Friday, April 02, 2010

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More


Hello all. Been a while, I know. June to April…that’s a bit of a hiatus. See, this would be another one of those times that I thought I was doing what was best for me, but, instead, was just kind of floundering around like I always seem to do. I’m good at it, you know? I’ve had lots of practice. Years.

That’s actually a good segue into what I really want to write about today. I’ve been thinking for the last week or so about what is going on in my life and trying to get a grasp of it so that I can control it and mold it into what I think my life should really be about. Well…I’m slowly realizing that that semblance of “control” is nothing but smoke and mirrors. It doesn’t exist like I think it does. Not even close.

As you all know, I’ve been diagnosed with depression and I quite frankly think that I’ve been dealing with this all my life (granted, we “deal” with things better at times and not so well at other times). That is to say, I haven’t been doing as well as I should. I put on a good show, though. I would be willing to bet that maybe 5% of the people I interact with on a daily basis really understand how difficult this is and how hard you really have to fight.

I know, now, that you really can’t rely on anyone other than yourself. You find yourself, when in a depressed state, trying to “latch onto” someone who you think will be there for you…to help you up when you fall down. Again, really the only person that you can count on is yourself. Latching onto someone else, feeding off of them and relying on them for your daily happiness reduces you to a parasitic level and is defined as “codependent”.

I’ve been reading a book the last couple days called “Codependent No More” by…someone…I can’t remember the name right now, but it doesn’t matter. In this book is a list of characteristics that codependents may or may not have and it’s scary just how many of these are true for me. For example: Feel compelled, almost forced, to help people solve their problems, and then feel angry when those people don’t do the same for them. Feel safest when giving of themselves. Reject compliments or praise. Center their lives around other people. The list really goes on and on, but I think you get the general idea. Actually, I just printed out the list and it is 7 pages long!

The point is, I see myself in many of the characteristics. What does this mean? Does it mean that I’m a failure at this adventure we call “Life”? No…it means I’m just as flawed as everyone else. I am not, nor will I ever be, perfect. I am, as I told someone recently, a work in progress. For the first time in my life, I have hope. This is NOT a permanent lifestyle choice for me. I can beat it. I can overcome it. And I will…you just watch.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Sometimes all we need is a crisis...


So…I realize it’s been November since I last wrote on this blog. I wish I could say that the reason was a good one…it’s not. I’ve been busy. So very busy. Lots of stuff has happened – some of it good, some of it bad. I guess the important part of all of this is the fact that I’m still alive and well…and continuing to press on day after day and trying to fight the good fight.

I feel like a new person in many respects. The Scott that was here and writing in November doesn’t exist really any more except in name. That sounds…scary…sometimes. I mean, how does one change so much as to really admit and to honestly think that they are a new person? For me…everything has changed.

I’m working on being positive. I’ve learned that bad crap happens to EVERYONE, but that some people are blessed with the ability to shrug off that stuff, to not let it become who they are or to let it monopolize their life. I wasn’t one of those people at all, but am learning how to become that way. Things that normally would have bothered me for weeks on end, if not longer, now only really get to me for a day at the worst. Learning how to let go…it’s such a freeing thought process that, if I could master it, would lead to a much happier life.

There’s a saying that goes, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” At one time, I would have said this was garbage logic. I mean, who wants to go through the pain of losing someone? It sucks! But…how less fulfilling is life without the connections that we make with other people – be it friendship or otherwise.

Stress is a killer. It can turn you into a different person. An ugly person that gets no joy out of life…out of friends…out of anything. We opened an office in Bozeman, moved our main office in Helena, fought a major virus on the network and many other day-to-day projects all since November. These are all stressful events, but when coupled with a really serious depression…well, the results aren’t good. Well…I guess that statement really isn’t fair. It’s all in how the combination of events are handled really. What could have been a very bad situation that would have ended in an undesirable way ended up being the catalyst for change. So, in that light, maybe the stress and depression weren’t such a bad thing after all.

I got a message from Groovy the other day on FaceBook asking me to add her as a friend. I didn’t even consider it. Some things are better left in the past and I think having her in my life would only dredge up frustrations and things that I don’t need. I’m trying to make my life easier. More simplistic. It’s difficult, to be sure…but in the end, well worth the effort, I think.

Anyway, just wanted to say that I was still alive and well. Work is still work, but at least it is better than it was. My life is still my life, but it, too, is better than it was. Ups and downs will happen in life…it’s how you chose to move on from the negative events that really define a person’s character. I can only hope that I can continue down this path of self-improvement.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I killed Bambi


Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone. I know I haven't written in a while, but I've been really busy with work and everything else that has been going on (meaning: Life)and it doesn't look like it's going to get any better before the end of the year because of a couple huge (HUGE) projects that I have going on. Anyway, I decided I needed to post something now, while I had time and the ability.

The last month or so has been very exciting. Work has been work (does that ever really change?), so at least that has been a constant that I can rely upon. I've been working on changing my frame of mind and that has really had a big effect on my day, which is nice.

Some of you may remember last year this time I mentioned Superman calling me up asking if I wanted to help cut up a deer (which I did) and then deciding later on that I wanted to go throught the whole process of hunting an animal and then putting it in the freezer as food for the next couple months. Well...the following is the story of how that all turned out (as deer season officially ends today here in Montana). If you are concerned with graphic depections of animals being shot, please stop reading now.

Superman and I had gone out a total of 3 times previously and had driven around and hiked in the hopes of coming across some unsupecting deer that we might, over time, fill our bellies with. It was funny in that on the way out to the area that we could hunt in, we would see deer, but never in the areas that we actually could hunt (the deer were smarter than we were, obviously). On Thanksgiving, we went out at 7am and hiked for a while and came across some tracks that we ended up following for quite a while which was really exciting...the ability to look at the ground and see signs as to where the animal was going, how many of them, when they went that way, places where they had trouble finding footing...it was all really cool. Never did catch up to them though, which was fine too.

The day after Thanksgiving, we went back out and were heading toward The Sleeping Giant (http://www.montanapictures.net/helena_montana_sleeping_giant.htm) when we noticed 6 deer on the other side of the interstate. We drove for a while and turned around and parked a couple hundred yards away. I climbed over the fence and was making my way through the trees to where the deer were only to see them bounding away from me. Superman came up and asked where they went and I said "Over that ridge", so we ran over to the ridge in the hopes that we could come up behind them (the wind was at our face at this point).

We got there and looked over the hill and saw nothing. We started looking around and still couldn't find anything until we looked about 800 yards away and saw the deer eating. We started making our way toward them and then noticed another 9 deer coming over a hill to our right who would walk for a bit and then look right at us. We waited until they got lower than we were at that point and started making our way toward them (they were closer). Let me tell you...running through sage brush and small cactus while trying not to make any noise and carrying a rifle isn't as easy as it sounds!

Well, we came up to a small rise and were about 120-30 yards away from these deer and Superman said something like, "This is it!" I was shaking (partly from running over there and trying to catch my breath, but also because of the adrenalin). Superman ended up getting down and was my "quadrapod" (I was shooting off his shoulder). I sighted in on this deer and was holding the rifle as steady as I could (read: it was shaking like a leaf) and it dawned on me that I could only shoot an antlerless mule. I moved the scope toward it's head and noticed a big rack on this deer and said, "That's a buck!" "Don't shoot him," Superman said.

I scanned over the other two deer that were right there and one of them didn't have antlers. I was shaking still and trying to control my breathing (which is impossible!). Superman was holding his breath as was I. He said, "I have to breathe" and took a breath. He then said, "Tell me when to hold my breath." I said, "Hold it," which he did and I slowly pulled the trigger.

I don't remember the rifle going off at all. I'm sure it was loud for both Superman and I...but I don't remember it at all. "You got it! It dropped right away!" Superman said. We ran over to where the deer was and, sure enough, I had shot my first deer! It was a buck fawn (had 1" spikes), but it was a deer! "Congratulations man! You just shot a deer!" Superman said excitedly. I was shaking worse than before at this point and couldn't stop grinning.

We ended up gutting it and kept the heart (Ellie said that it was REALLY yummy, so we saved it to cook it up later), took it back to the truck and spent the rest of the day looking for more deer (with no luck). We ended up cleaning the deer and cutting it up yesterday (my freezer is now full of deer!!!) and had tenderloin and deer heart for lunch yesterday (it REALLY is good...which I know sounds strange).

I'm hooked. Next year, I'm doing this again. I want to give a special thanks to Superman and his wife, Lois, for all their help over the last month or so...one of the most memorable events of my life. Thank you...

Monday, October 06, 2008

Perception and Perserverance


I’ll get right into this one as I’m going to be writing a good bit about the things that have been going on in the land of Scott, and while some of you won’t really care about the ramblings of the Geek, maybe there will be one person, just one, that will read something that I’m about to write and will get something from it. To that one person…this one’s for you.

The last week or so has been kinda interesting. I’ve been going through a lot of the worldly possessions that I have and have been giving lots of things away that I don’t need, don’t want or really shouldn’t be holding on to (as an example, I’m down to around 80 DVD’s from 300+). I find the process of cleaning out all the clutter rather freeing in and of itself, and, when you add to that the fact that in giving something to someone, you brighten their day as well, it ends up being a win/win situation all around. So, I’ve kinda weeded out about 1/3 of the stuff that I have and have either thrown it away, given it to friends or made it available to folks that might need it more than I.

Not only have I been getting rid of a lot of physical things, I’ve been trying to get rid of a lot of the mental trappings that I’ve been carrying around with me for so long. I was reading a book the other day that basically said that your world is ruled or governed by your perception of it. Meaning, how I see the world is how it is to me. So…that got me to thinking…how much of what I see that is wrong with things really is wrong, and how much of it is only wrong because I think it is? It’s a rather sobering idea to think that you, as an individual, contribute that much to the world as a whole…but we do. My thoughts of how things are are how things are, to me. If I want to change my world, I have to change myself.

So, I’ve been working on how I interpret the world and the events that happen around me. Instead of lamenting the things that I don’t like about the world around me, I just change how I think of them, or if I even bother thinking about them at all. As an example, if I were to look back at my life at the things that have happened to me, I could genuinely be upset about a great many things. I’m sure we all could. So, what I did is stop and think to myself, “Does anything that happened in my past REALLY matter?” I realize that I am the sum of the decisions that I’ve made over my life and the sum of the experiences that I’ve had…but does any of the stuff that I’m upset about REALLY matter? The resounding answer was, “No…none of it matters.” The things that I’ve been upset about in the past really don’t matter…because if they did, they would be a part of my present, and my future (thanks Ms. Lebowski!).

My closing thought for this post is another thought I had that was prompted by something I read: If you look at life like a battle, the thing you have to remember is it’s not so important the amount of times that you were hit, injured, tired or whatever…it’s the fact that you were tired, you got hit, you were injured…and you continued pushing forward anyway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Close Encounters of the Third Kind


Before I begin, I know there was a movie in the 80's with the same title as my blog post, and that's great (huge mounds of mashed potatoes rock!)...but the question that comes to mind right away is, "What are the other two kinds of close encounters?" I mean, if there is a THIRD kind, shouldn't there be a FIRST and SECOND? And, if so, what are they? Anyway...stupid thought for the morning.

On with the show...

So yesterday, after the excellent advice of my good friend Tk, I decided that I would hike Refrigerator Canyon which resides about 20 miles North of Helena (about meaning "more than 20 miles on a road, but if you were to fly there, it would be close to that"). In reality, it takes almost an hour to get there via vehicle.

I got up around the normal time and just did odds and ends stuff around the house until 7, at which time I went to my favorite local coffee shop and got a bagel and just talked with the people working there. I had loaded my truck with some water, my camera, a pack and a walking pole and considered myself ready.

The directions to get there are fairly simple...head north on York road till you get to the York Bar (best hamburgers in America...or at least the best in York, Montana), where you turn left and continue on till you reach Nelson (a thriving town of about 10 houses). At the fork in the road, go right for I want to say 5 miles or so to the trail head. WATCH OUT...the road is a VERY windy road that is a little wider than a vehicle with a drop off on one side and a cliff wall on the other. Add to this the fact that the scenery is amazing and you can have some scares (I did...oops). Seriously though...go slow and enjoy the views.

The trailhead itself is rather nondescript...kind unmaintained looking. I got all my gear together and put on a fleece vest and decided I wouldn't need the hiking pole, and started walking.

Refrigerator Canyon is very aptly named. It's cold. VERY cold. I don't really get cold...ever...and I had some serious goosebumps and my fingertips were turning blue. Cold, I tell ya! The first 1/2 mile is actually just leading up to the coldest part...a water-cut tunnel through two very large cliffs.

There is at least 2 very cool places you can look down into the canyon once you get a couple miles down the trail. One of them even has guard rails as the drop off is rather steep and...well...you wouldn't make it if you happened to fall down there. I figured out the timer on my camera and took my first real self-portrait at that one because it looked cool. The sights did, I mean...not me.

I hiked on from there for about another 2 miles or so, having seen a badger for all of .498 seconds (but hey...I've now seen a badger!) until I heard something strange. I stopped and heard it a couple more times: "Mew...mew...mew." I shifted my weight just a bit and broke a stick. Silence. It had sounded like a cat...one that wasn't that old, but it was loud enough for me to hear over my bear bell that was attached to my pack as well as my walking. "Well, that's not good," I thought to myself. "If there are baby cats out here...the mama cat probably isn't that far away." I started looking up in the trees in the hopes that I might be able to see the big mama cat before she decided to pounce on me, but I didn't see anything.

I decided that standing there looking like a buffet probably wasn't the best idea, so I walked on for about another quarter mile, constantly scanning the trees and looking side to side and even pulling "Crazy Ivan's" (Russian submarine captains would turn their ship around to check out what was behind them) every once in a while, just to make sure. I figured that after a quarter mile, I should turn back. I made a good bit more noise going back through that area than I had while coming in...hoping that whatever was there would kindly leave me alone. I did "Crazy Ivan's" pretty much most of the rest of the way back to the truck...just to be sure.

I left and saw a mountain goat (another first for me), but it zipped away before I could get it's picture. Next time...

So...once I got home, I talked with a couple people who told me that, yes, there were mountain lions in the area I had walked through and that, yes, the baby ones will sound like cats meowing and that, yes, I was probably stalked for a while and that the nervous feeling I had was my subconscious realizing I could have been a tasty morsel. Thankfully, with Tk's help, I now know what you are supposed to do in that situation (I didn't do anything bad...whew), so I'll be better prepared for next time...because, let's face it...there WILL be a next time.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Zen and the Art of…Hiking


Dr. Z (someone I worked with once) gave me a book to read called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair. It was an interesting book about how the author correlated a bike ride and his life through peace. I went on a hike on Saturday from ElkHorn City (a ghost town) to the tops of ElkHorn and Crow Peaks. While hiking, I did a lot of thinking. Hiking, for me, is a very introspective time. The following were some of my thoughts.

Hiking. It’s not so much a sport or an exercise as it is an experience. It’s the “I want to go THERE” attitude that pushes some people to take the first step into an unknown area. To blaze new trails into new areas, or to follow old, unused, trails into the forgotten. Hiking alone, while potentially dangerous at times, has its allure. You get to experience the quiet sides of things. Of Nature. Of your surroundings. You get to go on your path and just feel.

Life is a lot like this as well. It’s not a chore or something to dread, it’s an experience. It’s the “I want to LIVE!” attitude that pushes some people to look at their life, notice things that aren’t right and to choose to make the changes that lead them down a better path. Going through life alone is also potentially dangerous, but it, too, has its allure.

While I was hiking, I came to a fork in the road. To the left, the path was almost level with rocks and small obstacles in the way. To the right, the path angled uphill much more steeply and the rocks and other obstacles looked more difficult. I stopped there for a second and chose the path to the right. What I didn’t know at the time was that the right path started out very difficult, but then evened off and was a much better choice. On my way down, I took the other path and was surprised at how difficult it would have been on the end.

Again, this also mirrored life, or has mirrored MY life, anyway. You come to a decision and you have the opportunity to choose which path you decide to go down. One way may seem easier than the other one, but you never know how long it’ll stay easy, or if it will at all. Likewise, you can choose the path that starts off rather difficult, but you can be rewarded in the future when the path is easier.

After hiking for several hours, I came to a clearing in the saddle of two peaks. The breeze was blowing hard enough I had to remove my hat for fear of it being blown away. I walked to the edge of the saddle and looked around and chose the peak to my right to go up first. My legs were a little sore. I was having a little difficulty breathing (I was about a mile further up in the air than normally). It was windy and very bright. I got to the top of the lower of the two peaks…and stood in awe of the views. I then knew I had to get to the top of the other peak, and after a half hour of scrambling over loose rocks and piles of stones, I was rewarded yet again with amazing views.

Life isn’t easy. It’s a day-to-day struggle. Choosing how you want to respond to one thing or another will put you on one path or another. You come to a fork in the road, make another choice and continue on. This goes on, I’m guessing, for your whole life. The way is difficult sometimes, but when you get to your personal goal…life is good, and you will be amazed.

Pictures of hike: http://mccombs.scott.googlepages.com/elkhorn2008hike

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yeeeeeeeee Haaaaaaw!


Howdy and greetings dear reader. It has been an interesting couple weeks since I last wrote my harrowing tale of battling the elements and myself for domination of…myself. Work has been work, as it usually is, but I’ve survived to fight another day.


Yesterday, some of my friends from work and I went to the Last Chance Stampede Rodeo and Fair (my first rodeo and second fair that I can remember, not including those held at various schools, etc). I didn’t really know what to expect going into it…honestly, the only thing I knew about rodeos were that they involved cows, cowboys, cowgirls and horses. Oh, and lots and lots of dust.


I picked up Ms. Far Side around 6:30 and we met up with Ellie at the fairgrounds around 6:45. We walked around for a bit and got a ginormous corndog (they said it was a footlong, I’m not so sure), were joined by another one of our co-workers (Mrs. Vegas) and then made our way to the grandstands surrounding the pavilion.

I said this while I as still pulling into the parking area, but I swear I’ve never seen a congregation of that many cowboy hats in one place ever in my entire life. They were everywhere. Anyway, we sat down and watched Mutton Busters (small children all duded out with chaps and helmets and belt buckles riding sheep). It was pretty funny and thankfully, none of them got hurt.


Next came the steer portion of the event (I don’t know what to call it…these older kids were riding these steer (small bulls) and trying not to break every bone in their collective bodies). Was still pretty cool. The kid who won just rode his like a horse and never got bucked off. The luck of the draw, I guess.


Then came the Bareback Bucking Horse part…or Bareback Horse Bucking…or Bucking Bareback Horse…anyway, you get the idea. I’ve never seen horses do something like this before…and the guys that were trying to “ride” them…they must have a couple screws loose or something, or are the gutsiest folks ever born. Either way, you won’t catch me on one trying to do that. I may be crazy…but not that crazy.


We also saw what I’ll call Team Steer Chiropractor (I’m sure there is a name for this, but it’s more fun to make up stuff). The object of this is you and a buddy are riding horses after this steer that is trying to get away. One of you ropes him around the horns, and the other ropes him around the back legs…and the team that does this the fastest wins!


Another fun event to watch was the Steer Wrestling event (again, I don’t know what it’s called) where the steer runs away from you and you jump off your perfectly good horse (because, clearly, you forgot to bring a rope to a rodeo) and wrestle the thing to the ground…all the while trying not to loose your cowboy hat or get too dirty. How they don’t get stabbed by the horns, I don’t know…but it was still pretty cool.


There was also the Hold Onto the Bull for Dear Life competition…which is pretty much self explanatory. You hold on to the bull…or you die. Thankfully, nobody died (even though not all of them held on so well)…and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a future hamburger jump that high in the air (we’re talking a ton of beef at least a foot off the ground).


There were other events that were cool…but I can’t remember them all. Anyway, one of my goals was to get a picture with a genuine cowgirl (I figured…why not?). I had decided to get a picture with the Rodeo Queen, but by the time Tk, Soccer Chick and I made it over there, she was gone. So, instead I saw this very cute cowgirl standing next to her horse and I said, “Tk…come with me.” She agreed to be photographed (thank you…even though you’ll never read this!)…so mission accomplished. She ended up winning the Barrel Racing portion of the rodeo and I joked that I needed to travel around with her as a good luck charm (if anyone knows who she is…I can go any time!).


After everything was over, a band started playing and everyone (but me) started dancing. Well, all of our group, I mean. It was fun to watch them have fun (I’m strange, I know). They danced for a while (Ellie ended up “forcing” me to dance with her for a bit…sorry)…and fun was had by all. Ellie and I had talked about riding The Zipper while at work, so we got Ms. Far Side and Soccer Chick to come with us…and after some bribing and pleading, the 4 of us rode it.


I can honestly say…I have NEVER been on anything like that before. It’s like a 20 minute long rollercoaster ride that has loops and everything…that only takes about 2 minutes. Ellie and I rode in the same cage thing and she was laughing the whole time. I don’t know if she was laughing because of the fun, or if she was laughing at me. She later said I all but cried on the thing (yeah right!)…but I can say now that, given the chance, I would do it again. Ellie…you let me know when, ok?


We all (minus Mrs. Vegas and Tk) ended up leaving around 11:40 and, this is to all that went, I had a freakin blast. Thanks for suggesting I go. You guys rock!


For pictures of said events: http://latech.googlepages.com/rodeo2008