Wednesday, August 31, 2005



You know, I think part of the reason why it has been hard for me to write this post is because I'm afraid I will come across as a whiner, or a braggart, or even both. I don't think I have ever even discussed this with anyone, even inside my family circle. As I strive to my apex I have acknowledged that intelligence is an area of human performance that I hope to work on and improve, along with my spirituality and physical well-being. What has taken me 42 years to realize though, is intelligence is a mite over-rated.

You see, I'm a smart guy that comes from a really fantastic gene pool of other smart folks. I have smart parents, smart brothers and sisters, smart uncles and aunts - and I have smart kids. On the subject of nature vs. nurture in the area of intelligence I can speak from experience there is an undeniable genetic component that in turn forms and affects the amazing environment I grew up in.

I always had access to great books on a wide variety of topics. My mom and dad are both voracious readers (yes Mom, I know you're still reading up there when you're not busy being the family guardian angel). My Dad's recliner was and I imagine still is surrounded by a mound of magazines, books and newspapers in various stages of being read. My parents would always sacrifice their time and resources to allow their children to try and experience new things - when I sleepily stumble to the car to bring my daughter to an early morning swim practice or pick up a son from football practice I am humbled when I remember my Dad driving me to Skowhegan for drum lessons - 45 minutes driving, and who knows what the poor guy did while I took my lesson, egocentric teenagers rarely ponder those questions and it takes time and distance to fully appreciate the sacrifice.

So, I'm a smart guy, through a combination of good genetics and good upbringing. How smart? Well, when I was a younger man and that sort of thing mattered to me, I was tested and re-tested at different times and within a point or two I would score between a 146 and 148 on IQ tests, comfortably in the top 1% for folks that follow that kind of thing. See, there's the potential braggart factor. On my next post, I'll discuss what intelligence means to me (that will be the whinny part). As I said, intelligence is over-rated.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


Life Is Good

Happiness can be found in the most unexpected places as this spot-on smiley face on the surface of Mars attests. Today my happiness had roots in a swelling contentment that gradually burst forth into full blown joy, a cascade of small things that have so far added up to a great day.

I am chronically sleep-deprived, especially in the summer when the girls are up late and work beacons early, so beginning this Saturday by sleeping in for a total of almost 8 hours was a great start. I managed to coax the perfect cup of coffee out of my little 4 cup Everyday Living coffee maker, the neighborhood is quiet so Kerri can sleep after her night shift at the hospital, and the sun is beating down on my back deck like summer will never end. I brought the girls to the local waterpark for the afternoon and I have been alternating between reading Midwives by Chris Bohjalian and staring at the cloudless sky with a silly grin on my face. A very slight breeze whispers through the yard just enough to stir the windchimes hanging in the eaves, a long-ago, several-houses-back house-warming gift from my baby sister Boo. What's not to love?

Thursday, August 25, 2005


You Gotta Love Anchorage

I was going to write on intelligence tonight but this story from today's Anchorage Daily news is just too compelling not to share. This gentleman, Mr. Gary Paterna, was walking his dog in Bicentennial Park in Anchorage earlier this week when he came upon a brown bear sow with a cub. The surprised bear acted to protect her cub exactly as a brown bear should according to the experts, and swatted Mr. Paterna a good one, knocking him to the ground and leaving him this amazing bruise. The dog was unharmed in the exchange, and the bear and cub ran away after the perceived threat was neutralized.

While eschoned in our metallic cocoons making the commute to and from work it is easy to forget that nature is lurking so very near in Anchorage - yet there are 52 species of mammals and 230 species of birds found right in the Anchorage Bowl and among these mammals are an estimated 250 black bears, 60 brown bears and 1000 moose. Ironically, one of the most magnificent bull moose I have ever seen was eating willow browse in my parking lot at work last winter, content and protected from hunting in the city limits and sporting an enormous set of antlers.

Along my journey to the apex I need to always take time to notice the wonderful sights and experiences that are right at my front door and never forget that a journey to Alaska is something that many people only dream of and never achieve.

You'll be happy to know that Mr. Paterna, a 60 year old grandfather of five, plans on continuing his daily walks with his faithful dog Tok, albeit with a larger can of pepper spray (he never got a chance to use the small can he had with him). You can read the full story here.

You can read more about Anchorage wildlife issues.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Smarter Than What?

I stated at the beginning that my personal definition of an apex is "where an individual achieves their maximum mean combined levels in the areas of physical performance, mental acuity and spirituality". By mental acuity, I was referring to intelligence - and how does someone increase their intelligence? First of all, intelligence is a bit hard to define - after all, there is the view that "intelligence is whatever an intelligence test measures." Sternberg wrote in 1985 that the three characteristics of intelligence are the possession of knowledge, the ability to use knowledge to reason about the world, and the ability to use that reasoning adaptively in different contexts. Of particular interest to my goal here is that perceptual speed declines after the age of 25, numeric ability declines after 60, and other abilities such reasoning and verbal ability increase until middle age before beginning a gradually declining. This gives me hope I can still gain some ground!

All joking aside, this topic will take a couple posts to cover. I have very mixed feelings about intelligence that I will cover in more depth tommorow night when I have some time to reflect while Kerri is at work.

Monday, August 22, 2005


Can't Summit Alone

I can't imagine an atheist father of daughters. With two new teenage daughters of my own now, I have new respect for my Dad and for all fathers out there that deal with this special situation. Never in my life have I felt more of a need for God's help and guidance than now - I can't imagine going it alone because even Dads need to sleep sometime!

There is lots of room for improvement in my spiritual life as I have not found the "perfect" church to attend in Anchorage and I need to be a better example for my daughters, sons and wife. I guess what I'm looking for is that spiritual hunger I had as a teenager, when I was old enough to get myself up and walk to church because I wanted to be there. I certainly had the very best of examples in my parents who always placed church and family first - I have some great memories of my Dad and I both singing tenor in the church choir for awhile.

There certainly can be no apex without upping my game in the spiritual realm, and that is going to require a lot of soul-searching on my part.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Milestones to the Apex

When my brother read the first couple posts on this blog he commented favorably on my ideas but warned me "not to beat myself up" on here. He was referring to the comment I made about being fat, and his advice was just what you would expect (and hope for) from a big brother who has made a life's work of being the guardian of my happiness. He is truly all a guy could ever hope for in a brother, and I love him very much, but I'm afraid that along the way I am going to have to beat myself up a bit from time to time. Without pain there can be no growth - that sort of thing. If I am going to view a journey to the apex as a three prong approach involving intellectual, spiritual and physical growth resulting in culmination then I need to make it very clear, right up front, that continued work on my physical health is probably the biggest challenge I face on this journey.

The picture above is of Pioneer Peak in Palmer, about 30 miles from where I'm typing. When I first drove to Alaska from Kentucky by way of Maine, the first time I saw Pioneer Peak I pulled my Subaru over to the side of the road, got out, and just gaped at what I thought was the most awe-inspiring sight I had seen in the long drive across North America. There is something about this mountain - it's symmetry, it's perfect "mountain shape" as it rises 6400 + feet above the ocean across the highway - that has captured my imagination ever since that day 17 years ago. To give you an idea of how special Pioneer Peak is, the man who spent two years of his life planning and executing a hiking trail up the backside of this mountain was awarded one of only twenty-seven National Trail Awards in 2004:(

Now it is possible to make the 18 mile round-trip hike to the summit: (

I consider this hike one of many essential sign posts along the way to the apex, and the hike simply cannot be accomplished unless I am fit and strong. To become more fit and strong, I am going to have to sometimes acknowlege where I am starting and how things are going - I have done well and lost some good weight and have a physical job but in round numbers I still need to lose 100 pounds. This is not beating myself up Bro - it is facing the issue head-on and doing something about it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Heading Back To College Tonight

Trevor heads back to college tonight after a summer working and playing in Alaska. He and his brother have definintely been key players in my search for an apex.

It is fascinating for me to observe my adult sons and recognize the two halves of me expressed as separate human beings. Trevor is the playful half who thought he wanted to be a dentist and finally realized he loved biology too much to be happy any where else. He is an extraordinarily high performing, high achieving young man whose goals, vision of the world and love for life take my breath away on a daily basis.

Trevor and I sat at the kitchen table last night and gave life to each other's dreams. I shared some of mine and he acknowledged and supported me without mocking; he told me some of his in return. There will be more time and space devoted to my sons and daughters as I journey forward and skyward . . . . for now, I needed to publicly acknowledge the part of my happiness that is Trevor-shaped for when he is home, without effort or pretension, he drops into place like a puzzle piece and my life is richer. Trevor has that effect on people and I am very proud of all that he has become and strives to achieve and I know his apex will blaze brightly for others to follow.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


I'm Going To Maine!

I found a round trip ticket for the amazing price of $439, all fees included, so this Yankee will be visiting the home turf the first week of October! Too late in the year for the lobster shacks to be open but there will be a new apple crop, cider, the best weather of the year and of course the famous fall foliage. I'm looking forward to seeing my baby sister's new baby, spending a lot of time with my brother and Dad, and just relaxing. My apex journey will always involve side trips to Maine no matter where in the world I reside.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


What's With The Apex Thing?

a·pex ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pks)n. pl. a·pex·es or a·pi·ces (p-sz, p-)
The highest point; the vertex: the apex of a triangle; the apex of a hill.
The point of culmination. See Synonyms at summit.
The usually pointed end of an object; the tip: the apex of a leaf.

The apex of a human life is where an individual achieves their maximum mean combined levels in the areas of physical performance, mental acuity and spirituality. For purposes of discussion, let's assume that at 41 years old I have passed my physical apex (various motorcycle crashes, snow machine wrecks and a life of adventure have given me the ability to tell the weather with a number of body parts, and I am quite fat at the moment), and let's also assume my spiritual apex will probably be quite sometime down the road. My intellectual apex may also have passed - it depends on who you talk to - but I think I can still make progress in that area. It follows that at some point in time, probably in the next ten to 20 years, I will enjoy that culmination, that apex, where I am balanced on the verge of a slow descent into what I hope to be a long and healthy run as a wise and aging man, gaining in wisdom and spirituality but not at the top of my game any more.

There are many hurdles in my way and many bridges to cross, and that is what I am here to discuss and explore in the context of my life, my goals and world events.

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