Change: The Only Constant

Fall is on the horizon. I felt her cool breath twice this week. It was a reminder that the time left to enjoy the warm weather is rapidly dwindling.

Many things have changed since my last post. I got a new job. This will be the third job I’ve had this year. Fortunately, each job change has been by choice and not by force; I’ve sought and found better opportunities. I’m finally moving back into a leadership role. I’ll be working more reasonable hours, with a shorter commute. The salary increase is also nice.

I visited Billings for the first time in a few months last weekend. It was strange. The way I remember Billings and the way that it is now are not the same; old fields are now highly developed neighborhoods and strip malls. I feel like a visitor when I go there now. So much in my life has changed that my old hometown doesn’t feel like home anymore. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, though– this month marks seven years since I moved away.

Realizing that I’ve been in Bozeman for almost a decade is bittersweet; this is one of the most beautiful places to live in Montana (and America), but I never envisioned living here for longer than four or five years. In the past few years, there have been many moments where I’ve felt eager to leave this place (these feelings usually crop up during the winter months). As friends have moved away, I’ve felt increasingly isolated. I worry that continuing to stay in the same place is postponing my development and growth as a person. I want to explore. I want to see new things, meet new people, and discover new places.

As for my summer goals, here’s a brief update:

  • I hit a minor slump in my coding goals, but I’m getting back on track again. There is a local FreeCodeCamp group that meets at the local library every other Thursday, and I’m planning to attend the next meeting.
  • I finished reading a book last week: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. It’s a nonfiction account of how some people who lost their homes after the 2008 recession found freedom from their economic woes through life on the road. Ditching their housing costs by buying RVs, vans, or cars to live in, these people find a way to stay afloat. Most of the individuals profiled in the book are middle-aged/retirement-aged, and it’s sad to see how they’ve been forced into this nomadic life by bad fortune (and/or bad planning). It’s a very hopeful and depressing book. I highly recommend it (especially if you’re curious what life on the road would be like). I’m currently reading 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan Peterson; I’ll write about my thoughts on that book in my next post.
  • I haven’t been to the gym or gone outside much since my last post. A number of nearby wildfires started in the past few weeks, and the air quality has been fairly poor lately. This doesn’t excuse my lack of gym visits; my new work schedule should make it easier to hit the gym in the morning again. I look forward to picking up my old workout routine next week.

August 20th would have been Jon’s 26th birthday. It’s been five-and-a-half years since he passed. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. In this period of rapid change, I wish he was still here to talk to about all that’s happened. His death was a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed, and that our time left on Earth isn’t known. It’s a lesson I still need to be reminded of regularly.

I miss you, Jon. Happy birthday.

-Will

The Best Laid Plans…

August has arrived. Summer is rapidly approaching its end. Lately, it seems that weeks are passing by in a blur. I can’t remember another period in my life where time has felt so fleeting.

As you might have noticed, I haven’t updated the blog in awhile. The Thursday after my last post (July 26th), I went to the walk-in clinic to get a persistent (and particularly nasty) cough checked out. I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and sent away with some antibiotics and codeine. I feel a lot better now, but I still have occasional coughing spells. It will likely take a few more weeks before I feel normal again.

That weekend (July 27th-28th), Kelci and I drove up to Rudyard, MT, for her grandmother’s funeral. Rudyard is a very small town on the Hi-Line, about 20 miles south of the US-Canada Border. We spent Friday night driving there, then stayed in Rudyard for most of the day on Saturday (the day of the funeral). We drove back Saturday evening, and spent Sunday resting from the eventful weekend.

Work has finally started to calm down a little and the pace of our labor is now bordering on reasonable. We’re still working 45-hour weeks, but the atmosphere within the shop isn’t nearly as frantic. There’s still plenty of work to do, but it doesn’t feel nearly as harried as it had been in the weeks prior. I’m grateful for the money that comes with working overtime, but I miss waking up later than 4:30 AM. (Gibson was not a great place to work, but I could sleep until noon if I wanted– for better or worse.)

This weekend was the first one in awhile where our days weren’t entirely consumed with familial obligations. Freedom has never tasted so sweet. We spent yesterday catching up on some errands, and then had an amazing dinner downtown at Bisl. Today’s been a mostly lazy Sunday, but I’ve been working on my FreeCodeCamp Responsive Web Design Certification. I completed three SoloLearn courses on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript earlier this week. (SoloLearn has an Android app that allows you to work on the courses from your phone. I was able to work on the courses during my breaks at work and finish the remaining parts later in the evening.) I feel like I’m making some progress toward my goal to learn some coding skills this Summer.

Kickball ended last week, so I’ll have to plan some hikes in order to keep up my goal of spending some time outside each week. I still need to get back to the gym, but I think this recent bout of pneumonia gives me a reasonable excuse for not going the last few weeks. Some progress is better than none though, so I’ll keep trudging forward.

I’ll write here again by Wednesday evening (8/8).

-Will

Motion Blur

The distinguished and highly reputable Wikipedia defines motion blur as:

“…the apparent streaking of rapidly moving objects in a still image or a sequence of images such as a movie or animation. It results when the image being recorded changes during the recording of a single exposure, either due to rapid movement or long exposure.”

The last few weeks of my life have gone by so quickly that it’s difficult to recall individual events in detail. It’s like a fog of emotions and movement and time all melding into one continuous blur, starting near the beginning of the Summer and continuing on through the present.

I was checking the weather today when I noticed that today’s sunset was around 15 minutes earlier than it was a few weeks ago (the first day of Summer was June 20th). We’ve passed that high watermark of sunshine, and now we’re heading toward increasing darkness until the first day of Winter. Each day will be shorter and shorter until then.

It’s a depressing realization, but it’s also very narrow-minded. There is more to life than sunshine. I haven’t gotten out to ride nearly as often as I wanted to this Summer, but that’s my fault. I should have made more of an effort earlier. There’s still time to lay down some miles before the roads are covered in snow…

I’ll write more soon. Writing during the week is difficult, and it’s nearly impossible on the weekends. I’ll find a way though.

-Will

Life Moves Fast…

My last post was on July 14th, and I had the audacity to end it with: “I’ll write another post soon. Stay tuned.

Obviously that didn’t happen. It’s been almost three weeks since that post, and a lot of things have changed since then.

The weekend after my last post (July 15-16) was mostly uneventful. I went for another hike with Alex, and Eli came along for once. We left later on Saturday evening, and ended up running down the hill in the dark. The path we were on was very steep, and the trail is significantly overgrown in many places. There are also lots of little holes, and the trail is mostly loose dirt and gravel. In other words, it’s a deathtrap. We made it down without anyone getting injured (shockingly), and then went downtown for some drinks with some new friends at 317.

The weekend following that (July 22-23) was very eventful, to say the least. Kelci and her roommate, Ashlee, came up from Billings to visit us. It had been a few years since Kelci last came up for a true weekend visit, and we were all excited to go downtown and have a good time. We ended up dressing up for a classy dinner at the Copper, then pre-gamed back at the apartment, and went back downtown afterwards. It was a crazy night, and we had so much fun.

Kelci and I ended up breaking off from the group for a second to catch some air (we had been dancing) out on the back patio of Bar IX. We locked eyes; there had been sparks flying between us for most of the night. We ended up kissing on the bridge under the fairy lights (it was a cliche scene out of a shitty John Green novel [in the best way]).

After that happened, we went back to the apartment for an afterparty. Everyone passed out at around 5 AM, then got up a few hours later to get brunch. It was a helluva weekend.

Here are some shots from that weekend (thanks to Ashlee & Eli for sharing these pics):

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After everything that happened that weekend (and the literal years of buildup), Kelci and I decided to date. It’s been amazing so far. I couldn’t be happier.

I fill you in on what happened last weekend tomorrow (pinky swear). Thanks for being patient with my inconsistent posts!

-Will

Liberation.

It’s 2:02 A.M. in the morning on August 25th. In a mere twelve hours, I will be at work. In twenty-six hours, I will be getting up for my first day of school as a Senior.

Today was a day of celebration. My teeth were finally liberated from their metal jail of braces after three years of torture. I enjoyed a few hours without any hardware in my mouth. Life was good. I went back to the orthodontists’ office a few hours later, and left with uncomfortable retainers. My bottom teeth have a small wire glue on the back. My top teeth are stuck in a plastic-shell retainer 24/7 and my bottom teeth are in a similar retainer at night. I’m wearing both retainers right now and it feels like I’m wearing a football mouthguard. My tongue keeps rubbing against the plastic, tasting the foreign object in my mouth and notifying my brain that there’s an intruder.

It feels like I’m drowning in a million things that I have to do. I have to finish my summer reading for AP English. I have to catch up on blog posts. I have to get ready for the twentyeleven project. I have to go to bed early so I can hope to sleep well during the first few weeks of the school year. I have to get ready for school. I have to get my clothes ready. I have to get used to getting up early for school. I have to fill the car’s gas tank. I have to e-mail people… I have to go to work tomorrow.

It just seems like time is running out. Like there is some deadline I have to meet with a ton of things to do, and if I fail, shit is going to hit the fan. It’s like a mental ulcer that keeps nagging me to keep moving.

Tonight, Jon, Kristin, Anne, and I went to Breakers to play pool. It was incredibly relaxing. Worries seemed to fade away for a couple of hours. We played a few pathetic rounds of pool and had a hell of a time. Kristin had to leave earlier then the rest of us, so the remaining crew went to the movie theater. We made a quick pit stop by the gas station for snacks, and then went to Vampires Suck. After the hilarious movie, we went to iHop to talk about what’s ahead (aka School). It ended up being one of the most hilarious conversations I’ve had in a while. I’ll never look at corks the same again…

It was nice to just escape for a while. It probably seems stupid for me to feel so stressed after coming home from two weeks of vacation, but it’s not. Everything piled up at once after I came home. It seemed incredibly overwhelming at first, but now it seems somewhat manageable. It’s just another day in the life of an angst-ridden adolescent I guess.

That’s all for today. Tomorrow’s post will be one you won’t want to miss. I’ll also try to post the missing updates ASAP. Life is busy, and time is money. Thanks for reading, and remember to comment.

– Will

Road Trip: Missoula

Today is the first day of the six-day road trip. We began in Billings, and I drove three-hours straight to Butte, MT. We stopped in Butte for gas and other essentials, then went back on the highway. My dad drove the rest of the way to Missoula. When we arrived in Missoula, it was in the early evening, around six o’clock. We planned out most of the trip last week, so we didn’t schedule any hotel reservations ahead of time. We drove around Missoula in search of a place to sleep for a little while, and then checked-in at a local chain-hotel.

After we settled into the hotel room, we decided that it would be best to reserve our hotel rooms ahead of time for the rest of the trip (assuming we could). We reserved our rooms for tomorrow and Tuesday, and decided to wing the rest of the trip. We’re going to Silverwood tomorrow, and Seattle on Tuesday.

We changed our plans a bit so that we would definitely arrive in Billings by Friday night. I’m planning on doing a presentation for the twentyeleven project on Saturday (in the morning and the evening), so it’s imperative that I get back to Billings on Friday. We’ll also have more time to check out Seattle and the coast because of a few minor changes. Life is good.

After making reservations and slightly altering some trip plans, we decided to hike up to the M. It’s a fairly steep and zig-zagging trail, but also very rewarding. You can see the whole city from the trail’s high points, and I was able to take a few nice pictures of Missoula.


So that’s it. I have an early start tomorrow, so I’m going to go to bed now. More posts soon…. stay tuned.

– Will

P.S. Thanks for reading! 🙂


Roadtrip Prep, Build-a-Website Books, and Scheduling

Tomorrow is the Epic Summer Road Trip. The main event of the Summer of 2010. A few stops on the trip include: Missoula, Seattle, Portland, Cape Disappointment State Park, Idiotville, Silverwood, and Couer d’Alene. Time to get excited, folks. This is what the entire blog has been leading up to… The last hurrah before school begins. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

As with any trip, packing was required. Packing up all of my clothes for the trip was pretty easy. Packing up all of the tech and books I’m going to bring was fairly easy, but slightly more difficult. Most of my stuff was already packed up from the trip I took to Fairmont a few days ago, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle.

I went into town to buy a few new books to keep myself entertained during the dull moments of the trip (if they ever occur). I bought 1 Hour Website and HTML, XHTML & CSS For Dummies from Barnes & Noble. I ran straight back to the Geek section and camped for a while. I wanted to buy more books, but the geeky-book budget was restricted (that, and all the books in that section were $29.99 and up.). I still need money for the trip, and I also need to buy school clothes… And I won’t get a paycheck for a couple of weeks… So yeah. I need to save some $$$.

The 1 Hour Website book looks OK, but not exactly what I need. I haven’t had much of a chance to dive into the other book  yet, but I will soon. I still need to finish The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging though…

So many geeky books, so little time…

I’m currently in the process of scheduling a date for the twentyeleven project’s creators’ presentation… Everyone has different schedules, so it’s been fairly difficult to nail down a time and date when everyone is available. I’ve decided that I’m going to have to do two meetings, one in the morning and one in the evening, so that everyone can get the proper info. I still need to put some finishing touches on the booklet I’ve been writing for the meeting, and I also need to wait for the dry-erase board, stand, and markers to ship. Everything should be pieced together by the time I get home next Friday. I need to call Off the Leaf on Monday to reserve the rooms for the meetings, and then life will be good. I’m excited to get this project going already. It’s going to be a nice transition from blogging everyday to blogging semi-weekly. I’m sure school will give me plenty of fodder to write about though. 😛

So that’s it. I really need to get to bed now (it’s 1:46 A.M.) because I’m getting up early for the trip tomorrow. Lots of miles to cover, not so much time. I’ll be checking out Missoula’s campus on Monday… Crazy. Thanks again for reading, and stay tuned over the next couple of days. This is the main event, folks! Look for pictures, podcasts, and content galore as I post from the road.

See you then.

– Will

HuffPost Blog Guide: Initial Reactions

I recently purchased The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging from Amazon.com, hoping that it would give me a few tips on the finer side of blogging.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’ve plowed through most of the beginning and it’s already left me with a lot to talk about.

First of all, this book has a definite bias toward liberal-views. It’s fraught with unnecessary political commentary. I realize that this shouldn’t be that surprising as The Huffington Post website is described on Wikipedia as a ” liberal/progressive American news website and aggregated blog”. Yet, after reading that description of the website behind the book, the book still seems excessively political. It’s a guide to blogging, not a guide to blogging about politics and “the Bush years”.

I would not describe my political views as conservative, nor would I describe them as liberal. However, after reading a mere 28-pages of this book, I feel incredibly conservative. The book begins with an introduction where the author describes setting up an anti-NRA website– which immediately sent me into an uproar as I happily own and use several guns for recreational purposes. However, this seemed to be a random occurrence, so I let it slide. I was still in the introduction anyway, so the rest of the book could be different… right?

Wrong. The book discusses the removal of a Republican Senate Majority leader (he was a sleazebag), some negative-references to “the Bush-Cheney years”, how the Republicans used the internet in 2004, how the Obama campaign used the internet in 2008, and still others. I bought this book expecting to get some tips on blogging! Leave the politics where they belong– on your own damned website!

Despite this, the book has managed to suggest a few helpful tips with a side of humor. If the political side-comments aren’t so frustratingly reoccurring, I might enjoy this book.

Another random quirk of this book is its use of the word “she” when talking in the third person. It caught me off guard a bit at first, as I’m usually used to seeing “he” in these situations. Looking back on it, it’s kind of ridiculous to go to that effort to emphasize a side agenda. I believe women deserve equal rights with men, but seriously? IT’S A BOOK ON BLOGGING– QUIT PUSHING AN AGENDA! GAH!

The fact that they used “she” instead of “he” when making third-person references does not bother me. What does bother me is that they’re pushing an agenda that ultimately has no place in a book that’s advertised as a guide to blogging. I want tips about blogging; do your part as a writer and leave your bias at the door. This isn’t an opinion column or a blog– it’s a guide to blogging. Get it right.

I’m going to continue reading this book, even though it manages to frustrate me endlessly. Blerg.

—————————-

A summer-reading reminder postcard came in the mail while we were away on vacation. I still need to start my assignment… I don’t think it’s that difficult, but I might start tomorrow. I still need to pack for the road trip to Seattle (we leave on Sunday) and buy a few random things (camera batteries, car stuff, etc.). I’m excited for the trip. It’s crazy to think that it’s already here, and that six days after I get home I’ll be going back to school.

Back to school… damn. I actually have to start going to sleep at a decent hour instead of the usual 2:00 A.M. time. I’ll also have to get up at around 6:00 A.M for school. That’s a scary thought.

Well, I’m gonna get going. Happy Friday the 13th.

– Will

Kick back, relax, and enjoy the boredom.

You know what’s better then sitting in a hotel room for 75% of the day while your on vacation?

If you said, “Basically everything,” you’re correct!

Today sucked. As much as I enjoy sitting on my ass at home, sitting on my ass on vacation is even less enjoyable. We planned to go swimming at the pool earlier in the day, but the weather wasn’t being cooperative. It was too cold and windy too swim, so we decided to relax inside the hotel room for the day. Later in the evening, some of my parents friends came to the hotel and we all went to dinner in Anaconda. Inside the restaurant, there was a makeshift arcade with a Foosball table. We played a couple of games on the shoddily-built table (I suck at foosball), ate our meal, and then went back to the hotel. We then went down to the pool and swam around for a few hours. The pool was pleasantly empty when we arrived. After swimming, we went back up to the hotel room and it was time for bed.

Day over.

I did manage to take a few pictures while I was trapped… err, I mean relaxing in the hotel room. I tested out the panorama mode too. Check ’em out.

The panorama mode creates a subtle fish-eye effect.

Sunny skies… windy & cool weather.

That’s it for today. Look for a new post tomorrow. Remember to leave your comments, questions, feedback, etc. Thanks for reading!

– Will

Hiking Fail.

Today we went on a hike to Lake Mystic in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area. We had a big breakfast at the restaurant inside our hotel, gathered our gear, and started the drive to the summit. It was a long and bumpy drive. When we finally arrived, the mosquitoes swarmed and feasted on our flesh until a cloud of bug repellent was released into the air. The bug spray provided temporary relief from the blood-hungry insects, but after it’s effectiveness wore off, they attacked with a vengeance. During our short reprieve from the irritating wildlife, we grabbed our packs, changed from shoes to hiking boots, and started up the hill. The trail was fairly steep, and we took short breaks often. All of us are out-of-shape, and my parents and I aren’t used to the increased elevation (Billings is 3124 feet above sea level; Anaconda is 5335 feet above sea level), so hiking up a very steep hill wasn’t a piece of cake. In addition to this, all of us were lugging backpacks filled with fishing gear or food (I carried a backpack filled with water bottles and a CZ .22 rifle on my shoulder). I also brought my new camera along. I snapped a lot of nice pictures of the forest we were hiking in. I also took a few nice pictures of the wildlife we encountered.

We hiked up the trail for nearly two-and-a-half hours until my parents begin to worry that we were on the wrong trail. When my dad and my grandpa looked at the trail on the map, it appeared to only be two miles long. It seemed as if we’d hiked well over then two miles. My dad told us to wait and he would hike up the trail and see if he could find any sign that we were close to the lake. He dumped his gear and began to hike up the mountain while my mom and I rested on some boulders near the trail. He came back a few minutes later with disappointing news. The trail changed from a straight trail to switchbacks, and he feared that this was a sign that we were on the wrong trail. Feeling tired and a disappointed, we began a speedy descent down the trail. We made the trip down the trail in less then half the time it took us to hike up. When we finally reached the truck, we seen two people with horses heading back to their trailer. My grandpa asked them if they had been up the trail we attempted to hike, and if it was the trail that led up to Mystic Lake. They replied that they had gone up the trail, and that it did, in fact, lead to Mystic Lake. They also told us that it took them three hours to reach the lake on horseback. They told us that we were fairly close to the end of the trail when we stopped and turned around, and that we totally epic failed. Game over.

After the hike, we drove around the forest for a while. We stopped at a fishing access area to fish a bit before nightfall, but the mosquitoes swarmed and sent us back to the truck. We went back to the hotel, and went to sleep.

Thanks for reading the blog. Remember to leave your comments, questions, suggestions, etc. below.

– Will

P.S. This post was delayed temporarily due to uploading difficulties. Please excuse the delay. Thanks. 🙂