Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I've been to the top of this mountain. The picture was taken from Rocky Mountain National Park and the mountain is Long's Peak, which is over 14,000 feet high and is one of the most difficult fourteeners in Colorado.

The best time to hike this mountain is in mid to late August when the snow pack is the lowest. The hike is sixteen miles round trip and must be started early in the morning..... like 3:00 am. Some hikers start up earlier. It is very cool that time of the morning, but don't worry, you soon will be sweating. You will need a pack with several bottles of water, energy bars, ibuprofen, a rain shelter, and some band aids. You will also need very good hiking shoes, a light, and a partner to hike with. You will also need good knees and ankles and not be afraid of heights. Oh, and one more thing.... not be afraid of dying: many have on this mountain.

You will start out at the trail head and join in a line of several hundred other hikers in the darkness of the morning. As you gain altitude and look back you will see a long winding snake of lights from other hikers who are coming behind you. The trail is always steep except for the boulder field which is about half way up and is a place where some hikers camp over night. After the boulder field, which is above the tree line, comes the eye which includes a short vertical climb and going through a small eye in the mountain. This is where a lot of the hikers drop out. Those who are afraid of heights.

Once you are through the eye the trail gets narrower with the mountain on one side of you and air on the other side. The trail also gets much steeper and there is a small rock climb on this portion of the trail. Unless you are in really good shape and used to the altitude you will be stopping often to get your breath. At one point you will turn the bend in the trail and come to a place that is perfectly flat, except it is tilted at about a 45 degree angle. This is where the push to the summit begins and this is where a whole bunch more hikers drop out. This is also the most dangerous part of the trail.

The push to the summit may not be the most difficult part of the trail. It runs about a quarter mile, but it is definitely the most nerve racking and the most dangerous. On this portion many hikers have lost their gripped and simply rolled off the mountain to a drop off of several hundred feet. If you have shoes or boots that grip well, you can walk up this portion of the trail to the summit. If you are fearful or don't have great shoes you can kind of go up here on all fours, grabbing fissures in the rock with your hands. Don't be embarrassed, most people go up this way as the drop off below looks pretty ominous.

Then suddenly you are at the top, which is flat, and is about the size of a football field. Here you will find rock shelters that have been built to protect you from the wind.... and you will use them because the wind is blowing and the temp is about 40 degrees. You'll take some pictures because the view from here is awesome, you will eat some lunch because you are famished, you will drink some water because you sweat a lot even in spite of the coldness.

After a fifteen minute to half hour stay you will start back down. You want to beat the afternoon rain and lightening that often occurs at this altitude. And guess what? You are a good conductor of electricity.

The hardest part of the descent is the first part. As you start down you see the flatness, the steepness, and the abruptness of the drop off. Again, with really good shoes and fearlessness you can walk down this slope. But don't trip or you might do summersaults right off the mountain. Or you can do as a lot of hikers do, plant your butt on the mountain and like a crab scoot down on the seat of your pants. It's weird, but safe. After that it is a long steep hike back to your car. Believe me, the seat of your car is very welcome.

If you have any Starbucks left in your cup, that is welcome, too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Couldn't Get Away

Every now and then I have a client that I can't stand, but for some reason they like my work and keep me around. In fact, I hate going there because it is hard to get away. Dwight is such a client.

I was there to install a fence post and to paint his swamp cooler. But before I could get started he had a few other things that I needed to look at. I had scheduled three hours for my work at his place but he was acting like I was there for the day.

When I looked at his swamp cooler It was obvious that he was wasting his money because it consisted mostly of rust. This was not just surface rust as it was rusted through in most places. I tried to talk him out of it but he insisted. So I set my ladder up to his roof and removed the panels. I scraped and painted.... got stung by a bee, and scraped and painted some more.

When I was finally finished four hours later, he wanted to apply yet another coat of paint. Fortunately I talked him out of that. I picked up my tools and carried them to my truck. When I returned for my ladder I found him on the roof doing some other work. I reminded him that I was already late for my next appointment. I was informed that he would be down from the roof in a few minutes. With Dwight, nothing is ever a few minutes.

I left there vowing I would never work for him again! My wife said, "You've said that before."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Why I Won't Vote For Romney

The last general election, if Mitt Romney had been the Republican nominee, I would have voted for him. But this time around I will not, and I have no one else in mind that I would vote for either. The reason I won't vote for Romney is because he has turned into a Republican Obama. He knocks Obama for his financial policies but I see little difference between Obama's policies and his own.

Today the Wall Street Journal came out with an article stating that Obama's, oops, I mean Romney's advisor are urging him to promote Obama's health care policies. It is these very policies that are helping with the killing of our economy. There are also other areas that Romney is acting like a Democrat. He has also stated that he feels that he is the best candidate to work with the Democrats. Maybe that is because at heart.... he is one. Working with the Democrats means letting them have their way. They've had their way and look at the mess our economy is in. We need someone who will stand up against them. Mitt Romney is not the man!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Redeeming the Time

The past couple of months has been a frenzy of activity as it relates to my work. There were always two or three jobs in progress on any given day. Time was a rare commodity, and spare time was non-existent. This all resulted in long work days and not enough sleep. My deteriorating knees also felt the pain.

Just now when I think things are letting up, the phone has started ringing. A ringing phone means more bids which means more work, which means less time.

Well, today is Saturday and I'm sitting on my deck.....blogging of all things. A dish of mountain mix is next to me and a cold bottle of water is on my other side. I'm not doing anything important..... except enjoying life for a change. There is a "time for everything." There is also a time to redeem. "Redeeming" the time can mean several things. It can mean staying too busy to enjoy life. But right now.... I'm "redeeming the time."

Lazy bumb! Hmmm, this is nice.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hooray For Mitch McConnel

It's finally happening! The truth is being told. Mitch McConnel is the politician that had the guts to say it. Concerning the country's fiscal problems he said: "The real deal cannot be made as long as Obama remains in office." The Republicans know it, the Democrats know it, The President knows it, and soon the public will know it. Cutting the deficit and holding the debt ceiling down are a must if we are to avoid another recession. Obama's QE2 did not work and borrowing more money to pay interest on money we already borrowed will not work. It's time to take the President's credit card away until he can control himself.

We have all seen what President Obama's policies have led to. We have much higher gas prices than the day he took office. We have 35% higher food prices. We have a continuing flow of foreclosures and homes that continue to go down in value. We have employers afraid to hire because of Obama Care. And now the jobless rate is going up again. Mean while we are paying welfare to millions when we can no longer afford that level of welfare.

What is our President's solution? Raise Taxes! He just can't stand it that there are some who are savvy enough to make a good deal of money. These are the people who got rich by creating jobs. Taxing their wealth away will erode their job creating capabilities. We will always have the rich, the poor, and the in between. As jobs are created the rich may get richer, but so will the poor and the in between unless they choose to remain the same. The more jobs created, the less welfare will need to be paid.

You might think that I am anti entitlements and welfare. Actually not. I am anti paying welfare to able bodied people who prefer to sit and take a free ride instead of hustling for work, being creative, and endeavoring to make it on their own. Anybody can throw up their hands and give up. Not much spunk there. Sometimes it takes a little fear, a little survival instinct, and a little ingenuity. I know, I've been there!

My point though, is this. It's time for politician to stop buying votes through welfare and entitlements and to do for the country what needs to be done in times of economic hardship, setting an example for the rest of the world to follow. After all, isn't that what America is all about?

Friday, July 8, 2011

I'm Not Buying In

Good luck to everyone who is buying stocks, sitting on them, and thinking they will make a lot of money. Today's stock market is not really designed to do that for you. as you have noticed, the market does not always go up. Yes, a companies performance does have something to to with their stock prices, but more important is the daily news and how it is emphasized and skewed.

It is interesting and somewhat puzzling how one day investors are worried over the Greek debt and the next day they are not. When they are done with the Greeks the move on to the Italians, then Spain, then Portugal, then back to Greece.

The truth is, large investors do not make their money with the market only going up. They depend on volatility! What news gets emphasized and how it is interpreted creates this volatility. After large investors have bought stocks at a low price they need good news in the market to cause them to go up in price. Once they have peaked, they sell what they have and short sell the same stocks which causes them to go back down. Of course a good dose of bad news helps them go down faster so they can collect their rewards sooner.

The key to making money in the market is to understand the principles of volatility and understand the large investor. That is not always easy. For example, a few years ago Grant Pride an oil corporation reported it's best quarter ever. So you would think that based on the companies performance the stock would surge in price. Not so! The stock went down $4.00 that day. The reasoning was that "investors" felt that the corporation had peaked so future profits would not be as lavish. In other words, they thought the stock was over-priced. So they sold their shares.

Then I have seen the reverse. I believe it was City Group that was losing billions of dollars at their quarterly report. The stock surged. The reasoning was that City Group lost fewer billions than expected and the future looked brighter.

By the way, you and I are not really "investors" as referred to in the news. We are not real players. Our money, buys and sells don't mean much. The investors they are talking about are the super rich money movers. And how the news agencies know at 5:00 AM what all the "investors" have decided to do is beyond me, unless, of course, there is a certain amount of collusion between investors. After all, they are in the game together.