I’m Worried

I’ve been worried before. Big world or national events happen and it’s natural to wonder what the fallout will be. But time moves on and things get back to normal. The worry dissipates. However, this moment in time feels different. There are so many things that have taken a turn for the worse, it’s hard to see a path back to stability. For the first time in my life, I’m actually concerned about where we’re headed. Not just a yell at the TV and vote the bums out concern, but an oh shit I can see things turning very dark kind of worry.

I’d been thinking about this in an abstract way as we’ve watched the events of the last few years unfold. But I just recently finished a book that really made me think. It’s called “The Fourth Turning“. It’s not new – it was published in 1997. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but I devoured it. I read it on a Kindle, but wish I’d had a paperback version. It’s the kind of book you write in the margins, go back and re-read tables and charts, and place copious post-it notes.

In a nutshell, the premise is that human history runs in 80-year cycles that are broken up into roughly 20-year blocks, or “turnings”. What’s fascinating, and prophetic, is that the four turnings have repeated consistently from the beginning of human history. The four turnings are as follows:

  • High – A period of stability, growth, prosperity, and conformity
  • Awakening – a period of spiritual awakening and rebellion against conformity
  • Unraveling – a period in which individualism triumphs over crumbling institutions
  • Crisis – This is the fourth turning. War, revolution, and a profound loss of trust in institutions

The three recent crises in recent American history are the revolutionary war (1776), the civil war (1861), and WWII (1941). The last High period was the post WWII boom, the Awakening was the ’60’s to the early 80’s, and the Unraveling was 90’s to the 20’s. It certainly feels like we’re currently in or at the cusp of a new Crisis.

This was the author’s prediction in 1997:

“History is seasonal and winter is coming. The very survival of the nation will feel at stake. Sometime before the year 2025, America will pass through a great gate in history, commensurate with the American Revolution, Civil War, and the twin emergencies of the Great Depression in World War II. The risk of catastrophe will be high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”

(The Fourth Turning, Strauss & Howe, 1997)

It’s not hard to see that our ruling class has led us to an abyss – financially, politically, and culturally. Bonds, treasuries, and stocks are in free-fall. We’re $31 trillion dollars in debt. The debt service alone will soon be eating into any entitlement or discretionary spending. And yet, we keep printing and spending money like drunken sailors. Inflation is quickly wiping out any savings and wage growth for most of the population. We’re clearly in a recessionary period, probably heading towards stagflation.

Politically, the world is extremely dangerous right now. World powers are jockeying for position, power, and control over global resources. We’re probably the closest we’ve ever been to a tactical nuclear engagement. Meanwhile, the public face of our own government is an inept octogenarian with dementia. It’s unclear who’s actually running our government, but that cabal has mismanaged (either via utter incompetence or on purpose) virtually every aspect of the American fabric. While I wasn’t thrilled with the election of the current administration, never in a million years would I have thought things could unravel as fast as they have.

And finally, we’ve lost the culture that maintains a society. I honestly believe we’ve abandoned any sense of ourselves as “Americans“. We’ve been driven into loose groups separated by race, gender, and political ideology. Wokeness and the onslaught of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity has driven a wedge into society that I don’t think we’ll recover from. There is no common ground anymore. Pick your camp and defend at all costs (via mean tweets and cancel culture).

We’re at the end of the Unraveling period. Society is divided, we’re at the brink of a financial collapse, and weak leadership invites global power shifts. The scope and scale of government overreach and authoritarianism we’ve seen the last few years really frightened me. Not so much that government would do it, but how willing many in society accepted it. The loss of trust in law enforcement, health services, and public officials is not recoverable.

So, what will the trigger be for the fourth turning? A nuclear move by Putin in Ukraine? The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines? A new “George Floyd” moment that spawns civil unrest? A resurgence of Covid and new lockdowns? The next 2008 financial crisis? Food or energy shortages? All seem possible right now.

This country, and the world, just doesn’t feel stable right now. I honestly don’t remember feeling that before. I don’t know what the answer is. I’m not sure if there is one. History sure seems to be good at repeating itself. We’re just not very good at recognizing it. But maybe that book is hogwash? There’s no doubt that the danger of pattern matching is that it’s very easy to start seeing patterns everywhere to reinforce your desired outcome.

I just don’t know. But I’m worried.

I’m A Cheater

It’s not something you really want to admit. But confession is good for the soul, or something like that. So here goes… I’ve been cheating. Now in my defense, I didn’t realize I’d been cheating. Let me explain. If you haven’t been breathlessly following my every post, I’d recently written about a life altering change – I switched from clip-in pedals to flat pedals on the mountain bike.

TL;DR – I love them and don’t know why I didn’t switch earlier. But it has exposed one flaw. You have to constantly keep more pressure, or force, on the pedals otherwise your foot will slide off. So now I’m generally pushing a harder gear than I’m used to. What I’ve discovered is that with the clip-in pedals I was able to “relax” quite a bit when pedaling. While my legs were going around, I was essentially coasting far more than I realized. If I try that now, my feet come off the pedals.

So I was cheating at the effort I was putting in and didn’t know it. I could never figure out why my climbing speed never seemed to improve. Now that I have no choice but to push hard, presto, my speed and power output are much greater than before. Crazy how that works.

We all cheat, we just don’t like to admit it. I’ve never had much upper body strength, my shoulder is kinda jacked up, so I suck at things like push-ups. So what do I do? I ignore doing push-ups because I don’t like them and can’t do very many. Unfortunately, push-ups are exactly what I should be doing. How many of you are avoiding doing the things you know, deep down, you should be doing?

Confronting our flaws and weak points is hard. If it was easy, we’d already be doing them. But the older I get, the more I wish I’d been stronger about conquering my weaknesses when I was younger. But you’re never too old to start. Deep down, you know what your weak points are.

So pick one. Resolve today that you’re going to start working on it. You’ll thank yourself later. So now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to see if I can do a push-up. Don’t laugh. I’m pretty sure this will look like the Bill Murry push-up scene from the movie Stripes. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

Do You Have Rhythm?

Rhythm noun
a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound
a regularly recurring sequence of events, actions, or processes

I’ve lost my rhythm. And no, I don’t mean the shake your booty and get funky on the dance floor kind of rhythm. Although to Mrs. Troutdog’s great disappointment, I’ve never had that kind of rhythm. What I’m talking about is a flow, a sense of order, a comfortable pattern to your days. Rhythm is different than a routine. A routine is simply repeated behavior. Waking up at the same time every day, eating oatmeal, and drinking exactly one cup of coffee is a routine. That’s a micro-view of your day. Rhythm is a macro-view of your time.

Rhythm is planning out workouts for the week. Rhythm is looking forward to and participating in an activity you enjoy on weekends. It’s a sense of order to your time. It doesn’t have to mean you eat pasta every Tuesday and meatloaf on Thursday. Instead, it’s a feeling of being intentional about your meal planning. It’s sense of enjoyment from exploring a new restaurant every Friday night. Rhythm is the collective whole of your day-to-day time. It’s having a sense of purpose to your weeks and months.

Up until this last year I feel like I had a comfortable rhythm. Work was a known entity. I made a point to get a run or a bike ride in most days. Mrs Troutdog and I had our individual activities, and we were good about making time for shared activities. Winter was a busy time full of skiing, wood chopping, and evenings by the fire. It was a good rhythm.

And then some pretty big disruptions happened. Nothing horrible, just life throwing a few curveballs. The end result was that we’ve been in random mode for quite some time. We went months without a kitchen, eating pizza and burger patties off paper plates in our laps while sitting in the backyard. Constantly changing plans to wait for contractors that never show up. Strange weather that went from rain and mud to 100 degrees seemingly overnight, straining my motivation to do outside activities. I missed much of the ski season due to construction woes. I had an odd back injury that slowed me down for a while.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s all first world problems so I can’t really complain. We’ve just about sorted through most of the things going on and life is slowly getting back to something more normal. But as we were going through this, I found myself more and more out of sorts. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why my mood was so off, so often. I finally realized it was that loss of rhythm. I’d lost that comfortable pattern to my days.

Everyone experiences randomness from time to time. Random can be exciting. Vacations and travel are random, that’s part of the fun. But it’s also exhausting after a while. Thats why you have that deep sigh of contentment when you get home. It’s that comfortable sliding back into your rhythm.

I now find myself in an interesting position. I get to create a brand-new rhythm. Sure, some of the old familiar patterns will return. But it’s time to move on to a new flow, a different set of patterns. All of us do it from time to time. Moving to a different city. Kids going off to college. Retiring. It’s part of life.

I need my rhythm back. But it doesn’t need to be the old rhythm. Finding a new rhythm is a good thing. It’s growth. It’s preventing stagnation. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like yet. There will be more exercise. More cooking. More music. More reading. More creativity. And nachos. Definitely more nachos.

Are you happy with your rhythm? Maybe it’s time for a change?

A Life Altering Change

There are a few big moments in everyone’s life that are remembered. Graduation. First “real” job. Getting married. First kid. Events that will always stay in your mind. I had one of those events happen this week. You’re never really ready for the impact these life changes will have. I will remember this first week of September for many years to come. It was the week I switched to flat pedals and added a dropper post to the mountain bike.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Dude, the change to flat pedals has been around for years now – you’re just now switching? I know, I know. I’m a little slow to adapt the latest and greatest in tech. I’m old fashioned and, honestly, don’t like spending money. My clip-in pedals from the 90’s have been working just fine. Why spend money on new pedals and shoes just because it’s what all the kids are doing now? Besides, the duct tape holding my shoe together is working just fine.

So what was the catalyst that spawned this momentous change? I went for a ride on a trail I hadn’t ridden since last summer that’s pretty technical, rocky, and had a rather steep drop-off on one side. I was riding and had a wobble over a loose rock, couldn’t get my foot out of the clip-in pedal and nearly tumbled down the steep edge. That’s really never happened to me before. This summer, for the first time, I can tell my balance isn’t what it used to be. Age is starting to kick in and my reflexes are just not as cat-like as they once were. I accept it and I’m actively working on improving it. But the reality is that I’m a long way from twenty and I can no longer just assume balance and coordination will save my bacon every time.

So I bit the bullet and took my bike into the shop. New pedals, shoes, and a seat post I can drop when going downhill at ludicrous speed. I immediately went back to that same rocky trail to see if the changes made a difference. It was night and day. Like riding a completely different bike. Why I didn’t do this five years ago is beyond me. I had more confidence in the technical stuff and was able to finally get my butt back and over the rear wheel properly. Wow.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson when I finally upgraded to modern skis several years ago and realized that there was no comparison between old school and modern technology. Apparently being an old-school traditionalist (i.e. cheap) doesn’t ever go away.

So the lesson is, if your stuff is more than five years old – do yourself a favor and investigate what the latest and greatest is. Technology is moving at a rapid rate. If something makes life easier, you’ll be more likely to go out and do the thing. And that’s good. Oh, and work on your balance. Today. Everyday. It’s a perishable commodity. Use it or lose it as they say.

Responsibility And Lawn Darts

Reportedly the Alzheimer’s patient occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave will come out of hiding today and return to the White House to announce an executive action canceling student loan debt. What’s being reported is that $10,000 of debt will be evaporated for anyone who earns less than $120,000. It’s hard to describe how angry this makes me.

I feel like a chump. It’s that feeling when you pay full retail and then find out you could have had that same thing 30% off if you’d gone down the street and negotiated. Why-oh-why did I work and self-pay for school? All those folks who went into the military so they could go to college? Suckers. It’s the ultimate Fuck You to anyone who tried to be responsible and minimize the debt they took on.

It was a loan. You saw the terms. You saw the interest rate. You understood it was a legal contract you were signing. Of your own free will you acted like an adult and penned your John Hancock on the dotted line. My sympathy level for anyone who has massive student debt is exactly, ZERO. You made choices. I sincerely hope those choices resulted in a well-paying job. If so, then you made a wise decision. It also means you can afford to pay those loans back. If you have a low paying job and massive student loans… then you made a poor decision. That sucks. It’s also the way life works. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. You’re going to have to take on a second job and work your ass off to get ahead. That was the way this was supposed to work. So sorry, you may have to cut back on your soy lattes and make do with an older smartphone.

Clearly, I grew up in a different era. We were sent out to play after school on our own. The only requirement was to be home in time for dinner. Parents had zero idea where we were. We had to invent our own games and fun. There were no structured play dates or facilitated games with ten helicopter parents hovering over us at all times. I’d highly recommend reading this essay on how important it was (is) to foster the level of independence and learning we had as kids. And how much harm we’ve done to our kids today. We’ve created an entire generation of child-adults who expect to be protected from everything and for mom and dad (government) to bail them out of any situation or poor decisions.

So now we’ve decided to take a break from shipping billions of dollars to Ukraine, so we can print another 300 billion for kids who made poor financial choices. Because it’s not like increasing the money supply has anything to do with inflation. I’m sure there’s no possibility my taxes will go up to pay for the increased debt. Yeah, right.

With an unlimited money supply in the form of federal student loans, university tuition will only continue to skyrocket. Why not? They have no skin in the game. I’ll have to pay for that in the form of higher taxes, increased inflation, and responsible kids who don’t want to take on debt being priced out of higher education.

Can someone, anyone, please explain to me – in simple terms I’ll understand – why I need to pay for your financial obligation? And why I can’t get a refund for the same amount that I stupidly chose to self-pay? Anyone? How is that right or fair? I thought this generation was all about fairness?

While I wait for an answer, I’m going to head out for a solo motorcycle ride in the mountains. Because I wasn’t coddled as a kid on padded playgrounds and forced play dates. I had lawn darts. I am comfortable assessing risk and living with the decisions (good or bad) that I make.

Injury Update And Big Boy Pants

It’s been just about a month since I injured my back. Today, I deadlifted at the gym. Not much weight, but a full deadlift. Zero pain. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. I’ve been super lucky through life and have had very few injuries. This was the first time I had to make a conscious effort to figure out pain management, and what to do to fix the problem. I honestly think this could have been one of those things that at my age, had I not been aggressive about PT/rehab, could have drifted into a chronic issue that limited my activities for a very long time.

But it didn’t. Because I put my big boy pants on and refused to give in. I continued to work hard with a good strength and conditioning trainer. I did mobility work on my own. I aggressively used heat and a TENS unit to stimulate the muscles. I think most importantly – I just kept moving. Hiking, walking, riding the motorcycle. With lots of warm-up, I did some mountain biking. Last week I was able to do some (slow) trail running again. I massively upped my protein intake. Continued movement, targeted strength work, and holistic pain management techniques and we’re back in the game. Four weeks of work and I think I’m at least back to where I was pre-injury.

I left the gym today with a pretty good endorphin high. I was just super pumped to be able to do a deadlift pain-free. It gave me all kinds of motivation. I came home and pulled out and dusted off the daily vitamin regime. Drank a crapload of water. What I realized driving home from the gym is that in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t take very long to make a change. Four weeks and I was able to rehab an injury and probably come out the other side stronger than I was before. That wasn’t much time.

If I put my mind to it, what else can I accomplish in the next four weeks? Last night I was listing to a Navy Seal talking about the initial six months of training. He laughed and said all that crap you seen on TV – BUDS, Hell Week, etc… are actually the easiest part of the overall training. He said that really all they’re looking for are people who can shut everything else out and just focus on the immediate task. The next ten feet. The next 5 minutes. People who can’t stop thinking about how much further or longer they have to go, fail. That’s it. It’s that simple.

It’s true. We step on the scale obsessively. The idea of going for a run every day seems impossible. I have so much else to do today, there’s no time to get a workout in. I have so much weight to lose, I don’t see myself every reaching my goal. I can’t run 3 miles without walking, how am I ever going to get back to what I used to be able to do? Too much focus on the macro picture, and you’ll fail.

So, what’s the lesson? I’m going to stop thinking about the weight loss number or running mileage. Instead, I’m just going to try to win every hour. Today I went to the gym early. I organized and took my daily supplements. I ate well. Now what? I’m just going to focus on what’s in front of me each hour. Water instead of soda. Intentional calories instead of snacking. Find 20 minutes this afternoon to do some mobility work. I don’t need a beer (or two) tonight. Water instead. Go to bed early. Rinse, repeat. My only goal for the next month is to keep focus on the task at hand. Hour by hour. We’ll see where that gets us in the next four weeks.

I put on my big boy pants, stepped up and paid the man this last month. Now, let’s pay him again tomorrow.

An Unexpected Lesson From Tragedy

The other day I was surfing through YouTube before I went to bed. It was getting late and I was looking for just one more video to watch before retiring. A thumbnail came up that I’d seen several times the past few days but had ignored because it was almost two hours in length, and I just wasn’t terribly interested in it. It was an analysis of what went wrong at the Uvalde school shooting by a guy named Mike Glover.

If you’re not familiar with him or his YouTube channels, Mike Glover is a former Green Baret with 18 combat deployments. He’s clearly been there, done that. He now provides tactical training to law enforcement. The failure of law enforcement in this scenario was horrific. Here’s a link to that analysis if you’re interested. I ended up watching the entire thing and going to bed way too late.

Out of everything he said, one thing towards the end really struck me. He was commenting on all the sexy “kit” the officers had on. We’ve dumped truckloads of money on police departments so they can outfit themselves as quasi-military units. They’ve got the ballistic helmets, plate carriers, ballistic shields, even wearing military style fatigues and boots. But in this case, none of them did anything with their fancy equipment while kids were being shot and left to die. They stood around, checking phones, getting hand sanitizer, and waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Mike’s comment was:

“Everyone wants to be an operator until it comes time to do operator shit”

That lesson is so true and can be applied to almost everything. Everyone wants to lose weight and look better (myself included), but very few want to put in the time in the weight room and or do serious cardio. You want to be a writer? Are you getting up and cranking out 1000 words every day? You want to be a YouTube star? How many hours a day do you spend learning and perfecting the filming, editing, and storytelling? You want to climb the corporate ladder? What are you doing to improve your skills and value daily?

We all want to be or do something. Only a small percentage of our society actually wants to do the work to achieve those things. I get it. I’m in that same boat. I kinda half-ass things. Sometimes I’m motivated, sometimes I’m not. Shockingly, it’s when I’m motivated that I get/achieve what I want. Crazy how that works.

Buying fancy gear, joining the latest fitness or diet fad, or subscribing to the killer new app is all great… but it doesn’t do diddly-squat if you don’t do the work. Another great example comes from David Goggins, who’s a crazy over the top, type-A overachiever. But he didn’t start out that way. He was a fat, lazy pest exterminator working nights and eating doughnuts. He had an epiphany one night, quit his job, went to a navy recruiter and said, “I want to be a navy seal”. The recruiter laughed and said you’re 100 pounds overweight. He’d have a very short few months to lose it if he wanted to actually attempt to qualify.

Spoiler alert – he did and went on to a successful career as a navy seal. When asked what program he used and what diet he followed to lose all the weight, he said “I stopped eating so fucking much and ran every day until I collapsed”. Simplicity. But the real reason was that he was willing to put in the work.

We all want something. How many of us are actually willing to do what it takes to get it? Very few. It’s a metaphor that struck home for me. Hopefully it’ll light a spark under my butt to get after it. Even at my advanced age, there are still things I want to achieve. But how bad do I really want them?

Everyone wants to be an operator until it comes time to do operator shit.

Are You Better Off?

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon on Facebook. I had to put up with about five plus years of non-stop wailing and gnashing of teeth when the bad orange man was running, in office, and immediately post-election (INSURRECTION!). Virtually every day one of the liberal/democratic folks on my feed would post something about how horrible Trump was and/or how ashamed of the country they were. Day after day. Every word he uttered or tweeted was mocked and pointed to as an example of disaster and impending doom. If you engaged with or disagreed with these folks, you were quickly shouted down as a MAGA loving, xenophobic, right-wing extremist.

But the last year… radio silence. Crickets chirping. Oh, there were a few things posted after the Roe decision and the start of the Ukraine war but for the most part very little political content shows up. Why is that? Inflation hit 9.1% today (probably more like 12%-15% realistically). Not a single mention of it from the left leaning side of my feed. Isn’t that curious? Did the entire left suddenly decide they were no longer interested in politics?

Let me ask an honest question. If you trend more towards the left side of the spectrum, can you point to something the current administration has done that you’d consider a success? What have they done that’s gone well? Are you better off now than you were during the previous administration?

I’m doing my best to be objective, but I can’t point to one thing the administration has done that has moved the country in a better direction. Not one. Literally every single thing that affects the average person in this country has gotten worse. The economy, prices, supply chain, the border… it’s all bad. And don’t get me started on global/foreign engagements. This administration is, to be blunt, a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

Mrs. Troutdog actually asked the other day if we should stock up on food due to the looming food shortages. It now costs me $130 bucks to fill up my truck. Replacement parts for the motorcycle and some construction materials either can’t be found or are on indefinite backorder. The market and our retirement account have taken a hit that will take years to crawl back from. Is this really Build Back Better?

My point is not to claim the right side of the isle is better. 90% of them are as useless as tits on a bull. The bulk of the left and right are a giant uni-party. While I liked many of the things the bad orange man “said”, he was a horrible judge of character whose massive ego led him to spending most of his time in petty twitter spats rather than following through with campaign promises (see, border wall). When the R’s take back congress, I have little faith anything of substance will change. More arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

So, the point… if you were one of the left-leaning folks shit posting bad orange man memes as fast as you could go, why the silence now? Why aren’t you publicly praising the daily actions of the President? Is it that you’re now embarrassed by your political choice? There must be something you can point to and say, “whew, thank God Biden is President”. Isn’t there?

Maybe, just maybe, the takeaway from this period will be a realization that blind partisanship is stupid. Following your party like a lemming leads to… well, where we are today. A barely functioning grandpa propped up and controlled by unknown and unseen forces behind the curtains. But hey, no mean tweets right?

Now, more than ever, it’s time to join the church of Contrarianism. Become a Contrarian. Question everything. Dump your party loyalties. Trust me, they don’t care about you. It’s a hard thing to really examine your opinions, do some actual research, and admit you’ve been duped. It’s a little painful, but just ripping off the Band-Aid is really the best medicine.

Because if we don’t become an army of Contrarians soon… I fear the lemmings are going to reach the edge of the cliff sooner rather than later.

I Got Hurt. Now What?

Back in the stone age when I played Pop Warner football as a kid, I remember getting my bell rung. Full speed, helmet to helmet, I’d made a pretty spectacular tackle. Or so they told me, as I had zero memory of it. I staggered off the field and sat dazed on the sideline, trying to remember where I was and what I was supposed to be doing. The coach came over and asked if I was ready to go back in. I answered that I didn’t know. He gave a deep sigh and asked, “well son are you hurt or are you injured?” I have no idea what I said, but eventually someone stuck some smelling salts under my nose, and I went back on the field. Today I’m sure I’d have been diagnosed with a minor concussion and sidelined for a few weeks.

I was never quite sure what was the worst part in that saying – being hurt or being injured? I think being injured is the worse one. I imagine injured is broken bones or torn ligaments. Being hurt means it’s time to pull your big boy pants up and get back after it. Suck it up, buttercup.

When you get older, getting hurt rarely involves anything dramatic. Usually, it’s something stupid like stepping awkwardly off the bottom rung of a ladder, walking into an open cabinet, or slipping on some ice. In my case it was something even more mundane. I bent over. That’s it. I bent over to pick something up off the floor and BAM, it was like someone hit me with a baseball bat in the low back. Sigh.

Now in my defense, I had just come home from the gym and a pretty hard back and squat session. But still, a muscle strain bending over – really? Is this what old age looks like? The worst part was that I was scheduled to do a two-day backcountry motorcycle trip in a few days. Determined not to miss out, I consumed a frightening amount of Ibuprofen, applied non-stop heat, and subjected myself to hours of electrical stimulation using a TENS unit set to cattle prod levels. All of that got me on the bike and I survived. Although, sleeping on the ground with just a thin pad and a sleeping bag is not an ideal recovery plan after a full day of motorcycling. Just saying.

So now what? I went to the trainer when I got back, and after a pretty thorough evaluation, he essentially said that the answer was movement. I needed to move, lift, stretch, and move some more if I want to get better. He said that I wasn’t going to hurt anything or make it worse by continuing my activities… it’s really just up to my pain tolerance as to what I can do.

Crap. What I wanted to hear was to sit on the couch for six weeks and let it heal (and eat nachos. I hear eating nachos cures most anything). I have a hard enough time being motivated to work out as it is – trying to be motivated when everything hurts is a tall order. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants in the morning when I’m super stiff and painful is a comedy routine right now. I’m probably going to send myself headfirst into the back of the closet one of these mornings as I try to fling one leg of the pants around an outstretched foot without bending at the waist. I’m sure it’s not a pretty sight.

But I suppose my old Pop Warner coach was right. I’m merely hurt, not injured. Time for some smelling salts and to put on my big boy pants and get back after it. But I will say… this is my first real taste of what old age pain must be like. I can see why older folks are reluctant to move or workout and take large amounts of pain medication. It’s actually scared me a little bit.

I will not let that be my future.

I Didn’t Read The Manual

I bought a drone. Because I am this close to becoming the next Jimmy Chin, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman documenting the “Long Way Round“, or the next Itchy Boots. All that’s been holding me back is the ability to capture that epic footage, dude. And the drone is going to catapult me into fame. I’m sure of it. I just have to figure out how to fly the thing.

When it arrived, it was raining and windy. And then again the next day. And then a day of other commitments. Finally the weather was reasonable and I had the afternoon free. I announced that I was going to go for a motorcycle ride to test the drone. Mrs Troutdog, who’s far smarter than me, helpfully offered some advice. “Why would you do that? Go to the park first and learn how to fly it.” Sigh, women. They just don’t get it sometimes.

I’d watched some YouTube videos on flying it. I come from a highly technical background. Go to a park. Please. You cannot get epic footage at a park. So, I spent at least two hours figuring out how to attach the drone’s case to the motorcycle and getting wires and chargers and batteries all loaded up into the tank bag. Off I went to launch my film career.

About 45 minutes later I arrived at my planned destination in the backcountry. No cell service. No people. Just beautiful backcountry trails in the mountains alongside a flowing river. How perfect will this be! I could already see the footage I was going to capture. I unpacked the drone, the controller, and drone’s beacon.

Power on the drone, turn on the beacon, and… “STANDBY, GPS SYNCING”. I waited. And waited. And the drone timed out and powered off. The beacon, no longer connected to the drone, stopped the sync process. WTF? Power on the drone again and repeat the process. Same result. And again. And again. I finally noticed a message that said, “Pair beacon with app for faster sync”. Ok. I loaded up the app and looked for a way to pair with the beacon. Nothing. I tried to pair with the beacon via the phone’s Bluetooth connection. Nothing. Since there was no cell service in the backcountry, I had no way of looking anything up or downloading the manual.

An hour later I had to admit defeat. The drone wasn’t going to fly that day. I had to pack everything up, make the long ride home, and admit to Mrs Troutdog she was right all along. I should have just gone to the park. Sigh.

The next day it rained. We then had a three-day trip. When we returned, it rained again. FINALLY, we had a day of no rain. It was time to be humble and go to the park. I knew the perfect place, right near the house. I drove over and pulled all my gear out and got set up. I decided I should look at the FAA’s app that gives you flight authorization for your drone. And… you’re not allowed to fly at that park because it’s too close to the hospital. OMG.

I packed everything up and drove to a nearby school. There were approximately 1,000 little kids running around on the fields at what looked like a summer camp. I drove and drove and drove, until I finally found a large park without people. I checked the app and got clearance to fly.

Long story short, the drone is amazing. The technology in these things is hard to believe. And I honestly don’t think I could have figured it out standing on the side of the trail in the woods that first time. It certainly took some trial and error in a very large open space to start to get the hang of things. So, I suppose it was a blessing in disguise.

The moral of the story? I’m not sure. The trials, tribulations, and errors I went through probably taught me more about the drone and flying than if everything had gone perfectly the first time. Life and learning is a process. Embrace it. Laugh at it. The path forward is rarely a straight line.

Also, real men don’t read manuals.