Personal Update

I had a question about how my Dollar Game finished up. The game is a simple one – give $1 to 100 different people. The game took me over 100 days to complete, which surprised me.

Coming out of the game, I’ve found myself more willing to get involved with helping people locally – the situations that stand out are non-financial. Not sure if that was the game or simply a spin off from serving my kids all the time.

The only dollar that left me feeling bad was one I gave to an alcoholic. That dollar left me feeling like I was supporting his drinking.

I’ve read that it’s better to separate the giving from the person – to see that I’m giving for myself, rather than to promote anything in the other person. However, I’m not there yet.


I had a question about my application to return to school. I was accepted to my degree program and deferred for a year to work on my relationship with my daughter and get my family’s finances in order.

Improving my parenting experience and family financial position would be transformative. To give myself the best shot at change, I’ve greatly simplified my life and am applying my friends’ best advice. Specifically, I’ve:

  • removed most travel
  • ditched my high-volume training days
  • cleared the decks of any racing
  • cut my writing, coaching and consulting commitments to ten hours per week

This leaves me spending more time with my kids, in ways that don’t cost much money. We swim, bike, hike and stay local. It has the benefits of a sabbatical (free time) without the hassle of changing my kids’ routine.


Athletically, I returned to masters swimming (my wife’s the coach) and our kids love the childcare at the pool. I’ve been in the water 26 of the last 28 days. While it kicks my butt a couple times a week, swimming seems to fit my family and marriage. Not a whole lot of cycling or running getting done – which is just as well as all my favorite mountain routes remain damaged from the Boulder Flood.


My hospice training starts tomorrow – when I looked at my family web, I realized that “community” was a weak link in my life. The hospice work fits with a personal goal of self-improvement, in a way that’s useful to my family.


Surprisingly, owning my anger was near immediately transformative – I told a room full of preschool parents how angry I get with my daughter and that seemed to clear the air for myself. Got some good parenting ideas as well.

Boulder Flood Lessons

Having lived in Vancouver, London, Edinburgh and New Zealand, it is ironic that I haven’t had to face water damage until I moved to Colorado!

I’ve had six incidents in Boulder – four last week.

Here’s what I learned.

Whether you are a renter, owner or landlord… spending a few hundred bucks, now, will save you thousands of dollars later.

Go buy your flood prevention kit.

Many locals didn’t stand a chance – older houses in a flood zones were completely submerged, or washed away. However, some people made great decisions and saved themselves from significant property damage.


Sand bags and cinder blocks are cheap. If you have an inward sloping driveway then get yourself a dozen of each and lay them out when you hear the flash flood warning. This is at least a 100:1 return on investment.

Your next line of defense is a 1/3rd horsepower submersible pump, portable generator and 100 ft of 1.5 inch flexible pipe. If you don’t need to save your own stuff then it will make you a neighborhood hero. A few hundred of these in Boulder (ten days ago) would have saved us millions.

If you don’t have a submersible pump then you can take the pump from an evaporative cooler, attach it to a garden hose and place it on top of a dinner plate. It won’t save you from a large flood but it might buy you enough time to sand bag your hot water tank and furnace.

I rent to a bunch of college kids that saved my HVAC equipment with dirt-filled grocery bags and a shop vac. They will be getting a large credit on their October rent!

Even if you think “it’s only rain water,” remember that flood water is poopy water! You can visit YouTube to see college kids enjoying their four-day weekend by tubing in sewage.

Hip waders, rubber gloves and a respirator might seem like overkill but will keep you safe. Last Friday night I was up to my knees in who-knows-what wearing flip flops and board shorts. Following my exposure, I had a rash and lot of little cuts that took a long time to heal. That night, I was so tired that I slept in my clothes. In the morning, my wife was thrilled. At least I washed my hands.

If your carpet/wall gets soaked then bite the bullet and rip it out. Replacing carpet and drywall is cheap relative to the nightmare of mold mitigation. Wet carpet is heavy – use a serrated knife to cut it into pieces that are easy to carry out.

Eventually, I got myself work boots, full body coverage and a disposable N100 mask (N95 doesn’t protect you from airborne nasties).

The next step was fans and dehumidifiers running continuously. A step ladder and a garden hose will let gravity drain your dehumidifier into a sump, or bathroom.

Once everything was dry, I shop vac’d (used an internal bag) and did two treatments of bleach (1 part) mixed with water (2 parts). I sprayed the bleach treatment with a portable garden sprayer. I should have had a respirator as my N100 mask let vapors through. Bleach spray doesn’t go well with eyes so wear protection and turn the fans off when you lay down the treatment. After spraying, turn the fans on and get the heck out of there.

$500 will get you all of the above – that’s half of my insurance deductible (per incident).


What else did I learn?

If you live at the bottom of a 10-mile wide, 7,000-foot high funnel then stuff will happen.

Every single mountain road that I ride (and love) has been damaged. The pictures from the canyons show the devastating power of fast water.

12 inches of water can kill you. The saddest story was the death of a two teenagers that stepped out of their car and were immediately swept away. The couple died near a favorite running spot in North Boulder. If you can’t see the lines on the road then turn around.

Good government and strict urban planning make a difference. Given the amount of water that came out of the Rockies, Boulder came out well. The city, county and state governments did an outstanding job of co-ordinating our first responders. The planners should be proud of how well decades of work held up.

A reminder to myself as a property investor – flood zones are easily avoided. While it’s wonderful to live beside water, a better decision might be to overlook.

I received questions about my personal situation – we were very lucky. Our house is protected by a knoll that diverted the runoff. There was extensive damage one block in every direction from us.

Take action early.

Early mitigation is cheap.

Coping With Anger

A recent conversation about parenting:

Husband: I’m not used to being filled with hate and anger

Wife: Any other father would be yelling and hitting by now

Husband: The Dalai Lama wouldn’t be hitting

Wife: Any normal father

Husband: I’m not trying to be normal, I’m trying to be exceptional


Recently, I’ve been finding myself being “really mad” at one of my kids. Worse, I have been carrying my anger around and wrapping it in self-pity. This is a crappy habit to create!

To turn things around, I tried a 14-day cleanse…

Monica laughed as my cleanse was light weight in a Boulder sense… huge salad for dinner and no booze. I didn’t notice any difference physically but the anger has started lifting.

Here’s what I’ve been doing to cope.

Own It – when I’m angry, I notice the anger. I try to create some space by breathing and noticing “wow, I’m angry.” When I can pull this off, I don’t act on my anger.

Not acting on anger is a win, even when angry.

Identity – I remind myself that I’m not always the role that is making me angry:

  • Employee of difficult boss
  • Parent of difficult kid
  • Customer of difficult company

I discovered my painful identity when I was hiking (alone) feeling sorry for myself. I reframed my self pity into “a guy who can go for a hike.”

This helped until I became “guy who’s calf blew out on a hike!” At least my calf trouble got me swimming again and I noticed that problems in my body don’t make me angry.

Communicate – My anger doesn’t like anyone to know about it. So I have been introducing my anger to my wife, my friends and, now, you. Getting the emotion in the open creates space. Space is good.

Share Goodness – when I’m happy or enjoying myself… I send a little bit of that happiness to the object of my anger.

Breathing in – this is a good moment

Breathing out – I send her some goodness

The Rational Mind – I think of myself as being calm and rational. It’s everyone else that runs on autopilot.

Persistent irrational emotions point out that I’m merely OK in “my world” but have trouble with “the World.”

I want to apply evil intent on my kids but, looking deeply, the only possible intent is love and inclusion. Until I can experience that reality:

  • Keep breathing
  • Keep trying
  • Let go of the emotional warfare


Today’s my youngest’s birthday. She’s one. It took me five years to become comfortable with babies and now they are gone!

Hopefully, I can up-skill with preschoolers before 2018.