A workweek from the Devil’s sulfuric armpit

Hi, fiends. It’s been a few days since my last post. I have had a very rough week. Sit back and relax, let me tell you about it.

Around Tuesday I started getting sick. At first, it didn’t seem like much, just a run-of-the-mill Cold. The symptoms were all respiratory; coughing, sneezing, wheezing, nasal congestion, sinus pressure, etc. It all got progressively worse as the week went on. Thursday night and Friday morning were especially rough with continual episodes of coughing. The worst part of this whole experience was having to go to work through it all.

Under normal circumstances, I would have called in and taken a couple of days of sick time to recover. Unfortunately, we were not operating under normal circumstances. Due to several factors that would take too long to explain, my workload has more than doubled the last couple of weeks. It is a temporary surge that just happened to hit at the worst possible time. Complicating matters, my only coworker who is trained to fill in for me when I’m gone was on scheduled vacation, and also sick, by the way. Another coworker had a similar (if not the very same thing) sickness and had to call out for two days. So, we are buried in work to the point where I had no choice but to be there.

I sucked it up and worked the entire sixty hour week, sick. There were a couple of time that I thought I was going to have to fold, but I toughed it out. I’m sure that doing this has only prolonged my recovery time.

So, the work week from the fiery pit of hell is now behind me. It should be easy sailing now, right? Um, no. Next week I am indeed on vacation, which is awesome. And, we are also traveling to Colorado to visit Denice’s family and have fun in general, which is also awesome. The problem is that I am still sick, and Denice is apparently coming down with the same nasty stuff. I am feeling somewhat improved this morning, but she is just getting started. This has the potential to throw a monkey wrench into our plans. So, we are leaving on Tuesday. I hope we will be able to pull ourselves together in time to have a really fun trip. We’ll see.

I know this post sounds like a big fat wad of complaining, and it somewhat is. However, I did get some good Stoic training in through the experiences. There was a multitude of time where I found myself mentally focusing on all the problems and worrying about what may happen as a result. I was able to correct my thinking and accept my circumstances and my related decisions, temporarily anyway. I feel like I have gotten a little stronger.

More to come.

Begging your forgivness

I apologize for my hiatus. Don’t you hate it when bloggers and vloggers say that? Every time I heard one of the people that I subscribe to say, “I’m so sorry it’s been so long since my last video/post,” I cringed. I didn’t care. It’s your channel/blog/podcast, make content whenever you damn well please. Sure, if you are interesting I will miss you, but I’ll get over it. I honestly doubt that anyone takes notice when I miss a day or two of blogging. If you do, the God bless you, my loyal reader. You have done well. Now get a life. Just kidding.

Anyway, my struggle with the Standard American Diet (SAD) continues. I was looking over the spreadsheet that I track my weight in, and found a pattern. For the past couple of months, I have been holding steady at around 245 pounds. One week I will lose 1.5 pounds, and the next week I will gain it back. This whole time I have been faithfully doing my intermittent fasting protocol. During the week I eat only once a day. The problem is that I have been eating the standard junk food diet that the average American eats. Sure, I’m only eating it once a day, but the result is that I am not losing any weight. I am holding my ground. I am still experiencing the freedom from stomach problems that used to plague me, and I credit that to allowing my GI track to rest for twenty hours out of the day. But, I would really like to start making ground again.

I know in my previous post that I said that I was getting back on track. That didn’t happen. I was unable to muster the willpower to do it. I am not giving up, though. I plan to try again this week, with a few modifications. I’m scrapping the whole ‘wristband’ idea. I tried it for a  couple of days, and surprise, it didn’t prevent me from eating junk. I think instead I am going to go back to basics with my old 3pm to 7pm window. I am going to take a bag of walnuts and a couple of Cutties (small oranges) with me to eat on my way home from work. That’s what I used to do, and I believe it helped me to stay on track. The other thing is that I have got to work in some physicall excersie into the equation. I am going to try to get in three quick resistance workouts a week. My work place has an excersie room with dumbells and kettlebells. I must start taking advantage of it.

I’m hoping that If I can successfully jumpstart my weightloss plan again that all the other stuff will follow suite. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers who shamelssly abandon their writting and readers for months on end, only to come crawling back, apologizing for not being there. That’s not me.

So, that’s all for now. How have you peeps been holding up without me? Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter sometime.

Post-weekend stuff and things

Today was a great day, which is good because I massively overdid it this past weekend. It was one of those weekends where I felt physically sick after it was over. I was experiencing a post-weekend hangover this morning. I had way too much sugar. That stuff is poison, I know, but it’s delicious poison.

Work was busy today, but that’s nothing new. I had to work over,  which is fine. I need to keep the cash flowing. We are finally making some progress on our debt snowball. It is going to be a jubilant day when we pay off all of our debt, and I swear to all that is holy, we will never go back.

I’ve started watching a new show on NetFlix. It’s call, The OA. It’s a strange one, but I like it. It’s one of those shows where you cannot tell if the main character is really experiencing the fantastic events that she says she is, or if she’s just crazy. It reminds me of K-Pax. Is he really an alien… or just schizophrenic? The acting is good, and it’s highly rated. Check it out.

I just found out that a close relative of mine, a young man, has been diagnosed with a rare and serious medical condition. It’s terrible news. I’ve never heard of this condition, but it may be genetic. I hope he will be ok. Going to do some research on it tonight.

That’s all for now. Going to hit the sack.

Gotta get a grip

The struggle continues, friends. On my last weigh-in, I was up two pounds. That is freakin unacceptable. I have gotten to a point where I let the slightest thing, the tiniest inconvenience deter me from my plan. I started out with the best of intentions this morning. I stayed on my protocol perfectly until I got off work. Denice picked me up from work, and we had one errand to run before going home. We took the car to get the tires rotated. It was going to be an hour wait, and there was a Cheddars right next door. We instantly gave in and commenced stuffing our faces.

The worst part of it was that I was not even hungry. I usually experience mild hunger early in the day, but once that passes I am fine. There was no reason for me to eat out tonight other than being compelled to by a bad habit. This must change.

I have an idea to help myself remember to stay on the protocol. It’s extremely simple, but I think it may be effective. I’m going to get one of those cheap silicon wristbands, probably a black one. While I am on my protocol, Sunday through Friday, I will wear this wristband. It will remind me that I am to have my self-discipline turned on, and cannot deviate from the plan. If I want to go off plan, I will have to consciously remove the wristband. I am hoping this small exercise in mindfulness will allow me to stick to the protocol better. We’ll see.

I still have not gotten back on track from the epic relapse I fell into during my last vacation. Well, I have another vacation coming up the first week in April. I have to get my head game under control or I am going to have a bad time.

Tomorrow I begin again. I have come too far to give up. One way or the other, I am going to do this thing.

Down with OCD? Yeah, you know me.

I have taken notice that I have an affinity for behaviors that one would classify as obsessive/compulsive or even borderline autistic. I hope I’m using the word autism correctly. I don’t mean it in a negative sense. The behaviors that I am referring to have to do with needing the do things in a systematic and even way. Some examples:

In my job, I move and stage pallets of product here and there. When staging them I always space them a precise distance from each other. If one is out of alignment, I will often go out of my way to reach it and correct it.

When I eat a sandwich, I always eat it exactly the same way. I eat the left corner down until it creates a forty-five-degree angle, from point to point. Then I repeat the process, but this time with the other corner, until I am left with a narrow sandwich stump. I finish that off by eating it left to right.

When I fill up the washing machine, I do so by putting the garments in first on the left side, then the right, then the top, and finally the bottom. I repeat this process until it is full.

This is all a small sampling of quirky behaviors that I exhibit. I could go on. I’m not sure if these behaviors are a virtue (a sign of a well-ordered mind), or if they are a liability (needlessly wasting time trying to make things ‘perfect’). Or, perhaps, they are just quirky behaviors that amount to little and are not an indication of anything.

Sometimes I think that behaving systematically is just us allowing our base programming to show through. It’s the idea that we are just very complex machines, reacting to a complex and changing environment by running a set of mental algorithms, and preprogrammed responses to stimuli. It’s the old ‘free will’ argument. Do we ‘chose’ things because we desire them, or do we chose things because our machine minds are just reacting to stimuli, albeit very complex reactions to very complex stimuli. Who knows.

Sorry to get all existential on you tonight. Actually, why should I be sorry? This is the only thing I could have done, given my programming. Ha, ha.

Vault7… holy shit.

I just got through reading WikiLeak’s press release concerning the publishing of a massive Central Intelligence Agency leak, code named: Vault7. This is some scary, no holds barred, Big Brother on steroids, shit. If half of this is true, then the CIA is literally Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984. In fact, it’s even worse than that. The spying is so pervasive with today’s technology that they have access to us virtually anywhere we are, and at all times. Winston, in 1984, didn’t have a cell phone. Today, almost everyone carries around a little device, that one the one hand can connect us to the knowledge and power of the Internet, but on the other hand, can track our movements and allow the watchers to see all that we do and hear all that we say. Technology is truly a double edged sword.

Some revelations from the WikiLeaks press release:

  • The CIA operates a “global covert hacking program” which has produced a “malware arsenal and dozens of “zero day” weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”
  • By 2016, CIA hackers “had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.”
  • The CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB) developed a thing that they call, “Weeping Angel,” which infests smart TVs. “After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server.”
  • “As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.” (WTF!)
  • “The CIA’s Mobile Devices Branch (MDB) developed numerous attacks to remotely hack and control popular smart phones. Infected phones can be instructed to send the CIA the user’s geolocation, audio and text communications as well as covertly activate the phone’s camera and microphone.”
  • The CIA has the ability “to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the “smart” phones that they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied.”

Listen, I know the arguments. “If you’re not hiding anything then you have nothing to worry about.” “These powers are for keeping track of terrorist and such, not the general public.” Sure, I don’t have anything to hide. Here are the keys to my house. Come, rummage through my stuff if you want. And of course, I don’t like terrorists and I think they should be watched. However, I do not trust the CIA. I do not trust that they have my best interests at heart, and I do not trust that they will not abuse this vast technological power that they have at their disposal. I have a problem with this sort of thing as a matter of principle. Just because I have nothing to hide doesn’t mean I want them watching my every move. We have this thing called “presumption of innocence,” and I do not like being tracked and watched like a common criminal.

I’m going to be following this story. According to WikiLeaks, this is “the largest intelligence publication in history.” There really needs to be first, a public outcry over this violation of privacy, and secondly a global discussion on how to prevent the technology that we all depend on from becoming the instruments of our enslavement.

In the End

It’s Sunday night, and another weekend has come and gone. This weekend was mildly productive. I was able to get caught up on my sleeping. I’m feeling much better already. I was able to check off a few items from my to-do-list that I had been putting off, namely filing our taxes, getting the car’s oil changed, and balancing our home budget. On top of all that I finally got around to watching last week’s episode of The Walking Dead. Man, Negan is one brutal S.O.B.

Friday, my mother, sister, and I went to visit a dying relative. She was someone that I haven’t seen since before Denice and I were married. It’s scary how much a decade of time can ravage someone when they are already old. This lady was someone who was in my life in my early childhood and was always kind to me. She has always been a force of stability for those around her, even to this day. It’s going to be a sad day, for many people, when she passes. From her appearance, I would have to say that she doesn’t have much time left.

I haven’t been around many people who are right on death’s door. It’s an unsettling experience. My relative, who I will call Aunt B, is eighty-five years old and  has a mild case of dementia. She was very frail looking, almost skeletal, and could only stay awake for a few seconds at a time. Those were the least of her problems. She had recently developed a blood clot that had cut off circulation to one of her legs. The doctors had opted to send her home to die in peace, instead of attempt amputation, since she would probably not survive the surgery. Her foot was uncovered when I arrived. It was dark purple, basically dead. It looked so bad that I immediately had an emotional reaction, and almost teared up. It just hit me all of the sudden that she was indeed at the very end of her life. I had a flood of memories from my childhood overtake me, and had a terrible time keeping my composure.

It’s an event like this that will put everything in perspective. Life is short, too short. In the end, most of the shit that we are so preoccupied with during our lives just doesn’t matter. The only thing that will matter is do you have people around you who love you and that you love, people who’s lives you made an impact on? Aunt B made an impact in my life, and she will be missed. I can only hope, no, can only aspire to be the kind of person who will be greatly missed when I am gone. In the end, we all die, but I want to truly live in the meantime.