Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gettin' Stout!

New post from the grave! Impressively enough it's been over 15 months since the last post. I read a few old ones the other day and that's some decent blogging. I mean sometimes it's terrible and then there's manageable times, but on the whole it's alright. Well, the first day of Stout Month is over and that means one thing...MAN UP! There's only so man days to holler at amazing stouts at those special restaurants and I seriously regretting chopping the jihad beard. Still looking like Forest Gump most days but it's just not the same without the Jr. Jesus going on in the facial region. So the point of this month is to taste stouts, grow chops, and (for me) not rock climb. The first two result in lots of friends new and old and the last makes my shoulder happy. See, I separated my AC joint and I figured stretching and drinking beer for a month would be a beneficial way to spend February. Yay TeaM! That and pirating some music like it's my job couldn't hurt much during this shortened month. Well, that's that and I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I read something the other day while I was stalk-searching other people's blogs and found it to be insightfully true. The difficulty in blogging lies in being able to do so even when life becomes complicated and overpoweringly busy. Obviously, I'm failing, but not that many people care anyway. Usually, when people are asked what they have been doing lately, most give a generic response. "Not too much." Some might give a small detail such as, "I've been working a lot." Well, I won't do that. This post has been long overdue and calls for specifics. I'll rewind far enough back that everything will become crystal clear.

A Christmas climbing vacation last year ended before it ever really began, quite frankly. I had an emergency surgery and decided to leave my job as a live-in nanny for more income among other reasons. Immediately I was homeless, but at least I was smart enough to take care of my massive doctor's bills by ensuring my financial well-being. I say this in a grandiose way, but in fact I had told my part time job that I was now free to work as many hours as they could schedule; the more, the better. So began a long road of physical and financial recovery.

Approximately six hours before the emergency room.

The first four months of this year were spent working 50 hours a week without health benefits or paid time off all while living on my gracious friend's living room couch. By the way, thanks again Greg, Sarah, and Max. Things would certainly be different without that grace period. Still, though, I was without a permanent place to live and trying to prove myself everyday at work. I wanted desperately to have benefits, a "regular" schedule, and a room of my own. Slowly but surely I went from being just another part-timer to a real work horse. There were weeks that I slept in the stockroom or in my car simply because I had no other place to go and couldn't afford a different situation. This isn't the most glorious quote, but Mat Kearney once said, "nothing worth having ever goes down easy." I thought this many nights as I slept alone and sometimes sick in these places.

Some nights I slept in the mall just like Corduroy the bear.

Over those months I was given the classic run around by my boss and my boss' boss. My district manager continually told me to improve certain aspects of my job and "we'll see in a month" where I would be. Each month I was always in the same position. I had improved, but it was not quite what they were wanted. (Side note: what does indirect jaron like that mean?) By early summer I had been through two different stores and six bosses for various reasons. Full time associates and assistant managers were hired and quit within months, yet I was still a part-timer working more than 40 hours a week. By April I was literally knocking it out of the park every day I came to work. At the end of each month a top 20 list is posted for several sales categories, and I finally made it. Albeit the category was socks and I was a mere 16th best in the country, I was still proud of my accomplishment especially given my housing circumstances.

A brief pause for a snapshot in that first few months.

My brother came and visited in the middle of May. It was a breath of fresh air, even if it was for only a week. Some how things are always alright no matter how terrible they may seem if he is there. The presence of someone or lack thereof is a powerful thing. I realized my struggle at Clarks was just beginning and it would be a similar test to surviving architecture school. Amazingly enough, I found a great place to live in late May and was no longer sleeping in my car. I quickly settled in and went to work for Clarks even more dedicated.
The top 20 list for June was posted and I couldn't believe my eyes. I knew I had an unreal month, but to be on the list for a third time in a row was great. However, this time it was not for socks alone, but name was on the list in four of the six rankings. The most incredulous part was that I was at the top of the list in the two most important and difficult categories. In six months I had gone from and average, hard-working part-timer to the best shoe and accessory salesman in the country for Clarks. What a special moment. I finally felt like I had achieved something. There was a bonafide period where no one in the country was better than me at my job, plain and simple. In fact, I was almost 50 percent better than the second place finishers among 1000 sales associates, give or take a few. I felt an enormous sense of pride and an increasingly strong desire to do better the next month.

Sometimes, all I can think is how to sell more.

From the beginning of June to the present, I have approached each day or work and climbing the same. I want to be better than I was the previous day. It may be better in a different way, but I want to be constantly improving. Statistically, July was not as absurdly off the top of the charts, but for the second straight month I was number one in the two most improtant categories. This was the point where I wanted a personal goal of being the number one salesman in the company for the year. It will be February before I know for certain, but the numbers are looking as if that goal could be attainable. To be the best in back to back months made me realize that I was not a fluke salesman and I had dozens of customer testimonials to that fact as well. Unfortunately, my hours were being drastically reduced until somehow I was left with only four hours in the first week of August. How could this be? Why me? How did I slip through the cracks? What would I do?
Well, I came forth with an earnest and sincere plea. How can I be treated like this after I have done everything that has been asked? My boss' boss decided to give me full-time status and benefits, but I would have to travel between three stores for the hours. This was not exactly what I wanted, but it was better than no job at all. Two more months passed and I continued on my torrid pace at work and climbing. Every day off I would make the hike at Lincoln Lake for my sanity, and each week would end with me wondering what the other top sales associates had produced. By the end of September, I had sunk no lower than 10th in shoes, accessories, and socks for the entire summer. These numbers were posted under various managers at three of the five stores in Colorado and covering various retail seasons. Unfortunately some things do not change.
As of today I am back to working as a part-time employee at the three stores in order to accrue enough hours to be classified as a full time associate. Again, full time associates have been hired and fired/quit in the past 10 months and I have never really been given a chance. There has been a great deal of introspection and questioning on my part and for the most part to no avail. When you are at a point where it is almost impossible to improve what, then, do you do? I guess this leaves me with a suggestion that came as a byproduct of surviving architecture school, which was my last ordeal similar to this and my first serious strife in life. When you feel you have given all that you can possibly give, step back and realize that you must now begin to work smarter instead of harder.
Lincoln Lake photo courtesy of

Monday, July 26, 2010

Park 5-13

Park visits five through thirteen have been a lot of different things. Some days projects were obliterated and other days the warm-ups felt terrifying and impossible. It has been a solo effort and a mission of exploration at times, while others were filled with so much routine and people that it seemed like a gym. New friends have been made and old ones reunited. History lessons from old masters were imparted upon eager ears. These are a few of the reasons why the Park is so appealing to me. Oh, and all your levels of fitness sky-rocket, but you are left as an exhausted zombie shell of your form self. Usually, I would tell you who sent what and which days it happened, but not this time. Instead, I will tell snippets of stories. They will be teasers, if you will.
Work has been done, and old problems were solved by fresh eyes. Someone pooped in a bag and kept it. Two people hiked to Lower Chaos in 23 minutes (no running). Several dozen tourists watched someone jump into Lake Hiyaha naked. Someone laid in piss. Someone hiked to Upper Chaos with 50 lbs. (that was a mondo and a madrock pad). Someone supposedly was carrying a tent, a belly boat, or a tree band-aid but not a crashpad. Someone literally used the restroom on a climb. Someone continues to get a parking spot at the Bear Lake parking lot on their first attempt each trip. Someone played a banjo in the Upper Chaos meadow. Well, that's pretty much what's been happening in the Park as of late. Here are a few pictures for staring pleasures.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mt Evans 5

Evans was wonderful today. There were tons of people, just like I like it, so there's lots of pads and little worrying about what a fall might be like. Sunny weather, breezey, and sometimes overcast meant great climbing and tanning conditions. Unfortunately, I burned, but it's a small price to pay for an awesome day with new and old friends. Today was also special because it was my first trip to Evans in which I did not go to the Dali Wall. Instead I chose everything else in Area A and we made our first visit to Area B this season. In general, Mt Evans feels like a wilderness, but as soon as you arrive in Area B you have no more doubts that you are nowhere near civilization. Beautiful, serene, and intriguing describe what Area B is like if you have never been. I didn't actually complete many climbs today, but I was falling off of the last move on nearly everything. It's hard to accept such narrow failures, but in such defeats were monumental gains, which were only short-sighted by not doing the last move from the beginning. Here are some photos from Dan Michels and Annie Tedesco of what was climbed today.

Sometimes just getting started feels impossible.

Sometimes you grab the last hold and still don't finish.

Atleast the sunsets are always rewarding for all the hiking.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mt Evans 4

So this season, I am choosing to put numbers with the posts for The Park and Evans since I will probably be going to each at least once a week and it should be a nice way of keeping tabs on how many visits are made. Today Annie, my roommate, and I made her first visit to Evans. Needless to say she enjoyed it much more than The Park. She topped out her first boulder in The Ladder, which I believe to be a true classic in Colorado and put in some pretty good work on some other 3s. Hopefully, she isn't too sore in the morning and keeps up the good work as of late. Below is a picture of her trying Cherry Top Pick, or some other name, near Seurat.

I however got no points again today. I see this as being a reoccurring theme this season, but I'm okay with that. By the words of Ty Landman, "sometimes you got to kill a cat to catch a dog." What a true philosopher and a guy who knows how to consume boulder problems. Today I opted for the Chris Schulte tour of Area A and commenced work on Ground Control and Child Stars. As it turns out, not that many people have sent either, and both problems are of a fairly similar style (roof climbing, compression, slopers, and lip encounters). Both problems turned out well and I hope to be doing them in the next few visits. I wouldn't mind it taking a few more sessions on both if I could do them the same day! Well, I shouldn't get my hopes up too much, because I got spanked on Silverback. Depressing, but that's how it goes most of the time.

Also, a bit of motivation never hurts.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Park 4

Here is an image of a great arete in Lower Chaos. I'm not sure of the name, but it's next to Deep Puddle Dynamics, which is another classic Park climb. For some reason I can't seem to climb proportionally equal boulders in the Park as I can in other areas in so far as difficulty is concerned. Something about the library of holds there seems to capitalize on all of my weaknesses and my strengths rarely come into play. However, I love going and being there. Even going to simply warm-up and take pictures is wonderful to me. Well, hopefully my Park climbing will change soon and I will continue to take pictures of friends and acquaintances that remind me of such an special place. Also, there is a picture of Skyscraper which is a complete death wish of a boulder problem without snow and tons of pads. I am comfortable taking pictures of it for now.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Seasons are a wonderful thing. The changing of weather can be quick and abrupt or gentle and graceful. No matter, what makes it special is that the change is never the same regardless it countless occurences. In the month and a half since I last wrote, it feels wholistcally like summer. Strong sunlight, long days, storms, and new smells dominate where chilly nights and first flowers resided. Quite a bit has changed for me as well. I live in a new place with a new person. I am constantly fighting being sick, but climbing outside is now the overwhelming desire when not working. Work no longer takes up my whole life, which lends time elsewhere. New Year's resolutions were made that include getting a new job, so hopefully the beginning of this season will be fruitful in that aspect. Changed can be frightening if not embraced, but with courage it can be cataclysmic. I'm hoping for the latter in my relationships, work, and climbing.

Here are some pictures from the last month and a half.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Booking It

Running with the Buffaloes was finished this past week! It's a must read for the Boulderite who runs. A great story about a team, a mission, and a fall in Boulder, Colorado. Reading about all the places the team would run and the things they would do was more motivation in the bank for my running. At the same time, it made and makes me long for the days of team sports. Climbing and running are fun things to do, but I sure miss playing things with other people.

Yesterday I decided to give the Boulder Public Library a second chance. After my first visit, it was deemed that no good architecture books were inside there. Upon a second look, it turns out that there is definitely some possibility for some good reading. However, as the saying goes, you can't judge a book by it's cover. Thus, I chose a thin, tattered one about architecture and another on life after the city. The first one, The Tao of Architecture, was finished today. The book references a Laotzu parable at least once on every page, which means an abundance of thinking to be done for a book with with so few pages. Not the most interesting, but some very good points were made; a nice reintroduction into the world of architecture. Well, that's about all the writing I have time for today. There will be another tomorrow.

Friday, April 23, 2010


More reading as of late...Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear. This is the new book on the plate. Lots of running books recently means lots of excitement for returning to running. This doesn't mean I have forgotten about climbing, but sometimes you need to do other things. I have completed three untimed 5 milers at a steady pace and two timed shorter runs. I am against listening to music and running and against wearing a watch. Well, not so much against the watch but not knowing your pace keeps you listening to you body and not focusing on numbers (I already do that enough in climbing).

This running book makes the fourth in two months, and after the first I made the decision to begin running again. Running is liberating, an investment, and a struggle. Most of all, it is rewarding. I was told once that people are less likely to achieve something if they tell others about small successes en route. However, I chose to begin running again about two months ago with a track workout. Four quarters at a stead pace with a quarter jogged as rest between laps. I could not complete the workout, but the purpose was to measure the current fitness level. Four runs, three books, and two months later, it was time to "check in" again. I managed a 5:55 mile on a treadmill at the gym. Certainly not a glorious time for the masses, but it was a personal best for me. The best part about it was setting the treadmill to a pace to follow and realizing that I've been running sizeable portions of my longer training runs at a higher heartrate. It would be nice to run a sub 5 minute mile sometime this summer, maybe even a 4:30, but the joy of covering ground is enough for now.

The climbing is on the up and up as well, as Target would say. I've been exclusively sport climbing for about three weeks now. Prior to that it was more or less thirty days in a row of weight lifting. It seems the running and sport climbing are working well together for now, and this is a wonderful time of year to be living in the Republic of Boulder.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Once a Runner

I finally received my disposables back. Disposable cameras that are left to the elements for an undetermined amount of time and then placed in the muted bio-system of a car produce visually terrible pictures. However, more than a few had a bit of sentimental value. I suppose it should be that way if it takes a person twelve months to take roughly twelve pictures. So none will make this blog, but you might just get one in the mail!

On a side note from this "weekend," which was really not a calendar weekend but a retail weekend, Greg Mionske and I both acquired our first pairs of Jordans. Needless to say they improved our basketball skills exponentially.

Well, I've been working a ton the past week and a half, turned down a job as a tax claims investigator (who wants to help people figure out how they mismanaged a part of their lives for 40+ hr/wk), and started sport climbing for real this time. I saw the bodies exhibit at the Denver Arts and Sciences Museum, which was too cool and such poignant day that I was nearly reminiscing about everything as it was happening. Crazy. I paid another month of medical bills and finished another book. Once a Runner by John L. Parker Jr. is the best book I have read this year. It is second only to The Little Prince on my all-time list, and this is quite a statement for those who understand. I can't remember the last time I sat in a silent room and laughed so much and felt such an overwhelming since of exhilaration as training regimens were described, practical jokes unfolded, and feelings were illustrated. Beautiful, insightful, hilarious, brilliant, and inspiring. Hope the sequel is somewhere near the same ballpark.

One of these days I will have pictures again. And one of these days I will climb outside again, but I'm in no rush for either at the moment.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Born to Run

I finished yet another book today; Christopher McDougall's Born to Run . To anyone who has known me for some time, you will understand the magnitude of me reading a book for pleasure. This one makes it my fourth in two months. Who knew reading could be so compelling! It's the slow drip IV version of the television. Wonderful entertainment.
Born to Run is a nationally accalimed best seller, but this doesn't always mean a person is going to like it. Take The Kite Runner for example. I couldn't even finish 20 pages before I was wholistically uninterested. Anyway, the book was wonderful. The author tells the story of the development of American ultra running and parallels that with the rich running history of a Mexican tribe known as the Tarahumara. Having read this, I am definitely inclined to question my eating habits, run more, and how Michael Hickman's life story sounded as if it could be my own. Strange how insightful and thought-provoking reading can be.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


A year ago this month I strained my back in Bishop. Had I not done that I probably would've continued to climb in Bishop until it was miserably hot. I fell head over heels in love with the area as soon as I arrived. It marked the beginning of a special time in my life. Time with myself, time to explore in every sense of the word's meaning; time to take pictures, meet people, read, get strong, and suck every drop of marrow from each day. It was bliss, but the injury made me leave.

I made the trip the "long way" to Yosemite and continued the journey with only a map and a few days supply of food. I had no expectations and lived each day for the day, not knowing where the roads would take me or where I would sleep. One of these paths brought a disposable camera to my possession. It had 12 exposures already taken on it when I found it, and this past Friday I finally took the last one. It is time to get it developed and see the treasures that have been stored away for months. I wish my life was still that concise and simplified, but I'm finding that it's okay to establish dependencies in relationships, places, and even things.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

365 Day Heartbeat

Well, another day of weight training is in the books. Though, it wasn't much of a question today since I was awake at 4:30. For the record, weight training is mind-numbingly boring. I'm not sure how I ever worked out for 2-3 hours a day for a whole summer. Too much free time. Anyway, it will hopefully have some benefits and maybe even give my heart that extra fitness to get below 40 beats/minute.

So, I watched 7 Pounds with Will Smith this morning before the sunrise. An absolutely wonderful movie. I also watched the sunrise for the first time in many months. This is sad mostly because this time last year I was watching the sun rise each morning and taking hundreds of pictures every day. "Well, some things change, awe but some things stay the same." I also used to draw, climb outside, and send lots of snail mail. Wish some things didn't change. However, I am still sleeping in my sleeping bag, which is more than less a year and a half strong. That said, it's time for some famous Mionske flap jacks, a movie, and that sleeping bag.

Side note: Greg Mionske finally bench pressed over 100lbs. and Rob Gonazales dunked a regulation basketball on a regulation goal twice this afternoon. Watch out ladies or else BOOM!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"The Freakin Weekend..."

Well, the weekend is over and I didn't have to work for once. First weekend off in 3 months and first time to have two days off since I can't remember when. Anyway, lots of fun has been had. I managed to get my first sunburn in Boulder today and play some basketball outside for the first time in 2010. Did the Pearl Street shuffle with Greg and Rob, and watched some basketball at the Lazy Dog. Slept past 8am two days in a row and have my workout streak up to 5 days. Stinks to take time off from climbing, but working can be a little amusing. Went out Friday night with Pierre and Jasmine from Fayetteville. Lots of fun! Got to visit Verve yesterday, which was nice. Got some new clothes from them which means I no longer have to weat the same pair of shorts and underwear. Now if Verve only made basketball jerseys. Not that jerseys are the most performance oriented, but LeBron seems to perform just fine in them. Well, at least I have more options for the upcomming summer bouldering season in the alpine country and don't have to do laundry twice a week.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break

"Pack your bags; we're going places."

As spring sluggishly awakens, this was all I could think of last year. Unfortunately, we're all a year older and everyone seems to be where I was last year: Bishop, CA. So no SB10 for me. No party barges, no tropical drinks, no desert heat, and no open road unless you count an 11 mile stretch of Hwy 36 to and from work. No adventures to be had with one day off a week, only the few spare hours allowing for the tying of loose ends that form my life. However, hard work does pay off sometimes. All the work over the past three months has earned me a promotion, which I took but still would rather be doing something else. As for climbing, the results of "hard work" are often bittersweet and gray. Hard work in athletics is ambiguous to say the least, since it's all relative to the individual. It feels like I've been "working hard," but it's hard to quantify these results when I haven't tested myself outside in months and I'm always on the verge of being seriously injured. Well, no time for "time off" as long as I can still do something, but with so many people leaving town for the week it does feel like a break of sorts. Happy Spring Break (if you have one)!