Diary of a Network Geek

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

2/22/2019

SEAL Training

Filed under: About The Author,Fun,Personal Care — 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 Waning Gibbous

Get into SEAL shape!

I’m too old to join the military any more, but I still hang out with guys who are or were active duty. I love these guys, and they’ll be the first to tell you that no matter how we romanticize military service, at some point, it’s like a lot of other jobs. Yes, there are some special requirements and goals are often a lot more dangerous than other jobs, but there’s nothing magical about the military. They do a hard job and the United States military does that job better than anyone else in the world, but it’s done by regular men and women. Even our special forces, which, again, are clearly the best of the best, are regular people who have just committed to working harder, training harder, and staying in better shape than other military forces. They do that with a combination of mental toughness and rigorous, scientific physical conditioning. I think the mental toughness is something that can be learned, and possibly taught, but the majority of us just aren’t willing to be that kind of tough. But, most of us, myself included, can be in better physical shape.
There are a lot of exercise programs out there meant to get you in to “fighting shape”. Some of them are designed to get you to a gym and buy a membership. Personally, I’ve always been more motivated when I didn’t have to convince myself to drive somewhere, change and interact with strangers, so I’ve always been more of a fan of things I can do at home. And, I’m cheap, so I prefer things that don’t need me to spend a lot of money on a piece of equipment, which means mostly body-weight work and inexpensive weights like dumbbells and kettle bells. Now, again, I’m too old to enlist, and I was never in shape to compete with the top echelon of the military operators by any stretch of the imagination, but I do okay for a fifty-year-old civilian. I’ve been in better shape, for sure, but every time I go through that climb back to fitness, I end up doing what is more or less old-fashioned calisthenics. No one does that kind of simple, effective workout better than the military. So, if you haven’t given up on your New Year’s Resolution to get back into shape, here’s some help for you and it comes directly from the Official Naval Special Warfare Website. Seriously. There’s only two exercises that need a machine more complicated than a kettle bell or dumbbell and the ones that need a bench can probably get done with a chair. Either way, you could do worse than following the Official Naval Special Warfare Website training videos. They’ve got an introduction that page, and also suggest checking out the forum post Strength Training: Start Here, but also, check out Get Your Body In Shape for BUD/S with the Naval Special Warfare Physical Training Guide.
Of course, be sure to consult with a physician before significantly changing your exercise routine to make sure you aren’t about to do any damage to yourself, but most of us can stand to be a little healthier. If you admire the brave men and women of our armed forces, let them inspire and motivate you to be better. Just remember, they’re human, too, just like you. They started somewhere and only got to where they are with determination and hard work. Don’t give up!

And, next week, I’ll have some other random thing from the internet that catches my eye.

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

11/23/2018

How to Help a Loved One

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Personal Care — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:10 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

Especially, if they’re depressed or suffering from other mental illness.

The holidays can be an especially rough time of year. I know for many years, I would get a kind of seasonal depression that would come over me after Halloween and last until at least Christmas, and often until after St. Valentine’s Day. In my case, it was due to not being in a relationship, mostly, and having an unrealistic expectation about how my life should look. But, frankly, even for people who are otherwise happy, the holidays can be rough. I mean, they call it the “holiday blues” for a reason, right? So, what do you do if someone you know and love is suffering from season depression? Well, sometimes, listening is enough. Just being there and hearing them, without necessarily trying to fix it can actually be a big benefit. Also, if it seems like your loved one is having more than very short-term depression, it’s perfectly okay to suggest they need more help than you can provide. Unless you’re actually a mental health professional, you may not be all that qualified to actually help someone who’s seriously depressed. One of my favorite science-based websites, Quick and Dirty Tips has some suggestions for How to Help a Loved One Suffering from Mental Illness. It’s really good and, yes, someone with depression is, in fact, suffering from mental illness. It’s possible that it’s seasonal and may pass, but, you know your loved one, and if it looks like something more than that, the linked podcast is worth a listen.

Also, if it seems like your loved one is more than a little depressed and may be suicidal, talk to them about it. And, no, talking to someone about whether or not they’re contemplating suicide will not make them more suicidal. That’s a myth, and a deadly one at that. (For more discussion about some of the more dangerous myths about suicide, again, take a look at this article on Quick and Dirty Tips.) And, if you think they already have a plan, encourage them to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You could actually be saving their life.

Hopefully, that’s not something you’re struggling with this holiday season, but if it is, please, get help. The holidays can be really rough and depression is nothing to try and ignore.

This post first appeared on Use Your Words!

6/17/2016

Uncle Walt’s Health Tips for Men

Filed under: Fun,Personal Care,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:00 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Seriously, health tips from Walt Whitman himself.

I think about health a lot, because I’m overweight.  My cardiologist would like me to lose at least 20 pounds, preferably more.  He just doesn’t quite buy that my wife, being a good Southern woman, expresses her love for me through food.  And, she really loves me.  Seriously.
I also tend to be a traditionalist, though, so when I saw that old Walt Whitman had written a 13-installment series of articles giving men of his day health advice, well, you can imagine how I became quite interested.  Maybe, finally, I’d have someone who was on my side for why I didn’t have time to lose the weight!  And why bacon can be served at every meal!

Sadly, it was not so.  Mr. Leaves of Grass himself said just what my cardiologist did; get up and walk.  Yeah.  And, he suggests walking outside, in the fresh air, and everything.
I feel betrayed.
You can read all his advice, which, I might add, is perfectly good for women for the most part, too, if you just follow this link over to the University of Iowa archives.  It’s actually a pretty good series of articles and, while he doesn’t say much about bacon, he does suggest that there’s nothing wrong with eating beef.  So I have that much.

Anyway, it’s Friday and you might as well read what else he has to say.
Enjoy your weekend!

This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.

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

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:
"Happiness is a direction, not a place."
   --Sydney J. Harris

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