Category Archives: Life

Various topics on life

#tiethursday – Feb 13 – Snow Day!

Sorry folks, no #tiethursday this week.

I didn’t even leave the house on Thursday, so I saw no reason to put on a tie. We were in the midst of the biggest winter storm this area has seen in years. Over seven inches in Winston-Salem, NC! Needless to say, our city was essentially shut down and my office was closed for the day.

While I enjoy driving on snow, I don’t enjoy driving on snow whilst other people drive on the snow. And since we never lost power, my wife and I opted to stay home for the day.

We did have some fun though!

What started as a simple path down the yard turned into a full-fledge pseudo-luge course. When my wife looked at the stairs and suggested using those for a starting block, I called the idea unsafe. But then the inner reckless child in my broke through and took over. The walls kept getting higher and the speeds rose through the day.

It’s not often that we get to enjoy snowfall like this in North Carolina, but I think we did the best with what we had.

I’ll have a tie on next week, the early forecasts call for 60 degrees.

#tiethursday – Jan 23 – Button-Down Crisis

Do you ever find yourself in a “crisis” where you seem to realize you don’t actually know who you are?

Think about it. Do you even know who you are? And when you start to question yourself, do you lose the confidence you used to have in simple decisions? Let me explain.

Someone, somewhere, prints these out and uses them for "inspiration"
I have worn ties with button-down collars multiple times in my life without hesitation (never in a suit, don’t worry). I’d button that sucker up, look in the mirror and feel confident that I would look nice that day.

But this morning, I hesitated. For a good five minutes I pondered whether it truly was appropriate to wear a tie with a button-down collar. And why? It’s not like there’s any fashion expert at my office who would call me out. Why all of a sudden was I questioning my decision making?

I’ve faced this dilemma multiple times as the years of adulthood fly by. I’ve always struggled with having 100% confidence in my decision making when there is no pressing time or safety issue. Imminent disaster ahead with very few ways around it? Bring it on. Choosing a particular decoration for the office conference room? Dear God, let’s form a committee this is entirely too much pressure.

Of course, this button-down/tie dilemma was perfectly timed to go along with our training at work today, which completely validated that I am, indeed, just a tad bit insecure in making decisions. Turns out, I’m so concerned about receiving approval and support, that I often prevent myself from making a decision out of fear for NOT receiving the approval and support.

So maybe, just maybe, I was so concerned about wearing the button-down with the tie because part of me is concerned it will set off a string of comments on this blog where fashion experts criticize my decision. Why? I mean, honestly, why should I care? In addition to the fact that maybe seven people will read this post, this combo passed my eye test, and more importantly my wife’s, so I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

In the end, it turns out there is some debate on the matter, but overall I think it looks nice and work-friendly. And this tie, which was a gift from my brother-in-law, matches well with the shirt pattern. So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.

Re-blogging & Post-Marathon Thoughts

Greetings.

If you’re a regular follower of my blog (you’re not), you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t exactly done a great job of consistently posting content in about three years. In that time, a lot has happened. Fortunately for you, I’m not going to bore you with paragraphs about the intricate details of my life. Just believe, as you should, that I accomplished a great many things and generally lived a great life.

I’m writing this post, because frankly, I miss writing. I use to do it often, but then I started caring about things like grammar, commas and what people would say to what they read. Fuck that. Especially the commas.

When 2013 rolled around I had a few goals in mind. One of those was to be “more bold.” As in, stop worrying so much abut what people think and just go out and be a boss. Life is too short to do otherwise. So… I’m writing again (the Canadian in me apologizes if you don’t like my writing – would you like a doughnut?).

I realized upon re-reading posts from my past that even though what I was sharing may not have been entertaining, the posts are extremely important to someone like me who often struggles with recalling memories.

So I’m sitting here, hyped up on Harris Teeter Zero Calorie Cola, and sharing my thoughts on my most recent life event: running in the 38th annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. on October 27.

Before we begin, understand that a part of me will always be disappointed in how things ended up in D.C. that day. I walked away from that finish line frustrated and immediately regretting some of the strategy decisions I had made. For a great many people, finishing a marathon in just over 4 hours and 30 minutes would be a monumental achievement. I try to remind myself of that when I think of my time as a failure. For some perspective, let me take you back a little bit.

I remember the first time I had decided to run a marathon. It was way back in early 2011, and my awesome wife and I were looking for a challenge. We decided to partake in the Mistletoe Half-Marathon. 13.1 miles seemed like a impossible task, but my sister had just run one so it couldn’t be that hard. We diligently trained all year and that winter I finished with a respectable time of 1 hour 47 minutes (looking back, I have no clue how I did that), and decided we’d run in the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon. What’s the harm in doubling the distance? How hard could it be?

After a summer of training and preparation, I was ready to take on the 2012 Marine Corps Marathon. I had a goal time of 4 hours and all of my training pointed towards that goal being easily attained. My thighs had other plans. At mile 16 every muscle above my knees and below my hips seemingly turned into stone. I jogged, walked and stumbled my way to a 4 hour 35 minutes finish and sought answers. I didn’t cross-train enough. I didn’t pace-train enough. I drank too much water. I drank too much Gatorade. I didn’t drink enough Gatorade. I ran in a pack. I went out too fast. I went out too slow.

Either way, I had lost to Oprah.

I decided the answer had less to do with my actual diet during the race and more to do with my pacing strategy and lack of pace and cross-training.

So 2013 rolls around: I’m going to beat Oprah.

I trained all summer following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan as diligently as possible. Maybe missed 2-3 runs all summer. I bought a better bike and started cross training. I gave myself plenty of rest days and made sure to keep muscles loose.

The big day arrives and I’m completely relaxed. No rocking pump-up music. No “getting in the zone” moments.

I took the approach that my training had prepared me to easily accomplish my goal and now was the time to relax and enjoy the moment. I wasn’t even nervous. I was in a great mood and nothing was going to stop me. I didn’t care that my back had been hurting for a week, as long as I stayed upright everything was peachy keen. I danced waiting for the start.

After the most spectacular display of skydivers flying American flags I’ll ever see, the Howitzer sounded and the marathon was underway. Everything was going extremely well.

I ran the first 9 miles or so with my father-in-law and training partner, Jim. We ran at a good pace as the crowd loosened up, and kept up a good conversation and were in generally good spirits. However, I noticed that our respective paces had started to differ and I would find myself about 10 feet in front of him if I zoned out for more than a few seconds. This was starting to stress me out, and I had a very strict “No Stress” policy. I was concerned as well that my legs would again lock up if I kept limiting my pace. So I got his permission to break the fellowship, gave him a hearty “Good Luck” and let myself pull away.

I proceeded to follow my attack plan. Run at a comfortable pace. Stay relaxed. Enjoy the scenery. Walk through the water stops. The next ten miles were pretty fantastic. I laughed at the signs (my favorite was “New PR = BJ” that a woman had made for her man in the race) and high-fived the little kids that held their hands out.

Despite the shirt saying "Charlotte" I still got some "Go Irish guy!" cheers...

My mother took this photo. I was feeling fantastic and even stopped to hug my parents.

But mile 20 brought a familiar feeling that I had feared all year. Thighs = Rocks. If you’re an athlete, I’m sure you’ve felt this before. The mind and lungs are willing, but the body is not. I immediately began a new plan of attack hoping to walk out the cramps. It seemed like things were working, the thighs were loosening up and I had some mild success for 2 miles or so. Jim caught up and this inspired me to forget the cramps and rejoin him for the final stretch.

“Hahaha, think again, asshole,” my thighs replied after only half a mile.

This time it was worse. There wasn’t a muscle in my left leg that wasn’t locked and my right leg wasn’t much better. Jim tried to encourage me on but there wasn’t much hope. He went on, as he should, and left me by a tree as I tried to stretch things out.

I have a policy in life, “it could always be worse.” And as I watched people pass me by as I hobbled along for the final miles, I reminded myself of this often. There wasn’t a chance in my mind that I could beat Oprah and I should enjoy the sights and sounds of the finish regardless. I even enjoyed a doughnut along the way.

Of course, in hindsight, maybe I should’ve pushed myself a little bit harder. My official time was 4:30:47. Oprah’s time was 4:29:15. ONE MINUTE AND THIRTY-TWO SECONDS. Over twenty-six miles! That is, literally, less than 4 seconds per mile.

Needless to say, I’m not happy.

Yes, Oprah had a coach with her. Yes, Oprah probably had folks clearing room for her so she didn’t have to deal with crowds. Yes, she probably released bees to cause general mayhem. Yes, it was 1994 and not everybody had a cellphone (they had these things called pagers).

But still, I’m that guy. That guy that couldn’t beat Oprah in a marathon. And that sucks.

My wife and father-in-law? They beat Oprah. Of course, my wife is an Ironman, so she SHOULD beat Oprah. And my father-in-law did an incredible job of pacing himself. They’re awesome. Even if they didn’t beat Oprah they would still be awesome in my book. I can’t help but be jealous of them.

To make matters worse, the official photographers of the marathon captured some fairly depressing photos of me looking defeated. “Look at this loser, he looks ready to die!” is probably what they said as they sorted the photos. I’ve contemplated buying the series and framing them. Just look at this sample:

I may have actually muttered "fuck you guys this shit sucks" towards other runners at this point.

All hope is lost.

I should use that photo for motivation in my training. I’ve got to do better.

So I’m running another marathon. I said that I was done with long distance after this MCM. But I cannot be the guy that lost to Oprah. I haven’t chosen which one I will do, probably not the Marine Corps (even though it is a GREAT race), but I will do one soon. And I WILL beat Oprah. But until then, this is what I picture when I look at my MCM medal:

This is one of my top 50 favorite things on the Internet.

I’m going to recreate this in a victory post a year from now.

Cooper River Bridge Run, 6.2 Miles in pictures.

The Start (40 minutes later than usual).

1 Mile.

2 Miles.

3 Miles.

4 Miles.

5 Miles.

6 Miles.

Done in 47 minutes.

Too tired to smile, obviously.

On Interviewing and Seeking Employment…

As most of you know, I recently accepted a position and began working at Inmar, CMS Promotions Logistics in Winston-Salem.

What do I do?

Well, I’m an Account Representative in the A-segment in Client Operations. Jason…..what?

Basically my job is to invoice the manufacturers and pay the retailers for coupons used by consumers. Got it? Good.

But now that I’m fully employed and on the training regimen, I can finally say what I want about the whole interviewing process.

First off, it sucks. Its a game, and it really isn’t worth it if you don’t know anyone who can give you a solid recommendation and reference. While you may get a job by applying as many places as possible, your best bet is to exhaust all of your contacts. My reference came from one of Jenn’s co-workers. Look everywhere you can.

Secondly, the people you’re interviewing with could be jerks. I’m serious. Don’t think that everybody likes you and won’t let you down. I’m an extremely trusting person and give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but I have to admit I was a little let down.

For those conducting interviews, please respond to emails and keep the candidates updated. This is extremely frustrating. I had countless thank you emails go unanswered regardless of being invited back to interview a second time. This is extremely unprofessional. I even had one company not call or email after the SECOND interview. They specifically told me, “We’ll be in touch with you next week.”

I wanted anxiously on Monday… and then Tuesday… and then Wednesday… I emailed on Thursday to keep in touch… hear nothing on Friday. On the following Monday I called and left a message with my interviewer. I never heard back. No courtesy email, not even the standard form ones. What a joke.

In addition, if you’re conducting interviews be wary of the things you say. The previously mentioned interviewer also remarked that she worked with “complete idiots” and “hated her job somedays.” Tell me again, why am I interviewing here? You hire idiots and you hate your job?! Sign me up!

The best feeling I had during this entire process was the last week of unemployment. I had two offers on the table. After almost half a year of searching and interviewing resulting in countless rejections, I had TWO offers. When I sent one company an email notifying them that I would not be accepting their offer, I got this email in reply…

Thank you for message Jason.  We decided to pursue another candidate, since we didn’t hear back from you.  We hope that you made the right decision and wish you the best in your future endeavors.

I have a few problems with this email.

  • I was in contact with them. They gave me no deadline, and it had only been a few days since the last conversation.
  • Why does she feel the need to mention “another candidate”? I can’t think of any reason other than to try and make me feel bad and her feel better. It is simply unnecessary.
  • Oh yah, they “hope that [I] made the right decision”. Another unnecessary statement.

If I ever receive an email rejecting my offer. I am going to keep it simple…

Thanks for letting me know. While it is not what I had hoped, I am sure you are making the best choice for your career goals. Best of luck, Jason.

Seriously.

I knew I felt different on Friday!

April 17th was a really good day. It was the day after I got a job with Inmar, so I was already in a good place. Jenn took me out to lunch at a nice restaurant and the parents took us out for Japanese that night. It was just a great day all around.

But, I felt different all day, and I couldn’t figure out why. Now I know.

I WOKE UP CANADIAN!!! How awesome is that? I am now eligible to be a citizen of both the United States and Canada! I can be both arrogant and overly-friendly at once! With two Canadian parents, I am definitely eligible, and all I have to do is send in my information, write a check for $75 and then I’ll receive my certification that I’m a bonafide Canadian.

This all raises interesting questions. For example, who do I cheer for in the Olympics? I technically have allegiances to both nations now.

Should I go back to being a Leafs fan? Heavens no, I don’t enjoy misery.

So, all of my friends that are already Canadian, I hope you will welcome me with open arms and a nice bowl of poutine, because i’m ready to be Canadian.

Agility training with Kenzie

While channel surfing late one evening last week, I came upon the AKC National Agility competition. Jenn and I had often joked about trying agility out with Kenzie, but neither of us thought that Kenzie would be good at it. After all, she is sort of short, stumpy and perhaps a little chubby (maybe she takes after me).

Either way, I was hooked to this competiton. The connection between the dog and handler was amazing. The dogs were hurdling over bars, jumping through hoops, conquering see-saws and best of all, running through tunnels all at breakneck speeds. Frankly put, it looked like fun. But still, could Kenzie do this? Most of the dogs I kept seeing were leaner and more athletic, so my dream of an agility dog seemed short-lived at best. But then a Golden came on. Not only did it compete flawlessly, it won its class in thrilling fashion. My mind began to change, maybe Kenzie could do this. Then the announcers stated that Goldens are perfect for agility and extremely easy to train.

Yes. My short-lived dream was now a definite probability.

After reading about some basic beginning agility training, Jenn and I set up our own little course in my back yard. Using chopped up bits of Nathan’s Famous, we began teaching Kenzie to do simple things such as walk on a raised plank and jumping over obstacles. I was amazed at the ease (and eagerness) that Kenzie exhibited. For such a seemingly chunky dog, she sure can jump.

The key is to remain patient and be consistent with your directions. The dog needs to understand exactly what you’re asking it to do, so timing is also very important. Within an hour, we had Kenzie conquering two jumps and a plank all in one run.

It was a fun day, and I used the opportunity to grab some good dog jumping shots.

Look at the concentration!

Look at the concentration!

Ode to the Ol’ 94 Jetta

She was my baby.

My loud, ugly, obnoxious and unruly baby.

Teal was once cool.

My 1994 Volkswagen Jetta. It could from 0 to 60 in less than a day, and always made a habit of turning every ride into an adventure. She was teal and not ashamed of it. She could sit four uncomfortably, but very often carried five on long journeys. I remember Andrew, Ben and Tom all sitting in the backseat enroute to Mrytle Beach. I’m amazed the car could fit them all across the back, but more so that it had the power to make the journey.

There are two very important events in the Jetta’s life. During my senior year in high school, the exhaust basically all-but-detached from the car as I exited the school parking lot. I should have been angry. But I enjoyed the angry noise that was now emitting from my otherwise harmless engine. Imagine, if you will, a kitten with the roar of a lion. That’s what it sounded like. I explained this to my dad, who proceeded to replace the stock exhaust with a straight pipe attached to a glass pack. The car came home even more annoyingly loud than before. I loved it. That car could be heard from over a mile away.

Between freshman and sophomore years of college, I decided I no longer wanted a teal automobile. I pitched this crazy idea to Dad about building our own paint booth out of wood and plastic where we would replace the ugly color with a more manly midnight black/blue. Without fully thinking it through, we went ahead and sanded the entire car down one afternoon. Following that, we covered the entire car with flat black spray paint. Yes, we painted my entire Jetta with spray-cans from Walmart.

We never actually got around to painting the poor girl, and its never had a bath in the past 3.5 years. The engine no longer runs smoothly and mom can’t wait to get rid of it. I’ll miss my old Jetta when she’s gone. I just wish I could’ve had one more day to spend with her, roaring around town with the most obnoxious exhaust known to man.

Sure is ugly these days.

Sure is ugly these days.

From the Memory Bin – Sixth Grade New Love (#2)

And we return back to the series.

This entry comes to us straight from sixth grade, a year full of drama, new friends, NWO/WCW obsession and of course, young love. I had at least two, maybe three girlfriends that year, if I remember correctly. I believe two of them had the same name.

Signed by “G” over the erased original name, it is obvious that this love letter signaled the beginning of a new, but apparently forbidden love. Read below, and as usual, the names have been changed (except for my own):

DO Not Show to Anyone!!!

Haha, too late for that.

Dear JG (JGilfish13),

That movie yesterday was sort of cool how they carve pictures in gold. Sorry I couldn’t talk to you last night and sorry I can’t go to the dance (I didn’t know this was going to happen, you know, us two going out). Anyways, I haven’t told my parents yet, have you!?? I am probably not going to because it ([Thomas]) was making me get bad grades and my parents would probably get mad.

Well, this is going well so far. She’s not going to tell her parents about me? What was sixth grade Jason thinking here? And [Thomas] was one of my good friends, why am I going after his ex? Terrible.

I was kind of glad [Thomas] dumped me because now I’m getting good grades and because while I was dating him I thought you and [Will] were a tad bit fine (Don’t tell [Thomas] or [Will] and don’t take it to heart/tell no one what I have just said).

This is the weirdest start to a relationship. Sixth grade was messed up. I’m about to date my friend’s ex, and she had a crush on me and our mutual friend while she was dating [Thomas]. On top of that, I can’t “take it to heart” that I’m a “tad bit fine”?

So wuz up! I liked the substitute, did U?!? Sorry I keep changing the subject there’s just not much to talk about. Oh no, I’m starting to sound like [Wendy]! “God help me!!!”
Anyways gotta stop writing.

Love Ya!,
G

Have to love the abrupt subject change there. She had obviously grown nervous and anxious about the subject matter and no longer wanted to discuss it. Strange reaction considering this was a letter and not a face-to-face conversation.

Honestly, what was I doing? There were tons of warning signs here, and if this were modern times, I would never do such a thing like date my friend’s ex-girlfriend! Even if she had a crush on me while dating him!

Oh wait, I guess it’s true, somethings never change.

Have you revisited your Memory Bin lately? We all have one, tell me about it!

Velociraptor Awareness Day – April 17

Mark it in your calenders. April 17. Velociraptor Awareness Day. This is not a joke.

Remember Jurassic Park? They can open doors, people. They’ve got talons that can gut you in an instant, and they’ll eat your guts as they fall out of your belly. Yes, this is serious business.

On April 17, I encourage you all to take the day off, cancel all other activities and spend your time making sure your house/workplace/residence is Raptor-proof:

  • Windows need bars, they can easily break through glass
  • Replace all door handles with door knobs, they have no problem with the handles
  • Make sure all floors are polished and smooth, their feet will have little traction
  • Don’t bother with security cameras, they probably have some in your house
  • Have a spare cow hanging from the ceiling, it can be lowered to distract them
  • Install three deadbolts on every door, they are very crafty

Remember, Raptors are deadly killing machines. If you see one, you’re already dead.

Clever girl....

Clever girl....

For more tips, visit the facebook page for the event.

Do not take this lightly.