Time for new adventures

Today is the last day of the job that has preoccupied me for about 2.5 years.

…I start a new one on Monday after a three day weekend.

That’s really all I have to say about that.

Owies

I’ve had a challenging few weeks.

It started off with a typical sinus infection… or allergies, I’m not sure which exactly. All I know is that I had a sore throat, stuffy nose and semi-regular headaches. I managed it with cold medicine and nose spray the best I could. I continued my normal workout regimen because usually, working out actually helps with congestion. This wasn’t the case this time around.

The problems hung out for a few days. It started to clear up on Friday around my birthday. On Sunday, we decided to go on an 8.5 mile bike ride. It felt great to be out in the sun and spring air. When we got home however, my right ear instantly filled up. It’s like someone poured glue in my ear. It started a high-pitched squeal.

The worst part was the pain. The pain was epic. I’ve never had pain in my ear like that before. It was so brutal that I would try anything to get rid of it. I tried all kinds of home remedies. Nothing worked. A few days later I finally went to the doctor and he confirmed it was just a massive ear infection. They gave me a shot of some plant spores in my ass and sent me on my way.

A day or two later we were sparring in Tae Kwon Do class. I was fighting one of my classmates and decided to do a regular, clean roundhouse kick with my right leg. I brought it up. So did he. We kicked at the same time. Our shins met and clacked like swords. The pain was instant and terrifying.

The bruise was even worse. Fifteen minutes after sustaining the hit my leg was already bruising.

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The pain subsided a little bit. I suppose it was adrenaline kicking in or something. Who knows. It really didn’t feel that bad. Then I got home and noticed my leg was burning. I looked down and discovered that it was pissed.

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This really wasn’t turning out to be my week.

I forgot the best part. While this fantastically shitty week was going on… I was working from home because of how awful I felt and the fact that I was deaf in my right ear. I just wasn’t fit to be around people. I had absolutely zero joy to share with the world. I was working along on and then decided to take a break. I went downstairs to grab a drink or a snack or something. I don’t remember. I came back upstairs and my Macbook Pro was completely black. The fans were running… loud. This wasn’t good. This usually only happens when I’m booted into Windows 8.1.

I pressed a key. Nothing.

I powered it off. I waited a few minutes. I pressed the button once more to turn it back on. I was confident this was all going to be okay.

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Nope.

Yeah, that’s my Macbook Pro with a blue screen of death.

I made a genius appointment. They took it in and held on to it for a few days. They contacted me back around three days later and proclaimed that the Data Doubler part I had put in to run the secondary SSD was faulty. As soon as they unplugged it from the logic board everything was fine. “Weird,” said I, since this had been running fine for three years. I picked the laptop back up. I turned it on. Sure enough, it was fine.

Fifteen minutes or so later, it died again.

thanks apple

I made another genius bar appointment and brought it back. This time I had replace all of the original parts in the MBP.

During this time I worked off my iPad as the primary machine for a few days and then switched to my 2008 Mac Pro. This was fine because I wanted to work from home anyway, thanks to my medical challenges.

On Saturday that week they returned the MBP with a brand new logic board. It’s been working fine ever since. This time, I thank Apple… without the sarcasm.

My leg and my hearing were still bad. At this point I’m in week two of a nightmarish way to start my 43rd year. I was having trouble walking for sure and my leg developed hematomas all over the place from the injury down to the bottom of my foot. I was icing it regularly and doing my best to keep the swelling down. The swelling is what was hurting the most. The injury itself wasn’t that bad.

Now it’s about three weeks later and my hearing has gotten better. I ended up visiting an ENT thanks to a friend of mine who works there. I had been prescribed another round of antibiotics from my regular doctor.

He also put me on blood pressure medicine.

Out of all of the maladies, this was the most crushing I think. I felt like I had failed. Three years ago this doctor had told me to lose weight or face high blood pressure and diabetes. I lost 80 lbs. over the past three years and I’ve managed to keep most of it off. I was putting weight back on this week because… this week. I wasn’t given a choice on the blood pressure medicine. This saddened me for a few days, but the more I think about it, the more I think it was a good idea. We’ll see.

Overall it’s been a really tough week. I’m getting through it. I’ve not really worked out in 2-3 weeks and that’s been tough. I hate feeling like I’m a lazy bastard. I hope the worst is behind me and it’s nothing but up from this point forward. I probably needed a break anyway.

Gorgeous fall colors

The fall season has come on strong this year. Yesterday while wandering around my old neighborhood I noticed the squirrels were a bit frenetic. They were racing around gathering food for the winter as quickly as possible.

This morning the fog and fall colors are settling in at my new neighborhood.

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A Single Kick

This past weekend I had the honor of participating in the Alabama State Games‘ Taekwondo competition. This is the third year for my son to participate in this particular tournament. It was my second. I started TKD in November of 2011 and have advanced at a moderate pace to a blue belt with a red stripe.

Originally, I started TKD as part of my effort to lose 120 lbs. and get my health back. It has assisted in the loss of 80 of those lbs. (and I’ve been stuck there for quite a while, unfortunately, but that’s another story). Now the love of TKD has taken me over and I thoroughly enjoy it for many other reasons. I especially enjoy the sparring competition. I’m not very good at it, but I still enjoy it.

I signed up to the competition as a green belt. I downgraded myself just so I could feel better about it, yeah. What of it? My son entered as a blue belt (he is a red belt in class). I had a pretty good inkling that I would fight one of my classmates who is also a green belt. That worried me a little bit. He’s taller than I am and when I fight, taller people are the bane of my existence. They’re hard for shorter people to fight. You have to be able to move/dodge and out-fake them quite a bit and that’s just not something I’m good at.

This classmate had acquired an annoying new skill that drives me crazy when fighting taller people. The defensive side kick posture plagues me. I spent all week trying to figure out what to do about it. When we got there… he didn’t use it. Not at all.

Now that I’ve set the stage, here’s what I remember of the fight.

My coach was one of our black belt classmates who actually taught him the defensive side kick posture (and yeah, he uses it on me in class, damn him). My opponent’s coach was, shockingly enough, my best friend… who is also a black belt in our class. I actually didn’t realize it was her until after round 1 was over.

Anyway, round 1 begins and I launch into this guy with a fast kick. He immediately charges me with a front push kick and brawls me out of bounds. I wasn’t expecting this. I was expecting the defensive side kick. I did not expect him to go with a gate crash style of offense. That shock played all through the first round and I think I may have scored 1 point. I went out of bounds twice. If I went out of bounds again, I would start losing points. That’s no good at all. Inbetween the rounds, my coach asked me what was wrong. He mentioned that he’s doing the same thing every time – a front push kick and leaving himself open.

It was about this time that I realized my best friend was coaching my opponent. I was a little flabbergasted at this. She knew all of my tricks (what few tricks I had) because she worked with me a lot in class and we’ve spent a lot of time discussing tactics in matches. She knows what I’m thinking. This can’t be good. It’ll either make or break me. At first I was a little ticked, then I realized… wait… she’s probably in a worse position because she’s conflicted about what to give away to my opponent about what I’m doing.

The second round begins and he gate crashes me again. This time he brawls me out to the side of the mat and one of the few things that I remember from this fight is that I felt my foot hit the very edge of the mat. I could tell that if I didn’t lock my leg and strengthen up, I was going out for that third time. I refused to let it happen. I puffed up and pushed myself off to the side to get away from him. On the way out I did a switch roundhouse or something… I think… and started to make up the point deficit.

By the end of the second round I wasn’t as behind as I thought. I could do this. I sat down and expected them to call the fight. I was sure I had lost. However I was quite surprised to discover we were going for a third round. This shocked my friend/opponent as well. He told me later that he used all of his energy in the first and second rounds and had no gas left for a third. I was the opposite. I decided to capitalize on this chance to take the fight back to him.

Again my coach warns me about the front push kick and the gate crashing tactics. I’m getting wise to it. I’m not dealing with it perfectly, but I was getting him off me more effectively. The third round starts and I managed… somehow… to launch into him enough to completely tie the score at 22-22.

That means an overtime round.

In Olympic WTF sparring rules, an overtime round means whoever lands the first scoring kick wins. I went to the side of the ring. My coach stands in front of me and smiles. I didn’t sit down.

“Aren’t you going to sit down?” he asked.

“Nope.”

I was pacing side to side to keep my heart rate up. I wanted to get in there and finish this so bad I could taste it.

“Alright,” he said. “Here’s what’s going to happen. The ref is going to say begin and he’s going to charge you with a front push kick. Get out of his way and get him back. Either get out of his way or front push kick him first.”

“Done.”

The ref called us back to the ring. I waited patiently. The ref said begin. Sure enough, my coach had called the shot. He drives forward with a front push kick. I did the same thing. I went forward into his kick with my own front push kick. Apparently we made contact at the same time – or enough of the same time to confuse the judges on who landed the kick. I remember my right leg going down to the mat and my brain asked… “Is this match over? No one is calling it.” Quickly, I did a switch roundhouse and tagged him with my left leg.

Bingo. That was the kick they scored.

In the end, I won the match. Somehow.

It was exciting. It was stressful. It was rewarding. I bowed to my friend, shook his hand and hugged him tight. He’s a great guy and he fought hard. He told me later he wanted to give the kids a good fight to watch. He knew that if he had done the defensive side kick it wouldn’t have been exciting at all. I was going to try to make it exciting – I had spent all week preparing for it. In the end it was the wrong thing. I finally starting to develop enough instincts to bend the match in my favor when I need to.

It was a great, great experience.

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2013 Goals

Here’s a few of my 2013 resolutions… er, goals, I mean.

  • Write more.
  • Laugh more.
  • Lose 45 more lbs. (and then I’m done) and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
  • Earn a blue belt.
  • Share more.
  • Get back into photography and art.
  • See more shows.
  • Live more.
  • Write an iOS app.
  • Complete a book/story and publish it.
  • Learn more, especially around code.

Not too bad for goals, no?

What are yours?

Communism on MacBreak Weekly

This morning on the way in to work, I was listening to the MacBreak Weekly episode 283 entitled, “Author, Author.”

I had always suspected Leo Laporte was smoking crack. Now there is no doubt. I don’t know if I can ever listen to him again. Maybe if I take a little break I will be able to circle back around to it.

In other news, I declared podcast bankruptcy and erased about 7gb of podcasts I will not have time to consume.

Bah, I hate it when people use the word “consume” like I just did.

An Update on Physical Health

It has been a long time since I took a few moments to update the notes on my physical health.

A few years ago I was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and put on a CPAP machine. The doctor thinks it’s because I am fat. That is probably true. The CPAP is meant to be a stopgap until I can get my weight problem under control. The CPAP has been a godsend to my quality of life. It has been responsible for so many improvements from blood pressure to energy level that I highly recommend a sleep study for everyone. Seriously. So many issues from headaches, narcolepsy, blood pressure, acid reflux and mood have improved dramatically.

This has empowered me to get on an exercise regimen. For two years now I have really not committed to solving this problem. It has been harder than quitting smoking for me. I have yo-yo’d for two years on the top 10 lbs. Of my weight. I am tired of it and have made tremendous changes in what I eat and how much I eat. I have started exercising fanatically and using livestrong.com to track my calories. I am now back to -10 lbs. From my starting point.

Today I encouraged myself by putting on a pair of pants that haven’t fit me for years. Not only do they fit, they are practically falling off of me.

If I can do this and really get down -130 total lbs., I will be the shit. It is extremely hard to modify my old habits that I have had for 24 years, but the fact is I just need to get off my ass and stop eating stupid crap.

So far it is working. We will see if it continues.

No, we won’t. It will continue, period.

It will.

Definitely Moving Too Fast

Tonight the Christmas tree was finally put back in the shed. While the wife and I were shifting the dining room table back into place, I muttered, “Another Christmas come and gone.” Quite a cheesy, cliche line if I do say so myself. Obviously I am becoming an old fart.

It suddenly occurred to me that 2010 had flown past. I know I was getting all pensive about this earlier, but the other day I was looking over this blog and I noticed that I made ONE WHOLE POST in the entire year of 2010. That one whole post was in June, where I ran across this website (like it was some foreign thing) and noticed that I really should post more often. The problem is that I remember writing that post and I SWEAR TO @DEITY there is NO WAY IN HELL that I wrote that post in June. I wrote it in November or December. There’s no way I wrote that in June.

But… nope. I wrote that in June.

What in the hell happened to 2010? Everyone I know was sick as a dog. My family was sick on a regular basis. We were sick so often I started thinking that we needed to call some investigative reporter to have them run checks on our house for xenon or cosmic rays and shit like that. I just knew we were going to end up on 20/20 as the newest victim of some greedy corporate assmunch who built out house back in the 60’s on top of a Cherokee burial ground next to a pet cemetery. But I never did any of that. I guess it was just my kids being little disease vectors. This theme hooked up to produce one of those New Year’s Resolutions where I vowed to take better care of myself. Yeah well, I’m doing generally okay, but I really need to lay off the sweets.

Anyway, I digress. Time flew. 2010 is over and I can hardly believe it came and went. Like I said earlier, it was a time of massive transition for me. The news we got at the last week of 2010 was nothing more than the icing on the cake. Yes, Mr. Man, that really has been a transition going on and it took a year to fully blossom. How ironic that on the last week of the year the decisions were done and announcements were made. The transition was really happening.

So now 2011 is about another transition, but that’s more for the place that I work. My own personal transition is nearly complete. That’s a good thing, I do believe. Those New Year’s Resolutions should help with completing those transitions but we’ll see. I’m usually pretty good about committing to something, but I have to believe that it’s worth the commitment. (Those of you who are personal friends, kindly resist the urge to message me now with, “Your kids are worth it!” bullshit remarks because that just doesn’t work on me for some reason).

Here I am with new goals and new ambitions. I need to figure out where my wandering mind needs to go. There are so many things I enjoy doing and so many things I could make into a career… but as these things go, it’s all about experimentation and finding how you love to spend your time.

I’ve gone through stages in my life. My early child/teenager/20’s were spent being quite left-brained. Somewhere around the early to mid-20’s I made the transition to a very right-brained method of living and working. I still enjoy that, but oh how I miss the left-brained stuff.

I really need to line up some models and start photography again. I also need to get some of these scripts and stories (re)written and work them. I miss it terribly.

Frankly, the right-brained shit gets old. I’m not good in that part of the rat race. I need the creativity. If I can mix the technology and the creativity that is likely a sweet spot.

Wish me luck.

New Year’s Resolutions for 2011

It’s 2011. It’s probably time for some New Year’s Resolutions, so here’s the obligatory post.

First, let me speak a bit about 2010. 2010 was an interesting year. I label it a year of transition because there was quite a bit of that. If 2010 had an overall theme, it was definitely “transition.” I transitioned in many areas:

  • Professionally, in deciding that if I had my way about it, I’ll never work with Windows again.
  • Personally, in discovering that I’ve been doing a terrible job at taking care of myself.
  • Spiritually, but not in the classical sense. By this I mean learning more about myself and others.

This is a personal blog and so therefore I’m only covering areas that are personal. Those of you who know me know that there have been multiple transitions in the family as well, albeit standard. (“My how the kids have grown!” “Wow, will that two year old ever stop talking!?”)

All of this being said I present to you… my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions. I’m going to do my best to make sure that I cover only the goals that I feel are attainable.

Create More

I used to create all the time. Something, and I’m not sure what, got me out of that habit. I want to get back. I miss it. I miss theater too, but I don’t think that goal is attainable until the kids grow a little more and I have a job that isn’t 24/7. Therefore, one of my goals is to create more. This can be writing, photography (oh how I miss photography!), video, programming or whatever. I must create more.

Read More

I’ve been doing a lot more reading of late, so this needs to continue.

Learn More

This plugs into the spiritual thing and 2010’s transitions. I want to continue to learn more about Chinese language and culture and Mac/UNIX/Linux/Web technologies.

Focus Better

You might think that with the first goal of creating more that this might be difficult. Focus has become very difficult for me and I’m not sure why. This needs to change.

Stop Idling

I idle on the computer too much. This is killing me.

Take Better Care of Myself

Eat better. Move around more. I have the tools, I just need to remember to do that. Stop eating so much garbage. I’ve been doing much better on that in 2010. I need to continue to do that.

Be a Better Father

I think I’m a pretty terrible father. I need to change that. Really, I do.

Be a Better Husband

My wife is a good woman. I consistently remind myself that she gave up so much to move here and have a new life. She entrusted me with her life and well being. I need to remember that and honor her. I need to help out more.

I think that about covers it. There will be some changes on this blog over the coming months. It’s gotten quite cobwebby and I think there is a place for this site after all. I let it grow stale after opening so many other blogs (which will be linked here) and using Twitter and Facebook. While I’ve met many awesome people on Twitter, I want to share a little more in an extended format. Twitter is for light, hilarious conversations. Ultimately, if you want to know more about just me, this is the place to come. If you want to learn more about my family or technology that I’m working on, there are other places to go. If you don’t know where they are you will soon.

2011 will be another year for transition and it is already offering new opportunities. On the last week of 2010 we discovered that we lost our massive contract supporting the government agency I work for. I’m not sure where that is going to take me but I’m definitely excited about the possibilities. I’m very optimistic that this will allow me to grow in areas that I need/want to grow.

Notice I didn’t call out “be more optimistic” in my goals for 2011. Optimism is a very personal thing for me. In general, I’ve always been hopeful that things work out for the better and have always looked for the silver lining. A lot of people see my negativity on the outside but they may not realize that in general it’s a facade. Negativity is funny. I like to make people laugh. I deal with stress by laughing. It comes off as negativity. That’s fine if you don’t understand. But deep down I know it will work out in the end, whatever and however that is. It’s quite optimistic.

If that surprises you, then congratulations – you learned something about me. Great way to start the new year, right?

Who Needs Doctors When the Insurance Company Knows Better?

There is a really disturbing trend developing in health care.  I can sum it up thusly: the insurance company will decide the fate of a patient’s treatment.

One company in particular seems to know better than any medical professional that has ever taken a medical class: Aetna.  You see, Aetna thinks that because the doctor didn’t do a sleep study on me and there is no “official” diagnosis, then he has no right to request that I obtain a prescription to fight the narcolepsy for a month while they line up some time in the clinic.  Therefore, there simply refuse to let me have it.

Oh sure, I could pay for the prescription myself – but if a doctor wrote the prescription, why must the insurance company outright deny the claim?  Better yet, my doctors have to spend time calling and justifying their work and prescription recommendation… which, they did… and… well, Aetna still just doesn’t care.  No narcolepsy drugs for me.

This isn’t the first time Aetna has known better than any of my doctors.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I’m going to try to get the doctor to work through the appeals process on this one since the study is still the better part of a month away, but it’s pretty unnerving that health insurance companies, in the interest of the Bottom Line, can screw their customers’ health like this.

Impressive, Aetna.  I can’t wait to get rid of you.  Perhaps I should start an Internet campaign against you.

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