i tend to spend more time and have longer relationships with folks when we DO get to the point where we are free to be ourselves without any worries or psychic baggage.

Interlude – or where the Frack is Renfroe?

Howdy Folks! I am popping back up after an unexpected absence from blogging. For the most part, i just got busy – which is good. There were some more personal meltdown style events as well, but these were small and brief and navigated if not well, at least better than in the past.

Mother's Day near Holtwood Dam
Mother’s Day near Holtwood Dam

I am still developing my new project for India that i can’t talk much about yet, except to say that things are coming along nicely. I am nearing completion on the initial research and validation stage, working on briefing materials, and hope to begin shopping for seed funding in the next 4-6 weeks.

I have not reactivated the running program, though both that and quitting smoking are on the agenda. I have managed to remain sober, hitting the four month mark at the end of May. There have been few difficult times, but more than i expected. I have not been greatly tempted, and it has been fairly easy to avoid drinking, but i hoped that it would be further from my mind by now than it is. Meaning, i do still think about it, and with more frequency and intensity during stressful times. I am enjoying sobriety. I have not slept this well in years. The biggest and most obvious benefit so far is all about mental health. As alluded to above, i have had one or two trying times, but i have not been depressed since January. With a sober head, it is so much easier to assess what is happening when i start to feel bad, and if not turn things around immediately, at least stop the process of declining into repetitive negative thought and behavior patterns.

A quick example. I had some exciting travel plans around memorial day. The plan fell apart for the first leg of the trip, and for reasons i am still not entirely aware of, that threw me off my game. I started to feel anxious and nervous and a bit agoraphobic. I did not manage to snap out of it and continue with the rest of my plans. I did stay at home, mostly inside. I did struggle with not wanting to see or talk with people when i did go outside, but – that is as bad as it got. I did manage to go grocery shopping and run some other errands. I did clean the house, tend the garden, and do other home based chores. I didn’t wallow too much – and i didn’t drink about it. In a few days, i felt better and jumped back into the swing of things.

Preparations are well underway for the presentation my friend and i are leading for LYP next week, and i am excited about the event. I have made good progress on securing a local paying consulting gig that is also exciting. That i will be able to tell you about, but i will wait until we finish negotiating the details and sign the contract.

I will finish the last few entries for the Apple tech series and get those posted – hopefully this weekend.

Next Up – i think i will probably write about addiction and mental health for a while. The whole picture has not taken shape yet, but i can see how i would like some of the pieces to go. Initially, i will do a bit of a recap of why i decided to get sober this time. I would also like to write about the three other times i have quit drinking. There will most likely be several historical look at various phases of substance abuse covering how and why i got there among other things.

Nick and Jake - JMT start
Nick and Jake – JMT start

Today is the One Year Anniversary of Jake and I starting our John Muir Trail Adventure! I should probably get on the stick and finish the JMT movie project, perhaps to coincide with the one year anniversary of completing that hike…

Just a word before i go

Hey there. It has been a great week and i am really excited about several things. Thursday the 28th I hit the 60 days sober mark and i am feeling good. I have been writing more this week, and while the old fire is still elusive, it has at least been fun again.

There have been some interesting developments with LYP and i am really happy at how several new initiatives there are panning out. I am really proud of the ways we are finding to implement rapid conflict resolution and take the opportunity to learn and grow when faced with challenges instead of reverting to hurt feelings and unproductive behavior. It really is a great group and i feel honored to be a part of it. I might have some more specifics on these developments a little later. It is premature to discuss any of them here, and i frankly do not have the time at the moment.

I stuck with the exercise plan this week and by upping the reps on my three ab activities to 70, twice a day, i am now doing 420 ab exercises a day. Take that squishy areas! I will not be following that program for the next few days, but i will be getting plenty of exercise walking with a full pack all day IN THE WOODS!!

I tried to complete the tech saga so that i could have one post a day released while i was gone, but i did not make it that far. The intro and the first two product posts are finished. The conclusion is about half done. But i still need to write up a few more products, and where possible i prefer not to begin releasing parts of a serial until i have completed the writing. I learn while i write – thus the middle affects the conclusion.

I hope you all had a good week and enjoy some outdoor time this weekend. I will be back at you sometime next week with the launch of the latest Tech Series, or Whining for Nerds, or First World Problems, or …

PreGame

I have been working on the tech post and am at a decision point. I either need to do an exercise in linguistic economy of which i am capable but do not prefer, or serialize the tech post into two or three episodes. I am leaning towards serializing at this point and will know in the next day or so. Either way, I will be mixing some insight with some whining about technology here quite soon.

General news – work is going well. I am not sure yet what form the current India project will take. The more I learn, the more the picture changes, but it is a very interesting project. Of course, working on one kind of new thing makes me have many other new project/product ideas and I am slow cooking development on a second idea to pursue in tandem or as a replacement should that become necessary.

I passed seven weeks off the booze and that is still going pretty well. The biggest adjustment issue remaining (at least so far) has to do with writing. I still have lots of ideas in my head, and I still think that many of them are decent ideas, but the process of writing does not have the same magic to it these days. I expect that this will pass/change with time and so I do still write despite not being filled with energy by the act. My suspicion is that this is tied to a larger and deeper issue related to my long term suppression of emotions and passions. Hopefully I can learn how to feel things and experience passion again without getting overloaded (in any sense).

The exercise front is a bit of a good news bad news deal. I run at night and it has been so cold this month that I have only three runs to my name. I will do more as the weather improves. On the plus side, I have been sticking to the stretching and floor exercise routine. I am doing that twice a day consistently now and have upped my reps this week to hit 360 ab exercises daily. While I am definitely still squishy, I am down to 185 and wearing 33s again. I plan to continue upping the reps weekly by 10 per activity and staying with two-a-day workouts so that I should be hitting around 700 reps of ab-tivity by the end of April!! I do have one day hike and one multi-day hike coming up in March and I could not be more excited about that unless it was back in California with my trail dogs! Whoooooop Whooop!!

Enjoy the rebirth of Spring and treat yourself to some outdoor time.

Comments and Spam

Folks, i am open to commentary, good or bad, from all comers. I do however try to protect you loyal readers from scams and spams. It is possible that i am over-diligent in this and lose some traffic from denying trackbacks from strange sources or assuming that someone who sounds like a newbie looking for advice is actually a spambot just because their address is: 69sexpotkittensinvegas666stealyoursoul

In that vein, i did delete two recent comments that ended up in the spam bin, but in case this is a real concern i thought i should air their issue and address it.

Both commenters said that they love my website and that it looks great in Safari/Chrome but the pages do not look good or render properly in Internet Explorer, so i may have some compatibility issues 🙁

Two things.

1) This blog is a wordpress hosted site. I do none of the design. WordPress looks how wordpress looks – and i am pretty sure the folks at wordpress designed their sites and approve their templates so that they do render properly across all browsing platforms.

2) If this looks bad in IE – i really, deeply, and truly do not care.

That is all.

n

Strike

We have seen the end of Phase I of the romance saga. If you were a little underwhelmed by the fourth installment featuring conclusions, so was I. But this is a process. Some of this stuff I only figure out through the writing, and some of it I only figure out after I have written, listened to your feedback, thought for some time, and written some more. My pal Karen sent me some mail with several interesting points from a perspective I had not yet thought about and that is proving to be quite helpful. I won’t stop thinking about these things, or working on other portions of the tale, but I don’t know when this topic will return to the blog.

I might lighten things up for a post or two featuring technology. And I should probably begin writing some of the backstory of Nick and Booze. Everyone has been very supportive and that really helps. I was surprised at how many folks mentioned that they did not know that this was something I have struggled with. In addition to providing some details to you folks, I do think it will be a useful exercise for me to revisit the issue from a historical perspective. Not so much to enumerate the details of abusing drink, but my turns on the recovery wagon, what worked and what didn’t, and take a look at a broader topic – “how to set yourself up for success”*.

This year I would also like to get to some of the headier topics that interest me and that I think will interest you as well. I am still on the fence about whether or not I want to talk about politics on here or not. But I am going to talk about religion and philosophy. One of my favorite subjects is Truth and I would like to get into that with you guys.

Anyway, I don’t have anything set to go in the queue yet so I will hopefully do some more writing this week. I am feeling OK despite a few days of head/chest cold. Yesterday marked 21 days sober. My body and my head are feeling better and it is time to begin adding in more things. (We will get into this layering of habits in the setting yourself up to succeed section.)

* Probably not the first to ever say it, but the first time I remember hearing this thought expressed in these words was from my friend Jake/Floyd.

I am working on some projects for India so here is a shot from November 1, 2008 – January 11, 2008 – ** Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India.

Outside Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple
Outside Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple

** Jake/Floyd caught the date error. I went back and checked the photo meta data and it is a good thing i wasn’t building a space shuttle! 11/1/2008 vs 1/11/2008. Why can’t we all use the same frackin’ units!!!

Hello. My name is Nick…

Hi Folks.

Disclaimer: Normally i write all my blogs in a separate word processing suite and edit them and ponder them and then post. Today, i am just gonna freeball it and we shall see how it goes.

I don’t like breaking promises or creating false hope, but sometimes that is how it goes. When last i wrote i expected to finish a serialized piece on relationships and self discovery as well as complete the John Muir Trail video. Neither of those things happened.

I went to do some dog-sitting with Mickey and Max and despite their loveliness I started to get very depressed again. A few days into my small-ish pity party, i got some bad news from my adopted hometown Richmond VA. One of my buds and mentors, the fellow i apprenticed with to learn how to lay tile, committed suicide by hanging. Yah, he hung himself.

I was shocked and confused and hurt and angry. I spent a day on the phone with various friends, making sure other out of town folks knew and sharing memories and feelings with others. Over a few days there was a huge outpouring of various kinds on the facebooks, and lots of it was crap. There were many people that had not said a kind word about this guy in a decade talking about what a tragedy it was and how awesome he was and how much he will be missed – and that really pissed me off. Later, as i looked back, maybe there were a few attention whores out there, but probably this was people trying to find their own way to deal with grief and shock and in many cases guilt.

This was a difficult human being. He was brilliant, a master craftsman, and a guy who could build or fix anything inanimate. But he was also not the most gifted at interpersonal relationships and communication. Like many tradesman i know, he was a recovering alcoholic and had lifelong battles with depression. Over the past few years, it was obvious that his mental health was deteriorating. He went on and off the wagon again a few times. He wrote more and more bizarre things on the internet, and was difficult to get ahold of in person. Sometimes i would try to visit him when i returned to Richmond, and other times i avoided him and spent time with people who are easier to get along with. I think lots of people had a similar arc in the past few years of doing a little bit of reaching out and a lot more of avoiding or ignoring him. And i believe that is where the feelings of guilt come in. I don’t feel responsible in any way, but i do wonder if i could have done anything to make a difference.

The anger is harder to comprehend. I am angry at him for giving up. I am angry at him for choosing hanging (though i don’t know that any method would be easier to tolerate). I am angry at the outpouring of what feels to me like fake false crap from “mourners”. I am angry at myself for feeling that way about other people’s reactions. I am angry at me for being angry. And i am angry because i am terrified – because of how similar we are in so many ways.

I have felt myself slipping mentally since December. I have taken a few minor steps to try and get a handle on things, but i made no serious commitment and took no decisive actions. I have even avoided several things that i know are good for me including finishing the piece i started months ago on relationships. I have had the backstory part finished for at least 5 weeks, i just got stuck on the conclusion – the “so what” – the “what have you learned” parts.

And off and on since December, i have not done very well with controlling my drinking. I spent wasted a few more days at the bottom of a bottle after hearing the news about my friend and then i realized that it was time to suck it up. I don’t know what all my problems are, and i don’t know how to fix all the ones that i do recognize, but there is one that affects all the others. I have not said these words in a long long time, but here ya go.

Hi, my name is Nick and i am an alcoholic. It has been 11 and a half days since my last drink and today i want to be sober and live more than i want to get drunk and hide. Thanks for letting me share.

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