Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

5/2/2014

A Grim Game

Filed under: Art,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I’ve had a rather grim and brutal week at work, so I’m going to share a rather grim and brutal, but oddly engaging game with you all today.

The game, called Drowning In Problems, is just a little too true to life to be “fun” exactly.  But, it is oddly compelling.  And, it only takes about ten or fifteen minutes to play a round, so it’s not too, too depressing.  It is, however, simple, text-based and created by Minecraft creator Markus…
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1/18/2013

Vitamins from Food

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun Work,Life Goals — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

A healthy mind is a creative mind!

And, let’s face it, a healthy mind is supported by a healthy body.  Exercise is one aspect of that, but at a more fundamental level, properly fueling our bodies and minds is, I think, the most important first step.  Last week, I linked to a site to help you put your diet on autopilot.  This week, I’m suggesting that you maximize your vitamin intake.  Not through taking supplements, though that’s not a bad idea…
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1/11/2013

Put Your Diet on Autopilot

Filed under: Fun,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:07 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

So, we’re eleven days into the New Year.  How are  your resolutions holding up?

If you’re like most people, you’ve made a personal commitment to eat better and lose weight in the coming year.  But, like most people, that little resolution won’t last through the end of the first quarter.  Well, the good news is that this is easier than committing to adding exercise to your daily routine!  No, the answer isn’t to go out and buy Tim Ferriss’ books, the 4-Hour…
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9/5/2011

In Search of Schrödinger’s Tumor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I may, or may not, have cancer.

Now, before all my regular readers and, due to my automated update configurations, my Twitter and Facebook friends who might read this, get too excited, nothing has changed in my recent medical status.  However, Wednesday, I go in for a scan.  A regular scan, nothing special, nothing new.  My scheduled, nine-month scan, per the standard protocol.  Or so I have been lead to believe.

The scan, however routine it may be, will not decide if I have cancer, however.
That, I’m afraid, already is.  Or is not.  Either my body has betrayed me again and a cancerous growth has lodged itself in my chest or it hasn’t and I’m as healthy as I feel.  Personally, I’m inclined to think that I’m cancer free, still, and this whole exercise will be a test of the quality of my health insurance.  But, also, as it turns out, it’s a test of my patience and courage.

You have to understand, I’m not afraid of cancer.  Or of death, either, really.  It’s chemotherapy that terrifies me.
Cancer, as such, is just a way of describing cells that have gotten a bit carried away with themselves and aren’t too particular about playing by the standard set of rules.  And death…  Well, death is the one thing we all have in common.  None of us make it out of this place alive.  Not a one.  Death, in its way, is the final answer.  The ultimate solution to every problem I’ve ever had or can ever conceive of having.  So, no, though I don’t know what waits on the other side of that particular experience, death doesn’t frighten me so much.
Chemotherapy, on the other hand, I do know.  It is, I think, the embodiment of suffering.  At least, for me.

I know everyone’s experience with chemotherapy is different, so, let me take a moment and tell you why it is that I fear it.  For me, chemo was about losing all my hair, all my color, close to sixty pounds, and virtually all my energy.  And, frankly, in a very, very short amount of time.
My hair went first.  I remember it coming out in clumps in the shower.  Just like in the movies.  I started to cry when it happened.  Great racking sobs, with tears running down my face, mixing with the soapy water.  No one can see you crying in the shower.  I recommend it, if you have any crying to do in the future and you’d rather people not know.  It’s one of the many useful things I’ve learned from one of my ex’s.  I took my beard trimmer and cranked it down to the shortest setting, then sheared the rest away myself.  My own way of taking a bit of control back, I suppose.  But, I remember that day, more than four years ago, as if it were yesterday.  A few days later, I shaved for the last time in what would turn out to be more than six months.
My eyebrows and ear hair and nose hair weren’t far behind.  You have no idea how important nose hair is until you don’t have any.  Trust me.  My nose ran for weeks and weeks and weeks.  Nonstop.  All those annoying, little hairs filter the nasty gunk out of the air and grip it with that snotty mucous up in there and keep it from getting into your lungs, as it turns out.  Without it, well, your nose just runs and runs and runs like a little kid with a cold on a Winter playground.

The weight and the color took longer.  By the time I was an unhealthy, pallid gray, my goatee had become so thin that I shaved it off.  And, I was a larval, grub-like thing, pale and weak, before the weight started to melt off me.
Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded the weight loss, but it took muscle as much as it took the fat.  And, of course, it involved severe nausea and, yes, actual vomiting.  Not to mention all the other symptoms, like how everything smelled different; how all my favorite food smelled, well, wrong somehow.  And the weird bloating I would get in my hands and arms that led the doctors to proscribe diuretics and force the poor nurses to record how much I peed, by volume.  I was measured and weighed regularly.  Multiple times per day, actually.  Oh, and the drugs!  Pills by the score, a fist-full at a time.  Self-administered injections three times a day, at one point.  All while fighting nausea and trying to find a square inch of flesh that I could still pinch up enough to get a needle into without going all the way through.

Death would have been easier.

But, as a wise, Zen-Catholic almost-monk reminded me recently, without fear, there can be no bravery.
He also reminded me that the test will only show what is, or is not, already there.  It will only tell me if I have just another problem to deal with, or another opportunity to exercise my courage, or, simply, a bill to pay and just another doctor’s appointment to go to and questions to ask and answer.
And, either way, all I can do is live in the present moment.  What’s happened is done already.  What happens in the future is yet to be determined and may not have anything to do with what has come before.  And, regardless of the results of this scan on Wednesday, which I’ll get on the following Monday, I can only live as best I can, as best I know how.  There will, ultimately, be other scans, other tests, potentially one every year until the day I do, finally, make the last great leap into the dark.  In between those scans, however many there may be, I slowly, gradually, have chosen to live healthier.  The past couple years, I’ve been juicing.  Fresh, home-made, organic vegetable juice.  And, this year, fruit smoothies.  Both, or either, instead of sandwiches for lunch, along with yogurt, which has lately been organic as well, and, newest of all, Greek for the higher protein.
I exercise more regularly than ever.  I’d like to be less heavy than I am, or at least less fat.  Pound for pound, more muscular would be just fine at my weight.  Less stiff and less creaky in the joints would be okay, too.  Some mornings when I get up, I sound very much like a bowl of Rice Krispies my joints snap, crackle and pop so much.  Several people have suggested that I add yoga to my exercise regimen, that it would help with flexibility and ease my stiff joints.  And, when I hear a thing three times, from three very different people, I have to at least investigate that or risk the Universe taking offense at my willfully ignoring the suggestion.  So, this conservative, meat-and-potatoes, tough-minded, mostly pragmatic Mid-Westerner has found himself a bit adrift in Texas, more liberal and open-minded toward alternative health practices, eating mostly fruits and vegetables and “crunchy granola”, and, yes, finally, investigating yoga, of all things.  At least I hear the classes are mostly women, so, who knows, maybe I’ll meet a nice, healthy girl who won’t laugh too loudly at my foolishness.

So, regardless of how terrified I may be of having to endure chemotherapy again, or how distasteful I find the radioactive enema I will pay an enormous deductible on, I will face the day, the scan, with as much courage and dignity as I can still manage.  I will do my best to be thankful for the friends and family who support me in my weakness and discomfort, and, yes, for the medical staff who will run me through their gauntlet.  I will try to be patient while waiting for the results of what is already there, or not, like Schrödinger’s cat, who’s state cannot be known until it is observed.
And, when all is said and done, I will try not to let the fear cripple me, but, rather, I will do my best to live more fully.  Certainly, more fully than I have been, more courageously, I hope.  I will still know fear, I am sure, but, as I was reminded, there can be no courage without the fear first.

Of course, until that all happens, I will be more than happy to accept your prayers, good thoughts, and any introductions to nice, pretty, healthy ladies who aren’t more than ten years younger than I.
But, let’s start with those prayers, okay?
Thanks.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If I'd known I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself!"
   --George Burns

3/16/2009

Does exercise really make you healthier?

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life Goals,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Funny thing. Yes, as it turns out, it does.

And, now it’s been mostly proved by science.

That is all.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."
   --Oscar Wilde

3/11/2009

Juice

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:26 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon


JuicemanJunior

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I’ve started juicing.

This is probably not a big deal to anyone else but me, but, well, I’ve gotten a juicer and started juicing. Now, this does not mean that I’m using steroids, which is what I think of when I hear “juicing”. No, this is actual juice, made from fruits and vegetables. Mostly, though, vegetables.

I don’t eat very well. I admit it. I don’t get the daily recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and I eat far, far too much meat. I know this. I know this is why I tend to be so heavy, why my blood pressure is as higher than it should be, why I feel older than I should. I know I should eat better and be healthier to help keep cancer from coming back. So, I’m making a compromise.

When I was near the end of chemo, it seemed like every cancer survivor I ran into asked me if I’d gotten my juicer yet. I’d meant to get one of those years ago, I would tell them. And, I’ll have to get around to that one of these days really soon, I’d add. But, more than a year after finishing chemo, I still hadn’t done it. No, it took my own vanity to push me to go get one, any one, to try. See, I need to keep my nutrition levels as high as possible, while keeping my calorie intake as low as possible and juice seems like the way to do it.
So, I bought a juicer.

It is, in fact, a Juiceman Junior brand juicer, named after the original juice advocate. Though, sadly, he can no longer call himself the “Juiceman” due to contractual obligations. Still, he was the one everyone remembers from the late night ads and the Jim Carrey skit on In Living Color. I thought it would make me all crazy, like everyone who was on those ads seemed to be, to me. But, it hasn’t made me any crazier than I already am. And, you know what? I’ve been enjoying the juice!
Yeah, who would have thought it? I like taking apples and carrots and celery and spinach and parsley and ginger and sweet peppers and juicing them all together. It’s pretty amazing. Oh, sure, at first glance it looks disturbingly green and I was sure it would taste terrible, but, really, it doesn’t. In fact, it tastes sort of good. And, now, I’m getting into a rhythm of making enough juice for two or three days at a time, so it’s actually getting easier to do! It’s sort of a pain to clean the machine, but, so far, I like the results, so it’s worth the work. I don’t think I’ve lost any weight yet, but I do feel better already.

So, yeah, as strange as it seems, I’ve become one of those crazy juice people. And I don’t even mind!

2/18/2009

All Clear

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:17 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Well, the doctor told me that I’m still alive yesterday!

So, yesterday I got the results from my scan last week. Everything was good. Well, mostly.
I mean, my blood pressure was low enough to surprise the aid, which is good considering they were concerned that I was going to blow a gasket when I first started going to M. D. Anderson. I mean, my blood pressure was almost twice then what it was today. Literally. They thought I was going to stroke out before they could start chemotherapy treatments. Now, with medication, it’s on the lower side of normal.
And, my blood counts were all pretty normal. I’m still a little on the anemic side, but even that wasn’t worth mentioning.

She was a little concerned about my weight, but, then, I know it’s a bit of a problem.
So, I need to get my bike back into shape and start riding. In spite of what some people may think, I have been working out at least three times a week for a couple months. But, dumb bells and hitting the heavy bag just isn’t taking the weight off. I feel better than I have in two years, but, then again, considering that I was basically a walking corpse at one point there, that’s not saying much.
Oh, and I need to get a juicer like I’ve been meaning to for months. Several cancer survivors I know or have met all swear by theirs, so, I figure I might as well get a less expensive one and see how I like it. What can it hurt, right?

Anyway, all is well.
Nothing to see here.
Move along. Move along.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If it falls to your lot to be a dishwasher, wash like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music... wash so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'There lived a great dishwasher who did his job well.'"
   --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

11/10/2008

Hitting the Cardio

Filed under: Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I hate it when the doctors are right.

No, I don’t have cancer again or anything like that. No, I just hate it when someone, especially a doctor, tells me that I can’t do something and they turn out to be right.


HeavyBag

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

In this particular case, I’m talking about running and my knees.
I was pretty well prepared to ignore my oncologist’s advice against taking up running because I’m tired of having even a small gut, even at my age. I know, as I creep up on forty, I should lower the bar, drop my personal standard and just accept that I’m probably always going to carry a “little extra” weight. Except, I just can’t. I hate the pudge that’s built up around my middle. Also, according to an article I read in Men’s Health while I was in the hospital, that “spare tire” could have been part of the reason I actually had cancer in the first place! So, one way or another, that gut has got to go.
Running may be out, but I know aerobic exercise is the best way to drop that weight, so I’ve been walking. Four days a week, weather permitting, I walk. The past month or so, I’ve walked at least a mile and, by my calculations, up to a mile and a-half most of the times I’ve been out. And, that’s good, but it’s not taking the weight off fast enough for me and, well, just not really enough to satisfy me in general. I feel the same about bicycling, though that might still be better than just walking. Not that I’d stop walking, but I feel like I need something more. So, as you can see in the picture, I got my old heavy bag out of the garage and cleaned it up.

Back in the “old days” when I was in something that resembled good shape, I hit the heavy bag twenty minutes, or more, at least three times a week. Of course, I also did some weight training with dumbbells and push-ups and sit-ups or crunches in the morning five days a week. But, I know it was going after that heavy bag that got me and kept me in shape. Thankfully, I still have some of the callouses and the bag gloves and wraps to start up again. I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve got to do something. Besides, I did like being in shape. I seem to recall more than one woman I knew at the time appreciated it, too, and well, my long-time readers will know, nothing motivates me like the opposite sex.
If you’ve never tried it, boxing and kickboxing are great ways to stay in shape. I wasn’t overly lean when I did it, but I certainly carried a lot less weight in general and fat in particular. I mean, I wasn’t like a cast member from 300, but I know I looked better than I do now. Also, I eat better now than I did when I was in my late twenties and thirties. I’m no vegetarian, but I do try to avoid eating whole boxes of Twinkies, no matter how much I love them.

Well, I guess there’s nothing to it, but to do it. So, I’ve got the heavy bag out there and my bag gloves are by the back door. I only managed three minutes after my walk on Sunday, but, well, I’ve got to start somewhere! I’m sure if I keep at it, I’ll be back to twenty minute workouts in no time!

11/7/2008

One Hundred Push Ups

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I once read somewhere that doing 100 push ups in the morning makes you feel like you can accomplish anything.

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done 100 push ups every morning, but, when I used to do that, it was true. I’d feel like if I could do that, well, at least the day wasn’t wasted, so I might as well give whatever crazy task was at hand a try.
Apparently, someone else agrees with me and has actually developed a program, of sorts, that lets you build up to that goal of 100 push ups. Not coincidentally, the site is called “one hundred push ups” and, if you believe their press, following this plan will let you do 100 push ups, in one, continuous set in just six weeks.

I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I’ll get back to you.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized."
   --Leo Buscaglia

10/3/2008

Cheap Workouts

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Dog and Pony Shows,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:46 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I hate going to the gym.

I like working out, though, for the feeling I get afterward. I like feeling strong and healthy and, well, good. Who doesn’t? But, I hate going to the gym because, well, there are people there, um, watching me. Or, at least, that’s how it feels. I’m sure they’re probably more interested in their own workout, but just the possibility that they might be watching me creeps me out.

So, how can I get a good workout without all that gym equipment?
Thankfully, there are lots of ways. One way, according to Men’s Health, is to use a sandbag. It’s cheaper than a medicine ball and my favorite men’s magazine even has a sandbag workout that the professionals use for you. Because, yes, professional football players don’t use fancy weights to strength train.
Now, I haven’t started doing that one, yet, but I do a lot of push-ups and sit-ups. Not quite as many as I used to do before chemotherapy, but, I’m working up to it again. And, barring holidays or other breaks in my schedule, I do that five days a week in the morning before my coffee and my shower. Great way to start the day!
I have also used, and highly recommend, Dynamic Strength by Sifu Harry Wong. He has plenty of isometric exercises in that book to challenge anyone at any fitness level. And, they’re pretty much all based on traditional Chinese martial arts and health movements, so it’s not some modern, new-age crackpot health scam, either.

I do use a small set of dumbbells, which I’ve had for years, but those weren’t expensive either. And, you can substitute plastic milk jugs full of water, if you need some weights. In fact, with the Russian “kettlebell” phenomena from a few years back, I might just try that out myself!
Of course, I need to start walking with the dog again, too. That light aerobic exercise would probably do more for me than anything else I do now. Besides, I’m sure my Hilda would like to re-explore the neighborhood. Then, after I get a little of my “wind” back, I can start hitting the old heavy bag I’ve got in my garage. When I pounded on that for 20+ minutes three times a week, I was in pretty damn fine shape. Well, one day, I will be again.

So, that’s the way I beat the excuse “The gym’s too expensive and I never go anyway!” What’s yours?


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"They don't hold meetings about rainbows."

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